Mov­ing walk on his­toric trail


AT this year’s Rochdale Lit­er­a­ture and Ideas Fes­ti­val Lit­er­ary Walk lo­cal writ­ers skil­fully and of­ten mov­ingly gave their im­pres­sions of the most fa­mous (and in­fa­mous) build­ings and places in Mid­dle­ton.

Mid­dle­ton Li­brary - Ann Robin­son Poem. The Queen’s Free Li­brary was of­fi­cially opened in 1889.

Long Street Methodist Church - Freda Robin­son Poem. De­signed by Mid­dle­ton born Edgar Wood – opened in 1901 as a church and school.

The Olde Boars Head - Katie Haigh Poem. Be­lieved to date back to 1587. Sam Bam­ford used to pop in for a pint and to re­cite his poetry.

Ju­bilee Park - Louise Bezyk Poem. Opened in 1889 to com­mem­o­rate Queen Vic­to­ria’s Golden Ju­bilee. A for­mer pri­vate gar­den bought by Mid­dle­ton Bor­ough Coun­cil to pro­vide a recre­ation ground and free li­brary for the town.

Flood Memo­rial - Ash­leigh Haigh Poem. Erected in mem­ory of those that died in the 1927 flood when Rochdale canal burst its banks at Mills Hill and merged with the River Irk send­ing a wall of wa­ter head­ing to­wards the town.

Edgar Wood Exe­dra - Carol Keys Poem. De­signed by Edgar Wood in 1906 to link the Parish Church to the Park. An Exe­dra is a semi-cir­cu­lar re­cess which in Greek and Ro­man times was a place where peo­ple could con­verse. St Leon- ard’s Church - Freda Robin­son Poem. Be­lieved to be the oldest church in the Manch­ester Dio­cese, from a sim­ple wooden church it has been re­built sev­eral times, the wooden steeple was added in 1627 and is be­lieved to be one of only three in the whole coun­try.

Mid­dle­ton Old Ceme­tery - Robin Parker Poem. Split into three sites around St Leonard’s, the rest­ing place of the town’s great and good in­clud­ing po­lit­i­cal rad­i­cal Sa­muel Bam­ford.

Sa­muel Bam­ford Mon­u­ment - Robin Parker – Old­ham Tinkers Song. Stand­ing in Mid­dle­ton Old Ceme­tery a memo­rial to rad­i­cal and re­formist Sam Bam­ford. Dur­ing his time at sea Sam be­gan to write poetry and soon turned his pen against the gov­ern­ment and its corn laws to de­mand bet­ter rights and work­ing con­di­tions. Sam led the Mid­dle­ton con­tin­gent to Peter­loo in 1819.

Mid­dle­ton Li­brary – An­chor - Ann Robin­son Poem. A coal dealer and scrap metal mer­chant John Hul­bert do­nated the an­chor to the li­brary in 1893. He had the con­tract to sal­vage the Sirene which had col­lided with the North Pier, Black­pool.

A short walk across Mid­dle­ton changed our per­spec­tive of a very fa­mil­iar town. OC­TO­BER at Rochdale’s weekly mu­sic at lunchtime con­certs at St Mary’s in the Baum was par­tic­u­larly var­ied and mem­o­rable with in­stru­ments and voices galore.

Greek flautist, Anna Rosa Mari, was joined by Welsh harpist, Eira Lynn Jones, in a per­fect pair­ing. Their in­tro­duc­tions were charm­ing and en­gag­ing and their won­der­ful play­ing of works in­clud­ing Mozart, Schu­bert and De­bussy.

Voci voices per­formed at St Mary’s in the Baum

Freda Robin­son

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