About

"So far as the history of Heywood is known, it has not been the arena of any of those great historical transactions of England's past, which have so shaken and changed the less remote and more populated parts of the country."
So wrote Edwin Waugh in 1855. But then he was from Rochdale...

Monkey Town: The History of Heywood sets out to show that the story of the small northern town of Heywood can also tell us part of the bigger story of England.

This website has been developed since 2012, article by article, into a repository on the history of the town, and is intended to be useful for general readers and students alike.

Heywood itself was part of southeastern Lancashire until 1974, when it was incorporated into Greater Manchester. However, this move was very much in an administrative sense only and the town retains a strong sense of Lancastrian identity and culture.

Known as 'Monkey Town', this was a quiet 18th-century rural hamlet that became a 19th-century cotton-milled boom town with a peak population of 30,000, thanks or no thanks to the Industrial Revolution. Decades after the death of King Cotton, Heywood is still recovering and renewing.

Despite these struggles, Heywood had the advantages of tight-knit communities and being surrounded by some glorious countryside. Heywoodites could enjoy their wooded valleys, brooks and moorland while at the same time being linked to the mighty city of Manchester. This mix makes its history a real 'tale of two towns', and most people who have lived there have - like myself - very fond memories of the place.

You can contribute too!

This website will feature new, original articles, and also some reproductions of earlier accounts of life in early Heywood. It will hopefully become more of a collaborative project for people with an interest in Heywood's history. If you have researched any aspect of Heywood history and would like to submit an article for this site, please contact me.

Otherwise, feel free to comment, make suggestions, ask questions and answer others, and help build this website. There is also a Facebook page for this site.

(Me: I'm a 1966-vintage Heywoodite (Mossfield and Siddal Moor schools) and Back o'th' Mosser who has lived on the other side of the planet for a couple of decades. I'm also a professional historian. I hope this website encourages more research into the subject and helps more people better appreciate the history of Heywood.)

Chris Dawson
Brisbane
January 2018

21 comments:

  1. Sounds a fasinating website. I am currently a member of the Friends of Hopwood Park Charity and are trying to raise funds to help create a better play space for the local children an community of hopwood. We are currently trying to find ANY photographs of the Park/bowling green on Corination Avenue. If you or know of anyone that could be of some use we would be very grateful.

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    1. Your best bet is the Local Studies library. Good luck.

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  2. I left Heywood in 1959 to live in Devon .I still have a great interest in Heywood and Bury also Rochdale as I am in the flows of doing my family tree .I am really pleased I found this web site and will definitely make more comments

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  3. Thanks Maggie! There's more stuff on its way here soon.

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  4. Fantastic that you are taking the time to tell people about the heritage of Heywood, great site. I lived on darnhill in my school days I now live in Birch.

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  5. Fantastic clean site very well put together.

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  6. facebook page link dont work

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    1. Thanks for the heads up - problem fixed

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  7. I was brought up in Heywood from around 1960, we started our lives in Heywood when my mum moved in with her parents my grandparents who where living in Hamer Buildings across the road from the Pack Horse Hotel. It was great as right outside the front door there were animal pens.

    I am currently trying to find photos of Hamer Buildings the house my grandparents lived was the gabelend facing down moore st they where also back to back houses.

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  8. Great job, I really enjoy reading this. My father owned a tv shop and chippy on Bury st, he was born and bred in Heywood, and I remember him telling me about monkey town. He use to say thats why the school chairs have holes in the back of them. I now tell the story to my children. Robert Wilcox he was called, and my Grandad was Samuel. He was a MP. Ive just found the certificate. My mum also had the shop Pass on on Manchester St.

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  9. Great work Chris,
    We lived in the town for 40 years and never really knew anything about it so it seems!
    Really enjoyed browsing the timeline of the town, keep up the good work.

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    1. Thanks, still a lot to do but I will be keeping it up.

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  10. Great work Chris,
    Particularly enjoyed browsing the timeline, loads of information that I never knew, it must have taken you absolutely ages to pull together!
    We lived in Heywood from birth until our mid forties and never really looked into the history of the town.
    Now that we have moved over to Yorkshire we seem to have developed a new found interest in the town!
    Many thanks for your hard work and I'm looking forward to the next updates

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    1. Thanks Craig, it does take a lot of time overall, but I enjoy it and it helps me keep in touch with where I'm from. Like you, I never paid attention to the history while I lived there.

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  11. Hi i have recently bought Hind Hill House (no.46) and would be really interested in its history if anyone could help

    Regards Richard
    rmadeley@live.com

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  12. Excellent site. If you were going to name Wetherspoons in Heywood, currently the Edwin Waugh, Who would you name it after? Personally i'd go with Roger Fenton or Charles Howarth but id love the see "the Jemmy Whitehat"

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    1. Good question - I'd go with 'Charles Howarth' as a name.

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  13. This website and links within will prove to be a treasure trove I'm sure! I'm an Aussie living in Yorkshire (sorry, wrong side of Pennines!) and just starting out on researching my family history, much of which is currently focussed on the cotton and paper mills of Heywood. I keep getting distracted by finding out more about what life must have been like for the people who worked and lived in such tough conditions. Thank you so much for putting this website together.

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