The Roch might be a little river in the wider scheme of things, being a tributary of a tributary of the Mersey, but it's the biggest river that Heywood has and it has played a big part in the history and development of the town. This Ten Thousand Years in Monkey Town slideshow charts the wandering course of the waters from a tiny spring emerging from under a rock high up on Chelburn Moor, then right down to the Irwell. Enjoy.
(Best viewed on 'expand screen' option in YouTube)
The Monkey Puzzle tree (Araucaria araucana) is not a common sight in Monkey Town. The rather exotic spiked trunk and winding branches always caught the attention of local children, and two in particular that stuck in the memory were the trees in a front garden on Heywood Hall Road (which was on the route to Queen’s Park for many people).
One well-remembered aspect of these trees was the superstition surrounding them. Some parents actually told their children to be quiet as they passed the tree, various reasons being that they would have bad luck or lose something, or in some cases even grow a monkey’s tail! This led those children who actually wanted a monkey’s tail to shout out as they passed by the trees.
Superstitions about the Monkey Puzzle tree can be found throughout Britain. One widely-shared bit of folklore is that the Devil himself sits in this tree and people have to be quiet when walking past or else they will attract the Devil’s attention and get bad luck. In some cases …
This timeline of the history of Heywood is a work in progress. It is intended to be as accurate as possible, and suggested corrections or additions are welcome.
Pre - A.D. 1270 7th century: Middleton is thought to have been settled by this time.1086: Rochdale recorded in the Domesday Book as Recedham.1164: Heywood family recorded in local area.1183: Records for Ashworth start around this time.1197: Reference to Birtle in records.12th century: Hopwood family recorded at site of current Hopwood Hall.1210: Reference to hamlets of Lumhalghs (Lomax) and Hep (Heap) in records.1260: Land at Pilsworth granted to William de Radcliffe. 1270-1600 1260s-70s: Adam de Bury grants land to Peter de Heywood during this time.1278: William del Bridge granted land near Bury.1292: Reference to Hoppewode in records13th century: Bamford family living in Bamford area.13th century: Peter de Heywood builds Heywood Hall.13th century: Woollen mill recorded at Bamford16th century: Woollen mill recorded at Bridge Hal…
The passing of time often leaves little trace of what has gone before. The quiet course of Cheesden Brook is now flanked mostly by woods and moorland hills, but the valley has a significant industrial and cultural history.
The Cheesden Valley was formed during the last Ice Age and visited by humans as far back as 4,000 years ago. For centuries, the population in the valley was sparse and scattered. One of the earliest records of activity there shows that John Blackwall was granted the right to mine coal in the valley by Elizabeth I around 1580. By the 17th century there were small communities (‘folds’) in the valley with their own mines. These people got by with a combination of livestock husbandry and cottage industries such as weaving. Mills started to appear in Cheesden Valley during the 18th century, the first probably being the one erected at Kershaw Bridge in 1780 by Thomas Allanson. It was a fustian mill, producing thick, coarse cotton material.