Place Names of Old Heywood

The place names found in and around Heywood have changed repeatedly over time. Some of these names were official, some only colloquial. Some still exist, while others have disappeared from use. The list below explains some of these names, and will continue to be updated with new additions:

Back o’th’ Moss
The 'Moss' was a large meadow that is now home to several football fields near Bamford Road. The higher ground behind it became the Back o’th’ Moss. The Moss was referred to in the names of Moss Mill, Moss Street, Moss Foundry, Moss Cottage, and Mossfield school.

Back o'th' Moss, 1851 Ordnance Survey map.

'Bam' is thought to be derived from the Old English 'beam', meaning tree. 'Ford' is an Old English still in ise, meaning a shallow place in a river or stream where people can cross. It was recorded as 'Baunford' in AD 1282.

This is thought to be a modern form of 'Birkhill', from the Old English beorc, a birch tree.

This is a colloquial name for the general area between Longford Street, Langton Street and Queen's Park Road. It had this name for decades during the 20th century but its origins are uncertain. One theory is that the centre of this area was open ground next to a large timber mill prior to the 1920s. It is possible that this ground was where the mill operators dumped timber waste, bits and pieces of wood that local residents could use for fires, etc. 'Bits and bats' is a northern way of saying 'bits and pieces', and is prevalent in Manchester, Yorkshire and Tyneside. This theory would fit the timeframe of mid-20th-century children being aware of the name but unaware of its origins.

Botany Bay
The name for a small, flat peninsula (there is no bay) on the banks of the River Roch across from Gristlehurst and Elbut Woods. This name was in use before the 1840s and its origins are unclear, although it probably came into use after the establishment of the Botany Bay settlement in New South Wales in 1788. This area was used as a rifle range during the 1890s.

Bottom o'th' Brow
Still in use today, this name simply refers to the area near the Roch at the bottom of the 'Summit' hill ('brow').

Britain Hill
The Britain Hill Unitarian Church was in this location, but there does not seem to have been an actual 'Britain Hill'. Prior to the erection of the church in 1859, this site was home to Britain Farm, and the rise here was actually known as Gorsey Hill. A variant on the spelling of the church is Brittain Hill.

Charles Town
This was a 19th-century name for the district between Wham Bar, Heady Hill and the Summit, although the boundaries appear to be quite flexible and hazy. It is not known which 'Charles' this place was named for. Charles Town last appeared on an Ordnance Survey map in the 1890s, and appears to have disappeared as 'Summit' became more widely used.

Charles Town, 1851 Ordnance Survey map.

Coach Turning
This place, just south of the Queen Anne Inn near off the top of Bamford Road, was so named because this is where the horse-drawn coaches that came to the centre of Heywood would turn around. If they went too far they would become trapped in the spot that gained the name 'Trapp'.

Cock Clod
“Near to where the Queen Anne is now situated, there was a place called the cock clod, a small plot of ground reserved for this purpose, and it was the custom when a man wanted to fight for him to adjourn to this place and stand upon it, which was taken as a challenge to the whole village, and if someone accepted it of course there was a battle ; if not, the man would stand then as the champion of the place.” (Heywood Advertiser, 14 September 1906)

Codshaw Bowre
16th-century records name Codshawe Bowre (also known as the White Ditch, a boundary between Bury and Rochdale), in the northern Ashworth area. The area around the Hare and Hounds (now Owd Betts) on Edenfield Road is marked as Codshaw on the 1851 Ordnance survey map. Codshaw quarry was marked on maps until the 1960s, when it was disused. 'Cod' could be derived from the Old English cada, meaning a well or stream, and 'Shaw' comes from the Old English sceaga, meaning any small group of trees, copse, thicket. The meaning of 'Bowre' is uncertain here, but could be linked to the Old English bu, meaning a dwelling, but in Old Norse one of its meanings is farmstock or cattle.

Collop Yate
Named like this on an 1818 map, this area is remembered in the modern name of nearby Collop Drive, Hopwood, and Collop Gate Farm is still in this area. A 'yate' is a gateway to a wooded area, and comes from the Old English word gete. The more modern 'gate' came into use here during the later 19th century.

This name and variations on it are quite common, especially as a field-name. It could represent a native common noun, apparently an Old English crymel or the like. This may be a derivative of cruma, meaning ‘small piece, scrap’, the meaning being ‘a small piece of land’.

Darn Hill
Originally the name of a farm situated near what is now Athol Drive. This farm remained here until work began on constructing the Darnhill estate in the 1960s. In modern use, Darn Hill has been condensed to one word.

Dawson Fold
An area of Heywood once occupied by the Dawson family. Dawson Street is nearby.

France Hill
Now called 'Francil', this farmhouse near Chadwick Lane was named as France Hill on Ordnance survey maps prior to the 1950s. The origin of the name is uncertain.

Gassy Brew
A colloquial term for the hill behind the former gas works by the River Roch near the Back o'th' Moss and Hooley Bridge. These gas works were established in 1827, and the last gasometer was removed in the late 20th century. A 'brew' is a northern English dialect term for a hill.

Gooden Lane
Now Manchester Street. The name 'Gooden' is derived from Guldene, an ancient name for the area around what is now the junction at St John’s Church (Gooden was once a hamlet within the township of Hopwood). Guldene was mentioned in the original Heywood Charter, later becoming Gulden or Golden. The de Gulden family was mentioned in records from 1282. This name was used for Gooden Street, Gooden House, and Gooden Mill. Gooden Lane was in use until the early 19th century. Dene is an Old English word meaning 'valley, plain, dale, or vale'. 'Gold' is also Old English, and used in place-names usually refers to colour. It has been suggested that there was once a lot yellow flowers in this area.

Gorsey Hill
Now home to Gorsey Hill Street, this hill was marked on 19th-century Ordnance Survey maps.

This name does not appear on any known maps, but was used by locals for the general area around Aspinall/Miller/Starkey streets during the 20th century. Its origins are uncertain. There used to be a Chapel near the top of Miller Street, which was at one time known as the Greentown Methodist Chapel.

The Old English hyrst means a copse or a wood. This was a common termination in Old Saxon place-names. In England, a characteristically Saxon termination, as distinguished from Danish on the one hand and Anglian on the other.

Hayshill Farm was named on the 1847 Ordnance Survey, but on the 1890 Ordnance Survey map it had become Hares Hill Farm, on Hares Hill Lane. The farm is still called Hares Hill, but the 1928 Ordnance Survey map shows the road as Hareshill Road, a name it retains today.

Kenyon Fold
A 'fold' is named from the Old English 'fald', meaning a sheep-fold, an ox-stall. In place-names the word came to mean enclosure, or cluster of buildings forming an enclosure. This place, on the Bury and Rochdale Old Road at Crimble Lane, is named for the Kenyon family who became mill owners at Crimble.

Knowl HillThe word Knoll or Knowl is derived from the Olde English pre-7th century byname 'cnoll', meaning a summit or a rounded hill.

Long Field
This area around what is now Mary Street and Taylor Street was known as Long Field by the 1850s, no doubt in reference to a particularly long field there. It retained the name well into the 20th century, when it was applied to a row of 10 cottages in the area. These cottages were demolished when Boots warehouse was built in this area.

New York
There was a New York Farm at this place, off what is now Pilsworth Road. During the early 1800s a water-powered mill here became known as New York Mill (a new New York Mill was later built off Argyle Street). The location of the early farm and mill is now marked by New York Street.

Paved Brow
Now called Bury Street, this took its name from being the only paved street in Heywood at that time. This might have been paved because it was at the junction of Bury Old Road (Heap Lane) and Bury New Road and would have had heavy traffic, which churns up dirt tracks and makes them difficult to use in wet weather.

Paved Brow, 1851 Ordnance Survey map.

'Pil' is thought to be shortened version of the Old English personal name 'Pilheard'. 'Worth' is from the Old English 'worp' or 'weorp', meaning 'enclosed homestead, habitation with surrounding land'. Therefore this name would likely refer to the dwelling place of someone called Pilheard. It was recorded as 'Pylesworth' back in AD 1243.

Plumpton Wood
The name Plumpton is thought to be derived from the Old English 'plume', referring to a plum tree. However, the name of these woods seems to be of recent origin as they were marked as 'Hooley Wood' on 19th-century maps. It is likely they took on the name some time after the construction of Plumpton Hall during the 1850s.

Quarrel CloseThis place is mentioned in an 1829 directory which lists Thomas Chadwick, cotton spinner, at ‘Quarrel-close mill, Heady Hill’. It is named on a circa-1780s map of Lord Derby’s land and was applied to an area around a field in the vicinity of Wham Lane End, which is not considered to be part of Heady Hill now. It was sometimes called ‘Squarrel Close’. The origins of the name are uncertain.

Spinner's Brew
Overlooking the Crimble cricket ground, this was reportedly called 'Spinner's Brew' early in the 20th century because it was said that local cotton spinners - reputed to be tight with money - would sit here and watch the cricket for free. Heywood Living Memories, #1, p.9.

Twitchill Nook
Today this site is just off Honiton Close, Hopwood. It is marked quite prominently in the local area as Twitchhill Nook on George Hennet’s 1830 map of Lancashire, although the 1847 Ordnance Survey shows it be rather a small house called Twitchel Nook. Sephton’s Handbook of Lancashire Place-Names (1913) names it as Twitch Hill Nook. The 1890 Ordnance Survey map indicates the building has gone altogether. A ‘nook’ is a corner or a bend, and in place-names the word often denotes an out-of-the-way spot. On the maps, this place is on the bend of a lane. The origin of ‘Twitch Hill’ is uncertain.

War Office
This name appeared in a local directory for 1820, and 'War Office Road' is in this area today. Two possible explanations for the name of this area (near Bamford, off the Bury and Rochdale Old Road), appeared in the Heywood Advertiser in 1908. One came from a woman whose father told her it was named because an eccentric old man erected a short pillar on a hill near there to ‘to act both as a rubbingstone for his cattle and a monument in commemoration of the battle of Bunker's Hill’ (which took place between American and British forces during the War of Independence in 1775). The field here was reportedly named 'Bunker's Hill'. Another correspondent claimed it took the name during the Napoleonic wars (1803-15), as it was where the locals gathered to hear news about the war read from a newspaper. Another newspaper article claims there are theories that Cromwell had 1,200 troops stationed in the area during the English Civil War, and that more than a century later 'Scottish Jacobite rebels are known to have taken up residence in the town rather than face the dangerous journey home after defeat'. None of these theories have been confirmed.

  • Bob Dobson, Lancashire Nicknames & Sayings, Clapham, N. Yorkshire: Dalesman, 1977. 
  • Eilert Ekwall, The Place-Names of Lancashire, Manchester: University of Manchester, 1922. 
  • Heywood Advertiser, various dates.
  • Hannah Haynes, Heywood, Stroud: Chalford Publishing, 1997. 
  • Lancashire County Council, Old Maps, ‘Greenwoods Map of Lancashire', 1818.
  • Ordnance Survey maps, various years.
  • Henry C. Wyld and T. Oakes Hirst, The Place Names of Lancashire: Their origin and history, London: Constable and Company Ltd, 1911. John Sephton, A Handbook of Lancashire Place Names, Liverpool: H. Young & sons, 1913