"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."
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.)