We met some friends for an Indian meal at the excellent Bombay Brew restaurant in Rochdale. Rochdale is in many ways a typical post-industrial town: there are clear signs of former affluence in the town’s architecture but today it is struggling with transition away from a manufacturing-based economy.
Victorian industrialists decided that Rochdale and other towns in east Lancashire would be perfect for cotton spinning. The raw cotton arrived at Liverpool from the New World and was easily transported to Rochdale, thanks to the new canal network. The same canals also brought coal to fuel the mills. The damp climate stopped the cotton from snapping while it was being spun. For a time Rochdale was one of the richest towns in England.
Of course, nothing last forever and in the 20th century Rochdale faced stiff competition from cheap imports, bringing its cotton spinning days to an end. What they left behind isn’t particularly attractive.
But some of the original pre-industrial town has survived, in particular, the ancient parish church which sits proudly on a hill overlooking the town. There has been a church here for at least a thousand years and the present building has parts dating from Saxon times and the 13th and 14th centuries. It has seen manufacturing come and go and carries on looking down on the town.
|Rochdale Parish Church with part of the Victorian Town Hall behind