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Milnrow (pop. 12,500) is a small town within the Metropolitan Borough of Rochdalemarker, in Greater Manchestermarker, England. It lies on the River Beal, east of Rochdalemarker and north-northeast of the city of Manchestermarker, in the foothills of the Pennines. Milnrow includes the village of Newheymarker, which lies at its southern boundary, and is adjacent to junction 21 of the M62 motorway.

Historically a part of Lancashiremarker, what is now known as Milnrow emerged as a settlement following the Norman conquest of England, on the lands which had formed the ancient township of Butterworthmarker. For centuries, Milnrow was a small centre of domestic flannel and woollen cloth production, and many of the original weavers' cottages survive today as listed buildings. Following the Industrial Revolution – and a building boom in nearby Oldhammarker in the late-19th century – Milnrow became a mill town, its landscape dominated by distinctive and large rectangular brick-built woollen and cotton mills.

Milnrow has been described as "the centre of the south Lancashire dialect". John Collier (who wrote under the pseudonym of Tim Bobbin) was an acclaimed 18th-century caricaturist and satirical poet from Milnrow who wrote in a broad Lancashire dialect. Rochdale-born poet Edwin Waugh was influenced by Collier's work, and wrote an extensive account of Milnrow during the mid-19th century in a tribute to Collier.


There is evidence of Neolithic human activity in the area, with a stone axe found at Hollingworth, followed by evidence of the subsequent Bronze and Iron Age peoples: thousands of flint tools have been found on the moorland surrounding Milnrow, including a stone hammer found at Low Hill in 1879. Low Hill was the site of an ancient burial mound where a funerary urn was found. A small Roman statue of the goddess Victory was discovered at Tunshill Farm in 1793. During excavations at Piethorne Reservoirmarker in the mid-18th century, a Celtic spear-head with a blade was unearthed, implying human habitation in the locality during the British Iron Age. There is no physical manifestation of the Anglo-Saxons and Norsemen in the locality, but toponymic evidence implies they have been present.

The town now known as Milnrow emerged as a settlement after the Norman conquest of England in 1066; the Norman families of "de Butterworths", "de Turnaghs", "de Schofields", "de Birchinleghs", "de Wylds" and "Cleggs" controlled the lands which formed the township of Butterworthmarker from which Milnrow evolved as its main settlement. In addition to the chapelry of Milnrow, Butterworth encompassed the hamlets of Clegg, Wildhouse, Belfield, Butterworth Hall, Lowhouse, Newheymarker, Ogden, Tunshillmarker, Haughs, and Bleaked-gate-cum-Roughbank. Butterworth was linked, ecclesiastically, with the parish of Rochdalemarker.
The origin of the name Milnrow has not been deciphered with any certainty. It has been suggested that the name is a corruption of the old pronunciation of "Millner Howe", a water driven corn mill mentioned in deeds of 1568 at a place called Mill Hill on the River Beal. Others have suggested that the name "Milnrow" is derived from a local family with the surname Milne, who owned a row of houses in the locality. A map from 1292 shows "Milnehouses" at Milnrow's present location, other spellings have included "Mylnerowe" (1545) and "Milneraw" (1577).

During the Middle Ages, the small, scattered community in and around Milnrow was primarily agrarian, with the growing and milling of grain and cereal being the main labour of the people. Dry ironstone smelting was introduced in to Milnrow at a very early time as evidenced from ancient kilns found at Tunshill. A chantry was constructed in the year 1400 by the Byron—the then Lords of the Manor—and a chapel for the wider community in 1496; A document dated 20 March 1496, during the reign of Henry VII, proclaims that open land by the River Beal would be the site of the new chapel.

Legal documents dated 1624 state that Milnrow consisted of six cottages; there were a further nine at Butterworth Hall, and three at Ogden. Milnrow did not expand until the introduction of a woollen weaving trade which began in the Late Middle Ages and continued until the 19th century. During this time nearby Rochdale—the local market town—was used as a central marketing, finishing and fellmongering hub. The handloom weaving of woollen cloth and flannels in the domestic system became the staple industry of Milnrow, facilitating the community's growth and prosperity. Between 40,000 and 50,000 sheep skins were needed every week to provide for Milnrow's industries, and as early as the 16th century, the demand for wool was so great it had outstripped the local supply of the region and had to be imported from Ireland and the English Midlandsmarker. As a consequence of the woollen trade, rows of "fine stone domestic workshops" or weavers' cottages were constructed beyond Milnrow's original core, with dwelling quarters on the lower floors and loom-shops on the top floor.
With the onset of the Industrial Revolution, the River Beal was harnessed to power large weaving mills. In the late 19th century, following a boom in nearby Oldhammarker, Milnrow's main industry changed from wool to cotton, which became the staple industry of the village. Soon, distinctive rectangular brick-built mills dominated Milnrow's landscape. Milnrow, the location of some of the earliest ring spinning companies, had many of the characteristics of a company town. The Heaps of Milnrow exercised significant deferential and political influence in the local area. Following the Great Depression, the region's textile sector experienced a decline until its eventual demise in the mid-20th century. Milnrow's last cotton mill was Butterworth Hall Mill, demolished in the late 1990s.


Lying within the historic county boundaries of Lancashiremarker since the early 12th century, Milnrow was a chapelry and component area of Butterworthmarker, an ancient township within the parish of Rochdalemarker and hundred of Salfordmarker. Butterworth constituted a civil parish encompassing several settlements to the east of Rochdale, until its dissolution in 1894.

Under feudalism, Butterworth was governed by a number of ruling families, including the Byrons, who obtained the title of Lords of the Manor. Throughout the Late Middle Ages, local men acted as jurors and constables for the purposes of upholding law and order in Butterworth. Milnrow's first local authority was a Local board of health established in 1870; Milnrow Local Board of Health was a regulatory body responsible for standards of hygiene and sanitation in the locality. In 1879, a part of Castletonmarker and another part of Butterworth were included in the area of the Local board. Under the Local Government Act 1894, the area of the local board broadly became the Milnrow Urban Districtmarker, a local government district in the Rochdale Poor Law Union and administrative county of Lancashire. Under the Local Government Act 1972, the Milnrow Urban District was abolished, and Milnrow has, since 1 April 1974, formed an unparished area of the Metropolitan Borough of Rochdalemarker, within the Metropolitan county of Greater Manchestermarker. In anticipation of the new local government arrangement, Milnrow Urban District Council applied for successor parish status to be granted to the locality after 1974, however the application was not successful.

Since 1997, Milnrow has been represented in the House of Commonsmarker as part of the parliamentary constituency of Oldham East and Saddleworthmarker, by Phil Woolas MP, a member of the Labour Party. Milnrow had previously formed part of the Littleborough and Saddleworthmarker constituency.


At (53.6101°, -2.1111°), and north-northwest of Londonmarker, Milnrow stands roughly above sea level, on the western slopes of the Pennines, north-northeast of Manchester city centremarker, in the valley of the River Beal. Blackstone Edgemarker and West Yorkshire are to the east; Rochdalemarker and Shaw and Cromptonmarker are to the west and south respectively. Milnrow, considered as the area covered by the former Milnrow Urban District Council, extends over .

The River Beal, a tributary of the River Roch, runs centrally through Milnrow from the south through Newheymarker. The soil is light gravel and clay, with subsoil of rough gravel, and the local geology is carboniferous coal measures. Milnrow's highest point ( ) is by its east-southeastern border with the Metropolitan Borough of Oldhammarker at Denshawmarker and Bleakedgate Moor, above the rugged, upland Piethorne Valley and close to Windy Hillmarker. From this point the average height of the land falls gradually towards the direction of Rochdale to the northwest, into a mixture of undulating farmland and suburbia. Milnrow experiences a temperate maritime climate, like much of the British Islesmarker, with relatively cool summers and mild winters. There is regular but generally light precipitation throughout the year.

In 1855, the poet Edwin Waugh said of Milnow:

Surrounded by open moor and grassland on its northern and eastern sides, Milnrow forms a continuous urban area with neighbouring Rochdale to the west, and, according to the Office for National Statistics, is part of the Greater Manchester Urban Areamarker, the United Kingdom's third largest conurbation.

There are a number of small named-places in and around Milnrow, including Clegg, Firgrove, Gallows, Haugh, Newhey, Kitcliffe, Ogden, and Tunshillmarker. Newheymarker, at the south of Milnrow by Shaw and Cromptonmarker, is the most distinct of these areas, and, with its own parish church and railway station, is invariably given as a separate village. The Gallows public house is said to occupy the land of an ancient execution site; Gallows, a former hamlet at northeastern Milnrow, is named in reference to a baronial gallows. Kitcliffe, Ogden and Tunshill, to the east of central Milnrow, are hamlets that occupy the upper, mid and lower Piethorne Valley respectively.


According to the Office for National Statistics, at the time of the United Kingdom Census 2001, Milnrow (urban-core and sub-area) had a total resident population of 12,541. The electoral ward of Milnrow (which has different boundaries) had a population of 11,561.

Of the residents in the electoral ward of Milnrow, which includes Newhey and the Piethorne Valley, 40.8% were married, 10.3% were cohabiting couples, and 9.5% were lone parent families. Twenty-seven percent of households were made up of individuals and 13% had someone living alone at pensionable age.

The ethnicity of the community was given as 98% white, 0.7% mixed race, 0.8% Asian, 0.2% black and 0.3% Chinese or other.The place of birth of the town's residents was 97% United Kingdom (including 95.04% from England), 0.6% Republic of Irelandmarker, 0.5% from other European Union countries, and 2.6% from elsewhere in the world. Religion was recorded as 80% Christian, 0.8% Muslim, 0.1% Hindu, 0.1% Buddhist, and 0.1% Jewish. Some 12.2% were recorded as having no religion, 0.2% had an alternative religion, and 6.1% did not state their religion. Historically, in addition to the established church, Nonconformism – particularly Wesleyanism – was a branch of Christian theology practiced in Milnrow by a significant part of the local population.

The economic activity of residents aged 16–74 was 45% in full-time employment, 12% in part-time employment, 7.7% self-employed, 2.6% unemployed, 2.1% students with jobs, 3.1% students without jobs, 13% retired, 4.6% looking after home or family, 7.4% permanently sick or disabled, and 2.3% economically inactive for other reasons. This was roughly in line with the national figures.

Year 1901 1911 1921 1931 1939 1951 1961 1971 2001
Population 8,241 8,584 8,390 8,623 8,265 8,587 8,129 10,345 12,541
Source: A Vision of Britain through Time


The forthcoming Kingsway Business Park is expected to employ over 7,000 people.
Prior to deindustrialisation in the late-20th century, Milnrow's economy was linked closely with a spinning and weaving tradition which had evolved from developments in textile manufacture during the Industrial Revolution. Modern sectors in the area include engineering, packaging materials, dyeing and finishing, and ink production. The main street comprises a variety of shops, restaurants and food outlets.

The biggest employers are Holroyd Machine Tools, who have been based in the town for over 100 years and have a workforce of 160. Its parent company Renold PLC employs a further 200 people at a base in there. Global industrial and consumer packaging company Sonoco operate a warehouse in the town.

The Kingsway Business Park will be a "business-focused, mixed use development" occupying land between Milnrow and Rochdale, adjacent to junction 21 of the M62 motorway; it is expected to employ 7,250 people directly and 1,750 people indirectly by around 2020. Kingsway Metrolink stationmarker is a station proposed in Phase 3a of the Manchester Metrolink expansion, and will serve Kingsway Business Park.


The Grade II listed Church of St James, Milnrow's Anglican parish church, was built in 1869 and is dedicated to James the Apostle. It is part of the Church of England and lies within the Diocese of Manchestermarker. The origins of the church can be traced to a chantry built by the Byrons in the year 1400. When that baronial family moved from Milnrow to another of their homes following the Wars of the Roses, the local population was left without a place of worship and a chapel was constructed by the River Beal to serve this community. This structure existed until the 1790s, when a "poorly designed" chapel was erected and consecrated; however, due to structural weaknesses, that church was demolished in 1814. Following an interim period when a "plain building" was used for worship, the present church building was built and consecrated by the Bishop of Manchester on 21 August 1869.

Described as "by far the most distinctive and splendid building in the district", the neo-Gothic Newhey, St Thomas parish church was built in 1876 and served a new Anglican parish of Newhey created in the same year. Dedicated to Thomas the Apostle, it is part of the Church of England, and its patron is the Bishop of Manchester. The church was extensively damaged in an arson attack on 21 December 2007.
Milnrow War Memorial is a Grade II listed structure listing the men who fought and died in the two World Wars.
Milnrow War Memorial is located in Memorial Park at Newhey, and is a Grade II listed structure. The war memorial was originally sited in central Milnrow, set back from the road near Milnrow Bridge, and was unveiled on 3 August 1924 by Major General A. Solly-Flood, a former commander of 42nd Division. The memorial is constructed of sandstone surmounted by a bronze statue of a World War I infantry soldier with rifle and fixed bayonet symbolic of the young manhood of the district in the early days of World War I. In selecting the design the Milnrow War Memorial Committee was influenced by the statue unveiled at Waterhead in Oldhammarker; the work of George Thomas. Thomas sculpted Milnrow's memorial in 1923. The plinth holds bronze and slate panels recording the names of those who died in the two World Wars.

Clegg Hallmarker is a 17th-century hall and Grade II* listed building situated in green space between Milnrow, Rochdalemarker and Littleboroughmarker. It was constructed in about 1610 for Theophilus Aston and may have been built on the site of a mediaeval house and inn.

In Newhey is the Ellenroad Steam Museum, the retained engine house, boiler house, chimney and steam engine of Ellenroad Mill, a former 1892-built cotton mill designed by Sir Philip Stott, 1st Baronet. Now operated as an industrial heritage centre, the mill itself is no longer standing, but the steam engine (the world’s largest working steam mill engine) is maintained and steamed once a month by the Ellenroad Trust. The museum has the only fully-working cotton mill engine with its original steam-raising plant in the world. Ellenroad Mill produced fine cotton yarn using mule spinning.

Hollingworth Lakemarker lies beyond Milnrow, by Littleboroughmarker and is part of a local country park. It was built in 1801 as a feeder reservoir for the Rochdale Canalmarker, but it soon became a tourist destination for local people during their leisure time. The lake covers an area of and the path around it originally measured .


Public transport in Milnrow is co-ordinated by the Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive, and services include bus and rail transport. Major A roads link Milnrow with other settlements, including the A640 road, which forms a route from Rochdale and over the Pennines into Huddersfieldmarker and West Yorkshire.

Milnrow railway stationmarker was on the Oldham Loop Line which connected Manchestermarker, Oldhammarker and Rochdalemarker. The station was constructed in 1862 by navvies drafted by contractors under the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway. On 12 August 1863, the line was opened to commercial traffic and 2 November 1863, to passenger trains. Milnrow station was originally staffed, and the line through it was dual-track; however, following the Beeching Axe of the 1960s, this section was reduced to single-track in 1980. Milnrow railway station closed on 3 October 2009 to be converted for use with an expanded Manchester Metrolink network. The station is planned to reopen in 2012 as Milnrow Metrolink stationmarker; also opening at this time will be Kingsway Metrolink stationmarker and New Hey railway stationmarker.

Milnrow is situated at Junction 21 of the trans-Pennine M62 motorway. Construction of the Milnrow part of the M62 began in April 1967, a process which spread mud and dirt throughout the town. The official opening of the motorway on 13 October 1971 was by Queen Elizabeth II, who was welcomed by the Lord Lieutenant of Lancashire and Chairman of Milnrow Urban District Council and his wife. Once opened, the Queen cast aside protocol for an informal meeting with the people of Milnrow.

The Rochdale Canalmarker—one of the major navigable broad canals of Great Britain—passes along Milnrow's north-western boundary which divides it from the village of Wardlemarker and districts of Belfieldmarker and Castletonmarker in Rochdale. The Rochdale Canal was historically used as a highway of commerce for the haulage of cotton, wool, and coal to and from the area.

Bus services operate to Rochdale, Newhey, Oldham, Manchester and Littleborough, mainly operated by First Manchester.


The Free School of Milnrow was founded in 1726. From 1739 until his death in 1786 the schoolmaster was the caricaturist John Collier. Newhey Council School was constructed in 1911. Milnrow St James School evolved into the modern primary school, Milnrow Parish Church of England Primary. It is a denominational school with the Church of England, linked with Milnrow's Anglican parish church, St James's. There are further primary schools, in central Milnrow named Moorhouse County Primary and Crossgates County Primary, and at Newhey named Newhey Community Primary, all of which are non-denominational. Hollingworth Business and Enterprise College (formerly Hollingworth High) is a secondary school in Milnrow. It is a co-educational school of non-denominational religion, and was given Business and Enterprise College status under the Specialist School Programme. Other learning facilities in Milnrow include a 1907-built Carnegie library.


Milnrow C.C. are a cricket club based at Ladyhouse in Milnrow, and who have played in the Central Lancashire Cricket League since its foundation in 1892. Milnrow C.C. formed in 1857 from a group of local businessmen who felt the district deserved its own distinct team. Members of the club were recruited and teams were selected to play other clubs in the surrounding townships.

The Soccer Village consists of four indoor pitches in an arena with grandstand spectator seating for 300. It is used for casual, amateur and organised leagues and tournaments.

There has been a golf course at Tunshillmarker since 1901. It is affiliated with the English Golf Union.

New Milnrow and Newhey Rugby League Club are the local Rugby league team.

Public services

Home Office policing in Milnrow is provided by the Greater Manchester Police. The force's "(P) Division" have their headquarters for policing the Metropolitan Borough of Rochdalemarker in Rochdale and the nearest police station is at Littleboroughmarker to the north. Statutory emergency fire and rescue service is provided by the Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, which has one station in Rochdale on Maclure Road.

There are no hospitals in Milnrow—the nearest are in the larger settlements of Oldham and Rochdale. The Rochdale Infirmary in north-central Rochdale and Birch Hill Hospital near the villages of Wardlemarker and Littleboroughmarker, are NHS hospitals administrated by Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust. Birch Hill occupies the former Rochdale Union Workhouse at Dearnley. The North West Ambulance Service provides emergency patient transport.

Waste management is co-ordinated by the local authority via the Greater Manchester Waste Disposal Authority. Milnrow's Distribution Network Operator for electricity is United Utilities; there are no power stations in the area, but a Wind farm exists on Scout Moor which consists of 26 turbines on the high moors between Rawtenstallmarker and Rochdale, generating 65MW of electricity. United Utilities also manages Milnrow's drinking and waste water; water supplies are sourced from several local reservoirs, including Kitcliffemarker, Piethornemarker and Roodenmarker in Milnrow's outlying moorland between Newheymarker and Denshawmarker.

Notable people

John Collier (who wrote under the pseudonym of Tim Bobbin) was an acclaimed 18th-century caricaturist and satirical poet who was raised and spent all his adult life in Milnrow. Born in Urmstonmarker in 1708, Collier was schoolmaster for Milnrow. Inspired by William Hogarth, Collier's work savagely lampooned the behaviour of upper and lower classes alike, and was written in a strong Lancashire dialect. Many of his works and personal possessions are preserved in Milnrow's library. Francis Robert Raines (1805-1878) was the Anglican vicar of Milnrow, and an antiquary. He edited 23 volumes for the Chetham Society publications. He was ordained in 1828, and after short appointments at Saddleworthmarker and Rochdale, he was vicar at Milnrow for the rest of his life. John Milne was a professor, geologist and mining engineer who invented a pioneering seismograph (known as the Milne-Shaw seismograph) to detect and measure earthquakes. Although born in Liverpoolmarker in 1850 owing to a brief visit there by his parents, Milne was raised in Rochdale and at Tunshill in Milnrow. Other notable people of Milnrow include Lizzy Bardsley, who, in 2003, gained fame from appearing on Channel 4's Wife Swap.




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