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Ramsbottom is a small town in North West England. It lies mostly within the Metropolitan Borough of Burymarker in Greater Manchestermarker, with outlying areas in the Borough of Rossendalemarker in Lancashiremarker. It is located along the course of the River Irwell and the M66 motorway, in a deep valley amongst the West Pennine Moorsmarker, north-northwest of Burymarker, and north-northwest of Manchestermarker. At the time of the 2001 census Ramsbottom had a population of 14,635.

Evidence of ancient burial sites and artefacts has been discovered in the hills surrounding the town, suggesting that humans have inhabited the area since at least 4,000 BC. Throughout antiquity what became Ramsbottom is believed to have been a dense forest lining the Irwell. The name Ramsbottom is believed to derive from the Old English words ramm and botm, meaning "valley of the ram". The early Anglo-Saxons who gave Ramsbottom its name lived in crofts, progressively felling the woodland as the demand for timber grew during the Middle Ages. Ramsbottom remained a small scattering woods, farmsteads, moorland, and swamp with a small and close community of families until the late-18th century .

With its readily available source of water power, Sir Robert Peel purchased land in Ramsbottom in the late-18th century to commence a major manufacturing career. It is this exchange that effectively founded Ramsbottom as a homogeneous settlement; the factory system, and Industrial Revolution facilitated a process of unplanned urbanisation in the area, contributing to the area becoming an important and populous mill town. A network of roads and railways routed through Ramsbottom allowed for a series of diverse industries, including calico-printing, cotton spinning, machine-making, rope-making, and iron and brass founding. Imports of foreign goods during the mid-20th century precipitated the decline of these sectors however.

In 1974, the Ramsbottom Urban Districtmarker was dissolved, with the urban Central, East, South and West wards joining the Metropolitan Borough of Bury, the rural North ward to the Borough of Rossendale. Today, Ramsbottom is described as a "thriving unspoiled town with a wealth of attractions". Its Victorian architecture, Pennine landscape and East Lancashire Railwaymarker station have revived Ramsbottom as a regional centre for cultural tourism, particularly for its industrial heritage. Economically, Ramsbottom is supported by its immediate proximity to the M66 motorway, which allows for commutes to and from the major cities of North West England, and beyond.

History

The name probably means "rams valley" from Old English ramm (ram) and botm (valley). However some toponymists interpret it as wild-garlic-valley, with the first element representing the Old English hramsa meaning "wild garlic". A record from 1324 giving the name as Ramesbothum is inconclusive. The town was alternatively recorded as Ramysbothom in 1540.

There are a significant number of Bronze Age burial sites around Ramsbottom, the most notable of which is Whitelow Cairn, one mile (1.6 km) southeast of Ramsbottom town centre and three miles (4.8 km) north of Burymarker. The cairn was excavated by Bury Archaeological Group between 1960–62, under the leadership of Norman Tyson. Finds include one main cremation and seven secondary cremations, four in urns, dating to the mid Bronze Age. The artefacts found during the excavation are now housed in Bury Museum.

Ramsbottom developed during the 19th century as a mill town. It had mills for spinning, weaving, and printing. Its Square Mill was in its day innovative in combining many such processes under one roof.

Geography

Ramsbottom is bounded to the south by Holcombe Brookmarker and Summerseatmarker; to the north by Edenfieldmarker, Irwell Valemarker, Stubbinsmarker and the hamlets of Chattertonmarker and Strongstrymarker; to the west by Holcombemarker and to the east by Shuttleworthmarker and Turn Villagemarker.

The area is characterised by its position in the Rossendale Valley and The West Pennine Moorsmarker. The high ground rises sharply on either side of the town with Holcombe Moor, Harcles Hill and Bull Hill to the west and Top O' Th' Hoof, Harden Moor, Scout Moor and Whittle Hill to the east.

Landmarks

Peel Tower, Holcombe Moor

The Peel Monument looking south towards Bury
The skyline over the town is dominated by the Peel Monumentmarker which stands atop Harcles Hill (known locally as Holcombe Hill), a memorial to Sir Robert Peel, a 19th century British Prime Minister best remembered as the creator of the modern British Police Force, born in neighbouring Burymarker. The tower itself stands tall on Holcombe Moor. Even from the foot of the tower, there are spectacular views over West Yorkshire, North Lancashire, Greater Manchestermarker, North Walesmarker and the Lancashire Plain. From the top of the tower it is possible to see Blackpool Towermarker on a clear day.

The tower was completed in 1852 at a cost of almost £1,000. This cost was met from public subscriptions by a people grateful for Peel's role in the repeal of the Corn Laws, legislation that had driven up the price of bread for the working masses.

East Lancashire Railway

A popular way to visit Ramsbottom is via the East Lancashire Railwaymarker during weekends and public holidays. This preserved heritage railway runs diesel and steam services through the year with main stopping points at Rawtenstall, Ramsbottom, Bury and Heywood. The district straddles the A676, A56 and B6214 roads with its centre north of Burymarker, south of Rawtenstallmarker and north east of Boltonmarker. It is interesting to note that the railway actually crosses the main street of Ramsbottom.

Grant Arms Hotel

The Grant Arms Hotel in the Market Place was at one time the home of William and Daniel Grant, brothers and 19th century industrialists, who settled in the area after leaving their native Scotlandmarker. It is said that the Grant brothers were the inspiration for the Cheeryble brothers in Charles Dickens' Nicholas Nickleby.

Until 1944, Grant's Tower, erected in 1828, stood on the eastern side of the valley (above Park Congregational Chapel) in memory of the Grant brothers.

Tilted Vase

Ramsbottom is on the path of the Irwell Sculpture Trail. The 'Tilted Vase' by Edward Allington, a sculpture both classical in shape to reflect the surrounding buildings but apparently bolted together to reflect the old industries, is located in the Market Place. This piece of work, weighing around two tons, was funded with £250,000 of National Lottery money.

Nuttall Park

A large park with facilities for bowls, tennis, football and public events. The park hosts regular fun fairs and family events, and is a popular attraction with locals and tourists alike.

Culture and community

Black Pudding Throwing Championships

The World Black Pudding Throwing Championships are now held annually at the Royal Oak pub on Bridge Street in the town centre, having previously been held at The Corner Pin pub (no longer there), in Stubbinsmarker, Lancashiremarker. Participants have to throw (underarm) the puddings in an attempt to dislodge a stack of Yorkshire puddings placed on plinths on two levels (one for children, the other for adults), symbolising the ancient rivalry between Lancashiremarker and Yorkshiremarker. The winner is the one who dislodges most Yorkshire puddings in three attempts. In August 2002 this event was staged as the Commonwealth Black Pudding Throwing Championships.

Good Friday traditions

Hundreds of people climb Holcombe Hill each year on Good Friday. Historically this gathering had a principally religious purpose as the hill is said to be strikingly similar to Calvary, the hill on which Jesus was crucified. A smaller gathering of people also keep alive the tradition of egg rolling before starting the climb. The large gatherings on the hill are clearly visible from miles away, and occasionally attract unorthodox religious preachers, who sometimes preach on the hill.

In recent years the celebrations have become more secular, with the public house at the bottom of Holcombe Hill attracting as many as 3,000 visitors if the weather is good. This has led to complaints from local residents and to restrictions being imposed by the local council.

Old English Gamecock Show

Since 1843 there has been an annual exhibition of game fowl, held on New Years Day at the Old Dun Horse Hotel.This competitive show replaced the annual cockfight that took place in the town square following the New Year Holcome Huntmarker.The exhibition, which is organised by the Holcombe Old English Game Fowl Club, is said to be the oldest gamecock show in the world.

Religion

The Ramsbottom and Edenfield Team Ministry exists to share out the few reverends and priests that serve in the Ramsbottom and Edenfield areas, to make sure that all churches receive regular services.

Sixteen of the Churches are part of Churches Together in Ramsbottom

  • Christ Church Baptist Methodist Church
  • Dundee United Reformed Church
  • Edenfield CE Parish Church
  • Edenfield Methodist Church
  • Emmanuel Church Centre, Holcombe Brook
  • Emmanuel Holcombe CE Church, Holcombe
  • Greenmount United Reformed Church, Greenmount
  • Holcombe Brook Methodist Church
  • Ramsbottom Pentecostal Church
  • Ramsbottom Evangelical Church
  • Rowlands Methodist Church, Summerseat
  • St. Andrew's CE Church
  • St. Mary's CE Church, Hawkshaw
  • St. John in the Wilderness CE Church, Shuttleworth
  • St. Joseph's RC Church
  • St. Paul's CE Church
  • St. Philip's CE, Chatterton
  • Darul Uloom Islamic College


Education

  • Edenfield CE Primary, Stubbins Community Primary, St Joseph's RC Primary, St Andrew's CE Primary, Hazelhurst County Primary, Emmanuel Holcomce CE Primary, Holcombe Brook Community Primary, Summerseat Methodist Primary, Peel Brow Primary
  • Rossendale School is a specialist residential and day school for girls and boys aged eight to 16 with behavioural, emotional and social difficulties. The school was founded in 1989. The school's headteacher is David Duncan.
  • Woodhey High Schoolmarker
  • Darul Uloom Islamic College


Sports

Ramsbottom Cricket Club play in the Lancashire League. The team has included professional players such as Chris Harris (New Zealand), Brad Hodge (Australia and Lancashire CCC, and Ian Harvey (Australia and currently Derbyshire CCC). Its ground, close to Ramsbottom railway stationmarker, has a reputation as being one of the best and most picturesque in the north west of England. Ramsbottom United Football Clubmarker play in the North West Counties Football League Division One (level 9 in the English Football League System). The club's home games are played at its floodlit pitch, the Riverside Ground, adjacent to the cricket ground.

Arts and entertainment

Summerseat Players

Ramsbottom's non-professional dramatic group is called the Summerseat Players, a registered charity that is run entirely not-for-profit. It typically puts on five performances in each season, as well as a number of other events such as performances by local schools and dance groups, along with the company's own youth theatre groups.

The group has existed since 1968, and originally performed at the St. Winifred's Church Hall in Summerseatmarker. In 1990, with donations and loans from members and enthusiasts, the company purchased what is now the Theatre Royal on Smithy Street, Ramsbottom.

Live Music

Ramsbottom is home to an annual rhythm & blues festival and has a number of pubs and bars which host live music in varying degrees of regularity; amongst these are The First Chop and The Brook. The town is also famous as being home to the now defunct pub The Corner Pin, where the internationally renowned band Elbow played their first gig.

RammyFest

The first RammyFest was held on the 29 and 30 August 2009 to celebrate the launch of http://www.ramsbottomonline.com and featured live music at The First Chop, The Grants Arms, The Shoulder of Mutton, The Lounge and The Chocolate Cafe. The Cordels headlined the Grants Arms and Haçiendamarker resident Graeme Park DJed at The First Chop.

References

Notes

  1. 2001 census data
  2. Roome, A: Dictionary of Place-Names Bloomsbury (1988) ISBN 0-7475-0170
  3. Nicolaisen, Gelling & Richards, The Names of Towns and Cities in Britain, p. 157.
  4. Bury Council reference to Peel Tower, Holcombe Moor
  5. Easter Traditions
  6. Bury Council
  7. Rossendale School, ISBI.
  8. Summerseat Players


Bibliography



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