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Saddleworth History

Saddleworth History

History, legends and traditions of the Saddleworth Area

Saddleworth has a long and varied history with legend and local folk lore surrounding many an interesting and compelling story. Its history can be traced way back to the Stone Age, where there are signs of early settlement. There is evidence of Roman occupation in a succession of two small forts at Castleshaw.

Saddleworth derives its culture, identity and history from its location, a beautiful, moorland landscape on the Yorkshire/Lancashire border with an industrial heritage, where local traditions and a sense of community survive.

Some of Saddleworth's traditions include an annual Whit Friday Band Contest in each village (the first recorded one was in 1884) which is now followed the day after by the Saddleworth Round Table Beerwalk, started in 1974. There’s the annual Saddleworth Rushcart, which celebrates the ancient practice of renewing the rush flooring in the public buildings, i.e. the pubs and churches, by pulling a cart laden with rushes around the area and stopping at appropriate pubs. Morris Men dance at Greenfield's Maundy Thursday Road End Fair, and in Saddleworth villages on Good Friday.

Our Links page includes very interesting sites that specialise in Saddleworth history and traditions, and are worth visiting for more in depth information. The rich, local history can also be discovered and studied in the Museum and libraries.

Greenfield itself was once a woollen town, and a few of the mills still remain today. Here is a short list of useful, historical facts about the village.

Pots and Pans – War memorial erected in 1923 to commemorate the deaths of 259 Saddleworth men in the ‘Great War’. In 1951 the names of 75 Springhead men that died in the same war were added, and the names of 87 Saddleworth men lost in the Second World War were recorded.

The Clarence Hotel – opened 1861

King William IV – Affectionately known as the King Bill. Originally a house before 1820. Opened for the sale of alcohol in 1830 by John Bottomley, a grocer and sundries retailer. On 7th April 1832 the pub was used for the inquest into the murders of William Bradbury (Bill o’ Jack’s) and his son Thomas (Tom o’ Bill’s). The murders took place five days earlier at The Cherry Tree Inn, which was off Holmfirth Road, but is no longer standing. They remain unsolved and have grown into a legendary story throughout Saddleworth. At the inquest there was insufficient evidence to find anyone guilty.

Road End – The name given to the area where the crossroad of Kinders Lane and Ladhill Lane meets Chew Valley Road. Chew Valley Road used to stop where King William IV is, hence its name. Maundy Thursday Fairs traditionally take place there every year, with Morris Men dancing. The Morris Men also dance in Saddleworth villages every Good Friday.

Boarshurst Band Club – Brass Band Club founded in 1849.

Greenfield Cricket Club -  Started in 1873 as Bentfield Cricket Club, a works team for the employees of Bentfield Mill, which was demolished in 1980 for the erection of the Chew Brook Drive estate. The Saddleworth and District Cricket League was formed at a meeting in 1898, but Bentfield’s financially struggling club was taken over by Greenfield Cricket Club to preserve cricket in the village.

Ladhill Bridge – The River Chew runs under the bridge, meandering to join the River Tame. The bridge is on a traditional Roman route. In 1781 there was reference to Ladhill being the common public horse and footbridge in the “pack and prime way, leading from the village of Marsden to the town of Mottram.”