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The Obelisk on Alderman's Hill overlooking Greenfield towards Oldham

Saddleworth shown within Greater Manchester
Area  29.4 sq mi (76 km2)
Population 24,351  (2001 Census)
   – density  828/sq mi (320/km2)
OS grid reference
   – London  161 mi (259 km) SSE 
Metropolitan borough Oldham
Metropolitan county Greater Manchester
Region North West
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town OLDHAM
Postcode district OL3, OL4
Dialling code 01457, 0161
Police Greater Manchester
Fire Greater Manchester
Ambulance North West
EU Parliament North West England
UK Parliament Oldham East and Saddleworth
Website Saddleworth Parish Council
List of places
Greater Manchester

Saddleworth is a civil parish of the Metropolitan Borough of Oldham in Greater Manchester, England.[1][2] It comprises several villages and hamlets amongst the west side of the Pennine hills: Austerlands, Delph, Denshaw, Diggle, Dobcross, Friezland, Grasscroft, Greenfield, Grotton, Lydgate, Scouthead, Springhead, Uppermill.[3]

Saddleworth, which lies east of the large town of Oldham and 11 miles (17.7 km) east-northeast of the city of Manchester, is broadly rural, has a scattered population of 24,351,[4] making it one of the larger civil parishes in the United Kingdom.

Huddersfield Narrow Canal and several railways.

Following the Great Depression Saddleworth's textile sector declined. Much of Saddleworth's architecture and infrastructure dates from its textile processing days however, notably the Saddleworth Viaduct and several cottages and terraces, many built by the local Mill Owners.

For centuries Saddleworth was linked, ecclesiastically, with the parish of Rochdale and was long talked of as the part of Yorkshire where Lancastrians lived.[5] The former Saddleworth Urban District was the only part of the West Riding to have been amalgamated into Greater Manchester in 1974.[1] However, strong cultural links with Yorkshire remain amongst its communities.[2][6] There are several brass bands in the parish.


  • History 1
    • Early history 1.1
    • Industrial history 1.2
  • Governance 2
    • Parliamentary representation 2.1
  • Geography 3
    • Settlements 3.1
  • Demography 4
    • Population change 4.1
  • Culture 5
    • Identity 5.1
    • Whit Friday 5.2
    • Sadd Fest 5.3
    • Rushcart 5.4
    • Yanks Weekend 5.5
    • Yorkshire Day 5.6
    • Sport 5.7
  • References 6
  • External links 7


Early history

The first documentary evidence of Saddleworth appears in the Domesday Book in which it is referred to as "Quick", spelt "Thoac"; where it is described as "Land of the King in Eurvicsire (Yorkshire), Agbrigg Wapentake."[7]

The history of the region clearly dates further back than the Domesday Book however. Place names derived from Celtic and Anglian dialects, along with the discovery of flint arrowheads and gold Viking rings all point to a much earlier Saddleworth, possibly as old as the Stone Age. A Roman road from Chester to York passed through the area. Castleshaw Roman fort was built to defend and patrol the local section of the road. The first fort on the site was an Agricolan period fort, built in turf and timber c.AD 79. This was refurbished soon after construction and then abandoned c.AD 95. Within the south eastern half of the fort, a fortlet was constructed, also in turf and timber, c.AD 105. This was redeveloped during its brief occupation and then abandoned again in c.AD 125.[8] In the Saddleworth area is a bowl barrow, which may be Bronze Age, located at:- (grid reference ). Despite excavations, no grave goods or human remains have been found in the barrow.[9]

Industrial history

Saddleworth Viaduct was built originally to aid the transporting of goods during the Industrial Revolution, as was the Huddersfield Narrow Canal, which passes under it.

The steep slopes of the Saddleworth area and the acidic soils of the region have never been particularly conducive to intensive farming; meaning that long before the Victorian era, Saddleworth already had a long established, albeit domestic, textile tradition. Small, basic mills had been existent in Saddleworth before the industrial revolution, but these were increasingly replaced by larger more intensive establishments. By the end of Queen Victoria's reign, mechanised textile production had become a vital part of the local economy.

The boom in industry that had occurred in Saddleworth during the Industrial Revolution called for greater transport links. Construction of the Huddersfield Narrow Canal was begun in 1794, at the height of Canal Mania, connecting Huddersfield to Stalybridge via Saddleworth and completed seventeen years later in 1811; when the Standedge Canal Tunnel at Diggle was finally opened. The decline of canals and the rise of steam powered locomotives left the canal falling behind the competition, and so it was decided that a railway tunnel would be built parallel to the canal, which was completed in 1848. The rise in traffic demanded a second tunnel be built, completed in 1871. Both of these were single line tunnels and eventually superseded by the 1894 tunnel, a double line tunnel, which is the only one of the three still regularly carrying passengers.

Unlike the majority of the Oldham Metropolitan Borough, where the industrial architecture was generally constructed from Accrington redbrick, Saddleworth's textiles mills and supporting infrastructure was made from the local millstone grit. This is in keeping with other settlements amongst the southwest Pennines, such as Milnrow near Rochdale.


Although on the western side of the Pennine watershed, Saddleworth, or 'Quick' as it was once known, has lain within the historic county boundaries of Yorkshire since the middle ages. From a very ancient time, the area formed part of the Agbrigg Wapentake, in the "Land of the King in Eurvicsire" (Yorkshire).[7]

For a time, during the 17th century, Saddleworth constituted a chapelry within the ancient parish of Rochdale in Salfordshire, which was otherwise entirely in the ancient county of Lancashire.[1]

In 1866 it became a civil parish in its own right and in 1889 became part of the administrative county of the West Riding of Yorkshire. In 1894 the parish's boundaries were altered with the parts in Quickmere Middle Division (Springhead), Mossley and Uppermill becoming Urban Districts. The residue became a single-parish rural district.

In 1872, Saddleworth was recorded to be "a hamlet, a chapelry, a township, and a district, in Rochdale parish and West Riding of Yorkshire".[10] At this time, a post office for the area was found under the name of Uppermill which was under Manchester.

In 1900 the boundaries were changed again with the inclusion of Uppermill, and the single-parish rural district being instead replaced by the "Saddleworth Urban District".[11] In 1937 it incorporated Springhead Urban District.[11]

Under the Local Government Act 1972, the West Riding of Yorkshire was abolished[12] and Saddleworth was incorporated into the Metropolitan Borough of Oldham in the metropolitan county of Greater Manchester.[1]

Unlike neighbouring Shaw and Crompton, Saddleworth is a Successor parish, and thus was automatically granted civil parish status in 1974, when its urban district status was abolished. Up until 1996, Saddleworth's official postal county was Lancashire, due to it forming part of the Oldham post town. Postal counties were abolished in 1996.

Parliamentary representation

Saddleworth forms part of the Oldham East and Saddleworth parliamentary constituency, of which the Member of Parliament is Debbie Abrahams. It is split into three electoral wards; Saddleworth North, Saddleworth South and Saddleworth West and Lees


Saddleworth makes up around 52% 29.4 square miles (76 km2) of the Metropolitan Borough of Oldham in terms of area, and remains largely rural. Saddleworth Moor in the Dark Peak area of the Peak District National Park is a moorland plateau that straddles the boundary with West Yorkshire.

Bounded directly to the west by Oldham and the Metropolitan Borough of Rochdale in the north, Tameside in the south and Kirklees in the east. Saddleworth is 12 miles (19 km) southwest of Huddersfield.


Saddleworth contains a collection of villages and hamlets, including:

Settlement Population OS Grid reference Image
Austerlands c. 350
Castleshaw c. 350
Delph c. 2,000 grid reference
Denshaw c. 500 grid reference
Diggle c. 1,500 grid reference
Dobcross c. 1,000
Friezland c. 350
Grasscroft c. 900
Greenfield c. 5,000 grid reference
Grotton c. 3,000
Heights c. 10 grid reference
Lydgate c. 350
Scouthead c. 750
Springhead c.2,000 grid reference
Uppermill 7,475 grid reference


At the 2001 UK census, Saddleworth had a total population of 24,351. For every 100 females, there were 94.7 males.[4] The average household size was 2.39.[13] Of those aged 16–74 in Saddleworth, 45.3% had no academic qualifications or one GCSE, lower than the figures for all of the Metropolitan Borough of Oldham (55.2%) and about the same for England (45.5%).[14][15] According to the census, 1.9% were unemployed and 28.2% were economically inactive.[14] 18.5% of the population were under the age of 16 and 7.3% were aged 75 and over; the mean age of the people of Saddleworth was 40.92. 71.5% of residents described their health as 'good'.[16]

Population change

Population growth in Saddleworth since 1901
Year 1901 1911 1921 1931 1939 1951 1961 1971 2001
Population 12,320 12,603 12,562 12,574 17,064 16,761 17,024 20,575 24,351
Source: A Vision of Britain through Time



Since the local government reforms of 1974, some of the people of Saddleworth have been uneasy about their primary geographic reference frame, with parts of the local community feeling aggrieved at Saddleworth forming part of Greater Manchester. Saddleworth, where the local architecture of stone cottages is of the Yorkshire type, is the only part of the Metropolitan Borough of Oldham to come from the historic county boundaries of Yorkshire, the rest being from Lancashire. It is also the only part of the metropolitan county of Greater Manchester which lay within those borders. Greater Manchester is based on the conurbation of towns surrounding the city of Manchester with relatively few villages in between. However, Saddleworth is highly rural, and, for the purposes of the Office for National Statistics, most of the parish's territory does not form part of the Greater Manchester Urban Area.[17]

The Yorkshire Day (1 August) to promote its contention that Saddleworth remains part of the West Riding of Yorkshire. The Prince of Wales referred to Saddleworth's continuing Yorkshire status when he visited the area in 2001 saying "The fact that Saddleworth is still part of the historic West Riding is extremely important".[18]

In 2004, public meetings were held to discuss the feasibility of splitting Saddleworth from the Borough of Oldham. Some residents at the time said they would prefer to become part of the metropolitan county of West Yorkshire or a new South Pennine authority, connecting rural towns and villages on both sides of the border. Even though such a move could involve merging with the neighbouring Metropolitan Borough of Kirklees, Oldham councillors maintained the split was not feasible as Saddleworth does not have sufficient hospital provision, civic buildings, transport, schooling nor other infrastructure in its own right. Councillor Ken Hulme arranged a meeting for the matter to be discussed. One councillor remarked "They [Saddleworth] want a bigger slice of the pie than the rest of the borough. The people of the rest of Oldham are not going to subsidise Saddleworth, and Saddleworth can't go it alone. It couldn't afford to provide the services it needs."[19]

In 2010, Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council erected new signs along its boundaries. Those marking the boundary of Saddleworth say 'in the historic County of York' at the top, alongside a white rose.[20] Later in the year, signs were unveiled by local dignitaries at Grains Bar marking the historic border between Lancashire and Yorkshire.[21]

Whit Friday

Saddleworth has a large number of annual customs and traditions, many of which are held during Whitsuntide. On Whit Friday morning, congregations from the churches of all of the Saddleworth villages hold their Walk of Witness and congregate in Uppermill to take part in a religious service. Later in the evening, the Whit Friday brass band contests take place. The band contests originated in Saddleworth and the nearby towns of Mossley and Stalybridge in 1884 and are still centred on the local area. The first band to win in Uppermill was the Wyke Temperance Band. Bands from around the country, and indeed the world, travel to the area annually to compete. Due to the huge popularity of the event, Whit Friday band contests are now held in others of Saddleworth's surrounding villages. In the village of Dobcross a Henry Livings memorial prize is open to bands who play on any of the morning's walks on Whit Friday.

Sadd Fest

The Festival spotlights musical talent from local bands and artists to raise money for charity.[22] This event was started in 2013 by the Saddleworth branch of the

  • Saddleworth Parish Council
  • Saddleworth News
  • Dobcross Diary
  • Saddleworth Online
  • Saddleworth Historical Society
  • Saddleworth Museum

External links

  1. ^ a b c d "Greater Manchester Gazetteer". Greater Manchester County Record Office. Places names – S. Archived from the original on 18 July 2011. Retrieved 9 July 2007. 
  2. ^ a b Dyckhoff, Tom (9 December 2011). "Let's move to: Saddleworth, Greater Manchester". The Guardian (London). 
  3. ^ Saddleworth Parish Council. "Reference Map of Saddleworth". Retrieved 13 September 2012. 
  4. ^ a b United Kingdom Census 2001. "Saddleworth CP (Parish)". Retrieved 5 April 2007. 
  5. ^ Hardy, Clive (2000). Greater Manchester: Photographic Memories. Francis Frith Collection. p. 60.  
  6. ^  
  7. ^ a b Various authors (1994). The Saddleworth Story (5th ed.). p. 10. 
  8. ^
  9. ^  
  10. ^ Great Britain Historical GIS Project (2004). "Descriptive Gazetteer Entry for Saddleworth". A vision of Britain through time. University of Portsmouth. Retrieved 23 April 2007. 
  11. ^ a b Great Britain Historical GIS Project (2004). "Saddleworth UD through time. Census tables with data for the Local Government District". A vision of Britain through time. University of Portsmouth. Retrieved 5 April 2007. 
  12. ^ Great Britain Historical GIS Project (2004). "West Riding through time. Census tables with data for the Administrative County". A vision of Britain through time. University of Portsmouth. Retrieved 5 April 2007. 
  13. ^ "Saddleworth CP household data". Retrieved 1 May 2008. 
  14. ^ a b "Saddleworth CP and qualifications". Retrieved 1 May 2008. 
  15. ^ "Oldham metropolitan borough qualifications". Retrieved 1 May 2008. 
  16. ^ "Little Bollington civil parish census data". Retrieved 24 September 2007. 
  17. ^ [4]
  18. ^ David McKie: Elsewhere,The Guardian 23 September 2004
  19. ^ Who's for the Republic of Saddleworth?, Oldham Advertiser, 15 December 2004. URL accessed 27 October 2006.
  20. ^ [5], "Oldham Evening Chronicle", retrieved December 2010
  21. ^ [6], Saddleworth News, retrieved December 2010
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^ Saddleworth ARLFC
  27. ^


  • Saddleworth Cricket Club play home matches at their Well-i-Hole ground in Friezland. They are members of the Saddleworth & District Cricket League.[25]
  • Saddleworth Rangers are an amateur rugby league club who play home matches at Greenfield.[26]
  • Saddleworth Clarion is the area's cycling club, catering for on and off-road club cycling[27]
  • Tame Valley Tennis and Squash Club (TVTSC) is located in Greenfield providing four tennis courts and three squash courts.


The event has been held on 1 August every year, since 1975. Initially it was a protest movement against the Local Government re-organisation of 1974, The date alludes to the Battle of Minden; and the anniversary of the 1834 emancipation of slaves in the British Empire, for which Yorkshire MP William Wilberforce had campaigned.

Yorkshire Day

The event started in 2001 to celebrate the local filming of the Hollywood movie "YANKS" in 1979 starring Richard Gere. Many locations in Uppermill and neighbouring Dobcross were used in the film.[24]

Yanks Weekend

The origin of the event is unclear, however it is unlikely to be before 1800. By the early 20th century the tradition had died out due to the railways, as the local population travelled further for their annual break during the Saddleworth Wakes week. However The Rushcart was revived in 1975 by the newly formed Saddleworth Morris Men following research by Fred Broadbent and Peter Ashworth, who were able to still hear the stories of the Rushcart from the older members of the community. The audience at the time was small, which is in stark contrast to the numbers that gather now.

Saddleworth Rushcart in 2008



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