The final resting place of the famous Rochdale-born MP, John Bright, who helped bring about massive social change during the Victorian period, has been given a £100,000 makeover by the council.
The late social reformer, who played a major role in the abolition of the corn laws, which kept the price of food artificially high, was laid to rest at the Society of Friends (Quaker) Burial Ground in Ball Street, which has just been transformed.
'Bright was a friend of former American President, Abraham Lincoln'
Before his death in 1889 Bright rose to become one of the world's most famous politicians and his advice was even sought by US President Abraham Lincoln, who was his friend, confidante and admirer.
The area, which was also home to St Stephen's Church before its demolition in 1949, has benefitted from new benches and paths, interpretations boards which detail the history of the site and heritage-style wrought iron railings. The whole area has also been tidied up and trees will be planted on the site later in the year.
The site will be officially re-opened this Saturday (7 October 2017) at 2pm by John Bright's descendant and current MP for Stone in Staffordshire, Sir Bill Cash, who wrote the book 'John Bright: Statesman, Orator, Agitator'.
'Members of the public invited to attend the re-opening at 2pm on Saturday, 7 October 2017'
The event, which is open to members of the public, will also be attended by the Mayor of Rochdale, Councillor Ian Duckworth and local Quakers, John Griffiths and Rae Street.
Councillor Richard Farnell, leader of the council, said: "John Bright is one of our greatest parliamentarians and was a real champion of working people. I believe he is one of the leading statesman of the 19th century and a personal friend of Abraham Lincoln. His tireless campaigning led to the abolition of the corn laws in 1846, making food more affordable for ordinary people, and his vocal opposition to slavery has seen him honoured with a bust in the White House in Washington.
"Closer to home, as an important part of our borough's great radical political tradition, John Bright is honoured with a statue in Broadfield Park and a bust in our town hall. Now that the transformation of his resting place is complete, we have the final piece in the jigsaw.
"I'd urge our residents to come along and join our celebration at
2pm on Saturday, 7 October 2017, so they can find out more about out borough's fascinating history."
The makeover was funded by section 106 developer contributions from the nearby Dean Street residential scheme.