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Blue plaques

​​​​​Blue plaques celebrate famous people, places and historic events in the borough of Rochdale.

The first blue plaque programme started in London in 1866 on the initiative of reformer William Ewart (1798-1869), supported by the Society of Arts. Did you know that the first erected blue plaque commemorated one of Rochdale's most important figures, Lord George Gordon Byron, the poet, was an important figure for the town as he inherited the Manor of Rochdale in 1808 and was the last Byron to Lord of the Manor of Rochdale until 1826.Lord Byron at his birthplace, 24 Holles Street, Cavendish Square, London.

​​Gracie Fields purple plaque trail​

 ​​This trail marks places of significance in the life of the late Rochdale-born singer, actress and comedian, Dame Gracie Fields. The plaques’ purple colour is unique to this trail and distinguishes them from the wide range of blue plaques in the town.​

​​​Gracie Fields purple plaq​ue​ trail (1.5MB pdf)​

​​​​​​​Butterworth blue plaqueRochdale blue plaques walk

This Blue Plaque map will take you on a journey through the town centre to discover its rich cultural history. From the Old Duke of Wellington Hotel to the gothic marvel of the Town Hall, you can now use the guide to discover the rich history and influential people behind the pride of Rochdale.

View the 'Rochdale Blue Plaque Walk' (3MB pdf)​​

Blue plaques in Rochdale

BuildingGrade / YearInformation
Union Flag Inn
Lloyds Bank, Yorkshire St, Rochdale

Grade II Listed Building

1708

In 1745 a confrontation between the forces of Bonnie Prince Charlie and the town authorities took place here. Built as a residence it is a particularly early instance of accomplished classical architecture. Used as a bank since 1930.

Saint Chad's Vicarage
Former Rochdale Museum, Sparrow Hill, Rochdale

St Chads Vicarage 

Grade II Listed Building

C. 1726

Built for the Reverend Dunster, the design was based on a similar house in London.
Blue Bell Inn
20 Newgate, Rochdale

Grade II Listed Building

1745-1911

One of only four public houses listed in the 1626 Manor Survey of Rochdale. The Blue Bell (rebuilt 1745) derives its name from the medieval church bell traditionally painted blue.
The Duke of Wellington Hotel
Nile Nightclub, Drake Street, Rochdale

Grade II Listed Building

C.1750

Originally a wealthy wool merchant's residence, this building became the Duke of Wellington Hotel in 1810, and was the leading coach house in Rochdale for many years. In front of this hotel, the "Speaker's Corner" hosted a crowd of 8,000 following the Reform Act of 1832.
John Bright
Wall of the "Society of Friends" (Quaker's) Burial Ground, George Street/Ball Street, Rochdale
1811-89John Bright 19th century social reformer and politician is buried here in this Society of Friends burial ground. He is mainly remembered for his association with Richard Cobden in forming the Anti-Corn Law League.
The Roebuck Public House
Yorkshire Street, Rochdale, OL16 1BH
C. 1814The first Roebuck Public House was built in 1660 on the Old Market Place and moved in 1783 to the ‘New Wall (now No 5 South Parade). During that time it was a key stop for horse-drawn coach and mail services throughout the north of England. The Earl of Uxbridge stopped here in 1817 to replace his cork leg after the Battle of Waterloo.

Bull Brow
Sparrow Hill, Rochdale

Bull Brow blue plaque 

1820It's believed that the name of this passage comes from cattle brought to the nearby slaughterhouses. This pathway led to the River Roch where bull-baiting was a regular attraction until the fatal event of November 8th 1820, marking the end of this savage pastime in Rochdale.
The Walk
3 South Parade, Rochdale, OL16 1LR
1824A key part of the urban fabric of Rochdale since the industrial revolution, this narrow ‘ginnel’ (historic street) has been a well-used route in the town centre for centuries. The walk was created by the Vavasour family to obtain easy access from their house (now The Lloyds bank) to the River Roch.
Champness Hall
Drake Street, Rochdale
1832-1905This hall bears the name of Thomas Champness, a Methodist minister and pioneer in lay training and community projects. His friend, Charles Heap J.P. founded the ‘Rochdale Mission’ which was housed in this building, so named in commemoration of Champness. Regular worship sessions were held in the Art Deco style auditorium, the centrepiece of the hall.
Church of Saint Edmund
Edmund Street, Rochdale
Grade I Listed
1870- 1873
The outstanding Freemasonic architecture represents the pinnacle of James Medland and Henry Taylors’ architectural skills.
The building was funded by notable Rochdale banker, industrialist and Freemason, Albert Hudson Royds.
Home of Alice Ingham
149 Yorkshire Street, Rochdale.
1830- 1890Alice Ingham was the funder of the Franciscan Missionaries of St. Joseph.

Town Hall
The Esplanade, Rochdale

Town hall 

Grade I Listed Building

1871-87

Following a disastrous fire in 1883 the tower was rebuilt in 1887 to designs by A. Waterhouse.

Nationally acclaimed as an outstanding example of Gothic Revival architecture.

County Court (former)
10 Fleece Street, Rochdale
1875Originally designed as a Post Office to house the increasing demands of a growing Rochdale, this building was the County Court of Rochdale from the 1930’s to 1998.

Touchstones Rochdale
The Esplanade, Rochdale

Touchstones 

Grade II listed building

1883

The Rochdale Town Hall fire of 1883 burned the clock tower library and led to the opening of this ‘Free Public Library’ one year later. Later expanding to include a Museum and Art Gallery, three sandstone panels representing ‘Science, Art & Literature’ were set into the front elevation. During WWII, the building accommodated a Food

Butterworth Jewellers
14 Drake Street, Rochdale

Butterworth jewellers 

1896

Since 1903, this property has been occupied by Butterworth Jewellers, which is the longest established family-run business within the town centre.

Wet Rake gardens
Junction of Drake Street, Oldham Road and Milnrow Road
1909Marking the top of this historic shopping street, Wet Rake Gardens replaced the Union Foundry, once owned by iron and brass founders John Halstead & Co.
Roch bridge
Touchstones garden wall, The Esplanade, Rochdale
1910-26The River Roch is bridged for a distance of 445 metres - the widest bridge in Europe. Originally dating from at least the early 17th century, it was first extended from Yorkshire Street to Wellington Bridge in 1904 and again in 1910, 1923 and 1926.
Fashion Corner
57 to 59 Drake Street, Rochdale
1922In 1922, this building was opened as the drapery emporium of the Rochdale Pioneers - the Fashion Corner of Rochdale. Sold to Rochdale Council in 1983, it became the 'Project House' then ' Poll Tax House'. It was renamed 'Fashion Corner' by the Council in 1995 - to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Co-op.

Rochdale remembrance gardens
Plaque located on the wall to the northern entrance of the memorial gardens

Remembrance gardens 

1947

These gardens were constructed by the County Borough of Rochdale in compliance with a decision of the towns meeting called by the then Mayor (Councillor Norman Richards Woolfenden J.P.) on 14th April 1947.

A fitting Memorial to the Gallant fallen of the 1939-1945 War.

Kenion Street Music Building, Cargo Studios (first floor)

Tractor Music (ground floor)
Kenion Street, Rochdale

1977-84

1977-83

1984-2001
(both floors)

From 1977 onwards this building saw an endless stream of bands from Manchester, Liverpool and from all over the British Isles, pass through its doorways as it became the place for groups to record, and to buy and hire their equipment.

Joy Division recorded here from 1978 onwards and had their bass equipment custom built on the ground floor.

Church Steps
Church Steps, Packer Street/Nelson Street, Rochdale

church steps 

 Possibly dating back to the 12th century, these steps have been the key route linking the town centre to the Church of St Chad for hundreds of years. Mourning relatives would climb these steps and scatter rue & rosemary in ‘Gods Acre’ (St Chad’s Churchyard) as an offering, to ease the spirits of their loved ones.

Rochdale market
Saint Chad's gardens wall, Church Lane

Rochdale market 

 

Rochdale was one of the first towns in Lancashire to obtain Market Charter (1251).

The market was held in this vicinity until the mid 18th. Thrice - yearly cattle markets continued here until 1887.

Blue plaques in Middleton

BuildingGrade / YearInformation
Old Market Place
27 Long Street, Middleton
1791Facing this plaque was the Old Market Place. Lord Suffield obtained a Market Charter from George III in 1791 to hold a weekly market and three annual fairs. Suffield built warehouses, a market house and shambles at his own expense.
Peterloo Demonstration
69 Morton Street, Middleton
1819The Middleton contingent congregated here in Barrowfield and marched to St Peter's Field in Manchester led by Sam Bamford. The meeting, popularly known as "Peterloo Massacre", was in support of the vote for the working classes. 16 Middleton people were injured.

Parish School
Nature's Nursery, Long Street, Middleton

parish school 

1842 - Grade II listed buildingNational school erected for St Leonard’s Church by Reverend Richard Dunford (later Bishop of Chichester). Extended 1892 by Reverend T.E. Cleworth. Last used as a school in 1979.
Site of Middleton Hall
Middleton Arena, Corporation Street, Middleton
1845Home of the Lords of Middleton.
Frederick William Jackson
360-362 Grimshaw Lane, Middleton
1859-1918Childhood home of the artist Frederick William Jackson.

Edgar Wood
Sunny Brow Nursery, Sunny Brow Road, Middleton

1860- 1935Childhood home of the architect and artist.
St Leonard's Square
St Leonard's Church, Middleton
 Once the focal point for the old town which before the Industrial Revolution occupied the ridge towards Rochdale. Nearby street names - High Street and Cheapside - identify the old town. Cottage silk weaving was practised in the surrounding area.
Jim Allen
Middleton Library, Long Street, Middleton
1926- 1999Middleton writer and playwright was self taught in this and other libraries. "My only regret when I die will be the books I have not read".

Middleton Gardens and Suffield Street
Suffield House, Middleton Gardens, Middleton

1934Formerly the location of the Corn Mill Lodge, and part of the Gardens of Middle-ton Hall. Established as Central Gardens in 1934 by Middleton Borough Council. Suffield Square was named after the Suffield Family of Gunton, Norfolk, absentee Lord of the Manor of Middleton 1765-1848.
Peter Cowap
Old Boar's Head, Middleton

middleton building 

1944-1997the home of Middleton singer songwriter and guitarist par excellence. "Every night's a Saturday night'.

​​​Middleton also commemorates the buildings designed by architect and artist Edgar Wood.

Blue plaques in Heywood

BuildingGrade / YearInformation

Charles Howarth
Avon Building, 1 to 14 Kay Street, Heywood

1814-1868Social innovator, founder member and later president of the Co-operative movement died here at 28 Wilton St. in abject poverty. Originator of the ‘Co-op Dividend’, Howarth applied in all things his passionate belief in a fair deal for the working class.
Tractor Sound Studios1968-1976Heywood rock group TRACTOR rehearsed in this building from 1968 to 1976 onwards. In 1973, Steve Clayton, Jim Milner, Chris Hewitt and Alan Burgess built a recording studio with financial help from legendary music broadcaster John Peel. Other groups who recorded here were BEAU/JOHN TREVOR and MOVEMENT BANNED.TRACTOR went on to found the DEEPLY VALE MUSIC FESTIVALS 1976-1979.

Blue plaques in Littleborough

BuildingGrade / YearInformation

Coach House
Heritage Centre, Lodge Street, Littleborough

18th centuryOriginally used by stages calling at the Falcon Inn for changes of horses and stabling. It overlooks the square in which an ancient fair was held. Restored by the Coach House trust, a group representing local voluntary organisations and commerce 1980-1988.

Toll House
6 Church Street, Littleborough

toll house 

C. 1824Summary of tolls on the Blackstone Edge Turnpike Road from the Act of 1735. The Toll prices were displayed on a board above the door. Every drove of calves, hogs, sheep or lamb 5d Every drove of dren or neat cattle per score 10d Every coach, etc, drawn by 6 horses or more 2s Every horse, mule or ass laden or unladen 1d Every waggon or carriage with 2 wheels 1s
Jessie Fothergill
New England Furniture shop, Todmorden Road, Littleborough
1851-1891Novelist who captured the lives of working people in the local cotton mills in the 19c. Lived for some years in a house near-by.
Gordon Harvey
Townhouse, junction with Townhouse Road and Carriage Drive, Littleborough
1858-1922MP for Rochdale 1906-1918, political idealist, enlightened mill owner, local benefactor and pioneer environmentalist lived here.
Enid Stacy
St James Church, Calderbrook Road (right gatepost)

enid stacy 

1868-1903International and local speaker and writer on the welfare of working people and women’s right to vote lived in Calderbrook Vicarage and worshipped at St. James with her husband the Reverend Percy Wildrington.
Royal Oak
Royal Oak P.H. Church Street, Littleborough
Late 18th centuryAn original posting inn with stables and large land holdings, used by the famous dialect writer Tim Bobbin as the base of his work "a view of the Lancashire Dialect". G. Stephenson, the railway engineer, is said to have lodged here during the construction of the railway.

Falcon Inn
The Falcon Inn P.H., 18-20 Church Street, Littleborough

Early 19th century

From 1657 the inn and the farm covered land down to the river. The building became a Coaching Inn in the early nineteenth century. At this time the main activities took place in the square at the rear where the ancient cow and sheep fair was held.

Suggest a Blue Plaque

Please contact us If you have suggestions for further blue plaques and potential funding sources to cover the cost of purchase and erection.