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Township Information - Dukinfield

Dukinfield Coat of ArmsTownship Information - Dukinfield

 

The name of this municipal borough probably means 'ducks' open-land', although it is traditionally taken to commemorate a victory of Saxons over Danish invaders. From the Middle Ages, Dukinfield was in the parish of Stockport and in the administrative field of Macclesfield.

After the Norman Conquest, Dukinfield became part of two Norman estates, successively, and in the second half of the 12th century the presiding family took the name De Dokenfield. A hall was built in the middle of the 12th century, but was replaced around 1500, the last part of which was demolished in 1950. This was the seat of the Lord of the Manor until the middle of the 18th century.

Industrialisation

a photograph of the front of Dukinfield Town Hall Where Dukinfield was not thickly wooded (at one time the timber was the prerequisite of the Lords of Stockport), there was good pasture and meadow land. In the 16th century Dukinfield was - with Ashton - the chief township east of Manchester and Stockport. In 1827 Dukinfield was still the centre of an extensive agricultural industry, supplying Manchester and Stockport with vegetables. Prosperity also came from coal production which began in the early 17th century and which was dramatically increased towards the end of the 18th century by the need to supply the steam engines in the cotton mills of the Industrial Revolution. In the 19th century there were also iron-based industries, there being some iron-ore and local demand.

The development of local communications was a prime stimulus to Dukinfield trade and this took the form of more bridges being built across the Tame, the construction of the Peak Forest, Ashton and Huddersfield Canals and the laying of the Sheffield, Ashton and Manchester Railway, which was started in 1838, with its Stalybridge branch line, which passed through Dukinfield.

This enormous growth of industry, especially the cotton trade, had the most profound effect on the people of Dukinfield. A contemporary observer said of the cotton trade in 1794 that 'while it affords employment to all ages, it has debilitated the constitutions and retarded the growth of many, and made an alarming increase in the mortality'. The rural aspect of Dukinfield was quickly marred and finally destroyed. After an absence of nearly 60 years the missionary Robert Moffat returned to Dukinfield in 1875 and wept at the sight. "What a difference. What a change! My heart almost broke when I thought of the past and compared it with the present."

Poorly managed industrial change led to social disturbances, including the widespread industrial riots of 1812 (the Luddite Riots) and 1842 (the Plug Riots). There were also riots in 1858, 1863 and 1868.

Dukinfield was included in the Ashton-under-Lyne Poor Law Union formed in 1837, but this was virtually inoperative for 10 years and then largely unsuccessful, although the workhouse, which was established in Ashton, accommodated about 500. Welfare and services for the whole community were gradually and belatedly introduced over the years; in the 1840s shops and mills came to be partly lit; in 1857 the Dukinfield Local Board of Health was formed; the police station was started in 1858; in 1870 there was a move to obtain a decent water supply.

Attempts to alleviate the plight of the poor were made by religious people, largely through the agency of education. The religious communities established educational institutions throughout the 19th century, among them the Old Chapel Sunday School (1800), Dukinfield Village Library (1833) and St. Mark's day schools (1843). This was a symptom of a very lively 19th century religious scene, originally grounded in Nonconformity with significant Moravian, Presbyterian, Unitarian and Methodist elements. Catholicism, too, began to revive in the 1820s and Anglicans likewise on an even larger scale in the 1830s and 1840s.

Characters

a photograph of Daniel Adamson (1820-1980) - first Chairman of the Manchester Ship Canal Company photograph of Samuel Robinson (1794-1884) - cotton manufacturer and persian scholar Many of the town's developments were typified in the careers of three of the most remarkable men of Dukinfield.

John Astley (1724-1787) to whom fell the Dukinfield Estate, who built Dukinfield Lodge, pursued locally by coal, iron and cotton industries and benefited the town

Samuel Robinson (1794-1884), a Unitarian, scholar and industrialist, who founded the Dukinfield Village Library in 1833 and who has been called the 'foremost promoter of education in the district'

Daniel Adamson (1820-1890), the engineer-industrialist who was the chief promoter of the Manchester Ship Canal and whose company, founded in 1842, achieved a world-wide reputation.

The Twentieth Century

At the turn of the century Dewsnap and Astley Deep pits closed down, like many of the collieries in the area , and, as the present century progressed, the cotton industry declined, to be largely replaced by light engineering.

Trams monopolised transport in the 20th century (the first was introduced in 1904) until 1925, when the first motor bus was introduced. In 1899 the Charter of Incorporation was granted to Dukinfield by which it achieved town council government and a town hall which was opened in 1901. In 1902 Dukinfield Park was opened and the toll on Alma Bridge abolished. In 1922 the Chapel Hill War Memorial to 460 soldiers and sailors was unveiled. In 1929 the child welfare centre was opened and the first electrically equipped railway coach was built at Dukinfield.

Page last updated: 7 May 2013