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Township Information - Longdendale

Longdendale Coat of ArmsTownship Information - Mottram-in-Longdendale


Early History

The parish of Mottram contained eight townships: Mottram, Godley, Hattersley, Newton, Hollingworth, Tintwistle, Matley and Staley. Various derivations are attributed to the name, but it is generally supposed that it denotes a meeting place. At the beginning of the 19th century the population was less than 1,000, by the middle of the century it had tripled, but began to decline in the 1860s.

a photograph of Mottram Church in early morning mistIn the Middle Ages, Mottram was important in the district. The lesser manor of Stavely was held under the greater one of Mottram and, at about the 16th century, the former was in the parish of Mottram. It was the centre of religion for the surrounding villages, while, in the later 18th century, the manorial court-house was situated in Mottram. In the infancy of the cotton trade, Mottram had sizeable cotton-spinning concerns in the Wedneshough and Treacle Street area. In the early 19th century, Mottram was the district centre for shoe-making and tailoring, as well as for cultural activities such as botanical studies, music, change-ringing and folk-pastimes, including rush-cart events and morris dancing. It also gained importance from being on the coach route from Manchester to Sheffield.

Communications

In addition to the Manchester to Sheffield coach route there was, about 1830, a flying coach between Manchester, Stalybridge and Mottram called the Umpire. The Pack Horse Inn was a stopping place for pack horse trains on the saltway from Cheshire through to Yorkshire. In the 1860s the coaches were replaced by train. In the early 19th century, another aspect of the communications system was the Peak Canal which brought lime as far as the Etherow Valley to help keep the land fertile. Before the Peak Canal, lime had to be brought to the district by pack horse from Chapel-en-le-Frith.

With the advent of steam power and the discovery of (inferior quality) coal, some of the 18th century industries included cotton spinning, winding and doubling, cotton bleaching and quarrying. Railways and the growth in manufacturing developed surrounding places until they no longer relied on Mottram while Mottram itself, unsuited to modern manufactures, declined. Industrialisation led to social conflict; in 1812 hunger in the area fired Luddite riots against labour-reducing machines and in 1842 leading local Chartists participated in meetings held on Wedneshough Green where Luddites had once secretly drilled. There they planned the closure of Stalybridge factories in the Plug Riots.

Education and Religion

a photograph of Mottram Court HouseSince the ancient grammar school was defunct, a school was opened in the Wedneshough neighbourhood of Mottram by public subscription in 1794. Later another school was built in the same neighbourhood and, in 1857, the grammar school was re-established. Joshua Reddish, a Mottram grocer, promoted a substantially built stone school at the church steps and at Broadbottom a hand-spinner, John Andrew, promoted local education and the building of a school.

The religious groups also provided education, among them the New Connexion Methodists, who built a Sunday School in the 1860s. In the 1840s this New Connexion community seceded from the New Connexion Conference and set up independently as Christian Brethen (later Unitarians). The most important religious edifice in Mottram is the parish church. There was a church on the site in the 13th century. Externally, the present church is 15th century. In 1854 the church was partially restored - the ancient stone font being restored to its original position, having been long used as a rain-water butt and John Chapman, who became the impropriator about 1860, restored the Stayley Chapel. But Ralph Robinson, wrote in 1863, that 'Mottram Church, like most old churches, has suffered from 'the spoilers hand', and cupidity, ignorance and fanaticism, have reft of its ancient glory".

Characters

Two outstanding local characters of the past were Lawrence Earnshaw (1707-1767) and John Chapman (1810-1877). Earnshaw was a remarkably prolific inventor and machine maker with considerable skill in many fields - among them gilding, engraving, painting, smithying and joinery. His masterpiece was an astronomical clock, which took seven years to make. His most significant invention, of 1753, was a machine to spin and reel cotton in a single operation but, after demonstrating its capabilities to friends, he destroyed it, fearing that it might make textile workers redundant. He died in poverty, but a monument to him in Mottram cemetery was unveiled in 1868. John Chapman, MP for Grimsby, High Sheriff of Cheshire, JP and Chairman of the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway, lived in Broadbottom and promoted Mottram Library and reading room and local musicianship. During the cotton famine of the 1860s he helped alleviate the suffering of the poor by improving his estates, thereby giving considerable employment to Mottram people, and by giving food and clothing to hundreds of locals each week. A religious man, trained for the Anglican ministry, he helped restore Mottram Church, financially supported a clergyman and in Parliament defended religious education in schools.

The Twentieth Century

a photograph of a snow covered lane at Hollingworth farmIn 1936 the Urban District of Longdendale was formed consisting of Broadbottom, Hollingworth, Mottram and parts of Hattersley and Matley. The artist Laurence Stephen Lowry (1887-1976), came to live in Mottram in 1948. His house 'The Elms' is on Stalybridge Road and he lived there until his death. He was born in Stretford and trained at the Manchester Municipal College of Art and Salford School of Art. He has become particularly well-known for his depiction of the industrial north west with its characteristic mills, chimneys and terraces.

In recent years Mottram and the surrounding districts have become a popular residential area. The mills are now converted into small industrial units and the textile industry is no longer the main employer.

Page last updated: 7 May 2013