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Executive Leader Cllr Brenda Warrington

Leader's Blog  

Councillor Brenda Warrington, Executive Leader of Tameside Council

Stalybridge is a Town of Culture

Friday, 28 January 2022

Last week we received some fantastic news for Stalybridge, as it was announced that it would be named Greater Manchester’s Town of Culture for 2022.

The Town of Culture is an annual award from the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) with the aim of highlighting the distinctive art, culture and history of the towns across our city region. Any town in Greater Manchester is eligible to apply, and successful bids receive a grant of £50,000 from the GMCA Culture Fund to develop a programme of events and activities to celebrate their heritage and bring new opportunities for residents and visitors. Our bid for Stalybridge, developed in partnership with The Bridge Cultural Consortium and selected by an independent judging panel on the basis of its ambition and impact, focused on giving people the time and space to slow down, connect with the local environment and appreciate the value of culture. This will be done through the commissioning of activities such as artist-led walks and trails, community growing projects and outdoor events including theatre and storytelling.

I’m delighted that a town as replete with history and culture as Stalybridge has received its just recognition. It was the birthplace of the world’s oldest brass band, the Stalybridge Old Band, founded in 1809 and based at Judge’s Bar in Corporation Street in the heart of the town. Judge’s Bar itself takes its name from Jack Judge, a songwriter and music hall entertainer, who in 1912 wrote the famous song “A Long, Long Way to Tipperary” in the Grand Theatre in Stalybridge after accepting a 5-shilling bet that he could compose and sing a new song in one night. The opening shot of the 1979 film “Yanks”, starring Richard Gere and Vanessa Redgrave, was of the war memorial in the centre of Stalybridge, and many of the film’s key scenes were also shot in the town. Gorse Hall in Stalybridge was also the birthplace of Helen Leech, better known as the mother of famous author Beatrix Potter, who wrote and drew some of her iconic work while visiting her family.


The Town of Culture activities will also complement existing work and events taking place in Stalybridge. After its success in 2021, the Stalybridge Street Feast has been renewed for 2022.  Starting in March, on the second Friday of every month from 5-9pm residents and visitors will be able to once again visit Armentieres Square to enjoy a variety of food, drink and entertainment. The creation of a Heritage Action Zone for Stalybridge high street will see a renovation and improvement of the Civic Hall and shop fronts on Market Street thanks to almost £1.3 million funding delivered through Historic England, which will also pay for the creation of a heritage walk connecting the town’s key western gateway from the railway station to its Historic Quarter. Stalybridge has also been nominated as Tameside’s representative to the Greater Manchester Town Centre Challenge, and over the past two years we have worked closely with local residents and organisations to raise the profile of the town and attract further investment.

The selection of Stalybridge as Greater Manchester’s Town of Culture for 2022 is an incredible opportunity for the town and the borough as a whole to add a new chapter to our local history, and build back better, fairer and greener as we emerge from the coronavirus pandemic. Thank you to everybody involved in the successful bid, and I look forward to sharing more details of our programme for Stalybridge in due course.


Posted by: Executive Leader