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Droylsden Coat of ArmsTownship Information - Droylsden


Early History

The origins of the township are obscure. Some believe that it existed in the 7th century AD, but it was probably first mentioned by name in 1250. There are various interpretations of the meaning of the name. It could mean Drygel's valley - 'Drygel' being a companion of war -or dry valley or dry spring - 'dryge' being Old English for dry.


a photograph of the Concord Suite, DroylsdenThe population in 1831 was 3,000, by 1861 it had risen to 8,000 and in 1900 it was 11,000. From 1931 to 1951 it increased from 13,000 to 26,000, but by 1991 it had fallen to 22,676. These periods of population increase show the main periods of expansion in Droylsden's history. During the 1830s and 1840s the construction of large factories and cotton mills began, and labour from the surrounding areas helped to increase the population. Schools were built, the parish church opened, recreation activities organised and local sport was in its heyday. By 1850 the local population was changing over from cottage and farm work to an industrial factory system. Five cotton mills were established by 1850. This number increased to eight by 1875.

William Miller Christy developed a hat-making concern in London and Stockport during the 19th century, and his three sons continued the business. William Miller Christy expanded the firm into the textile field and Stockport and Droylsden were the two main centres.

The Droylsden branch opened in 1837 for the manufacture of shirtings at Fairfield Mills. The firm contributed towards the construction of workers' cottages nearby, a school and gas works. A total of 960 employees worked in the mill at this time. The development of the well-known Turkish towel came in 1851 after James Christy, the son of William Miller, saw the unusually looped cloth on a visit to Turkey and brought back a sample.

The first terry towel - the first machine woven towel in the world was produced in Droylsden in a specially adapted loom.

Droylsden had no direct road link with Manchester until the 'New' Road was constructed in 1826 from Manchester to Ashton, passing through Droylsden, where there was a toll gate. The Manchester to Ashton and Oldham area canal, built after 1792, also passed through Droylsden, which was later connected to the High Peak and Cheshire by canal. Coal, lime and manure were the main freight. Railway stations were opened; in 1841 the Fairfield for Droylsden station on the Manchester - Sheffield - Lincolnshire railway; in 1846 Lumb Station on the Ashton - Stalybridge Junction.

The Moravians

a photograph of the Moravian SettlementThe Moravian Settlement was established in Droylsden at Fairfield in 1783. Originally the society had been established at Dukinfield in 1743 but, when the land lease expired, 54 acres of land was purchased in Fairfield.

Education was an important part of Moravian life and, although the schools constructed were not very large, they left a permanent and continuous tradition of education for over 150 years. The first Moravian Sunday School in England was opened at Fairfield in January 1793. Their schools were for boys and girls - day schools as well as Sunday Schools - and were open to non-Moravian children. The Girls' Boarding School was opened in 1796, the Boys' Boarding School in 1803. Fairfield High School for Boys opened in 1871 but closed in 1891 due to competition from Manchester.

In Droylsden itself, during the mid 19th century, there was an unusually high number of different types of schools and institutes. There were seven Sunday Schools, a mechanics institute and a night school opened by William Chadwick. Yet more schools were attached to religious groups, others belonged to mills such as the Angola Mill and Droylsden Mills. The Mechanics' Institute and Young Men's Association also had libraries.

Charles Hindley (1796-1857) had strong links with Droylsden, education and the Moravians. He was born in Fairfield and educated in the Moravian Settlement and at the Moravian School in Fulneck, Yorkshire. He became a teacher at a Moravian school in Northern Ireland, but returned to Droylsden after the death of his father and brother to take over the family cotton spinning business. As an active campaigner in the field of education and factory reform it is ironic that his mill in Dukinfield was one of those to be prosecuted after the passing of the Ten Hours Bill in 1847.

A painting of the Moravian Settlement

Co-operative Society

Droylsden formed its own industrial Co-operative Society in December 1861, with 71 members and £104 4s 1d. The Society was strongly involved with the community.

By 1900 the Society had opened up many branches and five reading rooms were available to members and their children from 8.00am-9.30pm each weekday. The Co-Operative library contained more than 1,500 volumes for lending. In 1906 the members met and it was agreed to invest £2,000 in the new mill - the Saxon Mill. Other services to the community included a Death Benefit Scheme started in 1919 and, during the two World Wars, wives of servicemen were employed. The Co-Operative movement reached its peak of expansion in 1939 when there were 20 branches. After the Second World War the small stores closed and were replaced by larger, self-service shops.

The Twentieth Century

Towards the end of the 19th century the close-knit community of Droylsden was beginning to decline and the feeling that Manchester was drawing life away from the township was aggravated when Clayton ceded to Manchester in 1890 after Little Droylsden had become part of Openshaw in 1889. In 1904 the question of 'amalgamation' or 'non-amalgamation' with Manchester was an important issue - as it was in 1907 when the Manchester Courier reported on 'The District's Financial Position'. Droylsden never did amalgamate with Manchester.

From 1880 to 1930 there was a dispersion of the social forces which had brought the township together providing a civic consciousness. The record period of expansion in the 1930s was one of population only, as it became an overflow area for Manchester.

It was stated in 1953 that 'during the last thirty years, Droylsden had changed from a village to a township ­ boundaries are being extended ­ and the population more than doubled, until today Droylsden has become fourth in size and population of the 109 Urban Districts in the County of Lancashire'.

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