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Ainsworth, Lancashire : Then and Now

The little village of Ainsworth sits on a hill overlooking suburbs of Bolton and Bury down to Manchester to the south. Although it is close to the cities, it is surrounded by pastures and farms, so that as you drive up to it you have the feeling of going out into the countryside. To the north are a few other small villages, and then the West Pennine Moors, a scenic area of forests and rolling hills.

At the eastern edge of Ainsworth village is a small moor which is called Cockey Moor. There was a Bronze Age village there about 1,000 B.C. which may have been called Kokka (a Celtic word for “red earth”).

On the moor have been found remains of a Roman encampment and there is an old Roman road beside it that was built in 79 A.D. It is thought this was the Roman settlement of Coccium, a name which was probably Latinized from the Celtic. Over the centuries this Roman name became anglicized to Cockey Moor.

With the arrival of the Saxons, the place got another name: Ainsworth. A “worth” is a small enclosure, such as a fenced-in farm or estate. The origin of the “Ains” prefix seems lost in obscurity, though it is probably a variant on someone’s name, perhaps a Saxon name such as Einulf or Einsilf; Einsilf’s farm = Einsilfworth = Ainsworth.

Finding the place in history was somewhat complicated by the fact that it has always been called both Ainsworth and Cockey Moor. The legal name of the parish church is “The Parish Church of Christ in Cockey, otherwise Ainsworth.” In 1200 A.D. the village was referred to as “the ancient hamlet of Ainsworth”. A writer in 1586 mentioned “Cockley, a wooden chapel set round with trees.” Early 17th century maps show the place and call it “Cockley Chapel”. At that time there was apparently not much in Ainsworth apart from the chapel. The wooden chapel, probably a half-timbered Tudor building, was replaced with one of stone in the early years of the 17th century. Our emigrant ancestor(s) quite probably knew the stone building which stands there today.

When the Industrial Revolution caused explosive growth in Lancashire because of the cotton cloth trade, Ainsworth grew up a bit and there are 18th-19th century millworkers’ houses here: very small row houses squashed together on the main street, with tiny neat gardens in the front. There was a very small mill in the village. There has been growth since the 1930’s and the large majority of houses are modern.

Village life centers around the active parish church and its school. In addition there is a Methodist church, two pubs, liquor store, post office, service station, one-room library, small restaurant, and a few offices. That’s about it. There is one main street through the middle of the village (Bury Old Road), and the A58 (Bury New Road) goes by at the bottom of the hill.

An interesting note: the above mentioned library is notable in that it is apparently the smallest public library in Britain.


Hebden Bridge

Known as the "Pennine Centre", Hebden Bridge takes its name from the packhorse bridge over Hebden Water. The town developed in late medieval times as a river-crossing and meeting point of packhorse routes from Halifax to Heptonstall, Burnley and Rochdale.

Textiles have been important in the Upper Calder Valley for centuries, but it was not until mechanisation and steam power were introduced from the late 18th century that Hebden Bridge began to grow significantly.

The arrival of the canal and railway attracted industry to the valley bottoms, but with limited flat land and a growing army of textile workers, dwellings were ingeniously built on the valley sides, giving the town its characteristic "double-decker" housing.

Hebden Bridge has seen great change in recent years. Traditional industries are no longer a major force, but buildings have been stone-cleaned and revitalised, the Rochdale Canal has been restored, and the locality has become a desirable place to live and visit.

HEBDEN BRIDGE like Sowerby Bridge was a creation of the Industrial Revolution and by 1900 had become the centre of the world's fustian industry. Although not officially named until 1866 the name of Hebden Bridge had existed from earliest times and took its name from the bridge over Hebden water which is known to have existed in 1600. Hebden Bridge was formed from parts of the former townships of Stansfield, Heptonstall, Wadsworth and Erringden.

HEPTONSTALL is an ancient village and the name of one of the old townships of the parish. A "parochial chapelry" was founded C. 1250 to serve the townships of the upper Calder valley. It lies at the junction of the two ancient pack horse routes into Lancashire (Burnley and Colne) and was a somewhat disputed area during the English Civil War. In earlier days it was a area of some importance boasting a grammar school and cloth hall.

WADSWORTH another large south facing township with the river Calder on it's southern boundary and lying between the townships of Stansfield and Midgley. The upper portion of Wadsworth is high moorland much of it now occupied by six large collecting reservoirs but in the last century it was the home of many hand loom weavers and sheep farmers. Blake Dean Baptist chapel now a scout hostel ministered to the spiritual needs of a thriving population. Some of the most beautiful scenery in Calderdale is situated here in the Hebden and Crimsworth valleys.

TODMORDEN now part of Calderdale M.B.C. was granted Borough status in 1896 when parts of the townships of Stansfield and Langfield formerly within the Parish of Halifax were combined with the township of Todmorden-cum-Walsden formerly within the parish of Rochdale. Research in Todmorden can cause problems for the family historian, for although it lies wholly in Yorkshire some of its records could well be in Rochdale or Manchester.

STANSFIELD a large south facing township bounded to the south and west by the river Calder and adjoining Heptonstall township on the east. It abuts the Lancashire boundary at Cliviger. For census purposes it was divided into thirds and lower Stansfield was within the Hebden Bridge boundary. It was part of the Heptonstall chapelry but due to the size of the area covered a sub chapel was built at Cross Stone within the middle third about 1450.


Tottington Lower End

TOTTINGTON : Known in 1212 as "Totinton" from the Old English meaning "land or farmstead belonging to a man called Tota". Alternatively, the first part "tot" may be from an Old English word meaning "hilltop lookout point". The Townships of Tottington Lower End and Tottington Higher End were originally in Lancashire.

They were originally in Bury Ecclesiastical Parish and in the Haslingden Poor Law Union. In 1883 part of it was included in the area of Ramsbottom Local Board of Health. In 1894 it was dissolved and its area divided between Ramsbottom Urban District and Rawstentall and Haslingden Boroughs, Lancashire. In 1894 the area of Tottington Lower End was separated to become part of Ramsbottom Urban District. In 1872 part of the township was included in the area of Bury improvement commissioners. In 1894 the remaining area of the township (renamed in 1894 Tottington) became part of Tottington Urban District together with part of Elton township. In 1933 part of the Urban District was added to Bury Borough. In 1974 the Urban District became part of Bury Metropolitan Borough.

Tottington is a small village in the middle of the Ramsbottom, Bury, Bolton triangle. The church of St Anne's was consecrated in 1799, created a separate parish in 1844, and licensed for marriages in 1862. This information comes from the the transcribed register (1799-1837) published by the Lancashire Parish Register Society. Prior to this records may be found in the registers of Bury or of Holcombe. A Methodist chapel was built in 1829. The population increased considerably in the first half of the 19th century. The burial records of the register show a large incidence of infant mortality. Tottington became a township in 1894 after previously being part of the township of Tottington Lower End which covered a much bigger area, including part of what is now Ramsbottom. The township of Tottington Higher End covered the area north of Walmersley, including what is now Edenfield. It was part of Haslingden poor law union. It was dissolved in 1894 and the area divided between Ramsbottom Urban District , and Rawtenstall and Haslingden Boroughs.

Information on places in what is now Greater Manchester can be be found at a site maintained by Greater Manchester CRO. On the Genuki site there is also a copy of Joseph Alston's 1808 Lancashire Gazetteer. This is an excellent resource as it has names for many small places.

Tottington Lower End, is a chapelry also in the parish of Bury, from which town it is distant 2½ miles N.W. by W., and contains 6,330 acres, and a population in 1801 of 4,314, which in 1841 had increased to 9,929, and in 1851 to 10,685 souls.

The manor of Tottington was divided in the 17th century for local purposes, into two townships as at present constituted. The royal manor of Tottington was in the successive possession of the houses of Lincoln and Lancaster, and was given to General Monk, Duke of Albemarle, by Charles II., as a portion of his reward for the great services rendered by him in the restoration of the house of Stewart to the throne of England. The Albermarle possessions rested in the Duches of Buccleugh, from whom Tottington lineally descended to Lord Montague. Emanuel Church, Holcombe, is a handsome edifice, built in 1852 at an expense of £3,000 of which sum £500 was bequeathed by Mrs. Sanderford, of Bolton, £100 given by the church building society, and the remainder raised by subscription. The living attached to this church is a perpetual curacy to which the rector of Bury presents, and the Rev. George Nightingale, M.A., is the incumbent. Here are extensive calico printing works; and a National School, in which the children of the operatives are instructed. This school erected 1715, was endowed with £12 a year, together with the interest of £200.

This township or civil parish was in Lancashire. It was in Bury ecclesiastical parish and in Bury poor law Union. In 1864 Ramsbottom Local Board of Health was established for the Ramsbottom area in this township and in 1894 this area was separated to become part of Ramsbottom Urban District. In 1872 part of the township was included in the area of Bury improvement commissioners. In 1894 the remaining area of the township (renamed in 1894 Tottington) became part of Tottington Urban District together with part of Elton township. In 1933 part of the Urban District was added to Bury Borough. In 1974 the Urban District became part of Bury Metropolitan Borough.


RADCLIFFE - near Manchester

Radcliffe is an industrial town located about 12 miles to the north of Manchester. It is one of the 6 boroughs that were brought together to form the Metropolitan Borough of Bury in 1974.

The town centres on the confluence of the rivers Roach and Irwell, just upstream of where the Irwell had forced a gorge through glacial debris in around 10,000 BC.

The town's history dates back to the stone ages. Evidence (worked flints and microliths etc) possibly dating back to 6,000 BC has been uncovered at Radcliffe Ees by the confluence of the rivers.

No more evidence of settlement is available until that of the Roman times. In the first century AD the Roman conqueror Agricola started to build military roads and settlements in the area. Starting from Mamcunium (Manchester), he had built a supply road to Brematonicum (Ribchester), and remains of this road have been uncovered in various places in Radcliffe. It formed the boundary between the manors of Radcliffe and Bury for centuries, and until the 1974 re-organisation of local government the line of the road acted as the boundary between the two boroughs. There is tell of a Roman way station Coccium and one of the suspected locations is Cockey Moor (Ainsworth) which overlooks the town about 2 miles northward on the Roman road.

Radcliffe, or Radecliue is mentioned in the Domesday Book (1086). It is one of four manors in the district that are mentioned - the others are Salford, Rochdale and Manchester. This may be because the manor was owned by the former King Edward the Confessor as part of the boundary between the Saxon Mercia and the Viking controlled wilds. The manor was given away in one the many grants the Norman kings made, and the dynasty known as the 'Radclyffes of the Tower' was formed.

In 1249, the lord of the manor was sued for the theft of common land on which he dug for coal. This is the first recorded coal-mining in England.

During the English Civil War (1640s), Bury was pro-crown, and Bolton and Radcliffe were for Parliament. There were numerous skirmishes, including the siege and massacre of Bolton in 1644. There are numerous stories of battles, and field burial grounds in the area, including a great burial ground at Coggra Fold Farm. This farm is, today, the centre of a dispute between the landlord (Lord Wilton) and the residents over the landlord's desire to create a large open-cast coal mine at the farm.

In the eighteenth century, industry arrived in earnest...