Littleborough’s History


See links below:

Hurstead to Littleborough;                    Littleborough Centre          

Littleborough to the Rake Inn               Blackstone Edge Old Road

Blackstone Edge New Road (Halifax Road)         Roman Road.

Around 1837/8 the road layout next the River Roch bridge was changed due to the building of the railway viaduct etc which also resulted in the demolition of Ealees Hall.

Blackstone Edge Old Road

References to tracks and road over the Edge have been recorded from as far back as the Doomsday book in 1070 and included references to Richard Wood in 1285 complaining  to the Sowerby Constables over the bad state of the road across "Blackesteynegge". Similar comments continued over the years. However, traffic over the Edge increased with Trains of Packhorses carrying goods of £1,000  in the late 17th Century. Pre turnpiking, Daniel Defoe crossed in storm during 1724.

The works also included the diversion of the road to run in front of the Falcon Inn thus creating Falcon Yard (see plan below)where the horses were changed, coaches stabled and the barn was located. In the rear porch of the Falcon Inn is a 1657 datestone recording when the yard and stables served as the focal point for stage coach travel over Blackstone Edge. The current Holy Trinity Parish Church was built between 1815 – 1820, some 15 yards (15 metres) north of the 1471 church. originated from 1471.

Coaches ceased to operation over The Blackstone Edge Turnpike in 1843 following the opening of the Manchester & Leeds Railway through Summit Tunnel

The location of the Whitelees Gate is unclear but it was on the Littleborough side of the junction with Whitelees Road so that local traffic to/from local mills near Featherstall would not pay tolls for very short journeys. Whitelees Gate is not shown on the 1851 OS map.

Improvements in the 1770s and 1780s and between 1780 and 1820 changed the original route within Littleborough centre including the demolition of a smithy (see above below) and other buildings in Littleborough before any new works could begin. The works in Littleborough led to the construction of Church St between Morgan St and Hare Hill Road thereby avoiding the route over James Hill which previously exited between the Royal Oak and the Wheatsheaf. This was later used for housing in 1818 (see 1825 plan below).

Blackstone Edge New Road

The growth in coach travel led to further improvements. In 1819 lots were let for the construction of the current Halifax Road via the Moorcock which was completed in 1820/1. This complemented the previously completed new road between Stormer Bar and the Coach and Horses (or White House as it was increasingly called). In 1825 the whole length of the ‘new’ road from the Rake to The Coach & Horses was complete to the satisfaction of the Inspector General of Mails (for the use by Mail Coaches). Some 6 coaches operated daily between Rochdale and Halifax – Shuffle, Perseverance, High Flier, Defiance, Duke of Leeds and Commerce.

Both Turnpike routes combine on the approach to the White House (previously known as the Coach and Horses), another Coaching Inn

The increased use of wheeled carts and waggons created pressure for a more easily graded route than that provided by the improved Packhorse Road. The 1760’s therefore saw work to divert and alter the Turnpike Road between The Rake Inn and Gatehouse. Land was purchased to the west of Windy Bank and properties demolished around Gatehouse allowing the present course of Blackstone Edge Old Road around Windy Bank to be built.  The 1760 road climbed less steeply to Gatehouse where local residents believe a gate was located with the tolls collected at Rough Farm.


Hurstead to Littleborough Centre

This section of the road saw numerous improvements over the turnpike era. The initial route from Greengate to Whitelees Road (where the later Turnpike to Todmorden joined the route) followed a slightly more southerly route much of which still exists, eg the ‘Old Road (see map right). Toll Gates were located along the route with the present names of Greengate and Whitegate suggesting their location.

During the 1770s ands 1780s, the Trust determined to undertake improvements between Hurstead and Littleborough.

This decision led to the construction  of the New Road in Dearnley (pictured with steam tram (below) and shown on Greenwood’s 1818 map). A new Stubley Ticket Gate was built adjacent to Watling St and New St.

The 1851 OS Map shows part of the old route blocked off east of New Street to ensure that users didn’t avoid paying their toll. By (1850) the Old Road was under local authority maintenance. A toll bar at Greengate may well have  continued .

Littleborough to The Rake Inn

The trust presumably used and improved existing tracks on this section of road as it passed by Ealees Hall occupied in 1561. As the residents had connections with those in Windy Bank, Bent House etc a existing road must have existed.

Around 1760 the Turnpike Trust  straightened the road between the Rochdale Canal Bridge and The Rake. In 1806 the bridge over the River Roch was rebuilt.

From the Rake Inn pictured above (known as the Hayrake around 1832) was another Coaching Inn. The first turnpike road followed the Old Packhorse Road which climbed in front of Windy Bank house and then more steeply before crossing over the hill above what is now Gatehouse before dropping down via Lydgate to Rough Farm.

As with the route to Gatehouse, the trust no doubt realised that even the wide stone pavement was unsuited to wheeled traffic and it is believed that from around 1760 an easier route over Blackstone Edge was required. The route to Stormer Bar is seen crossing over Oil Mill Bridge in the above picture. After Stormer Bar it ran at a lower level before climbing more steeply to the Coach & Horses Once the new road over Blackstone Edge in was built in 1825 the 1760 road was abandoned and is now a track.


The Moorcock Inn (above) used to be Lower Swaindrod Farm and was first licensed around 1840 with the landlord being recorded as Thomas Butterworth in 1843. Just around the corner was The Shepherd’s Rest Pub previously called Fence Nook (1851 – 1872) and licensed between 1851 and 1915. It became a Transport Café, then The Nook Restaurant and later a private dwelling in 2005.

Stormer Hill Bar, formerly Toll Bar Cottage  (or Bar House) was originally constructed in 1838  with a porch provided in 1911. The Toll House was constructed where the two Toll Roads crossed as is clearly shown in the photograph (below). The A58 passes alongside the Bar House with the ‘Old’ road crossing south to north on the west side of the building. Stormer Bar had a weighing machine.


Additional spacing provided to assist viewing on Smart Phones and Tablets

Beyond Gatehouse the road passes through a deep cutting at the summit and later crosses an embankment past Lydgate Mil and Lidiet Green cottage, both probably undertaken by the Trust. Rough Farmhouse, shown painted white in the photograph below was where the tolls were collected. Drovers watered their animals in the clough below the bridge. The location  of the toll building suggests that the first toll road followed the Packhorse Road which runs in front of the cottages (and earlier mill) at High Peak. However, the route used over Blackstone Edge by the first turnpike is uncertain. It is suggested that the so called Roman Road was in fact the work of the Blackstone Edge Turnpike Trust as the original Packhorse Way remains in situ (and un-widened) to the north of the wide stone pavement. Both meet just below the ‘Aiggin Stone’, a way marker cross next to Blackstone Edge Summit.

The 1820 road (A58) takes the lower wider road beyond the Rake Inn and passes close by the 17th Century ‘Old Bent House’, the original home of the Stott Family who were Yeoman Farmers and Carriers. They carried goods between Rochdale and Halifax over Blackstone Edge during the 17th & 18th centuries. Past Bent House used to stand Pike House, demolished and now housing. Just after New Barn farm the road crosses over the Lydgate valley by an embankment constructed by the trust. Over time, the embankment has been increased in height to ease traffic flow.