Littleborough’s History

Akzo Nobel Chemical Works

The site between Hollingworth Road and the Rochdale Canal has a long history in the production of chemicals. A Trade Directory for 1879 includes James Butterworth, Cleggswood Oil Distillery together with the separate Clough Field Works (Oil, Grease and Tallow) run by Isaac Lees & Sons. Maps dated between 1894 and 1932 show the site occupied by the 2 plants - Cloughfield Works & Cleggswood Oil Distillery. In the late 1930/40s the site was occupied by an artificial silk (rayon) plant which was later taken over by Hess Products. This company later became Armour Hess and later Akzo Nobel who closed the site in December 2005. Latterly,the site produced a wide range of products including cleaning formulations, detergents etc. Armour Hess had its own fleet of tanker lorries (see below) which operated in the 1950s and later but these tasks were previously undertaken by Cloughfield Transport, a two lorry haulage company.

Walsden - back of Bird in Hand (pub)

J & W Crabtree were here between 1854 & 1879 with Henry Ellinson from 1880 - 1882

Red Lees Chemical Works

It was operated by the Michael Uttley company from 1853 until 1990 and then by Blagdon until 2000, becoming a waggon/truck park


Dearnley Chemical Company was set up by Kershaw and Fletcher in 1862. Whilst the partnership was eventually dissolved the Chemical Works continued but was subsequently described in Trade Directories as ‘Oil Distillery’. Little is known about the works and its processes etc but it is believed that it processed either plant based materials or solid waste from the local sewage works to extract oil etc which was put into oak casks and sent to Lever Brothers at Port Sunlight for making into soap. The oil works ceased to function around the time of the Second World War and the buildings were eventually demolished in the 1950s. The site remained empty for some time but was later turned over to housing.


Smithy Bridge and Lane Side

Around Smithy Bridge Station and Level Crossing was another location for Chemical Works. In 1873 two companies were recorded, James Kershaw of Eafield Oil Works and  James Fetcher and Bros, Eafield, Oil Merchants and Refiners. Between 1879 & 1889 Alfred Crossley Chemicals was recorded as at Eafield and James Fletcher and Sons was again mentioned in an 1890 Trade Directory. In  1879 and 1888 Robert Duxbury, Dry Soap was recorded  at Lane Side. Where each companies was located is unclear but Ordnance Survey Maps show Candle Works at Eafield between 1930 and mid 1950s.


Further away from Smithy Bridge Road is Paragon works which is shown on  OS maps as a Chemical Works between 1908 &1938. Around 1911 to 1914 the owner was a Thomas Cryer.


Stubley Mill Glue Works

Sited to the north of the Rochdale Canal and adjacent to to the River Roch was Stubley Mill Glue Works (located on the site of an old Corn/Fulling Mill circa 1775). Over time the mills ceased Fulling with the site being disused around 1890. It was shown as a Glue Works in 1938 and more recently it was known as “Hardeys’ Glue Works”. Following a fire, the mill was demolished in 1981.