Littleborough’s History

PHOENIX IRON WORKS

Information supplied by Dorothy, Ron and John Dalton and as part of the Planning Approvals for the development of the site for housing.


HISTORY OF THE WORKS

Phoenix Iron Works was established in 1872 as a forge and a Trade Directory dated 1890 locates Phoenix Iron works on Canal St. The 1910 OS map (surveyed in 1908) shows the works on Newall St. Which is confirmed by a 1912 Trade Directory (see below - opposite column). Access to old maps showing Phoenix Iron Works are available on the following websites:

1 https://maps.nls.uk/geo/find/#zoom=15&lat=53.64880&lon=-2.10671&layers=101&b=1&z=1&point=53.64531,-2.10036

2 https://www.old-maps.co.uk/#/Map/393503/416500/10/101393


No records of the original building remain but it may have been located on the western (Phoenix Street) side of the site. Recent investigations by RPS Group PLC advise that the earliest remaining building on the site is the apparent 2 storey Accrington style brick building located on the corner of Newall St and Howarth St as pictured in 1917. The interior included an overhead crane revealed during demolition in 2020 – see. The adjacent machine shop building was constructed during the early 1930s and included extensive areas of glazing, much later covered by steel cladding. It was also fitted with overhead crane. and included large..


The 1910 Ordnance Survey Map indicates another unconnected building higher up Howarth Street which over time became connected to the original iconic structure. Further structures were also built at other locations on the site as shown by later OS maps. Around 1960 many of the later buildings along Howarth Street were replaced by a modern accommodation block (picture from  RPS Group PLC report) , At the same time the 1930s building was extended by a low rise machine shop  (pictured here during the very early stages of demolition in 2020.).  Even in the 1960s miscellaneous building remained on the site but these were largely cleared by the mid-1980s.


OWNING FAMILIES AND OTHER HISTORICAL ASPECTS

The original owners are unknown but it is believed that the Kershaw Family, (prominent in Littleborough for many years) probably built the 1901 building. Opposite are 2 pictures of Eder Kershaw and his son. From 1926 to 1935/6 it is believed that Hilda Hey was the owner of Phoenix Iron Works during and possibly after that time as well. It is understood that Charles, her husband, worked for the LMS Railway. Phoenix Ironworks was later acquired by the Greenwood family and an employee in the 1960s recalls the owners being of that name. In 1986 when the current owner joined the company it was owned by Ropner PLC but managed through Fred Greenwood of Rochdale. The current owner, Ron Dalton purchased the ironworks from Ropner in 1995. Having been in Littleborough for near 150 years Phoenite Ltd (as the new company was known) determined that the current buildings were no longer suitable and that either expenditure was required on modifying and improving their condition or more suitable premises be sought. After serious consideration, the latter option was chosen. Phoenite Precision Ltd vacated Phoenix Iron Works in Littleborough and moved in August/September 2020 to  premises located at The Old Gas Works, Higginshaw Lane, Oldham. OL1 3LA. Phoenix Iron Works  was demolished in October & November 2020 with the site  being developed for housing. Click on the picture below for a links illustrations of the new housing proposals.


For links to more photographs of the interior of Phoenix Iron Works or its demolition click on relevant picture opposite. For deposited plans etc which are on Rochdale Council’s website during 2020. See:




PIW Interior - various photos.pdf PIW Demolition - various photos.pdf PIW New Housing - various photos.pdf