Littleborough’s History



Around 1818 James Wild constructed a toll road for Messrs Midgeley and Rhodes which ran from the weir (approx where Wine Press is) to the bottom of Hollingworth Brow (now called Bear Hill). This superseded a foot-road. Messrs Midgeley and Rhodes paid the Canal Co £1 pa for the privilege of taking the road over the dam. The road was extended at the same time to Rakewood. The tolls were collected for a number of years before the road fell into dis-repair so it was taken over by the Canal Co about 1836. John Taylor of Higher Fold collected the Tolls on behalf of the Canal Co from 1840 or 41. Toll collection was not strictly enforced as when the toll keeper was absent none was collected. Henry Blackburn from Milnrow recalled that when travelling during the period 1842 to 1847 the toll bar or chain was located at the bottom of Hollingworth Brow where two gas retorts remain. Mr Blackburn stated that whilst tolls were paid to visit the Lodge Inn (now houses) none were paid to reach the Mermaid Inn (now demolished). On 13th April 1892, by agreement with the Proprietors of the Rochdale Canal Co, Littleborough UDC advised that “This road is open to the public” subject to various conditions including weight limits, no stopping on the dam and restrictions to ensure animals did not stray or pedestrians do not go onto the slopes of the embankment.


In addition to the Hollingworth and Rakewood Toll Road, the Rochdale Canal had a number of gates situated around Hollingworth Lake (The Weavers Seaport) which were locked for a day each year. In April 1953, H Percival recalls some 6 gates located:

1. near the Beach Hotel;

2. opposite the landing stage;

3. corner of road to Littleborough;

4. near road to Higher Cleggswood;

5. next to Bear Hill House;

6. Bridge at top end of lake – closed Sept 1939 but re-opened 1940.

Gates 1, 4, 5 & 6 were still extant when his note was made.

Elsewhere it is stated that "The Toll House, a wooden house, was near to the Fisherman's Inn on corner of the road to Littleborough and Smithy Bridge operated by Mr Jackson and closed on 14th April 1892". - See below. Another note suggested it was moved to the Lake Hotel. The Rochdale Canal Co also erected a brass plaque ‘in the road’ between Yell Lane and the first house (built on the site of the old L&Y Hotel) “RGC – NO RIGHT OF WAY- NORTH WEST OF BOUNDARY STONES – FIXED IN LINE 41 YDS – SOUTH WEST OF THIS POINT”.


A Mr Entwistle built at his own (considerable) expense a private road for horses and carriages for the occupation of his tenants only through his farms in Hundersfield and Butterworth commencing at Smallbridge to Hundersfield and Butterworth ending at the Highway at Winnian or Union Flash in the latter township. Mr Entwistle believed the road would be of value to other users, particularly as it crossed over the Canal at Clegg Hall where wharfs and kilns could be built to produce considerable profit. He intended to hold a meeting in the Bull Hotel, Smallbridge on the 12th November. He also issued a Public Notice is also further given “That as the said road is cut and made entirely through Private Property – ‘All Persons presuming to go or to travel the same without leave or by Agreement in Writing or paying a toll as required at the Toll Houses (Foot Passengers excepted) will be prosecuted with the utmost severity of the Law’, John Entwistle, Foxholes, Oct 13th, 1801”.

Ale was brewed at Clegg Hall from as early as the 14th Century and in the early and middle 19th Century Clegg Hall was a inn known as the Hare and Hounds.

The road between Clegg Hall and Little Clegg was known locally as Mr Entwistle’s Road and originally extended beyond Bellfield Mill to Newbarn on Milnrow Road over land marked on the 1786 map as XX Entwistle Esq. The land may well have been owned by Mr Entwistle with the link to Smallbridge being an extension to the earlier network of Mr Entwistle’s private roads. The stretch of the old road from Clegg Hall to the River Beale at Bellfield Mill is still extent but now an unused green lane.


The 1851 OS Map shows the road from Hollingworth Lake to Littleborough Station as a Private Road. Within the Society’s collection a document mentions a toll bar in Littleborough Sq. This refers to a private road which went from opposite the Falcon, across a meadow belonging to Henry Peel Esq before reaching Ben Healey Bridge over the Rochdale Canal adjacent to the Railway Hotel. Adjacent to the canal and road there were lime kilns on Henry Peel’s land. The road continued beyond the bridge to Hollingworth Lake. When the railway was built the road to Littleborough was severed but a footpath remained over the railway line. This was closed in 1892 when the passenger subway was completed. The Toll Road to Hollingworth Lake was adopted by the Littleborough Local Board in 1882 Littleborough Square was completed in 1888.

 Branch Road farm (known as Branch Royd farm in a 17th Century Manorial Survey) was connected to Milnrow Road and Belfield etc by a number of minor tracks. It may well be that Branch Road (to Wildhouse Lane) may also have been built by Mr Entwistle to connect his network of roads. The Rochdale Canal Co late in 1801 built the Shawmoss Tunnel under Milnrow Road to ‘Winning Flash’ which is believed to have been located near to Branch Road Farm. The tunnel outlet was later extended to provide water to Clegg Hall Mill Lodge.