Rochdale Athletics Ground Tragedy 1939

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Rochdale Athletics Ground Tragedy 1939

Rochdale Athletics Ground Tragedy 1939. Hundreds of people climbed on the roof of the Railway Stand to see the game, Salford were playing Wigan in the Northern Union Cup semi-final held at the Athletic Ground in Rochdale, home of Rochdale Hornets at the time.

The Date: 1st April

Rochdale Athletics Ground Tragedy 1939

The Athletics Ground was packed to capacity and despite warnings from the police, people continued to climb up and it gave way under their weight. People were trapped under the collapsed roof and many were injured as the crowd stampeded onto the pitch fearing a further collapse.

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Royal Fusilier WW I veteran and father-of-seven Joseph Howles, aged 41, of Exeter Street, Rochdale, was one of those who died from his injuries. Joseph had recently joined the Rochdale Auxiliary Fire Service. Police identified him by finding his ARP badge at the scene.

Rochdale Athletics Ground 1939

Today, a Morrisons supermarket now stands on the site, but the Athletic Grounds was was the home of Rochdale Hornets Rugby League Football Club for over 90 years up until 1988. It was also used for speedway and BriSCA F1 Stock Cars.

Photos kindly supplied by Harold Howarth


Queen Elizabeth Grammar School Middleton

Queen Elizabeth Grammar School Middleton

The Old Grammar School

Queen Elizabeth Grammar School Middleton was founded in 1572, and is a beautifully restored Tudor building.

 In 1412 Thomas Langley, Chancellor of England at the time, who was also educated in Middleton rebuilt the Parish Church and founded a charity school which became The Queen Elizabeth The First Free Grammar School.  The building has now been restored and is used as a heritage centre.

The Nowell Brothers

In 1520, a priest, Thomas Mawdsley had gained such a reputation as a teacher that the Nowell Brothers, Robert and Alexander, who were from Read in Pendle came to Middleton to be educated, alongside their “Assheton” cousins of Middleton Hall. From here, they went to Brazenose College, Oxford.

Robert Nowell became a wealthy London lawyer, and Alexander entered the church and became the Dean of St Paul’s in London during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I.
Robert Nowell, as he was dying, spoke to his brother Alexander:

“…..forget not Middleton School and Brazenose College, where we were taught in our youth, and, if you should procure anything with my money, do it in the name of the Queen whose poor servant I have been”

Queen Elizabeth Declares


With the help of Lord Burleigh, Alexander Nowell was granted letters by Queen Elizabeth I on the 11th of August, 1572.

Her majesty’s actual document declared that:

“….there shall be forever a free and perpetual Grammar School within the said town and Parish of Middleton, which shall endure for all future time and shall be named “The Free School of Queen Elizabeth in Middleton”.

“….for the better informing, training and educating in good letters of the children and youths dwelling in Middleton and neighbouring parishes”

The building as it stands today was completed in 1586.

Queen Elizabeth Grammar School Middleton
Click this great image kindly sent in by Kenneth Hall for our Grammar School Album

Boarshaw Road, (opposite Bardsley Street), Middleton, M24 6BR


From the A664/M62, follow signs to Middleton, head downhill to the east of Middleton Parish Church.

20 cars.

Friday 10am-4pm,
Saturday 10am-4.30pm,
Sunday 1pm-4pm

BOOKING NOT NECESSARY, Guides will be available to assist visitors with tours.

Heywood Courts

Heywood Courts

Heywood Courts, photos by Mark Billington

Heywood Courts

Heywood Courts, a Magistrates Court no longer in use, but you can get a feel of what they were like in these great images.

The Courts were above Heywood Police Station, the police cells were in the actual Police Station and the main court, No 1 Court…. was the only court that prisoners were taken to, direct from the cell area below. There were smaller courtrooms off the corridor in the first photo below.

The building is now called TOPS, Heywood’s old police now a business centre.

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Hare Hill Park Littleborough

Hare Hill Park Littleborough

Hare Hill Park Littleborough, photo by Eileen Lawless

Hare Hill Park Littleborough
Taken Saturday 20 July 2013

Hare Hill Park Littleborough, showing the bandstand that was presented to the people of Littleborough by Mr J Cryer in 1902.

Austin Allegro Sudden Brook

Austin Allegro Sudden Brook

Austin Allegro Sudden Brook

Austin Allegro Sudden Brook, photo taken in April 1985

Austin Allegro Sudden Brook, photo taken in April 1985

  •   Nicola Mitchell The cooperative bridge near sandbrook park
    23 November at 21:47
  •   Allan V Grocock It was a tip with a filthy brook running through it we used to go ratting down there. From the top near Cheltenham St we used to jump over the edge into ashes below it was a hell of a drop. The brook was culverted from here to the Windmill pub under what is now Tesco and through some of the old air raid shelters belonging to Dunlop, great days !!
    24 November at 19:32
  •   Sarah Jane Edwards Edinburgh way?
    23 November at 21:47
  •   Ian Jarvis Allegro probably ended up there after its front suspension collapsed lol
    23 November at 21:57
  •   Mark Fox Aldi car park now
    25 November at 12:58
  •   Michael Crabtree Was stolen and abandoned, set on fire few days later. We recovered it some time later. Gorrells Way between Queens way and Manchester Road. Michael Crabtree, Crabtrees Recovery.
    24 November at 06:52
  •   Gareth Kenyon That bridge must of known what was coming
    23 November at 22:17
  •   Paurick Gaughan Used to be called long hill before it was Sandbrook,
    23 November at 21:50
  •   Chris Higginbottom Oh & the car belonged to Al Egro
    23 November at 21:49
  •   Chris Higginbottom Yep, that car would be slap bang in the middle of Aldi now
    23 November at 21:48
  •   Fiona Proud Nana Harvey Loved that common always schooled my horse on there lol xx
    23 November at 23:02
  •   Jane Hogarth Played on there as a kid. Loved it. Loads of frogspawn n mud . lol.
    23 November at 21:59

Valley Mill Ashfield Valley

Valley Mill Ashfield Valley

Valley Mill Ashfield Valley, photo by Harold Howarth

Valley Mill Ashfield Valley

Valley Mill Ashfield Valley, showing the rear of the mill and The Gale Inn, near the site of the Sandbook Complex (B&Q). Photo taken on the 1st of April 1986