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Winter 2019The hidden history of Healey Dell

Like the hidden folds of the Dell itself, the history of the area is hidden in the mists of time.

About 8,000 years ago, at the end of the last Ice Age, humans first appeared in the Rochdale area. They were nomadic tribes but later began to settle during the Bronze Age (6000-2000 BC). By 70 AD, a tribe known to the conquering Romans as the Brigante first settled in the Dell area.

1,000 years later, it was the Normans who sub-let the land to the De Healey, who built Healey Hall, and the area consequently came to be known as the Healey Dell.

Sheep farming was prevalent here and the animals grazed the surrounding area extensively. The meandering Spodden formed an ideal base for many small mills, which subsequently saw the development of woollen mills and later, cotton. Packhorse routes emerged, markets flourished, and the area became one of the most affluent in the region.

A number of local families lived here. These included the Ashtons, Butterworths, Chadwicks, Gartsides, Halliwells, Healeys, Holts, Schofields and Twedales, among others.

Tucked away in the Dell today you will find stone rubbing mills (Th’owd Mill I’th Thrutch – the old mill in the thrutch), waterfalls and rapids, ‘fairies chapel’, the disused railway station at Broadley Mill, the Rochdale to Bacup disused railway line (which was converted to a walking/cycling trail), reservoirs, and the remains of a wartime munitions factory. There are also seven distinct walking trails in the area.

The Healey Dell Heritage Centre and Tea Rooms on Dell Road is a great starting point for local information and includes permanent heritage information on display. The venue is full of character, in a stunning and scenic natural setting on the banks of the Spodden river.

For more information, visit Trip Advisor, Healey Dell Tea Rooms or alternatively call 01706 350459. Disabled parking and toilet facilities are available at the Heritage Centre.

In the next edition of Real Rochdale we will focus on the period of the Industrial Revolution and the establishment of the railways in Healey Dell.

Many thanks to Phillip Blackshaw and Allan Marshall who contributed significantly to researching the history of Healey Dell.