Baillie Street Quarter - further improvements

Date published: 29 March 2024

The latest stage of improvement to Rochdale town centre's new Baillie Street Quarter identity has seen special panels installed to mark 21 ‘Hidden Heritage Stories’.

Each individual heritage panel tells its own story, providing a glimpse into the past for Rochdale’s growing number of visitors, while also showing those who live in the town how much they’ve got to be proud of.

Through the initial lockdown period back in 2020 and ever since, Rochdale's Business Improvement District team has been carrying out a huge variety of improvements along Baillie Street.

The BID team have introduced the ‘Hidden Heritage Stories’ following a huge response on its social media channels.

The idea was simple in that it told the story about particular historic buildings and places within the town centre.


Some of the heritage panels on Bull Brow
Some of the heritage panels on Bull Brow


With dozens of stories to be told, the obvious next step for the project was to evolve it into a outdoor gallery so that local people and visitors can learn more about the history that’s all around them.

One of the Heritage Stories tells the interesting tale of the Fire Engine Station on Alfred Street.

The station opened in June 1893, with the construction having been overseen by Police Chief Constable Wilkinson, as the fire service in Rochdale then was part of the police service.

The building cost £4,000, which included the site, and was located along Alfred Street, between Baillie Street and Smith Street.


The Old Clock Face Hotel, Lord Street & Toad Lane


Another tells the tale of The Old Clock Face Hotel, which stood on the corner of Lord Street and Toad Lane until it was demolished in 1973, to make way for the Exchange Shopping Centre.

In 1898, the Crown Brewing Company of Bury had initially bought the pub for £6,000.

At the time the hotel offered its customers a bar, parlour, tap room and smoke room, plus a billiard room, two commercial rooms and numerous bedrooms.

Perhaps the most eye-catching change so far in the Baillie Street Quarter, however, has been the introduction of the hanging baskets and planters which are in bloom all year round.  

These floral displays make the area more attractive and to create a ‘greener feel’ to the urban surroundings.

The BID team has increased the number of flowers year on year as part of their enhancement scheme and they are fully responsible for them.


The Baillie Street Quarter


Paul Ambrose, BID Manager, said: "We’re pledging to continue delivering our all year round floral displays, further encouraging a sense of well-being and providing an enhanced visitor experience.

"In addition, we look forward to welcoming the In Bloom judges later on this summer and showing them the improvements the BID has made to improve this distinctive and much loved area of the town centre."

A historic street with several Grade-II listed buildings, Baillie Street is home to a variety of independent shops, bars and restaurants, plus several ginnels including Bull Brow, The Butts Avenue and The Bank steps.

Now the key route between the Riverside Shopping Complex, Yorkshire Street and the Exchange Shopping Centre, Baillie Street has been rebranded by the BID as the Baillie Street Quarter due to its unique sense of place.


Packer Street & Church Steps


The 21 heritage panels which have been installed are:

  • The Flying Horse Hotel, Packer Street
  • The Walk
  • Champness Hall, Drake Street
  • The Empire Hall, Packer Street
  • Packer Street and Church Street steps
  • The Fire Engine Station, Alfred Street
  • The Circus of Varieties, Newgate
  • Bombay Brew (former Duke of Wellington Hotel), Drake Street
  • Broadfield Park, St Alban's Street
  • The Roebuck Pub, Yorkshire Street
  • The Grapes Hotel and Grapes Vaults, Baillie Street
  • St Chad's Parish Church, Sparrow Hill
  • Yorkshire Penny Bank, Yorkshire Street
  • Barclays Bank (formerly Martins Bank), Yorkshire Street
  • Yates (former County Court building), Fleece Street
  • The County Police Court House and Offices, Theatre Street
  • The Stocks, St Chad's churchyard
  • The Old Clock Face Hotel, Lord Street / Toad Lane
  • Fashion Corner, Drake Street
  • Medieval Bridge
  • No 10 Baillie Street

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