David Olusoga appointed Honorary President of Rooley Moor Neighbourhood Forum

Date published: 12 April 2017

David Olusoga has been appointed as the Honorary President of the Rooley Moor Neighbourhood Forum.

The historian put Rooley Moor Road on the map when he presented BBC Two’s four part documentary, Black and British: A Forgotten History in November.

The historic Victorian stone road, widely known as the ‘Cotton Famine Road’, is a monument to the fascinating story of Rochdale cotton workers siding with the Union cause during the American Civil War.

Lancashire workers sided with the African slaves who picked cotton in the US to support President Abraham Lincoln’s pledge to abolish slavery. This was despite a Union blockade of Confederate ports causing a shortage of cotton supplies coming to Rochdale that caused the ‘cotton famine’ which starved thousands of men and women of their livelihoods.

At the time of the ‘famine’, Lancashire was the leading producer of finished cotton goods in the world, with Rochdale itself having numerous cotton factories providing the beating heart of a thriving local economy.

Today the road’s official name is Rooley Moor Road, part of a popular walking route to Bacup.

For many it will always be the ‘Cotton Famine Road’; a timeless local landmark to the international struggle to abolish the Atlantic slave trade.

A plaque on Cotton Famine Road was unveiled in August 2016, to commemorate the work of Rochdale cotton trade workers during the Lancashire cotton famine of 150 years ago. Funded by the BBC, it reads: ‘In memory of the Rochdale millworkers who supported the struggle against slavery during the American Civil War 1861-65’.

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