Draft conservation area appraisal approved for Catley Lane Head

Date published: 30 June 2017

Rochdale Township Committee approved a draft conservation area appraisal for Catley Lane Head on Thursday.

Speaking during the committee, Councillor Cecile Biant praised the Rooley Moor Neighbourhood Forum, which helped draw up the appraisal, for their commitment to the area’s heritage.

A spokesman for the Rooley Moor Neighbourhood Forum said: “Members of our forum, who are residents of Catley Lane Head and very knowledgeable about the area, supported the heritage appraisal process.

“We are delighted the Township committee approved the appraisal documentation and for the appraisal to go to consultation. This is fantastic news that can only help to preserve our history and heritage for future generations to enjoy.

"The Cotton Famine Road has also been given its own page in the Council publication, ‘Great Days Out in Rochdale’, hopefully this will encourage people to visit and enjoy the area.”

Recommended for a conservation area due to its historic and architectural interest, this would help to protect the heritage of the hamlet by bringing attention to its unique landscape and architecture, and provide the local community with strong sense of identity and pride.

Designating an area with conservation status gives the local planning authority extra controls to preserve the special character and appearance of the area.

The historic Pennines hamlet of Catley Lane Head sits within the rural landscape of north-west Rochdale and is the gateway to Rooley Moor. It contains one listed building (Smallshaw Farm) and a number of significant buildings that add to the character and show the development of the hamlet. The rural setting of the hamlet contributes to its unique character.

The conservation area includes Brownhill Farm in the south, the Grade II listed Smallshaw Farm in the east, a significant section of Rooley Moor Road up to Knacks Lane in the north-west and Hunger Hill Farm to the west. The conservation area also includes three ponds, a stream, features such as setted roads and dry-stone walls, and a number of vernacular houses. A historic shop has since been converted to residential use, retaining the street sign, post box and stone detail. Other historic details can be found on buildings, including date stones and remains of a boot scraper.

The first record of housing in the Catley Lane Head area dates from the 16th century, but many houses that are still in existence today were built between the 17th to the 20th century. Historically the population consisted of miners, quarrymen, and factory operatives employed in the Smallshaw Mill, a cotton mill built by Jacob Tweedale & Sons in the 19th century. During the time the mill operated, there were two active coal pits in the area.

From 1845 onwards, a Sunday School was active in the hamlet, then known as Lanehead. A new chapel was built in 1857 and enlarged with an additional storey in 1872.

The area faced economic decline during the late 19th and early 20th centuries and some public buildings, including the chapel, have been demolished. It is difficult to give exact dates for these key transformations in the hamlet due to a lack of records, but many of these developments can be read from historic maps.

In the 1860s, what became known as the ‘Cotton Famine Road’ because of its links with the American civil war was constructed: a historic stone road at the top of Rooley Moor Road which became the subject of a BBC Two series in November 2016.


Rooley Moor Road, a former pack horse route splitting the hamlet in two, was likely constructed at some point during the 13th century to provide a route across the moors from Spotland to Bacup in Rossendale.

Local consultation and feedback will support the appraisal resulting in a comprehensive document that will assist the council when assessing development proposals through the planning process.

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