Rochdale coat of arms uncovered at former music hall Empire

Date published: 27 June 2020

A stunning mosaic Rochdale coat of arms has been uncovered at Empire on Packer Street.

The discovery was made last week by Paul Whitham, who owns the venue, after taking up the flooring following flash flooding on Monday (15 June).

The venue, built in 1904, is currently being refurbished, ahead of a planned reopening on Saturday 4 July.

Little is known about the flooring so far, but Paul has asked the council’s conservation officers for advice on how to preserve the insignia, which features the motto ‘Crede Signo’ – meaning 'Believe in the sign/Trust in this sign' when roughly translated.

Paul hopes to preserve the emblem, making it a feature in the former music hall’s entrance.

He said: “I think it’s at least as old as the original building [an additional gothic front was later added to the venue], and I’ve been told the only other existing one is in the town hall.

“There may be others covered up under other floors, but I’d like to cover it with a resin and really make it stand out.”


The Rochdale coat of arms discovered at The Empire in Rochdale town centre


The version of the coat of arms displayed on the floor of Empire was originally granted by Heralds College to the former County Borough of Rochdale in 1857, based on those of the local and reputed Rachdale family.

At its centre, a shield shows a sack of wool and a cotton plant, representing the local wool and cotton industries, surrounded by eight martlets, footless birds found on coats of arms depicting either a house martin or swallow.

The coat of arms is completed by further local industry representations: a fleece of wool suspended by a band, and a mill-rind, the iron centre of an old mill stone.

A new coat of arms was created when Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council was formed in 1974.

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