Can there be anything less interesting than a walk to Stalybridge from Ashton under Lyne; and maybe if you were from the local area you would agree. But there is a great deal of community and history to see on the way and in modern Tameside; you can see the difference between the two towns and the investment in them over the past two decades. Although I write about the Ashton under Lyne community and its history in these Blogs, I am actually a valve and pipeline man from Stalybridge. I Still have some pride left for my hometown, but this has diminished over the years, having watched it decline. To take this walk with valve and pipeline man click read more or contact our sales team for product information and or prices.
Valve and Pipeline Man the start of the walk
Starting on Turner Lane home of Besseges (Valves, Tubes & Fittings) Ltd brings you to the first of the local pubs you would pass; The Junction sat right alongside our Warehouse. Then a short walk to the bottom of the street will take you under the now two iron bridges that recently replaced the single Victorian iron railway bridge earlier this year (2018) Here you can see Ashton under Lyne growing with new buildings rising alongside the stone Town Hall, which was built in 1840 at a cost of £5000 and extended in 1878.
Turn Left to walk with Charlestown Railway Station to your left hand side a route which takes you along the new bypass; completed in 2016. Before this was built the walk would have taken you through Penny Meadow. Part of the meadow that gives this area of Ashton its name is still there, a grassy island in the middle of a busy intersection; at the bottom of Mossley Road.
As you reach the summit of this stretch of road; in front of you is an office furniture centre. This was once Albion School; the Foundation Stone was laid Good Friday 1861 and at a cost of £11000 was opened Good Friday 1862. In 2018 the cost according to an online inflation calculator would have been £1,286,000. Looking that the brickwork done and the fact that this building had a 1000 seater auditorium; I doubt that the present building could be built for this money.
As we cross the top of Penny Meadow to join Beaufort Road the noise of the traffic drowns out any semblance of nature that is around us. You can see the trees but the bird life that you can be sure exists is silenced by modernity. To be honest this piece of nature in the middle of tarmac and brick is probably completely missed by many people, just because life filters out so many things that are right in front of us. Crossing the roads here can be a nuisance though, you have to concentrate on the traffic.
Valve and Pipeline Man A Walk in the Park
The end of Beaufort road brings you to what was once known as the School House Restaurant and is now the very well known San Rocco’s. Prior to being an eating house, this was in fact a Church School built in 1876 and some of the original Victorian features remain. Moving on, a left turn takes you onto to Stamford Street and almost to the border of Ashton under Lyne and Stalybridge. First you will pass an excellent watering hole, The Sycamore; sitting on the corner of Mellor Road and Stamford Street.
The Sycamore Inn has been open for over 180 years, the person running it 1832 was a Peggy Knott, this lovely ale house is a Robinsons House and serves excellent beer. It sits right opposite the first entrance from the Ashton under Lyne side to Stamford Park. At this point entering the Park won’t take you out of your way on this journey to Stalybridge; but is a nice break from the constant drone of traffic. As you enter this beautiful park, to your left is a dark tunnel of trees that takes you down to an area known as the Dingle. But for Stalybridge and to remain on this walk with valve and pipeline man; stay on the main path running parallel with Stamford Street.
Valve and Pipeline Man over the Border
About half way through the Park you will you will have crossed the border between Ashton under Lyne and Stalybridge; and at the same time walked a pleasant path away from the traffic. Stamford Park opened in 1873 and was originally the Estate of Abel Harrison. On his death in 1865 the two town councils of Stalybridge and Ashton under Lyne bought the land from his estate. With additional land donated by the Earl of Stamford the Park was created for the local community and duly named Stamford Park. Although most of the land had belonged to Abel Harrison, so maybe Harrison Park would have been more appropriate.
Having left the Park by the large gates at the end of the path, you are now looking at Stalybridge. The area started out as little more than a few cottages and in the 17th Century and was part of Lancashire. The industrial revolution turned a tiny community into a hub of commerce as King Cotton took over the area and those famous satanic mills rose high on the skyline. Cottages disappeared into a mass of terrace houses, with several families living within each one. The terraces remain and can be seen all over the town, just less people than in the Victorian era.
Valve and Pipeline Man Arrives in Stalybridge
Depending on where you are walking to in Stalybridge will now decide the route, this walk with valve and pipeline man will take us to Bower Fold and the home of Stalybridge Celtic Football Club. Continuing the walk on Stamford Street will eventually meet Mottram Road and the climb to the football ground or even further on, the Deep Cutting; leading you on into Derbyshire and beyond.
If the centre of the Town is the eventual destination, then turn right onto Rassbottom Street and make your way down the hill towards Stalybridge Railway Station. This small town station has seen great improvements in recent years and from the outside it has lost some of its Victorian charm. Once you pass the ticket office though it is clearly a Victorian Station; and for those that don’t know it the Buffet Bar is famous as a house of Real Ale. If you step inside this establishment you will be forgiven for believing that this was a step back into a bygone era.
Valve and Pipeline Man a Walk to Bower Fold
On this particular day the walk did not as it does so often take me through the Town Centre. I will hopefully return to the centre of Stalybridge in the future but for now we continue to make our way down Stamford Street towards Mottram Road. Before the turn off for Rassbottom Street on your left is West Hill School.
Originally the home of William Harrison, brother of Abel Harrison of Stamford Park fame. West Hill House was bought by Stalybridge Council in the 1920s and became West Hill Council School 24th March 1927. When it opened there were a total of ten classrooms on two floors and 281 pupils and at the time only three girls. In the 1970s it is where I attended the then West Hill Secondary Modern School for boys.
Following this the shallow slope from Ashton under Lyne continues, skirting the edge of Wakefield Road and the often dangerous junction for cyclists. As we saunter through the traffic lights at the bottom of Wakefield Road a quick look to the left reveals the stone ventilation shaft for the railway tunnel at Stalybridge. The fumes that rise from this wide stone chimney are now diesel, but on occasion the white plumes of steam still rise to remind us of the areas glorious path through the industrial revolution.
Valve and Pipeline Man Cow’d Feet Club and Beyond
The oddly named Cow’d Feet Club is the next landmark to pass as we come towards the end of Stamford Street. The origin of the name is not known to me, but this is Lancashire dialect for exactly what it sou
nds like. Living in Stalybridge has often required a sense of humour, so nothing should surprise you here. Making our way beyond the road to Cocker Hill is the stone bridge that gives the town its name. Crossing the River Tame, this bridge was once overlooked by the odd shaped Church at the top of Cocker hill; and out of view now from this point Staley Hall.
Staley Hall gave the area its original name and has had various spellings over the centuries. Deriving from the words staef leah; a wood where staves are cut and collected. The name was adopted by the lords of the manor who became the De Stavelegh family headed by Ralph De Stavelegh in the 15th Century. A legend associated with Staley Hall refers to the crusades, and Sir Ralph De Stavelegh who returned from fighting for Richard the Lion Heart.
Valve and Pipeline Man Legends of the Past
When he came home he found his wife was being forced to remarry as he had been assumed dead; missing for seven years. Much of that time was apparently spent in the dungeons of his captors, where he dreamt of home and hearth. When Sir Ralph returned to Staley Hall dressed in beggar’s rags, he was not recognised by his servants. He returned asking for food and water and as was the custom of the time he was welcomed into the Hall. It is said after he asked after the Lady of the house, that she would see anyone due to her broken heart over her missing love.
At this point Sir Ralph De Stavelegh placed half of a wedding ring into his cup and bade the servant to present this to the Lady. He did as he was asked; and she called for the man to be presented to her, she did not at first recognise her long lost love. But when he spoke to her, a moment of joy at recognition overwhelmed the Lady, seeing that her husband had returned. The Sutor that had informed the house of Sir Ralph’s death was confronted and locked in the dungeon. Apparently, Sir Ralph threw off his beggar’s garb to reveal the Knight underneath; which brought his men at arms to his side.
Valve and Pipeline Man Mottram Road
Legends aside at the beginning of Mottram Road a steady rise leads us to Bower Fold, the shops at the bottom of the hill have changed over the years. The once famous Eddie Crotty, a member of Fivepenny Piece, winners of New Faces in the mid-1970s had a Grocers shop in this row. The original Fivepenny Piece line up when they were formed in 1968 were Eddie Crotty, John Meeks, Lynda Meeks, Colin Radcliffe and George Radcliffe.
Sad to say only two of the band members are still with us at the time of writing this; they are John Meeks and Colin Radcliffe. According to one of their songs George and Colin Radcliffe are the Ashton Mashers. To find out more about these wonderful Folk Singers visit the Fivepenny Piece Website; where you can hear their music and read their story.
Valve and Pipeline Man Close to Journey’s End
A walk up the hill brings us to the allotments where freshly grown produce can be bought. Priory Tennis Club, Cheetham’s Park and Stalybridge Archery club are on the right hand side. The Mottram Road Allotment Association have a plant sale every late May bank holiday and an agricultural show every August bank holiday. Priory Tennis Club was opened in 1921 by a group of gentlemen known as the Muffin Club; they met every week at the Hare and Hounds also on Mottram Road Stalybridge.
On the opposite side of the Park gates from the Tennis Club is Stalybridge Archery Club, formed in the mid-1950s and officially affiliated in 1958. The first club house on the site was opened in 1960 and the current membership ranges from ages 10 to 85. Cheetham’s Park was opened to the public in 1932 having been bequeathed to the Town of Stalybridge by John Frederick Cheetham on his death in 1916.
Following his death his sister remained on the estate until her death in 1932. Eastwood Hall the grand house of the estate was sadly demolished in 1950 due to the structure being unsound; this despite many attempts to save the building. The Park is now a place of peace and tranquillity enjoyed by the local community; this is only altered on the annual visit of Stalybridge Carnival at the end of June every year.
Valve and Pipeline Man at Bower Fold
Journey’s end is Bower Fold around half way up Mottram Road and the home of Stalybridge Celtic Football Club and Gymetc. As you turn into the Car Park, turnstiles and floodlights come into view, a football ground first opened in 1909. The team was founded in 1909 by Herbert Rhodes and still wear his racing colours as their home kit. They are the only footballing Celtic side that wear blue and white as their first team colours and presently play in the Northern Premier League, step four in Non-League football.
The glamour and the money associated with the English Premier League has done little to enhance the future of small football clubs. If anything, it has eroded football at grassroots level as so many places still show Saturday games live at 3:00pm. Although I do enjoy a visit to a decent ale house, no Premier League game with commentary in another language; would take me away from watching football on the terraces or in the stands.
The original wooden Stands that stood for so many decades have been replaced by cantilever and concrete. The ground still has the charm of a small club, the social club needs some updating; but this is more than made up for by the friendly staff and pleasant atmosphere. Behind the ground if you take the time to walk around it, is Eastwood; steep sides run down to a stream that eventually runs through Cheetham’s Park. Please take care though doing this as the paths are overgrown and the sides are steep.
Thank you for taking the time to read my ramblings on our local area and we hope you enjoyed this walk to Stalybridge from Ashton under Lyne with; the valve and pipeline man. Your feedback would be greatly appreciated, even negative feedback will help us do it better next time. Thank you as always to the Tameside Image Archive for providing some of the images for this Blog.