Middleton (middle town) derives its name from its location between four other towns: Bury, Rochdale, Oldham and Manchester. It owes much of its history to the Industrial Revolution, when it was a significant mill town, with links to the silk industry stretching back to the 19th century.
The town's local newspaper, the Middleton Guardianandhas a history going back to Victorian times
JW Lees houses its brewery at Middleton Junction established in 1828 by John Lees a retired cotton manufacturer; the brewery owns several pubs in the North West area and is an one of the few remaining independent breweries in the UK.
Lying within the historic county boundaries of Lancashire since a very early time, Middleton was once an ecclesiastical parish of the hundred of Salford, and in Oldham poor law Union. In 1861 commissioners were established for the improvement of Middleton and Tonge townships or civil parishes. In 1878, the township of Alkrington and parts of the townships of Hopwood and Thornham were added to the area of the commissioners. It was in 1886 this territory was incorporated as a borough, giving it Borough status in the United Kingdom. In 1894 parts of Great Heaton and Little Heaton townships were added to the Municipal borough of Middleton, which was within the administrative county of Lancashire. In 1933 there were exchanges of territory between the borough of Middleton, the City of Manchester and Chadderton Urban District. Also in 1933 part of Unsworth were amalgamated with Middleton, whilst part of it was moved to Royton Urban District. In 1974, though it was initially proposed that it become part of the Metropolitan Borough of Oldham, Middleton became part of the Metropolitan Borough of Rochdale within the Metropolitan county of Greater Manchester.
Middleton forms part of the Heywood and Middleton parliamentary constituency.
The parish church of St Leonard's was completed in 1524, incorporating two stone arches made of stonework from an earlier Norman church built on the site. A wooden Saxon Church is believed to have occupied the site long before the Norman church was built, in around 1100.
The present church was built by Sir Richard Assheton, in celebration of the knighthood granted to him by Henry VIII for his part in the Battle of Flodden Field, the largest battle ever fought between Scotland and England. The Flodden Window, in the sanctuary, is thought to be the oldest war memorial in the UK. It memorialises on it the names of the Middleton archers who fought at Flodden Field in 1513.
The church also has one of the finest collections of brasses in the area, including the only brass in the UK of a Civil War Officer in full armour, Major-General Sir Ralph Assheton.
The Old Boar's Head Inn
The pub is said to be dated from 1632 and is located below the parish church, on Long Street; originally a coaching inn on the road between Chester and York.
The majority of Middleton's other main buildings were designed by Edgar Wood, an influential English architect of his day such as Elm School.
MIDDLETON IN 1828/9 (extracted from Pigots Trade Directory)
A market town and parish, in the hundred of Salford, in the deanery of Manchester, and archdeaconry of Chester; 5 miles SSW of Rochdale, 6 NNE of Manchester, and 192 from London. Baron Suffield, of Suffield in the county of Norfolk, is the present lord of the manor, who holds, in October annually, courts leet and baron, at which time two constables are chosen, for the government of the parish. The parish church of Middleton, which is dedicated to St. Leonard, is an ancient pile, but no record has been discovered from which can be fixed the period of its erection. The south side, from an inscription, appears to have been built in later times, about 1520, by Richard Assheton. The choir has three aisles, of which the middle and north belong to the rector, and the south to the lords of Middleton; a monumental inscription to that ancient family and its branches, and many curious monuments of the rectors of this church, principally descendants of the Asshetons, are in the chancel, the window of which is ornamented with some fine old stained glass, formerly belonging to "The Hall". A screen of seven compartments, in bold relief, divides the nave from the chancel, which, as well as the great cast window, is ornamented by the arms of several noble families, who are and were resident in the neighbourhood. The tower of this church is low, with a superstructure of wood, the sandy foundation being deemed not sufficiently firm to sustain an erection of entire stone. A handsome and well toned organ has within these few years been added. The living of Middleton is a rectory, of which Lord Suffield is the patron, and the present incumbent is the Rev. John Haughton. Here are chapels for the methodists, Swedenborgians, Lady Huntingdon`s connexion, independents, and unitarians; attached to nearly all these places of worship are schools, which collectively impart education to upwards of 1,800 children of both sexes. "Queen Elizabeth`s Free School" was founded in 1572, and endowed by Alexander Nowell, dean of St. Paul`s, and the incorporated governors are the principal and fellows of Brazenose College, Oxford. Lord Suffield has a seat here; and about one mile hence is the seat of R. G. Hopwood, Esq. The ancient seat of the Ashtons, "Middleton Hall", is now the residence of T. Smith, Esq., agent to the lord of the manor; and the park, in which formerly herded many deer, has been converted into farms. The spinning of cotton and manufacturing of different fabrics from that material, is conducted here to considerable extent; and there are besides, some establishments in the silk trade, and bleaching works; as also extensive dye works of Mr Beattie. Coal mines are in the immediate neighbourhood; and about one mile from the town passes the canal from Hull to Manchester. The weekly market is on Friday; fairs are, the first Tuesday after the 11th of March, the first Tuesday after the 15th of April, and the 2nd Thursday after the 29th of Sept, but there is very little business done either at the markets or fairs. The population of the whole parish of Middleton, in 1821, was 12,793, including 5,809 persons resident in the township. BIRCH, a village, in the township of Hopwood, and parish of Middleton, two miles and a half WNW of the latter town, is an improving place. A large and commodious national school room of brick has been recently erected in the township of Heap; and a parliamentary church is now building, in the township of Hopwood.
c.1100: Building of the Parish Church.
1412: Completion of re-building of the Parish Church. Expenses mainly met by Cardinal Thomas Langley. Middleton Grammar School founded.
1483: Ralph Assheton, knighted for services in the field. Created Vice-Constable of England by Richard III.
1524: Middleton church largely re-built by Sir Richard Assheton.
1572: Middleton Grammar School re-founded.
1602: Alexander Nowell, Dean of St. Paul`s London, died. He had been educated at the Middleton Grammar School.
1709: Wooden structure built surmounting the tower at St Leonards .
1720: Clockmaker, James Whittaker of Middleton, died.
1723: Alkrington Hall built (on the site of an earlier hall).
1764: September 6. Birth of Amos Ogden.
1773: 17 June. James Archer, Curate, came to Middleton from Royton.
1780: First known cotton mill in Middleton built by John Jackson. Situated at the bottom of Wood Street. Powered by a water-wheel. There were 74 people living in Tonge.
1788: Sir Ashton Lever, Alkrington Hall, died. Samuel Bamford born.
1790: Wesleyan Chapel, Boarshaw Lane, opened.
1791: May 18. Middleton Market Charter.
1804: December 21. Rochdale canal opened.
1805: Wood Street Wesleyan Chapel opened. 1807: August 15. New church clock put up at St Leonards. 1808: Swedenborgians opened a chapel on Wood Street. 1809: May 8: Large well of good spring water made in Saml. Searles meadow for use of inhabitants of Middleton Wood. 1812: April 20. Riots in Middleton. Five killed. 18 wounded. 1818: 20 Aug. Large well of good spring water made in the Rector`s great meadow for use of inhabitants of Middleton and Middleton Wood. 1822: June. Providence Independent Church opened in Turner`s Garretts. 1823: July. Primitive Methodist Chapel opened on Irk Street, Little Park. 1824: Countess of Huntingdon`s Connexion opened a chapel in High Street, Middleton. 1825: July 10. The new organ opened at St Leonard`s Parish Church. November 1. Burton`s print-shop burned down. 1826: The hottest summer known for sixty years; the herbage in the fields, in the neighbourhood of Middleton, being quite burnt up. 1827: June 11. Foundation stone laid - St Marys Church, Birch. 1828: July 14. Great flood, by which a large quantity of hay and grass was destroyed. Lee`s Brewery founded in Middleton Junction. 1829: January 20. The Rev. J. Archer, who had been a curate for fifty years was inducted rector. 1830: June 30. Severe thunderstorm; the hailstones measured five inches in circumference. 1832: May 11. Rev. James Archer died, aged 68. July 21. The Rev. Charles Way presented to the rectory of Middleton. 1833: January 1. Salis Schwabe, Esq., commenced calico-printing at the Rhodes Works. Richard Durnford became Vicar of Middleton. 1835: July 1. The Rev. Richard Durnford inducted rector of Middleton. July 6. The foundation-stone of Rhodes Primitive Methodist School laid by E. S. Schwabe, Esq. Edward Harbord, third Baron Suffield (who succeeded his brother the second baron), was accidently killed by a fall from his horse. 1836: September 17. John Tetlow, Esq., of Alkrington Hall, died. 1837: The “Chimney School” at Rhodes was established by Messrs. Schwabe. 1839: June 11. A slight shock of earthquake at Middleton. July 4. First railway came to Middleton (Mills Hill). October 5. St Michael Church, Tonge, consecrated. October 26. Celebration in Middleton of the centenary of John Wesley. 1840: January 7. The Middleton Botanical Society was established. October 5. John Mellor, botanist, died. 1842: National School built on Long Street (Middleton Parish School). 1843: March 16. Shock of an earthquake at Middleton. August 19. Riotous proceedings of factory hands and “plug-drawing.” September 19. Theophilus Smith, esq., steward of the Middleton and Thornham estates, died aged 73. 1845: Middleton Hall demolished. Middleton Angling Society formed. November 17. Meeting of ratepayers to oppose the introduction of gas and water. 1846: Large chimney erected at Messrs Schwabe and Co. in Rhodes, built by John Ashton of Blackley. November 6. The Middleton Gasworks commenced. 1847: September 2. The next presentation to the rectory of Middleton advertised for sale. November 23. Meeting to establish a Mechanics` Institute. 1848: February 1. The first festival of the Middleton Mechanics` Institute. April 4. Thomas Slater, Esq., Nutt Bank, died, age 86. Middleton estates sold by Lord Suffield. 1849: January 26. Second festival of the Mechanics` Institute. 1850: February 26. Third soiree of the Mechanics` Institute. First Co-operative shop opened at Little Park. November 10. Amos Ogden, radical, died. November 11. William Worsley, president of the Middleton Botanic Society, died. 1851: February 10. The Butchers` Shambles and Market House demolished. Thomas Dronsfield built 2 large cotton factories. 1852: Middleton Cricket Club founded. Opening services held at Sadler Street Chapel. 1853: July 23. Salis Schwabe, Esq., of Rhodes, died. His funeral took place July 26. October. Newspaper or magazine printed. “Middleton Advertiser and Chronicle.” Only ran for 3 issues. October 16. New school opened at Hebers by the Wesleyans. Joseph Fielding published “Rural Historical Gleanings in South Lancashire”. 1854: July 19. Robert Gregge Hopwood, Esq., of Hopwood Hall, died, aged 83. August 3. D. Siltzer, Esq., of Rhodes, died, aged 45. 1855: Act of Parliament to allow Heywood Water Company to supply water to Middleton, Tonge and Heywood. December 23.Opening of the Salem Chapel, Lady Huntingdon`s Connexion. 1857: May 1. Opening of the Middleton branch line of railway. May. Middleton Albion established. Cost was one penny. May 26. £70 granted in Tonge towards a bridge. August 17. Meeting in the Temperance Hall to form a free library. August 18. The first marriage in Providence Chapel. August 30. A living locust caught at Middleton. September 13. Re-opening of the Wesleyan Chapel, Middleton. October 10. Poll in Tonge on the question of lighting the streets with gas. Mechanics Institute closed. Railway Hotel built (corner of Townley Street and Oldham Road). Middleton Albion founded by Thomas Mills. 1858: April 15. Mr. Timothy Harrop, organist at St Leonards Parish Church, died. April 16. Middleton original Fair Day. May 20. Rev. Mr. Skidmore, Wesleyan minister, died. May 27. Laying of two corner-stones of the New Jerusalem Temple, Middleton. November 30. Sunday-school Union tea Meeting at Middleton. December 29. Meetings of silk weavers to obtain an advance of wages. The working people in great distress. 1859: January 3. Dinner to Samuel Bamford at the Assheton Arms. January 4. First soiree of the Middleton Lirerary Institute. John Cheetham, Esq., presiding. January 10. Parliamentary Reform Dinner at the Hare and Hounds. February 7. Meeting in the Temperance Hall to petition Parliament to make Middleton and Tonge a Parliamentary borough. April 22. Foundation-stone laid of the new Independent Chapel July 18. Great storm of rain and hail. July 30. Fire at the Lodge Old Mill. October 29. Meeting to establish a Church Institute at Thornham. October 30. First show of the Middleton Agricultural Society. 1860: January 21. Soiree of the Middleton Literary Institute. Independent Methodists opened Gilmore Street, Tonge. June. Providence Congregational Church opened. Edgar Wood born. 1861: The Middleton and Tonge Improvement Commissioners opened their headquarters on Gas Street. Warren House (Owd Scrats House) demolished. Joseph Fielding died. 1862: Holy Trinity Church in Parkfield consecrated. 1864: Middleton and Tonge Public Baths, Manchester Old Road, opened. Foundation stone laid for Bowlee Primitive Methodist Church. Consecration of All Saints Church, Rhodes. 1865: Parker Lords and Co. Ltd., Winders and Polishers, established. 1867: St. Peter`s R.C. church built. 1870: Taylor`s Cottage, Manchester Old Road, demolished. 1871: March. James Lees, Esq., of Alkrington Hall, died. November. Co-operative Hall opened on Long Street. 1872: March 13. Samuel Bamford, poet and reformer, died. Buried at St. Leonard`s Church. 1874: Middleton`s second police station opened in Market Place. Above were the Magistrates courts. 1877: Dec 1. Middleton Guardian first published. Cost 1 penny.
Feb 12. Pulling down of the Middleton Gasworks commenced.
March 10. Opening of St. Thomas`s School church, Bowlee.
April 2. Laying of foundation stone of St. Peter`s Catholics School, Tonge.
April 13. Death of Mr Moses Bamford, schoolmaster of Tong.
Oct 6. Bamford memorial unveiled.
Oct 22. Fire at Swedenborgian Chapel, Middleton.
Nov 17. Parkfield Church Mission commenced.
Nov 30., Dr Stelfox of Middletron, set sail for Australia.
Dec1. Middleton Guardian first published. Cost 1 penny.
Dec 24. Death of Mr Henry Whalley, at Bradshaw Hall, aged 51.
1879: Alkrington and parts of Hopwood and Thornham were taken over by the Improvement Commission. 1882: Albert Booth of Rhodes House laid foundation stone of Albany Mill. Primitive Methodists Chapel opened on Morton Street. November. Mr Alfred John Lees of Alkrington Hall, died in Gibralter. 1883: ?July. The whole of the Fire Brigade were sacked due to incompetence. New one formed. July 28. Corner and memorial stones laid for St Gabriel`s Church. 1885: February 2. Consecration of St Gabriel`s Church, Middleton Junction, by Bishop Fraser. May. Death of Joseph Goodier. Botanist and successful gardener of Stakehill. July. Langley Hall demolished. 1886: July 21. Middleton and Tonge obtained a Charter of Incorporation and became a borough. November 9. First Town Council meeting. First Mayor, Harvey Heywood, was elected, plus 6 Aldermen. The old Commissioners headquarters used as a Town Hall. 1887: Tonge A.F.C. registered as a football club. 1888: April 7. Foundation stone laid of the Middleton Jubilee Free Library, Long Street. 1889: March 9. Opening of Middleton Jubilee Free Library by Professor Boyd-Dawkins. June 8. Memorial stones laid for Salem Congregational Schools in Manchester New Road. July 6. Opening of Brassey Recreation Grounds and Jubilee Park. Kid Clough Dye Works founded. 1891: April 28. Middleton Junction Methodist Chapel opened. Unitarian Church, Manchester Old Road, designed by Edgar Wood. New Theatre Royal on Gas Street, opened. Captain John Gregge Hopwood of Hopwood Hall, died. 1893: Smoke Abatement Gala at Hopwood (held by Susan Fanny Hopwood). July 13. Last edition of the Middleton Albion (issue no. 1966). William Deacons Bank, Market Place, designed by Edgar Wood, was opened. 1896: July 16. Marriage of Judith Hopwood and Captain Von Schroder at St Leonards. 1897: May. Thomas Thorpe (aka “Owd Stiff) died age 87 yrs. June 22. Celebrations of the Diamond Jubilee of the reign of Queen Victoria. Alkrington Colliery closed. 1899: Feb 1. Mr. Henry Wheeler, solicitor, died. Fountain, designed by Edgar Wood, erected in Middleton. Don Mill opened. 1901: Shops closed half-day for Queen Victoria`s funeral. November 11. Long Street Methodist opened. 1902: Middleton Electric Traction Company began operating. 1904: October. Mr. Joseph Ashworth, auctioneer, died. 1905: Cromer Ring Mill built. Malta Mill built. 1906: Susan Fanny Hopwood of Hopwood Hall, died aged 88 years. 1907: Times Mill built – contained 160,000 spindles. 1908: Three shops designed by Edgar Wood (known as “White City”) built on Manchester New Road. 1910: April 28. Durnford Street Secondary School opened by W. H. Wolstenholme (the then Mayor). St. Peter`s R. C. Church demolished. 1911: New church building of St. Peter`s R.C. church opened. 1912: April 27. Palace Cinema, Manchester Road, opened. 1913: July 12. Royal Visit of King George V and Queen Mary to Middleton. Declared a general holiday. 1920: Gem Cinema demolished. 1921: July 6. Visit to Middleton by Edward, Prince of Wales. 1923: March. Opening of the Tonge Social and Bowling Club. Alkrington Tennis Club opened. Tonge A.F.C. folded. 1925: Edgar Wood`s drinking fountain and horse-trough moved to Queen Street. Town Hall (number 2) opened at Parkfield House. 1927: July 11. Middleton Flood. Three lives lost. 1928: Salem Chapel demolished. 1930: Market Inn closed. 1934: October. Central Gardens opened by the Mayor, Alderman J. Cockshott. 1935: September 18. New gasholder inaugurated at a height of 163 feet. 1936: Block of old cottages at Hebers, formerly the Workhouse, demolished. 1937: July 29. Electricity Showrooms opened on Mill Street. 1938: October 27. Fountain Street Baths opened. 1939: September. Market Place excavated to build air shelters. Market moved to Fountain Street. 1942. October 27. Alkrington Hall purchased by Middleton Corporation for £2,900.
1943: Nov 9. Charlotte Redfern elected first woman Mayor of Middleton. 1952: Jolly Butcher Inn demolished. 1955: Rex Cotton Mill closed. 1959: Cardinal Langley Grammar School, Rochdale Road, opened. Langley Methodist Church opened on Windermere Road, Langley. 1960: Edgar Wood`s fountain, now on Oldham Road, demolished. Unitarian Church on Manchester Old Road closed. 1962: Langley Library, on Windermere Road, opened. Greater Manchester police station, Oldham Road, opened. 1964: Middleton Station closed. St. Mary`s Church in Birch demolished. 1965: Unitarian Church, Manchester Old Road, demolished. 1972: Market removed to Chapel Street. March. Duchess of Kent opened Middleton Arndale Shopping Centre. Old Grammar School celebrated its 400th birthday. Shops in Market Place demolished.
1974: Local Government re-organisation. Middleton Borough Council merged with Rochdale Metropolitan District. 1975: Albany Mill demolished. 1978: New Jerusalem Chapel on Wood Street, demolished. Coffins were exhumed from the graveyard. Parkfield House demolished. Had once been in use as the town`s 2nd Town Hall. 1981: Schwabes Chimney demolished. 1985: Baytree Mill demolished. 1986: April 2. Middleton Gardens opened by Councillor Leslie Worsley, the Mayor. Alkrington Library, Kirkway, opened. 1987: Large Gasholder demolished. 1991: Providence School demolished. 1995: Queen Elizabeth Grammar School building on Rectory Street, demolished. 2007: June. Tonge Hall partly destroyed by a fire.