Middleton, Greater Manchester

Middleton is a town within the Metropolitan Borough of Rochdale, in Greater Manchester, England. It stands on the River Irk, south-southeast of Rochdale, and north-northeast of the city of Manchester. At the time of the United Kingdom Census 2001, Middleton had a population of 45,580.

Historically a part of Lancashire, Middleton took its name from being situated in the centre of several circumjacent settlements. Its early history is marked by its status as an ecclesiastical parish of the hundred of Salford, held successively by a series of notable ruling families. In 1770, Middleton was a village of 20 houses; during the 18th and 19th centuries it grew into a thiving and populous seat of textile manufacture, so much so that Middleton was granted borough status in 1886.

The Church of St Leonard – a Grade I listed building – has lain at the centre of the community for centuries. The "Flodden Window", in the church's sanctuary, is thought to be the oldest war memorial in the United Kingdom. It memorialises on it the names of the archers of Middleton who fought at the Battle of Flodden Field (1513), the largest battle ever fought between the kingdoms of Scotland and England.

Middleton today is a predominantly residential area of contrasting affluence; Langley in the north of the town is one of Manchester City Council's overspill public housing estates, whilst Alkrington in the south is a "premium" suburban area having been home to several celebrities.


In 616 Æthelfrith of Bernicia, an Anglo-Saxon King, crossed the Pennines with an army and passed through Manchester to defeat the Brythons in the Battle of Chester. A wave of Anglian colonists followed this military conquest and their settlements are identified by the "ton" Old English suffix to local place names. Royton, Crompton, Moston, Clayton, Ashton and Middleton are a number of settlements northeast of Manchester suggested to have been founded as part of this colonisation. It is therefore thought that Middleton as a settlement dates from the 7th century.

Although unmentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086, Middleton is said to be "of great antiquity"; a community at Middleton is thought to have evolved outwards from a church that existed considerably earlier than the Norman conquest of England.

The name Middleton first appears in 1194, and derives from the Old English middel-tūn, meaning middle farm or settlement, probably a reference to its central position between Rochdale and Manchester.

During the Middle Ages, Middleton was a centre of domestic flannel and woollen cloth production.

The development of Middleton as a centre of commerce occurred during the 17th and 18th centuries. Lord Suffield obtained a Royal Charter from King George III in 1791 to hold a weekly market and three annual fairs in Middleton. Suffield built a market house, warehouses and shambles in the town at his own expense.

Industrial scale textile manufacture was introduced to Middleton as a result of the Industrial Revolution. Middleton became a centre for silk production in the 18th century, which developed into a mechanized cotton spinning industry by the mid 19th-century and which continued through to the mid-20th century. This transition gave rise to Middleton as a mill town.

The town's local newspaper, the Middleton Guardian has a history going back to Victorian times.

JW Lees houses its brewery at Middleton Junction. The brewery owns several pubs in the Greater Manchester area.

Warwick Mill is a monument to be seen from all around Middleton and was a venue for a workers' Luddite revolt.


Lying within the historic county boundaries of Lancashire from the early 12th century, 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. Following the Local Government Act 1894 parts of Great Heaton and Little Heaton townships were added to the newly created Municipal Borough of Middleton, a local government district in 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. In the same year, parts of Unsworth were amalgamated with Middleton, whilst part of it was moved to Royton Urban District. It was proposed in the Redcliffe-Maud Report that Middleton become part of a new Metropolitan Borough of Oldham, however, following the Local Government Act 1972, the Municipal Borough of Middleton was abolished and its territory became part of the Metropolitan Borough of Rochdale within the metropolitan county of Greater Manchester.

The Middleton parliamentary constituency was created by the Redistribution of Seats Act 1885. It was abolished in 1918 when Middleton became part of the Middleton and Prestwich constituency.

Today Middleton forms part of the Heywood and Middleton parliamentary constituency, represented in the House of Commons by Jim Dobbin, a Member of Parliament of the Labour Party.


Neighbouring cities, towns and places.
At (53.5547, -2.1887) and north-northwest of London, Middleton stands on undulated land immediately north of Manchester; Chadderton and Royton are close to the east. The town of Rochdale lies to the north-northeast. The town is supposed to have derived its name, Middle-town, from its situation midway between Manchester and Rochdale. It is situated on an ancient road between those places. Middleton town centre is around above sea level.

Middleton experiences a temperate maritime climate, like much of the British Isles, with relatively cool summers and mild winters. There is regular but generally light precipitation throughout the year. Middleton is watered by two confluent streams which have their rise in the immediate district.

Much of Middleton's built environment is characterised by its 19th century red-brick terraced houses, the infrastructure that was built to support these and the town's former cotton mills, although from the middle of the 20th century the town saw the growth of its outlying residential areas of Langley, Hollin and Boarshaw which is predominately ex-local authority housing. The skyline is marked by St. Leonard's Church. The urban structure of Middleton is regular in comparison to most towns in England. Residential dwellings and streets are centred around a central business district in the town centre, which is the local centre of commerce.

There is a mixture of high-density urban areas, suburbs, and semi-rural locations in Middleton, but overwhelmingly the land use in the town is urban. The territory of Middleton is contiguous with other urban areas on its southern and eastern sides, and for purposes of the Office for National Statistics, forms part of the Greater Manchester Urban Area, the United Kingdom's third largest conurbation. The M60 motorway passes to the south of Middleton; the M62 passes to the north. A heavy rail line enters Middleton from Moston and Blackley to the south, and passes to the east of Middleton's town centre before continuing on northwards to Rochdale.

Divisions and suburbs of Middleton include Hollin, Boarshaw, Hebers, Langley, Stanycliffe, Rhodes, Bowlee, Alkrington, Thornham, Middleton Junction, Moorclose and Tonge.


Industrial polymer, thermoplastics and nonwovens producer The Vita Group have a registered office in Middleton.

Bluebird Bus and Coach is a travel company based in Middleton.


Several of Middleton's buildings were designed by Edgar Wood, a local-born influential architect of his day. Several in Middleton are landmarks and are notable.

Middleton has a busy leisure centre and also a civic centre. There are plans to re-develop both places to improve the area in which they are situated and the services they currently offer.

In the early 1970s, The Arndale Property Trust cleared land adjacent to Middleton Gardens to build an 'American-style' modern shopping precinct. The Middleton Arndale Centre commenced trading in 1971, although it was officially opened by Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Kent in March 1972.

St. Leonard's Church

The Parish Church of St Leonard was completed in 1524, incorporating two stone arches made of stonework from an earlier Norman church. A wooden Saxon church is believed to have occupied the site long before the Norman church was built, in about 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 England and Scotland. 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 monumental brasses in the area, including the only brass in the UK of an English Civil War officer in full armour, Major-General Sir Ralph Assheton.

The church was designated a Grade I listed building in 1957.

Old Boar's Head Inn

Situated below the parish church, on Long Street, this was originally a coaching inn on the road between Chester and York. It is said to date from at least 1632.

Alkrington Hall

Alkrington Hall was built in 1736 and was the seat of the Lever family. Its dominant position on a wooded hillside, looks out over the Irk Valley towards Middleton. The original parkland around the hall has now been developed into high end housing.

Tonge Hall

Tonge Hall was a Tudor structure destroyed by an arson attack in 2007.


Middleton is also host to many local clubs for various sports, one of which is Middleton Cricket Club who are currently playing in the Central Lancashire Cricket League. Four golf clubs are within easy reach of the town centre; North Manchester Golf Glub, The Manchester Golf Club and Heaton Park Golf Club and Blackley Golf Club.

In 2008, Middleton will see the opening of a new £13million sports and leisure venue in the town centre. The Middleton Arena is a joint venture by Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council and supermarket chain, Tesco. The facility will replace the current Middleton Civic Centre and Middleton Leisure Centre, allowing the site currently occupied by these buildings to be cleared for further development into a supermarket.

Middleton is also home to Rochdale Triathlon Club. Weekly coached swimming sessions are currently held at Middleton Leisure Centre, but will switch to Middleton Arena once the development has been completed.


In 2005, the new Middleton Bus Station was opened to replace the old one, next to the Middleton Arndale shopping centre. The station cost £4.5 million and replaced the previous station which dated to the 1970s. Middleton is located close to junction 19 of the M62 motorway and junction 21 of the M60 motorway .

The nearest railway station is Mills Hill railway station, in nearby Chadderton.


Almost every part of Middleton is served by a school of some kind, some with religious affiliations. According to the Office for Standards in Education, schools within the town perform at mixed levels.

What is presently the Middleton Campus of Hopwood Hall (a college of further education), was, from 1946 to 1989, a De La Salle Catholic College of Higher Education affiliated to the Victoria University of Manchester. Originally founded as a teacher training college, the chapel, designed by Sir Frederick Gibberd, was the architectural prototype for the Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral. The chapel still exists but its spire is no longer topped with a cross. Hopwood Hall College benefits from its extensive grounds and leisure facilities which were developed over many years by the De La Salle College.

School Type/Status OfSTED Website
Alderman Kay School Secondary School Closed
Cardinal Langley School Secondary School
Middleton Technology School Secondary School outstanding
Alkrington County Primary School
Boarshaw Community Primary School Primary School Outstanding
Elm Wood Primary School primary school Outstanding
Hollin Primary School
Bowlee Park Community School satisfactory
Little Heaton Church of England Primary School
Middleton Parish Church of England Primary School
Parkfield Primary School
St Gabriel's Church of England Primary School
St John Fisher Roman Catholic Primary School Outstanding
St Mary's Roman Catholic Primary School
St Peter's Roman Catholic Primary School
St Thomas More Roman Catholic Primary School
St Michael's Church of England Primary School
St Anne's Academy Secondary school Outstanding

Notable people

People from Middleton are called Middletonians, though "Moonraker" is a nickname sometimes given to people from the town. (Moonraker refers to the legend of poachers who, upon seeing the local constabulary, would throw their catch into a pond and begin raking the reflection of the moon on the water, giving the excuse that they were trying to recover the 'green cheese'). Middleton has been the birthplace and home to notable people, of national and international acclaim. Amongst the most notable persons of historic significance from the town include Thomas Langley (born in Middleton in 1363) who served as Bishop of Durham, Cardinal of the Catholic Church, Lord Chancellor of England, and as England's first de facto Foreign Secretary. Samuel Bamford was a radical writer and politician. He led the Middleton contingent to the meeting at St. Peter's Fields in August 1819, pressing for parliamentary reform, which ended in the Peterloo Massacre.

Steve Coogan, John Richmond, Clint Boon of Inspiral Carpets,Brendan, and Martin Coogan all attended the local Cardinal Langley School. Bernard Manning (1930-2007), Manchester-born (Ancoats) comedian, lived in Alkrington. All four members of the indie-rock group The Courteeners are also from the area.

Notable sportsmen connected with Middleton include Manchester United F.C. (and former England national football team) Paul Scholes (Salford-born but educated at Cardinal Langley Roman Catholic High School) and locally-born Mark Allott the Oldham Athletic midfielder.




External links

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