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In the Beginning

The first records of settlements are around the 12th century Buckton Castle was probably built in the late 12th century by William de Neville. The Stavelegh family as lords of the manor appeared in the early 13th century residing in Staley Hall . Staley Hall was rebuilt on the same site in the 16th century and in 2012 received planning for homes to be built in the grounds. The manor of Staley was owned by the Grey family until 1976 on the death of the 10th earl of Stamford the family estates were dispersed. Stamford street, Grey street, Groby street, Stamford park, Stamford Golf club and the 2 Stamford Arms pubs are all named after the Grey family.

Staley grew in the 18th century needing a bridge over the river Tame in 1707 a bridge was constructed .Staley Bridge as it became more commonly known had a population of 140 by the mid 18th century. In 1776 the towns first water powered cotton mill was built at Rassbottom . In 1789 the towns first spiining mill was built , by 1793 steam power was introduced and by 1803 8 cotton mills had been opened.

The Huddersfield narrow canal opened in 1811 helping the rapid growth of the town. The canal was diverted into a culvert under the town centre in the 1960’s.The millennium funded the reopening of the entire length including reopening the canal threw the town centre which had been closed for over 30 years.

Machinery introduced into the mills helped the rapid growth although not everybody liked the machines and violent opposition with the arrival of the luddites. Mills were kept locked day & night and the military aid was requested by the mill owners. A Scottish regiment under the Duke of Montrose led by Capt Raines were sent to the town and made his headquarters the Roe Cross Inn. The Luddite disturbances began in November 1811 with gangs of men destroying machinery & mills culminating with a night of violent rioting on 20th April 1812. The social unrest did not stop the growth of Stalybridge between 1814 - 1818 the number of factories went from 12 to 16 and the population went over the 5000 mark. By 1823 the population had risen to 9000 and Stalybridge was one of the first to establish a Mechanics Institute to educate the growing numbers of workers opening on the 7th September 1825 on Shepley Street with a reading room on Queen Street. Stalybridge Police & Market act received Royal Assent on 9th May 1828 establishing the town as an independent with a board of 21 commissioners. The 30th December 1831 the Town Hall & Market were officially opened. The Arch to the original Market still stands today opposite the War memorial. In 1833 “Stalybridge Police Force” was formed which was the first of its kind in the country. The population now stood at 14216 with 2357 inhabited houses.In 1834 a second bridge was opened over the Tame this time in Iron.

In 1842 the second Chartist petition was presented to parliament Stalybridge sent 10,000 signatures, when it was rejected the First general strike began in the coal mines of Staffordshire. The second phase of the strike originated in Stalybridge.

Friedrich Engels wrote a book on “ The condition of the working class in England “ in 1844. When he mentioned Stalybridge as an example multitudes of courts , back lanes and remote nooks arise out of the confused way of building add to this the shocking filth and the repulsive effect of Stalybridge, in spite of its pretty surroundings, may be readily imagined.

In 1840’s John Summer established an iron forge he & his sons employed over 1000 men in their factory the largest in town. October 1846 saw the first train in town followed by the Huddersfield – Leeds – Stockport - Manchester connection in 1849 .

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