According to Zoopla’s latest House Price Index Report, house prices in Rochdale have risen more than anywhere else in the country.
Residents of Greater Manchester’s northernmost borough are laughing all the way to the bank. So why have they seen such a massive increase?
Well, Rochdale in general is coming out of a pound shop and betting shop funk and entering a new age of trendy shops, bars and restaurants without abandoning its strong sense of community spirit.
One of Rochdale’s flourishing towns, Littleborough, has Pennine countryside on its doorstep yet is just over 20 minutes from Manchester by train.
The area was affected by the Boxing Day floods in 2015 and residents have displayed a great sense of resilience together ever since.
Community in Littleborough
“Everyone is friendly,” seems to be the common quote when asked about what people are like around Littleborough. Combine friendliness with an influx of independent businesses and local workshops to keep the kids busy and you’ve found yourself a well-balanced community to live and work in.
Yankee Heaven opened as a gift shop about seven years ago and has evolved into, not just a candle and trinket shop but, Littleborough’s most eclectic coffee and ice cream destination.
“We moved into this new site in January,” says co-owner, Lauren Jones. “Near the canal for walkers and close to the village, coffee and ice cream suits the location. Customers are amazing – everyone’s friendly and love our ice cream at the moment.”
Cryers Butchers supply most of the restaurants and cafes in the area. “I bought the business five years ago and it’s a nice little community around here,” says owner, Stephen Bamford, who has a military background.
“Everyone is friendly. We supply quite a few local cafes and restaurants and we are all proud to locally support each other.
“‘We also support homelessness and mental health charities. We’ve actually just completed the Three Peak Challenge in aid of CALM [Campaign Against Living Miserably]”.
Holy Trinity Church believes that the church has a responsibility to serve the local community. It holds a Youth Theatre Workshop for young people aged 9 to 19 every week (Friday) during term time – just one way in which it reaches out to young people and their families. “The skills that we teach and experiences that they have will always be remembered,” said a spokesperson for the church. “We offer them out of our love for God.”
The community-led church also hosts a Just For Girls evening once a week where local women can widen their circle of friends and interests, “and just have some time to ponder on all the million things you never get time to think about because you are so busy thinking about everyone else,” said a spokesperson for the church.
“However much we like our jobs, enjoy our kids and families, it can sometimes feel as if everyone wants a piece of you and you begin to forget, who you are when you’re not being, wife, mum, nurse, or whatever of the many hats you end up wearing in the course of a week.”
Borrow books to read in the park from Littleborough Library which is situated in Hare Hill Park. Choose from thousands of great books and audiobooks, and access a range of online resources. The library boasts a series of book clubs and activities, such as Mums, Bumps and Babies, and Children’s Reading Group.
The library is currently closed while they carry out building work and aims to reopen in mid-August. In the meantime, you can join Bookstart Bear Club at Home with Amy or join the What Are You Reading? Facebook group.
White Fish is a new chippy just outside Hare Hill Park which is a family-owned business serving fish and chips and homemade pies with a 30 year legacy of British takeaways including the ever-popular Mr Thomas’s at Hollingworth Lake.
“Littleborough is a lovely community,” says Eva, who makes the pies with meat from local butchers. “We see the same people every day so it’s like serving friends all the time.”
Parks and walks around Littleborough
Hare Hill Park is a tranquil wooded garden, surrounded by historic parkland, with a delightful walled garden at its heart. There’s plenty for families to see and do. From picnics in the delightful walled garden and adventures in the historic parkland to nature fun in the new natural play area, there are summer memories waiting to be made around every corner.
Hollingworth Lake is a man-made lake built in the 19th century as the main water source for the Rochdale Canal. It soon became an attraction for locals and in Victorian times was known as “The Weighvers’ Seaport”.
As well as the path around the lake itself (a distance of just over 2 miles), the wider country park has plenty of walking routes. These range from easy strolls to sturdier treks in the surrounding hills. The visitor centre has leaflets and guide books.
The lake is a fisherman’s dream stocked with coarse fish, including bream, carp, tench, roach and perch. There’s no close season but there are restrictions on where you can fish. A small hide at the southwest corner overlooks a natural area where boats and watersports are banned to help you fish.
Hollingworth Lake Activity Centre boasts a variety of activities and lessons, including sailing, kayaking, canoeing, powerboating, windsurfing, rowing, rock climbing, mountain biking, and archery. Careful though, lakeside at Hollingworth Lake can be galeforce windy.
Best restaurants and bars
The Olive and Pickle by the lake serve delicious homemade food all day from breakfast and brunch to afternoon tea and lunch. When the sun is shining across the lake and the bi-fold doors are wide open, there’s no better place to enjoy a proper freshly ground coffee and a slice of homemade cake.
The Wine Press is a modern British pub restaurant standing proudly overlooking Hollingworth Lake. This large accessible gastropub serves a mix of traditional and modern English food. You can enjoy anything from a coffee and sandwich to a three-course meal in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.
Hare on the Hill is probably the smallest pub in town but what it lacks in size it makes up for in charm. It’s a little pub with a big heart, serving exceptional British small plates and craft cask ale.
Because of the lack of covers inside, the pub has just renovated its back garden terrace with three custom-built garden chalets for private dining and parties. Each chalet is individually styled and comes complete with adjustable heating, wifi and music.
“The general public in Littleborough are so friendly,” says new head chef Austin Hopley who trained in Indianapolis and has worked with the Lancashire Hospitality Corporation for three years. “Some customers invite me to sit with them over lunch and dinner. Some have even invited me to their house for tea.”
It no longer serves lobster after a rare blue lobster was delivered, saved and named Larry.
“We had a crisis of conscience,” continues Austin. “We decided Larry shouldn’t be the only lobster saved from a grizzly fate just because of his dreamy blue coat. So we are rewriting our entire menu so that no more lobsters are harmed.”
A local crafter, Positive Threads, read about the lobster story and made the pub a gift (pictured)
Hare on the Hill regular, Steve, who’s lived in Littleborough for over 30 years, recommends a pint of Bread and Butter.
“This is without a doubt the friendliest pub I’ve ever been in,” says Steve. “Wonderful people. All the staff are so helpful and friendly – Ben, Sarah, Adam, Austin, Ella – they’ve all become a friend.
“I love Littleborough, it’s a wonderful place and it’s becoming better and better all the time.”
Nestling between the railway and canal, The Red Lion is one of the oldest and most popular pubs in Littleborough. It’s a real community hub full of characters. Landlord David Cocker owns the land surrounding the pub which gives him a bit of leverage when defiantly putting on local ales against the wishes of the brewery. There are four distinct rooms, all homely but each different in character.
The Rake is a Mediterranean tapas restaurant that occupies a quirky listed building that opened in the 16th century. Proprietors Mark and Dawn Wickham gained experience of Mediterranean food when they lived in Italy. Since opening in 2007, they have renovated the add-on accommodation to the quality of a boutique hotel and have been awarded four stars by Enjoy England.
Holy Trinity CofE Primary School promotes positive wellbeing and aims to provide children with a safe, happy and memorable learning journey and is rated either good or outstanding in every category by Ofsted.
Demand in the borough of Rochdale is 55% higher than the average recorded in 2019, according to the property price comparison website Zoopla.
Of the 65 cities monitored for the report, Rochdale saw the highest annual price growth increasing by around 10%.
According to local estate agent Andrew Kelly & Associates, a one-bedroom apartment in Littleborough will set you back around £125,000, or a four-bed house around £500,000.
This is the Place is the name of a poem by Tony Walsh commissioned by Forever Manchester, the only charity that raises money to fund and support community activity across Greater Manchester. And they can’t do it without your help. So donate what you can because investing in your local community to help it thrive can be a hugely rewarding experience. There’s a unique sense of satisfaction in knowing that you are making a real difference in the lives of others, especially those close to home.