Broadbottom Community Association
History Project - 1795
In 1795 a book was published which offers a glimpse of Broadbottom as it was at the start of the industrial revolution. That book, Description of the country 30 to 40 miles round Manchester by Aikin, describes a scattered settlement which was still part of Mottram: Broadbottom does not emerge as a separate entity until later. The main road now linking Broadbottom and Mottram did not exist. Aikin’s book includes a map which shows roughly how the roads ran over the Mudd from Mottram and down Gorsey Brow to the old pack bridge built in 1683 and down Hill End through Hurst Clough to Tommy Lowe’s mill.
The lane running down Hurst Clough across from the end of Hill End Lane which led down to Tommy Lowe's Mill. (now private)
(photo Joyce Powell)
There was a farming community. The most ancient farmhouse was probably Hill End Farm (photo above before restoration) below Whitegates, some parts dating from the middle ages and with a fine building dated 1604. Other farmsteads included a group of small tenant farms on the Hague, and Brown Road Farm.
A cluster of houses, some dating from the end of the seventeenth century stood at the bottom of what is now Moss Lane, now called Hodge Fold. The oldest part was then a single dwelling called Hodge Hall or possibly Hodge Hole. There were also cottages on the other side of the lane where a modern bungalow stands.
All the land, except Broadbottom Hall, was owned by the Tollemache estate, so all farmers were tenants. Farming was not particularly profitable on the hilly terrain and the Tollemaches do not seem to have invested much in land improvement.
Tenancies had been only 14 or 21 years, though they were often handed on. Tollemache allowed longer leases (99 years) and this was one of the essential conditions for the growth of the mills
Postcard of Hodge Fold (Bill and Kath Shaw)
A John Swindells rented Hodge Mill in 1799 and built the first six cottages at Summerbottom with its workers’ cottages and an overhead loomshop in the 1790s. Broad Mills was begun in 1801.
(picture: detail from engraving of railway viaduct in 1840s)
Broadbottom Bridge, built in 1683 for transporting goods on pack horses, salt from Cheshire, and wool. (Aikin)
Why start our history here? Broadbottom is a much older community than the one which grew so rapidly in the early years of the nineteenth century but the village we live in now is essentially the one which sprang up then. What did it look like before that sudden growth?