How Saddleworth is still Yorkshire – 50 years after ‘move’

SADDLEWORTH may have stood outside of Yorkshire for 50 years, but it is still part of it, a leading figure believes.

This time in 1974, the area was just getting used to its new status as part of the newly formed county of Greater Manchester following boundary changes.

Even now, it still sparks huge debate among people in the area – white roses on signs as you enter the villages are a nod to lying in what was the West Riding.

Stones marking the old boundary between Lancashire and Yorkshire show how close – yet how divided – they lay.

Yorkshire Day celebrated in Saddleworth by Craig Hannah

One of the most popular events is the Yorkshire Day celebrations around August 1 and the man who proudly carries the flag, Oliver Benson, will not have Saddleworth as part of Oldham.

He said: “It’s still in the West Riding of Yorkshire – it never mentioned in the blurb about moving this, that and the other that they moved the boundary.

“Some people say different, but I say, ‘No, it didn’t.’

“That’s why I carry the Yorkshire flag on Yorkshire Day. A lot of people in Saddleworth still regard it as Yorkshire.

“They had a meeting around the time it was going to happen in what is now the museum and there were quite a few people there.

Saddleworth Pie Company and their Yorkshire Day pie

“The exact same number of people said it isn’t moving, it is moving and abstained!

“I don’t know why they did change it – possibly because it was over the hill. It was probably drawn up by someone living down south and it looked quite nice. I’m sorry but I’m cynical.

“What annoys me is they turn around in Oldham and say, ‘Saddleworth is the jewel in Oldham’s crown.’

“Saddleworth’s never been in Oldham. Oldham is a little cotton town that took over Chadderton, this, that an the other and part of that was Saddleworth. 53 per cent of the area administered by Oldham is Saddleworth.

“And most of the expensive Band E, F, G and H rated homes are in Saddleworth.”

50 years after the move – 38 after the county of Greater Manchester officially ceased to exist when its council was abolished – and feelings still run high over Saddleworth’s status.

Oliver Benson carries the Yorkshire Flag

Several people insist on have ‘Saddleworth, West Yorkshire’ on their letters and Oliver told how some feel a new area should be formed.

He also believes development closed to what was the birder with Lancashire have blurred the boundaries.

He added: “What people would prefer these days is for Saddleworth, Meltham, Holmfirth and Marsden become an area on its own.

“The level of feeling about it 50 years on doesn’t surprise me. There’s a number of people who went to school around here, married people from around here and live here – their children are also from around here.

Bob Rodgers flying the on Yorkshire Flag

“I would have Saddleworth, West Yorkshire on my letters. In fact, I have a letter from 1900 and the address was Uppermill via Oldham, West Riding of Yorkshire, as Oldham was the nearest big Post Office.

“There probably aren’t that many people now who believe Saddleworth should be in Yorkshire but when Saddleworth was Saddleworth, a lot of the people who lived here worked here, in the local mills. It was an enclave.

“But it’s being spoiled now by people doing houses on the border. Half of those doing it wouldn’t know where the border is.

“As far as I’m concerned, though, it is and always will be Yorkshire.”


14 Replies to “How Saddleworth is still Yorkshire – 50 years after ‘move’”

  1. This whole, “Yorkshire,” thing baffles me completely ?

    If you walk to the top of Grains Bar and step onto the road to Denshaw, you’re in Yorkshire and it’s the same in Springhead neither the people, the buildings, nor the landscape are any different on either side of the boundary

    “Much ado about nothing.”

    1. I’m afraid you’re right. It’s all a bit petty considering the problems the country as a whole faces. Is anyone in Saddleworth worse off for being part of Oldham?/Greater Manchester? I think it’s more to to with wounded pride. i really doubt it will be an issue in fifty years ‘ time because all the people from Saddleworth with Yorkshire as their place of birth won’t be around any more ( and I’m one of them ).

  2. Saddleworth is and always has been Yorkshire. In 1974 we joined a newly created Borough which was in my opinion unwisely and confusingly called Oldham. They should perhaps have dreamt up a neutral name for the Borough as they did in neighbouring Tameside. Tomorrow, the Government could at the stroke of a pen move Saddleworth into another borough, Kirklees, Calderdale, Tameside, High Peak, Rochdale all of which have boundaries with Saddleworth. Saddleworth would remain Yorkshire no matter which borough it became part of.

    1. Aye.

      Vote Keith Tordoff for North Yorkshire Mayor- he’ll bring you back into administrative Yorkshire via Plebiscite.

      We shall organise it with Andy Burnham. But he will be reluctant to give Yorkshire’s land back into our Yorkshire Home Administrative boundaries.

      Same with Middlesbrough and t’uther places illegally annexed back int 70’s.

    2. I read an article some years ago, I think it was in the Gusrdian, about how people in the North had less confidence than in other parts of the country. One exception was Yorkshire where a strong sense of regional identity was a factor. So all these who are saying it’s trivial and it doesn’t matter where you are part of the problem.

  3. Mr O Benson is absolutely correct with this statement,nobody in Saddleworth wanted to go into Oldham,at a snatch poll on voting day in the civic hall in Uppermill 84% wanted Kirklees,the next % wanted Tameside,last came Oldham,I was born at wade lock in 1941and my birth certificate says Uppermill Saddleworth in the County of Yorkshire ( west riding)

  4. These lot of old crusties seriously need to get a grip. It’s over, we’re not in Yorkshire we’re in Greater Manchester – we’re the comer-inners and we’ve taken control. Time to move on, old timers – we’re Mancunians now – best city on earth

  5. My understanding on the pre 1974 vote on where Saddleworth would be placed was that the planners said that if the Kirklees or Tameside option was taken, then Denshaw , Springhead & Austerlsnds would have to be hived off to Oldham so the choice of Oldham was reluctantly taken in order to keep the entirety of Saddleworth Urban District altogether and form a Parish Council

  6. Unless my memory is failing me (which is quite possible), The main debate originally was who we wanted as our main administration centre. The majority were in favour of Kirklees, the second choice was Tameside and last were Oldham. Then one rather clever person said “if your house was on fire, or a family member was taken suddenly ill,where would you prefer to look for help/assistance”? – and Oldham was the answer. I was born in Greenfield Yorkshire in 1937 and I have no fondness for Oldham but my logic says the right decision was taken. For anyone in Saddleworth who is not happy with the situation, I can highly recommend Anglesey.

  7. What Yorkshire people find most annoying, is that when the local authority reorganisation was planned, a government spokesman specifically referred to this reorganisation would not change where a person lived. Despite that, the new “authorities” started to erect road signs. Royal Mail demanded “new” names be used for post, despite postcodes being the means of sorting mail. Map publishers followed suite.

    It doesn’t matter if Yorkshire Water or Severn Trent supplies my water. I don’t need to have their “border” signs emblazoned wherever I turn. I can only assume that the local authorities just had to announce their existence out of insecurity.
    To my friends in Yorkshire’s equivalent of South Tirol (taken from Austria by Italy), fraternal greetings.

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