YOU won’t find many books in the Old Library but you will discover a thriving business hub including a new addition to Uppermill’s burgeoning café society, personal fitness studio, outdoor clothing shop, an art gallery and your favourite local newspaper!
Built in 1834 – three years before Queen Victoria came to the throne – the historic High Street premises has undergone a 21st Century refurbishment without losing its Victorian character.
Roger Hinchliffe bought the building, nestling alongside the River Tame, in 1984 and oversaw the recent transformation.
“In carrying out the renovation the architect’s brief was to retain the character of the building,” he explained.
“Two of the sash windows are thought to be original and have been carefully preserved.
“The renovation has been carried out to a very high standard, minimising energy use whilst using materials in keeping with its original standing as a significant building in the village.
“Uppermill’s charm lies with its varied and interesting architecture, its quaint cottages, pubs and converted mills.
“Buildings designed to stand out are those with Ashlar stone frontages, one of which is 45 High Street.”
Surgeon Samuel Higginbottom built the premises to a Georgian design after buying the plot from local land owner Giles Shaw who lived at Saint Chad’s House-now the site of the current Uppermill Library.
The cost was a chief rent of £4, 8 shillings per annum but it was later mortgaged for £300.
Samuel’s grandfather was John Higginbottom, the vicar of Dobcross when that village was of considerably more importance commercially than Uppermill.
This was soon to change with the arrival of the canal and in 1849 the Huddersfield to Manchester Railway opened.
Over the years the exterior of 45, High Street has changed very little as can be seen from the old photographs. Initially it had substantial wrought iron railings at the front.
For the first 70 or so years the property seems to have been used as a dwelling.
Early in the 20th century it was used as offices for the administration of the 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act in Saddleworth and subsequently it was bought by Saddleworth Urban District Council and converted to a library and art gallery.
In 1984, Roger bought the building to use as a solicitor’s practice with shops on the ground floor.
Since then Uppermill has reinvented itself to become a popular residential and tourist area. And the Old Library, with its distinctive new frontage, is keeping pace with the rapidly moving times.
The café – the Old Library Garden – has seats front and back with great views of the river and the park.
Visitors can also check out the works of local artists and photographers, pick up a copy of the Independent and sister paper, Mossley Correspondent, browse the extensive stock of Saddleworth Outdoors and, if you have over indulged on coffee and cakes, have a workout at Motion Zone. We are all under one roof at 45 High Street, Uppermill.