Tandle Hills of ‘Tangs’ as it is sometimes affectionately known is a recommended park to visit if you live in the Oldham area. It has been a firm favourite in our family for many years, from early childhood visiting with my parents to see the small selection of animals in pens and cages such as rabbits and birds that used to be there. We also all enjoyed sledging down the steep slopes near to the entrance of the park. Dad made two homemade sledges which were pretty impressive and got up quite a bit of speed – even Mum had a go, fantastic fun and happy memories 😊
Over the years I’ve visited the Park many times with family, friends and work colleagues. It never fails to disappoint as it has some good little walks situated in approximately 110 acres of Beech woodland and also has fantastic views from the top of the park at the War Memorial Monument.
This memorial commemorates the men of Royton who died in the First World War and was unveiled on 22nd October 1921 by the Earl of Derby. It is constructed of Portland Stone and originally had plaques on it listing the men lost and a bronze statue. Sadly, the plaques were stolen in 1969 and replacements are now in the grounds of St Pauls in Royton.
The views from the monument are spectacular, taking in many of the local areas such as Rochdale, Middleton, Manchester and Oldham. Also, further afield in the distance and on a good day, Cheshire, The Wirral and North Wales 😊
Tandle Hill Park was originally under the township of Thornham, covered by the parish of Middleton. In the 19th Century it was used as a meeting place for radicals leading up to the Peterloo Massacre. Apparently, radicals used it to practice their marching and drilling exercises prior to this event. Hence why the Beech woodland was planted to discourage such events happening again in the future.
The Peterloo Massacre was a significant event in British History and marked a time at the end of the Napoleonic War in 1815 when there was an acute economic slump. This coupled with mass unemployment, crop failure and a lack of voting rights, resulted in a build-up of great discontent and eventually led to a mass rally in August 1819, which was held by a well-known radical orator Henry Hunt. The meeting was short lived as local magistrates called on Manchester and Salford Yeomanry to arrest Hunt and others speaking with him. This resulted in a woman being knocked down and a child being killed before Hunt was apprehended. The 15th Hussars were then called on to disperse the crowd and apparently, under the influence of alcohol, killed a further nine to fifteen people and left four to seven hundred injured.
This tragic event didn’t have an immediate effect on the speed of reform, but eventually all but one of the reformers’ demands, around parliaments were met.
Last year on 16th August 2019 marked the 200th Anniversary of the Peterloo Massacre and was marked by many public events such as speeches, short films and walking tours. I am proud to say that my daughter was one of the Ambassadors for this and was instrumental in organising many of the events that took place. With her vast knowledge of history, having gained a 2:2 in Modern and Contemporary History a few years previously, she really relished this role, which was all done on a voluntary basis.
Also, on the 18th August 2019 there was a picnic in the park held at Tandle Hill Park. This included a talk by Dr Robert Poole, Professor of History at University of Lancashire and book signing by Graham Phythian, author of Peterloo: Voices, Sabres and Silences. There was also an organised group walk up to the War Memorial and a monument was unveiled to mark the 200th anniversary of Peterloo. This event also marked a celebration of 100 years since the land passed into public ownership.
The inscription on the new monument reads:
‘In 1819 men from Royton drilled here before the demonstration on 16th
August 1819 known at Peterloo.
Not with the loaded musket and steel. An important milestone in the struggle
My daughter was lucky enough to speak to Dr Robert Poole on the day and he remembered her from the voluntary work she had done. We also got to meet local historian Frances Stott who produced a special pamphlet for the – ‘A History of Tandle Hill Park and Woods’. A very proud and special day for us all.
As you can see Tandle Hills has a significant history behind it, from a game reserve it was sold in 1861 to a Joseph Milne, whose wife then sold it on to a Norris Bradbury. Bradbury then gave the park to the people of Royton in 1919 as a peace offering at the end of the First World War. The granite marker at the entrance to the park states this:
‘Tandle Hill Park and Woods.
These grounds are the gift of Norris Bradbury Esq., J.P. of Tynwald Mount,
Shaw Rd, Royton as a thanks offering for peace after the Great European
War 1914 – 1919 – 6th September 1919’
The park was officially declared as a Country Park on 1st July 1971.
Today the park has many facilities such as a Children’s Play Area, Orienteering, walking routes (dog friendly), Cycling, Bird Watching, Pond dipping. It also has a Countryside Centre and café and an area where memorial trees are planted – a good friend has one of these trees. A nice place to have a memorial for a loved one.
A couple of interesting trivial facts about the Park – Tandle Hills is mentioned in an Alan Partridge show for BBC Radio 4. Apparently, Alan mentions cross country running up the hill at the park. Alan’s creator is comedian Steve Coogan and he hails from Middleton. Pupils from his old school in Middleton (Cardinal Langley) were sometimes sent on cross country runs to the monument and back!
The park is also mentioned in the lyrics of ‘Mill Boys’ on an album by Barclay James Harvest, an Oldham Prog Rock Band.
Tandle Hills is Oldham’s oldest country park and remains a firm favourite for all generations and abilities. I think my personal favourite season to visit the park is the autumn when the leaves are falling and changing colours, simply beautiful to see. It’s great fun walking through the park, scattering the leaves in the air, it takes you back to your carefree childhood days!
If you’re ever in the area, I can definitely recommend a visit to this glorious park.