"Location and History"
Rochdale is situated in a river valley with the Pennine Hills to the east and the Rossendale hills to the north. The valley was created by the River Roch (pronounced Roach) which flows off the Pennines and through the town centre. This is the only downhill route out of the town.
There are a couple of reasons why this area was good to establish a settlement. Firstly the river is shallow enough in the town centre to ford and secondly is communications. The line of the Pennines forms a huge barrier separating Lancashire and Yorkshire apart from The Summit Gap just north of Littleborough. This pass was formed at the end of the ice age by glacial melt waters. These waters eroded away the softer rock found in this area and thus formed a gap in the Pennines. This gap provided an excellent packhorse route and later on road, rail and canal all share this narrow pass. The pass soon became inhabited and a string of small villages, Todmorden, Mytholmroyd, Hebden Bridge to name but three, grew along the pack horse route.
There is evidence that this area has been inhabited, constantly, since about 5000 BC. When the Romans came to Northern England in AD 78, They left their mark in the form of Roman artifacts found in and around Rochdale. This being said, the Roman Road, which runs over Blackstone Edge, is now thought to be of a much later origin.
The first documented evidence of the town of Rochdale comes from the Doomsday Book - William the Conqueror's Survey of England. In it, the book states that the manor of Recedham existed, and it has been calculated that about three hundred people lived within it.
Very little remains of medieval Rochdale although the Parish Church, which dates back to the twelfth century, was probably the centre of the medieval settlement. The church has gone through a couple of changes over the years, the biggest being an extension to the top of the tower and the removal of the clock in the 1870's & 80's.
Up to the present day, the Manor of Rochdale has been owned by various families, in1399 the King held it then in 1638 it was bought by John Byron and it stayed within the Byron family until Lord Byron (the poet) sold it to the Deardens who own it to the present day. Although the Manor's administrative control is in name only, The Manor Court still is in existence (it hasn't met since 1928) and rents are still collected from some property in Rochdale.