Audenshaw, a history...

Up to 1874 Audenshaw was one of the four divisions of Ashton under Lyne Parish, and consisted of the hamlets of Woodhouses, Waterhouses, Littlemoss, Audenshaw, Medlock Vale and Hooley Hill.

The name Audenshaw now refers to a much smaller area, the smallest town in the Metropolitan Borough of Tameside.

In 1874 Audenshaw established its own local board and in 1894 became an Urban District.

Many of the old buildings of Audenshaw district and the hamlet called Audenshaw were drowned during the construction of three reservoirs from 1877-1882. They were constructed by Manchester Corporation and cover 283 acres. These reservoirs still form a principal feature of the district along with the Ring Motorway the M60 constructed in  2002.

Early 19th century Audenshaw appeared to have been a pleasant rural area. In 1823 John Butterworth described the Audenshaw hamlet as 'several rows of humble cottages'. Hooley was a populous village of 1,500 people and the hamlet of Waterhouses (now Daisy Nook) was described as 'a beautiful hamlet, the greatest part of which lies at the bottom of a deep glen'.

The population of Audenshaw in 1801 was 2,000 and by 1901, it was 7,000. There was a rapid increase between 1931 and 1951 - 8,461 to 12,600 people. By 1991 it had risen only slightly to 13,170.

From “Tameside 1700 -1930 “ Michael Nevell   (Tameside MBC)

Besides Ashton town there were a number of small settlements in Ashton parish which saw expansion from the late eighteenth century onwards. Particularly notable was the division of Audenshaw which later became an urban district council and whose settlement pattern was characterized by a nucleated core, in the ancient hamlet of Audenshaw, rather than by dispersed farmsteads as seen elsewhere in pre-industrial Tameside.

Audenshaw village was a nucleated settlement located in a T-junction between the road from Denton to Ashton and the turnpike from Manchester to Ashton. There was a small hamlet here by the seventeenth century but despite the close proximity of both Denton and Ashton this does not appear to have grown significantly during the Industrial Revolution. This may have been because the village was isolated from the mainstream of developments. In 1765 the road from Denton to Ashton via Audenshaw was superseded by a more direct turnpike route between Stockport, Denton and Ashton, while in 1825 the Manchester to Ashton turnpike was diverted northwards across Ashton Moss. The new routes provided faster access to Ashton but left Audenshaw as a rural backwater and ultimately contributed to its demise under the Audenshaw reservoirs in the period 1875-84

Hooley Hill which became the core of the later Audenshaw UDC, developed along the turnpike route between Stockport, Denton and Ashton where it crossed the road from Audenshaw to Dukinfield. The main period of growth was from the 1790’s to the 1830’s, when a strong hatting industry was established in the village In 1795 there were 238 houses in Audenshaw, most of them in the new settlement known as Quebec, later to become Hooley Hill In 1823 Butterworth described the settlement as ‘now  a very populous village' and noted that there were over 250 houses here and a population of about 1500. There was a small Wesleyan Methodist chapel, with a school attached, and a New Connection Methodist chapel. The majority of the buildings were strung along Guide Lane.

These were terraced houses, 'all modem brick erections' and occupied by hatters and their families, while the residence of one of the wealthiest and most important hat manufacturers in the locality, Mr Bradbury, was located at the southern end of the village .The severe depression in the felt hatting industry during the 1840’s and 1850’s appears to have arrested the growth of the village, which warranted little more than a passing reference from Butterworth in 1842.

This stagnation is reflected in the population of the Audenshaw division, which had risen from around 1500 in 1795 to 5374 in 1841, the year the hatting depression struck the area, remaining static for a decade after this date before resuming a slow growth and reaching 7958 in 1891. This slow expansion in the latter half of the nineteenth century was concentrated in two areas. The first was around the junction of Guide Lane and Shepley Road, the second slightly further north, where a series of streets, including Pleasant Street, Bridge Street and Tame Street, developed east of Guide Lane.