A ‘Down Our Street’ Extended Edition
Before I begin this first ‘Down Our Street’ entry, in the original round-up of John Metcalf’s roads, I erroneously stated that his Bredbury to Ashton turnpike road went via King Street, Dukinfield. On further examination, I found it actually goes via Denton, ironically close to my present employer’s office.
The route from Guide Bridge to Bredbury was built by John Metcalf in 1765, linking up with another turnpike road to Mottram-in-Longdendale (Mottram Old Road) at its southerly point. From its northerly point, it links up with the Manchester to Saltersbrook turnpike road (via Stalybridge and Woodhead).
Up to Junction 25 of the M60 motorway, it is today’s A6017 from its starting point outside The Boundary, Guide Bridge. South of the motorway junction, it is a small chunk of the A560 up to Stockport Road West.
By the Victorian times, his road would link up with Denton and Bredbury collieries, the Lancashire town’s hatting industry. As manufacturing and engineering started to dominate the 20th century, a thoroughfare for Jones Brother’s works; also the main road for Bredbury Industrial Estate. Today, crispbread and refuse has supplanted coal and apparel with the Sunblest factory and GMWDA’s recycling centre being close by.
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Guide Bridge to Bredbury (built 1765):
- Route: Guide Bridge, Hooley Hill, Denton, Bredbury;
- Distance: 4.2 miles;
- Start: The Boundary public house, Guide Bridge (A635/A6017 junction);
- Finish: Traveller’s Call public house, Bredbury (A560/B6104 junction).
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1. The Boundary public house, Guide Lane, Guide Bridge to Guide Lane/Shepley Road junction:
This section of road saw some realignment in the late 1970s and early 1990s, with the Boundary junction widened in the latter decade. The start of this section is dominated by The Boundary public house, which offers good food and locally brewed cask conditioned ales. Ahead is St. Stephen’s Church.
A few yards down is Guide Bridge railway station. At its height, it had four platforms and at one time it was a fully staffed station, and intermediate stop on Woodhead line express trains. The farthest south part of the station had its own offices and a buffet bar. This was made redundant after the closure of its two most southerly platforms in December 1984.
Today, Guide Bridge station is a shadow of its former self with most of the original fixtures gone. Its footbridge was ravaged by fire and theft with only the steps to the Glossop platform remaining. Its ticket office has now moved to the Manchester platform close to a commodious car park.
At one time, there used to be another railway underneath this road. This began at Stalybridge and joined the Denton Junction line via Dukinfield (off Wharf Street) and below the present line from Stalybridge to Guide Bridge.
On the left hand side is Brother’s offices. It also had at one time Audenshaw’s last bank: the Royal Bank of Scotland. The area becomes more residential with most of the housing opposite hailing from the 1960s to 1990s. Housing stock is mainly ex-municipal and a mix of private homes.
Apart from The Boundary, the first pub is now the Queens Arms, popular for its carvery. Immediately adjacent to Guide Bridge station was The Railway, a former Whitbread house which did food for a time in the 1980s and 1990s. Houses are now on the site.
Recent changes to the Hooley Hill end of Guide Lane has seen realignment, with the road right of instead of left of The Sun Inn, and more modern housing. The latter a causal affect of the road’s realignment – hence also the shopping parade replacing older units. The one-time Hooley Hill public house is now an off-licence. A chapel is now a nursery. The next pub, on the right hand side of the present alignment, is the Old Pack Horse.
2. Denton Road to Crown Point
South of Guide Lane, evidence of Denton Road’s late 1970s realignment saw the now closed tile shop boasting its own ‘drive’. The one time tile shop was formerly the Stamford Cinema. By the 1980s, it became the Smith Knight Fay Volkswagen dealer’s premises till the early 2000s. On its left is the site of Audenshaw Library. Before 1989, it was one of two libraries in the town (its other being in Ryecroft Hall). Nothing remains of its Denton Road branch sadly.
Straight ahead on the left hand side is the town’s former community centre. Within this first mile you will have noticed a common theme: ‘was’. In other words a litany of dead pubs, ex-cinemas and deceased Post Offices. On the corner of Stanhope Street is a double whammy: a dead pub next to a dead sub-Post Office. The latter is still open as a convenience store, whereas the former Stamford Arms is dead in another sense. It is home to Kim Metcalf(!) Funeral Services.
As we move closer to Denton, the corner of Egerton Street is close to Eastlight. If you’ve ever come into contact with a box file, there’s every chance it’ll come from there. At one time, also handy for Egerton Park School as well as Audenshaw School. On taking a slight detour to Egerton Street is Denton Cricket Club, which has proudly hosted Denton’s Whit Friday Brass Band Contest for almost 25 years. On the corner of Turner Street, leading to St. Anne’s Road, was Ron Hill Sports’ shop, opposite one of only two of Tameside’s Samuel Smiths public houses (The White House Inn).
As we continue towards Crown Point, the modern face of Denton is more apparent. On the site of Wilton’s Hat Factory and just off Junction 1 of the M67 is the sprawling Crown Point North development. An immediate success on opening, its free parking and variety of shops includes store chains whom, if sufficient units were available, would have moved to Ashton in a heartbeat. Whether it has affected footfall in Tameside’s administrative capital we don’t know.
On the right hand side, nearer to the eastbound exit, is a bog standard DriveThru McDonalds. Quite an inferior contrast to the Barcliff Cinema hitherto there from 1939 to 1999. The Barcliff Cinema was a popular Art Deco cinema which, like many in the 1960s became a bingo hall and social club. Whereas some were taken over by the likes of Coral and EMI, the Barcliff was independent to the end.
Only minutes away is Crown Point: the centre of Denton. Or, if you prefer, probably the second most congested junction in Denton, which reduces 347s to walking speed in peak hours. It is dominated by two pubs: the Red Lion and The Last Orders Inn. Whereas the former has had a more stable existence, the latter has had a few name changes in its time, with The Pinnacle to name a few.
3. Crown Point to Two Trees Lane
The south side of Crown Point: it has a lovely fountain and a few benches. A restauranteur who is trying to open at evenings. A former Post Office, a former supermarket, a former toilet block, and a KFC. At one time, the fountains was Denton’s open market and popular till a number of stalls were shifted. Strictly speaking, the Post Office moving to the Co-op Shopping Giant didn’t help either (it is now in Londis).
The pubs and houses increase a little in frequency. Its imposing former Police Station is also houses. Thankfully, the mundanity is interrupted by a distinctive building on our right hand side. Dating from 1531 is St. Lawrence Church. It is known locally as ‘Th’Owd Peg’ and is only one of 29 timber framed churches left in the United Kingdom. (On Heritage Open Days, second weekend in September, it is open for guided tours). It was dedicated to St. Lawrence by Parr Greswell on discovering fragments of glass depicting his martyrdom.
Just right of the church is Town Lane, which leads to Reddish Vale Country Park (1.9 miles), via Ross Lave Lane and Hyde Hall farm.
A short distance onwards, we are close to Haughton Green and the southern part of Denton. The junction of Two Trees Lane and Stockport Road is dominated by a distinctive corner house. Before 2002, it was a sub-Post Office and at one time, it had ‘Stockport’ daubed in white on the Stockport Road corner of the building.
4. Two Trees Lane to Bredbury Industrial Estate
Immediately south, we are close to the former Denton Colliery. It was one of last pits in Tameside, closing in 1929 thanks to flooding. The site was landscaped with the shafts filled in in 1974. A housing estate stands on the site and a path leading to Circular Road follows part of the former colliery sidings. Some of the railway cuttings remain intact off Ross Lave Lane. The colliery offices is now home to monumental masons’ shop known as ‘SadlyMissed.com’.
Further on, much of the housing stock seems to be of 1930s to 1950s origin with Stockport Road yards away from its most rural interlude. Shortly after The Fletcher Arms (a fine pub noted for its carvery lunches – that I can testify from personal experience!) is Yew Tree Road, leading to one of the estates built on the site of Denton colliery, and named after a former farm. It was home to – if you could say it – Denton’s first out-of-town shopping precinct – a few shops on Foxdenton Walk, now replaced by modern housing (with Denton town centre being quite a distance for them).
A few yards down after Wakeling Road, we see a slight bend and some gentle gradient action. By this time, you can tell you’re on one of Blind Jack’s roads! They are good roads for drivers and exhilarating for pedestrians. Our rural interlude is punctuated by the Denton sewage works, the River Tame, farmland, and our first pub inside the Stockport MBC boundary: the Arden Arms. The pub is named after a former hall off Arden Road, with the nearby bus stops once marked with ‘Wayfarer’ lettering. This was part of a Greater Manchester Transport initiative known as ‘Wayfarer Walks’ with Arden Road being the starting point of a Lower Tame Valley walk.
One double bend later, we approach Castle Hill and see the industrial side of our route, starting off with the Sunblest bakery. Bredbury Industrial Estate was built on the site of the former Lingard Lane colliery and former brickworks from the 1950s right up to the 1990s. Its flat terrain and proximity to the M60 motorway would prove its worth as a distribution base. On one side, Ashton Road is punctuated by start-up units, with larger units such as Renold Chains opposite.
On the junction of Lingard Lane and Ashton Road is the now closed Horsfield Arms. The pub was named after one of the families who owned land on the site of the industrial estate. Behind it is the 1960s gem of Frederic Robinson’s bottling plant. This is where many a bottle of Old Tom or Trooper is lovingly prepared for the off-sales market. Known as the Unicorn Packaging Centre, over 80% of its bottled business is for contract customers throughout the UK and mainland Europe.
5. Lingard Lane/Ashton Road to Stockport Road West
On our last leg, there seems to be an air of ‘what could have been’ as well as ‘was’, ‘former’ and ‘closed. Opposite the former Horsfield Arms, is the former Leggett Freightways depot – presently being demolished. The company was formed on the 23 January 1948 with its offices in Chingford. It was dissolved on the 15 November 2013. On the corner of Ashton Road and Lingard Lane was a toll house, close to the site of Leggett Freightways.
Had it not been for a Blackburnian company, Morrisons would have been the only filling station on this stretch from Lingard Lane southwards. The BP garage, deemed an under-performing site at one time, was taken over by Euro Garages. Formed by 2001 by Zuber Issa and Mohsin Issa, their first filling station was in Bury. Today, it is one of Britain’s leading independent filling station operators with Subway and Spar outlets on their sites. In 2011, they took over Rivington Services, the only MSA on the M61 motorway (formerly Bolton West and Anderton before then).
Straight ahead, after the railway bridge, Ashton Road becomes a more complex beast. Far in excess from the scale John Metcalf envisaged. The carriageway veers to the right towards a roundabout, which forms part of Junction 25 of the M60 motorway. Opening in July 1989 as the M66, it is technically an incomplete junction. Whilst staying on the right hand, there is a larger roundabout. This would have accommodated the A6(M) Link Road to Manchester Airport. Hence also the slewed layout of the motorway, and one slip road leading to the overtaking lane of the anticlockwise section.
If fully realised, the A6(M) would have continued as a motorway class road from Bredbury to Manchester Airport via Offerton, Hazel Grove, Bramhall and Handforth. At present, a short section from Handforth to Bramhall remains as the A555. The Manchester Airport to Handforth and Bramhall to Hazel Grove sections have already been given the green light.
A few yards from the roundabout is a number of light industrial units. At that point, the smell of refuse is likely to assault your nostrils thanks to the recycling plant off Bredbury Park Way. Towards the end of this run, we see the former Portakabin depot, a McDonalds (our second on this former turnpike road), traces of a former railway line and Bredbury’s Morrisons store.
Immediately behind the supermarket is part of the former Cheshire Lines Committee route from Godley Junction to Liverpool (via Northenden). Before 1980, the line continued west of the present superstore via Tiviot Dale, Heaton Mersey and Northenden, joining the Edgeley to Deansgate Junction section used by Northern Rail’s Chester service via Altrincham and Northwich. The line between Heaton Mersey was closed in 1980 due to structural problems with Lancashire Hill tunnel, caused by damage associated with the M63’s construction.
The Morrisons store, and number of light industrial units are close to the site of Bents Lane Colliery, which closed on the 25 May 1893. It opened as a Safeway store in the mid-1990s and on opening, was next to Quaffers Nightclub. Opened by Douglas Flood in 1978, it had space for 2,600 people with classical opulent decor, costing £1.5 million. Prior to then, it was The Warren Country Club and golf driving range. Closed in 2004, it was demolished and became a Homebase store.
At the end of this road, we see the Travellers Call public house on our right hand side. It remains a popular pub with J.W. Lees’ cask conditioned ales on offer. It would have been razed had the A6(M) to Ringway was completed.
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So, here goes our first detailed look at one of John Metcalf’s roads within the Tameside and Stockport areas. In our next part, we shall be looking at the Bredbury to Mottram turnpike road, also built the same year.
Please note that the routes below are in order of appearance from north to south rather than numerical order. All services correct at time of press.
- 347: Ashton – Haughton Green Circular (to Stockport Road/Two Trees Lane junction);
- 324/327: Denton – Stockport (from Crown Point to Ashton Road/Lingard Lane junction);
- 204/206: Manchester – Gee Cross (from Crown Point to Stockport Road/Two Trees Lane junction);
- 322: Haughton Green – Stockport (from Stockport Road/Two Trees Lane junction to Ashton Road/Lingard Lane junction);
- 345: Ashton – Denton [Pendle Road] Circular (from Crown Point to Stockport Road/Pendle Road junction);
- 380/381: Stockport – Romiley Circular (from Ashton Road/Lingard Lane junction to Stockport Road West/Ashton Road junction).
S.V., 10 July 2014.