Greater Manchester Combined Authority £50,000 grant to go towards creative events in town centre
Stalybridge is this year’s Greater Manchester’s Town of Culture, thanks to a successful bid for the accolade. For being a successful bidder, the town will get a £50,000 grant from the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) Culture Fund. The grant submission was led by Tameside MBC, in partnership with The Bridge Cultural Consortium. Additional funding came from last year’s Town of Culture partners: Bury Council, Arts Council England and the Victoria Wood Foundation.
This will fund events under The Stalybridge Town of Culture Programme 2022 and complement existing programmes in the Stalybridge Heritage Action Zone and the Town Centre Challenge schemes. Also the hugely successful Stalybridge Street Feast market which is on the second Friday of each month.
Stalybridge’s programme will focus on the environment. With the town centre framed by Wild Bank, Harridge Pike and Ridge Hill, its programme will include street theatre (like Streets Ahead in the late 1990s), artist-led walks, and storytelling. There will also be community growing projects, something along the lines of Incredible Edible.
On Stalybridge’s successful bid, Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester said: “I’m really pleased to announce that Stalybridge will become Greater Manchester’s Town of Culture for 2022.
“We created this award back in 2019 because we wanted to shine a spotlight on everything that our towns have to offer, support creativity and innovation, and help people discover something new right on their doorstep.”
The Mayor also thinks that Stalybridge’s programme will be “exciting, unique and surprising”.
“…and if you know your history…”
Stalybridge has many cultural claims to fame, many of which favoured the town’s bid for Greater Manchester’s Town of Culture. In brief, and filed under What Has Stalybridge Done For Us?, here’s Stalybridge’s cultural and historical landmarks.
- Stalybridge Old Band: the world’s oldest brass band formed in 1809. They also played at the Peterloo Massacre and – 200 years on from the events at St. Peter’s Fields – commemorated this in a special concert at Stalybridge Civic Hall. Their band room has a bar called Judges which celebrates the writer of…
- It’s A Long Way to Tipperary, one of the world’s most famous rallying songs. Written by Jack Judge in January 1912 it was first performed at the Grand Theatre on Corporation Street. It was the result of a 5/- bet where Mr Judge wrote the song and performed it the following night. Only the facade of the Grand Theatre remains.
- The longest and shortest pub names in the world: these are The Q Inn and The Old Thirteenth Cheshire Astley Volunteer Rifleman Corps Inn. Both of which are next door to each other on Market Street, separated by the long closed Rose and Crown (latterly Bar Liquid).
- Beatrix Potter: the world famous author of the Peter Rabbit books stayed at Gorse Hall. In 1999, the Friends of Gorse Hall commissioned some Beatrix Potter sculptures on Gorse Hall Drive.
- Arthur Wharton: considered to be the first black professional footballer, he had two stints at Stalybridge Rovers. His second stint, after a spell at Ashton North End, saw the goalkeeper and winger play alongside soon-to-be-legendary Huddersfield Town and Arsenal manager Herbert Chapman.
- Stalybridge Celtic Football Club: seen by some historians as the natural successor to Stalybridge Rovers, Stalybridge Celtic are the only Tameside club to have been in the Football League (Third Division North). They are also the only club to have voluntarily resigned from the Football League due to lack of support.
- Jossy’s Giants: probably the greatest drama series to be based around a fictitious youth football team. Though the Glipton Grasshoppers played at Nordens Road in Chadderton (Oldham Dew’s former ground), most of the action – including cameo appearances by white, orange and brown buses – was set in Stalybridge. It was written by the late great darts commentator Sid Waddell.
- Police: thanks to the Plug Riots, Chartist Movement and other forms of popular protest that a certain Home Secretary has tried to ban, Stalybridge had one of the UK’s first organised police forces.
- Robert Reschid Stanley: Councillor, Justice of the Peace and Mayor who laid the foundations for the Stalybridge we know today. Particularly the Victoria Market Hall, the Yeoman Hey Reservoir and its four sisters in Millbrook (Walkerwood, Higher and Lower Swineshaw and Brushes Reservoirs), and his role in Stamford Park. At the age of 69, he converted to Islam in 1896 adding ‘Reschid’ to his name.
- Stalybridge Station Buffet Bar: a place of pilgrimage for real ale lovers around the world. It has been in business since 1885, survived many closure attempts and – mercifully – any conversion to a Travellers Fare buffet bar with red and yellow signage. It is noted for its crisp butties as well as real ale, black peas and a must-visit place for foodies as well as ale drinkers.
- The Sex Pistols: apart from being known for It’s a Long Way to Tipperary, Anarchy in the UK could have been a Stalybridge song had Messrs Lydon, Jones, Cook and Matlock played The Commercial on Melbourne Street! As Britain’s most famous punk band didn’t show on the night, Slaughter and the Dogs took their place.
Any more cultural landmarks?
Are you happy about Stalybridge’s status as Greater Manchester’s Town of Culture for 2022? What would you like to see? Are there any more cultural claims to fame in Stalybridge you would like to add? Feel free to comment.
S.V., 19 January 2022.