How Saddleworth is still Yorkshire – 50 years after ‘move’

SADDLEWORTH may have stood outside of Yorkshire for 50 years, but it is still part of it, a leading figure believes.

This time in 1974, the area was just getting used to its new status as part of the newly formed county of Greater Manchester following boundary changes.

Even now, it still sparks huge debate among people in the area – white roses on signs as you enter the villages are a nod to lying in what was the West Riding.

Stones marking the old boundary between Lancashire and Yorkshire show how close – yet how divided – they lay.

Yorkshire Day celebrated in Saddleworth by Craig Hannah

One of the most popular events is the Yorkshire Day celebrations around August 1 and the man who proudly carries the flag, Oliver Benson, will not have Saddleworth as part of Oldham.

He said: “It’s still in the West Riding of Yorkshire – it never mentioned in the blurb about moving this, that and the other that they moved the boundary.

“Some people say different, but I say, ‘No, it didn’t.’

“That’s why I carry the Yorkshire flag on Yorkshire Day. A lot of people in Saddleworth still regard it as Yorkshire.

“They had a meeting around the time it was going to happen in what is now the museum and there were quite a few people there.

Saddleworth Pie Company and their Yorkshire Day pie

“The exact same number of people said it isn’t moving, it is moving and abstained!

“I don’t know why they did change it – possibly because it was over the hill. It was probably drawn up by someone living down south and it looked quite nice. I’m sorry but I’m cynical.

“What annoys me is they turn around in Oldham and say, ‘Saddleworth is the jewel in Oldham’s crown.’

“Saddleworth’s never been in Oldham. Oldham is a little cotton town that took over Chadderton, this, that an the other and part of that was Saddleworth. 53 per cent of the area administered by Oldham is Saddleworth.

“And most of the expensive Band E, F, G and H rated homes are in Saddleworth.”

50 years after the move – 38 after the county of Greater Manchester officially ceased to exist when its council was abolished – and feelings still run high over Saddleworth’s status.

Oliver Benson carries the Yorkshire Flag

Several people insist on have ‘Saddleworth, West Yorkshire’ on their letters and Oliver told how some feel a new area should be formed.

He also believes development closed to what was the birder with Lancashire have blurred the boundaries.

He added: “What people would prefer these days is for Saddleworth, Meltham, Holmfirth and Marsden become an area on its own.

“The level of feeling about it 50 years on doesn’t surprise me. There’s a number of people who went to school around here, married people from around here and live here – their children are also from around here.

Bob Rodgers flying the on Yorkshire Flag

“I would have Saddleworth, West Yorkshire on my letters. In fact, I have a letter from 1900 and the address was Uppermill via Oldham, West Riding of Yorkshire, as Oldham was the nearest big Post Office.

“There probably aren’t that many people now who believe Saddleworth should be in Yorkshire but when Saddleworth was Saddleworth, a lot of the people who lived here worked here, in the local mills. It was an enclave.

“But it’s being spoiled now by people doing houses on the border. Half of those doing it wouldn’t know where the border is.

“As far as I’m concerned, though, it is and always will be Yorkshire.”


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