1996 a medieval bridge was accidentally uncovered at the River Roch in Rochdale. Now plans for a £3.5m project to let the river loose in the centre of Rochdale have taken a step closer. The scheme would see three sections of the River Roch uncovered revealing a 14th Century medieval bridge.
A planning application for the project has been submitted to Rochdale Borough Council and the Environment Agency has already committed £500.000. The council is now planning to submit a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund, which will include the conservation of the medieval bridge and a programme of activities to involve local communities with the project.
In medieval times, Rochdale was a market town, and weekly markets were held from 1250 when Edmund de Lacy obtained a grant for a market and an annual fair. The market was held outside the parish church where there was an “Orator’s Corner”. In the 19th century Rochdale rose to prominence as a major mill town and centre for textile manufacturing. It was among the first ever industrialised towns. During that period the Rochdale Canal was one of the major navigable broad canals in UK. However, during the 20th century Rochdale’s textile industry grinded to a halt. Today it is primarily a residential town in the greater Manchester Area.
The river in Rochdale town was culverted in the beginning of the 20th century, which means that it was led underneath a bridge, The Butts, which was constructed by joining seven bridges into what is believed to be one of the widest in Europe. Such culverting took place in many cities during that time. However, the trend is nowadays to uncover these hidden treasures.