Middleton, Greater Manchester

Coordinates: 53°33′18″N 2°11′13″W / 53.555°N 2.187°W / 53.555; -2.187
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

St Leonard's Parish Church, Middleton
Middleton is located in Greater Manchester
Location within Greater Manchester
Area8.94 sq mi (23.2 km2)
Population42,972 (2011 Census)
• Density4,807/sq mi (1,856/km2)
OS grid referenceSD875065
• London190 miles
Metropolitan borough
Metropolitan county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Postcode districtM24
Dialling code0161
PoliceGreater Manchester
FireGreater Manchester
AmbulanceNorth West
UK Parliament
List of places
Greater Manchester
53°33′18″N 2°11′13″W / 53.555°N 2.187°W / 53.555; -2.187

Middleton is a town in the Metropolitan Borough of Rochdale, Greater Manchester, England,[1] on the River Irk. It is 5 miles (8.0 km) southwest of Rochdale and 5 miles (8.0 km) northeast of Manchester. Middleton had a population of 42,972 at the 2011 Census.[2] It lies on the northern edge of Manchester, with Blackley to the south and Moston to the south east.


Historically part of Lancashire, Middleton's name comes from it being the centre of several circumjacent settlements. It was an ecclesiastical parish of the hundred of Salford, ruled by aristocratic families. The Church of St Leonard is a Grade I listed building. The Flodden Window in the church's sanctuary is thought to be the oldest war memorial in the United Kingdom, memorialising the archers of Middleton who fought at the Battle of Flodden in 1513. In 1770, Middleton was a village of twenty houses, but in the 18th and 19th centuries it grew into a thriving and populous seat of textile manufacture and it was granted borough status in 1886.

Langley in the north of the town was one of Manchester City Council's overspill council estates, whilst Alkrington in the south is a suburban area.[3]

In 616, Æthelfrith of Bernicia, an Anglo-Saxon King, crossed the Pennines with an army and passed through Manchester to defeat the Brythons in the Battle of Chester.[4] A wave of Anglian colonists followed this military conquest and their settlements are identified by the "ton" Old English suffix to local place names.[4] Royton, Crompton, Moston, Clayton, Ashton and Middleton are a number of settlements northeast of Manchester suggested to have been founded as part of this colonisation.[4] It is therefore thought that Middleton as a settlement dates from the 7th century.[4]

Although unmentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086, Middleton is said to be "of great antiquity"; a community at Middleton is thought to have evolved outwards from a church that existed considerably earlier than the Norman conquest of England.[5]

The name Middleton first appears in 1194, and derives from the Old English middel-tūn, meaning middle farm or settlement,[5][6] probably a reference to its central position between Rochdale and Manchester.[7]

During the Middle Ages, Middleton was a centre of domestic flannel and woollen cloth production.[citation needed]

The development of Middleton as a centre of commerce occurred during the 17th and 18th centuries as a result of the effect of the Industrial Revolution. Additional to this, Lord Suffield obtained a Royal Charter from King George III in 1791 to hold a weekly market and three annual summer fairs in Middleton.[5] Suffield built a market house, warehouses and shambles in the town at his own expense.

Warwick Mill is a former cotton mill in Middleton

Industrial scale textile manufacture was introduced to Middleton as a result of the Industrial Revolution. Middleton became a centre for silk production in the 18th century, which developed into a cotton spinning industry by the mid-19th century and which continued through to the mid-20th century.[5] This transition gave rise to Middleton as a mill town.

The town's local newspaper, the Middleton Guardian has a history going back to Victorian times.[8] copies can be found in the local library of every publication since 1908.

JW Lees houses its brewery at Middleton Junction. The brewery owns several pubs in the Greater Manchester area.

The town was linked to the national rail network until 1964 when Middleton railway station closed. Mills Hill is now the nearest station.


Parkfield House
The coat of arms of the former Middleton Municipal Borough Council, granted by the College of Arms on 28 January 1887. The motto Fortis in Arduis is Latin for Strong in difficulties.

Lying within the historic county boundaries of Lancashire from the early 12th century, Middleton was once an ecclesiastical parish of the hundred of Salford, and in Oldham poor law union.

In 1861 commissioners were established for the improvement of Middleton and Tonge townships or civil parishes. In 1878, the township of Alkrington and parts of the townships of Hopwood and Thornham were added to the area of the commissioners. It was in 1886 this territory was incorporated as a borough, giving it Borough status in the United Kingdom. Following the Local Government Act 1894 parts of Great Heaton and Little Heaton townships were added to the newly created Municipal Borough of Middleton, a local government district in the administrative county of Lancashire. In 1933 there were exchanges of territory between the borough of Middleton, the City of Manchester and Chadderton Urban District. In the same year, parts of Unsworth were amalgamated with Middleton, whilst part of it was moved to Royton Urban District. It was proposed in the Redcliffe-Maud Report that Middleton become part of a new Metropolitan Borough of Oldham,[9] however, following the Local Government Act 1972, the Municipal Borough of Middleton was abolished and its territory became part of the Metropolitan Borough of Rochdale within the metropolitan county of Greater Manchester.[1] The council was based at Parkfield House.[10]

The Middleton parliamentary constituency was created by the Redistribution of Seats Act 1885. It was abolished in 1918 when Middleton became part of the Middleton and Prestwich constituency.

Today Middleton forms part of the Heywood and Middleton parliamentary constituency, represented in the House of Commons by Chris Clarkson, of the Conservative Party.


At 53°33′17″N 2°11′19″W / 53.55472°N 2.18861°W / 53.55472; -2.18861 (53.5547, −2.1887), Middleton stands on undulated land immediately north of Manchester; the towns of Chadderton and Royton are close to the east. The town of Rochdale lies to the north-northeast. The towns name is derived from Middle-town, from its situation midway between Manchester and Rochdale. It is situated on an ancient road between those places. Middleton town centre is around 220 feet (67 m) above sea level.

Middleton experiences a temperate maritime climate, like much of the British Isles, with relatively cool summers and mild winters. There is regular but generally light precipitation throughout the year.[citation needed] Middleton is watered by two confluent streams which have their rise in the immediate district.

Much of Middleton's built environment is characterised by its 19th-century red-brick terraced houses, the infrastructure that was built to support these and the town's former cotton mills, although from the middle of the 20th century the town saw the growth of its outlying residential areas of Langley, Hollin and Boarshaw which is predominately ex-local authority housing. The skyline is marked by St. Leonard's Church. The urban structure of Middleton is regular in comparison to most towns in England. Residential dwellings and streets are located around the town centre.

There is a mixture of high-density urban areas, suburbs, and semi-rural locations in Middleton, but overwhelmingly the land use in the town is urban. The territory of Middleton is contiguous with other urban areas on its southern and eastern sides, and for purposes of the Office for National Statistics, forms part of the Greater Manchester Urban Area,[11][12] the United Kingdom's third largest conurbation. The M60 motorway passes to the south of Middleton; the M62 passes to the north. A heavy rail line enters Middleton from Moston and Chadderton to the south, and passes to the east of Middleton's town centre before continuing on northwards to Rochdale.

Varyingly agreed divisions and suburbs of Middleton include Alkrington, Bowlee, Boarshaw, Cheapside, Greengate, Hebers, Hollin, Hopwood, Jumbo, Langley, Moorclose, Rhodes, Stake Hill, Middleton Junction, Thornham and Tonge. Mills Hill is an area shared between Middleton and Chadderton.


Industrial polymer, thermoplastics and nonwovens producer The Vita Group have a registered office in Middleton.[13] Kitbag operate a distribution centre from Greengate in Middleton.

Bluebird Bus and Coach is a travel company based in Middleton.[14] Bus company JP Travel has been based in Middleton since 1974.[15] Robert McBride, a household and personal care product manufacturers, is also based in the town.[16]


A row of buildings in Middleton's town centre, including one (second from the left) by local born architect Edgar Wood. Several buildings in the town are known to be by Wood.

Several of Middleton's buildings were designed by Edgar Wood, a local-born influential architect of his day. Several in Middleton are landmarks and are notable.[17]

Middleton has recently benefited from redevelopments which have seen the construction of a new sports, leisure and civic centre, 'Middleton Arena'. A large new Tesco supermarket was opened in the town centre in 2013.[18]

In the early 1970s, The Arndale Property Trust cleared land adjacent to Middleton Gardens to build an 'American-style' modern shopping precinct. The Middleton Arndale Centre commenced trading in 1971, although it was officially opened by Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Kent in March 1972.

St. Leonard's Church[edit]

The Church of St Leonard is a Norman, Grade I listed building.

The Parish Church of St Leonard was completed in 1524, incorporating two stone arches made of stonework from an earlier Norman church. A wooden Saxon church is believed to have occupied the site long before the Norman church was built, in about 1100.[19]

The present church was built by Sir Richard Assheton, in celebration of the knighthood granted to him by Henry VIII for his part in the Battle of Flodden, the largest battle ever fought between England and Scotland. The Flodden Window, in the sanctuary, is thought to be the oldest war memorial in the UK.[20] It memorialises on it the names of the Middleton archers who fought at Flodden Field in 1513. The church also has one of the finest collections of monumental brasses in the area, including the only brass in the UK of an English Civil War officer in full armour, Major-General Sir Ralph Assheton.[19]

The church was designated a Grade I listed building in 1957.[21] Middleton Archaeological Society (MAS) have been investigating Clarke Brow, a public field next to St Leonard's Square, and carried out its first dig there in August and September 2013. An account of the Society's research can be found on their website[22]

Tonge Hall

Tonge Hall[edit]

Tonge Hall is a grade II* listed Tudor structure badly damaged by an arson attack in 2007.[23] Rochdale Council are now (2012) in the process of buying the property from the owner for a nominal sum with a view to restoration. The North West Building Preservation Trust, a registered charity, is likely to take over its long term maintenance.[24]

Middleton Archaeological Society (MAS) has been undertaking research into Tonge and Tonge Hall. The first of these investigations took place in August 2012 and work is ongoing. The MAS website has more information including photographs of the dig at [25]

As of 2019, the building still stands derelict, surrounded by supporting scaffolding. No work has been undertaken on restoration since the arson attack.

Alkrington Hall[edit]

Alkrington Hall was built in 1736 and was the seat of the Lever family. Its dominant position on a wooded hillside, looks out over the Irk Valley towards Middleton. The original parkland around the hall has now been developed into high end housing.

Old Boar's Head Inn[edit]

Situated below the parish church, on Long Street, this was originally a coaching inn on the road between Chester and York. It is said to date from at least 1632 and parts of it date back to the 1500s.

Warwick Mill[edit]

This building is situated on Oldham Road, opposite the Middleton office of the Greater Manchester Police. Warwick Mill was a cotton mill built in 1907, with 5 machine floors within. It is a Grade II listed building and currently sits derelict, although plans have been made to convert the building several times, none of which have been carried out.

Lodge Mill[edit]

Lodge Mill is reputedly Middleton's oldest surviving mill. Situated opposite to the old substation, the building dates back to 1839, and was a silk and cotton mill. A fire on December 30th, 2021 damaged the back mill. Damage was also caused to the front mill when, during demolition of the back mill, the back of the engine house for the front mill was accidentally demolished. The front mill is currently occupied by a local ice cream parlour.


Middleton is host to many local sports clubs, including Middleton Cricket Club who are currently playing in the Lancashire League (cricket). Four golf clubs are within easy reach of the town centre: North Manchester Golf Glub, The Manchester Golf Club (at Slattocks), Heaton Park Golf Club and Blackley Golf Club.

In January 2009, Middleton saw the opening of a new £13 million sports and leisure venue in the town centre. The Middleton Arena is a joint venture by Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council and supermarket chain Tesco. The facility has replaced the old Middleton Civic Centre and Middleton Leisure Centre, allowing the site formerly occupied by these buildings to be cleared for further development into a supermarket. Said development resulted in the opening of a large Tesco Extra supermarket on July 6th, 2013.[18]

Middleton is also home to Rochdale Triathlon Club. Weekly coached swimming sessions are currently held at Middleton Arena, Tuesday 7-8pm and Thursday 9-10pm. The Hopwood Hall College offers a gym to both its students and members of the general public.


In 2005, the new Middleton bus station was opened to replace the old one, next to the Middleton Arndale shopping centre. The station, with 13 stands, cost £4.5 million and replaced the previous station which dated to the 1970s.[26][27] The majority of services in Middleton are operated by First Greater Manchester and serve destinations including Bury, Oldham, Rochdale and Tameside. As it is in Greater Manchester, Middleton is serviced by the new (as of 2024) Bee Network initiative, provided and run by Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM). Bus services include the 17 between Rochdale and Manchester, the 18 between Langley and Manchester, the 59 between Oldham and Manchester, the 125 between Middleton and Heywood, and the 163 between Bury and Manchester. Middleton is located close to junction 19 of the M62 motorway and, at Rhodes, junction 21 of the M60 motorway.

Mills Hill railway station is on the eastern boundary of town, one mile east of the town centre, with direct services to Rochdale, Manchester Victoria, Bolton, Wigan and Leeds. It opened in 1838 and closed in 1842, it was later re-opened in 1985 and remains in use. Middleton railway station, near the town centre, was the terminus of a short branch line, which closed to passengers in 1964.

A car chase scene of the 2001 British-made Samuel L. Jackson film The 51st State was filmed on a stretch of the M60 motorway, which runs alongside Rhodes and through Alkrington, just outside the centre of the town.[28]

In May 2021 the Mayor of Greater Manchester asked that Transport for Greater Manchester bring forward a business case for extending the Metrolink tram system to Middleton, as part of a wider regeneration scheme.[29][30]


Almost every part of Middleton is served by a school of some kind, some with religious affiliations. According to the Office for Standards in Education, schools within the town perform at mixed levels.[citation needed]

Primary schools include St. Peter's Roman Catholic Primary School, Alkrington Primary School, and Middleton Parish School. Cardinal Langley Roman Catholic High School, formerly Cardinal Langley Grammar School, is one of the local secondary schools in the area, others being Middleton Technology School and St. Anne's Academy. Further education is provided by the Sixth Form at Cardinal Langley, as well as the Middleton campus of Hopwood Hall College. What is presently said campus was, from 1946 to 1989, a De La Salle Catholic College of Higher Education affiliated to the Victoria University of Manchester. Founded as a teacher training college, the chapel, designed by Sir Frederick Gibberd, was the architectural prototype for the Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral. The chapel still exists on the campus, known as the Milnrow building, but its spire is no longer topped with a cross. Hopwood Hall College benefits from its extensive grounds and leisure facilities which were developed over many years by the De La Salle College.[citation needed]

Notable people[edit]

"Moonraker" is a nickname sometimes given to people from the town[31] (and other places; see Moonrakers). Middleton has been the birthplace and home to notable people, of national and international acclaim. Amongst the most notable persons of historic significance from the town include Thomas Langley (born in Middleton in 1363) who served as Bishop of Durham, Cardinal of the Catholic Church, Lord Chancellor of England, and as England's first de facto Foreign Secretary. Samuel Bamford was a radical writer and politician. He led the Middleton contingent to the meeting at St Peter's Fields in August 1819, pressing for parliamentary reform, which ended in the Peterloo Massacre.[32]

Joel Halliwell (1881 – 1958) was an English recipient of the Victoria Cross in World War I. Lee Rigby, British soldier and victim of the 2013 Woolwich attack, was from Middleton.[33]

Steve Coogan,[34] John Richmond, Clint Boon of Inspiral Carpets, Maartin Allcock of Fairport Convention and Jethro Tull, Brendan and Martin Coogan all attended the local Cardinal Langley Grammar School, later known as Cardinal Langley Roman Catholic High School. Bernard Manning (1930–2007), Manchester-born (Ancoats) comedian, lived in Alkrington.[35] Gold selling music producer Louis Gibzen attended Middleton Technology School; Radio 1Xtra's DJ Semtex is also from the town. All four members of the indie-rock group The Courteeners are also from the area, including frontman Liam Fray.[36] The Chameleons, a post-punk band, was formed in the area, and was described by the Middleton Guardian as "Middleton's most famous export".[37]

Sally Dynevor, an actress in the Manchester-based soap opera Coronation Street is from Middleton.

Notable sportsmen connected with Middleton include Manchester City football player Tommy Booth, Manchester United F.C. (and former England national football team) Paul Scholes (Salford-born) and locally born Mark Allott, the Oldham Athletic midfielder, both educated at St Mary's Roman Catholic Primary School, and later Cardinal Langley Roman Catholic High School. Frank (Typhoon) Tyson, test cricketer from the late 1950s, attended Queen Elizabeth's Grammar school. Norma Ball, wife of Sir Bobby Charlton, attended Queen Elizabeth's grammar school; she married Bobby at St Gabriel's church in Middleton.

Fashion designer John Richmond and Olympic silver medalist Keri-Anne Payne also attended Cardinal Langley Roman Catholic High School.

Pacifist Fred Haslam (1897-1979) was born in Middleton.[38]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b "Greater Manchester Gazetteer". Greater Manchester County Record Office. Places names – M to N. Archived from the original on 18 July 2011. Retrieved 8 October 2007.
  2. ^ "Town population 2011". Retrieved 7 January 2016.
  3. ^ Anon (23 May 2005). "Alkrington". Middleton Guardian. Archived from the original on 28 September 2007. Retrieved 22 June 2007.
  4. ^ a b c d Ballard, Elsie (1986) [1967]. A Chronicle of Crompton (2nd ed.). Royton: Burnage Press Limited. ISBN 5-00-096678-3.
  5. ^ a b c d Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council (N.D.), p. 29.
  6. ^ University of Nottingham's Institute for Name-Studies. "Middleton". nottingham.ac.uk. Retrieved 15 February 2008. [dead link]
  7. ^ Nicolaisen, Gelling & Richards, The Names of Towns and Cities in Britain, p. 135
  8. ^ "Middleton Guardian". media.info. Retrieved 15 January 2020.
  9. ^ Philosophy on councils has yet to emerge. The Times. 8 July 1972
  10. ^ Statham, Nick (28 April 2023). "Former town hall could demolished to make way for new houses and 80-bed care home". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 24 February 2024.
  11. ^ Office for National Statistics (2001). "Census 2001:Key Statistics for urban areas in the North; Map 3" (PDF). statistics.gov.uk. Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 January 2007. Retrieved 13 September 2007.
  12. ^ Office for National Statistics (2001). "Greater Manchester Urban Area". statistics.gov.uk. Archived from the original (http) on 5 February 2009. Retrieved 24 December 2007.
  13. ^ The Vita Group. "Locations Worldwide: United Kingdom". thevitagroup.com. Archived from the original on 26 April 2008. Retrieved 7 May 2008.
  14. ^ Bluebird – Contacts Archived 22 April 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ "Bus firm gives fire-hit mill new lease of life". Middleton Guardian. M.E.N. Media. 23 February 2012. Archived from the original on 21 April 2013. Retrieved 18 May 2012.
  16. ^ "McBride trades in line with plan". Manchester Evening News. M.E.N. Media. 1 November 2006. Retrieved 18 May 2012.
  17. ^ Edgar Wood (PDF). Rochdale Link4Life. Archived from the original (PDF) on 18 July 2011. Retrieved 2 February 2010.
  18. ^ a b News, Manchester Evening (1 July 2010). "Hero's welcome awaits at Tesco store opening". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 10 May 2024. {{cite web}}: |last= has generic name (help)
  19. ^ a b "The Church Building". Middleton Parish Church. Archived from the original on 29 May 2007. Retrieved 16 May 2007.
  20. ^ Mountford, Emma (7 September 2006). "World's oldest war memorial nears milestone". Middleton Guardian. M.E.N. Media. Archived from the original on 25 September 2012. Retrieved 30 June 2008.
  21. ^ Historic England. "Middleton, St Leonard (1162332)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 24 December 2007.
  22. ^ "Clarke Brow / St. Leonard's Square | Middleton Archaeological Society". Middletonas.com. 6 September 2016. Retrieved 4 April 2022.
  23. ^ Mountford, Emma (7 June 2007). "Historic Tonge Hall torched". Middleton Guardian. M.E.N. Media.
  24. ^ "Tonge Hall to be sold for £1". Rochdale Online. Retrieved 3 September 2012.
  25. ^ "Middleton Archaeological Society | Recording Middleton's History and Heritage". Middletonas.com. 6 September 2016. Retrieved 4 April 2022.
  26. ^ "Destination finder: Middleton bus station" (PDF). Transport for Greater Manchester. 24 July 2011. Archived from the original (PDF) on 30 March 2012.
  27. ^ "Year-old bus station is a design icon". Manchester Evening News. 3 August 2006. Retrieved 27 August 2022.
  28. ^ "Meet West Yorkshire's own film and TV set dresser". Yorkshire Evening Post. 26 May 2010. Archived from the original on 18 April 2019.
  29. ^ "Greater Manchester mayor accelerates franchise bus network plan". BBC News. 10 May 2021.
  30. ^ Williams, Jennifer (10 May 2021). "Andy Burnham unveils public transport vision - and the new colour of our buses". Manchester Evening News.
  31. ^ Moonraking in Middleton at wordpress.com; retrieved 11 September 2018
  32. ^ Spence, Peter (September 2004). "Bamford, Samuel (1788–1872)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/1256. Retrieved 15 February 2008. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  33. ^ BBC News - Lee Rigby murder: Woolwich and Middleton face recovery
  34. ^ Kenny, Laura (11 October 2007). "Soccer star parents in robbery terror". Middleton Guardian. M.E.N. Media. Retrieved 16 March 2009.
  35. ^ Mountford, Emma (21 June 2007). "Bernard Manning 1930-2007". Middleton Guardian. M.E.N. Media.
  36. ^ Sue, David (8 December 2006). "Courteeners are Legends in Waiting". City Life. Retrieved 18 May 2012.
  37. ^ Purdy, Martin (2 November 2006). Brave Andy's big night in the spotlight. M.E.N. Media. Retrieved 20 March 2009. {{cite book}}: |work= ignored (help)
  38. ^ Josephson, Harold (1985). Biographical Dictionary of Modern Peace Leaders. Connecticut: Greenwood. pp. 386–7. ISBN 0-313-22565-6.


External links[edit]

  • www.link4life.org, A brief history of Middleton.
  • [1], Middleton Archaeological Society covering Middleton's heritage.
  • www.middletontowncentre.co.uk, a guide to Middleton Town Centre with event and regeneration news.
  • www.vmims.com, Historical and genealogical information relating to Middleton.
  • www.statsandmaps.co.uk Stats and Maps is the Rochdale Borough statistics and maps website. It is a shared evidence based that provides quick and easy on-line access to data, information, and intelligence about the borough of Rochdale, and aims to meet the needs of the local community, LSP partners, and the general public.
  • [2]