A view over Ramsbottom
Ramsbottom shown within Greater Manchester
|Population||14,635 (2001 Census)|
|OS grid reference|
|- London||174 mi (280 km) SSE|
|Metropolitan county||Greater Manchester|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|EU Parliament||North West England|
|UK Parliament||Bury North|
|List of places: UK • England • Greater Manchester|
Ramsbottom is a small town in North West England. It lies mostly within the Metropolitan Borough of Bury in Greater Manchester, with outlying areas in the Borough of Rossendale in Lancashire. Historically wholly within Lancashire, it is located along the course of the River Irwell and the M66 motorway, in a deep valley amongst the West Pennine Moors, 3.9 miles (6.3 km) north-northwest of Bury, and 12 miles (19 km) north-northwest of Manchester. At the time of the 2001 census Ramsbottom had a population of 14,635.
Evidence of prehistoric human activity has been discovered in the hills surrounding the town. Throughout antiquity what became Ramsbottom is believed to have been a dense forest lining the Irwell. The name Ramsbottom is believed to derive from the Old English words ramm and botm, meaning "valley of the ram". The early Anglo-Saxons who gave Ramsbottom its name lived in crofts, progressively felling the woodland as the demand for timber grew during the Middle Ages. Ramsbottom remained a small scattering woods, farmsteads, moorland and swamp with a small and close community of families until the late 18th century.
With its readily available source of water power, Sir Robert Peel purchased land in Ramsbottom in the late 18th century to commence a major manufacturing career. It is this exchange that effectively founded Ramsbottom as a homogeneous settlement; the factory system, and Industrial Revolution facilitated a process of unplanned urbanisation in the area, contributing to the area becoming an important and populous mill town. A network of roads and railways routed through Ramsbottom allowed for a series of diverse industries, including calico-printing, cotton spinning, machine-making, rope-making, and iron and brass founding. Imports of foreign goods during the mid-20th century precipitated the decline of these sectors however.
In 1974, the Ramsbottom Urban District was dissolved, with the urban Central, East, South and West wards joining the Metropolitan Borough of Bury, the rural North ward to the Borough of Rossendale. Ramsbottom is described as a "thriving unspoiled town with a wealth of attractions". Its Victorian architecture, Pennine landscape and East Lancashire Railway station have revived Ramsbottom as a regional centre for cultural tourism, particularly for its industrial heritage. Ramsbottom is supported by its immediate proximity to the M66 motorway, which allows for commutes to and from the major cities of northern England.
The name probably means "rams valley" from Old English ramm (ram) and botm (valley). However some toponymists interpret it as wild-garlic-valley, with the first element representing the Old English hramsa meaning "wild garlic". A record from 1324 giving the name as Ramesbothum is inconclusive. The town was alternatively recorded as Ramysbothom in 1540.
There are a significant number of Bronze Age burial sites around Ramsbottom, the most notable of which is Whitelow Cairn, one mile (1.6 km) southeast of Ramsbottom town centre and three miles (4.8 km) north of Bury. The cairn was excavated by Bury Archaeological Group between 1960–62, under the leadership of Norman Tyson. Finds include one main cremation and seven secondary cremations, four in urns, dating to the mid Bronze Age. The artefacts found during the excavation are now housed in Bury Museum.
Ramsbottom developed during the 19th century as a mill town. It had mills for spinning, weaving and printing. Its Square Mill was in its day innovative in combining many such processes under one roof.
Ramsbottom is bounded to the south by Holcombe Brook and Summerseat; to the north by Edenfield, Irwell Vale, Stubbins and the hamlets of Chatterton and Strongstry; to the west by Holcombe and to the east by Shuttleworth and Turn Village.
The area is characterised by its position in the Rossendale Valley and The West Pennine Moors. The high ground rises sharply on either side of the town with Holcombe Moor, Harcles Hill and Bull Hill to the west and Top O' Th' Hoof, Harden Moor, Scout Moor and Whittle Hill to the east.
The skyline over the town is dominated by the Peel Monument which stands atop Harcles Hill (known locally as Holcombe Hill), a memorial to Sir Robert Peel, the 19th-century British Prime Minister best remembered as the creator of the modern British police force, born in neighbouring Bury. The tower itself stands 128 feet (39.0 m) tall on Holcombe Moor. Even from the foot of the tower, there are spectacular views over West Yorkshire, North Lancashire, Greater Manchester, North Wales and the Lancashire Plain. From the top of the tower it is possible to see Blackpool Tower on a clear day.
The tower was completed in 1852 at a cost of almost £1,000. This cost was met from public subscriptions by a people grateful for Peel's role in the repeal of the Corn Laws, legislation that had driven up the price of bread for the working masses.
A popular way to visit Ramsbottom is via the East Lancashire Railway during weekends and public holidays. This preserved heritage railway runs diesel and steam services through the year with main stopping points at Rawtenstall, Ramsbottom, Bury and Heywood. The district straddles the A676, A56 and B6214 roads with its centre 4 miles (6.4 km) north of Bury, 4 miles (6.4 km) south of Rawtenstall and 6 miles (9.7 km) north east of Bolton. It is interesting to note that the railway actually crosses the main street of Ramsbottom.
The Grant Arms Hotel in Market Place was at one time the home of William and Daniel Grant, brothers and 19th century industrialists, who settled in the area after leaving their native Scotland. It is said that the Grant brothers were the inspiration for the Cheeryble brothers in Charles Dickens' Nicholas Nickleby.
These generally philantrophic mill owners made sure of the profits of their pub by paying their workforce in tokens that they could only redeem in the Grant Arms, part of their wage had then to be redeemed in drink.
Until 1944, Grant's Tower, erected in 1828, stood on the eastern side of the valley (above Park Congregational Chapel) in memory of the Grant brothers.
Ramsbottom is on the path of the Irwell Sculpture Trail. The 'Tilted Vase' by Edward Allington, a sculpture both classical in shape to reflect the surrounding buildings but apparently bolted together to reflect the old industries, is located in Market Place. This piece of work, weighing around two tons, was funded with £250,000 of National Lottery money.
A large park with facilities for bowls, tennis, football and public events. The park hosts regular fun fairs and family events, and is a popular attraction with locals and tourists alike.
The Ramsbottom and Edenfield Team Ministry exists to share out the few reverends and priests that serve in the Ramsbottom and Edenfield areas, to make sure that all churches receive regular services.
Sixteen of the churches are part of Churches Together in Ramsbottom
Ramsbottom Cricket Club play in the Lancashire League. The team has included professional players such as Chris Harris (New Zealand), Brad Hodge (Australia and Lancashire CCC), Ian Harvey (Australia and currently Derbyshire CCC) and Ian Chappell (Australia). Its ground, close to Ramsbottom railway station, has a reputation as being one of the best and most picturesque in the North West of England. Ramsbottom United Football Club play in the North West Counties Football League Division One (level 9 in the English Football League System). The club's home games are played at its floodlit pitch, the Riverside Ground, adjacent to the cricket ground.
Hundreds of people climb Holcombe Hill each year on Good Friday. Historically this gathering had a principally religious purpose as the hill is said to be strikingly similar to Calvary, the hill on which Jesus was crucified. A smaller gathering of people also keep alive the tradition of egg rolling before starting the climb. The large gatherings on the hill are clearly visible from miles away, and occasionally attract unorthodox religious preachers, who sometimes preach on the hill. In recent years the celebrations have become more secular, with the public house at the bottom of Holcombe Hill attracting as many as 3,000 visitors if the weather is good. This has led to complaints from local residents and to restrictions being imposed by the local council.
Since 1843 there has been an annual exhibition of game fowl, held on New Year's Day at the Old Dun Horse Hotel. This competitive show replaced the annual cockfight that took place in the town square following the New Year Holcome Hunt. The exhibition, which is organised by the Holcombe Old English Game Fowl Club, is said to be the oldest gamecock show in the world.
Ramsbottom's non-professional dramatic group is called the Summerseat Players, a registered charity that is run entirely not-for-profit. It typically puts on five performances in each season, as well as a number of other events such as performances by local schools and dance groups, along with the company's own youth theatre groups. The group has existed since 1968, and originally performed at the St. Winifred's Church Hall in Summerseat. In 1990, with donations and loans from members and enthusiasts, the company purchased what is now the Theatre Royal on Smithy Street, Ramsbottom.
Ramsbottom is home to an annual rhythm & blues festival and has a number of pubs and bars which host live music in varying degrees of regularity; amongst these are the First Chop and the Brook. The town is also famous as being home to the now defunct pub the Corner Pin, where the internationally renowned band Elbow (band) played their first gig.