After walking over the historic Lancastrian/Cheshire border from Ashton-under-Lyne, over the river Tame, we wandered through the town of Dukinfield, up to the impressive Town Hall and parks, and it was here that I would have an encounter of the furred kind…
Status: Tameside District, Greater Manchester (Historically Cheshire), Town, England
Travel: Stagecoach (Banks – Southport), Northern Rail (Southport – Ashton-under-Lyne), Walk (Ashton-under-Lyne – Dukinfield), Northern Rail (Ashton-under-Lyne – Rochdale, via Manchester Victoria), Northern Rail (Manchester Victoria – Southport)
Eating & Sleeping: N/A
Attractions: Town Hall, War Memorials, Park, Old Post Office, Old Bank, Alma Bridge, River Tame, Robert Duckenfield Statue etc
Alma Bridge crosses the river Tame between Ashton-under-Lyne and Dukinfield, and marks the historic border between Lancashire and Cheshire, although both towns are now in Greater Manchester in the district of Tameside. The Tame runs on from here to Stockport where it meets the Goyt and becomes the river Mersey. Find out more about the bridge in my Ashton-under-Lyne post.
Our first stop was Dukinfield Town Hall, a grand building in the middle of the high street. It was built in a style called Domestic Gothic, and the top of the Clock Tower is visible from the centre of Ashton. The architects for the Hall were John Eaton & Sons from Ashton, and the Town Hall opened in 1901.
In the very centre is a magnificent Clock Tower, which contains 5 large bells, cast by John Taylor & Co from Loughborough in Leicestershire. The Clock itself was the work of J R Joyce & Co, the oldest clock making company in the world, formed in 1690. They later became part of the Smith of Derby Group in 1965.
Now that the town is part of the wider Tameside District most government functions were moved to Ashton which is the head of the district. Today the Town Hall doubles as a Register Office and a Leisure Centre.
Outside the Town Hall, in the middle of the square stands a statue of Lieutenant Colonel Robert Duckenfield (1619 – 1689) who was born in the town. He was part of a notable local family which can be tracked as far back as the 13th century.
In 1642 the English Civil War (ended 1651) broke out, and during the war Robert was a Parliamentarian Commander, loyal to Parliament and fighting King Charles I (1600 – 1649). In 1650 he became the Governor of Chester, and he commanded the capture of the Isle of Man. He was also the main commander that quelled the rebellion by Sir George Booth (1622 – 1684 Parliamentarian) against the son of Parliamentarian Chief Oliver Cromwell(1599 – 1658), Richard Cromwell (1626 – 1712).
There is a lot of local history around Robert and he is one of the towns proudest figures. The statue is very detailed, and was unveiled back in 2007.
I had heard that going up to the park in the town would afford a great view over Manchester City Centre, so we ascended the hill next to the Town Hall, where the road slopes quite steeply upwards.
On the side of the Town Hall were the words “Old Courthouse”. This area of the Town Hall once contained the Court Room and Police Cells, although this is now also defunct.
We soon reached the park, and it was a very pleasant place to relax on our travels. From here you can see the Clock Tower and Spire of the Town Hall far below us, and the top of the steps was supposed to be the place that gave the view of Manchester City Centre. Although it was a nice sunny day we couldn’t see anything, although it may have been a bit too hazy.
The park was full of smooth green grass, flowers and a children play park. There was one other feature in the park, a form of local wildlife.
The park is full of squirrels, running up and down the trees and across the paths. One decided to stop in front of us so we got some pictures and I bent down to get a nice close up one, when suddenly it took a flying leap and bit the end of my finger! So if you visit the town watch out for the scary squirrels :P.
We started walking back towards Ashton-under-Lyne, and there are a number of other interesting buildings along the high street, starting with the Old Bank building. I can’t find a date for the building but it looks at least Victorian. Above the window is a coat of arms, which I assume is for the town itself.
The Tameside District coat of arms incidentally covers both Lancashire and Chester, with the Lancastrian Rose at the top half of the shield, the river underneath it and then the Cheshire Shreaves of Wheat at the bottom of the shield. This represents the historic divide between the two counties.
Opposite the Town Hall itself is the old Post Office building, one of a number of purpose built buildings like this all over the country. So far I haven’t be able to find a date for it but I will update the post if I do.
Further along the street, past the Town Hall, is an old house that was once part of the Openshaw Brewery Company. This particular brewery was called Newmarket Tavern and was opened by the OBC around 1870.
The building itself is stunning, and the patterns between the windows were a common feature of brewerys back then, and its a beautiful Victoria structure. It’s a shame that more buildings aren’t like this nowadays, a lot of modern housing is very drab, especially those built in the 70’s.
The last structure of note we saw was the Church of St Marks. The church was completed in 1847, and consecrated by the Bishop of Chester, as Dukinfield was of course part of Cheshire at that time. The tower wasn’t added until 1852 when the bottom section was built, and the top was put in by 1881.
Elsewhere in Dukinfield, away from the area we visited, are a few other attractions. These include Old Chapel, originally built in 1708 by Samuel Angler, with the current structure dating back to 1840. There are a number of War Memorials spread throughout the town, and there are at least 5 that we know of.
The only public transport in the town are buses, although the train and Metrolink stations in Ashton-under-Lyne are only 10 minutes walk from Dukinfield town centre and call at most places in the area including Manchester. Nearby airports include Manchester (14.8 miles) and Leeds–Bradford (49.7 miles).
Dukinfield is only a small town, but it is a pleasant place to visit and there are plenty of old buildings, and open spaces, and of course killer squirrels! :P. It was time to return to Manchester City Centre to get a train to Rochdale, so we walked back into Ashton and got the first train back to Manchester Victoria, to carry on our epic trip…