Huddersfield Narrow Canal Tunnel and Rail Line Diggle

More About Saddleworth

Early history

The first documentary evidence of Saddleworth appears in the Domesday Book in which it is referred to as "Quick", spelt "Thoac".

The history of the region clearly dates further back than the Domesday Book. Place names along with the discovery of flint arrowheads and gold Viking rings all point to a much earlier Saddleworth, possibly as old as the Stone Age. A Roman road from Chester to York passed through the area. Castleshaw Roman fort was built to defend and patrol the local section of the road.

Saddleworth - Saddleworth Villages

Roman Fort Castleshaw Saddleworth

Roman Fort Castleshaw - Ariel view


The steep slopes of the Saddleworth area and the acidic soils of the region have never been particularly conducive to intensive farming; meaning that long before the Victorian era, Saddleworth already had a long established, albeit domestic, textile tradition. Small, basic mills had been existence in Saddleworth before the industrial revolution, but these were increasingly replaced by larger more intensive establishments. By the end of Queen Victoria's reign, mechanised textile production had become a vital part of the local economy.

The boom in industry that had occurred in Saddleworth during the Industrial Revolution called for greater transport links. Construction of the Huddersfield Narrow Canal was begun in 1794, at the height of Canal Mania, connecting Huddersfield to Stalybridge via Saddleworth and completed seventeen years later in 1811; when the Standedge Canal Tunnel at Diggle was finally opened. The decline of canals and the rise of steam powered locomotives left the canal falling behind the competition, and so it was decided that a railway tunnel would be built parallel to the canal, which was completed in 1848. The rise in traffic demanded a second tunnel be built, completed in 1871. Both of these were single line tunnels and eventually superseded by the 1894 tunnel, a double line tunnel, which is the only one of the three still regularly carrying passengers.

Huddersfield Narrow Canal Tunnel and Rail Line Diggle

Present Day

Saddleworth with a population of approx 30,000 is 29.4 square miles (76 km2) within the Metropolitan Borough of Oldham and remains largely rural. Many locals still prefer to think of Saddleworth as part of the now defunct West Riding of Yorkshire and there have even been calls for ‘independence!

Saddleworth certainly retains an old world charm with low lying villages surrounded by high moorland hills.

The charming villages are now a major tourist attraction with visitors from around the world. The Saddleworth Events Calendar such as Yanks Week are a magnet for visitors throughout the year.

As Saddleworth’s own poet Ammon Wrigley wrote

When God made Yorkshire and Lancashire,

He laid aside the precious bits of jewelled earth.

And when He had completed the two shires.

He took the beautiful things he had saved and made Saddleworth to be a little Shire on its own

Saddleworth Church, Uppermill, Saddlworth.

Saddleworth Church, Uppermill, Saddlworth.

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