Situated in the far north-west corner of Derbyshire, in an area of outstanding natural beauty, Glossop is often referred to as the gateway to the Peak. There are though, not only the moors of the Peak National Park to explore, but also the great moorland wildernesses of Bleaklow and Saddleworth Moor. There is much difficult terrain; walkers and climbers often come to the area to test themselves, but for the less energetic there are plenty of easier walks. The Longdendale Trail for one provides superb scenery and easy walking.
There are two distinctive parts to Glossop, the busy, bright and modern town centre and the quieter unspoilt, former village of Old Glossop, on the north-east side of the town. The old village, once the centre of a vast, scattered, mountainous parish had a market and fair as far back as 1290 and grew around a market cross and parish church. Ancient buildings from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries are tucked in along its narrow streets. Manor Park has been formed from the grounds of the former manor house owned by the Duke of Norfolk, which existed on the site in the 16th century.
Glossop is an ancient settlement, possessing evidence of occupation during Roman, Saxon, Norman and medieval times. In 78 AD, the Romans built a fort there, which was named Melandra. It was the most northerly of three forts in Derbyshire and at one time held 500 soldiers. It was burnt down and abandoned 62 years after being built, and all that remains are the foundations.
Anglo Saxon settlers farmed and hunted in the area. They named it “Glotts Hop”, after ‘hop’ meaning a valley and ‘Glott’ who had a smallholding in the settlement, from where the present town derived its name. The abbey of Basingwerk, in Flintshire, received grants from William Peveril in the early 12th century and encouraged settlement in Glossop, securing a market charter in 1290.
Early in the 19th century another village sprang up alongside the Glossop Brook. It was called Howardtown after the chief landowner, Bernard Edward Howard. Cotton manufacturing took place there on a rapidly increasing scale, so much so that the population increased six fold in half a century. The original wood-fulling mill, built in the 1780s was taken over by the Wood family in 1819.
This was a time of enormous expansion and prosperity, when the town developed as a textile manufacturing centre, largely producing cheap fabrics for colonial markets. The rapid expansion led to houses, schools and churches being built. By the middle of the century there were over fifty mills in existence in the town. Together with the Partington Paper Works and the large print works run by the Potter family.
At the height of the Industrial Revolution, Howardtown Mills stretched for over a quarter of a mile and employed 1,500 workers. Howard was the family name of the Duke of Norfolk who owned most of the land.
The new town centre was developed around the Town Hall, which was erected in 1838, with a distinctive looking clock tower. Its arcaded ground floor is now used as a small shopping centre. A Market Hall was constructed six years later, where markets are still held today. At the rear of the building are the impressive looking Municipal Buildings, which display the Borough Coat of Arms above the entrance.
A number of delightful sandstone buildings were built around Norfolk Square, which together with its lawns, trees and flower beds considerably enhanced the appearance of the town centre. Glossop Heritage Centre is situated at the top of Norfolk Square, now combined with the Tourist Information Centre. Just across the road is the Partington Theatre; a modern sculpture of Hamlet made by the members has been placed in a niche above the doorway. The railway station in Norfolk Street has the Howard lion proudly standing guard over the entrance.
It may surprise visitors to find that Glossop Town Football Club was one of the founding members of the Football League. Perhaps even more surprising is that members of the Wood family, rich, local mill owners, who were great benefactors to the town, helped to establish Arsenal Football Club and have been directors of the club for over 100 years! The town cricket and bowling club is used annually for Derbyshire County Cricket Club Second XI matches.
If you follow the excellent Town Trail, available from the Tourist Information Centre, you will pass the imposing Victoria Hall, with its Gothic tower. It was built and still serves as a public library and meeting place. Immediately beyond the chapel and the library an inscription on a gatepost indicates the entrance to the Howards' former estate office.
Howard Park with its Victorian swimming pool, little lake, humped back bridge and meandering paths, must be one of the prettiest parks in the Peak District. There is a statue at the entrance erected by the inhabitants of Glossop in memory of two members of the Wood family who donated the swimming pool. On the other side of the town, Harehills Park is quite different in character, with its Riverside Walk, taking you past converted old mill buildings. It was given to the town by Baron Howard, in memory of his son and other men who had been killed in the First World War.
High Street is tree lined and provides a wide diversity of traditional and individual shops. More shopping is available at the very popular indoor and outdoor markets and the famous Bank Holiday markets. Visitors arrive from all parts to watch the town carnival, with its abundance of colourful and decorative floats that move in procession through the town streets to Manor Park.
The Longdendale Trail runs along a disused railway line, which is now used by walkers, cyclists and horses. It runs parallel with the reservoirs in the valley, from Hadfield to the Woodhead Tunnel, along a wide well surfaced track for a distance of six miles. The Trans Pennine Trail, an international walking route which stretches through Europe, from Liverpool to Istanbul, also utilises part of the trail.
Fans of the cult BBC TV comedy series, 'The League of Gentlemen' will know that Hadfield, four miles north of the Glossop town centre, is the real Royston Vasey and will want to fit in a visit.
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PLACES OF INTEREST IN THE LOCALITY
Glossop Heritage and Tourist Information Centre (Tel. 01457 855920) is situated at the top of Norfolk Square, facing the Town Hall and Market Arcade and is the place to find out more about the history of the town. The Centre shows the way in which the town, its setting and its people have developed in its long history. There are permanent and temporary exhibitions on display covering the town's development and local subjects of general interest. The Tourist information Centre is now housed in the same building.
Old Glossop is the name given to the original town; it has some fine 17th and 18th century cottages, clustered around the Market Square and Cross. The church is Norman in origin and has an 18th century sundial as well as a ghost in the vicarage! Manor Park is set in sixty acres of gardens, woodlands and lakes.
Howard Park and Victorian Swimming Pool is a beautifully laid out 12 acre park, with a magnificent Victorian Swimming Pool, paid for by a donation from the Wood family, who were rich mill owners in the town.
The Queen’s Arms (Tel. 01457 862451) is an attractive old pub, situated at the corner of Shepley Street, in Old Glossop. The pub is open every day and food is available daily.
The Chocolate and Coffee Shop (Tel. 01457 864604) is situated close to the Heritage Centre on Henry Street. Open from Monday to Saturday for 9am – 5pm (last orders 4.30pm) serving light meals, cakes and chocolates.
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This is a short, but very rewarding walk, round Torside Reservoir, one of five reservoirs in the beautiful Longdendale Valley, in north-Derbyshire. The reservoirs were formed in the 19th century by the damming of the River Etherow.
The Longdendale Trail runs along a disused railway line, which is now used by walkers, cyclists and horses. It runs parallel with the reservoirs in the valley, from Hadfield to the Woodhead Tunnel, along a wide well surfaced track for a distance of six miles.
The Trans Pennine Trail, an international walking route which stretches through Europe, from Liverpool to Istanbul, also utilises part of the trail.
Here the Pennine country is at its wildest on either side of the valley and it is the home to a wide variety of wildlife, including mute swans, wading birds and even grey herons. Much of the heather covered moorland is Access Land over which people are allowed to roam.
The Pennine Way, the main north to south route through the Pennines, crosses the valley and is traversed for a short distance on the walk.
On the northern side of Torside Reservoir, the busy A628, carrying convoys of lorries across the Pennines, contrasts sharply with the peace and quiet of the valley.
All details on this page were correct at the time of publication, but changes may be made without notification.