Wednesday, 3 March 2010

The Weavers Seaport

A seagull lands on our car
Seagulls on ice
Despite the seagull, Hollingworth Lake is high up on the hills above Rochdale. The sun shone yesterday morning so we were quick to get out by 10 am to drive over to this lovely place, which is only 15 miles away..  Like Blackstone Edge Reservoir, it was built to provide water for the Rochdale Canal but it is considerably bigger. 
The perimeter path is 2.5 miles (4.0 km), covers 130 acres (0.53 km2) and was completed in 1800, four years before the canal.  It must have been a huge job for the time as it is not in a natural depression and has three earthen walls to hold in the water.  Water was raised from the lake by a steam engine to a channel which led to Summit, the highest point on the canal.

However, the fame of the lake lies in the fact that, in the middle of the 19th century, as the population grew rapidly in the area around Rochdale, Hollingworth Lake became a recreational resort offering a grand day out for visitors from near and far.  It became known as the Weighvers Sayport (spelling was a bit less standardized in those days and reflected the Lancashire accent).

Boating was one of the first developments and the first Rowing Club was founded in 1860. To provide accommodation and refreshment to the many visitors, hotels began to appear along the shore.

The Beach Hotel is still there and is now a family restaurant. In 1872 it bragged that it offered, "Private as well as Public Refreshment Rooms" and if notice were given, "any number of Persons up to One Thousand" could "be accommodated with a Place of Meeting Entirely to Themselves." Stabling was available for horses and vehicles and there was a "large and commodious Dancing Stage, which is brilliantly illuminated with gas at dusk."

The Lake Hotel, set on a promontory which projected into the lake on the south shore, was accessible on the ground along the eastern shore, but you could also cross the lake aboard the steamer for 2d. The 3 steamers offered a ferry service to the Lake Hotel and its Pleasure Grounds, as well as trips around the lake. There was even an underwater telegraph cable between the booking office and the hotel to summon the ferry. At the peak of its popularity, there were seven hotels nearby.

My parents, from Rochdale, visited it often when courting in the early 1930s and I first visited aged around 3 during a visit with my Grandma when we were bombed out during the war.  I then took my father to see his old haunts in the early 1980s and he could point out things he remembered, including some which are still there and we ate at the Beach Hotel.

Now the area is a Country Park which attracts fishermen, walkers, birdwatchers, dinghy sailors and, in the quiet weekdays, a host of people of our own age, just glad to get out into the countryside and celebrate the hopeful arrival of spring..

More photos in my album.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails