History of Primrose
The Primrose Community Association formed in 2018. Previously we were a constituted management committee whose purpose was to look after the day to day running of the Primrose Community Centre. We wanted to expand on the good work we have been able to deliver from the centre so decided to apply to the Charity Commission to become a charity. Our charity now aims to deliver positive outcomes across the wider neighbourhood.
The local area holds interesting historical significance for the Oldham area –
Primrose Bank, Coppice.
Coppice is a locality and urban/suburban area in the town of Oldham, in Greater Manchester, England.
It is located to the south of Oldham town center and is contiguous with other areas of Oldham including Hathershaw, Werneth, Hollins, Copster Hill, and Primrose Bank.
Coppice is the location of Hulme Grammar School and Werneth Cricket Club whose ground is known as 'The Coppice'. (Source – Wikipedia).
Nothing is known of the medieval development of Primrose Bank except that it probably formed part of Werneth Manor, the principal manor of Oldham. By 1829 Dunn’s map shows the hamlet of Primrose Bank was on the edge of Werneth Park which by this time had been reduced to about 100 acres.
Until the early 1800s Primrose Bank was a rural hamlet. Its eastern boundary was broadway Lane, the main road to Ashton. In the medieval period, this road was probably a winding country track going south from Oldham to cross the River Medlock at Bards leyon the way to Ashton. A remnant of this route is Primrose Bank itself which zig-zags across the northern part of the s area before joining Lee Street and returning to broadway Lane. In 1765 the road to Ashton was turnpiked and the winding Broadway Lane gradually straightened to become Ashton Road. The road can be seen partially straightened on Butterworth’s map of Oldham 1817.
By the 18th century, the land of Primrose Bank had no doubt been enclosed and possibly cleared of trees in response to the increasing sale of timber brought about by the American War of Independence (1775–1782). The post-medieval landscape was typified by fairly small irregular fields and probably some remaining woodland, with Butterworth’s map of 1817 showing at least two houses on the south side of Primrose Bank and Dunn’s map of 1829 showing significantly more development, with houses now on either side of the winding lane. Houses on the Primrose Bank are also shown on a map showing commons and wastelands prepared by Jones in 1804. The Tithe map of 1840 shows the area of Primrose Bank as a blank, probably because it was exempt from tithes. The land was owned by John Lees who had in 1792 bought the Werneth estate for £30,000 including two collieries. He was joined shortly after by several other powerful industrialists to form the company of Lees, Jones, Booth & Co, and by 1835 had built the Primrose Mill between Broadway Lane and Chamber Road. Part of the mill was sublet to Abraham Milne and John and Joseph Wainwright, though damaged by fire in 1843
The Primrose Bank area as shown on the first edition of the six-inch OS map surveyed in 1843
To the south of the mill, at the junction of Lee Street and Ashton Road was a small coal pit with another opposite the junction of Primrose Bank and Lee Street. In 1821 coal mined at Werneth was worth £14,400 and no doubt that included these pits which presumably went on to supply Primrose Mill and the later Primrose Bank Mill of 1840–44 to the north. Many of the older houses remained around the mills, including Kennedy House at the corner of Lee Street and Chamber Lane which had by 1843 been extended to meet the Ashton Road and renamed Chamber Road.
The building of Primrose Mill began the urbanization of the Primrose Bank area, the first edition of the 6 inch OS map (surveyed 1843) showing the then-recent encroachment of the cotton industry on the landscape south of Oldham, still rural though dotted with coal mines and brickworks. Old Ashton Road — Primrose Bank and Lee Street —became something of a backwater, traffic between Oldham and Ashton now focussed on the well–established Turnpike Road. It was for this reason that a pub called the Bay Horse (recorded as having been in use since at least 1730) was during the first half of the 19th century moved to the triangle of land which marks the south side of the junction between Primrose Bank and Ashton Road, being at the same time renamed the Mare and Foal. It may be that what is now number 13 Primrose Bank was the Bay Horse, Dunn’s survey referring to an old ex-public house with a ground area of 101 square yards and a stated location about 100 yards up Primrose Bank on the south side (Magee, 1992), a description which closely matches what is now a social club (the historic OS maps indicate that the building has been used as a club since at least the first decade of the 20th century, though it is shown on later maps dating from c.1970 as an Oddfellows Hall). The adjacent houses numbered 7–11 appear to be of a similar date, albeit of a separate build.
Aluminium prefabricated houses (Oldham Chronicle, 27th July 1946)
By the time of the 1881 edition of the 25 inch OS. Map (surveyed in 1879) the triangle of land south of Chamber Road had been fully developed, mainly with a mixture of back–to–back, court and terraced housing arranged around the now lost Emily Street, Scott Street, and Derby Place; a memory of what were Tomlinson and Myrtle Streets survived in the naming of Tomlinson Close and Myrtle Close until large scale redevelopment in 2011. On the southern corner of the junction between Chamber and Ashton Roads was the Broadway Chemical Works. The former Wesleyan School and Chapel (now the Shree Swaminarayan Temple) fronting Lee Street opened in 1881. Primrose Mill was rebuilt in 1886 with warehousing added in 1899, the land west and south of the mill being given over to the necessary lodges (reservoirs).
Back–to–back housing was also built fronting the stretch of Primrose Bank to the northwest of the mill, with later terraced housing fronting Lee Street. Housing and shops lined both sides of the Ashton Road, with further mills built lower down the slopes which lead down to Glodwick Brook, the Oldham–Ashton Railway and what in 1865 became Alexandra Park. The Junction Inn on the corner of Lee Street and Ashton Road was built by the Oldham Brewery in 1903, replacing an older beerhouse known as the Bricklayer’s Arms, an indicator of the clay pits and brickworks which at that time occupied open land to the southeast of Lee Street. The last 15 years of the 19th century saw the completion in a piecemeal fashion of the frontage of Lee Street by one George Wilson (300–310, 1887), a Mr Kershaw (290–292, 1895), and others. The collapse of the cotton industry in the 1920s led to the closure and demolition in 1933 of Primrose Mill, the only surviving fragment being the Primrose Works on Primrose Bank, currently the Fit Bodz Gym. This was used for the manufacture of radios, then
as a mop factory. Aluminium prefabricated houses were erected on the cleared site of the mill in 1946.
Following the lifting in December 1955 of national restrictions on building, a 1938 plan to rebuild the Mare and Foal was resurrected by Wilson’s Brewery. Interestingly, the new pub was built to the south of the old, the latter remaining in use until the opening by the Mayor, Cllr Arnold Tweedale, of the present Mare and Foal Inn building in September 1957. The architects for the new building — now the Kashmir Karahi Restaurant — were the Manchester firm of William Johnson & Sons; the building was described as “striking” by the Oldham Chronicle.
Like in many older towns, slum clearance and affordable housing became priorities in 1950s Oldham, with approximately 9,000 out of 39,000 houses in the Borough having, in 1951, been declared as unfit (Law, 1999). Meanwhile, the Government had set a national target of 300,000 new houses per year (first met in 1953), which led via loans and subsidies to a national boom in the building of Council housing. However, a lack of land for housing and industry within Oldham meant that the straightforward redevelopment of older districts was not in the first instance feasible, it being necessary
to re–house the residents of older districts before clearance could get under way. Large estates on open ground on the edge of town were the only option. Even then, the availability in the 1960s of clearance land close to the centre of town was still limited, leading to high density housing solutions which made use of a variety of the innovative post–war building systems. Oldham was in this respect seen as a pioneer, and was the subject of a number of Ministry of Housing and Local Government (MOHLG) research reports as well as a 1967 Granada Television documentary.
In 1963 the Housing Committee of Oldham Borough Council took the decision to clear virtually the whole of the Primrose Bank area. Building commenced in 1964 on a high-density, system–built housing scheme designed by Michael Harrison of the London firm of architects Peter Dunham, Widdop & Harrison. One of the primary aims of the development was to separate cars and pedestrians, a point made clear by Thomas Cartlidge the Borough Architect who, speaking to the Oldham Chronicle in April 1963, was quoted as saying: “we shall attempt as much as possible to cut out through roads and as much as possible to cut out the old front–to–back houses in this somewhat sophisticated layout”. The result was a development for over 400 families living in a variety of houses, maisonettes, and flats (many in a 14 story tower block), shops and a high proportion of garages (reflecting 1960s Council policy); a day center was planned but apparently not built. Ashton Road was at the same time widened to form the present dual carriageway.
Construction and technical problems led in the 1980s to a major refurbishment of the primrose Bank estate, with pitched roofs replacing flat and external walls over–clad in metal siding. The high–rise block (Primrose House) was demolished, followed in recent years by the deck–access Park View House.
In 2011 a large scale redevelopment program was commenced by Oldham Council in partnership with Inspiral Oldham Ltd to redevelop Primrose Bank, including the construction of a new community centre facility as part of the Governments PFI initiative. Construction of new family homes, an apartment block, and recreational facilities was completed in 2016, including homes for private sale. Further private sale housing was completed in partnership between Oldham Council and construction company Keepmoat.
Looking east from what is now Kingsway Close, across
Lee Street to the fourteen storey Primrose House
New play area with Primrose Community Centre and Magnolia Court in foreground.
View from Lee Street along Romford Close showing inward-looking nature of Primrose Bank estate
Aerial view of the Primrose Bank estate nearing completion (Park View House not yet constructed) at the end of the 1960s (OLSL ref. 04347)
Surviving fragment of Primrose Mill (rebuilt 1886)
Demolition of multi deck homes (Oldham Chronicle).
New homes on Ashton Road, Primrose Bank.