The changing face of Castleshaw

Today, the mainstay of the Castleshaw Valley is farming with local people and visitors using the Valley for its many recreation opportunities such as walking, cycling and fishing.

The development of the Castleshaw reservoirs changed the face and the character of the Valley forever, which did not please local people. The upper and lower reservoirs at Castleshaw were built between 1887 and 1891 by the Oldham Corporation using men known as 'navvies', and steam-shovels, which carved out the earth and rock, which was carted away on small 'mineral' railways. The reservoirs took the place of mills and people's homes that were once present in the Valley. By the end of the 1800s the busy settlements at Bleak Hey Nook, Castleshaw, Dean Head and Standedge Foot Farm were shrinking as folk left; many buildings were redundant, empty or demolished, and farms nearby were abandoned.

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Places to go

The Saddleworth Historical Society have a number of articles on the construction of the reservoirs, as well as photographs of the area before the reservoirs were built, c 1880, and some photos of the work in progress. This is available to view by appointment at Saddleworth Museum and Art Gallery.

Historic maps can be viewed at the Oldham Local Studies and Archives or the Greater Manchester County Records Office.