Mill and Pond at Hopwood

We follow the old carriageway into Hopwood, the two posts to the old gateway still as the dead between yew and rhododendron ponticum; that curse of Victorian pleasure gardens. There are the last cobbles of a road long worn away by a flowing spring, the layers revealed and the wonders of how anyone before suspension survived the arduous trips across country and these types of roads. They are more a stutter of a road, that crunch the bones and set the teeth on edge. These are roads as old as Rome in design. The spring has worn it away bubbling under an old gateway making the posts lean. We break out of the rhododendrons and up a slope to find the remains of a mill pond which drove the wheel, which ground the corn for the Lord's bread. The pond is full of rushes, there's a few cones tossed in there and signs from Rochdale council telling us from their watery graves, like belligerent nymphs meets the flying Dutchman that death be here, so sod off.

hopwood hall mill, life on pig row

They've tried to dam the drop to the water wheel pit but the water still trickles over the dam and down it drops into the past, there's shards of Meissen pottery down there in the mess of debris beneath the wheel. There are cogs, more cogs, and strips of iron in the leaf fall. 

All that is left is the drive shaft, five foot of rotten oak, iron bands still holding the wet rot together.

hopwood hall, life on pig row

The water still flows and there is calm, too much silence that is broken by a few who want to fill it. It weighs down on you the past, that people lived and died here. That coaches moved past here and that children waved as this past. That the miller called for help. That corn was fed into this machine and that in time, always in time, the stone moved apart, fell into the undergrowth and the moss, lichens and trees moved in. 

hopwood hall, rochdale history, life on pig row, lord byron


  1. My late father was a gardener here from 1955 to about 1967. He looked after the greenhouses, the vegetable plots, and the large rose garden in front of the hall and the memorial which he helped to build. I spent many summers down there during school holidays and remember the layout well

    1. We'd be interested in hearing more from you and any images you may have.