ANCIENT OPENSHAW


Fourteenth century Openshaw was a small Hamlet lying outside the manor of Manchester. It was included in the Salford Hundred, which formed part of the barony of Robert GrelIey.. lord of the manor of Manchester.

One of the history books described Openshaw as "an ancient wooded area, but probably cleared by 160O" Robert Grelley had a park, in Openshaw about 1276.

Openshaw was included within the boundary of the City or Manchester only in 1890.

Another lord of the manor of Manchester, John La Warre included Openshaw in the grant of Bradford to Thomas De Booth of Barton in 1357. Eventually the title to the land passed to Anne, one of the daughters and co-heirs or John Booth. She married George Legh in about 1587 and the Legh family of High Legh, Cheshire, held the title from that time. It passed to George Conwall Legh, who plays a part in our story in 1828.

Eighteenth century Manchester was quite small, the built-up area extending eastwards only as far as Ancoats. While it stretches our imagination to see it, areas like Newton Heath; Openshaw and Gorton were open rural areas. The transformation was brought about by the Industrial Revolution. Increasing mechanisation in industry rendered obsolete some of the rural manual crafts and workers were obliged to move towards centres of industry to find employment.

Openshaw did not escape the loss of its pastoral calm during this period. The predominant industry of the district in eighteenth century was bleaching, the craft of whisters and this gave way to engineering and ordnance works.

No startling increase in population was seen until the 1820s. The ten-yearly census figures for the years 1821 to 1881 show a climb from 497 in 1821 to 16,153 in 1881. Particularly interesting are the figures for the period 1821 - 1841, which are as follows :-
1821 - 497
1831 - 838
1841 - 2,280

It was at this period, when the population was doubled and trebled, that the spiritual needs of the people were directly met. The Church of St. Barnabas, Openshaw was consecrated on 7th October, 1839 with Rev. John Whitley as first incumbent. Openshaw was constituted an ecclesiastical parish on 14th January 1844.

Some thirty years later a period which witnessed growing dissatisfaction, felt and expressed, with the spiritual provision for the people of Higher Openshaw, resulted in the building and ,consecration of the Church of St. Clement Highier Openshaw.

Taken from the Centenary Brochure - The Parish Church of St. Clement, Higher Openshaw.


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