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Things to do in Ramsbottom, Greater Manchester

Steam train approaching Ramsbottom Station
East Lancashire Railway ©Shutterstock /i4lcocl2

Nestled on the south side of the West Yorkshire Moors, Ramsbottom is a Victorian mill town close to the M66.

There is evidence of settlement on the surrounding moors dating back to 4000BC, with ancient artifacts and Bronze Age burial sites.

Situated on the River Irwell, the town only really evolved during the Industrial Revolution. Prior to that it was a Royal Forest and was deforested during the 16th century to provide timber.

As croft spinning and weaving transferred to more efficient factories for wool processing, Daniel and William Grant saw the opportunity to build mills in Ramsbottom.

They arrived from Scotland in 1806, where the family had a reputation for building fine houses.

They are rumoured to be the characters behind Charles Dickens’ Cheeryble brothers in his classic Nicholas Nickleby.

They paid their employees in tokens which could only be exchanged for cash at the public house, also owned by them. A charge of threepence was levied for the exchange, and it had to be spent on beer.

In 1846, the railway was built connecting Ramsbottom with Manchester and Bury. The line is now used as a Heritage Railway.

As well as local factories, the Grant brothers donated the funds to build St Andrew’s Church in 1932, and it was consecrated as a Scottish Presbyterian Church. You can still see the family crest and date above the door.

Other mills grew up in the town, owned by the Ashtons and Robert Peel (Senior). His son, Sir Robert Peel, founded the modern-day police force and he became Prime Minister from 1841-1846. He is best known for repealing the Corn Laws.

Present Day Ramsbottom

Ramsbottom remains full of Lancashire character with plenty of local shops and restaurants, some with national recognition.

There is a flourishing Heritage Society and visitors can follow the fascinating History Trail to learn more about the town.

Church Tower in Ramsbottom
Church Tower in Ramsbottom ©Shutterstock /Andrew Barker

One of the most interesting buildings is Barwood House on Grant’s Lane, which was bought by Charles Grant. He built the gatehouse and used it as the Estate Office, as well as the lovely Stables building.

The 1864 Schoolhouse on Dundee Lane was formerly known as the Well House as it maintained the local water supply.

It was built on the site of the earlier Courthouse and some of the original stone was used in the building, along with stone from the rebuilding of Manchester Cathedral. This is how this 19th century building came to have a datestone inscribed with the year 1414.

The imposing Grant Arms Hotel in the Old Market Place started life as a house called “Top O’th Brow. It became a hotel in 1828 and the new façade and clock was added in 1852.

Things to Do in Ramsbottom

The area is popular for hill-walking and cycling up the challenging hills. Nearby Holcombe Hill is particularly popular when hundreds of people climb it on Good Friday as a religious celebration.

Egg rolling also takes place down the hill at Easter.

Walk up to the tall obelisk known as Peel Tower which is just outside the town. It was built in honour of Sir Robert Peel and is part of the Irwell Sculpture Trail.

Nuttall Park has bowling tennis courts and plenty of space for family recreation and events.


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