A Brief History of Oldham Garden Suburb
The idea of a “Garden Suburb” in Oldham was first put
forward by Mrs Mary Higgs in the early 1900’s. Mary moved to Oldham in 1891
with her husband the Reverend Thomas Higgs who became Minister at Greenacres
Congregational Church. Over the following years Mary did a great deal to help
the poor in Oldham especially homeless women. Several books have been written
about the work she carried out and this was finally recognised when she was
presented with an OBE in 1937 just prior to her death at the age of 83.
Mary was a founder member of the Beautiful Oldham Society in 1901/1902 and went on to propose the building of a “Garden Suburb” in Oldham, The Garden City movement had already started to gain momentum in England.
On 6th April 1906 a meeting was held at Werneth Park and a provisional committee was appointed to run “Oldham Garden Suburb Tenants Limited”, in August 1907 Hollins Green Estate was purchased from Dame Sarah and Her daughter Marjory Lees at cost (both Sarah and Marjory were close friends with Mary and active supporters of her movement.
Building of Oldham Garden Suburb commenced in April 1908 using bricks made from clay sourced on the Hollins Green Estate and the First tenant Mr James Henry Shepherd moved in on October 24th 1908 paying a rent of 5s/11d ( equivalent today approximately 29 pence) per week. As more houses were completed and rented out a group of residents assisted by the founders set up the Garden Suburb Tenants Association whose aim was to engage the community in events for the benefit of all the residents and also raise funds for local deserving causes.
From the beginning the Tenants Association ran various events from sports days to whist drives and tea dances but the highlight of every year was the “Rose Queen Ceremony” which continued through both world wars and is still held today. On 27th March 1914 the Tenants Association were given permission to use land on Green Lane for a concert pavilion which initially consisted of a wooden shed. This was used for many years until 1929 when the current brick Pavilion was built, the new Pavilion opened officially on 12th October 1929.
The Oldham Garden Suburbs Tenants Association continued successfully over the following years even though at certain times it was difficult to get new committee members. Throughout this time the Original founding company “Oldham Garden Suburb Tenants Limited” continued to collect rents and continued to administer the estate including maintenance of the rented properties. However by the 1950’s/1960’s more and more of the houses were being sold off as they became empty. By the Early 1980’s most of the houses were lived in by owner occupiers and the Oldham Garden Suburb Tenants Limited was put into voluntary liquidation and the remainder of its assets disposed of.
At around March 1983 the Pavilion including the land it was built on was donated to the residents of Oldham Garden Suburb. As the nature of Garden Suburb had changed to most of the houses being privately owned it was decided that the name “Oldham Garden Suburb Tenants Association” was no longer relevant so the name was changed to “Oldham Garden Suburb Residents Association”. It was also decided at this time that a Trust Deed should be set up with a minimum of two trustees and a maximum of four trustees to look after the assets of the association including the Pavilion if the Oldham Garden Suburb Residents Association should disband, this would be under the direction of the executive committee.
Currently the Oldham Garden Suburb Residents Association is doing well and hopefully will continue to do so.
(Treasurer) 16th May 2017
The following text is from a report in the early 1900's
Sourced from www.archive.org/stream/gardencitymovement
The Oldham Garden Suburb owes its existence largely to the work of Mrs Higgs, one of the earliest members of the Garden Cities Association. The "Beautiful Oldham" movement had given an impulse to the desire for a better mode of living and a better style of home, and despite many difficulties substantial progress has been made. Of the 52 acres one third has been developed by the Oldham Garden Suburb Tenants Ltd. The houses let from 55. nd. a week to 30 a year.
Houses of a larger type are built for sale as well as for rent. The roads have been made with grass margins and are tree planted, and three acres are reserved for open spaces. The infantile mortality for the last year shows the following vital statistics:
Birth Rate: 42 per 1,000 population.
Death Rate: 59 per 1,000 births.
The General Death Rate is 10 per 1,000
(Any typo's in this article are copied directly from the report)
Oldhams population was nearly 150,000 people; Oldham Electricity Co started, run and owned by the corporation. They took over the lease on the power lines put down by the Manchester Carraige Co; William Scott the great Oldham artist, died; Oldham Yeomanry, sworn in for the S. Africa war; Oldham Ambulance Men (10) and (15) Yeomen left for the Boer War. 40,000 people waved them off; First meeting of Saddleworth Urban District Council, when the RDC and Local Board for Uppermill, came together; More Oldham Volunteers left for the war in South Africa; Jubilee of Co-operation in Oldham; Oldham's, first electric tram ran to Chadderton boundary.
There were almost 2,000 people getting "relief" from the Oldham Guardians; A circular tram service from Oldham to Glodwick was started.
Education Act afforded the opportunity to develop secondary education in Oldham; Electricity came into common use for lighting; Foundation Stone laid of a Congregational Church in Ashton Road, Oldham; The Electric Trams from Hollinwood to Waterhead started running.
Oldham Guardians removed all children over three from the workhouse and set up "Scattered Homes" to look after the 204 children removed; Albert Mount Primitive Methodist Church opened a new Sunday School; Greenhills Electricity Works started supplying power, opened by Alderman Herrod, but it was still DC; Oldham Volunteers first assembled.
Bell Mill Hathershaw was erected, 130,176 spindles; Oldham Education Committee took over from the School Board; Oldham Schools celebrated Victoria Day, for the first time; Foundation Stone laid of the Wesleyan Methodist Church at Northmoor.
Mrs C Lees opened an extension to the Royal Oldham Infirmary; Oldham Athletic played in the FA Cup for the first time.
The Bishop of Burnley dedicated a new set of bells for St. Margaret's Church, Hollinwood; A new Independent Methodist Church opened in King St, Oldham; Victoria Market Hall Oldham, 2,100 sq yds opened for business; The Foundation Stone had been laid in 1904 but it was not completed until 1908; Oldham Athletic got their first manager, David Ashworth; Eagles Mill, Delph burnt down, while Oldham Fire Brigade took 90 minutes to find the mayor for permission to go outside the boundary.
Trams ran from Oldham to Manchester direct, for the first time. The Manchester trams had to have extra brakes fitted to tackle the hill up to Oldham Town Centre; Oldham Garden SuburbTrust was formed. Workstarted building a garden town at Hollins. Houses £183 each; Oldham elected the first woman councillorin Lancashire. Mrs C Lees won the seat at Hollinwood;The well stocked conservatory in Alexandra Park, opened; Cobden Chadwick founded Chadwick Web Processing printing on and making paper bags; Oldham Athletic played and won their first Football League match against Stoke (3-1).