In 1870-72, John Marius Wilson's Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales described Heywood like this:
HEYWOOD, a town and a chapelry in Heap township, Bury parish, and a sub-district in Bury district, Lancashire. The town stands on the Rochdale canal, and on the Lancashire and Yorkshire railway, near the river Roch, 3 miles E of Bury; was, toward the close of last century, a mere village, inhabited chiefly by hand loom fustian weavers; has acquired importance from the working of coal in the adjoining townships of Bamford and Hopwood, and from the enterprise and skill of local capitalists; and is now a populous, busy, thriving seat of various manufactures. ...
It has a post office, ‡ under Manchester, a railway station with telegraph, several good inns, a police station, a market place, a mechanics' institution, two churches, nine dissenting chapels, a Roman Catholic chapel, four national schools, and a British school; is a seat of petty sessions; publishes a weekly newspaper; and carries on the manufacture of powerlooms, iron and brass founding, boiler making, and all departments of cotton spinning and cotton weaving. The market place was erected in 1853. The mechanics' institution was built in 1850, is neat and commodious, and has an excellent library. St. Luke's church, the church of Heywood chapelry, was built in 1863, at a cost of upwards of £10, 000; is in the decorated English style; comprises a nave of 80 feet by 24, with aisles, and a chancel of 42 feet by 22; includes a private mortuary chapel, erected at great cost additional to that of the church; is ornamented with coloured marbles and alabaster; and has a detached tower, with a spire 185 feet high. Heywood was the birthplace of Peter Heywood, the Lancashire magistrate who aided the discovery of the gunpowder treason; and Heywood Hall was the seat of that gentleman's family. Pop. of the town in 1851, 12, 194; in 1861, 12, 824. Houses, 2, 630.The chapelry is less extensive than the town, and was constituted in 1840. Pop., 9, 231. Houses, 1,843. The living is a rectory in the diocese of Manchester. Value, £400.* Patron, the Rector of Bury. See Heap. -The sub-district contains the chief part of Heap township, an uninhabited portion of Bury township, part of Pilsworth township, and the whole of Hopwood township, -the last two in Middleton parish. Pop., 17, 591. Houses, 3, 582.
A Vision of Britain through Time includes a large library of local statistics for administrative units. For the best overall sense of how the area containing Heywood has changed, please see our redistricted information for the modern district of Rochdale. More detailed statistical data are available under Units and statistics, which includes both administrative units covering Heywood and units named after it.
GB Historical GIS / University of Portsmouth, History of Heywood, in Rochdale and Lancashire | Map and description, A Vision of Britain through Time.
Date accessed: 23rd September 2014
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