There is no doubt that the most famous person produced by Rochdale was the one and only Gracie Fields — but there are many others which spring into the minds of those who love Lancashire as much as I do.
There is Edwin Waugh, often called the Lancashire Burns.
A well was dedicated to his memory in 1866. Aanother dialect poet was Tom Collier, who wrote under the pen name of Tim Bobbin.
He often toured Lancashire painting inn signs and selling copies of his poems.
He needed to work hard because he drank a lot of beer.
He kept sober often enough to serve as a schoolmaster in Rochdale from 1739 until his death in 1786.The beer must have done him good.
Tim Bobbin is still remembered as a pub on Padiham Road in the Igtenhill area of Burnley.
Another local connection is a Rochdale lad called James Kay.
He founded the first teacher training college in England, St Mark’s in Chelsea.
He married the heiress of the Shuttleworth family and the couple made their home in Padiham in Victorian times and Charlotte Bronte frequently visited them in Gawthorpe Hall.
From the bus station turn right along south parade until you approach a roundabout.
Turn left on to Packer Street and find the town hall on the right.
This is the place for a long stop because few buildings in Lancashire are imposing as this one and it deserves to be grade 1 listed.
It was completed in 1877 and built from the tough-wearing local gritstone.
It was designed by WH Crossland, who faithfully followed the gothic style.
The frontage stretches from 264 feet ( 80 meters) while inside is a hammer beam roof and a fresco painted by Henry Holiday depicting King John signing the Magna Carter in 1215.
As a building the town hall is open each weekday and on the last Friday of each month there is a guided tour of the building, for which a charge is made.
From the town hall continue along Parker Street until you reach the gardens surrounding the church.
St Chad’s church is dedicated to the life of the 7th century said who was the bishop of Lichfield, from which was governed the area which eventually became Lancashire.
Although the church was enlarged and altered thanks to a supply of cash generated by cotton, there is evidence of a church perhaps dating back to St Chad.
Thereis also lots of Norman influence to be seen.
Take time to get some air into your lungs before climbing 122 steps leading up to the church which is open in the summer afternoons on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
The west window is graced by stained glass which is the work of Edward Byrne Jones and William Morris.
From the church follow Vicars Gate to meet the Esplanade. To the left is the tourist information centre but this trail turns sharp right.
The Esplanade is colourful with flowers and beneath you is the river Roch; Roch Bridge is said to be the widest in the world but whether this is true or not, it is certainly an impressive span.
Continue towards the roundabout.
To the left are more gardens and an impressive town centre shopping area.
Continue straight ahead along Yorkshire Street and turn left along a narrow alley.
This is the Baum.
Continue to the junction with Hunters Lane and turn left. When you reach Toad Lane turn sharp right for a look at retail history.
Explore the Toad Lane museum which marks the spot where Co-operative trading began in 1844.
This was due to the efforts of the Rochdale Equitable Pioneers Society, who were angry at millowners who had their own shops and forced their workers to buy second rate goods at inflated prices.
They set up in opposition and the Co-Op idea soon spread.
From the museum retrace the route to the Baum and turn left and then on to Yorkshire Street.
Turn right on to Baillie Street and return to the bus station.