Discover history at Northern Roots

Oldham is steeped in history. A history of Vikings, fossil forests, steel smelting and social activism. The  160-acre Northern Roots site is no exception. From Roman roads and Victorian railways, to Pony Club events and sheep dog trials, the Northern Roots site is full of history – and memories.

Listen to the Northern Roots history podcast to discover stories, events and characters connected to the Northern Roots site and its immediate surroundings.  This mini-series was created for us by podcaster Ashleigh Cartwright.

The Beautiful Oldham Society

This year marks 120 years since pioneering social reformer and Oldham resident Mary Higgs founded the Beautiful Oldham Society.

By the mid 19th century, Oldham was the cotton-spinning centre of the world, its skyline dominated by the smoke and mills of the Industrial Revolution. Mary wanted to improve the environment, so in 1901 she wrote to the Oldham Chronicle asking, ‘Beautiful Oldham – why not?’

Mary founded The Beautiful Oldham Society in 1902. The Society encouraged local children to plant flowers, residents to grow and garden, and businesses to plant trees. Children from the Junior Beautiful Oldham Society attended events on Snipe Clough, part of today’s Northern Roots site.

Inspired by Mary’s words, and the vision for Northern Roots, University of Salford MA Digital Video & Marketing student Charlotte Kendall worked with children at Holy Cross Primary School in Oldham to create this celebratory short film.


The formidable Mary Higgs, social reformer and founder of the Beautiful Oldham Society.