You may have heard that, over the bank holiday, a speeding motorist ploughed into Audenshaw’s historic cattle trough and transformer pillar, doing immense damage to both. This needless damage to such an important Audenshaw landmark is, of course, very upsetting and thankfully Tameside Council have acted swiftly and will do what they can to restore the trough and pillar.
The strong feeling among local residents about the damage done is partly because of the importance of the trough and pillar as recognisable Audenshaw landmarks, but is also a good indicator of local heritage to communities. Historic England has recognised the historical importance of the trough and pillar with Grade II listed status. They are reminders of how we used to live – the trough was for use by cattle and horses that would still have been regular users of our roads when the trough was built in 1879, and the transformer served long-gone trams.
Our heritage sites aren’t just reminders of how we lived, but also how we worked. I was very proud back in 2014 to help secure Grade II listed status for a bow garret in Denton; a historic two-storey workshop associated with the town’s long hatting history. Our industrial history can easily disappear along with our industries, but I think it’s really important to understand how and why our towns grew when and where they did.
Then, of course, there are the beautiful historic sites like Ryecroft Hall or our many churches and chapels. These buildings make our communities more attractive and pleasant places to live regardless of their historic importance. In fact, I think without our unique heritage sites, there’d be a real danger that every town in the UK would look more or less the same, with the same combination of shops and very similar looking houses and office blocks.
Local heritage really matters and that’s why it’s so important that we protect it. I really hope that the council is able to salvage and repair Audenshaw’s trough and transformer and return them to their previous condition. I believe that if we lose our heritage sites, we lose something far more than just the sites themselves.