OL4 (Oldham) area guide
The OL4 postcode district lies within or includes part of the following towns, counties, localities, electoral wards and stations: Alexandra, Austerlands, Grasscroft, Grotton, Lees, Lydgate, Oldham, Saddleworth North, Saddleworth South, Saddleworth West and Lees, Scouthead, Shaw, Springhead, St James', St Mary's, Waterhead.
The history of Oldham begins with its first permanent dwelling, established by Danish invaders at what they called Aldehulme. As time passed, the area was nothing more than a scarce settlement that was along the path from Manchester to York.
The transformation of Oldham and the dramatic change in the town’s history is due to the Industrial Revolution. There is perhaps no other town in which the Industrial Revolution had a greater impact. Prior to industrialisation, the town was a small village that used its poor agrarian land for grazing sheep, which produced the raw material for a woollen weaving trade. However, the sweeping changes that began in the last quarter of the 18th century changed Oldham entirely. The first mill was built in 1778 by William Clegg and this was the beginning of the urbanisation and socioeconomic change. Soon afterward, more and more mills were being constructed and by 1794, the town had its first steam engine. This fast-paced urbanisation led to a dramatic rise in the town’s population—an increase of nearly 95,000 people in a hundred year span. The town was the world’s manufacturing centre for cotton spinning in the second half of the 19th century and over 30 per cent of the town’s labour force worked in the textile sector. The town would reach its peak of manufacturing in 1928, when the world’s largest textile factory was constructed. The town would continue to be the centre of cotton spinning until 1964, but the industry would take a steep decline shortly thereafter.
The extensive textile industry that developed in Oldham facilitated the structural and mechanical engineering sectors that formulated in the town. Oldham’s social history is marked for many politicised civil disturbances as well as events related to working class movements. The 2001 Oldham Race Riots were the centre of national and international news as high-profile race conflicts occurred over three days throughout the town.
The local population consists broadly of working class individuals, with the middle classes tending to live in outlying settlements. There is a high level of people of South Asian heritage compared to national averages, consistent with the town’s history of having a high number of migrant workers. Although employment from factories still maintains a stable presence in the town’s economy, the once thriving industrialised town now has an economy dependent on publishing, healthcare, shopping, and food processing.
There are areas in Oldham that are notorious for being quite rough and that have high crime rates compared to national averages. Some of these neighbourhoods and areas include Glodwick, Fitton Hill, and Sholver.
The population of postcode district OL4 is about 42,000, while the entire population of the city of Oldham is a little over 100,000. With a median age of 35, the town of Oldham consists primarily of younger workers when compared nationally. The most common type of housing available in Oldham is terrace, which makes up nearly 59 per cent of the housing stock. The average house price is below the national average.
One of the most expensive streets to live on is Oaklands Road, where a handful of large detached homes with substantial gardens are priced at around £500,000. Four bedroom detached homes on Carr Lea are located near a primary school and the average price is similar to that of Oaklands Road. More affordable housing can be found on Ridley Street, where semi-detached homes are worth about £30,000. Located close to two supermarkets and an abundance of local schools is Salford Street. Terraced housing on this street has an average price of £50,000.
The closest airport to Oldham is the Manchester International Airport located about 30-45 minutes away. There are two train stations in Oldham, along with a local bus system that allows for easy transportation around the town. Sights and attractions in Oldham include the Oldham Coliseum, a theatre that is known for ambitious productions and regular appearances from well known actors.
A few of the public parks in Oldham include Alexandra Park, Tandle Hill, and Waterhead Park off of Peach Road. All of these parks serve as excellent spots for a break away from the town and a link into the countryside.
The two main shopping centres in Oldham are the Town Square Shopping Centre and The Spindles. Other stores are situated on High Street and there is also Tommyfield’s Market, a time-honoured and traditional market that has been going on for over 140 years. Although there are pubs and bars scattered throughout Oldham, the majority of the most popular ones can be found on Yorkshire Street.