• Modernism was the new beautiful in ’60s Oldham

  • Smoking Chimneys were once the new beautiful in Oldham

  • Is the tram the new beautiful?

  • Gauging the beautiful erratic

  • Taking the measure of Oldham

  • Oldham: Home of the tubular bandage

  • History building futures / Futures building history

  • Oldham is pioneer country, it always has been

  • Broadcasting things you just wouldn’t believe about Oldham



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  • JacksjPaton

    Was Alda the Viking the original Oldham pioneer ?

    The place we now call Oldham, has had many names, but has evolved to have different pronunciations and spellings.

  • JacksjPaton

    Mathematician James Wolfenden (b.
    1754) joined his family business as a hand loom weaver after only
    attending school for one week, in spite of this James managed to teach himself
    extremely complicated calculus. He was the first mathematician to calculate an
    accurate tide prediction table for liverpool docks ( which was a famously
    complex calculation), incredibly without ever visiting Liverpool, and infact
    without even ever seeing the sea. This was a hundred years before Lord
    Kelvin’s celebrated tide predicting machine. He got paid 5 pounds for his work
    and Liverpool offered him £300 per year to come and work for them, but he felt
    he would rather stay put in Oldham as a hand weaver. I have attached an image of kelvins tide predicting machine to show the complexity of such a calculation.

    • GalleryOldham

      Amazing achievement for a self-taught man. You can see the death mask of James Wolfenden in our Oldham Stories exhibition. He is buried at St Margaret’s Church in Hollinwood.

      • JacksjPaton

        Thankyou, On his headstone apparently reads

        “Where rest the ashes
        of the honoured dead, But must we not say all honour to such a man.”

      • Danny Fitton

        Just wondering, do you have any information on a wife and children of James wolfenden? I am researching my family tree and I have possibly his grandson Being my 2nd great grandfather making him my 4th great grand father.

  • JacksjPaton

    Maybe the first Oldham
    pioneer came much earlier, in fact thousands of years earlier. Oldham has
    evidence of primitive Neolithic man in the shape of flint knapped arrowheads, Oldham’s oldest technology. A number have been found in the area, some dating to
    the bronze age and some even thought to have been carved up to 7 thousand
    years ago. Perhaps the person that sculpted it is the true first Oldham

  • JacksjPaton

    The Romans set up a substantial fort in Oldham at Castleshaw in AD 79, thought to be at the site of an ancient celtic settlement. What must it have been like to be a citizen plucked from mediterranean
    Italy and dropped in Oldham in this incredible landscape to build and man the fort? It must have felt like Frontier country. They abandoned the fort in AD95 only 16 years after they built it. They had another bash in AD105 and that time the Roman’s lasted 20 years.

  • JacksjPaton

    Oldham, or sometimes called OWLdham, is synonymous with the owl, It appears in imagery all over the borough most famously on the coat of arms. It is perhaps then unsurprising that the Oldham Microscopical society’s publication sports an illustration of an owl on the front. What is surprising however is the species of owl and the publications name “ athene.” Athene in Greek mythology is the goddess of wisdom, and is often either depicted as ,or accompanied by, a little owl. This has led to the common association of wisdom
    and the owl. Oldhams most common owl is not infact the owl represented on the
    coat arms, (which looks more like a horned owl of some sort), but instead is a
    little owl named Athene noctua vidalii, ofcourse named after athene’s wise friend. Oldham’s motto “Sapere Aude” meaning “Dare to be wise” never felt so fitting.

    • Patricia

      There are owls a-plenty in the Oldham Stories exhibition at Gallery Oldham…as taxidermy specimens, in paintings, in Oldham’s coat-of-arms, in photographs…there is even an Owl Trail to follow!