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Sid Fletchers Blog


Ashfield Valley Flats Rochdale

Posted on 18 September, 2014 at 16:53 Comments comments (0)
                           ASHFIELD VALLEY FLATS ROCHDALE    
Like many other estates built by local authorities to meet an increased housing demand back in the heady 1960s, the design ethic of Ashfield Valley was heavily influenced by French architect Le Corbusier and his utopian notion of "Streets in the Sky" - where deck access blocks of tenancies, interconnected by walkways would substitute and mimic traditional terraced streets- the idea being that community spirit and identity would be maintained and embraced - an aspect of life that traditional tower blocks were starting to become criticised for lacking;

 For its time Ashfield Valley was an ambitious project  - 1014  flats divided into 26 alphabetically named blocks. The cost for the initial build  was £3,100,00: Cruden  emp
loyed the Scandanavian industrialised building system known as "Skarne" utilising pre cast concrete slabs:
The estate  became known locally as "The Valley"

The flats went up;  becoming available  50 tenancies at a time which were readily snapped up , the building of the estate was completed in 1969 . ...unfortunately the facilities and amenities that are essentially required to service the needs of over 1000 tenancies didn't follow and the project rapidly fell in somewhat of a decline - the estate started to become scapegoated by most Rochdalians .   The Valley was viewed as a dumping ground. This perception was strongly reflected in the local media at the time and even years after its demolition (see Article)  the myth of the lawlessness of the Valley lived on



 Despite some attempts to improve it that were deemed as too little too late, a strong community spirit and hints of a distinct counterculture developing -The death knell for the Valley was inevitable and  the bulldozers moved in - essentially it had become Rochdale's ghetto and to most people who'd probably never ever been to the place, a symbol of all the failings of post war governments 

The 3 smallest blocks of the Valley (J, K and L) remain - they have since been renamed

I never actually lived on the Valley; ironically despite the local myth that "anybody could get a flat on the "Valley"  - the council refused me a transfer there!-  but  I spent at lot of time in the flats in the years towards its demise and during the start of its demolition ( Urbexing years before  it was trendy eh!)  - its abundantly   clear from comments on  its FaceBook page that despite its many problems a great number of people enjoyed their life on the Valley;  and look back on it with fond memories

There have been several documentaries and books written about the Valley 
Xanadu" by Simon Armitage
"Rule of night" by Trevor Hoyle  think ClockworkOrange rochdale styley
Housing documentary  Granada 1977
"Heroin- the local connection" 
TV Eye 1984"The English Estate"  film made by community group approx 1986 
"Hardcore Valley"  Granada TV  1990  on YouTube

Hardcore Valley Part 1 - Ashfield Valley Flats, Rochdale Greater Manchester.Granada TV documentary made during the demolition of the infamous Ashfield Valley estate, Rochdale. early 1990s


- Xanadu (Part 1) by Simon Armitage -Ashfield Valley Flats , RochdaleBBC Words on film programme featuring poetry by Simon Armitage- influenced by his work as a probation officer on the Ashfield VAlley estate Rochdale