One Seven Five: An Incomplete History of Oldham in 175 Objects

This year marks the 175th anniversary of our borough – and we are unveiling a free fantastic exhibition at Gallery Oldham to celebrate.

Staff from Oldham Council’s Heritage, Libraries & Arts Service and members of the public have worked together to select some of their favourite objects and stories from 1849 onwards.

The exhibition opens on June 15 and runs until January 11.

We will take a look at some of the successes, stories and changes that have occurred since the borough was founded and focus on some of the people who have been at the forefront of them.

Residents have kindly lent us some interesting objects and they cover a wide and varied range of subjects.

Peggy came from Barbados in 1958 to train as a nurse and has loaned us the suitcase she brought with her on the ship across the Atlantic.

Matt from Oldham Athletic Supporters Foundation has let us borrow his precious flag that he took as boy to the Littlewoods Cup Final at Wembley in 1990. Matt said: “This flag holds a lot of memories for me. I remember the pride I felt waving it on the streets of Oldham and on the terrace in the old Wembley stadium – our town, our team was the focus of the nation – it was brilliant. I always loved the design work too it was and still is extremely cool!”

We will also be showcasing some of the pioneers which Oldham has produced, including hang-gliding icon Len Gabriels, Olympic hero Henry Taylor and Dame Sarah Lees, one of the country’s first female mayors.

The exhibition also looks at the work of social reformer Mary Higgs and the legacy of her Beautiful Oldham Society. Visitors will be invited to make their own Beautiful Oldham pledge, just like society members were doing 100 years ago.

And let’s not forget Oldham’s contribution to the arts and culture, past and present. An item from the heyday of Indie legends Inspiral Carpets will be just one of the many pieces on show marking the town’s musical roots.

The Mayor of Oldham, Cllr Zahid Chauhan, said:

“Oldham has a proud and glorious past and I’m delighted we are holding this exhibition to mark the 175th anniversary.

“What makes our town great is its people.

“I’d like to thank those who have got involved and loaned us items that are close to their hearts.

“They’ve helped us pull together a display that showcases items from everyday life through to pieces that have put Oldham on the map nationally and internationally. It’s only right these stories and successes get the recognition they deserve.”

Throughout the exhibition’s run there will be hands-on activities for younger visitors and a programme of talks and tours:

  • Wednesday 19 June, 2pm Take a close-up look at a selection of the objects and stories in the exhibition, with some of the people who choose them.
  • Saturday 22 June, Audio-described exhibition talk, 11am BSL signed talk, 2pm Beautiful Oldham Society and Northern Roots
  • Wednesday 17 July, 2pm Explore the history of the Beautiful Oldham Society and Northern Roots.
  • Wednesday 11 September, 2pm To celebrate Oldham Histories Festival, take a step into Oldham’s past and discover how power was brought to Oldham in Networks of Power.

All talks are free and booking is not required.

For more information about the Oldham 175 Celebrations, visit www.oldham.gov.uk/Oldham175 and get involved. 

Oldham 175



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