Rochdale revels in its new-found status ‘the Hemel Hempstead of the north’. Massively industrial and prosaic, this really is the place to come if you want a break from cosmopolitanism and Starbucks and shit like that.
Getting there and getting away
You can catch the bus to Rochdale from virtually anywhere in the North West.
When I visited Rochdale I got off the bus at a station that appeared to have been abandoned some years ago. Apart from some chips, a pitta bread and a string of red cabbage that had been trodden into the ground there were very few signs of human activity. I saw something called the Wheatsheaf shopping centre, which was closed and possibly defunct. Eventually a small boy emerged kicking a football against parked cars and walls. Spotting me in the distance he came closer. As he passed by he muttered the word “twat” and then ran away. I knew this was going to be the holiday of a lifetime.
Where to stay
Although located near a busy motorway, the Premier Inn is perhaps Rochdale’s most popular hotel. Rooms are tidy if not clean and the rattle of passing trucks is a comforting reminder you are in the industrial north of England.
One reviewer on Tripadvisor wrote this piece of advice to any potential guests “no bad points about the hotel except that the breakfast on the Sunday was poor. All the family had cooked breakfasts. The poached eggs were over cooked and the scrambled eggs were a solid pile.”
A small boy emerged kicking a football against parked cars and walls. Spotting me in the distance he came closer. As he passed by he muttered the word “twat” and then ran away. I knew this was going to be the holiday of a lifetime.
Where to eat
The KFC in Rochdale now offers a Halal version of their eclectic deep-fried menu. One wonders what Colonel Sanders would have made of it all.
Birch motorway services on the M62 has a cracking Burger King. The Whopper with onion rings remains a popular choice but for anyone on a budget I would thoroughly recommend the Bacon Double Cheeseburger meal with a large Sprite for just £4.79. Ideal for backpackers or students on a gap year.
A number of famous people hail from Rochdale including Lisa Stansfield, Bill Oddie, John Virgo, former Oldham player Earl Barrett and indie one hit wonders The Mock Turtles.
Although none of these people actually live in Rochdale anymore, their memory lives on in the hearts and minds of local people and their presence is felt in the streets of this grand old town.
When to go
Whatever time of year you visit Rochdale you’re guaranteed driving rain. Bring a cagoule and be prepared to stay indoors for the most part.
As well as the Rochdale Exchange shopping centre housing classics like Boots and H Samuel you will also find an assortment of DIY shops dotted around the outskirts of town. B&Q is the most reliable.
The Wheatsheaf boasts an extremely garish branch of Rymans the stationer.
It’s a shame Woolworths went bust. The Rochdale branch was the finest in East Lancashire.
Sightseeing and attractions
If you like canals there’s a bloody good one in Rochdale.
This is where Gordon Brown forgot to turn his mic off before calling that old lady a ‘bigoted woman’ in the 2010 election campaign.