It is always nice to be able to introduce you all to a new guest blogger. Possibly the nicest thing about the CFZ bloggo is that it is a living, breathing community, and new people arrive on a regular basis. I can't tell you anything about Liz, apart from the fact that she bought some books from us at Uncon, briefly spoke to Richard, and had a charmingly old-fashioned habit of referring to me as `Mr Downes`, when everyone else calls me `Jon` or `Hey You` (or somethimes something more scatological), until I told her not to. She is obviously one to watch...
Touchstones is a charming museum, art gallery and local studies centre in Rochdale, Lancashire. It contains a wonderful little café where they serve best peppermint tea I have ever tasted.
My favourite feature in the former Rochdale Central Library building, however, is a small unassuming white telephone tucked up a corner in the local history section. There are actually several of these and not one performs the function intended by Alexander Graham Bell but my favourite will dial up any one of a four local legends provided you press the right button.
According to the over-enthusiastic actress employed to record The Rochdale Goblins (the best of these stories, in my opinion), the people of Saxon Rochdale (or Recedham as it was then known) wanted a parish church on the bank of the river Roche. Plans were drawn up, builders employed and stone was cut.
The morning after the first day’s labour the worker’s returned to the construction site to find it bare. After hunting the surrounding area all day the materials were discovered at the top of a steep hill overlooking the river. Everything was slowly dragged back down to where it should have been and tired but relieved, everyone went home.
Next morning, though, same thing again: all stone and equipment vanished, again to be discovered at the top of the hill. These trials went on for some days until some bright spark suggested the local goblins, who must have been there first, didn’t want the Christian edifice on their land and were responsible for the disruption of the work. It was thus decided Rochdale should take the hint; the church was built on top of the hill overlooking the town and river, consecrated in honour of St. Chad and still stands there to this day; intact and still in use.
Since Touchstones itself is built on the bank of the Roche, though, one must assume that goblins have no objection to cultural centres; either that or they are as fond of peppermint tea as I am.