Rochdale celebrated in style on Saturday as the official re-opening of the River Roch regeneration project was marked with circus acts, storytelling, dance performances and more.
The £5m project – part of Rochdale Borough Council’s wider £250m town centre regeneration programme – has revealed the river and its historic bridges for the first time in almost 100 years.
Visitors went back in time as Victorian-themed stalls, fairground rides, face painting and entertainment kept the crowds of people entertained.
Can’t Dance Can, Skylight Circus, the Carers’ Choir, Wardle Junior Blast brass band, and the M6 Theatre put on performances inspired by the river and Rochdale’s history.
Guests included Alice Nicholson, 101, who has lived through 24 prime ministers and four monarchs and remembers the river being covered for the first time. She said: “I really enjoyed the event and didn’t expect to see so many people. I remember when the river was being covered over the first time and it’s strange seeing it open again. They’ve made it look lovely and it’s a big improvement. I’m really proud of Rochdale.”
Council Leader, Councillor Richard Farnell, said: “The picture tells the story, and the stunning architecture and finish of the river and bridge is clear for all to see. This whole regeneration programme is about making things better for our residents and visitors, so it’s entirely fitting that they came out in droves to enjoy the celebrations. It was a great turnout and wonderful atmosphere and it makes me feel really proud of our borough.”
Member of Youth Parliament, Tabitha Rusden, 16, said: “Some people were negative about the river being re-opened, but now it’s complete, people can see for themselves how great it looks. The regeneration has made the town centre more impressive and welcoming. I think the future’s very bright for Rochdale.”
Resident Paul Martin, who brought his 21-month-old daughter Lilly along, said: “It was a great family day out. The river looked really nice and it’s opened up the town centre.”
Representatives from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Environment Agency, who helped fund the project, joined in the celebrations.