Middleton is an ancient market town and parish gaining its market charter in 1791. In the late 18th Century Middleton was a village with 20 houses, and yet it boasted a Grammar School. Like many other villages & towns in the area, the 1780's began to see a growth in population & trade. Middleton was a centre for silk manufacturing at that time.
Silk weaving was still described as the chief trade in 1901, alongside a fast growing cotton trade, with its calico printing, bleaching & dying. Middleton handloom weavers were depicted by the artist Frederick W Jackson. Other allied trades included iron foundries, engineering, soap manufacture and chemical production. As with other towns, the increase in population and industry led to rapid urbanisation with a concurrent depletion of countryside. Alongside the industrial growth and the increasing population came unrest and radical politics. Middleton had Luddite riots and was the home of the Radical writer, Sam Bamford.
The people of Middleton, like their neighbours in the surrounding areas, celebrated the local traditions of the Pace Egg and Rushbearing. Sam Bamford, in his autobiography 'Early Days' in 1848, wrote about the Rushbearing in the chapter on 'The Wakes.'
The Middleton arena, winner of the ‘Places for People’ design award, offers first class entertainment and sports facilities, with big name comedians regularly making appearances. And the annual Christmas panto is a must for family fun. Middleton is also Noted for its historic buildings celebrated today as ‘Middleton’s Golden Cluster’. These include St Leonard’s Parish Church erected in 1412 by Cardinal Langley, Queen Elizabeth Free Grammar School, Ye Olde Boar’s Head and the Edgar Wood Centre/Long Street Methodist Church. Middleton is well worth a visit.