The building at 8 Church Lane was built in about 1783 to service the new Turnpike road that was being created by the Turnpike Act 1734 as a route between Manchester and Huddersfield.
Church Lane is recognised by archaeologists as a prehistoric road being a highway that goes back before the days of the Romans and the road that is probably exactly as old as human life in this corner of England.
A Victorian report stated “the Briton did not make his road, he chose it; he picked his way from ford to ford, avoiding mud, following as far as possible the hard outcrops of rock or gravel, climbing over the summits of the hills rather than following the valleys with their marshes and dense woods inhabited by wild animals. The ancient road therefore always went over the top of the hill. There was one invariable rule; whenever the ancient track climbed the hill, it always passes to the south of the Parish Church, as it does in Oldham today.”
The commentator went on to say “We are pretty well informed as to the route of the main highway through Oldham across the Pennines. In a few words, after meandering from Hathershaw, via Water Street, Market Place, Church Lane, Bow Street, Walshaw Place, Cross Street it went on through Hey to Yorkshire.
The building at 8 Church Lane is the last of the buildings constructed in the 18th Century and is possibly the oldest building in Oldham Town Centre. The turnpike road was the original form of toll road and would have had a turnpike gate at is commencement at what is now Yorkshire Street. A turnpike gate was a large gate which revolved on a spike and after the individual had paid his penny to use the turnpike the gate would revolve on the spike allowing access to the newly created turnpike road.
The Mellor & Jackson logo, although missing the turning handle of the middle spike, is therefore a turnpike gate harking back to the ancient history of Church Lane and particularly the building that was constructed to service this new innovative road.
The archives of Oldham show that a public house, the Coach & Horses was also built for the turnpike and was located at 3 Church Lane but it closed in 1920 and was demolished in July 1931 to make way for Lord Street.
In 1805 Church Lane became a cul-de-sac following the extension of the Churchyard. The narrow passage between the buildings on Church Lane and Church Terrace was named Winter’s Court after the reverend William Winter who had been curate of the old St. Peter’s Chapel and who had lived at the Parson’s rooms on Church Lane.
The offices of 8 Church Lane pre-date both the current Parish Church and the old County Court building on the opposite side (now the Salt Cellar). It was however the construction of the County Court building that caused Church Lane to be the centre of legal Oldham throughout Victorian times. The Oldham archive names dozens of Solicitors and Attorneys who occupied the old offices on either side of Church Lane.
Mellor & Jackson is one of the oldest firms in Oldham and is the only one to have occupied the same premises for almost 100 years.