Denshaw is a small village standing independently at the northern edge of Saddleworth, at the source of the River Tame and its valley. The area is considered by many people to be the gateway to Saddleworth’s moorland beauty. Denshaw developed around the junction of several turnpike and former packhorse routes, and was originally referred to as Junction by its residents. This use of the name Junction appears to have come about shortly after the completion of the turnpike roads running through the village in the early 1800s.
It is more than likely that it was the construction of these original turnpike roads to form the junction that lent its name to this part of the village – and not the Junction Inn – which was built about 1806, by James Milnes junior, in anticipation of the trade of the new Rochdale to Huddersfield turnpike would bring.
The name Junction continued to be used by locals until the mid twentieth century, when it eventually gave way to the much older and more popular name of Denshaw. At one time there used to be a Junction Co-operative store in the village and there is still a Junction House, which stands on the corner of the Halifax and Huddersfield roads.
Previously, Denshaw only referred to the old part of the village just past Christ Church on the Huddersfield road around Denshaw Fold, as this was the original site of settlement around 1526 when four members of the Gartside family lived there. Denshaw School was built in 1824 by public subscription, but Christ Church with which it is now associated was not consecrated until 1863. Henry Gartside, who lived at Wharmton Tower in Greenfield, built the church. He was the brother of John Gartside the founder of Gartside’s Brewery.
The Gartside family, claim to be descendants of Roger Gartside, who with Arthur Assheton purchased Friarmere from Henry VIII after the dissolution of Roche Abbey in the 16th Century. The division deeds allocated the Denshaw Valley, to Roger Gartside, and the Castleshaw Valley, to Arthur Assheton.
Denshaw, therefore, is part of the Old Friarmere division of Saddleworth, the other meres being Shawmere, Lordsmere and Quickmere. In the old days Denshaw Valley was known as the Dark Side of the division and Castleshaw Valley as the Light Side.
The main industry in the village throughout most of the nineteenth and the early part of the twentieth centuries was calico printing, carried out at the Denshaw Vale Print Works. The business was started by Edmund Butterworth in the 1840s and continued up to the 1940s by his sons James and John Butterworth.
It was John Butterworth who built Junction House and it has been suggested that the Printers Arms (originally called the Coach and Horses) takes it name from the activities carried out at the Denshaw Vale Mill.
Many thanks to David Needham for his interesting historical records.