Whats in a name? Well, quite a lot if you live in Affetside. Here is a village which has been through at least a dozen name changes since the 16th century — Avesyde, Haffetside, Affaitsyde, Offyside, Affetsid, among them. And after all this confusion the village has reverted back to its original name which made its documented debut in 1504.
This identity crisis wasn’t helped by the fact that the village was divided between two boundaries, with local councils arguing for years about who was responsible for the area. Now, thankfully, Affetside has a permanent name and hopefully a permanent local government home. Bury Council now officially administers it.
The name Affetside is said to be based on the old English word ‘ofer’ meaning border or boundary and ‘side’ or ‘site’, meaning hillside, and Affetside is the only place in England with this name. The literal translation of Affetside is the ‘boundary on the hill’, which seems appropriate as the hamlet at its highest point is 900 ft above sea level, was once torn between two boroughs, and as the old joke goes, “half o’side in Bolton and half o’side in Bury“.
Water lilies in the Village pond Affetside baa- lamb The Pack Horse Pub
A village known more for its boundaries than its benefits, Affetside would seem an unlikely candidate for survival. Yet like its name it has battled through. Now the village has entered a new chapter because in 1991 it was given over to Bury MBC. A move which reflects the village’s community spirit. Such a change may at first seem unimportant but the villagers know only too well what problems can occur from being split between two boroughs. No doubt they hope that any problems which arise in the future will be solved far quicker, because “Affetsiders” remember a number of instances where the rival boroughs argued over just whose problem those problems were. One example of this was the village’s struggle for proper water facilities. Until the 1974 most of Affetside was without piped water and a decent sewerage system and this was partly the fault of the two Councils who could not decide whose responsibility it was to provide it.
Affetside is a beautiful and peaceful village situated on the old Roman road which stretches from Manchester to Ribchester with the main street being called Watling Street. The route running north east to Rossendale on the Tottington side is referred to as ‘Tom Nook’, and also as ‘Black Lane’ in many documents, and was mentioned in the court rolls of 1531. The route to the west and Bradshaw was via ‘Slack Lane’. All routes did once meet directly at the cross, but Slack Lane was diverted near to Watling Street before 1840. The route fell into disuse after the turnpike improvements and the deep hollow marking the lane later in-filled. The village itself did not really develop until the 1700’s, when the growing packhorse movement saw the provision of ample grazing, two blacksmiths and at least three inns. Today one of those inns, the aptly named ‘Pack Horse Inn’ is still serving drinks to tired travellers. Built in 1443 the pub stands on the highest part of the hill. Now owned by Hydes of Manchester and with recent modernisation carried out some relics of the past do remain, for example the gruesome skull which keeps its hollow eyes on drinkers from its place on the bar; contrary to popular myth it is the skull of an executioner, not a ‘regular’ who tried to put too many on his slate.