A roundabout way of turning 100

HYDE’S iconic roundabout celebrated its 100th birthday in the only way it knows how – by treating users to a great ride.

Unique to the country in that it has always been owned by the same family, the centrepiece of the town’s marketplace reached three figures with a day of both celebration and memories.

Gordon Cooke, right, and Cllr Phil Chadwick at the 100-year-old roundabout

With parts of its structure still original from the one Jack Greaves set up in 1919 after suffering injuries fighting in World War One and featuring cars and buses that were made as far back as the 1940s and 1950s, the roundabout turned repeatedly on Saturday, July 6.

And Gordon Cooke Jnr, who currently runs the attraction and has done since 1991, toasted its achievement by re-installing the hand-cranking wheel that propelled it around for one day only.

He said: “It’s remarkable to have lasted this long.

“We don’t know the exact date it was set up, we just know it was in 1919, so we wanted to pick a summer’s day to have our celebration.

“But it’s unique to the country in that it’s been in the same family ever since it was set up by great-grandad Greaves.

“But even though a lot of it is original and some of the cars date back several years, it still works fine and gives a lot of enjoyment to the people that use it.

“Some of them are the children of people who went on it themselves, even grandchildren.”

Noah Lister

Jack Greaves, who came from Hyde, decided on setting up roundabouts in his home town as a means of bringing in an income having lost an eye and a limb fighting at Vimy Ridge in France with the Canadian Army.

This set of roundabouts had 12 horses hanging from rods and boats you sat in. Later he bought six peacocks.

Hyde market was originally only open on Saturdays but one week the weather was really nice and the owners wanted to open up the roundabout that Friday.

Then other stallholders joined in with a salad and fruit stall, a flower stall and Meschia’s ice cream setting up.

The market expanded and another set of roundabouts belonging to Seldons of Ashton was put at the opposite end, Barlows put swings on and Levaggis from Denton put another ice cream cart on.

Junior Coleman

And when the council, then known as the corporation, wanted to open the market on a Wednesday, they asked if they would start up again.

So technically, market days increasing were really down to them deciding to open on a sunny day.

For many years, it was not the only roundabout as they also owned another at Ashton Market before it was sold.

After being taken over by Gordon Cooke Snr, his son took on the structure, which was made by Halstead’s of Sowerby Bridge, West Yorkshire, in 1897, although as the 48-year-old admits, he was involved in it anyway, opening and closing it.

And Mr Cooke certainly has it easier than some of his predecessors as until the early 1970s it was powered by hand, being turned by cranking a large wheel in the middle.

The roundabout has survived one world war unscathed and when World War Two was declared on Sunday, September 3, 1939, it was decided there would be no music on the Monday, with some wondering if it would be because the Germans would be able to hear it from the skies.

While things have changed over the 100 years, including the position of the roundabout, which started approximately where it stands today, Mr Cooke Jnr admitted the biggest change has come since he took over the running.

He added: “The market has changed since the 1990s and, obviously, retail has too.

“As we all know, footfall has gone down because of various reasons, things like the Internet and people’s lifestyles.

“Not as many people visit the market now as they used to and as a result not as many are using the roundabout.

“Those who still do love it and families do but there are many more things for people to do these days.”

There have been incidents of vandalism in the past but as Mr Cooke put it: “Hyde’s not a bad place.”

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