History of Orange Order in Oldham 

Orangeism in Oldham

1800 - 1920

The first known Orange parade in the Manchester region took place on the 12th of July 1803 in Oldham.  The parade ended with a service in St Peter’s Church, where the curate, the Reverend William Winter, was a member of the Orange Order, and was a chaplain to the Volunteers. In his diary, William Rowbottom wrote:

‘12 July, 1803: The Orange Club held their 1st public meeting when the(y) whent [sic] to the Chapel attended by a band of music where the Reverent [sic] Mr. Winter one of the members preached a sermon on the occasion’. 

St Peter’s Church became known as ‘Winter’s Church’ because of the 42 years that the Reverend William Winter preached there.

St Peters Church, The Centre of Orangeism in Oldham
St. Peter's Church in Oldham

Oldham Orange Order In The 1830s

In 1830 the following lodges met in Oldham:

  • LOL 2 at the Dog and Duck, Eagle Street;
  • LOL 5 at the Stag’s Head, West Street;
  • LOL 15 at the Duke of York, Shaw Chapel;
  • LOL 17 at the Horse Shoe, Knot Lanes;
  • LOL 111 at the Wagon and Horses, Hollinwood;
  • LOL 191 at the Rope and Anchor;
  • LOL 244 at the Coach and Horses, Hollinwood. 


Edwin Butterworth of Oldham, wrote in his diary for the 12 July, 1834:

‘Orange Celebration. Saturday being the 12 July and the anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne, the Orangemen of the Lodge No. 2 held at the Dog Inn, Oldham partook of the normal festivities and spent a pleasing evening over an excellent dinner at which several loyal and patriotic toasts were prefaced by speeches that elicited loud applause. Brother John Whittaker of Lyon Mills presided, and Brother Jas. Davenport of Busk occupied the vice-chair. Amongst the toasts given were the King, Queen and all the Royal Family, His Royal Highness the Duke of Cumberland, the Land and Sea forces, Earl Roden and Major Watkins, three times three’.

Growth of The Oldham Orange Order in the 1850's

In the 1850s there was considerable growth in the Orange Order in Oldham. In 1851, the Worshipful Master of Kenyon LOL 111 said he ‘soon hoped to see the day when Cardinal Wiseman and his satellites would be kicked out of the kingdom’, and another lodge in Oldham described their anniversary meeting as ‘the most enthusiastic ever held’

By 1855 there were eleven lodges and in 1857 an Oldham Protestant Association was established based at St Peter’s Church.  In June 1861 there were anti-Catholic riots in the town, and by the mid-1860s the Orange Order was described as having ‘achieved a fair stranglehold over the colliery labour force’.
The following reports of Orange activity in Oldham in the 1850s, appeared in ‘The Orange and Protestant Banner’ magazine:

‘Oldham - The anniversary of the Colonel Taylor Lodge No 2 was celebrated on the 12th of July, when early in the morning the beautiful flag of the Lodge, with the glorious William on horseback, was floating in the breeze, and created great excitement in the town from its splendid appearance.  Dinner was on the table at seven o’clock, and great credit is due to Mrs Firth for the splendid manner in which it was served up.  The Most Worshipful Master, in his opening address, referred in an interesting speech to the progress of Orangeism in Oldham, and the length of time no 2 had been in existence.  The usual loyal toasts were the given: - The Bishops and Clergy of the Protestant Church, the Grand Master, by B Chadwick, with all due honours, Grand Sec. W Jones, esq. By George Valentine Redfern; Deputy Grand Secry, W Wood esq, by the WM of the Lodge; the Worshipful Master, by Edward Whittaker, in a most energetic and able speech; the Deputy Master, James Heald Esq, the unsuccessful candidate, by G V Redfern, with a round of Kentish fire; to the 753 who voted for James Heald, Esq.; the Mayor, John Clark Esq, which was received with applause. – During the evening a Bible was presented to the Worshipful Master, by a friend of the Lodge, and a request that a portion of it should be read at every meeting.  All the members received it with a token of gratitude.  The greatest harmony prevailed throughout’.

‘Oldham - The Orangemen of this district have celebrated the anniversary of the never-to-be-forgotten 12th of July in a very spirited manner.  The flags and banners of the various lodges in the district were to be seen floating gaily in the air in good time, on the morning of the 12th of July.  During the day, the members in connection with the several lodges partook of good and substantial dinners, provided by the respective hosts of the houses where the lodges are held, after which the Brethren enjoyed themselves by drinking their well-known loyal, constitutional, and Orange toasts, and separated highly delighted with the day’s proceedings’.

‘Oldham – The brethren of the lodge held at the Crown and Anchor Inn, held their regular monthly meeting on Monday 3rd instant.  After the transaction of lodge business, the brethren partook of suitable refreshments, after which Bros Mills, DM; Wood PGS, Price, Middleton; and Squire Auty, from Bradford, suitably addressed the members of the lodge, showing the position the Orange Institution now held with the new ministry, every member of the cabinet being its deadly opponent, from Lord Aberdeen, at its head, down to Keogh, the attorney-general for Ireland, one of the pope’s brass band, and warning the brethren to be ready at all times to defend their glorious and never-dying principles, let their assailants be who they may, or the attack come from whatever quarter.  After spending a pleasant evening together, the brethren separated’.

‘Greenacre’s Moor, near Oldham – A short time ago, the members of No 2 lodge of Grand Orangemen held a tea party at the house of Bro Edwin Firth, the Punch Bowl Inn, High Street, where they sat down to tea, with their wives and sweethearts.  The evening was spent in the best possible manner, and the party broke up highly gratified with the evening’s entertainment’.


In 1878 Oldham District no 22 was made up of seven lodges:

  • LOL 6 met at the Crown Hotel, Cheapside, Oldham;
  • LOL 11 met at the Crown and Anchor Inn, Henshaw Street, Oldham;
  • LOL 272 met at the Hen and Chickens Inn, Miles Street, Oldham,
  • LOL 417 met at the Church Inn, Lees,
  • LOL 536 met at the George Inn, High Street, Oldham;
  • LOL 537 also met at the George Inn;
  • LOL 564 met at the Bridgewater Hotel, Hollinwood. 

The District Master was Thomas Howarth of 123 Denton Lane, Cowhill, Oldham and the Deputy District Master was James Telson of 58 Prince Albert Street, Oldham.

In 1891, Oldham District was made up of six lodges:

  • LOL 6 met at North Chadderton Conservative Club;
  • LOL 11 met at the Swan Hotel, High Street, Oldham;
  • LOL 536 met at the Conservative Club, Glodwick Road, Oldham;
  • LOL 557 met at Christ Church School, Block Lane, Chadderton;
  • LOL 564 met at the Conservative Club, Stanley Road, Hollinwood;
  • LOL 574 was also part of the district. 

The District Master was Joseph Taylor of 83 Belmont Street, Oldham and the Deputy District Master was Herbert Carter of 1 John Street, Chadderton.

The Ulster Covenant Signing in Oldham - 1912

The Ulster Covenant Signing in Oldham
Anti-Home Rule Poster

In 1911 James Craig had spoken at an Anti-Home Rule meeting in Oldham.  On Ulster Day, 28 September 1912, the Ulster Covenant was signed in Oldham.  Among the hundreds who signed were Alderman Jason Thompson, the Provincial Grand Treasurer, who had been born in Enniskillen, and who was a member of an Oldham lodge, LOL 564.  The District Master of Oldham District, George Keast, who had been born in Newry, the district chaplain, Edward Brooks, born in Armagh, the district treasurer John Bladd, born in County Fermanagh, James Wardle the master of LOL 11, who had been born in Belfast, and Charles H Ashton, the secretary of LOL 564, who had also been born in Belfast; all signed the Covenant.

The Ulster Covenant Signing in Oldham


The First World War


Oldham War Memorial - Many of Oldham's Orangemen Died Serving King and Country in WW1
Oldham War Memorial

By the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, No 22 District had become the Oldham and Rochdale District, with four lodges:

  • Lord Kenyon LOL 11 met at St Peter’s Conservative Club, Cromwell Street, Oldham;
  • Earl of Enniskillen LOL 557 met at Christ Church School, Block Lane, Chadderton;
  • Lord Beaconsfield LOL 564 met at the Conservative Club, Stanley Road, Hollinwood;
  • LOL 488 met in Rochdale. 

The District Master was George Keast of 10 Oxford Street, Oldham and the Deputy District Master was Fred Tetlow of 126 Old Lane, Hollinwood.


Oldham Orangemen Serving King and Country

During the First World War four members of Lord Kenyon LOL 11 served with the colours.  George Keast and A N Colbourn served with the Manchester Regiment, Tom Briddock with the British Expeditionary Force, and J W Raynor with the Seaforth Highlanders.

Tom Briddock, Oldham Orangeman

Bro Sergeant J H Raynor, a member of Lord Beaconsfield LOL 564 Oldham, serving with the Gordon Highlanders was decorated twice.  In 1915 he was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal; which he received from His Majesty the King at Glasgow.  He was again honoured in 1916 when at a military parade at the Links, Aberdeen; he was presented with the Russian Cross of St. George by Leiutenant- Colonel Leith, garrison commander, for conspicuous gallantry and ability on 14 December 1914 at Zandvoorde, where he went to the assistance of wounded comrades who were lying within twenty yards of the enemy’s trenches under heavy fire.  He succeeded in rescuing one officer and one man, under great difficulties.


In 1916 James Thompson JP was elected as a Deputy Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of England.  A biographical sketch was published in the Orange Standard magazine: ‘Bro Thompson was born at Castle Coole, near Enniskillen, known in Irish record as ‘The Island Town’, and is descended from a good Orange stock.  He was initiated into the old Orange Association in 1867 through No 1 Lodge which met at the Pine Apple, Manchester, and later transferred to an Oldham Lodge No 564, where beginning as Tyler, he became Worshipful Master.  His offices in the Order included, District Secretary of Oldham, Deputy Provincial Grand Master and then Provincial Grand Master of the important Manchester Province, he is at present its Provincial Grand Treasurer.  Bro Thompson is a Red Cross Knight in the glorious Black Order and has filled many of its chief offices.  He presides at most of the R.A.P, Lodge meetings in the Manchester Province, and opened the new Orange Lodge No 557, in Christ Church Schools.


Bro. Jason Thompson

Bro. Jason
        Thompson JP 
Bro James Thompson JP

Bro Thompson was elected to the Oldham Town Council in 1898, and was re-elected twice without opposition, then came further recognition of his services by election as Alderman.  He retired in 1913, at the end of 15 years faithful work in this great English municipal body … Bro Thompson was made a justice of the peace in 1905, in recognition of his labours.  In Church life … a Warden of St James’ for some years, also Superintendent of one of the largest Sunday Schools in Oldham for the past 25 years …

An unwearied and loyal upholder of the Grand Old Orange Cause for now a long span of golden years, we trust there is still in store for him even greater opportunity of yeoman service for the principles he loves so well’.
The Oldham lodges do not appear to have survived the damage inflicted by the First World War, with the Grand Lodge reports for the 1920s showing no lodges remaining in Oldham.



If you would like to research and write historical articles about Orangism in Oldham, please get in touch or e-mail your articles to us at manchesterorange@yahoo.co.uk

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