September 2017
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Women picking tea on an estate near Srimangal, the town at the centre of Sylhet’s large tea industry.
Photo by Tim Smith.
Part of the exhibition River of Tea: From Bengal to Britain.

A new exhibition is coming to Oldham, telling the untold story of how our love for a cup of tea has helped shape our towns and cities today.

Gallery Oldham’s latest exhibition opens on 16 September. River Of Tea – From Bengal To Britain is an exhibition of photographs by Tim Smith.

Tea enjoys a special place in British culture and the industry has played a key role in our history. Behind Britain’s cup of choice is a fascinating story that is rarely told; how the early tea trade sparked a migration that has helped to shape our towns and cities.

Tim Smith is a photographer based in Bradford and for over 35 years he has worked with a range of communities to explore issues of migration and identity.

For this new exhibition he has worked with the Bangladeshi community in Oldham and other British towns to explore the story of how the tea trade built early links between Britain, India and Bangladesh.

Over 500,000 British-Bangladeshis now live in Britain. Over 90 per cent are of Sylheti origin, from a region in Bengal that was once part of Assam Province in British India. Sylhet now lies in northern Bangladesh, just south of India’s Assam State.

The connections between Sylhet and Britain were forged when the British established tea plantations in Assam in the 1830s. They relied on river transport to get the tea from plantations to the port of Calcutta for export.

It was the Sylhetis, master sailors and boat builders, who first provided this transport. Sylheti sailors then joined ships bringing the tea to Britain, and some of these sailors then found work ashore in Britain. It was these pioneers who laid the foundations of the communities of today.

This exhibition explores the history of Sylhet and Bangladesh, focusing on the region’s

Women grading tea at the Tezpore and Gogra Tea Estate in Assam. The estate is owned by McLoed Russel, the world’s largest tea producing company. During the 1800s the British discovered Assamese people making a drink from a wild plant, which proved to be a variety of tea. India’s first tea estates were established in Assam, a region which has since become the world’s largest producer of tea.
Photo by Tim Smith.
Part of the exhibition River of Tea: From Bengal to Britain.

links with Britain and the impact these have had on people and places in Bangladesh.

Tim said: “Drinking tea is such an important part of British, Indian and Bangladeshi culture, yet the story of how tea arrived in Britain and the people it brought with it is rarely told.

“It was a real privilege for me to be able to retrace this journey. I photographed life along the rivers and in the tea estates of India and Bangladesh, in the bustling cities of Dhaka and Calcutta, and in Sylhet itself where I met loads of people from all over Britain.

“Although it was a personal journey it was one guided by many British Bangladeshis, who suggested where to go and who to meet. Everywhere I went I encountered extraordinary help and hospitality from local people.”

Cllr Barbara Brownridge, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods and Co-operatives, said: “We all love a cup of tea but most of us probably never stop to think about where it comes from and what impact it has had on our country.

“This really is a fascinating story about how our love of tea helped shape the communities we have today.”

River of Tea opens on 16 September and runs until 6 January. After this launch in Oldham the show will tour to several other venues around the UK. The exhibition is supported with funding from Arts Council England.

Join Tim Smith for a talk in the exhibition on 20 September at 2pm.

Man smelling the quality of tea on the Monabarie Tea Estate in Assam. Owned by McLoed Russel this is the largest tea estate in Asia. During the 1800s the British discovered Assamese people making a drink from a wild plant, which proved to be a variety of tea. India’s first tea estates were established in Assam, a region which has since become the world’s largest producer of tea.
Photo by Tim Smith.
Part of the exhibition River of Tea: From Bengal to Britain.


More than 500 job-related opportunities will be on show to Oldham residents as the annual Get Oldham Working (GOW) Festival of Work event returns.

With a wide-range of jobs, apprenticeships and work experience openings on offer from various employers across Oldham and beyond, this is a great chance for residents to present their CVs to someone who could turn out to be their next boss.

So whether you are job hunting for the first time, looking for a return to work, or you are searching for the next step in your career, this event is open to everyone and it’s free to attend – just turn up on the day, no booking is required.

The day runs from 10am until 2pm on Thursday, September 21 at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Oldham, OL1 1QJ, with parking available just outside the venue and Metrolink’s Oldham King Street stop only a two to three minute walk away.

Staff from the GOW team will be available on the day to advise you about jobs, careers and access to training across a wide range of sectors within the borough. There will also be plenty of space for you to complete any job applications that you pick up on the day, with additional support on hand in case you get stuck with any questions.

Spindles Town Square Shopping Centre and Yodel will be among the employers offering opportunities in retail and HGV driving respectively.

There will also be positions available in the care, construction, metalwork and security industries; office, customer service and administration roles and other driving and warehouse opportunities, among others.

This event comes as Oldham Council has recently been nominated for the ‘Supporting People into Employment Award’ as part of Greater Manchester’s 2017 Skills for Business Awards. Award winners will be announced on Thursday, November 30 at The Point, Emirates Old Trafford.

Councillor Shoab Akhtar, Cabinet Member for Employment and Skills, said: “Year after year, these events have proved to be an extraordinary success.

“With residents having gone on to work for employers such as Greater Manchester Police and First Manchester through our Festival of Work, I strongly encourage you to attend if you are looking for a new career opportunity.”

Mike Flanagan, Spindles Town Square Shopping Centre Manager, said: “Spindles Town Square is the heart of the retail community across Oldham and it is the place to be for shoppers across the borough and beyond.

“With a warm and welcoming environment around our centre, Spindles Town Square wouldn’t be what it is today without a fantastic team behind it that makes every shopper’s trip, one to remember.

“So if you want to be a part of our team, we look forward to seeing you at the upcoming Festival of Work.”

 Darren Walker, head of recruitment at Yodel, said: “Yodel is looking to recruit around 200 people in the Greater Manchester area over the next three months as we gear up for our busiest time of year ahead of Black Friday and Christmas. We look forward to participating at Get Oldham Working’s Festival of Work, and hope to see many local residents on the day to talk about working for Yodel.”

Make sure you follow the Get Oldham Working team via social media in the build-up to the Festival of Work event. Facebook: Get Oldham Working and Twitter: @EmployOldham

If you cannot attend on the day it’s now even easier to contact the GOW team, which has supported the creation of 6,000 employment opportunities in less than three years.

They are located on the first floor of Metropolitan Place, Hobson Street, Oldham, OL1 1TT – across the road from the Job Centre Plus.

The base is operating an ‘open door’ policy, which means residents of working age can go along – without an appointment – and speak to a careers advisor, weekdays 9am until 4pm.

Over the next five years GOW is looking to engage with 6,000 residents and fill 5,000 work-related opportunities, so if you are looking for work it is a good time to get in touch.

Contact the GOW team via their website, by email or by telephone 0161 770 4674.

Record numbers of wading birds at Dove Stone

Wading birds gathered in record numbers at Dove Stone in the Peak District this breeding season, thanks to an ambitious ongoing bog restoration programme.

Over the summer, RSPB staff and volunteer surveyors recorded 49 pairs of dunlins at the Saddleworth site, up a quarter from the 39 pairs observed in 2014 and up five pairs on last year’s previous record of 44.

The RSPB also saw golden plovers increase at Dove Stone by a fifth, rising from 92 in 2014 to 110 this year.

Dunlins are small wading birds that love breeding in wet hilly places and have been gradually increasing at Dove Stone over the past decade after virtually vanishing from the Peak District in the early 2000s. Golden plovers are medium-sized wading birds that also favor nesting on wet bogs and, likewise, their numbers have been steadily growing at Dove Stone in recent years.

The RSPB, which manages Dove Stone in partnership with landowner United Utilities, has discovered a direct correlation between this increase of breeding wading birds and the restoration of blanket bog at the site.

Healthy blanket bogs, which are found on wet hilly plateaus, can provide great benefits both for people and wildlife. As well as provide insect food for birds, they lock up harmful carbon, improve water quality by acting as a natural filtration system and prevent flooding by slowing down the water flow.

However, like much of this habitat in the UK, Dove Stone’s had been damaged by past industrial air pollution with the surface vegetation and peat-building sphagnum mosses having almost completely died out, leaving large areas of bare, dried out peat.

Since 2005, United Utilities and the RSPB have been working to restore Dove Stone’s bog by covering the bare damaged peat with new vegetation, blocking gullies to raise the water table and sowing new sphagnum moss. The increase in breeding waders appears to be rising in direct response to the improving habitat.

Dave O’Hara, RSPB site manager at Dove Stone, said: “It’s no coincidence that numbers of breeding waders at Dove Stone began to increase at the same time we began to restore the blanket bog with our partner United Utilities. It’s gratifying and inspiring to see our continuing restoration work paying off with more and more wading birds nesting here every year.

“Thanks to generous funding from WREN, we are currently in the middle of Sowing the Moss, a three year project where we are working with volunteers to plant more sphagnum, which will help rebuild the bog. Restoring Dove Stone’s bog is a huge long-term undertaking but it’s such an important habitat that brings so many benefits for wildlife and people that it’s well worth all the effort that everyone has – and continues – to put in.”

Ed Lawrance, Catchment Partnership Officer at United Utilities, said: “The moorland restoration work is a long-term project, originally driven by our approach to improve water quality in a sustainable way, reducing treatment costs for our customers.  It’s wonderful to see the dramatic result it has had for wading birds at Dove Stone. It’s a brilliant example of a win-win partnership and we are very proud of what’s been achieved.”

Weather warning issued by Met Office

Passengers using public transport are being urged to plan ahead and allow more time for travel this evening and tomorrow morning after the Met Office issued a weather warning for strong winds.

Gusts of 55-65 mph, potentially reaching 75 mph in some places, look set to hit the region at 8pm on Tuesday night and continue until 10am on Wednesday morning.

The weather is likely to increase journey times across all modes of transport, with damage to trees and restrictions on roads and bridges possible.

You can keep up-to-date with the latest weather updates from the Met Office here.

John Fryer, TfGM’s Transport and Event Planning Lead, said: “We advise all passengers to take extra care tonight and tomorrow when you’re out and about, no matter what form of transport you use.

“Please plan ahead and allow more time for your journey as disruption to journey times is likely.

“Follow TfGM’s social media channels and check with your operator for the latest travel and transport updates.”

For information on public transport across Greater Manchester visit, call 0161 244 1000 (7am-8pm, Monday to Friday, and 8am-8pm at weekends and bank holidays) or follow @OfficialTfGM on Twitter.

Commuters warned of two days of rail strike disruption 

Transport for Greater Manchester travel advice for Friday 1 and Monday 4 September –

Commuters, parents and school returners are being warned to plan ahead and expect disruption on Friday 1 and Monday 4 September as staff on Northern rail services hold two one-day strikes.

The strikes will run from 0001 to 2359 on each day.

Most Northern services are not expected to run and any that do operate, working to a revised timetable, will be extremely busy.

All public transport and Greater Manchester’s roads are expected to be busier, especially at peak morning and evening times, with key commuter routes forecast to face the most pressure as people affected by the strikes make alternative arrangements.

Monday 4 September is expected to be the most affected day as the majority of Greater Manchester schools return for the new academic year.

No rail services will operate between Manchester and Preston via Bolton as the line is currently closed due to a burst water main and a severely damaged bridge at Moses Gate. This is also causing local road disruption and bus and route diversions are in place.

Customers are advised to check the details of their journey or by following @northernassist.

In addition the A6 through Stockport is currently closed for essential engineering and thus the surrounding road network is expected to be very busy. TfGM’s travel advice for the A6 closure is

Transport for Greater Manchester, which is helping to co-ordinate the region’s response, is urging people to plan ahead and consider carefully their travel arrangements.

It is working to support Northern’s own customer communications effort and has created a special travel information page on its website to help keep Greater Manchester commuters on the move:

TfGM’s Transport and Event Planning Lead, John Fryer, said: “We are taking action to minimise the disruption to the transport network but we know it will still be very busy, particularly as many schools across the region return.

“Commuters can play their part to minimise disruption and our advice is simple: plan ahead, be prepared, and think about all your travel choices.

“Can you travel at a different time or does your employer allow you to work from home? If you can travel at a quieter time, or in a different way – by bus, tram, bike, foot or a mixture – it can make a massive improvement not just to your journey but to people who simply don’t have a choice.”

As well as working with other transport authorities across the North, TfGM has taken action locally to help people who have to travel on the days of the strike, including;

  • Ensuring as many Metrolink trams as possible will be in service
  • Deploying additional staff on Metrolink and at key bus stations to help commuters
  • Advising rail customers with monthly or greater season tickets that they can travel for free on Metrolink
  • Publicising various park and ride sites to allow customers to complete their journeys by different transport options
  • Working with bus and other train operators to maximise capacity across the network, particularly on the busiest commuter corridors
  • Enhanced monitoring at its network control centre so traffic flows can be optimised by altering signal timing
  • Working with local highway authorities to temporarily suspend roadworks where possible on the region’s main commuter routes

John added: “Our control room will open earlier and work later on the strike days and we’ll have additional customer service support on the phones and online to help people who have to travel, but our strongest advice is: expect disruption and plan ahead now.”

For detailed information about the Northern rail industrial action please visit

For information on public transport across Greater Manchester visit, call 0161 244 1000 (7am-8pm, Monday to Friday, and 8am-8pm at weekends and bank holidays) or follow@OfficialTfGM on Twitter.

Paving the way for a brand new resident at Dove Stone

A new path at Dove Stone reservoir near Oldham has proved a hit with visitors and wildlife alike.

Following months of hard work by RSPB Site Wardens and a hardy gang of local volunteers, visitors to Dove Stone can now enjoy a walk off the beaten track through a woodland setting, taking in wildlife ponds and reservoir views.

The new path has been created through one of United Utilities’ mature conifer plantations (known as Pennyworth Plantation) and allows all visitors, including those with all terrain wheelchairs to experience a different setting to the main circular trail.

Staff and volunteers will next be planting trees such as oak, rowan and birch to create a wonderful mixed woodland of the sort that would naturally grow there.

RSPB Site Warden Kate Hanley said: “People often wonder why a conservation charity would cut trees down, but dense conifer plantations like this one are dark places making it hard for a variety of plants and wildlife to thrive. The conifers have been thinned out to allow more light in and we are already seeing tiny trees appearing.

“Of course some wildlife, such as goldcrests, like conifers so we are not removing them all. Dead wood is also an important aspect of woodland management, so we create habitat piles for insects, small mammals and birds like robins and wrens, and leave some tree stumps standing upright for a variety of insects and birds like woodpeckers.”

In fact leaving dead wood has proved to be especially important for one tiny creature – a brand new resident at Dove Stone which has appeared directly as a result of this work.

RSPB volunteer and local naturalist Ken Gartside suggested holes were drilled into some dead conifer stumps to create artificial rot holes which hoverflies breed in. The team at Dove Stone are very excited to report that Ken has already found the rare furry pine hoverfly for the first time ever at Dove Stone as a direct result of this work

This particular hoverfly is nationally scarce and is mainly found in pine forests in Scotland. There have been a small number recorded elsewhere in England but it is a new find for Dove Stone.

Dave O’Hara, RSPB Site Manager at Dove Stone commented: ‘I’d really like to thank the local volunteers, aided by United Utilities staff on their work parties, who have transformed the woodland habitat as well as creating the new path.  The hoverfly discovery is a great reminder of how quickly nature can respond if we create the right conditions, and was a fine example of well thought-out habitat creation by Ken.  The ponds created are also attracting dragonflies.”

Although many visitors have already found and enjoyed Pennyworth path, an official opening was held on Friday 11 August, following the installation of wooden way markers and interpretation by local artists Richard Dawson and Jacqui Symons from Woodend Artists.

With one of their members being a regular volunteer for the RSPB, Oldham Mountain Rescue also attended with one of their landrovers which was a great source of excitement to the children on the day.

As well as the new path through the plantation, staff and volunteers have also improved access at Binn Green with a new wheelchair friendly path to the viewpoint and bird feeding area.

Dove Stone reservoir is owned by United Utilities and the water company works in partnership with the RSPB, who manage the estate. The partnership aims to encourage public access and recreation, while protecting water quality and wildlife for future generations.

Furry pine hover fly

Eight months of improvement work on Trans-Pennine Rail Routes

Between September 2017 – May 2018, Network Rail will be undertaking essential work in preparation for the upgrading of the TransPennine railway, which will deliver faster and more frequent services and improve connections between key towns and cities across the North. Vegetation will be removed to a distance of 6.5 metres either side of the tracks or up to our boundary.
Network Rail will be holding public events, starting from next week, to communicate with residents about the work and allow them to ask any questions they may have about what is planned.
The events will all take place between 5:00pm and 7.00pm and will be held in the following locations:
Batley: Monday 14 August – Batley Library, Market Place, WF17 5DA
Deighton: Tuesday 15 August – Deighton Chestnut Centre, 2a Chestnut Street, HD2 1HJ
Mirfield: Thursday 17 August – The Salvation Army Hall, 106 Huddersfield Rd, WF14 8AF
Marsden: Tuesday 22 August – Marsden Mechanics Hall, Peel Street, HD7 6BW
Huddersfield: Wednesday 23 August – Huddersfield Town Hall, Corporation St, HD1 2TA
Mossley – Tuesday 29 August – George Lawton Hall, OL5 0HR
Stalybridge – Wednesday 30 August – Stalybridge Civic Hall, Trinity Street, SK15 2BN
Greenfield – Monday 4 September – Greenfield Methodist Church, 9 Chew Vale, Greenfield, OL3 7EQ
Whilst the majority of the work will be carried out during day time hours Monday to Fridays (the occasional Saturday) 07.00hrs-19.00hrs, there may be times when we will need to work during the night. If this is the case we will notify residents of the dates and times of any night time work.
You would be very welcome to attend one of these events, or alternatively you can find out more information on the TransPennine Route Upgrade Programme here and specifically on the process involved in managing lineside vegetation here.


Oldham Council is asking young people to help shape Oldham’s future.

As part of the Your Oldham campaign we are encouraging children from across the borough to write a ‘Dear Oldham’ letter to the town, or, if they prefer, they can submit a drawing or a collage instead showing their ideas.

The letter, or drawing, could include what activities children want in the town, what they want Oldham to look like, or just simply what they want to do in the future.The best and most creative submissions will be made into a special booklet and showcased at the Your Oldham Festival, which runs from Sunday, September 3 until September 9. Just grab a piece of paper, start the letter with ‘Dear Oldham’ and get the little ones to write or draw what they want to see.

Councillor Barbara Brownridge, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods and Co-operatives, said: “We want the younger generations to help shape the future of Oldham and ensure we include the views of everyone.

“This campaign will hopefully give children a chance to be creative and express what they want from their home town later in life. Dear Oldham is part of the wider Your Oldham campaign and festival in September. The festival will give everyone a chance to showcase the brilliant co-operative work that’s been going on over the past year.”

Once your submission is completed, write the name, age of the child, your contact details and send it to: Dear Oldham, Room 317, Oldham Civic Centre, West Street, Oldham OL1 1UG Or alternatively, take a picture and email it to: The deadline to enter is Friday 26 August.

The Your Oldham Festival aims to celebrate and showcase the fantastic co-operative activities happening across Oldham. We have a number of family friendly events taking place across the borough for you to discover over the week-long celebration. From the Castleshaw Centre Outdoor Adventure Day, to our EPIC Talks series and Your Future day, there’s something for everyone to enjoy and it’s all free.

As part of the campaign we are also encouraging residents to organise their own street party with neighbours or the local community. Organise your party before Monday 14 August and you could win a bespoke party hamper from Oldham Tesco stores.

For more information about the festival, campaign, or street parties, visit:

Travel gets smarter in Greater Manchester

Photography – Nick Harrison

Travelling in Greater Manchester just got smarter.

Thousands of passengers can now, for the first time, use a single smart card for all their journeys on any Greater Manchester tram and bus.

This latest development is the next phase of Transport for Greater Manchester’s (TfGM) get me there smart card system, working with operators through Greater Manchester Travelcards Ltd (GMTL), and is a further step forward towards delivering a fully integrated smart system across the city region.

The get me there smart card system makes it easy for users with a get me there account to view and purchase a range of products online, making travel easier and more flexible, with no need to carry cash or queue at ticket machines.

Season ticket holders will benefit from added security as any lost or stolen tickets and travelcards that have more than 7 days left to run will be replaced, with customers able to order new cards online.

As well as being able to buy a new range of multi-modal bus and tram products, new 16 – 18 and corporate smart cards have also been introduced.

The 16 – 18 card will allow almost 100,000 young people to enjoy half price bus travel, as announced by Greater Manchester’s Mayor Andy Burnham last month after a new offer was agreed with bus operators and GMTL – the industry body which manages multi-operator and multi-modal ticketing in Greater Manchester, with a half price 1-day ticket launching in September.

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: “The expansion of get me there will certainly help make travel easier and, for the first time, enable people across Greater Manchester to hop on and off trams and buses with their smartcard.

“Significantly, the 16 – 18 card will see the cost of a bus day ticket cut in half – reducing the cost of journeys and enabling our young people to more easily access work and leisure opportunities, training, education and skills.

“All this can only be good news and will, I hope, encourage more people than ever before to get on board with public transport, which will help to tackle congestion and air quality issues.”

Trevor Roberts, Chair of GMTL – which operates under the brand name System One – said: “We are pleased to work with our partners TfGM to deliver more products onto the smart platform. We have been working hard to get growth and encourage our current customers to make the switch and that is being delivered with more and more buying via get me there and other compatible smart cards.”

TfGM, with GMTL supporting multi-modal developments, remain committed to delivering the best possible fares and ticketing to the region’s public transport users and continues to work towards contactless account-based ticketing, where passengers use their bank card to touch in and touch out instead of a smart card.

Chair of the Transport for Greater Manchester Committee (TfGMC), Councillor Andrew Fender, said: “I’m delighted that today we’re launching a smart ticket that allows truly flexible, multi-modal travel on Greater Manchester’s trams and buses for the first time.

“We are on a journey with get me there and smart ticketing. We know the travelling public wants a world-class, integrated, pan-Northern smart ticketing system, and this latest development brings us a step closer towards realising this ambition.”

For information about the scheme visit, for information on public transport across Greater Manchester visit, call 0161 244 1000 (7am-8pm, Monday to Friday, and 8am-8pm at weekends and bank holidays) or follow @OfficialTfGM on Twitter.

Sam Road, Diggle closed for 1 week for resurfacing work

Notice issued by Unity Partnership 

Please be advised that essential carriageway resurfacing works are programmed to start on 7th August 2017 for 1 week on Sam Road, Diggle.

To enable Unity Partnership to safely carry out the carriageway resurfacing works both safely and in a timely manner a road closure will be in place.  A signed diversion route will be in place for the duration of the closure.

During this closure period Unity Partnership will provide access to properties  within the closure outside of working hours.

Working Hours 08:30 – 16:30 Monday to Friday

Full access will be given to emergency vehicles throughout the works.

Should you have any queries or require further information please do not hesitate to contact Nigel Molden, Unity Partnership, Henshaw House, Cheapside, Oldham OL1 1NY

M: 07481102914 | T: 0161 770 1952 | W:

Unity Partnership apologise for any inconvenience that this may cause but please be assured that these works are essential to maintain the safety of road users.

Diversion in blue. Closure in red.

Road closure in red