The Towers

A history of Summervale and Crossbank

In 2018, First Choice Homes Oldham announced the demolition of Crossbank and Summervale towers, to make way for 90 brand new, low-rise, affordable homes that would better meet the needs of the community in the area. The towers were ultimately demolished, beginning in late 2021.

Crossbank and Summervale towers had stood since 1975, and First Choice Homes recognised that these towers were more than just bricks and mortar. They contained many hundreds of people’s memories and experiences from the 45 year period they stood, and for many thousands more, these towers served as a visual ‘Gateway to Oldham’, whose absence would be well noted.

In partnership with research and web development studio Geeks For Social Change (GFSC), FCHO applied for and obtained heritage lottery funding to create a digital history project focused on the towers and their close surrounding area. This online archive would explore the lives and memories of those who lived in and around them, both during the towers’ lifespan and before.

Documenting community histories allows an opportunity to reflect on the past and take lessons forward to inform the future. Often, especially in working class and lower income areas, this kind of documentation is neglected. Community development can mean that spaces and places are demolished, rebuilt, reshaped and remoulded with little regard for the experiences and history of those who have called it home. By undertaking this research and creating this resource, we can acknowledge the experiences of the residents of this area, past and present, as the landscape was shaped around them.

Working in partnership with Oldham Council’s archival team, OL1 community group, and the Oldham Coliseum (which sadly closed its doors towards the end of this project), the local community have been engaged in telling their stories and sharing their memories of the area. We call these people ‘storytellers’, and we are extremely grateful for all of their contributions.

How to use this website

This website offers a timeline based view via which you can explore short fragments of memory from various participants, throughout the towers lifespan and before. You can view the timeline in its entirety, and by using the decade view bar which is always visible, you can hop to a specific decade of interest quickly.

You can also filter the timeline, by tapping the ‘Filter by type of content’ bar. Here, you can choose to view the memories of just one specific storyteller. You can also browse by type of story, for example you can filter to view only Oldham news, or only content related specifically to the towers. It is easy to turn off these filters once you are done browsing, by tapping the ‘X’ in the bar at the top of the screen.

Thanks and acknowledgments

Many thanks to all who have contributed to this project.

  • To Danny Isherwood and all the team at FCHO
  • To Emma Charleston, Dr Kim Foale, and all at GFSC
  • To Roger Ivens, for his archival support.
  • To Angie Brain of OL1, for all her practical support and encouragement.
  • To Yusuf and other Coliseum staff — our thoughts are with them at this sad time for the Coliseum.
  • To University of York Cultural Heritage Management MA student Sam Benbow, whose assistance collecting the stories was invaluable, and her tutor, Colleen Morgan, for connecting her with the project.
  • To Jan Hicks, for her invaluable assistance in compiling the correct attributions and image licensing.

And of course, to all of our storytellers, especially: Patricia, Sheila, Jean, Paula, Catherine, and Jia.

Homepage and about page main images: Photograph by Leonard Kaye, courtesy of Oldham Local Studies and Archives. The image is © Oldham Council and may not be reproduced without permission.

Notification and Takedown statement

All original written content for this site is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY 4.0). This includes all of the quotes from our storytellers.

The design and code for this site is licensed under the open source MIT licence.

We have endeavoured to secure Creative Commons rights for as many images as possible, but due to the nature of sourcing archival imagery, this has not been possible for all images used on this site. Please see each individual image for usage rights and attribution.

Due to the historic nature of some images on this site, it has been challenging to ascertain the original copyright holder. We have done our utmost to establish this across all imagery used on this site, but if you are the rights holder and believe we are using your work without permission (or is not covered by a limitation or exception in national law), please contact us at [email protected], so that we can remove it or attribute it correctly.

Please state the following:

  • Your contact details
  • Full details of the material and when you found it
  • Proof that you are the rights holder and a statement that, under penalty of perjury, you are the rights holder or are an authorised representative
  • Your contact details and address

Upon receipt of notification, the Notice and Takedown Procedure is then invoked as follows:

  1. The project will acknowledge receipt of your complaint by email and will make an initial assessment of the validity of the complaint.
  2. Upon receipt of a valid complaint the material will be temporarily removed from the project website pending an agreed solution.
  3. The project will contact the contributor who provided the material, if relevant. The contributor will be notified that the material is subject to a complaint, under what allegations, and will be encouraged to assuage the complaints concerned.
  4. We will endeavour to resolve the issue swiftly and amicably and to the satisfaction of both parties, with the following possible outcomes:
    • The material is replaced on the website unchanged.
    • The material is replaced on the website with changes.
    • The material is permanently removed from the website.
  5. If we are unable to agree a solution, the material will remain unavailable until a time when a resolution has been reached.