A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 5. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1911.
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Thornham appears to have been called Thornton also. It measures about 1½ miles from north to south, by about 2 miles across. The area is 1,936 acres. Tandle Hill, the highest point of the hilly surface, nearly 700 ft., is central; there are good views from the summit; the surface descends from it all round, but more particularly towards the south-west, where the level is under 400 ft. The population in 1901 was not returned separately.
The road from Middleton to Rochdale, along which runs a light railway, passes along the western border, having the hamlets of Slattocks and Trub Smithy, formerly Smithy Ford, upon it. Near the eastern border the road from Oldham to Rochdale passes through, having the hamlets of Thornham Hill, Gravel Hole, and Buersill Head upon or near it. There are three cross roads connecting the former roads. Thornham Fold is a hamlet near the centre of the township, and Stake Hill lies to the south-east of Slattocks. The railway and canal from Manchester to Rochdale both cross the extreme south-west corner.
The soil is sandy with a subsoil of clay; the chief crops are wheat and pasture. There is abundance of good coal, and a colliery at Hanging Chadder. Fustian cutting is carried on. At Stake Hill there are bleach works.
In 1666 there were fifty-four hearths assessed to the hearth tax; James Hilton's house had six. (fn. 24)
Thornham has ceased to exist as a township since 1894, when it was divided between Middleton, Royton, and Rochdale. (fn. 25)
As in the case of Pilsworth, there does not seem to have been a manor of THORNHAM, the hamlet being held as part of the manor of Middleton. (fn. 26) Joseph Milne, in 1862, purchased from Peto and Betts the estate formerly belonging to Lord Suffield, as heir of the Assheton family, comprising nearly the whole of the land. (fn. 27)
The Parliamentary Commissioners, in 1650, recommended that a church should be erected at the tithe barn in Thornham, (fn. 30) but no further steps were taken. In connexion with the Established Church the school chapel of St. James, Gravel Hole, and the old school are used for service. (fn. 31)
The Roman Catholic Church of St. Gabriel and the Angels, Trub Smithy, on the border of Castleton, was built in 1884. (fn. 32)