Blackrod is a Village 3.9 miles north-northeast of Wigan and 6.6 miles west of Bolton
The name Blackrod derives from the Old English, blaec and rodu, meaning a “dark clearing”. The first mention of the town dates to 1189, when it was recorded as Blacherode. It has been suggested that “rod” may also mean Holy Rood (Cross of Christ).
There is a legend that the Romans built a fort on the northern side of the town, on what is now a residential area called Castle Croft. The A6 road built along the course of a Roman road runs below the hill on which the town sits.
The main industry of the town was coal mining (seven pits in 1869, which employed c 1000 people from the village), agriculture (thirty farms in 1902) and a weaving mill (built in 1906), but today only a few farms remain with the pits all closed. Today it is mainly a residential area, but still retains a Town Mayor andTown Council.
The population of Blackrod was 4975, from the 2001 Census, a rise of nearly 40% from the 1961 census. Population growth has been fuelled by the developments in the Greenbarn Way and Waterhouse Nook areas.
The Blackrod and Hulton Ridge is a gentle rolling ridge to the south of the Borough rising up from the lowland agricultural areas adjacent to the urban areas. Its altitude varies between approximately 120 metres rising to 165 metres above sea level.
The pattern of settlement within this area, which includes Blackrod and Westhoughton, has created a very linear landscape. It is further characterised by degraded agricultural land dissected by ribbons of development, which closely mirror the road network. Despite this, some of the largest remaining areas of open rural land in Bolton are located within this zone.
The landscape type reflects a history of coal mining in the area. It is an elevated landscape of gently sloping hills and valleys falling to the Mersey Valley in the south. It is further typified by low grade agricultural land with flashes which provide physical evidence of subsidence from former mine workings. The area is also characterised by a scattering of small ponds and broadleaved woodland. The broadleaved woods in this part of the Borough play a significant part in defining local landscapes. ”The ponds are of particular importance for supporting a European Protected Species, the great crested newt. This particular ‘pondway’ across southwest Bolton, Wigan and Salford is considered important in a regional context.
The valley at Blackrod in particular has been visually damaged by the construction of the Blackrod bypass. Furthermore, it has been dissected from the remainder of the Borough by the M61 motorway, and the railway lines, creating thin strips of agricultural and recreation land separated by the transport routes. As examples of older transport routes, the presence of the Leeds–Liverpool canal not only visually enhances the northern extremes of this landscape character area with its related features such as bridges. It is now a valuable recreation resource and is afforded protection for its nature conservation value.The area is afforded protection in the UDP by both green-belt and landscape character status.
Bolton Council’s Core Strategy, identifies the importance of the area in policy OA1
6 Ensure Protected Open Land around Horwich and Blackrod remains undeveloped, except to the west of Horwich Loco Works where development will be allowed to support the regeneration of the Loco Works site.
11 Ensure that new development does not harm the landscape setting and protects views from public areas to the surrounding landscape.