Walking between College Bank flats and St Patrick’s church you and I will almost inevitably pass through Lower Falinge.
In April 1967 Rochdale Council’s Estates Committee considered a proposal to build 750 dwellings in four-storey deck access flats in the Falinge area. By November the £1,810,000 scheme for the area bounded by Spotland Road, Hudson Street and Toad Lane was given the thumbs up.
The four-storey development was to provide 527 dwellings with deck access, ramps and overheard walkways. It was planned so people could walk from any point in the area to another without having to return to ground level. Work began in early 1968 and was completed in three stages. More recently they have been up-graded and now have pitched roofs. Freehold Flats were built in the early 1970s. Eleven of the eventual 19 blocks were occupied by August 1971.
Built at a time when full employment was a tangible reality rather than a fondly recounted folk memory, the area was buoyant and relatively prosperous.
Time, the free market, and casualised labour has not been kind to Lower Falinge and many other post-industrial estates. The Thatcherite press conveniently badges the residents as scum, scroungers and frauds, a carefully conceived sleight of hand, transferring responsibility onto those careless enough to become the victims of an uncaring economic system.
Demonising and dividing working people regardless of ethnicity, ability, sexuality or ability – the equal opportunities abuser.
A few years ago there was even a national news story about a Falinge café serving fry-ups with a can of Stella for £2.50, this was untrue.
So Lower Falinge and its like become the convenient exemplar for the inconvenience of Broken Britain, a PR device to whitewash the very dirty hands that authored its very dirty demise. Those very dirty hands that have no viable solution to a very real problem, of resolving poor peoples’ uncertain futures.
Meanwhile the journalists form a disorderly queue to file the next in line, online assessment of an awful situation devoid of resolution, short of revolution.
Transferred from local authority control to charitable trust, forever shape shifting its hard lines to a softer, home made, fluffier image as limited resources, chase limited opportunities, all around the deck access landings.
Life goes on, we live in hope or Lower Falinge.
The estate is now post-post modern, acquiring another veneer of refurbishment over the now tarnished green of the cover all, all purpose un-repurposed steel railings.