Diggle is one of several villages in the SaddleworthCivil parish in the Metropolitan Borough of Oldham in Greater Manchester, in Yorkshire until government reorganisation in 1974. parish in the Metropolitan Borough of Oldham, in Greater Manchester. Until 1974, although on the western side of the Pennines, Saddleworth was in the West Riding of Yorkshire. The village is in the valley of the Diggle Brook, a tributary of the River Tame that rises in the moorlandDominant landscape of Britain's uplands, including many of its national parks. of the South Pennine hills.
The western portal of the restored Standedge TunnelStandedge has been a major Pennine crossing point for more than 2,000 years., Britain’s longest, deepest and highest canal tunnel, is in Diggle as are the portals of three railway tunnels, two of which are disused, linking the the village with Marsden in West Yorkshire. The village had a railway station from 1850 until 1968.
Diggle is a linear village spread along the valley sides of the Diggle Brook, a tributary of the River Tame that rises on Saddleworth Moor in the South Pennine hills. It is to the south-west of the Standedge escarpment, a natural barrier between northwest and northeast England. The A670, the main road that skirts the village on its western edge, meets the A62, a major trans-Pennine crossing, at Bleak Hey Nook. The Huddersfield Narrow Canal and the Manchester to Leeds Railway pass through the valley before entering the Standedge Tunnels.
Diggle’s name comes from the Saxon degle meaning valley. At the end of the 18th century Diggle comprised three hamletsRural settlement smaller than a village., isolated farmsteads and clusters of cottages in the chapelry of Saddleworth, which was dependent on the parishAncient or ancient ecclesiastical parishes encompassed groups of villages and hamlets and their adjacent lands, over which a clergyman had jurisdiction. of Rochdale. The oldest hamlet, Diglea, appears not much changed in appearance from the early 1800s. Harrop Green at the northern end of the village was a cluster of houses around the green occupied by handloom weavers and Weakey is now the village centre.
The Manchester and Oldham turnpike road reached the West Riding boundary at Austerlands in 1735, but the Wakefield to Austerlands Turnpike Act was not passed until 1759. John Metcalf, Blind Jack of Knaresborough, built the section from Town Gate in Marsden to Standedge Foot in Saddleworth in 1760. At that time Diggle was dependent on agriculture and textiles, and developed further when the turnpike road improved access for trade, labour and materials. Houses along Huddersfield Road were built with gritstone quarried at Running Hill Pits to house the increasing population.
The Hudderfield Narrow Canal’s tunnel cut north-east to south-west through Standedge to its western portal at Diggle.. The tunnel opened to traffic between Huddersfield and Ashton-under-Lyne in 1811. In the 1840s the first of three rail tunnels, all running parallel to the canal, was completed between Marsden and Diggle. The railway enabled faster travel between industrial Lancashire and Yorkshire contributing to more economic development and in 1850 a railway station was opened near the portal of the tunnels. The western portal of the restored Standedge Canal Tunnel, Britain’s longest, deepest and highest canal tunnel, is in Diggle as are the portals of three railway tunnels, two of which are disused, linking the the village with Marsden in West Yorkshire. The station closed in 1968.
Diggle Mill was powered by a 64 foot 8 inch (19.7 m) diameter waterwheel, the second largest in the United Kingdom, with an output of 130 horsepower; it was dismantled in 1924. Most mills in built in Diggle have either been demolished or put to other uses. Wharf Mill is occupied by small businesses.