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Sports, leisure and the Arts Rushford Park Conservation Area


The name of the township of Levenshulme has been traced back to the 1320 name of 'Lyvenis-holme'. This probably means a tract of land belonging to Leven, which may be a derivation of the Saxon word 'Leofne' meaning Lord or Master.

During the late Georgian period, a modest country house known as Rushford House was built in the northern part of the present conservation area and later, about 1820, a farmhouse known as Hawthorn Cottage was constructed in the southern part.

Rushford House was situated to the north-east of the junction of the present Central Avenue and Rushford Avenue. Hawthorn Cottage, the oldest remaining building in the conservation area, is now no.161 Slade Lane.

The northern boundary of the conservation area is marked by Nico Ditch, which is believed to have been a defensive earthwork dug in a single night as protection against the Danish invasion of 869-870 AD. It varied in width and depth, but averaged between 2 and 2.5 metres deep, and extended for over five miles in length between marshes in Fallowfield and Audenshaw.

Stretches of the ditch are still used to indicate administrative boundaries, although little trace of the ditch can be seen today. It formed the southern boundary of the Slade Estate. Slade Hall, the oldest part of which is a timber-framed house built in 1585, still stands a short distance to the north of Rushford Park.

Rushford Village was constructed from 1835, concurrently with the main railway line from Manchester to Crewe. By 1840 the village was served by Rushford Station, and much of the property was developed by the London and North Western Railway Company, including a school for the education of railway employees' children.

Commercial development in Rushford Village may have been an intention, but further growth ceased when the station was closed in 1854. Levenshulme Station was opened nearby in 1843, and as a consequence the focus of development became centred there.

Further development of Rushford Park took place from 1880 to 1893 and again in Edwardian times, around 1903. All these phases of development were controlled by restrictive covenants written into the title deeds when the original Rushford Park and the farmland belonging to Hawthorn Cottage were divided up.

These covenants stipulate to the present day that frontages should extend at least 24 yards from the centre line of the road. This has led to the creation of long front gardens, with plenty of room for trees in both the avenues and the gardens. The consequent abundance of trees makes a major contribution to the unique, semi-rural character of Rushford Park.

The field boundary between the two earlier land holdings may still be clearly seen along the backs of properties on Rushford Avenue and Park Avenue, and along the line of a footpath leading under the railway embankment.

More recently, in the latter part of the 20th century, before the conservation area was designated, the development of blocks of flats and lock-up garages has taken place. These were included within the designation to consolidate the conservation area and to provide a greater degree of planning control in readiness for any alterations or re-development of these blocks.

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