River Roch
River Roch outside Rochdale Bus Station.jpg
River Roch map 2.svg
DistrictLittleborough, Rochdale, Heywood, Bury
Physical characteristics
 • locationChelburn Moor
 • location
River Irwell, Radcliffe
 • coordinates
53°33′43.95″N 2°18′2.65″W / 53.5622083°N 2.3007361°W / 53.5622083; -2.3007361Coordinates: 53°33′43.95″N 2°18′2.65″W / 53.5622083°N 2.3007361°W / 53.5622083; -2.3007361
Length100 miles
Basin features
 • leftTack Lee Brook, Naden Brook, River Spodden, Hey Brook, Ash Brook, Featherstall Brook, Town House Brook
 • rightParr Brook, Hollins Brook, Wrigley Brook, Millers Brook, Sudden Brook, Moss Brook, Stanney Brook, River Beal, Ealees Brook, Greenvale Brook, Chelburn Brook
River Roch
Chelburn Moor
Light Hazzles Brook
Chelburn Brook
Rochdale Canal
Roch Aqueduct
over Calder Valley line
Reddyshore Brow
Greenvale Brook
Town House Brook
Halifax Road  A58 
Ealees Brook
Railway Street
Cutland Way
Featherstall Brook
Smithy Bridge Road  B6225 
Clegg Hall Road
Ash Brook
River Beal
Albert Royds Street  A664 
Belfield Road
Stanney Brook
Hey Brook
Moss Brook
Molesworth Street  A671 
Smith Street  B6266 
Yorkshire Street
The Esplanade  B6266 
St Marys Gate  A58 
to College Road
River Spodden
Mellor Street  A6060 
Half Acre Bridge/
Roch Valley Way
Sudden Brook
Crimble Lane
Millers Brook
Queens Park Road
Bamford Road
Naden Brook
Wrigley Brook
Bottom o'th'Brow
Tack Lee Brook
Heap Bridge/
Bury New Road
 M66  motorway
Waterfold Business Park
East Lancashire Railway
Water Farm
Hollins Brook
Blackford Bridge/
Manchester Road
Parr Brook
River Irwell

The River Roch /ˈr/ is a river in Greater Manchester in North West England, a tributary of the River Irwell, that gives Rochdale its name.


Rising on Chelburn Moor (south of Todmorden in the Pennines), the river flows south through Littleborough towards Rochdale where it is joined by the River Beal at Belfield, and the River Spodden from Whitworth. Turning west it runs past Heywood and Bury before meeting the River Irwell just to the east of Radcliffe.


The town of Rochdale is recorded as Recedham in the Domesday Book and Rachetham in 1193, with variations of Rechedham continuing into the thirteenth century.[1][2] It is thought that these names represent a pre-existing Brittonic name for the river Roch, borrowed into Old English for the name of the settlement.

The early forms of Rachet-ham and Reched-ham suggest a compound of two elements, ro-ced or ro-cet. The first element is either from the common intensive prefix rö- (Modern Welsh rhy-, Cornish re-) meaning "great" and found in other river names such as the Ribble and the Rother[3] or rag-, (Modern Welsh ar-) meaning "opposite" or "adjacent to".[4] The second element would then almost certainly be cę:d or cet, (Modern Welsh coed) meaning "wood".[5] This would give the name a meaning of "River of the great wood" or "River opposite the wood".

Another etymology focused on the early forms similarities to Rheged, the Cumbric-speaking kingdom in North West England during the Middle Ages.[6][7] Although this etymology is used to support the theory that the Roch may have been the centre of a separate kingdom known in Medieval Welsh literature as "South Rheged" or "Argoed" (opposite the wood), it remains unproven as the kingdom of Rheged's boundaries have not been identified.[8] A further suggestion is that the name "rheged" simply means "area" in the Cumbric language (related to Regio in Latin and Region in Modern English) and that the kingdom of Rheged and the river merely shared a common Celtic name.

Although Rochdale is pronounced /ˈrɒdl/ (with a shorter o sound), the name of the river is still pronounced /r/ (with a long vowel sound).

Later history

The river has been culverted in Rochdale town centre since the early 20th century. This was built by the joining together of seven bridges to form one large bridge, making it one of the widest bridges in the world. Maintenance work was carried out on the bridge in the 1990s and the river was uncovered temporarily.[9] In 2015 work began on opening the bridge again in a multimillion-pound project.[10] On Boxing Day 2015, following heavy rain, the Roch burst its banks causing flooding in the town centre.[11]


Moving upstream from the Irwell confluence, the tributaries include the following:



  1. ^ Mills, A.D.: A Dictionary of English Place Names, 2nd Edition, page 289, s.n. Rochdale. Oxford University Press, 1998
  2. ^ Ekwall, Eilert (1922). The Place-names of Lancashire. Manchester University Press. p. 54.
  3. ^ James, Alan G. "A Guide to the Place-Name Evidence – Guide to the Elements" (PDF). Scottish Place Name Society – The Brittonic Language in the Old North. Retrieved 25 October 2018.
  4. ^ James, Alan G. "A Guide to the Place-Name Evidence – Guide to the Elements" (PDF). Scottish Place Name Society – The Brittonic Language in the Old North. Retrieved 25 October 2018.
  5. ^ Clarkson, Tim (2012). The Men of the North : the Britons of Southern Scotland. Edinburgh: Birlinn. ISBN 978-1907909023.
  6. ^ Jackson 1953, p. 9.
  7. ^ Rollason, D. W. (2003). Northumbria, 500-1100 : Creation and Destruction of a Kingdom. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. p. 87. ISBN 0521813352.
  8. ^ Chadwick, Chadwick, Hector Munro, Nora Kershaw (1940) [1932]. The Growth of Literature (Volume II ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 165.
  9. ^ "Link4Life | Covering the River Roch in Rochdale | Provider of arts, sport and heritage development work in the Rochdale area".
  10. ^ "Hidden medieval bridge reopens". BBC News. 14 June 2016. Retrieved 9 November 2017.
  11. ^ "Floods hit parts of UK amid downpours". BBC News. 27 December 2015 – via www.bbc.co.uk.
Next confluence upstream River Irwell Next confluence downstream Woodhill / Kirklees Brook (West) River Roch River Croal (West)