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What is an Urban Common?

  • Todmorden Moor was registered under the Common Registration Act 1965 as an Urban Common.

  • The word "common" does not mean we all own the land "in common". This Common is not "free" land, but is privately owned as part of the Manor of Rochdale. The term "common" indicates rights to its use.

  • "Urban Common" is common land that used to be in an urban district before local government reorganisation while "Rural Common" used to be in a Rural District. Common land must not be fenced.

  • Grazing rights on common land have been an important part of the local economy for centuries. The Commoners are farmers with grazing rights. On an Urban Common the public also has the right to use the moor for "quiet enjoyment and recreation".

Clough Head Quarry,                          Todmorden Moor

Shepherd and his dog:
Todmorden Moor

Mining spoil heap, Todmorden Moor

A couple quietly
enjoying the Moor


  • There is widespread misunderstanding and ignorance about the status and use of urban common. This has resulted in unsuitable use and environmental damage. It is clear, however, that the law says - activities that damage the grazing land, - lighting fires and driving wheeled vehicles, for example, are illegal - also, activities that spoil "quiet recreation" - tipping of rubbish and noisy motor bikes, for example, are illegal.