In 1870-72, John Marius Wilson's Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales described Radcliffe like this:
RADCLIFFE, a small town, a parish, and a sub-district, in Bury district, Lancashire. The town stands on the river Irwell, near the influx of the Roach, and on the Manchester and Bury railway, adjacent to the Bolton and Bury canal, 2½ miles S S W of Bury; took its name from a red cliff on the opposite side of the Irwell; consists of two parts, called Radcliffe and Radcliffe-Bridge, about ½ a mile asunder; carries on bleaching, paper-making, cotton-spinning, calico-printing, gingham, fustian, nankeen, and check-weaving, machine-making, iron-founding, and small-ware manufacture; has several collieries; and has a post-office‡ under Manchester, a railway station of Radcliffe-Bridge, with telegraph, agood inn, a police station, a market house built in 1851at a cost of £1, 500, a bridge over the Irwell, two churches, three dissenting chapels, four national schools, an agricultural show on 28 Sept., races about the middle of Aug., a fair on 29 Sept., and charities £9. ...
The parish church is ancient, of various dates; has a low massive tower; and includes a chapel restored in 1845, and a N transept added in 1846. St. Thomas' church, at Radcliffe-Bridge, was built in 1819, at a cost of £5,000; was rebuilt in 1865, at a cost of £7, 274; is in the perpendicular English style; and contains 1, 200 sittings. The parish contains also part of Starling village, and comprises 2, 466 acres. Real property, £35, 800; of which £8, 940 are in mines, and £1, 439 in gas-works. Pop. in 1851, 6, 293; in 1861, 8, 838. Houses, 1, 726. The manor belongs to the Earl of Wilton. R. Tower, now a ruin, was formerly a great manorial mansion. The living is a rectory, and that of St. Thomas is a p. curacy, in the diocese of Manchester. Value of the former, £500; * of the latter, £300.* Patron of both, the Earl of Wilton. The sub-district excludes two small portions of the parish, but includes portions of three other parishes. Pop., 8, 972. Houses, 1, 754.
A Vision of Britain through Time includes a large library of local statistics for administrative units. For the best overall sense of how the area containing Radcliffe has changed, please see our redistricted information for the modern district of Bury. More detailed statistical data are available under Units and statistics, which includes both administrative units covering Radcliffe and units named after it.
GB Historical GIS / University of Portsmouth, History of Radcliffe, in Bury and Lancashire | Map and description, A Vision of Britain through Time.
Date accessed: 24th July 2014
Click here for more detailed advice on finding places within A Vision of Britain through Time, and maybe some references to other places called "Radcliffe".