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THE LOWER OR WALSDEN VALLEY ROAD IN 1840

 

Written by JOHN TRAVIS about 1900

Transcribed by Arlene Hinman in 2003


Returning to Copperas House, to follow the lower of the two roads which connected Walsden and Todmorden, the old road used to lead by way of SMITHYHOLME MILL, crossing the Calder at a point above that mill, instead of as at present at Copperas House.

On the left hand side of the road, just after Kilnspring Bridge was left, were the old house with the grocer’s shop at the corner of Hacking-lane, which had been built by John Lord soon after 1830, whilst the new mill opposite was built about 1834 by William Crossley, who became bankrupt about 1840, and at that date left for America, leaving the COPPERAS HOUSE MILL then reared, but for some time it remained unslated, owing to bad trade, and its completion was left to Edmund Whitaker and Son, who worked the place as a spinning mill until 1870. The point at which the old lane crossed the river was on the GAUXHOLME STONES FARM, as also was Smithy-holme Mill, which had been built by John Hardman, the owner of Lawhey and Gauxholme Stones farms.

The lane then passed on the lower side of the farm, through the wood, to CLOUGH MILL, and then forward past Clough.

   

Birks Bar about 1900

At Birks Bar three roads met – the Inchfield and Hollins roads, and the road last spoken of. Smithyholme Mill was in the possession of the Law Brothers (Samuel, Thomas and Robert) down to the time of their erecting the LOWER RAMSDEN WOOD MILL in 1821-2, and during the time they held it, the scutching room was used as a meeting room for the pioneers of Primitive Methodism in the district.
   

William Marshall (Will o’ Jackey’s) was the first leader of the services of the Primitive Methodists, or “Ranters” as they were called, and the services were held there until the school and meeting house were built in KNOWLWOOD in 1826.

Afterwards the mill passed into the hands of the Fielden Bros., of Waterside, who purchased it from the Laws, and ran it as one of their outside mills, an extension of four bays being made at the higher end, and a manager’s house being built by the main road side about the year 1836-8.

Soon after the new road was made past this point, Abraham Scholfield, of KNOWLTOP FARM, built four cottages at Clough holme, the name of Thistle Hall being given to the latter, and two more were later built at the Gauxholme end of the row. About this date, James and Abraham Fielden, stone masons of Walsden, built four cottages at the higher end, and shortly after built some back-to-back cottages closer to the river side. One of the houses in front was made into an inn whilst the railway works were going on. Clough House and cottages known as Rose Cottages, were built by Samuel Fielden and his cousin John Fielden (John 0’ William’s) respectively.


Clough House in 2003


Directly after this new branch of road was made in 1825, John Crossley a confectioner and sweet-maker, from Winwick, built the block of houses opposite to where the RAILWAY INN stands now. The block consisting of the house and shop with two cottage. He occupied the shop up to the time of his death some time before the railway works were commenced, and it then passed into the hands of John Smith of Knowlwood who kept it as a beerhouse during the time that the railway was being made. And it was afterwards converted into the railway booking and other offices. Somewhat later a row of five back-to-back houses was built by James and Robert Fielden, picker makers, and Joseph Woodhead. There were no further buildings until the Inchfield-bottom school and preaching rooms were built.


INCHFIELD CORN MILL, which was demolished many years ago, used to occupy the corner plot of land at the bottom of Inchfield-road. A number of shops and houses are now built on its site. The mill was run by John and James Bairstow, who also owned the miller’s house opposite, and its last tenant was Richard Smith.


The old NIP SQUARE, higher up, has passed through many hands, and during the time of the railway works there used to be two public houses there, one of which was kept by Abraham Fielden, the miller’s man, whence its name of Dusty Miller. The other house was next door, and was kept by Abraham Law, a clogger.

 

Later on, about the time that that portion of the line was nearing completion, Law removed to the opposite side of the new road, which the company had made, and built the Cloggers’ Arms and four cottages. The name of the house being afterwards changed to THE CROSS KEYS when Walsden Church was consecrated as ST. PETER'S CHURCH.

 

The Cross Keys in 2002

Four small brick houses were built by the railway company at the entrance to the old Winterbutlee farm road, but they have since been allowed to fall into disrepair. There were also three cottages on the left, and one on the right at New Bridge, built by the Brooks family of Strines Barn farm. The higher New Bridge cottages, opposite the mill, mostly date from the period when the road was made.

Up in the Ramsden Wood road, the houses are mostly of old date, but their identification by name would be impossible now. Ramsden Wood mills and houses have passed through many hands since the time when they were in the possession of the Laws and Bottomleys, and until lately they have never attained the prosperity which they enjoyed in those times.


Above and left: Ramsden Wood original cottages in 2003

 

 

 

 

At Bottoms, the oldest house now remaining is an old low building at the higher end of the Waggon and Horses, and at the entrance to Allescholes Rake, close by the old road side. The old “Cherry Tree Beerhouse” at Moverley was afterwards rebuilt, and made into a farmhouse for William Greenwood, and after his death it passed into the hands of Mr. John Wade, retired druggist who lived there until his death. The place has since gone by the name of MOVERLEY COTTAGE, the old “Moverley” being up on the hill behind Allescholes clough, where there were four old cottages with accommodation for hand looms, the cottages having been allowed to fall into ruin. At Bottoms there were many old landmarks, which have since been removed. The district having altered completely since the time of which we are writing.

The SUN INN, on the left hand side of the road is probably as old as the road itself, but the making of the railway played havoc with the small farm holding which is attached to it. Upon part of the land, which used to be attached, a mill has been built, so that is some compensation.

 

Today the Sun Inn is a private house

DEANROYD FARM



At the Deanroyd farm lived “Tummy” Law, one of the firm of Law Brothers, of Lower Ramsden mill. He was the trading partner of the firm, and the cashier, and was well known all round the district for the way in which he carried the firm’s pay-money to the works on pay-day – on the top of his flat topped hat. Whilst he lived at Deanroyd, he bought a plot of land and built four cottages on it, together with a stable, which was so built that it could accommodate a fully laden lurry. This place was much used by lurries returning from Manchester and other places as a place of call, and as a resting place over night.

 

Deanroyd somehow got the name of “Temple” during the time that Mr. Law lived there, and he, like the rest of the brothers, was well endowed with this world’s goods, though much of the money of the family was afterwards squandered in various lawsuits between different members of the family.



 

The railway works in this part of the valley gave a great fillip to the liquor trade, and John Thomas, who had formerly been a farmer at Top-o’-th’-Fold, occupied two of the houses at the end of Deanroyd lane as an inn, and for a time he did a roaring trade amongst the navvies, the village constable being frequently occupied in this place. There was also on the Deanroyd land a block of four or five cottages called Lightbank, which had been built before the canal was made. The only road for carts to these cottages is by the towing-path, but there are two footpaths to them from the Sun Inn and Deanroyd lane. In one of these cottages, in old times, lived Ambrose Brook, the well-known temperance advocate. These cottages after having been derelict for a very long time have recently been renovated and re-occupied.

Before the new turnpike road was made, the way down the valley was by way of a foot path which ran through the fields below the Sun Inn, and this path was afterwards closed, a number of old inhabitants protesting against its extinction and for a time they continued to use the path in preference to the new road.

 

The footbridge over the river on the footpath

below the Sun Inn in 2003



Smales, in the valley bottom, was a small place consisting of two small dwelling houses and two small fields, these being the property of Samuel Law, of MOORSIDE, Todmorden, on whose death the land passed to his two sons, John and William, who built other cottages on the land, and effected considerable alterations in the cottages already built.

The next place on the right hand side of the road was the “Throstlenest,” or Watering Trough, a small farm in the possession of William Crowther, better known as “old Will o’t’ Watering Trough.” The farm buildings consisted of dwelling house, barn and shippon. At Top-o’th’-Close, where the road rose over a slight elevation in the ground, stood a row of cottages on the right hand, and on the left a smithy. In the railway construction era there were also two inns at this place, kept respectively by Thomas Newell and Harry Earnshaw, the latter being an extensive breeder and keeper of pigs, from which occupation he derived his by-name of “Pig Harry.”

The main road has been considerably altered at this place, as, instead of its being carried along by these houses, it was diverted over the tunnel end, so that it came more into line with the road from Rochdale near the Stonehouse (river and canal) bridges. The old “Firwood farm place” was entirely obliterated by being used for a tip for the debris from the tunnel, the farm being the property of a family of the name of Crabtree. The long row of houses known as Lanebottom Fold was built by Robert Dawson of Stonehouse Farm some time after the canal was made. There were also three houses at the Fold, which were not disturbed when the railway was made, besides an old house, now in ruins, which stood back to back with the old Lanebottom canal lockhouse.

   
Over the canal bridge stood the old WESLEYAN SCHOOL & MEETING HOUSE, which had been built in 1818 mainly by the efforts of John Fielden (“Little Quaker”), of Bottomley, and one or two others. The place was later given over to the Todmorden School Board, after the Wesleyans had built their new chapel and school on the main road opposite to Throstle Nest.

photo by kind permission of Frank Woolrych

   

Up the steep lane or old highroad is BOTTOMLEY, which has a most interesting history attaching to it. In the early part of last century, the village or rather cluster of cottages at Bottomley was occupied by a number of hand weavers, who kept abreast of the times, and at various periods were makers of cloth, fustian, and calico, as the needs of the times demanded. From 1815 to 1826, there would be about thirty hand looms in the place, all engaged in the then remunerative occupation of weaving, the prices for cuts being at that time at a high figure.

The history of Bottomley dates back to the time of Elizabeth. On the 24th of September 1561, the Earl of Derby sold to Edward Crossley and Robert Fielden, six messuages and tenements called Bottomley, which are held in fee of the Queen by suit of services and the Manor of Rochdale, of ten shillings and twopence per year.

The history of several of the old families of the Todmorden and Walsden districts connects in one way or another with the family of the Robert Fielden mentioned in this deed. One of the descendants of the family was the Rev. Richard Clegg, vicar of Kirkham, one of the founders of the TODMORDEN ENDOWED SCHOOL in 1713.

The Bottomley Fieldens were also united by marriage with the family of Fieldens who came from Bradford to the HORSEPASTURE FARM, afterwards being the tenants under George Travis of the Magatholme and Top-o’th’-Fold farms.

This Nicholas Fielden made a will in 1624 in which he left a considerable amount of property in the Shore and Mercerfield districts to his sons, whilst the son Abraham, who married one of the descendants of the Bottomley Fieldens, had the Inchfield farm besides the right of Bottomley farm through his wife.

 

The second son, John, was afterwards the farmer of Lower CLOUGH FARM, and Joshua Fielden was the farmer at WARLAND FARM, where he built a new house in 1665, the house now bearing his initials and date, still clearly visible. From these two families sprang the “Quaker” family with whom so much of our local history is connected. They were afterwards one of the most influential families in the district, and also one of the most generous.

 

The last of the descendants of the Bottomley Fieldens, were John and Thomas Fielden, the form of whom was known as “Little Quaker.” He sold the Bottomley farm in 1835 to Mr. John Fielden of Dawson Weir, and he then removed to Wadsworth mill so that his children might be nearer to the fatory. “Tum o’ Jossey’s” was the last of the family to remain at Bottomley. He was carrying on to the end his occupation of hand weaver and working for the Fieldens of Waterside.

On the left hand side of the canal and river is Stonehouse farm, or rather farms, the places having probably derived their distinctive name from the possible fact of many of the other houses in Walsden at that time being built of wood. The valley being exceedingly well timbered at a former period.

Coming back over the bridges there stands on the opposite side of the road a row of seven or eight good houses, which are, however of recent date. Continuing on the main road we come to the Bell’s Arms inn, which used to bear until quite a recent period the name of THE WOODCOCK INN.” This house is connected by tradition with Nicholas Fielden as his last home, and fields in the neighbourhood bear the name of the Holme.

The “BIRD IN HAND ” Inn used to stand on the road beyond Steanor-bottom before the new road was made over by the Summit Inn, but it was taken down and rebuilt in its present situation when the new road was made. The traffic now being diverted completely from the old road to the new.

WARLAND GATE END houses were probably built about the same date, (1824), by John Scholfield who also added another cottage at the end, and the two cottages by the canal side about the year 1840/

Steanor-bottom farm is a very old place, and the building has much quaint handiwork about it, including the inscription:

 

“By many hands this work was done,
which could not be performed by one.”


And:


“No man on earth can tell,
The torments that there are in Hell.”

In 1836, this farm was bought by Joshua Fielden of Waterside, and was much improved by re-fencing and re-trenching the land. The Fielden family at one time had a number of employees in this district, and built a new “taking-in place” for their hand weavers to bring their cuts to. At one time the Steanor-bottom farm had been in the possession of Cyril Scholfield, who lies buried in the graveyard of the old church at Todmorden.

CALF-HOLES was the last place on the Walsden side of the boundary, but the property was entirely demolished by the tipping from the railway tunnel. The materials from which it was built were removed by the company, and rebuilt near the Gale Inn on the Little-borough road with a new and up-to-date front.

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