was just a small collection of cottages, the church, the White Hart,
and the odd shop. The river was free to run as and where it liked
when in flood, and the ground was marshy and covered thickly with
trees. With the introduction of the Turnpike Trusts to the area,
efforts were made to clear the trees and build new roads along the
valley bottoms. There was a slow beginning in Todmorden, mainly
due to the reluctance of local people to invest in the schemes.
However, by 1800 work was well under way to link Todmorden to the
large towns at each end of the valleys. This achievment hailed the
beginning of the coaching days and consequently the development
of Todmorden itself.
of the early tenants of the Golden Lion, Todmorden, was Mr.
David Cawthorn, and he became one of the principal promoters
of a regular coach service between Halifax and Manchester,
his house being ideally situated on the turnpike road in the
centre of the village. In
1810 David Cawthorn decided he could improve his business
no end if he could persuade the General Post Office in London
to allow a Royal Mail Coach through Todmorden, using his inn
as a staging place and post office.
invited the Trustees of the Halifax, Burnley and Littleborough Turnpike
Roads to a meeting at the inn to look at the documents relating
to a proposal to run a mail coach from Liverpool through Chorley
and Blackburn to Burnley. The
General Post Office management were refusing to allow the coach
to continue on from Burnley, through Todmorden and Hebden Bridge
to Halifax, because the roads were in poor repair or too narrow.
The meeting resolved to make haste and improve the roads so as to
remove the objections of the General Post Office. Mr. Cawthorn never
saw his dream come true, as the mail coach didn't reach Todmorden
a Committee of Gentlemen, led by Mr. Cawthorn, began to operate
a passenger service using one stage coach from Halifax through
Todmorden to Manchester. The coach ran twice a week on market
days – Tuesdays and Fridays – returning the same day. The
wool manufacturers and cotton spinners used the service to
go to the markets in Halifax and Manchester respectively.
by James Pollard
Edward Blomley, later known as "Owd Neddy", succeeded
Mr. Cawthorn as landlord at the Golden Lion, the service expanded.
It became a daily service with two coaches running, the Perseverance
and the Shuttle. In 1821 the roads were much improved and
the Royal Mail coaches arrived in Todmorden. The Golden Lion became
an important staging place and also the town's post office.
mail coaches were all standard. The upper part of the carriage
was black while the doors and lower panels were maroon. The
wheels were bright red. The Royal Coat of Arms was engraved
on the doors along with the logo of the Royal Mail, and the
name of the towns at the start and end of the journey. The
only post office employee would be the guard.
was heavily armed with two pistols and a blunderbuss. He had an
official uniform of a black hat and a bright red coat with blue
lead offside horse was usually white or grey to provide greater
visibility to oncoming traffic at night.
guard sounded a horn to
warn other road users to keep out of the way and to signal to toll-keepers
to let the coach through. It was the law of the land that mail coaches
had the right of way above all other road users, including the militia.
As the coach travelled through towns or villages where it was not
due to stop, the guard would throw out the bags of letters to the
postmaster. At the same time, the guard would snatch from him the
outgoing bags of mail . If
a coach was not actually stopping at a stage but merely wanted a
fresh team of horses, then just five minutes were allocated for
the change and so the guard would blow the 'change horses' call
on the post-horn to warn the inn-keeper to prepare the horses. The
best ostlers on these mail routes could change a team of 4 horses
in less than 3 minutes.
Mail Coach seated four passengers inside. Later the post office
realized that three more passengers could be accommodated with ease
behind the coachman so seats were added on top. The charge for a
seat inside the coach was 5d. Per mile, and the charge for an outsider
was 2.5 d. per mile. These fees were paid to the innkeepers at the
various stages of the journey. The
journey could get quite rough in places and the passengers had to
get out and walk if the coach was going up a steep hill in order
to save straining the horses.
now the woods had virtually disappeared and there were open fields
and spaces in Todmorden. The coach from Halifax could be spotted
as it came through Millwood over a mile away. Then there would be
great excitement as the ostlers and lads gathered outside the inn
to await the coach. The
Golden Lion became a most lively and interesting place whenever
a coach was arriving or leaving. The coach, with its rattle of wheels,
sharp cracks of the whip, and loud blasts of the horn to herald
its arrival would bring out the crowds, anxious to hear news of
other places and to stare at the gentlemen alighting. It maybe made
them feel part of a busier world than they really were. Old Mr.
Blomley would be standing in the doorway, whip in hand, directing
the stable men. He always wore knee breeches, drab leggings and
a broad brimmed hat.
coach would arrive and then the horses were detached from
the vehicle and led off, steaming, to be cooled and washed
down before being fed and bedded down. The passengers would
alight and repair to the inn for sustenance. The servants
at the inn were run off their feet in attending to the visitors.
Everything, inside and outside, was hustle and bustle.
the words “Gentlemen, take your places” was heard, and it would
be back on board with a full stomache and a fresh team of horses,
Edmund Blomley back in position on his doorstep to wave goodbye.
were so many horses stabled at Todmorden that additional stabling
was needed and one of these was at top of Meadow Lane behind Pall
Mall, despite there being stabling for more than 40 horses and almost
as many carriages at the back of the Golden Lion.
Neddy employed very many ostlers and stable lads. The man who drove
Shuttle was known as Shuttle Jack. He later worked in the
stables and gathered a lot of lads from the surrounding hilltops
to help him. John and Edward Greenwood, sons of William of Birks
Mill, and John Greenwood of Swineshead, called Old Swinesbod, came
down to the valley, enticed by the horses and stables. It was a
very popular occupation for the young sons of the hill farmers,
and once bitten by the horse bug they tended to stay a long time.
John and Edward Greenwood became drivers and John later went to
Rochdale to live, continuing his job for many years. There was a
man named William Marshall who came from out of town to be an ostler.
He wore yellow boots. He married a local servant girl and later
became a horse vet at Gauxholme. He was totally unqualified for
this work, but knew so much about horses and their ailments that
he was quite successful.
coaches weren't just for taking merchants to market, or for
carrying the Royal Mail. The Golden Lion operated a service
to Blackpool, a sea side resort on the west coast of Lancashire
where the air was renowned for its health giving properties.
People had started to go on holiday.
on the coaches was always regarded as perilous. Should two
coaches from rival owners be on the same stretch of road,
it was accepted they would race. They would tear along the
road at great speed, two abreast, jostling for position, to
the discomfort and danger of the passengers and beasts alike.
were normally advertised to travel at 10 to 12 miles an hour "God
willing", whilst others did it whether God was willing or not.
There were frequent accidents. Wheels would fall off, or the carriage
might overturn on the tight corners, and passengers and baggage
would spill out across the road. It was quite usual for those who
were travelling to Blackpool or similar to make their wills before
one occasion the Perseverance and passengers had a narrow
escape between Summit Inn and Littleborough. There was a large thorn
hedge on the road side. The driver, James Blomley, accidentally
dropped the reins. The horses took fright and off they went full
speed ahead. As the coach neared the edge of the road, the passengers
had all but decided to make a jump for it. The women screamed and
the situation was becoming desperate. In the crisis, the driver
slipped down behind the coach, and in danger of his life, he sprang
forward and had the good fortune to catch the broken rein and bring
the horses to a stand still. The passengers immediately made a collection
for the driver as a reward for his bravery.
more serious accident happened on the road through Knowlwood, near
the Guerning Dog beerhouse. A wheel came off the coach and the passengers
were scattered over the road amidst great confusion.
coaching days lasted a very short time. Their demise came with the
building of the railway in about 1841, when a different sort of
coach came in to being. There were still several horse drivers living
in Todmorden in 1841, noteably: Joseph Gill, John Helliwell, James
Pickles and William Jackson.
from the History, Directory and Gazeteer of Lancashire 1824/25 by
FROM THE GOLDEN LION INN
Bridge & Halifax,
The Perseverance, every evening at 7 o'clock. Manchester
, The Perseverance
, Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays at 8am. Tuesdays
and Saturdays at 7-30am. and Sundays at 9-30am.
,The Market Coach,
Mondays 2pm.Tuesdays 5am. Wednesdays
Blackburn, Preston, Lytham and Blackpool
during the bathing season, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 7am.
, a coach every Friday
morning at 5 o'clock.
from White's History, Gazeteer and Directory of the
Riding of Yorkshire 1837
FROM THE GOLDEN LION INN
Shuttle, daily during the season
and Leeds, Defiance
Market Coaches, Saturdays
Market Coaches, Fridays.