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A RAMBLE DOWN HALIFAX ROAD IN 1840

Written by JOHN TRAVIS about 1900
Transcribed by Arlene Hinman in 2003


Leaving Eccles’ Fold and turning to the east down Halifax-road, the first place of interest passed is the County Bridge, which had been widened in 1835 so as to cope with the increased traffic, sufficient provision having also been made to allow for the free passage of the stream during flood time and the like. On the right-hand side “Pall Mall” or “Olds Shop Loin,” was a shop in the occupation of Mr. John Suthers, the premises being used as a grocer’s shop and dwelling house, and going under the by-name of “Th’ Brig Nook.”

Behind this site were two old dwelling houses below the level of the main road, in what used to be known as “Old Shop Meadow,” later named “Meadow-lane.” The shops lower down on the right-hand side of the main road were erected about 1820 by Richard Thomas (“Sewgar Dick”) and others, the site as far as Bond-street being taken up with shops and dwelling houses with good gardens behind.

On the left hand side of the road, prior to the enlargement of the County Bridge, two old Tollhouses used to stand – one at the entrance of Halifax-road, and other at the entrance of the Burnley-road, but when the bridge was enlarged, the houses were removed to Stackhills-lane and Gandy-bridge respectively. The site of the one which used to stand on the Yorkshire side of the river was then walled on three sides and used as a stone-braking depot, for the breaking of stone for the repair of the main roads. At the back of this depot stood the old school, which consisted of two rooms only, had been built out of funds raised by public subscription, and the building stood with its back to the river bed, and with the front to what became known later as Bridge-street, a narrow street extending to the Burnley-road.

On the lower side of Bridge-street stood the warehouse used by William Suthers, and which has since been converted into the Lancashire and Yorkshire Bank and into offices. Between this warehouse and the next shops was a low building occupied by John and William Taylor, butchers, the shop later passing into the hands of William Hawksworth, a nail-maker, employing about five or six men. Mr. Wm. Hawksworth came from Holmfirth. Mr. Hawksworth also occupied the next house and shop, using the shop as a hardware shop. This house had previously been held, for several years before Mr. Hawksworth came, as a druggist’s shop and dwelling house by Mr. Joseph Knowles, who afterwards became one of the leading lights of Todmorden public life. Mr. Knowles had served his apprenticeship in the City-road, London, and prior to coming to the Todmorden district was in partnership with Mr. Kay, of Mold Green, Huddersfield, the firm carrying on the business of manufacturing chemists. Mr. Knowles continued to live in Todmorden till the day of his death at the advanced age of 75 years, and held during that time many offices in public life, including those of constable, churchwarden, and overseer. During the time he held the last named office, he gave a great treat to the inmates of the GAUXHOLME POORHOUSE annually at the Christmas season. He was also for many years the treasurer to several local institutions and public companies, including the Joint Stock Mill Co., the Alma Manufacturing Co., and others. All these offices were held at the time when he was rendering great services to the people of Todmorden in his profession, the people going to him in many cases rather than to a doctor. Mr. Knowles died at Pavement, Todmorden, and was interred at Holy Trinity Church, Huddersfield. He was unmarried and his property passed at his death to a number of nephew and nieces.

The next house down the street was the property of Mr. John Suthers, and was opened by his son Jeremiah Suthers, in 1830, immediately after the passing of the Beerhouse Act, as the PEACOCK INN. The house has continued to exist under the same name till the present day. The next house was also the property of John Suthers, the house being divided into two parts, a cellar dwelling and one upstairs. The cellar window opened on to the street, and was used as a confectioner’s shop, the living accommodation being provided by dwelling rooms on the ground floor with a back entrance in School-lane. After the death of old Mr. Suthers, the property went to his three sons. The nail-making workshop was taken down, and the WELLINGTON beerhouse erected on the site.

Some time after 1840, the next house was occupied by Dr. Gledhill, son of Mr. Gledhill of Moss Hall Stansfield. The latter had been a very successful “putter-out” to home workers and weavers, and one of his daughters was married to Young Uttley, of Lumbutts. The shops between the premises belonging to the Suthers family and Brook-street were occupied by a draper and second hand clothes dealer, but were at other times used for many other businesses. This property belonged to Mr. Thomas Halliwell, the master of the ENDOWED SCHOOL. Mr. Halliwell never lived there, but built houses at Fairview when he retired from the school about 1845-6.

Behind this block of houses and shops, the Methodist Association erected their chapel and school in 1838, the alteration to the present commodious buildings having been made in 1880.

The block of shops in York-street, from Brook-street to Union-street, was built by Mrs. Brooks, of Millwood, and others, about 1820; Brook-street (front and back) were almost from the first known as “Brass knob row,” and were built at the completion of the railway works in 1840.

The WESLEYAN CHAPEL was the next building on the main street after Union-street, and was erected in 1827, and the remainder of the buildings down to Cross-street, all good dwelling houses with cellar kitchens, were built by various contractors. The last house in York-street on the left-hand side of the road, next to Cross-street, was built by Dr. Myers, and later passed into the hands of Dr. Hardman.

Roomfield House and land was the property of the Rev. Joseph Atkinson, incumbent of Todmorden, and after his death in 1819 it fell to his daughter, Mrs. Mary Lord, who has been already referred to. All the rest of “Old Shop Meadow” as it was called has since been built up, and Sobriety Hall was built about 1850.


On the other side of York-street, at the junction with Bond-street, the York Tavern was built in 1824. In later years the name was changed to the “York Hotel.” The building was the property of Mr. Thos. Hartley of the Spring Gardens Inn, and he also caused to be built the block of cottages back to Dale-street, leaving a narrow street, which was afterwards built upon, to Union-street South. It may here be mentioned that Dale-street was originally Deal-street, that name being given to it when Mr. James Holt, joiner and builder, had his workshop there about 1820.

The shops in York-street below the York Tavern were built at different times, and by different people, the ground from York-street to the canal side being eventually completely covered with houses and workshops. York-place was built after 1850, and took up the larger part of the garden space belong to Dr. H. Heyworth, of Pall Mall (now Water-street). The garden previously extended from Meadow-lane to Bond-street.

Lower down York-street, below Union-street, the only building for a great number of years was that belonging to Mr. Henry Atkinson, a shoemaker, the third storey of the building being occupied as a workroom by his workmen.

About 1834, there came to Todmorden a man of the name of Mitchell, a saddler by trade, who built a shop and dwelling-house on the plot adjacent to Mr. Atkinson’s, and the remaining space between that house and North-view was taken by John Smith, painter, and William Sutcliffe, mechanic. The two detached stone villas, named North-view had been built by Messrs. Firth and Haworth, who had also built the weaving shed (ALBION MILL) and sixteen cottages in Lower George-street, their previous place of business having been in Salford, where the foot-soldiers were afterwards stationed after the TODMORDEN RIOTS of 1838.

Still lower down, the CANAL STREET WORKS had been built by John Lord and Sons, late of Clough Mill, Walsden, and the work of constructing cotton machinery was being actively carried on.

Lower George-street was at that time continued right down to the Stackhills-road, in front of the Canal-street Works, and the frontage to the right-hand side of the main road was entirely occupied by buildings by the year 1840, the work being done by various people, of whom one, Jeremy Howorth, a corn mill worker, afterwards sold his property and emigrated with his family to America.

From the old toll-house at Stackhills down to the Rope and Anchor Inn was occupied by several blocks of old houses, many of which probably dated from the making of the Halifax-road in 1765; and at Stansfield Bridge, where the road crosses the Calder, there stood a block of six houses belonging to Major Dawson. This block was afterwards removed to make room for newer houses, the gardens also being taken up for cottage property. On the other side of the river stood the Stansfield Corn Mill, to which many alterations and additions have since been made, and it has been converted from water-driving to steam-driving, and for years has been run day and night.

There has been little change during the past half-century in the buildings below Stansfield Mill, in the Hallroyd houses, Lowerlaith, or the beginning of Millwood, except in the conversion of the old Rehoboth Baptist Chapel, which is now used as a barn or warehouse. The chapel was formerly used for many years by the Baptist denomination, but on the sale of it, the new CHAPEL AT ROOMFIELD, with the manse and school adjoining, was erected by the worshipers.

Millwood is a very old village, which was formerly the centre of a great industry, the millwright and engineering works of Messrs. Robert and William Barker, of Priestwell, and later of “Swan,” which was more accessible, and later to Millwood, a central place. The business was afterwards carried on in a building close to the Shannon and Chesapeake Inn by Jonathon Barker, a grandson of the Barkers just mentioned, but that gentleman and all his sons are now passed away.

Lower down the road, on the right hand side, was the old “Swan” Inn, owned and kept by the Ashworth family of Stansfield. The road about this place was altered once or twice to allow of the slight levelling of Castle Hill, and the earth, etc., removed from the hill near Castle Lodge to the hollow place where the “Swan” stood. This filling up of the hollow caused this ivy-clad building to be a good deal below the level of the road, and the inn was eventually rebuilt, together with two blocks of cottages which were put up by Joseph Ashworth, youngest son of “Old Abram,” of Stansfield, the successful “home manufacturer.”

On the opposite side of the road stood Swan Grove, a group of houses built before the ironworks removed to Millwood. After the old Cross-stone Church was demolished to make room for the new structure, the materials were sold and used for the erection of more houses. Beyond this place on the Halifax-road is the “Castle Lodge,” the seat of the Inghams, and higher up the hill is Castle Hill and Castle Farm. The road leading higher up to the Carrhouse Farm, once the property of John Fielden of Todmorden Hall.

The road continues and leads by way of “The Lane,” “Swallowshaw,” and Sandy-gate to CROSS STONE CHURCH, which was built on the site of the old church in 1834, the Rev. John Fennell being the incumbent.

Returning to the main road, we come to higher and lower Castle-streets, Castle-naze, and the mills of Richard Ingham and Sons of Castle Clough, that being the old style of the firm. CINDERHILL MILL was by the roadside and Millsteads Mill in a hollow place behind the lower street of cottages. There was also a new mill near Woodhouse bridge by the canal side, which for a time was not fitted up with either machinery or power.

Taking across by WOODHOUSE MILL, we may as well have a look at the Lumbutts valley and mills which lie in that direction. The principal feature of the valley for manufacturing purposes was the constant supply of water power without which it is extremely doubtful if there would have been any manufacturing concerns of that magnitude in the district.

Foley Mill was the lowest of the mills and was built on part of the Oldroyd Farm with Causey Wood Mill the next in order up the valley, and then Midgehole Mill, both names being derived from the farms higher up the wood. The next up the hill was the Uttley’s Mill in Lumbutts proper, with one on either side of the road higher up, both belonging to Messrs. Fielden Bros. Of Waterside. All those mills were run by the same power, the water passing from one to the other and so on down the long range of Causey Wood and the Folly.

The Lumbutts district is surrounded by farms whilst Mankinholes with its CHAPEL and graveyard with the surrounding cottages and farms is quite near. Mankinholes was at one time a town holding a fair for the sale of wool and other goods. There have been very few changes in a very long period of time in the Lumbutts and Mankinholes districts. A new road made from Woodhouse and forward across the fields under “Raven’s Nest” to Lumbutts would have greatly helped sixty years ago to develop this beautiful valley.

Coming back to the main valley again from Woodhouse Mill we pass to Lobmill Hill a number of houses there forming a sort of a continuation of Castle-street with a beerhouse and a Primitive Methodist Chapel of very old foundation.

On the opposite side of the road is Lobmill proper which was first started by James Hollinrake of HIGHER KNOWL, Walsden, his first occupation being that of a putter-out of weft and warps to home workers. The mill was not a very ambitious one to commence with and it was worked by water power. For a time he did well and during the time of his prosperity he built Horsfall House near by the mill. After his death the business passed into the hands of his three sons the eldest of whom lived at Longfield Farm but afterwards he built Hallroyd House and the adjoining cottages, the latter being for the accommodation of his home-workers The business declined, however and the family got scattered in their search for means of livelihood and there remains small trace of them in Todmorden.

A little further down the road stands Nell Cote so called from the name of a woman who used to live there who had earned an unenviable reputation. The group of cottages further down is called Burgy after the bye-name of the former owner of the beerhouse, whose cognomen most probably had descended to him from his father. The next great group is Beeton a small group of cottages of the history of which little is known. At Springside there was little except a row of cottages built by Adam Collinge and others, with a beerhouse, etc.

The mill on the canal side was not built till 1860 and Nanholme Mill was even later than that. On the hill above this is Rodwell hill or Rodhill-end where Mr Jas. Crabtree lived, a very successful home-manufacturer, who continued in business so long there that he became known as “Roddel-end.”

There was also the tannery belonging to the Gibson family until the construction of the railway at the bottom of Ingham Clough, the residence of the family being at Bridgeroyd, their own property. In the course of time members of this family were married to members of the Crossley family of Scaitcliffe and one of the daughters married a curate of St Mary’s Church, Todmorden. Betty became the wife of Anthony Crossley of Todmorden Hall (1790).

Stoodley Mill stood between the river and the canal. The mill belonged to a John Sutcliffe of Stoodley Hall afterwards descending to his son Thomas who was ruined by a fire which destroyed the mill. The property then passed into the hands of a member of the Hinchliffe family of Crag. The mill was restored being worked by Mr George Hinchliffe J.P. who built Stoodley Lodge.

A large number of cottages were built somewhat later right down to the site of the old Myrtle Grove Chapel, and the old inn at Bottoms. These two sites were absorbed when the railway was made and the chapel and the new Station House Inn built in their stead, the railway company greatly assisting in the provision of funds. The old inn was kept by “Davie i’th’ Bottoms.” The Prince George Lodge of Freemasons has used the inn for its lodge meetings for 60 to 70 years.

Woodmill, an old water-driven corn mill, stood a little further down but the road was elevated and new premises were erected on the higher side of the road, and the business transferred to the new building.

At Cockden stood the dyeing and finishing works of Messrs. Dan Crabtree and Sons, and the water which comes down from the manufacturing places higher on the hills is used in the processes of the work. The district has been much improved in the last forty years. The addition of a school, post-office, etc., having much added to the business capacities of the place.


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