RECOLLECTIONS OF TODMORDEN
A ramble round Todmorden as it was in the 1820's and 1830's
Extracted from the Hebden Bridge Times and Caldervale Gazette, March to May 1882 (unknown author)
Illustrated by our collection of photos, with thanks to Roger Birch and Frank Woolrych for the use of some of theirs.
How one feels longings to ramble about the old place, for however brief a time, and to see it as it was half a century ago before the making of the rail had disturbed some of the main features of it, which had not changed much after the construction of the canal about the year 1795, before which time the grounds of Todmorden Hall would include Hall Ings; and the green meadowlands probably extended to the river, the water of which ran its clear course down through “The Wreck” – now Strand and Oxford Street – to join its smaller sister down the Burnley Valley.
But this is history rather than recollections, so I will confine myself to fifty or sixty years since, or thereabouts. The field then, where the UNITARIAN CHURCH now stands, was called “the cornfield”, so named from corn growing on it. Beyond it was the cosy cottage and trim garden of Old John at th’ Honeyhole (John Marshall), and beyond that again on the rising ground towards Wellfield was the firwood, in lovely luxuriance.
To the right of the cornfield was a wood of stout timber, in which bluebells flourished. That was before Waterside Weaving Shed and the chimney above it were built, the smoky fumes from which, with others, sealed shortly the fate of the firwood and the adjoining wood, a brave oak at the top of the latter, close to the cornfield, holding out for a lengthened period.
In pleasant weather the height of the cornfield was a ready resort from the upper part of the village – as it might then be called – to those who had the wish to survey the valley and the hilly eminences of the neighbourhood, the field affording a roly-poly ground in its less inclined parts for the children. At foot, towards the Calder’s edge, was the Holme, a line of well-grown trees skirting the Langfield side of the river, from opposite Sutcliffe’s Buildings, for a considerable distance in the direction of Waterside.
Where the boys in merry play,
Work and boots all cast away,
Eked out many a summer’s day,
And the girls – this seeing others-
Also left their homes and mothers,
Spite of scolds and after brother.
Coming across, on reaching Dobroyd Lane was the residence (Dawson Weir) of Mr. John; but whether or not it be due to boyish prejudice or boyish imagination, though the building remains nearly as it then existed, its distinctive, homely, residential, family look, is gone, all the late Mr. John Fielden’s children having left it long ago – and all of them having been, I believe, born there.
Proceeding up the lane a short distance, we come to a house once occupied by the late Dr. Hardman, the lower rooms of it being below the level of the road. His surgery was approached by or through a small garden plot. Following the lane but a few yards further, the bottom of the Old Rake opened into it, and does now. It was overlooked by a porridge-pan dam, which was connected with DOBROYD FACTORY.
The Old Rake
Behind this was the barn of Mr. James Mitchell, the end towards the dam, in front of it a garden that came down to the lane. By the barn was a fruitful pear tree, which in the season of bearing tempted juveniles who passed that way, and which tree at such times was jealously guarded and watched by the said James. A little above on the left was another garden entered by a small gate near the field gate to the meadow, which extends from the lane down to the canal; and on the side of the lane, just by here, grew a huge tree, which went commonly by the boys by the name of the Smelling Tree. It had shiny deep green leaves that gave out a decidedly sweet odour.
Still further on, to the right, was the foot road up to the Brinks – a steep ascent – at the crown of which was a crab apple tree, the only one in the neighbourhood that I knew of. Thence the road was continued through a field and led to one running to Pexhouse and coming out into Stones Lane. This and another road or two were taken away when DOBROYD CASTLE was built, and in lieu of them the Old Rake was made into a passable one, but it cannot be boasted that it is an easy or even safe one to travel at all times.
To return: Sometime about the year 1830 there was a plot of ground, of about an acre in extent, backward of the garden last named, wherein the experiment was made of growing Indian corn, or maize – associated at that time with the late Mr. William Cobbett, for many years the colleague of the late Mr. John Fielden in the representation of Oldham in the House of Commons. It was thought to be an endeavour to realise some of Mr. Cobbett’s American experience; but it was quite a failure. The plants were of stunted size, and if ears formed upon them at all, they never ripened.
On the right of the field footpath leading from the top o’ th’ brinks and near where the castle now stands, was a hedgerow dividing the field mentioned from a field or fields that went over to the Old Rake, in which several holly trees were conspicuous, and which were laid under contribution for “knur-wood” when “tipping time” came round, by some who had the temerity to take such liberty with them. There were one or two cottages and an outhouse or barn between the fields.
James Mitchell had an orchard of middling dimensions behind his dwelling house, which last stood upon elevated ground more up the hill than the barn. There were several other tenements close adjoining. Here was another small dam, at the bottom of a field through which a private road to the castle had been taken. The late Mr. Titus Gaukroger lived at Dobroyd about 50 years ago, and was engaged at the mill there. He married a daughter of the James Mitchell who occupied the farm.
OLD JOHN AT PEXHOUSE used in most years to turn over with a spade a field for the raising of a crop of oats, as did the farmers of the neighbourhood generally. Meal was then much consumed as an article of food in families, and also by farmers to nourish their stock.
Pexhouse about 1890
Leaving that side of the hill by way of Pingold and under Edge End, we come over Hartley Tops, so called because the land was farmed by Thomas Hartley of Spring Gardens – which was a public house situate near where the present Queen Hotel stands, to which the licence was removed after the making, or at the time of the making, of the railway.
The Queen Hotel
The approach from the Spring Gardens Inn was from Doghouse Lane. It ran by the end of the White Hart Inn, and from it, by a short turn to the left the Spring Gardens was reached. This lane was also the road to the houses called The Union, removed for the purpose of the railway, and situated a little way below Doghouse. As well, it went up to Doghouse and formed part of the old highway over Flowerscar to Bacup.
But let us go back to the tops and into the lane that leads into Rise Lane, to Hartley’s Gardens, which, within my remembrance, were converted from the greenwood into garden, and have been re-converted into land for farming. These gardens were frequented chiefly on Sundays, when they were open to the public, as well as on other days, and were at that time almost the only outdoor recreative resort for people.
Hall Wood was then a very thick wood the fields under it came down to the edge of the canal, and the villagers – as we have before termed them – had many a time the opportunity, in the hunting season, of seeing “Puss” run either up or down hill, slyly dodging the dogs, or followed by the pack in full cry, the hunters being scattered here and there – in the foreground, mid-distance, and along the crest of the hill. Weaving by steam power was only in course of being introduced here; and among the attendants on the hounds might be observed a good sprinkling of handloom weavers, who were to be known by the white brats, which it was their custom to wear. For them, hunting had peculiar charms, or they pursued their occupation under circumstances that laid them peculiarly open to temptation in that direction.
Behind the Hall was the orchard, reaching farther than it now does, and the little wood, rather above the arch through which the road is to Rose Cottages, which was made use of as a sheep pasture or enclosure by one or more butchers. It was afterwards changed to a plantation. Above that was a plateau of meadowland, with a rise at the top to Rise Lane. At the corner of this meadow, by the croft or plantation and abutting upon the lane, was the well-kept garden of Mr. Abraham Barker, who had the shop at Church Gates. The orchard to Spring Gardens was bounded by Rise Lane, which took a quick turn to the right at the plantation, and again a turn to the left at Mr. Barker’s garden. Another meadow lay between the continuing part of this lane and the lane by Doghouse.
In the year 1828, the “Hall Doctors” began practice at Todmorden – Mr. James preceding Mr. Crossley Taylor about a year. A number of their patients had quarters at or adjoining the Spring Gardens Inn, to which there was a footway through the orchard, entered by a gate from Rise Lane opposite the present back gates of the Hall. Other patients had private lodgings at various places.
Todmorden Hall about 1836
The watercourse in front of the Hall had not then, I think, been covered in. The now opening to the Hall premises, over against Mr. Clewer’s shop at Strand, then gave access to a yard that was occupied by Mr. James Horsfall, joiner, in which there was a building in which his hearse was put when not wanted; a sawpit bordered on the watercourse. Between this yard and Royal Bridge there was a garden, a white rose tree at the upper corner of which displayed its wealth of flowers and flung out its fragrance.
On the other side of Royal Bridge, a lane was entered which led to Todmorden Hall, a small strip of garden ground or terrace being between the lane and the river (formed over a goit that then existed), and which was reached from the lane by a few steps near the dwellings at the end of it.
Cattle in those days might often be seen being driven to be watered in the river, down a short incline immediately behind the bar-house that had a location on the other side of the road from the corner of the old Market Place, and to which a small, filthy looking yard was attached, filling up a space between the bar-house and the battlement of the bridge, and usually charged with many things neither attractive to the eye nor pleasing to another of the senses. The bridge has since been widened, and by the building of the Town Hall, the whole character of the locality has been transformed.
I may now pass up White Hart Fold, and in the face of the inn, to what was once called Smith Hill, which is now about cut in two by the railway where it crosses the road to Doghouse. Here, public open air meetings were often held for ventilating grievances, local and national, which were sometimes numerously attended; the promoters, speakers, and leading men of the place, belonging to the Reform Party, taking advantage of it most frequently, and occupying positions at such meetings I one or more wagons drawn up for the occasions when the occurred. The proceedings at these meetings were generally animated, and sometimes vehement.
George Eccles was, at the time I left off, landlord of the WHITE HART, at least he was so in 1830; but Joseph, his man, was more like the master of the house, because Mr. Eccles was “bad at stirring”, and Joseph was ever stirring. He was one of the most polite of waiters, and I dare say no-one ever felt himself more honoured than did Joseph when he was called to wait upon a company of gentlemen. The “Joseph” class of waiter has nearly gone out, in Todmorden anyway. In fact, I have never known anyone in the place up to Joseph’s mark in his vocation since, except one, who we need not name here, but to most of the habitués of the hotels and inns of Todmorden some time after that, and to a few of those who knew Joseph, it will at once occur to whom allusion is made.
However, as my purpose is not so much to refer to persons as to places, it may be mentioned that there was considerably more vacant space about the White Hart at that time than at present. My memory does not enable me to define it exactly, but there was more space on the post office side, and by trenching a little on the Market Place, a tolerable extent of accommodation was afforded for shows.
I recollect when a boy of having the privilege of visiting a wild beast show there, in which was a collection of animals, including the famous lion, Wallace, who was said to have fought with and mastered eight bulldogs that were set upon him; while his brother lion, Nero, had exhibited under similar circumstances that magnanimous and generous character of which the King of Beasts is said to be possessed, and had viewed his intended assailants with such placidity that their spirit of attack was broken, and the sport of the spectators of the intended fight was spoiled. The other animals shown were numerous and various, besides which there were large snakes, lifted from boxes lined with blankets, and exhibited in coils round the neck and shoulders of the showman.
White Hart Fold - Market Place
The post office occupies, partly, the then vacant ground on that side. The building was originally erected by the late Mr. John Holt of WOODYARD, and the first time I remember that part to have been occupied, which was under what were afterwards the offices of Messrs Eastwood, solicitors, was occupied as a dram shop or spirit vaults, and was connected with and served from the White Hart Inn. The offices above were then or soon after in the occupation of Mr. Samuel Sutcliffe, youngest son of the late Mr. John Sutcliffe of Stansfield Hall who married Isabella, eldest daughter of Mr. Eccles. Next they were occupied as a Mechanics Institution, the late Mr. James Nuttall of Wellfield, occupying part of the premises as a dwelling house.
The old Post Office (now a restaurant) and the
old Mechanics Institute next door on the right.
In the corner where Mr. Suthers’ spirit stores are, was the house and printing office of the late J. N. Walton, and from it was issued some numbers of a periodical, weekly or monthly, called The Omnibus, and there also was printed a receipt book, compiled by Dr. Worrall of Bacup, brother-in-law of Dr. Hardman.
The first billiard table that was ever brought into the town was kept at the White Hart, though the room was confined, I believe, to a select number of subscribers. It has ever since been termed “the billiard room”, though it ceased a long while to be used for that purpose. In recent times, it has been put to the same use, and is so at present, so far as I know.
“Eccles Steps” and “Old Simon’s Parlour” would leave a reader in some degree of bewilderment without explanation. It is scarcely 50 years since these came into requisition. Cases of breaches of the peace, damage, felonious and other offences that had been committed in Todmorden and Walsden were formerly taken to Rochdale to be heard and disposed of. But about 1837, I think, Todmorden was appointed to have a local petty sessions and a local magistracy, who sat in the large room upstairs at the White Hart, and thus offenders of the peace and dignity of this realm were taken for examination there, which, in common parlance, was being taken “up Eccles steps”.
“Old Simon’s Parlour” was a lock up at Doghouse where persons were taken to and from the justice room as might be required. It was rented from a man named Simon Whipp, and the generality of the people, therefore, chose to apply to it this name. Before that they were taken to a lock up at Cross Stone for offences not always committed in the township of Stansfield. I recollect distinctly on one occasion a refractory prisoner being tied behind a horse and hauled along the road to that rather difficult place of access.
There used to be a story current in the early days of the sessions at Todmorden that a man (a stranger) had arrived in the town one night, got lodgings, and in the morning decamped with the blankets. He was followed, overtaken near Sourhall, and brought before one or more of Their Worships, who were somewhat new to the business then. It happened that a sub from the clerk’s office was the advisor of the Bench on the occasion and having poured for some time over the criminal law books, he told the Bench he could nowhere find blankets – “there was no law that he knew of, for blankets”. The story is likely to have been the invention of some satirist who had witnessed the not unlikely raw manner in which those new to the business managed it.
The building in which are Messrs Sagar and Camm’s offices has run its nose considerably into the Market Place. The end of a house of some age stood square towards The Fold before that was erected, and occasionally meetings were held, which were addressed from the balcony over the post office. The late Charles Towneley of Towneley addressed a meeting from this balcony when one of the candidates in the Liberal interest (soon after the passing of the Reform Bill) for South Lancashire. He was not returned to Parliament. His speech did not give him much prestige in the eyes of even his supporters – it was a disjointed and flabby attempt to talk upon political matters.
The OLD CHURCH, being the only one in the township of Todmorden and Walsden on Sundays was attended by a more mixed congregation than any place of worship in Todmorden now is. The peculiarities of Walsden people were more marked than they are at this day, and a person not acquainted with the district would have observed a strong dividing line between them and the Todmorden people, which is now in course of passing away.
St. Mary's Church about 1860 - the Old Church
In front of the White Hart they held the fair. The fair is a more straggling affair now than it used to be – new conveniences, new modes of business, have superseded much of what gave importance to some branches of the fair, and have modified to an extent the modes of conducting some of the amusements or gratifications; for instance, mechanical power is employed in the swing-boat and whirling department, the moving of which was formerly done by men and boys.
I left my reader last in front of the White Hart; and we will now take from that hostelry to Smith Hill again, for we have not yet exhausted Smith Hill. The centre point, which was occupied for political and other meetings, I have described as being about where the railway arches are that cross the road to the goods station, and up to Doghouse. Smith Hill shared the visits of showmen, theatricals, rope dancers and others offering that class of entertainments to the public.
There was a considerable flat area; but beyond that, a brinky piece extended to the foot road by the vicarage; traces of this brink may still be seen below the road first named. The present vicarage was not then built, nor the church, but Smith Hill, the meadow land to the turnpike (where Cobden now stands) were occupied, together with the White Hart, the lower portion of land going by the name of Eccles Holme. At the wide place in the road, just by the new church gates, was the sacristy, a building that was used as a Sunday school to the old church before the new one was built, which was opened in the year 1832. The Vicar of Halifax (afterwards Archbishop of York), Charles Musgrave DD, preached on the occasion.
Christ Church - the new church
On either side of Wellington Road, the land was not built upon. A field on the lane on the left was occupied by John Suthers who kept the toll bar at the top of York Street, near which place I shall return by and by. Open fields to Hallroyd were on the other side of the lane, through which, along the river side (about 150 to 200 yards) to Damscout, and thence by a turn to the left, following the head goit to Stansfield Mill, was a foot road by Hallroyd to Millwood, for which the present road along the foot of the embankment to Hallroyd is a substitute.
The old path made a very pleasant walk on that side, and was considerably frequented, as was Damscout, in the summer by boys for the purpose of bathing. On weekdays this place was comparatively private; indeed then it was a common practice for young men to bathe in the canal anywhere from the bottom of Buckley Dam to Dobroyd Lock. The dam extended from the croft below Dawson Weir (divided only by the canal bank from the canal) downwards to near the corner of Messrs Astin and Barker’s machine shop. Shop Lock was also a very common resort for bathers, and I have heard of bathers sometimes jumping off the canal bridge into the pool below.
Going back to Jump Clough Bridge – the entrance to Wellington Road – and proceeding along the turnpike, looking into the river over the low wall the stream showed itself some 2 yards below the level of the footway. The road has been much raised since, and the higher level of the river bed goes to prove how the fall has been damaged by reason of the diversion of the river when the railway was made. Formerly, it ran straight forward, and was joined by the stream from Walsden near Damscout. The portion of land lying between the 2 steams was denominated The Tang, and was not uncommonly known by that name until within about 30 years ago, and is so named in deeds relating to the plot. There can be little doubt it is a corruption of the word “tongue”. It is fanciful, but just within probability, that it might be a localism borrowed from the word “tongs” or “tangs, very commonly expressed, and which, when open, would nearly represent its shape.
The Walsden stream ran by the side of the turnpike road, now called North Street, to a point where Stansfield Road joins the turnpike, when it took a turn to the right and joined the Burnley stream near Damscout as previously stated. The Tang was then a part of the New Inn Estate (The White Hart) and belonged to Mr. Samuel Greenwood of Stones. The White Hart was originally called the New Inn to distinguish it from the older inn – now the Golden Lion, but which was, at the time of the erection of the White Hart (1728) probably called The Hole in the Wall, and was situated at the top of King Street turning up to Hanging Ditch.
The first building put on The Tang plot was probably PATMOS CHAPEL, built by Thomas Cooper, tailor, and occupied by him up to the time of his death; then other buildings facing the turnpike, and subsequently, on the diversion of the river, the houses, mills etc. between the river as it is now and the Stansfield Hall Estate. On the other side of the road was Waterfield Cottage.
Patmos Chapel in the centre
Coming back towards North Street were the OLD MILL PREMISES OF MESSRS BUCKLEY, but not where the present loom shed of Messrs Ormerod stands, nor Ridgefoot House. This was a part of Eccles Holme. A few trees skirted the other side of the river, beyond which were holmes, the property of Mr. Joshua Barnes Fielden of Old Shop, and other holmes belonging to the Roomfield and Kilnhurst Estates. Only a few houses at the top of York Street above the Methodist Chapel, with Roomfield House, were in the intervening space between there and Stansfield Bridge, an old barn (recently pulled down), and Major Dawson’s garden.
Houses continued on the right hand side of the road to the bottom of White Hart Fold, several of which have undergone modification, but the property to a great extent, including the Black Swan (kept then by Robert Greenwood) retains many of its old features.
North Street 1905
Having now got back to White Hart Fold, I may mention that the old glebe house is dimly within my recollection. It stood at a little elevation opposite the old bar-house on the site of the property erected by the late Timothy Roberts. It had a garden in front, a little above the level of the road, walled and railed in. It was afterwards differently occupied for a time.
Site of the Old Glebe House (Vicarage) 1924.
The old Post Office is next door on the right
I have been told that a person named John Dewhurst lived in the end of the premises nearest to White Hart Fold (a cordwainer), brother of the late Mr. Dewhurst, schoolmaster at Cross Stone, and uncle of the late Messrs Dewhurst of VALE ACADEMY. With this John Dewhurst, the late Abraham Marshall of Pitts was apprenticed, and with whom, as I have understood, the Rev. John Hornby (Wesleyan Minister) worked as a shoemaker. The premises, within my recollection, had a snug, homely, respectable look, and were entered by a few steps and a gateway from the turnpike, there being a turnstile to the bar on that side of the road.
While the bar-house here was in being, halberdmen were, at the half yearly fairs, accustomed to stand on each side of the bar to demand certain small dues for the lord of the manor from persons bringing cattle. Their official capacity was indicated by their bearing a pole or shaft of wood several feet in length, at one end of which was fastened a steel weapon – the construction of a kind between a halberd and a bill hook, with which youngsters were told they had authority to strike down any cow or other animal brought to the fairs for sale, the owner of which refused to pay the accustomed dues. A bit of “red listing” ornamented the halberd where it joined the pole; these visitors were rather dreaded by the juveniles, who had no doubt exaggerated notions of their power to enforce the dues demanded, in the way named.
Close to the old glebe house is the ENDOWED SCHOOL, but to say anything as to particular interest as to this, I should again have to dive into history. By the by, I may say that the school was built originally in 1713 by the Rev. Richard Clegg, and endowed out of funds contributed by himself, and partly collected by him from others, and placed under trustees, one condition of the trust being that 4 poor children – 2 to be nominated by the churchwardens of the chapelry, and 2 by the possessor for the time being of an estate called Eastwood Estate in Stansfield – were to be educated free of charge forever. The wife of the said Richard Clegg was an Eastwood, of Eastwood, and the original deed is now in the possession of Mr. A. G. Eastwood for the trustees. The school was rebuilt in the year of 1851 by the then trustees. It is worthy of note as being the first educational effort in the place – begun 169 years ago – and as such deserves to be held in some consideration. Mr. JOHN TRAVIS of Walsden has given details of how the school was conducted, and what were its resources, when he was a scholar there, which have been published. The master then, and since my earliest recollection, was Mr. Thomas Helliwell, and though there were 2 or 3 other schools besides, in Todmorden, and might be before his day, it was reckoned during his administration as a better-class school; and now and then, when pupils of his have taken to bad ways in after life, it would be remarked in alluding to them, and as adding to their disgrace, that “he went to Thomas Helliwell’s school”.
The Endowed School
But, in our return from Patmos by North Street, I have omitted one or two recollections. Huddled with, or close to, the Black Swan Inn, the late Mr. William Eastwood opened business as a solicitor, and there also was the office of Messrs Sellers and Blomley, solicitors, the latter of whom has again gone further in the same direction – to the offices built by the late Mr. Hammerton, but not the old office in which the late Mr. James Stansfield served his articles with Mr. Hammerton.
North Street now - Black Swan on far right
There are many associations with the Black Swan. What was called the Dulesgate Fleet were wont at one time there to resort, and concoct measures and devise means in respect of certain township matters that were looked upon in an unfavourable way by other gentlemen and lay payers, great warmth of feeling and persistence being exhibited by each clique, if we may say so, on the question involved, which by recent changes have sunk into oblivion, and to a great extent were settled during the lifetime of the respective parties.
The Black Swan about 1910
I have just been speaking of the endowed school. I may relate an anecdote of one of the schoolmasters of the town at that day, in illustration of his competency as an instructor. He had been so unwell as not to be able to attend to his duties, and a friend meeting him when he was recovering said, “Mr. … I am glad to see you are getting convalescent again; to which he replied, “Well, I was, but I am rather better today”.
I now resume at the point arrived at in my last – the endowed school. Passing over the County Bridge – commonly called Bar Bridge formerly, because of the two bars that adjoined it at North Street and top of York Street – on the left hand was the latter bar-house, a larger and squarer building than toll houses on this road were wont to be, and shaming its neighbour on North Street. It was tended by John Suthers, who had his shop and dwelling house over the way at the end of Shop Lane, which, from Meadow Lane to York Street had the name of Pall Mall; and I find in Baines “Lancashire” 1825 that Samuel Wilson of Pall Mall, carrier to Hebden Bridge and Halifax, “departs thereto every Friday morning at 8 o’clock, and also, in the winter season, to Preston by Burnley, Padiham and Whalley on Monday mornings departing at 8 o’clock.”
The name Pall Mall for this locality has almost faded from the memory of those who may have heard it in their youth. At the end of York Street bar-house what is now Bridge Street led to a school built by public subscription for the use of all denominations, and to The Holmes referred to previously, on that side of town, belonging to the late Joshua Barnes Fielden of Old Shop. The lower room of the school in question, when I first knew it, was used as a day school, the then master being a Mr. Uttley, who, I have been informed, went afterwards to Sowerby Bridge, and he and someone of his family became postmaster there, but I give this last as what I have been told only. The situation of the school was known to most Todmorden people, having been removed but a few years since. The late J. N. Walton succeeded Mr. Uttley in the same school. The upper room of the building if I be not mistaken was once occupied by the Wesleyans as a Sunday school.
Doubts have arisen and difficulties have attended the property, into which I shall not enter, as to the precise construction given to the words “use of all religious denominations”, and the right or power to transfer it for other uses then as set forth on a flag built in the end wall towards York Street. The upper room was for a time devoted to the purposes of a society called The Artheneum, subsequently the Mechanics Institution, and also was used in various ways, both on weekdays and Sundays, at various times. But whatever its rights, privileges or uses, they have been swept away, and its site is now covered by the present TOWN HALL, and the narrow slip of garden ground that lay along it between … and the river, and the sites of both the old toll houses.
Where the Lancashire and Yorkshire Bank now stands, I remember two or three mean looking dwellings to have been, the approach to one of which was by wooden stairs to the street. Further down the street on that side was the nail maker’s shop of Hawksworth, (father of Joshua the cricketer). Down by the end of this there was an opening from York Street to a stable in the occupation of John Suthers, and which belonged to him, and to the back of the houses next lower down. In one of these houses the late Joseph Knowles opened a shop, and began business in the town as a chemist and druggist.
York Street about 1910
What form the property took from there to Brook Street I don’t quite recollect, but my impression is they were fairly decent and substantial dwelling houses. One of the houses was occupied by Dr. Naylor, who practiced for some years in Todmorden, but died at a comparatively early age. At the back of a part of this line of premises ran a balcony. From the whole of them there was an open view across The Holmes to Stansfield Hall and beyond. The field immediately behind was sometimes the scene of equestrian performances near where the school stood. Nearer Roomfield the cricket club had its ground for a while; its meetings were held at the York Tavern.
BRIDGE STREET CHAPEL, I am inclined to think, would be the first building put upon that back holme, and perhaps before it was used as a cricket ground, but this I am not prepared to say. I am not as clear as to the shape in which the property the shop of the late B. Stephenson was, nor that beyond to Cross Street, but I have a recollection of the lower part of it being added or rebuilt, and it will be remembered by many that the late James Farrar had his hairdressers shop and house there, up some steps, and there were cellar dwellings underneath. That portion of it to which I refer as having been added or rebuilt was the lowest, and occupied by the Misses Crossley, who there taught a Girls, or should we say in these days of advanced education and improved manners, a Young Ladies School. At that time it was accounted The High School in Todmorden for the gentler sex.
Bridge Street Chapel
YORK STREET CHAPEL, I believe, was built in the year 1827. I have a dim and feint recollection of the ground there, and where the late Dr. Hardman’s house is, being altogether free from other buildings. Whether his house or the chapel was first erected, I know not. This house was built or occupied by a Dr. Myers, who was there for a short time. I do not remember that he died in Todmorden, and conclude that he went away soon after the house was built. There was no other house on that side of the road, except Roomfield House, and a cottage there, to Stansfield Bridge.
York Street Chapel
I will now return to the County Bridge and take the reader up Church Street. A small shop at the corner of the bridge was a butchers shop from my earliest recollection. Edward Roberts, though not a native of Todmorden, nor of England, dwelt near thereto for more than half a century; next him lived WILLIAM SCHOLFIELD, ironmonger, before he removed to North Street, and after him, his son James, and there kept the post office. The house and premises that Mrs. Holmes occupies were the residence and place of business of William Sagar the elder, a rather small man whom I can just remember, and who was followed as a grocer there by his son William. His son John, near on 50 years ago, if not more, opened the Vaults, which were afterwards continued by his brother William.
Church Street about 1860
The Vaults, among those posted up in the small matters of the place, have for a considerable length of time borne the sobriquet of the “diving bell”, by reason of the sudden descent to them from the street. Had the gangway that now connects them with Water Street been then constructed, this somewhat happy touch of local nomenclature might not have occurred. The property in Church Street has been so parcelled out, above and below, that each landlord has been said to be over or under another having an interest in it; and from the County Bridge to Royal Bridge it is no doubt a good deal mixed.
Jane Turner’s sike used to be, in dry seasons, a place where many people resorted and lay in wait for a supply of water, where there was a full, constant stream of good quality; but since the making of the railway, the supply has, I believe, been somewhat injured both in quality and quantity. One sees now many dry basins by the roadside and elsewhere, into which there was in bygone days a good flow of pure water. Though these supplies may in some cases be utilised in a different manner, we miss a certain refreshing look that they gave to roads and localities, and opportunities of refreshment to the thirst wayfarer. Jane Turner was the person who occupied the house next the Royal George Inn; she was a dealer in odd things, and kept pigs in a cote that lay below the footpath, and whose premises gave no indication of the purity of the water that ran into the sike that bears her name.
Over against Jane Turner’s, at the entrance to the yard of the old church, were the public stocks, in which might occasionally be seen a disorderly person or two, undergoing and being kept for further punishment for their misdeeds. The stocks were taken away some 50 years since, about, I think.
James Howarth kept the Royal George Inn; Joseph Barker, since, “Joseph at Centre Vale” was his manservant, and familiarly known as “Joseph at t’ Royal”, as another was, whom I have before mentioned at Joseph at Eccles’s. The uppermost house in Church Street was occupied by Samuel Greenlees – Sam Saddler usually called. It overlooked the Calder and Royal Bridge.
Strand with Church Street beyond
Across the river were Shop Lane and Old Shop, the residence of Joshua Barnes Fielden. A grocer shop was, in rather earlier times I have understood, kept here by a person known as Old Sammy at t’ Shop. Very likely, such a shop having been kept there gave the current name Old Shop to the property, and to lands below to Stackhills Road or Shop Holmes. When Joshua Barnes Fielden resided there, a shop and separate dwelling formed part of the premises, and did so down to a recent period, when the whole character of the locality was transformed in making the present Water Street. It had, though, in the centre of the town, and in one of the lowest situations, in the days of Joshua Barnes Fielden, a cleanliness and respectability of appearance with which perhaps no other residence could vie.
Its near neighbour, Todmorden Hall, had the prestige of antiquity and historic associations. The closely nippes green croft between Old Shop and the canal, the few sheep that lay or grazed therein, and the general quietude of the place, gave a pastoral look to that side of it; the garden itself, kept with extremist care, the apple trees in it with their blushing and inviting fruit, the wide spreading and full bearing pear tree that almost hid the end of the building towards the garden, went to form a picture one could have well wished were preserved of this part of old Todmorden. The trim, though plain, garb of the Quaker owner often seen in his garden familiarly and suggestively giving directions to his man James, were quite in harmony with the surroundings.
For the other side of Old Shop – the barn and its cutilages – we have not much of complimentary to say. It was in the occupation of Samuel Wilson (grandfather of Mr. S. Wilson of Water Street) on whom the town was dependent chiefly, if not entirely, for its supply of cockles and mussels and fresh fish.
Dr. Heyworth Heyworth was his close neighbour, and had a garden that was well looked to, and extended from the back approach to Pall Mall to Bond Street. Dr. Heyworth was a natty professional looking gentleman, who dressed in black, wore black silk stockings and low shoes, but who now lies near the upper door of St. Mary's Church, in silent companionship with many of his patients, by whom he was trusted and respected while living.
And here I must take my leave of Old Shop and Pall Mall, and of two of the most precise gentlemen in the town of Todmorden at that period – Joshua Barnes Fielden and Dr. Heyworth.
I find it chronicled in the History, Directory and Gazetteer of the County of Lancashire, published by Edward Baines of Leeds in the year 1825, that at Todmorden, “unlike large towns there is room for expansion, and the valley is studded with cheerful habitations equally distant from splendour on the one hand and penury on the other”.
That might be the conclusion of an observer nearly 60 years ago; but I think the truth of such an observation would fail now. The Holmes, right and left of York Street have since been built upon; the railway has swallowed and retained a goodly portion; a comparatively small patch belonging to Mr. T. Knowles remains between the County Bridge and Stansfield Bridge, and building immediately about the town has been driven to the rising ground and hills on the Langfield and Stansfield sides of it, and also in the Walsden direction.
There may yet be some room, but the power is wanting, for the eligible bottom building land being in the hands of those who have no wish to let it for that purpose. It might as well not be there as far as regards the present extension of the town, and if that be proceeded with, refuge must be taken to the hills, as witness Fair View, Willow Bank, Pexwood and other places.
I can confirm the statement of the writer quoted, that at that time, the valley of Todmorden was studded with “cheerful habitations”; and although what we may call “good houses” have been erected in and about Todmorden, with modern appointments and internal fittings, which would lead one to denominate them sumptuous when compared with older houses, still they have scarcely that cheerful exterior air that the older houses had. But these for the most part, like old people, have been thrust into corners, or obscured by the younger growth about them. The new houses are more pretentious often, but less solid and comfortable than many of the old respectable residences.
I will now take the reader back along Water Street, by Strand, along the canal bank and through Salford. If our round has not then been long enough, we can extend if we so desire.
|Water Street about 1900
||Water Street - similar view now
Some years ago, the Old Shop property, now Water Street, was purchased by a few persons jointly, and has been changed into the form in which it is found. I believe portions of the old house still remain in the rear of the shops fronting on Water Street, into which parts of these are built. Before this alteration, the entrance to Shop Lane at the end was quite a declivity, and in times of frost and snow used to be a favourite place for boys to indulge themselves in sliding, being paved with large stones, and affording opportunity for a good slide. People of mature years did not always keep their temper, and sometimes not their feet, in consequence of the pastime of the boys, and some of the more reprobate would swear. But their situation only added to the pastime of the boys, and here and there, one more forward than the rest would hurl a snowball at the fallen, on the principle of “hit him while he’s down”, and then feign to be looking round – affecting a concern for the person on the ground – as if to discover the unfeeling and dastardly one who thus had added insult to injury.
A part of Strand, if not the whole, had been built before the formation of Water Street. I think the late Edward King was the first who built a shop there; next the late Mr. Fairbourn; and following him Mr. Clewer at the corner of Canal Bridge. I have perhaps mentioned before that this part of Todmorden went with people of moderate years by the name of The Wreck, probably from a deposit of sand and gravel in the river there or thereabouts when it ran its old course before the canal was made. The old name has been modernised to “Strand” as having some affinity to “Wreck”.
Strand looking towards Church Street
Canal Bridge was steeper on the Pavement side of it, long ago, than it is now. In those days it was a great resort of working men in idle hours (and of idle men in working hours, whose remarks were seldom pleasant to decent passers by, even when not directly addressed to them). Bridges and bridge corners seem to attract the same class of persons everywhere; and it was not until the Local Board widened this bridge and reduced its lounging opportunities by heightening the sides of it and making the sitting upon them impracticable, that this long standing (and long-sitting) nuisance was abated.
The WOODYARD was a woodyard and nothing more. In the back part of it there was a line of building along by the watercourse, respectively a joiner’s shop, saw pits in the occupation of James Holt, and 2 or 3 dwellings and a sort of shed at the end towards Pickles Bridge. It will be known to few that in a room of one of these dwellings, or adjoining thereto, the first printing press set up in Todmorden was placed, and a small printing office opened. The entrance to the joiners shop was from the canal bank.
Following the canal bank to the road through Salford, near the corner was the residence of William Burrows, carrier to Rochdale every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 7am – or so says Mr. Baine’s Directory; but people who lived on the spot knew better. No mention is made of the time at which he returned at night, but it is enough to say that it happened so late, frequently the cart was heard jolting along by those who had no wish to see it, while others were too fast asleep even to hear it.
Where the workshop of MESSRS ASTIN & BARKER stands, was a vacant and open space of ground – a place where Samuel Hanson laid wood. At the end, towards the canal, an occasional boat was built, and there of course was launched, which was an event and attracted numerous spectators. At fair times this plot of ground was the rendezvous for most of the gamblers in the country, who might be seen in half a dozen groups of various dimensions, and counting sometimes well up to a hundred persons. Occasional raids were made on them by the parish constables, or more correctly speaking, by some bolder deputy constable, who took the spoils left on the ground in part reward of his vigilance and risks – for that there were rough customers amongst them we need not say.
Richard Chaffer had a small woodyard on the site of the GENERAL HAVELOCK beerhouse; then there was a garden and yard, which went backwards to Buckleys Dam bank; next were houses and shops occupied by the Chambers, where was the printing office after its removal from Woodyard.
On that side of Salford Road where the late MR. NUTTALL'S FOUNDRY was, and Theatre Royal now extends, at a date still further back, dimly within my recollection, was the garden of Giles Parkinson reaching to the watercourse and occupying the space between William Burrows and Chaffer’s yard on that side. I mention the gardens in this part of town to show that what has since had the appellation given to it as “dirty Salford” was not always the smudgy begrimed locality that its later name implies.
View over Salford - left is Astin & Barkers Ironworks, centre is Whiteheads metal works
Giles Parkinson had his warehouse in the premises of the tinner’s shop of HENRY WHITEHEAD. The part of the works of Messrs Astin & Barker not built on the site of Buckleys Dam were for some years employed by Messrs Firth & Howarth as a powerloom shop, and afterwards as infantry barracks consequent on the disturbed state of the neighbourhood in the Anti-Poor Law times, there being also a troop of cavalry billeted for a while at various inns in and near Todmorden. Some of these when they departed took wives with them from among the Todmorden lasses, while others took no wives but left children.
Following the road by Back Salford – first on one side were the boiler and engine house of The STEAM FACTORY, on the other side the yard of James Stansfield; then GILES PARKINSON'S SIZE-HOUSE.
I may furnish a little episode relative to this. It was burnt out during Giles’ tenancy and subsequently put into order when Edward Gregson of Burnley came and ran it. There occurred disputes as to the turning of it by shafting, which went underground, the power being supplied from the Steam Factory engine. WILLIAM CRABTREE of Banks, Dulesgate, was the person who objected, being then owner of adjoining property, and claiming a right to part of the street between his property and the sizehouse. The shafting was disconnected, and in order to meet the difficulty the turning was arranged to be done by a chain and pulleys a sufficient height from the ground, the pulleys being fixed on the Steam Factory engine house and the sizehouse respectively. This was continued for a time, but William Crabtree (usually called Billy Brush) as he had objected to the shafting underground so did he set against the chain overground. Thomas Thomas, who, like John Ratcliffe of Sourhall, seemed to be a sort of confidential man and advisor extraordinary of different people as to their legal rights, became connected with this dispute in the interest of Gregson and others.
One summer evening William Crabtree brought implements and aides and abetters in the work of cutting the aforesaid chain, and thereby asserting his invaded rights, the other opposing parties being also present with their authority, Mr. Thomas Thomas. The circumstances gave rise to a good deal of acrimony and curiosity in that quarter. A song of several verses in reference to the occasion was composed by someone watching. I remember only the lines of it following.
Thomas Thomas did say Billy Brush had no right
To cut down the chain either morning or night
And if he did so they would let him feel
If he touched Mr. Gregson, his chain or his wheel.
He went up the ladder to cut the chain down,
The people about they called him a clown,
They called him a fool, and they called him a thief
For cutting the chain without any leave.
How the matter was terminated I have not in my mind, but I think the turning of the sizehouse by the chain continued for a long time after that.
Opposite this sizehouse the late Jeremiah Jackson had his mechanic’s shop. He was grandfather of the sons of the Jeremiah Jackson who now have premises about Derdale. The shop was too, for a number of years, carried on in a building now absorbed into Messrs Astin & Barkers works.
The SALFORD OLD FOUNDRY was then the only one near Todmorden, except a private one at Messrs Fieldens at WATERSIDE. Here in Salford, the iron, cotton and machinery interests were exhibited in their earlier stages at Todmorden. Forty to fifty years ago what was known as the “weft fork” was first applied to a loom erected in part of the old shop occupied by Jeremiah Jackson. It was the invention of John Ramsbottom, son of Henry Ramsbottom of the Steam Factory, and the patent right of it was sold on his account, and the representatives of the late Richard Holt of Todmorden, to a firm in Blackburn. It has been universally adopted almost as an indispensable appendage to the calico powerloom.
Going along the “backside” as it was called, the houses there had a decent, light, habitable look, much in contrast to their later appearance when higher buildings had been raised in their front, and when they had an outlook from behind over John Smith’s rope walk by the side of Buckleys Dam, across the dam and canal, and upon the fields and Hall Wood beyond.
Taking round the corner to the left there was a low building, in the basement of which Old Jone o’ Binns had his dwelling and a smithy - now the shops of George Whiteley and his next door neighbour. Then came the “new end” of the Steam Factory; next to it were dwelling houses including the Lord Nelson, which at that time was occupied as a private house by John Smith, roper. The licence for this house was not used for several years, but when again taken up, James Sutcliffe of Millwood, if I am not mistaken, kept it. I am recently told by a person that when a child he was in this house, rocked by steam, a mechanical contrivance from the adjoining mill.
The old end of the Steam Factory and the residence of Henry Ramsbottom finished the line of buildings now called Cheapside.
A small garden lay between Henry Ramsbottom’s house and The Fold – Salford Old Road – on the opposite corner was the shop of William Pickles, grocer, then the smithy of James Whitaker, to which young horses were often brought in those days to have their tails docked, which was done by placing a block of wood on the opposite flat-topped garden wall, laying the young horse’s tail thereon, and an axe on the top of that, and striking the head of the axe with an iron mall.
Beyond the smithy and blacksmith’s shop of James Whitaker was his house, where I believe the first “white licence” beerhouse in the town was opened, and which went by the name of the Horse Shoe Tavern, having a horseshoe painted thereon in the centre. Further on, with a small garden in front of it, in which grew marigolds, various flowers, French beans etc. was the house of Mr. Richard Chaffer, and his workshop adjoining. The river was not built over from Pickles Bridge to the aqueduct.
The act for the licensing of beerhouses came into operation in 1828, I believe. Since that time, there have existed to my recollection five beerhouses at different times in Salford and Cheapside, besides the present one – the General Havelock. I have already mentioned the Horse Shoe Tavern, and may just say that, previous to James Whitaker’s coming into Salford, the blacksmith’s shop that he had was occupied by one Matthew … (I forget his surname), who went to America with his family. The next oldest beerhouse in Salford was called commonly the Flag Alley, and was kept by William Fielden, whose widow or some of the family had afterwards kept the Lord Nelson Inn. John Holt had then a bobbin shop over the water course and a saw mill in the higher part of the Woodyard premises. The “alley” in question led to these.
Returning to Pickles Bridge, the battlement on the houses side ran to the corner of Salford Road. It has been taken away and the building front laid open to the road. This battlement used to be a favourite “colting” place – at meal times particularly – to the no small annoyance of the respective occupiers of the premises. Over the water the shop of the late Joseph Knowles (now Mr. C. Lord’s) had not been projected into the river.
A balcony formerly ran along the upper end of the buildings fronting on Pavement, from which there was an end entrance from that level to the house occupied by James Stansfield (Jim Takkit) and there was a descent by steps into a yard between it and the river wall, and the lower kitchen was entered from the yard. The dwelling next it was occupied by the late Joseph Buckley, and the next again by Mrs. Thomas, grocer. Across the way from Mr. Knowles’ shop was a saw pit in a corner of the timber yard of Samuel and William Hanson, which yard extended from that corner to Hanging Ditch Road, and within which has been built the property now standing upon it – the Fielden Coffee Tavern most recently.
Fielden Coffee Tavern about 1905
The buildings at this part of town have been largely occupied by professional men. The firm of Sellers & Blomley, solicitors, had once their office here. Doctors Foster, Sutcliffe, Thorpe and Nash have resided there respectively. Dr. Oliver began business in a house behind these near the foot of Shoebroad Bank.
Going down King Street we reach the GOLDEN LION INN. I cannot go beyond Edmund Blomley as proprietor, who kept the house in 1825 – 57 years ago – and from which inn there then ran to Manchester the Observance Coach on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings at 7-30, and on Sunday mornings at 9-30. A Manchester Market Coach ran on Mondays at 2pm; Tuesdays at 5am and Wednesday at 5-30am. To Burnley, Blackburn, Preston, Lytham and Blackpool (during the bathing season) a coach ran on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 7am. A close neighbour to the Golden Lion Inn was a news room. In the days of the Reform agitation, a member sometimes read from the top of the steps the exciting accounts of political movements elsewhere, and doings in Parliament, to a tolerably numerous auditory below.
Mr. Edmund Blomley was also postmaster, so that it may be said this locality was the one where the news from places outside both centred and was disseminated, and communications maintained by what was then considered to be expeditious mode (coaching), and by the slower means of boats for carriage, through the agency of Messrs Veevers of the canal wharf. The houses then overlooking the canal yard had a rather respectable look, one of which was tenanted by Thomas Taylor, wharfinger at that time, and father of the late well-known William Taylor.
Golden Lion in the 1931 floods
I recollect little Dick, the horse postman from Halifax, with red coat and leather bags containing letters from that quarter, who blew his horn on approaching the inn, and his horse who after a time grew into a horse and gig. Then there were other surroundings and associations of the inn; the tradesmen of the district passing by coach on their way to Manchester; the gentlemen habitués of the Lion; the middle and lower grades; the ostler fraternity, rejoicing in the names of Shuttle Jack, Swinsherd, Old Cheiney, Old Spouser the horse doctor, etc. and the occasional duck hunts on the canal and such like. Now and then a dowker, or water hen, on Buckley’s Dam gave a lively impetus to the sportsmen of that day, and at least one successful shot I remember to have been made there of this description of water fowl.
Returning up King Street were the residences of Mrs. Lord and John Holt, afterwards occupied by Abraham Whitehead, James N. Walton and James Scholfield, and where the post office was once located.
King Street and Hanging Ditch
Next was Cockpit Hill – why the name I do not know – gardens occupying the space between it and the opposite houses facing Shoebroad Bank and up to the Friends Meeting House. The Unitarian Chapel I do not remember to have been in the course of building, but down this road (Hanging Ditch Road) the stone for building the new church was brought by Thomas Hartley’s carts (of the Spring Gardens Inn), from Longfield Delph, the road being ordinarily in a sad plight. There were but one or two houses on the upper side of the road, after passing the Unitarian Chapel, Abraham Dawson (Old Abley) was the first to break ground on that side within my recollection. Hanging Ditch has nothing about it that I need dwell upon, except as it having been the residence – probably the birth place – of Jonathan Howarth, whose skill as a painter the walls of many of the people of Todmorden attest, and who, like some other artists, had great eccentricities. His brother Jeremiah, or Jerry, as he was familiarly called, will be recollected for his social qualities and his devotion to the “Old Library”, as also will the wit and wassail that came together at the Golden Lion when the brethren of the same library met at their stated monthly meetings and on other occasions.
Let us now go in the Walsden direction, and see what we can find on our way. The first building on the other side of Dobroyd Lane from the town used to be the butcher’s shop, with a cottage or cottages over it, of George Cockcroft, who was also in earlier times a manufacturer in a small way, of certain sorts of goods, and a man of a rather distinctive type in his day – a careful sort of man, with children who were not quite so careful as himself, and, as he thought, not as they ought to be.
George Cockcroft's shop on the left
Old George had a son George, who, boasting the same name, had not altogether the same qualities of his father. He was a character in his way; and some people would have said also that his forte lay more in killing time than in killing mutton. However, he did the last sometimes, in between outdoor diversions and amusements. Old George was a tidy sort of man; and as we have said, his son was something of a wag, pompous withal in his speech, and equally cutting in it, now and then, as he was in the butchering line. The following anecdote will serve to illustrate his character to some extent.
His father, being in the slaughtering house one day, young George entered when his father found fault with him on its being in so slovenly a state, and asked him why he had not attended to cleaning it. The son drew himself up with affected dignity, and replied, (so it is said), “Oh no, father, YOU are for the home department, I am for foreign affairs.” Young George was among the last to pass away of the men of that period with whom he consorted, each of whom had his own peculiar turn, and among whom there was no little mother wit.
The writer has been reluctant to introduce into these papers personal anecdote that would wound the feelings of any who might be living, and hopes he has not done so in this case – otherwise he could have made them more “taking” than they have been, for in the vein named there is abundant ore to be worked. Though George Cockcroft had a numerous family, few of his descendants now remain in the neighbourhood.
In the next block of houses John Taylor kept a school in one of the upper rooms, and William Greenwood (afterwards of Longfield, at whose house John Taylor died) kept a grocers shop there. On the other side of the road and river was an open holme, up to the end of Waterside Mill. The chimney on the hill was not built, nor the loom shed, nor the warehousing along the road. Where the size-house is, or was, there were stables, used by the Messrs Fielden, the watercourse being arched over about as far as the building on which is the big clock, which was not there then.
Waterside in the 1860's - open holme infront of it
Speaking of this clock, I may remark, that the bell for it was cast at the foundry in Salford, last carried on by the late James Nuttall, and he himself superintended the casting of it, if he did not actually mould and make it. Its dull sonorous note would almost indicate that it was home-made, though it was considered rather an achievement at the time, and good expectations were formed of it, but, like some people, it proved no great thing when it had got up in the world. For a time, too, the sizing of the warps required at Waterside was done at Salford, at the size-house to which I made allusion in my last paper.
The Waterside clock - still there today
After the higher loom shed was built at Waterside, it was said to be a question with the railway engineers whether to carry the line of railway behind it and at a lower level forward, which, in view of the expense, inconvenience, and difficult access to the present station, and other considerations that did not thrust themselves on the judgement then as they have done since, it would have been well to do. This must of course be accepted as mere opinion, but it is an opinion entertained by many persons now.
In the holme opposite Waterside there was (in what year I do not just now remember) a GREAT BANQUET IN CONNECTION WITH REFORM, whether on the passing of the Reform Bill or antecedent to it I cannot say, but it had some reference to reform in Parliament.
The turnpike road here has been widened on two different occasions at least, opposite Waterside Mill. It was formerly called Waterside Lane, and was a narrow road running close by the mill. Land for widening the road has been taken from the holme, and land on which the GREYHOUND INN and the WHITE LION have been erected was free from building, and extended to the old houses next to the co-operative shop, with the exception of a house or two on this side, one of which was occupied by William Stansfield, grocer etc. and another building adjoining – a wheelwright’s shop and a cottage over it. The houses called Waterloo were built before my time.
Outside the White Lion - an old omnibus
On the opposite hillside, Shepherd’s Hall was the only dwelling after leaving Higher Dobroyd, which has given place to the lodge to Dobroyd Castle. Pexwood was simply a road; there were a few houses at Gauxholme, including the POORHOUSE building. There were no houses between the bottom of Butcher Hill and what is called The Loom Shop, Knowlwood.
Martin Mitchell kept the public house at the bottom of Butcher Hill turning up Clough Hole. It was called commonly, and in documents, The GUERNING DOG, and the bridge at Bridge End, the Guerning Dog Bridge. He afterwards built the Greyhound Inn, Wadsworth Mill, and removed to it. I have heard it stated that the sign of the old house at Butcher Hill was The Greyhound. I have also heard it said that the sign was that of a lion, so ill-formed as to be mistaken by someone and misnamed The Guerning (grinning) Dog, and so the title of it passed into common use. Which or whether either of them is correct I am not prepared to say. From use of the first title in writings, I am inclined to think that would be the real name of the Inn. It is so called in the Turnpike Act.
Guerning Dog Bridge
Higher Knowlwood, California, and the buildings in the region above the Old Lane are all recent, the toll-gate to Lumbutts Road and KNOWLWOOD CHAPEL excepted. I do not remember a time when they were not there. Someone may be inclined to ask how certain of the houses on the higher side of Lumbutts Road, just above Knowlwood, came to be called California. The house or houses first erected in that situation I have understood to have been erected by a person who had returned from California and who thought proper to expend some of the gold obtained at the diggings at the place referred to above, and gave the name “California”, which it now bears.
Lumbutts Road Toll House at Knowlwood
Along the hill by Swineshead there has been little or no change. Shoebroad is much as it then was, and Honey Hole Clough, and until we arrive at the Unitarian Church built at the top of the corn field. There would be some dozen houses or so, and the Friends Meeting House, from Top of Bank to the bottom, and behind those going up Honey Hole Bank, gardens, as I have said in a former paper, extending to Cockpit and the Unitarian Churchyard boundary.
I have now taken another round in a hop, skip and jump fashion, with which the reader must at present be contented, and I shall in a future paper, perhaps resume and extend my recollections Walsden way.
Walsden – not being so familiar with the names of houses and places in that district, I may fall into occasional error; as perhaps I did in my last when I stated that there were no houses between the bottom of Butcher Hill, within my recollection, until you come to Loom Shop, whereas, the old houses on the left at the top of the hill were there at that time, and perhaps one or more on the opposite side of the road before coming to houses or property called Loom Shop, but I took Loom Shop as an adjoining place generally known, and sufficiently distinctive in the locality.
Beginning again, therefore, at the point of Walsden nearest Todmorden, I may say that I have a recollection of the coach running by Butcher Hill and Knowlwood to Rochdale, and back by the same route. In this I think I am correct, for the new road to Rochdale from Gauxholme, so far as I can gather from documents, was not made until say 1820, and about this time, the Todmorden Trust made an arrangement with the Haslingden and Todmorden Trustees to travel over their road between Gauxholme and Bridge End.
Proceeding to Gauxholme. I further think that I recollect when there was no Masons Arms Inn there – no inn at all on this site. I think I remember its first being built, and its first landlord, the late Henry Sutcliffe, who died at TOP O’ TH’ HILL, Walsden, I believe. It will surprise some perhaps to learn that in the hayloft, or chamber, above the stables at this place about 50 years ago, cockfights took place frequently on Saturday afternoons, without any attempts at disguise or fear of interference by Constables. Bridge End and Clough Hole were places rather noted for the rearing of game cocks, and many a one of these has figured both as victor and vanquished upon the circular flat of sods that used to be laid on the loft or chamber floor adjoining the inn. Duck Wing, and Pile, and Blue Ginger, and Red were here brought together to try their powers and prowess, clipped and heeled with steel – the fatal blow being sometimes given in the first fly of the combatants.
The Masons Arms - rebuilt about 1840
The NAVIGATION INN would be made, I suppose from its name, when the canal was opened, or thereabouts. The Black Bull existed, I have understood, before that time, but both have been there ever since I remember. The former was kept by Roger Bramley, and the latter by the late Charles Lord of Todmorden, a butcher.
Navigation in the foreground, Masons Arms back left.
The Navigation Inn and a barn or cottage or two adjoining were the only properties on that side down to Shade. There were perhaps a dozen houses above Bridge End to Gauxholme – twenty would exceed the number.
The old COTTON MILL at Gauxholme was there before my time, and we have accounts of the occupier of the mill receiving pauper or orphan children as apprentices so early as from 1801 to 1810, and partly employing them in one of the rooms at the old POORHOUSE at Gauxholme. To the credit of some of these children, be it spoken, they turned out well; and it will be considered a worthy trait in the character of the late William Gunn of Shade that he raised himself from the humble position to one of comparative wealth. It is no reflection or stain upon a person’s character to have been poor, or that he should have begun life at a poorhouse; but it is a great degradation to have begun well-to-do, and through a life of prodigality and sensuality, for a person to end his days in a poorhouse – a burden to others who have not been so well placed as himself.
I don’t remember the erection of the toll house at Gauxholme, or WATTY MILL or house, nor the OLD CORN MILL and houses along the lane from and opposite the Black Bull.
Watty House and barn
The Masons Arms was rebuilt when the railway was made. Formerly it fronted towards the main road to Rochdale, and there were one or more cottages at the lower end, the bottom one abutting on the DULESGATE Road. Behind the inn there was an open space or yard, and from this, the chamber or cockpit before mentioned was reached by a ladder at the times when fights took place.
The birds were brought from different places – from Whitworth, Langfield and Stansfield, and other places more remote – and not confined to the two that I have named as being conspicuous in the immediate neighbourhood of Todmorden. Indeed, there was a noted breeder and cock fighter whose “walk” used to be behind the Black Swan Inn in Todmorden, whose birds were conquerors in many an encounter.