Monday, 19 August 2013
Trailing through Todmorden Today
We bought (yes! paid money!! £1.99!!!) a guided walk booklet to, well, guide us round Todmorden. The trail was quite long and we did it in 2 stints, with a break for lunch and to let Jumble out.
Todmorden or Tod as it is affectionately known is in a narrow valley surrounded by moors reaching up to 450m high. The hills are of millstone grit and many of the houses and mills were built using stone quarried locally.
The Calder valley was a farming and woollen textile area, adapting to produce cotton too during the industrial revolution. During the 19th century the town grew with the increasing numbers of mills and the housing for the mill workers. As the power for the mills changed from water to steam so the town became blackened by the coal dust, some of the buildings are still a sooty colour today. This also meant that many suffered from bronchitis and lung disease as a result of the smoke and lack of fresh air.
Back to back houses, with no gardens, built into the hillsides
Today the town is much cleaner, brighter and attractive with wonderful views out over the moors. Many of the mills are gone now or converted into flats and some of the housing was demolished to give more room and open spaces, with a big clean up programme being carried out too.
The Canal opened in 1802 ushering in the industrial age and revolutionising the transport opportunities from foot and packhorse along trails over the moors and hill passes.
In 1890 the Rochdale Canal Company had 2,000 barges carrying 700,000 tons per year.
Todmorden Hall built in 1603 was home to the Radcliffe family. It became the Post Office in 1924 and the rear of the building is still in use as the sorting office, while the Hall is now a restaurant.
This lovely shop front is the old Todmorden Co-operative Society. Today it is run as health food co-operative selling local produce and many of the shop fittings are from the original store. Upstairs is a very popular vegetarian restaurant where we enjoyed a yummy lunch.
The Golden Lion Inn is sadly closed today. Built in the 18th century it is one of the oldest in the town. It has an interesting history. It was the first post office in the town with a horse post recorded in 1799. The Royal Mail coach called here in the 1820’s thus it became a coaching inn. A book club started here which led to to formation of literary societies and then the Free Library, still open today.
The Town Hall is a magnificent building marking the centre of Todmorden. Before the county boundaries were changed it was half in Yorkshire and half in Lancashire as marked by the centre of the carved pediment on the front. It was constructed as a ballroom and public hall before Tod became a town.
John Fielden MP was a great benefactor to his home town, and is remembered for industrial reforms especially the Ten Hour Act, limiting the hours of the mill workers in the 19th century. (if you have been watching ITV’s The Mill, you will be au fait with that!).
The Fieldens lived in Centre Vale House, the mansion and the 75 acre estate were bought by Todmorden Corporation and is a large park today with cricket ground, tennis courts, bowling greens and a sports centre.
The Unitarian Church was paid for by the Fielden brothers in memory of their father, John.
Glimpses of the many different levels the town operates on today. The river at the lowest point, flows under the canal, the main road crosses the canal and the viaduct carries the railway over top of it all.
And in between there are lots of steep flights of steps taking you up or down, it’s an outdoor gym!