A Day out in Sheffield

This day out had been planned for a couple of weeks. I’d heard from Gary about a Great British Rail sale which included a 95p ticket from Manchester to Sheffield. It seemed a good enough reason to venture back to Sheffield. Since I moved back to England I’d only been to Sheffield once – for a weekend’s uni music department reunion when I’d had a brief opportunity to see the changes in the city centre since I left uni. However when I surfaced in the morning it was pouring down. If I’d not booked the tickets in advance I wouldn’t even have considered venturing on a day’s excursion in such gloomy weather.

Joshua Hoyle and Sons – now Malmaison hotel

From Manchester Victoria we took the train to Piccadilly and crossed the road to visit Malmaison. My Hoyle ancestors who built Acre Mill in Old Town above Hebden Bridge ended up making it really, really big as textile manufacturers exporting goods worldwide. Their Manchester warehouse has since been converted into the Malmaison hotel and the bar looked welcoming for a morning coffee. I had no idea that the facade of the ornate brick building would actually have Joshua Hoyle and Sons inscribed in stone facing Piccadilly station. I found out the cost of a night’s accommodation there. I really must stay there just to ‘feel the vibes’ of my ancestors!

Reception at the Malmaison

Then it was onto the train for the hour’s journey to Sheffield. The train travels through the Hope Valley which I knew was very picturesque but the heavy clouds and poor light didn’t do much for the scenery. For three years I had travelled from Manchester to Sheffield but I don’t remember the train ride. I’m sure my focus wasn’t on the scenery. I don’t even recall the names of the stations and it’s possible that the trains I travelled on back then took a different route over the Woodhouse pass.

The first station of interest that we passed through was Marple. I could see posters on the platform about Agatha Christie. Wagatha Christie(!) is very much in the news at the moment. It’s the name that’s been given to the current celebrity scandal between two football wives – Wayne Rooney and Jamie Vardy. In fact their trial actual began today! Costs will be exceed 1 million pounds! But what of Marple’s connection to the real Agatha Christie? In July 2015, Mathew Prichard, grandson of the author and her closest living relative came to Marple and talked at the station about his family’s linkage to the area. He unveiled a blue plaque at the station that the Agatha Christie Ltd had kindly commissioned. This was done against the backdrop of artwork in the form of numerous Miss Marple book covers that had been specially produced by HarperCollins Publishers and now form a permanent addition at the station. Ah, these were the ‘posters’ I could see from the train. Agatha herself wrote the explanation of how her detective Miss Marple got her name. I expect you will be interested to learn that at the time I was writing The Thirteen Problems (starting with a series of 6 short stories for a magazine) I was staying with a sister of mine in Cheshire and we went to a sale at Marple Hall – the house alone, she said, was worth seeing, a beautiful old manor, belonging to the Bradshaws descended from Judge Bradshaw who sentenced Charles I.   It was a very good sale with fine old Elizabethan and Jacobean furniture and at it I bought 2 Jacobean oak chairs which I still have – Wanting a name for my “old maid” character I called her Jane Marple.   So now you know the answer to your question!   Yours Sincerely    Agatha Christie ​http://www.friendsofmarplestation.co.uk/agatha-christie.html

The next station to attract my attention was New Mills because almost adjacent to the station is the Torrs – a 70 ft deep gorge cutting through the sandstone. We were now in Derbyshire, close to the border with Cheshire. I could see a path running through the gorge and a bridge over the river that must have carved out its path through the sandstone. It certainly looked worth a visit.


By the time the train reached Chinley the landscape was becoming much more rugged and I truly felt as if I were now in the Peak District national park. Sheep with their lambs were sheltering from the drizzle behind stone walls and it certainly wasn’t bright enough to take photos from the train but we passed through Edale, the starting point of the Pennine way, passed through Hope station close to the Blue John caverns – which reminds me: I used to have a ring made out of Blue John stone, a semi precious stone only to be found in the depths of two caves at Castleton first hollowed out by the Romans two thousand years ago.

Yes! I, too, hope for castleton and the caverns!

Then through Hathersage which I remember visiting from Sheffield to see Little John’s grave. Gary told me of a connection to Hathersage with Charlotte Bronte but I didn’t know of it. Apparently Hathersage became a familiar haunt of Charlotte’s and she often visited it in the company of her friend Ellen Nussey, since Ellen’s brother Henry had been made vicar of St. Michael’s church in Hathersage. He served in that position from 1845 until 1847, during which time Charlotte discovered the places, and people, who would be pivotal to the novel. The leading family in the Hathersage area at that time was the Eyre family. In the church, Charlotte would have seen the Eyre memorial, and in the graveyard she would have found the Eyre graves, including one for a Jane Eyre herself.

The train arrived in Sheffield on time. The station felt much bigger than what I remember and the forecourt has been completely rebuilt with fountains and a wonderful reflective steel wall – for this is Sheffield – city of steel. Looking up at the skyline I saw little of the immense changes that I see in Manchester and Leeds where lots of cranes are in evidence and much building work is in progress. The famous hole in the road has now been filled in!

The reflective wall. Can you see me?

As we wandered into town rather strange looking store frontage caught my eye with the signage – ‘Glory Holes – A golf club for adults only.’ The large windows opened onto a bar filled with odd figures . . . . It bills itself as ‘It is set to Sheffield’s ‘newest and raunchiest’ entertainment venue and bar. What can I say???

By this time there was lots of blue sky showing as we headed down towards the River Don and the canal. Situated between the two is Kelham Island, one of Sheffield’s oldest manufacturing sites. This manmade island was formed in the 1100s, when a stream was diverted to power a nearby mill. However, as industrial activity has moved on, the area has undergone a significant transformation in recent years and quietly become one of the most exciting parts of the city. 

The remains of the numerous cutlery and steel works, factories and workshops is part of what gives the area its distinct charm, except nowadays these buildings house everything from indie shopping arcades to microbreweries and galleries.

Jarvis Cocker looks down onto the scene quietly
The black and white painting of the machinery and ships on this building was wonderful

We selected the Fat Cat for lunch. As we entered I had the distinct feeling that I had stepped back in time 50 years. This felt like man’s pub and I fully expected it to be littered with elderly men sitting by themselves, ruminating over a pint or two. And yes, it was all men but I got talking to group of three on the next table simply by saying I liked the Geordie accent of one of their party. Doing my first teaching practice in Easington, just outside Durham I’d had a hard job figuring out what the children in my classes said to me. I had even more trouble holding down my conversation with this man but he knew Easington and what had happened to its community when the pits closed. The other two guys were from Sheffield and they knew each district I mentioned. What was wrong with saying I knew the Broomhill Tav?

Then on to Kelham Island museum, housed in a former steel factory. I had recently sent Michael a link to this place after he’d bought a set of cooking knives made in Sheffield and he wanted to find out more about the Sheffield steel industry. It tells the story of what it was like to live and work in Sheffield during the Industrial Revolution. There were some wonderful sculptures made from knives too.

Leaving the museum we wandered into the city centre where the Winter gardens, a vast greenhouse, takes pride of place in the open area close to the impressive town hall and the Crucible theatre where I enjoyed many plays a long time ago.

Winter Garden

Back at the railway station it was feeling decidedly warm and we sat outside opposite the steel wall watching the commuters hurrying for their trains home.

He’s waiting for his train too

The journey back was lovely. The sun was out in full and the glow of the early evening light made the hills look magical.

Playing 7 seven pianos in the centre of Manchester

As a promotion for the upcoming Manchester Jazz Festival pianos had been positioned in public buildings and shops throughout Manchester. One was even outside! So some members of my piano group set off to play them. In 2018 we’d played at a similar event to publicise the Leeds piano Competition and I’d ended up on the news segment of Leeds TV.

We met at Victoria station at 11 a.m.

Tea, coffee and pastries were provided. A lady from the Secret Sketchers group was also on hand to sketch our performances.

Then we trotted over to the Corn Exchange. I’d never been in this amazing building. It’s similar to the one in Leeds.

In the Corn Exchange

It was a good job that Tim was on hand to hold my music. The music holder was encased inside the piano – on all the pianos! – so there was nowhere to place our music.

Chris with Tim acting as music stand

Harvey Nichols

Next up was Harvey Nichols where a watchful eye was kept on us by the two security guards. The store is an upmarket icon and as I put my music bag down to play I noticed that the Coach bag for sale on the shelf above had a price tag of 545 pounds. Needless to say I’d never been in that shop before but Tim told me there was a viewing platform from the upper storey and since there was a blue sky I decided to go up and take a look for myself.

View of the Cathedral from the upper deck
Which are the mannequins?

Next stop was the Royal Exchange arcade. Unfortunately we were in competition with a very well-amplified street singer, just outside the arcade’s entrance, so my version of Grieg’s Wedding Day at Troldhaugen was backed by Moon River!

Our next stop was Spinningfields. I’m slowly, very slowly getting to know the layout of Manchester, mainly by coming to concerts in the city and to my piano group’s events. I’d heard of Spinningfields but didn’t know where it was or anything about it. It turned out to be the centre of the financial district, a maze of very tall office buildings and equally tall apartment blocks – all very up-market. We took a small alleyway behind the John Rylands library which I’d noted on a previous visit to the library but I’d thought it just lead to another highrise building. But no, it led to a small tree-lined square in the middle of which sat a piano covered in a raincoat. By this time the blue sky had disappeared and there was a strong cold wind buffeting us as the piano was uncovered and we waited our turns to play. I played my own composition of Desert Lullaby – it seemed so appropriate (!) for this desert in concrete and glass that dwarfed us.


Beneath a tree I found a little statue about the people that lived in this very spot in 1861.

By the time we’d all played the outdoor piano and sealed it back in its raincoat we were ready to warm up a bit and luckily our next port of call was the central library where the piano was fortunately situated in the cafe so between numbers I got myself a warming cup of tea. There were lots of people in the cafe and surrounding tables trying to work so I don’t think they were too appreciative of our music!

In the Art Gallery

And then on to Manchester Art Gallery where Ben, Bob and Ulric had a fun time sight reading piano trios – caught on camera here by Chris.

By the time we left the Art Gallery it was 4 o’clock and most of our group had drifted away. Two were working in the cathedral in the evening as organisers and ushers for the evening’s candlelit performance there. So the 3 of us that were left found a quiet pub, just off the really busy Rochdale Road, The Angel, at Adam’s suggestion. Featured in ‘the most historic pubs in Manchester’ today it’s surrounded by tower blocks of offices and apartments in an area whose cost of redevelopment is 800 million pounds. In 1851 this was known as the Weaver’s Arms and it certainly retains a lot of its character. It takes its name from the notorious Angel Meadow, arguably Manchester’s worst slum during the industrial revolution according to The Pubs of Manchester website. In the 1840s Engels described this area of Manchester as ‘Hell on Earth.’

Looking up Angel Street with the pub on the left at the top.

It appeared to have closed down for good in 2005 but reopened as a gastro pub with a restaurant upstairs and the painted sign leading to that restaurant is still on the staircase. We chatted for an hour or so about the day before heading back to the train station where Adam and I played for a few minutes again before I boarded the train back to Hebden Bridge.

Taking photos in the Corn Exchange.
I was the only woman from my piano group to participate in this event – hmmm . . . . Can you see me in this photo?

The following day was the regular piano group’s workshop in the basement of Forsyth’s music store, a business that has been in the family since 1857. There are ghost tours of the basement on Saturdays that I want to do! After the workshop 4 of us went to find a drink and I suggested The Bridge Tavern that I had gone to after April’s workshop. In April three of us had tried to find a quiet pub after the workshop but every one we tried was jammed packed with people. Eventually I’d asked one of the bouncers at one of these raucous pubs if he could suggest a quiet pub. “Try The Bridge” he said. “It’s like a morgue in there.” So off we went and discovered it’s lovely rooftop beer garden – surely a hidden gem! It’s surrounded on all sides by the back of taller old buildings and it had a great atmosphere. It’s just around the corner from Forsyth’s. The Bridge is a small pub set 100 yards down Bridge Street in a block of other shops.  Originally a bit of a rough and ready style pub, the Bridge has reinvented itself as a gastro-ish type (via the tenure of Robert Owen-Brown who left here for the Angel Beerhouse). Ah, ha. I hadn’t known of the connection between the 2 pubs until I came to research for this blog. The Bridge Street Tavern, as it was previously known until quite recently, was originally the Pack Horse, licensed in 1808, with its name coming from the pack horse drivers from the nearby tannery that supped in here. The back of the Bridge backs on the original Salford and Manchester Street Children’s Mission (Founded by Alfred Alsop in 1869) the offices of which are still there to this day and still provides Manchester’s underprivileged kids with clothing, food, toys and Christmas presents. One reviewer writes: ‘I suppose with the area in which it’s situated, it’s trying to grab a slice of the Spinningfields action, but you get the feeling that it is neither a traditional pub nor a posh yuppie bar and has fallen somewhere in between.’

Beer terrace at The Bridge

My 3rd fabric book is finished!

Cover: needle felt, cut felt, embroidery view of my home on Crown street, Hebden Bridge in Spring time. Cross stitch lettering and crown logo.

Fabric with butterflies, dragon flies, and my own spirit animal – a ladybird – purchased at the fabric store next to Hebden Bridge outdoor market. I embroidered the insects while sitting in the pews at St Thomas church, Heptonstall, clothed in 18th century costume as I awaited my calls for being an extra in the upcoming BBC TV series, The Gallows Pole. Several members of the cast came to admire my creation.

While at Sheffield University Colin and I found summer employment at the Wilson Arms in Threshfield in the Yorkshire Dales me as a chamber maid, and him washing dishes. I revisited the place with my Bolton School friend Judith in July 2016 and this design comes from a photo she took of me pointing at the sign. The building is now a nursing home. During the pandemic I lost a couple of earrings with taking my mask on and off several times each time I left my apartment. One of the earrings I was devastated to loose was one that Sarah gave me many years ago with leaves, dragonfly and flowers. I lost it on a trip to Sowerby Bridge to see my friend Viv. The turquoise leaves come from a bracelet that broke.

Hock Farm, Est. 1841 is a place that I visited during my research into finding the first piano that ever made it to California. John Sutter’s Hock Farm was the first large-scale agricultural settlement in Northern California, composed of grain, cattle, orchards and vineyards. I visited there with Emmett on December 29, 2014. I’m wearing my Monterey Bay jacket which I still have. The yarn flowers are made from some interesting yarn I found at a stall in Todmorden market.

On Edge Lane in Colden, Calderdale, there are some outhouses on the opposite side of the street to the houses. I took a photo of my shadow on one of the toilet doors.

On March 20, 2020 I walked along the canal from Sowerby Bridge to Copley Village. The old church door had some amazing decorative ironwork which I recreated in felt. The lettering is in cross stitch. I enjoyed designing the embroidery of St Thomas’s Heptonstall where so many of my ancestors were baptised, married and buried. Sometimes I am called upon to play the organ there for services. The grotesque on the old church in Heptonstall is needle felted from a photo I took when Angelika was visiting from Germany on August 9, 2018.

This a needle felted depiction of a snowy bus ride to Burnley along Cliviger Gorge on January 4, 2021. I added a few pieces of black net for the trees and embroidered the fences. It’s an hour’s ride to Burnley on the bus. I got off at the bus station, purchased a cup of tea to take away and got the next bus back ten minutes later!

Two continents. In April 2015 I stayed for 5 days by myself in a haunted former hospital in Virginia City, Nevada. When I say ‘by myself’ I was the only one in the entire building – no reception, kitchen, cleaners! I explored the semi ghost town, visited all the outlying districts including the abandoned silver miner’s cabin depicted here in cross stitch. I used rusted iron nails to distress the fabric in my title. The sheep fabric was purchased in Hebden Bridge using some wonderful sheep’s wool that Anna had sent to me. The cross stitched doorway is part of my ‘doors’ theme and is a local doorway on the Rochdale canal.

I recently discovered that I am related by marriage to the Hoyle family, textile manufacturers who originally came from Bacup in Rossendale but who built a textile mill at Old Town, a small community situated on the hill above Hebden Bridge. They exported all over the world and one of their buildings is now the high end Malmaison hotel in Manchester. I was fascinated to find this piece of fabric advertised for sale online, complete with the Joshua Hoyle logo.

Another page of 2 continents. Soon after I moved to Santa Cruz, California Dale, a friend and stained glass artist created a piece of stained glass for the fanlight in my front door. I have recreated it in cross stitch. The ‘face’ is a work of street art in Ancoats, Manchester – an area that had undergone amazing gentrification from the dreadful slums lived in by the textile factory workers – my Gledhill ancestors being part of them. In May 2019 I took a guided tour of the area with Manchester guide extraordinaire Jonathan Schofield. One of the churches has been restored and my piano group now performs at Halle St Michael’s monthly. The soldier looking from a window is another piece of street art in Rochdale that I saw in October 2019 on Smith Street.
Memories of my trip to Paris with Anna just before lockdown in January 2020. The interlocking hands were based on a piece of painted street art at the gable end of a building in Paris. The snippets from Parisienne postcards are from a book of paper I purchased during lockdown. The Haute florist ribbon was wrapped around a bouquet my daughters sent me for Christmas.

I experimented with machine stitching on a paper door. I was sceptical about this venture but it worked surprisingly well. A doorway of an abandoned mill.

A canalside door to a ruined warehouse on the Rochdale canal in Luddendenfoot. The leaves are made from the wrapping paper of a bouquet I received from my daughters. I made the arch from a cardboard wrapper of a cup of coffee. The door is cross stitched and the background is a quilted panel.

I visited The Royal Hall in Harrogate in 2015 when I was staying with my school friend Judith. I took a photo of the stained glass in the entrance door from the inside, hence the back to front writing. The leaves are made from cut out felt. The lace doily was purchased in an antique shop. I added embroidery to the floral background fabric

A photograph of my mum from the late 1960s, taken on a day trip but I don’t know where the church is – probably either Lancashire or Yorkshire. I used fragments of a rubber mat to add texture. I experimented with the various settings on my sewing machine creating a criss crossed roof. A broken necklace that I’ve had for years was added but I can’t recall where it came from.

A tribute to my holiday in Germany in August 2019 to see Angelika and her father, who lived in Dettelbach, who has since died. This wonderful piece of life size street art was painted on a garage door on Luipold-Bauman Strasse in the town. I cross stitched the car and added some gold paper for the wall. The background is a cotton patchwork.

I discovered that I could computer generate my own QR code based on my name. QR codes became a feature of life in the pandemic – from checking in at bars to ordering food, so this QR code is my name! A ruined doorway, probably from photo on one of my desert ghost town trips is bordered by selvedges of various fabrics featuring the words ‘distressed’ and ‘abandoned.’ The date 13.3.2022 was the date I completed this, my third fabric book.

This design is based on a piece of street art painted on a garage door in Ancoats, Manchester. I embellished the cross stitch with various beads and sequins. The background on this and on page 14 is made from an expensive cotton fabric with a combination of music notation and bricks.

The closeup of a door panel in Mdina, Malta from my trip there in 2018. It is needle felted. The horizontal face is a sculpture that I could see from my room in Kendal youth hostel where a stay for 5 days in September 2019.

A hand crocheted mat purchased from an antique shop and embellished with beads.

Saturday morning stroll along the canal

The most bizarre delivery I’ve ever had

Yesterday I received the delivery of a stone. It measures 14″ x 28″, is 2″ thick and weighs a ton. Well, maybe not quite a ton, but I certainly can’t move it, let alone pick it up, but the stone mason who delivered it managed to carry it up the stairs and plant it against the wall in my music room.

My music room has a new resident

So, what’s the story? Well, it all began on rainy November day last year, November 2nd to be precise. I was out for a walk trying to pick a time between the showers, and find a path that wouldn’t be knee deep in mud, so I walked along the towpath and along Mayroyd road towards the railway station. On the approach to the bridge over the River Calder a pile of large blackened stones had been gathered supporting a big red sign- Road Closed: use Palace House Road.

The top stone as I discovered it

Ah, I thought, there must be a safety issue preventing vehicles from using the bridge. But then I noticed that the top most stone had some writing carved into its upper surface: ‘This memorial stone was laid by Joshua Hoyle, Esq, Moorlands, Bacup, June 14th 1890.’ That’s interesting, I thought.

The inscription caught my eye

I have a Joshua Hoyle in my family tree, who also issued from Bacup, a small town in Rossendale, 10 miles from where I was standing in Hebden Bridge. I wonder if it could possibly be the same person. Close to the bridge is Whittaker’s stone mason’s workshop so I poked my head into the door and was soon chatting with Richard Whittaker. His father and grandfather had owned the business and he recalled that they worked on a demolition job in Bacup! but he had no idea how or when the stone had made its way from Bacup to Mayroyd Bridge but he told me that the stone could be cut down in size, made much thinner and he would even deliver it to my apartment. I told him that I’d have to do more ancestry research to see if this Joshua was ‘my’ Joshua. The upshot was its delivery yesterday, but the story even involved many many hours of research, and I felt as if I was getting more and more mired into the mud. The primary problem being that there were two Joshua Hoyles who lived almost next door to each other in Bacup and they were both owners of textile manufacturing companies! The story does have its own royal ending because there’s a connection with Camilla Parker-Bowles, yes – Mrs Prince Charles – who I saw at an event in the Piece Hall in Halifax in 2018.

Interior views of Moorlands – courtesy of Joshua’s grand daughter

As I set out to find my possible connection to Joshua Hoyle of Moorlands I was contacted by member of the Hoyle family through Ancestry.com. I asked if she knew anything about a Joshua Hoyle living at Moorlands. “Hello, regarding Moorlands, my Gt grandfather, Joshua Craven Hoyle sold the business in 1919 due to the damp weather in Lancs and he was recommended to move south. He moved to South Devon. On leaving he gave the house and gardens to the council. I guess it was them that decided that the house (a very unattractive monstrosity) was to be knocked down and the gardens made into the park.” She added “I happened to be in Bacup in the early 1980’s when they knocked down either India or Plantation mill and I picked up some bricks.” So she too, like me now, has a physical piece of the Hoyle’s empire.

Joshua – a painting in the possession of his grand daughter

So what was the Hoyle Empire? Joshua Hoyle and Sons was a firm of cotton spinners and manufacturers, originally founded by Joshua Hoyle in 1834 at Plantation Mill in Bacup. In 1854 his two youngest sons, Edward and Isaac, took over the family’s mills and its Manchester business respectively, Joshua dying in 1862. The company (motto: ‘no test like time’) gained a reputation for benevolent management and in 1873 its workers were given the opportunity to buy shares. In 1891 the firm had five mills operating 101,000 spindles and 3,000 looms. Brooksbottom Mill was then their principal production site with 61,560 spindles and 1,082 looms. In 1906 they moved the Manchester headquarters from Mosley Street to a new purpose-built steel-framed warehouse, National Heritage List for England (‘List’) entry 1271127.

Joshua in uniform

‘My’ Joshua Hoyle was the son of Edward and Frances Craven – hence the Craven name. By the age of 24 he was living with his cousin, William Hoyle, 26 in Ramsbottom, a small town dear to my family’s heart, and they are listed in the 1891 as cotton manufacturers. 2 years later he married Mary Beatrice Law Schofield at the parish church in Rawtenstall and the new family lived at Oak House in Bacup. With the death of his father in 1897 it seems that Joshua and Mary moved into Moorlands, Edward’s home. Edward’s will shows that he left 147,000 pounds to family members including Joshua. That’s around 16 million pounds in today’s money.

During the first world war Joshua saw service in Egypt (embarked as Lt Col 9/9/1914 with the East Lancs Regiment) From Joshua’s grand daughter I learned that “in 1919 Joshua, his wife Mary Beatrice and my grand mother, Frances, moved down to South Devon – to Gnaton Hall, a house I knew well. It was sold in 1978ish, and became to family home of one of Lord Roborough’s sons. His son married Camilla Parker-Bowles daughter. They now live there. I guess Camilla would visit.”

Gnaton Hall

Hawthorn House Hawthorn House is situated on the road to Bacup across the road from what most people will know as E Sutton & Son’s Riverside works. The house was built by Edward’s father, Joshua – senior – between 1844-1849, (not to be confused with Joshua Hoyle of Olive House). If the walls could talk the house could tell the tale of the building and demolition of India Mill.

Demolition of one of the mill chimneys in Bacup

Joshua the son of Abraham and Sarah Hoyle was born in 1796. In 1834, he went into business with John Maden at Midge Hole, building Throstle Mill two years later. By 1841 Joshua had built Plantation Mill living across the road from the mill until the completion of Hawthorn House. Joshua and his wife Elizabeth had four sons, James, John, Isaac and Edward (Moorlands House) and one daughter Alice. Joshua died at the house in 1859: India Mill wasn’t built until three years after his death. Both Edward and Isaac took a keen interest in the welfare of their employees and by 1873 the workforce held one-fourth of the concern as partnership shares.

Chatting with royalty at the Piece Hall, Halifax



The story of the Hoyle manufacturing empire is beyond the scope of this page in my blog. It’s a complex story and there is so much information that I find it overwhelming, but the Grace’s guide is a good place to start, with lots of posters advertising the business.

The former warehouse of Joshua Hoyle and Sons stood derelict for many years until it was converted and extended and opened as the Malmaison Hotel in 1998. [6]

Malmaison Hotel, Manchester – built as a warehouse for the Hoyle empire.

What building the stone that started off my research was actually commemorating is probably lost in the mists of time. For my own connection with the Hoyles see a former page in my blog: http://blog.hmcreativelady.com/2021/03/31/my-new-connection-with-old-town/

Many thanks to Ann for sharing the family photos.

The tragic story of Fanny and Grace

2.FANNY GREENWOOD (This being chapter 2 of my ’13 Untimely Deaths’)

Willie Wrigley is James and Mally’s great grandson

It was May, 2020. The country, indeed much of the world, was in lockdown – the Coronavirus pandemic. Yet here I stood on a remote hillside with a panoramic view of the Calder Valley. Atop Erringden Moor Stoodley Pike rose like an eagle commanding a view of its territory, but it’s a black eagle, no hint of gold on its ‘phallic spike.’ 1 The bleat of new born lambs filled the still air, a joyous sound now no longer obliterated by the overhead roars of planes on their flight to distant lands. A highland cow had introduced herself to me as I strolled along Burlees Lane, high above Hebden Bridge but her eyes warned me not to enter her field despite the public footpath sign.

Above Hill House

It had been a steep climb up Wadsworth Lane, passing the housing estate of Dodd Naze on my left while to my right was open pasture but now I had a bird’s eye view of the Calder Valley and the small town of Mytholmroyd. Even though this town with its tongue twisting name is only 2 miles East of Hebden Bridge the valley here is much wider here with more expansive flat areas with scattered buildings , quite different from the tightly packed houses on top of each other, accessible by steep stone staircases.

I was in search of Hill House, birthplace of one of my ancestors, Charlotte Greenwood. I turned off the main road onto a small unpaved lane, Raw Lane. Ancient cottages now mostly restored and exuding affluence, their windows overlooking a dramatic landscape are dotted along its length, seemingly at random, some with their front doors opening directly onto the lane and others set back. In places Raw Lane is tree lined and at this time of year the trees heavy with leaves bowed their boughs forming an arch above me for me to walk through onto centre stage. The scent of the white hawthorn flowers was everywhere, reminding me of the hawthorn tree close to my childhood bedroom window at Affetside, and the brilliant yellow gorse flowers vied with a field of vibrant yellow buttercups for the prize of best in show. Today the verges were ablaze with colour. Foxgloves stood tall, proudly displaying their pendulous bell-like blooms and as I became aware that my jacket perfectly matched their shade of purple-pink I assured the busy bees that I was bereft of pollen.

Yet I had walked along with path in Autumn when the fog was so dense I could hardly see the roadside verges, let alone the expanse of the Calder Valley. Winters up here can be treacherous with ice and snow in abundance, and even today bins of grit lined the path reminding me of those dark days of winter when the lane lives up to its name. With map in hand I picked out Hill House to my right, perched alone on top of a smooth sided grass-green hill, devoid of trees, and justifying its name 100%.

The track to Hill House

A man was gardening at Hill House Lane Top and I chatted to him, admiring the lovely view his house had before taking the poppy lined cobbled track down towards my destination passing a beautifully landscaped garden with an ornamental pond and just as I approached the ancient stone house with its large barn across the yard a woman came into view, the current owner. I explained my quest and she was interested enough to bring out to me a framed aerial photo of the property taken about thirty years ago. It brought back memories of a similar photograph of my home at Third Bungalow, Affetside, framed and sitting in pride of place on top of my piano for many years. It had been taken from a helicopter some time in the 1970s and the pilot had landed in our field. Back at Hill House the owner pointed out a date stone above the front porch of 1678 and the initials IMG but she assured me that the building was significantly older than the stone indicated and that this was the date commemorating a rebuild.

Date stone commemorating the rebuild

With an invitation to return after lockdown was over I took my leave and she directed me to a path running behind the house enabling me to hike back into the valley a different way, following the outline of the hill which gives the house its name. I found myself crossing a beautiful meadow awash with wild flowers, clovers, cowslip and buttercups before reaching Red Acre Wood. Much work has been done to preserve the footpaths traversing this woodland sanctuary but the path remains steep, often with stairways and I had to keep my focus on my footsteps until I reached the valley floor from where I looked back and could see, high above, Hill House, perched atop its hill, birthplace of Charlotte Greenwood. In the Spring of 1894 Charlotte married Willie Wrigley, the great grandson of James and Mally, my 4th great grandparents who had lived at Lily Hall. Willie was an architect of some renown.

Willie Wrigley

I knew that Charlotte and Willie had a turbulent life together and his desertion of his wife and children resulted in a 3 month incarceration with hard labour in Wakefield gaol in 1901. But as I chatted to the current owner of Hill House that Spring morning I wasn’t aware of a tragedy that had occurred there one hundred and sixty years ago. A search later that evening produced an account in the newspaper that chilled me to the bone.

An article in the Sheffield Daily Telegraph 4th Nov 1861 reads ‘Murder and Suicide by a Mother Mytholmroyd: On Friday last, at midday, a most awful tragedy was perpetrated at Hill House, Wadsworth, Mytholmroyd, by a married woman, named Greenwood, wife of Mr. Greenwood, farmer. It appears that during the forenoon Mr. Greenwood had gone to Mytholmroyd with a week’s butter, and while away his wife cut the throat of her little daughter, about five years old, after which she cut her own throat, and ran out bleeding profusely into the house of a neighbour, (living at Hill House Lane Top where I’d chatted to the owner) named Sutcliffe, and then ran back into her own house. She still had the razor in her hand. Sutcliffe took it from her, and the mother pointed to the child in an adjoining room, with its head almost severed from its body. It would seem she had had two razors at work; one was also lying on the table, opposite the looking glass, covered with blood, along with two empty razor cases. The house presented more the appearance of a slaughter-house than human dwelling, such was the quantity of blood on the floors. The little girl’s hands were tied with a shred of cotton lining. Mrs. Greenwood has been in a desponding state of mind for some time, but not so much so as to cause much alarm. Since the above was written, it is reported that Mrs. Greenwood is dead also.” 2

Hill House

I found over sixty accounts of this tragedy in various newspapers, the story being reported as far away as Ireland, Wales and Scotland but only the Hull Advertiser suggested a reason for the tragedy. “She had been depressed in spirits for some time in consequence of her husband’s ill luck in business as a farmer, and also in consequence of the helpless and idiotic state of the child brought on by the violent fits to which it had been subject for two or three years.” 3

Three and a half years after the devastating death of both his wife and child James Greenwood remarried. I mean, it’s not surprising. He had four remaining children under eight years old and he had a farm of 28 acres to look after. Following his marriage to Elizabeth Jackson at Mytholmroyd church the couple had three more children, the youngest being ‘my’ Charlotte born in 1871. James and Elizabeth continued to live at Hill House for the rest of their lives and as I picked my way carefully along the steep path through Red Acre Wood I wondered what ghosts penetrated their lives there.

Hill House above the Dusty Miller. If only Fanny had taken notice of the sign. . . .

Emerging from the dark density of the woodsI found myself in the centre of a bright and sunny Mytholmroyd. This small town on the River Calder lies at the junction of Cragg Brook and the River Calder and the valley floor here is much wider than the narrow cleft in which Hebden Bridge cowers, just two miles to the East. Yet its propensity to flooding is equal to that of its neighbour and TV crews covering the floods often have a particular difficulty in pronouncing the town’s name, meaning a clearing where two streams meet. After a few minutes’ walk along the towpath towpath I crossed the canal, the road and the river and arrived at the church, in search of the resting place of Fanny. It didn’t take me long in this well kept cemetery to find her grave, in which her daughter, Grace, also rests. So too is Grace’s sister, Sarah, aged 14 and Ann, aged 25. Fanny’s husband James lived to a grand old age of 72, and his second wife rests there too.

Grave of the Greenwoods

At that moment the church bell struck the hour and as I looked up at the asymmetrical church tower the outline of Hill House perched on its hill appeared to be directly the tower. Grave That morning on my way to find Charlotte’s birthplace I’d looked down with pleasure at Hill House and its commanding position and chatted happily with the owner. I know now that the place will hold different memories for me whenever I see it perched on the hill looking out to Mytholmroyd.

A page from my fabricated book

1 Glyn Hughes Millstone Grit p. 60

2 https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/BL/0000250/18611104/049/0002?browse=False

3 https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/BL/0001280/18611109/108/0005?browse=False

Remembrance Day

I was surprised to see sun when I opened the curtains this morning. I mist was hanging like a curtain over the valley, swishing this way and that – one minute obscuring Weasel Hall across the Calder Valley, and the next minute Weasel Hall was in full sunlight and Heptonstall was obscured by clouds. I couldn’t resist the opportunity to get out on’t’tops and I jumped onto the first bus up to Blackshaw Head, 600ft above me. There was another reason I wanted to go up there for today was Remembrance Day and one of my ancestors, Giles Sunderland, who lived on that exposed moor and was killed during WWl is remembered on the memorial stone in the chapel’s cemetery.

By the time the bus reached the scattered village, however, there was a lot more low dense cloud than swirling mist and sunshine, and I knew that it wasn’t the morning for stunning photography that I had anticipated.

My watercolour of trees in the winter always reminds me of the WWl trench warfare

I stayed on the bus at the turnaround and alighted at the wonderfully named Slack Bottom. I peeked into the lane leading down to Lumb Bank, now a writers’ retreat that had been purchased by Ted Hughes. It wasn’t until I attended the last zoom meeting of Hebden Bridge History Society last week that I learned that Ted’s parents lived in Slack Bottom and it was there that Sylvia Plath visited them, thus leading to eventual burial in Heptonstall Cemetery, a long way from her birthplace in Massachusetts, where, as it happens, my own children were born.

As I emerged from the lane back onto the main road a car pulled up and it wasn’t until “Heather!” came through its window that I saw that it was one of the Heptonstall residents. I’d painted a watercolour of poppies for the poppy display in Heptonstall church and the lady had been responsible for coordinating it. I’d dropped it off at The Cross a couple of evenings ago and now she was explaining to me where it could be found.

However, when I arrived at the church the door was locked, it still being quite early. However, the Tea Room was already open and I called in for a couple of their delicious cakes to take home with me.

Approaching Heptonstall from Slack Bottom

Back down in Hebden I passed St James’s church where I’ve been in to practice the organ in readiness for the Remembrance service on Sunday. I hadn’t been in the building for two years let alone played any music there. A group of people had been putting up a display there, an enormous blanket of knitted poppies , a painted sheet of poppies and displays about the lives of local residents who had lost their lives in WWl. Three brothers were commemorated, and they were related to me. I’d already researched their story and found their memorial in the cemetery but today three balloons had been placed on the headstone. They are buried in Europe where they fell.

My watercolour of the poppy fields

100 years of movies in Hebden Bridge

If I’d have looked out of my living room window any day between 1912 and 1921 I would have found myself looking directly onto The Royal Electric Theatre. In 1921 the ‘new’ picture house opened just a few hundred yards away and this cinema is currently celebrating its 100th year – the only cinema in England to have achieved that milestone.

‘In the late 1960s, when many of the mills had closed, the Picture House nearly suffered the fate of so many town cinemas and was very close to becoming a carpet warehouse. It was saved for the town by the actions of the then Hebden Royd Urban District Council who purchased the Picture House from its private owners for the sum of about £6,000. The cinema passed into Calderdale Councils control with local government reorganisation in 1973, and CMBC oversaw a subsequent refurbishment in 1978, removing half of the seats and leaving the current 492 seats with their often praised generous legroom.’ (From the cinema’s website).

I read that there was on open day at the Picture House yesterday and so off I went. It took me exactly 2 minutes – and most of that time was spent waiting to cross the road! First order of the day was to witness a demonstration of one of the old projection devices which currently has pride of place at the back of the stalls. The current projectionist explained that there would have been 2 such contraptions originally. It actually looks like something from a sci fi movie!

Next we were treated to a 1924 silent movie of Hebden Bridge band Carnival film. The local brass band had a stellar reputation (see my blog about my ancestor Stott Gibson who played in it: http://blog.hmcreativelady.com/?s=stott+gibson

but they were in financial difficulties. Travelling to far venues for competitions was costly so a carnival was planned. Pathe film company would film the event, hopefully including many of the crowd watching the parade. The parade itself was over a mile in length, and there was a fancy dress competition at the end of the day. Money would be raised by people attending a viewing of the movie at the cinema, hoping to see themselves on camera. The venture was so successful that it was repeated the following year. Though only 12 minutes long the movie gives a wonderful insight into people’s everyday life – their sense of fun, their eagerness to dress up in crazy outfits (the spectators as well as those entering the fancy dress competition), their ‘normal’ daily clothes, transportation, and a sense of fun that was being mirrored as I watched by the Pink Pride Picnic that was taking place in the park just outside.

After the movie there was a Q and A with Ben Burrows, the composer of the music that he been written to accompany the silent film. The Treske Ensemble had recorded the music in London. A pity about the rather large spelling error on the banner behind him. Diana Monahan from the local history society had done research into the carnival and had mapped out the route that the floats had taken.

A corner of the cinema had been given over to a wonderful model of the original electric theatre and I chatted with its maker, Ray Barnes.

He had chosen that particular scale because it’s used in model railways and so he was able to purchase the figurines, but he had to repaint them with appropriate attire. The projection box was upstairs at the front of the building. People in the expensive seats – 3d – entered at the front. Those bound for the cheap seats went in through a side entrance.

It was designed by Henry Cockcroft, a Hebden Bridge architect who had been responsible for designing the trestle bridge at Blake Dean from which one of my ancestors fell (see blog about Ada Harwood: http://blog.hmcreativelady.com/2021/03/01/adas-tragic-death/

Then, to my surprise, Ray took off the roof of the model and I saw its interior, with many people enjoying a film. The men’s toilet was outside, but there was a ladies’ toilet inside the cinema and he’d even recreated this, with a woman going about her business!!! What a wonderful Lockdown project Ray had created.

You can watch the 1924 silent film for free via the Yorkshire Film Archives


The Streets in the Sky

‘Nestled above the hustle and bustle of Halifax Borough Market are two secret streets that are so well hidden that you may not even know about them.’ How many times have I walked around the stalls of the market and not known that above me were two streets with houses – and even a hotel!

These streets are some of Halifax’s most unique houses that run alongside the roof of the market and also look out onto the streets of the town. They used to be home to the market workers, who could then access their stalls below from their own homes. The street of terraced houses was also home to an old Victorian hotel above the high roof of the market.

The tour was part of the Halifax cultural exhibition and the guide was a man who had lived and breathed the markets of Calderdale for over 40 years. He even lives in a house perched high above the market stalls, and accessed, as he was careful to point out, by 47 steps! Talk about living on the job! He oversees Hebden Bridge, Todmorden, Brighouse, Elland and Halifax Markets. He explained how the Halifax Market is being revamped, with ideas for evening openings and even a small live performance venue being incorporated. Under his supervision Elland market has grown from just a couple of stalls to over 20. However, it looks as if Sowerby bridge market is definitely on its last legs.

Access to the streets was by a simple door adjacent to the large original historic gates into the Victorian market. A market has been in Halifax since the 1200s when it first gained a charter. There are hopes that the houses in the sky can eventually be restored and reoccupied. Two of them currently hold small offices but the rest have been empty since the 1990s but the decor was SO 60s. The colours were utterly amazing. It was wonderful and so totally unexpected. We were able to go and explore two of the houses. One was a 5 bedroomed affair.

Textiles in Halifax Minster

While at Dean Clough last week I picked up information about the upcoming Halifax Heritage Festival. There were lots of interesting events and exhibitions and the first one I attended was an organ recital in Halifax minster. I arrived early to view the exhibition put on by the Piecemakers of Elland. The 21 individually designed panels reflect the mythology, folklore and distinctive features of the native trees of Great Britain as depicted in the Celtic Ogham, an ancient alphabet and calendar including trees such as the Oak, Apple, Willow and Ash.

The Piecemakers Artistic Lead, Annie Lancaster said: “Each panel depicts one tree featuring the letter and number of the tree plus details relating to mythology, history, botany, pharmacology and religion of that tree and also highlights the importance of bees in pollination.” One panel was devoted to Heather so naturally that took a lot of my attention. The details of the workmanship and the creativity of the design of the panels was inspiring. I’ve been working on many of my own fabric panels during lockdown so it fascinating to see what other people have been working on.

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