Month: June 2016 (page 2 of 3)

Meeting a new relative

So I went back to Christ Church Sowerby Bridge, carefully getting on the correct train today. I was excited to meet Angela, the lady who had asked me to bring my family history material to the church coffee morning so that we could compare notes. I had little expectation that we would find any common ancestry since Barraclough is a very common name in these parts, but it  became obvious immediately that Angela and I have the same members of the Barraclough family in our tree. The parents of Ishmael Nutton (who died from alpaca poisoning, and whose gravestone I unearthed at Mt Pellon church last week) were James Nutton (born 1810) and Ann Barraclough (born 1815). These are my great, great, great grandparents but for Angela it’s a more complicated ancestral line. However, the family connection is undeniable.


Gearing up for the Christmas in Hebden festivities  this weekend

I chatted with other coffee club members, and Peter, the churchwarden who had been so helpful last year, joked that if I was going to come to the church this often I should become a member of the Parish Church Council. Well, then it is only fitting that my ‘local’ pub in Santa Cruz is called The Parish! My bid to go up the church tower was not met with enthusiasm. apparently it’s too dangerous to let anyone up there 🙁

Angela offered to take me on a tour of the area so while she went to a short service I feasted on toasted tea cake and peach iced tea at Gabriel’s cafe. It was even warm enough to sit outdoors. The ‘tour’ took in several of the streets where my ancestors lived that are on census forms from 1841 – 1911 but all the houses I was searching for had been demolished, but I could still get a feel for the area, their location in the shadows of the mills where they no doubt worked. I was disappointed that half the row of Haigh Street terrace had been demolished. My relatives lived at various times at 4, 6 and 20 Haigh Street, and I have one photo of my great grandmother who lived there.

The train back to Hebden Bridge malfunctioned for 20 minutes but I arrived back there withour any further mishap around 2:30. I sat on the Square enjoying a sausage roll and lated a cider from the Shoulder of Mutton and then did my first  bit of souvenir shopping, stopping at the old Hebden Mill and the soap factory. Earlier in the day I had seen a knitted doll in Sowerby Bridge from the same series that I used to knit and sell. IMG_5286

Solar Powered Drying Machines

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Wet washing in Calderdale

Under my Feet in Calderdale

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A collection of photos of my first week in Calderdale set to The Trading Post from my ‘They Went West’ suite for piano solo.

The wrong train

Today I boarded the wrong train! Luckily it wasn’t a non-stop to London, and the ticket collector (yes, they still have them) discovered my error in time for me to change trains at the next station. This just happened to be Mytholmroyd, one time home of Ted Hughes, Britain’s poet laureate and husband of Sylvia Plath. With the 40 minutes I had to wait for the next train I explored the little place that was heavily affected by the floods last Christmas. Sand bags still line the street – and ironically  the shop behind them is called White Sands travel agency. I also passed the clog factory, still in operation. I have my great aunt’s clogs displayed on my wall at home. (Click on images for captions)

Arriving in Halifax I made a bee-line for Marks and Sparks to find a take-out lunch so that I could sit in the ‘Woolshops’ and people watch, drinking my elderflower juice. Then to the library to try to find old maps with streets that my relatives lived on – Gaol, Haigh Streets. There were some great books of old maps and old paintings of Halifax at the height of the industrial revolution. The tourist information center provided me with an A-Z of street names with maps (free). I mentioned that I’d like to see All souls Church, Haley Hill but I understood that it closed down many years ago. They told me it opened on Christmas Day, and maybe Easter Sunday, but they thought that maybe Jackie has a key. Hmmm. Oh, yes. Here’s Jackie’s phone number. I gave her a call, explaining my quest. ‘Where are you now?’ she


All Saints church, Haley Hill

asked. ‘In the library,’ I told her. ‘Ok,’ came the response, ‘I’ll meet you outside in 2 minutes.’ And two minutes later I found myself in a car with Jackie and her husband. He dropped us off outside the church, a five minutes drive, she took out her key, and there we were, inside this amazing church with the tallest spire in Halifax. It was built with money given by Edward Ackroyd, a mill owner, who also built cottages and a hospital for his



workers. The church was very ornate, and even had a grotesque in Ackroyd’s likeness. It closed in 1979 and is now owned by the Churches Conservation trust who own All Souls in Bolton.  Jackie took me to the cemetery but it is VERY large and overgrown. It’s the resting place of James Hainsworth Leeming, who married my great great grandmother, Elizabeth Ann,  after her husband, Ishmael Nutton had died from alpaca poisoning. He had been a lodger with them before Ishmael’s death and was 12 years her junior. Then she showed me Ackroyd’s house, now the Bankfield museum (closed on Mondays) and was even happy to go with me in search of Ackroyd Court, the high rise apartment where my grandma’s sister Lily lived. I remember visiting her there when I was a little girl and seem to have some recollection of the church spire outside her window.

Back in Hebden Bridge I saw a flier at the station announcing a vigil in the Square for the murdered MP Jo Cox. Back a’th’ mill I mentioned it to Chris and she went too. A very moving tribute. The local chippy provided supper and I was fortunate because they were taking last orders as I arrived – at 6:30!!


Vigil for Jo Cox

I watched England draw 0-0 with Slovakia. That’s pretty much the first time I have done something not connected with my ‘study abroad’ since I got here. The down time was very much appreciated – though a winning goal may have made it a little sweeter.

A soggy day, but no dampening of the spirits

weather forecastIt was after midnight by the time I’d finished writing my journal and organizing the day’s photos, so I was surprised that I woke up at 6:30a.m. I was even more surprised that I actually considered getting up and seeing what the light was like on the canal. Unfortunately there’s no window in my room so I have to get up to check on the weather each day.


Right out of Brassed Off – literally

I’d decided last night to go to a church service in Sowerby Bridge today so by 9:30 I was crossing the park to the station. I found the ‘proper’ way to the center of town from the station. There’s a little tiny footpath that climbs up to the church from the station and I could hear the simulated church bells ‘call the faithful to their prayer.’ Just as I was crossing the road outside Christ Church I bumped into two people I had met on Tuesday and I sat with them. In her introductory remarks the pastor, Angela Dick welcomed me by name, saying that I was visiting from America.  It was lovely to hear the organ that I’d played last year being played well and I found that some of the hymns that I recognized from from my high school made me tear up – with nostalgia, I guess. There were about 40 people in the congregation. At the meet and greet one lady asked if I knew Santa Clara. She’s been there 5 times to visit her sister. At the after service tea I was pounced upon, ‘Are you the person tracing your ancestry? What names do you have in your family?’ We both have Barracloughs, but that’s a VERY common name here. She promised to bring her research to the Tuesday coffee morning in case I attend.


I had to run all the way back to the station. Trains are only one per hour on Sundays. As I crossed the park I heard brass band music and came across a band obviously rehearsing, for today is the big band competition – it felt just like a scene from Brassed Off. A quick , very quick lunch at a’ th’ mill and just time to take in a couple of other bands as they marched to the Square and played their set pieces. Each band comprised people of all ages.

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I left my mill and almost bumped into a trumpet  holding, ice-cream eating gentleman who’d obviously just played in the competition. ‘You look as if you’ve just come from Brassed Off!’ I quipped. ‘I was in the movie!’ he responded.  But unfortunately I had no time for a conversation.


Elland Junior Band

Running, again, back to the station I was just in time to register for the guided walk in the

footsteps of Lavena Saltonstall, visiting the homes of Hebden Bridge suffragettes, the clothing factories where they worked. Ending in George Square where Emmeline


3 hour guided walk in the pouring rain

Pankhurst addressed vast crowds in 1907.  Jill Liddington from Calderdale Heritage Walks who had a background in women’s history of the area and has written several books was our leader. She wasn’t very charismatic, but she had lots of information. About halfway through the 3 hour walk the rain came down in earnest, and yes, my new birthday present is truly waterproof. The trails were steep, slippery on the mossy cobblestones but most people took it in their stride. We ended with tea at the White Lion – so civilized and a chance for everyone to chat and ask questions of Jill.


Author and researcher Jill Liddington was our guide. Heptonstall church just visible on the hilltop

As I left I called in at the Shoulder of Mutton to ask about the quiz night advertised for tonight and experienced my first disappointment of the trip – quiz night had been cancelled since the floods.

Sitting in the Old Gate, exactly in the same place I’d sat one week ago on my first evening in England I though I’d try to assess how it feels to have been here for a week. Perhaps, as Brian suggests, I’m living on pure adrenalin. It’s hard fall asleep at night  because I’m thinking about what the next day will bring. Most evenings I put on an episode of Desert

soggy day

A wet urban hike – hey, he looks like Chris!

Island Discs and fall asleep to that famous Radio show which, by the way, is still going. What’s happening to me? One thing’s for sure: I can’t keep up this pace. Take today for example. Out at 9:20, back 1:00-1:30, out again til 5:00 then back out again at 7:00 for dinner. And that’s the way it’s been every day. Last night was the first night I have stayed in for the evening, and I ended up still being awake after midnight sorting the day’s photos, writing my blog, making imovies of my photos and researching train times for today’s trip to Sowerby Bridge church service. Timing coincidences abound and fortuotous meetings with random people are just crazy. The people I’ve hiked with have more to say than mere chit-chat. Is this just the Yorkshire spirit or does it apply all over England, or is this a specific quality of Up North?

A Day in Heptonstall


Looking down on Hebden Bridge from the path to Heptonstall

Well, I hadn’t planned to hike UP the incredibly steep hill from my mill to Heptonstall, just DOWN,  but I was, for the first time, thwarted by the bus time-time, so rather than wait for the next one I decided to hike up the hill – and a very rewarding experience it turned out to be with great views, that were not visible on the other path down, known as the Buttress because it was all in the woods. I arrived at the first house in town on the cobbles where Rachel and I had stayed last year. I explored the back alleys and steep stairways connecting the streets and found myself at the Octagonal church, (1764) preached in by John and Charles Wesley, founders of the Methodist movement. I was delighted when I handwritten sign in the door said Open. Inside I found a lovely lady who was ‘doing the flowers’ for a special celebration of the Sunday School (now no longer used). The roof is unsafe and they have a grant of $52,000 but because it’s a Grade 1 listed building it has to be restored by  a plaster and lathe ceiling.


The flower lady in the Octagonal church

Heptonstall’s museum is in the Old School house, founded in 1642 and rebuilt in 1772. I hadn’t even managed to reach the desk before the docent asked,’Can you help me’ I always thought I was meant to say that to the docent! He’d taken on the task of rewriting paragraphs from the Heptonstall Trail brochure for posters that are to be placed around the village at the upcoming festival (which of course was already on my calendar!). I agreed readily so he  made me a cup of tea, showed me his illustration for the site of the cock fighting pit and we discussed how to design and illustrate the plaque for the Mechanics’ Institute. It was the most bizarre experience ever. It was as if we just picked up halfway through a conversation about a project we were working on together. He was incredibly gifted with great ideas and a skillful sketcher, yet he struggled with  reading and spelling skills. he told me the history of the design on the mug – it’s Calder slipware by John Hudson. I wandered around the remains of the old church, took in the ‘new’ church and paid homage to Sylvia Plath. I had lunch in the White Lion Inn and started back down the trail this time taking the REALLY steep trail and stairs down to the village. It’s funny but I just used my sense of direction to get back  to Hebden- down and down and then down.


Tea and a fighting cock


Richard and his artwork













I sat on the Square for half an hour, drinking coffee at the same outdoor cafe that I visited with Rachel last year – great place to people watch. What a difference from mid-week. Now the place was teaming with people, many of whom would have easily fit in in Santa Cruz. I called in at a bakery to order a pastie and a piece of parkin. My server was confused. He thought i was American but then an American wouldn’t have known a pastie from a parkin! Turned out he has an Auntie in . . .Santa Cruz – and off he went to find her address on his cell phone!


Pastie and a parkin

After an hour’s R & R back a’th’ mill I was back in the Square. My host, Chris had told me about some kind of chalk event being put on by the LGBT community in honor of the victims of the Orlando massacre. It turned out to be toddlers and their parents writing messages and drawing on the floor of the square.


The dairy where Rachel and I stayed last year

Back along the canal the sun came out for  few moments and I crossed the bridge to take a look at the over-dwellings opposite my mill. these are basically two houses on top of each


Chalking the Square in memory of the victims of the Orlando massacre

other, the one on top facing the front and the one in the back on the downward slope – such is the steepness of the terrain here. I managed to face-time Sarah and show her my location. After the call was over a guy on a bench asked me all about the service. His daughter lives in Spain so he was eager to know about the service. For the last 20 years he has been a canal boat builder and repairer in Hebden during the summer and then spends the winter months in Andalusia.IMG_5017


My first evening in – writing journals, sorting out the piles of fliers I’ve picked up and, thanks to Brian, finding a place to watch BBC TV programs on my laptop!



My mill


My front door


Evening sun


7 hour hike!

Met up with Moy who was leading a group hike exploring the areas of woodland and moorland above Todmorden (birthplace of Keith Emerson, of Emerson, Lake and Palmer). Only one other person showed up, but he, like Moy, was a wealth of information about the history of the landscape that opened up before us. The hike led steeply upwards where we were rewarded with the views that are one of the main things I miss about England. We passed many isolated farms that had once processed wool directly from the herd to woven cloth. We followed some of the pack horse trails on which  the finished cloth would would have been taken to the markets, or cloth halls as they are called here. I learned lots about the conservation and control of  the woodland, especially  important with the problems of flooding in the narrow, highly populated valleys. We came to Dobroyd Castle. It’s now an outward bound school for kids from all over England. We passed a group from Wolverhampton. Moy’s daughter had been there last week but Moy herself had never been inside. We knocked on the door and were told that because they are responsible for children they couldn’t let us in. I put on my best American accent and said that I’d come all the way from California and would just looooove to see inside an English castle. The door opened and we were able to step inside and look at the amazing stone carvings. Of course this ‘castle’ is a folly, being being by a Victorian wealthy mill owner, John Fielden (1822-1893) but the opulence of the decoration was amazing. The owner’s story is interesting because he married a common mill girl. But that’s another story . . .  .

Well, it’s September now so it’s probably time to tell the John Fielden story.He developed Waterside  cotton Mill in Todmorden which was possibly the largets factory in the country at the time. His family home, Dawson Weir was firmly fixed amid the mill workers’ cottages. He was a Unitarian.  He raised 7 children  within the working community. Ruth was born in 1827 and married Fielden in 1857. He built the castle for Ruth and they moved in in 1869. He arranged for a  treat for the 300 men who had built it at the Lake Hotel – Hollingworth Lake. They had a special train accompanied by brass band. The castle has 66 rooms, 17 stables and cost 71 thousand pounds to build.  In 1873 Fielden was involved in a horse riding accident  and remained crippled for the rest of his life. Ruth became an alcoholic. She died aged 50 and was buried in an unmarked grave. He married Ellen Mullinson eight months later. It was very much a society wedding. He died at the castle in 1893 at the age of 71. In 1995 a group of monks moved into the castle and remained there until 2007.

See todmordenandwalsden/quakers on rootsweb.

I asked if it is again possible to walk from Todmorden back to Hebden  along the tow path. Gary suggested we find out. Together we had lunch in a great little coffee house where I got my first cheese toastie of the trip and then we set off back to Hebden. It should have been around 4 miles but several times the towpath was closed because of the reconstruction of the canal so we had to keep detouring onto the road for a stretch. However, there was lots to see and Gary was a lively conversationalist. He’d been a printer, got made redundant in his early 50’s,found work as a janitor in a college, saw stuff on the blackboards he thought might be interesting, got a Bachelor’s degree, and a masters and then a PhD from Ruskin college Oxford!

Back a’ th’ mill  at 5  I had dinner and then went to the Hebden’s Little Theater production of Children’s Hour, precisely one minute’s walk from my mill. The subject was a lesbian relationship between 2 teachers in a girls’ boarding school – Hebden Bridge is known as the lesbian capital of England.

Today I ended up in gaol

Rain and thunder were forecast today. There was no coffee morning to go to so, after my conversation with Neal, the vicar of St Hilda’s Warley, about his time as chaplain at Wakefield cathedral I decided to hop on a train and head for Wakefield.

Today I visited Wakefield. I don’t think I’ve ever been there before but it features in my family history since my great, great, great, great grandfather was incarcerated in what is now England’s most secure prison. He was the guest of her majesty Queen Victoria on two separate occasions. He was also buried at Wakefield All Saints church which is now a cathedral and has recently undergone a huge face-lift. It has Saxon origins and during the refurbishment skeletal remains were found that were carbon dated to around 900 AD. The medieval rood screen still survives. There’s a strong music school and choral department in the crypt!


This looks fun

So stop number one was the cathedral where, having explained why I  was there,  a docent, Richard York,  took up my case with gusto. While I had lunch  – yeh, for the baked potato – he went in search of church archives, and wandered around outside in the pouring rain trying to decipher the horizontal gravestones that now make up the path into the church.


Richard, the helpful docent

No luck, but I gave him my business card in case he unearthed anything  in the future.   It turned out that his dad had exactly the same business card! Richard had been brought up, literally, at Bretton Hall (a college for the arts). I remember having a conversation over dinner at a  piano conference with Jane Bastien (piano pedagogue extraordinaire) about her going to give a presentation at Bretton Hall years and years ago. His father had worked there, surrounded by 23 pianos including 4 Steinways. my school friend Hilary Markland had gone there from Bolton School. Richard mentioned Keith Swallow whose name I recalled. Richard collects archival recordings, over 3000 of them, and his all-time favorite is the Bach/Busoni Chaconne in d minor which is my favorite piece that Keith performs.  A very elegant lady, Jill,  joined us , a would-be docent that Richard knows well and both of them knew Ramsbottom, Tottington and Rawtenstall (all close to my native village).I think she ‘was’ somebody, bedecked in pearls and very, very elegant. When I asked if I could take their photographs for my journal Jill was the only person on the trip who answered ‘No.’ Richard related the story of his trip to the US taking in King City and Las Vegas. Describing driving in those areas he said ‘You just sit there, hold the steering wheel, and don’t turn it for two hours! That’s not driving!’



The newly restored Nave, Wakefield cathedral

The barista at the cathedral recommended the Six Chimneys for watching the vital England v Wales  UEFA cup game and I was thrilled to get the reactions of the assembled crowd on video as England scored the winning goal after being 0-1 down. I consumed my first pint bitter shandy of the trip.

A quick peek in at the Hepworth Gallery, dedicated to the work of sculptress Barbara Hepworth (free


Sculptures by Hepworth

admission, and a free bus to get there from Wakefield center, though I walked it) and then off to take photos of the gaol.

I looked around carefully for ‘No photography’ signs but couldn’t see any so I began taking photos of the entrance. Within 30 seconds a prison guard came running out demanding my cell phone! As I explained that there was nothing to say I couldn’t she shepherded me into the prison itself. Yeah! Just what I’d hoped for , but not quite in this way. Explaining myself to another guard he told me it was fine to take photos from across the street, which I duly did. The prison is mainly Victorian, though parts date back to the 1500’s. There’s a mulberry tree in the center of the exercise yard and legend has it that this accounts for the nursery song Her We Go Round the Mulberry Bush.


Wakefield’s top security gaol


The door I entered!

I’m all talked out

My goodness what a day! I left at 9, deciding to risk not wearing my raincoat. The half hour bus ride  to Halifax was quite eventful. Me to bus driver, ” I’d like a weekly Rover’s ticket, please.” Driver, incredulous, ” What??” Me – repeat the question. Driver, “Oh, bloody hell. Just ger on and sit yerself down.” I did. Halfway to Halifax the bus was stopped at a bus stop when we were side swiped by a lorry. No-one hurt. Everyone just got off quietly and waited for the next bus. I, of course, didn’t have a ticket. Ah, what fun. And so on to Halifax bus station, where I boarded another bus to Pellon Lane. I’d been told to ask for Pellon social club. I did and asked the driver the price of the ticket,  $1.90 I was told. I handed over a $10 note. What’s that? asked the driver. My fare, I suggested. Well I don’t have any change – just ger on. This is an excellent way to travel. I should try it again 🙂

Arriving at Christ Church Mt Pellon I was welcomed by the parishioners enjoying their coffee, tea,  biscuits and cakes. I discovered that only the area directly around the church is called Mt Pellon. Pellon Lane is a long road, primarily an industrial mess now sprinkled between stone terraces housing  primarily Muslims, with great food and clothing stores. I stayed for the service which was accompanied by an amazingly out of tune organ.   I chatted to the organist and while she went off for tea I was able to play. I even found a copy of my favorite Bach Preludes and Fugues! I  then wandered into the graveyard to find IMG_4689-3my great grandfather, Ishmael Nutton (1835-1876) and his wife Elizabeth Ann Leeming. I found his gravestone easily, though it was well covered with moss. He had died at aged 40from alpaca poisoning. Was it of any significance that his was the only grave sporting an empty beer can? I wondered.IMG_4699

As we all left one of the gentlemen offered to show me round the area. I thought that meant a short stroll around the village but he ended up taking me on a car tour of the area taking me anywhere I wanted to go and stopping at any place I thought would be a good photo opportunity.  He was a wealth of information, and took me to see the reconstructed gibbet in Halifax that I had read about last night. Halifax was the last place in England to use this form of execution. The practice was retained to protect the cloth trade. The first person to be executed here was John of Dalton in 1286 and the last execution took place on April 30, 1650. I asked to go to Warley town so I could find The


The Halifax gibbett

Grange where Patrick Brontë had lived before he moved to Haworth, and then we leisurely drove to Southowram so I could see the house which was where Emily Brontë was governess for 6 months. IMG_4788

I offered to buy him lunch at the Maypole in Warley Town – very posh. His nephew is a prominent makeup artist and regularly does make-up shoots for David Beckham and Barbara Windsor. He’d worked in construction and had worked on building Haley Court, the high rise flats built in 1966 that my great Aunt Lil had lived in. I had a black pudding salad and passion fruit cider from New Zealand – which turned out to be the only black pudding I had on the trip.

He dropped me off at St John’s, Warley, where coffee and conversation was in full swing. There I met someone who was brought up in Entwistle, at Wayoh Farm. She been married at Turton church in 1954. Another lady had visited to Soquel, a village just outside Santa Cruz.  Neal, the vicar, had


Neal, the vicar at St John’s, Warley

motorbiked across the U.S. a few years ago with his wife. He mentioned he was from Wakefield so I asked if there was any way I could get into Wakefield Prison. It turned out that he’d been the chaplain there before becoming vicar at St John’s and St Hilda’s. Since it’s a top security prison now he doubted I could gain access but he did tell me where I could get the best views of the prison from  – the platform of the railway station. He also explained which buildings would have been there when George Gledhill ( my great, great, great, great grandfather) was imprisoned there. Margaret offered to drive me back to Hebden Bridge.

For a few moment in the evening the sun came out for the first time. I dashed out to take these two photos from outside my mill.

A few random notes for the day.

  1. The woman who won the Great British Bake Off made the Queen’s 90th birthday cake.
  2. Underdwellings are a peculiarity of housing found only (?) in Hebden Bridge. It’s when one house is built above another, the hillside being so steep that the top house faces one street and the bottom house faces a different street. The only other place I’ve seen this is in Virginia City, Nevada.


Making friends


As I stepped out of my mill this morning I observed a cat, highly excited by the recycling tray at our front door. On further inspection the cat was after a lovely little mouse who was delighted to pose for a photograph!

I actually set my alarm for 8:15 this morning because I needed to catch the train to Sowerby Bridge to be in time for the coffee morning at Christ Church.  It was less than five minutes’ walk to the railway station, first walking along the canal towpath and then through Calder homes Park.  As I waited for it to arrive I went into the waiting room at Hebden Bridge and there was – a piano, just waiting to be played upon. There was even music on it – Wachet Auf and When I an Laid in Earth. I just went to see Dido and Aeneas at UCSC opera last weekend. There’s a cafe too, right on the platform, that serves bacon butties. Note to self: must try one. Ed. never did 🙁  The return ticket was two pounds ninety. I break off writing this to see the BBC news reporting a mass shooting in Orlando, riots  at the UEFA soccer in Paris and a stabbing in Paris.

Reconnected with Peter, the friendly churchwarden at Christ Church Sowerby Bridge, who had arranged for me to play the organ there last year. Only two people were there when I arrived but  we were soon joined others and I got a wonderfully warm welcome.  This place is very special to me since  so many of my ancestor were baptized and married here.  I joined the coffee morning and was welcomed with open arms. The church was rebuilt in 1821 and reopened on May 24th of that year – my birthday. Only the communion table is left from the Old Brig Chapel. It’s dated 1520 so my ancestors would have communion table sowerby bridgeknown it. I met the vivacious pastor, Angela Dick, who has been there for 6 years. I decided not to stay for the service and so people recommended that I try Gabriel’s cafe at The Moorings for lunch. It was delightful, and is located in the old lock keeper’s cottage. I ordered a jacket potato with cheese, something I’d been looking forward to as being quintessentially English, so imagine my disappointment when my server came back a few minutes later to say they were all out of potatoes. This is Yorkshire – not Ireland in the 1840’s.  I settled for a cheese and pickle sarni, and as I ate I consulted my bus route map and realised that I could get to Triangle quite easily. Meanwhile it was pouring down outside –  good weather for ducks, and there were lots of them, mostly with babies. I walked along the canal for a while, taking photos of the rain. The British couldn’t understand that at all, but in California we’ve had little rain in the last 5 years.

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So on to Triangle, where Isabella Acornley , my great, great, great aunt was born in 1837. It was a tiny village outside Halifax. She had eventually ended up living in a

isabella mt pleasant

1851 census showing Isabella Acornley, my gt, gt, gt, aunt born in Triangle Yorkshire in 1837. Aged 13 she is a power loom weaver in Edgworth

weaver’s  cottage in Mt Pleasant in Edgworth, across from The Black Bull,  and Rachel had visited it last year. I found a bus stop and asked the young man if he knew Triangle.

He did. He told me where to get off  the bus – and be sure to visit the cricket club! When you look up Triangle on Wikipedia the photo is of the cricket club! The only pub – the Triangle,  duh- is closed.There’s a town meeting planned to discuss its future. I would have gone but only residents of Triangle were invited. Two lorries hit it in quick succession and made it unstable. but what was this? The door seemed to be slightly ajar. I gave it a little tug and as my eyes adjusted to the dark interior I could make out the bar, seating, even glasses hanging above the bar. Just like a Nevada ghost town. At that moment I glimpsed a fluorescent object moving at speed towards me, and I beat a hasty retreat as a workman banged the door shut. I was disappointed that I hadn’t been quicker with my camera.

triangle pub2

The Triangle pub – closed forever?

Meanwhile the cricket club is the only hostelry in town. Pubs in England serve quite a different function from pubs in the US. Here they are a place for business meetings, general conversations, and a one time they had books when people couldn’t afford to purchase their own. As I looked around me  I realised that the landscape surrounding me was akin to that of Edgworth: steep green hills, scattered stone terraced houses. The fast cars on the narrow country road were frightening, especially after finding out that the two lorries had crashed into the pub – a much larger object than little me. I noticed a sign a Bed and Breakfast establishment which, judging from the gatepost, promised to be an imposing building, so I gladly turned off the scary road and walked down the imposing driveway lined with flowering rhododendrons. The house, Thorpe House, had been built in 1804 by a  mill owning family, and is currently run by three sisters, descendants of the mill

thorpe house traingle

Thorpe House – now and B and B

owners.  It was seventy five pounds a night for B and B. It had been home to Arnold Williams, Liberal MP for Sowerby in the 1920s, and during World War II served as officers’ quarters for the Royal Engineers, after which it lay empty for 12 years. In 1957, the mansion’s dilapidated and run-down state was repaired and it was converted into a home for elderly people, which it remained until 1994 when it was closed down as a retirement home. I managed to find a short movie about it:

Thorpe Mill, on the river,  was just below the house. Following the bus stop guy’s recommendation I ventured down a narrow, very steep path, expecting to arrive at the club house of the cricket ground. Instead, I found myself confronted by a large gate through which I could get a full view of the immaculate cricket ground. As I peered through the gates a lady drove up with her excitable dog who were out for their daily walk in spite of the pouring rain and she chatted as she showed me a more interesting way back into town, one that would not only give me a bird’s eye view of the cricket ground, but one that required me to do my mountain goat impression – the first of many in the next month.



Sarah and friend – my walking companions in Triangle

It was a good job I’d got my hiking boots on. In fact, they became my default footwear for the next month. The trail was steep and very muddy but we got into a good conversation as we walked back into Sowerby Bridge. She’d attended Manchester uni and currently runs a storage company in Hebden Bridge which came within 4 inches of being flooded. Can you imagine that? Putting all your precious possessions into a storage unit that gets washed away? The businesses on either side of her were washed away. Her husband works for Calderdale Authority and is currently in China promoting tourism in Calderdale to the Chinese.

Back in Sowerby Bridge a train was just arriving and within a few minutes I was back in Hebden Bridge where I caught glimpses of the sun for the first time since arriving in England. I stopped off at the cafe in the park on my walk back t’th’ mill and enjoyed a proper cup of tea – that means sitting down. I’d been on the go for 5 hours, non-stop. After a short nap I popped out to the Co-op for an Indian take-out, delicious. The evening was passed at the Hebden Bridge Picture House seeing Tom Hiddleston in ‘I saw the light.’ I’m not a country music fan but I am a Tom Hiddleston fan, but the film didn’t move me. I though it rather quaint that it was cash only, and they served glasses of wine, and mugs of tea and coffee – none of this paper nonsense.


Coffee morning at Christ Church, Sowerby Bridge with vicar Angela Dick

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