12 Brunswick Street, the end house

Melbourne Street’s former fustian factory

Hebden’s Bridge

4 Melbourne Street

Old door to the factory

Former fustian factory on Melbourne Street

This week I discovered a new line of research in my ancestry. Ok, it’s tenuous in that I don’t share a direct bloodline with my new-found relatives. The connection is through marriage but just how close I now live to these relatives is amazing. So yesterday I went out in search on where they lived. In genealogy terms Florence Sunderland is the mother-in-law of my 2nd cousin 3x removed – 1883-1942. She was born in Blackshaw Head from where I’ve taken several walks along the tops. By the time she was 8 she was living in a cottage just at the far end on Heptonstall, Spink House. I couldn’t find it on the map, but a posting to the Heptonstall Facebook site soon elicited several responses, one from someone who used to know the family that lived there at one time. Florence married a man whose surname was the same as her maiden name. Sunderland is a common name in this part of West Yorkshire and I’ve visited the ruins of Sunderland Hall, which most Bronte experts believe was the genesis for Wuthering Heights. 1911 sees Florence, husband and young daughter living at 12 Brunswick Street, so off I went to find it. There it was, a four storey end of terrace only one street away from where I spent the summer in an AirBnB two years ago! She is listed in the 1911 as working as  a wholesale clothier (fustian). In the late 19th century, fustian production was one of the most important industries for Hebden Bridge and the Calder Valley – so much so that the town became known as Fustianopolis. Fustian is a variety of heavy cloth woven  from cotton chiefly prepared for menswear. Corduroy is a fustian fabric. Her brother, Giles, died in WW1. He is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial, France. It seems unthinkable that a young man who lived at Scammerton farm in Heptonstall should die on the battlefields of France. 418 men from Calderdale lost their lives in WW1. Hope Chapel, next door to me, is honouring them all in November and a display is being organised with as many photos as possible. I wonder if someone will share a photo of Giles. Three years later Florence’s other brother died, aged 42. He’s buried at Cross Stones church, Todmorden, a church set high on the hill above the town – a hill that I haven’t yet climbed! 1939 finds Florence and her husband living in the next street to Brunswick Street, Melbourne Street. This was the street that led to my AirBnB two years ago, so I passed her house every day. She is wholesale clothing machinist and her husband is a dyer’s labourer. Melbourne Street was the site of a large fustian mill that has now been converted to apartments  so I would presume she and her husband worked at that mill. I haven’t found a record of her husband’s death yet, but Florence remarried at the aged of 56, dying two years later in the house on Melbourne Street. And the next day I discovered that my Wrigley relatives had actually built the Melbourne Street clothing factory!