Surprisingly it wasn’t raining when I looked out of the window this morning. It even looked a little less gloomy than I was expecting so I wanted to take advantage of this ‘fine weather.’ I spent more than an hour planning my route – the area of steep hillside below Winters. I’d discovered more ancestors living in this area but the various maps I had seemed to have conflicting ideas about what constitutes a decent sized path. At this time of year the very steep paths are coated in slippery leaves. But even more dangerous than these are the steep cobbles of ancient roads whose moss ridden stones are a veritable nightmare, especially heading down the hillsides.
I walked along the canal to Stubbings Square where one of my ancestors lived. Though I’d passed the entrance to this little square many times I’d never actually gone in to the ‘square’ so here was my opportunity. Rather pretty old stone buildings.
Then on to Oakville Road which led up into the hills. As I turned a corner in the road I saw a train heading directly towards me which scared me for a moment. There was actually a wall between me and it, though if my arms had have been a tad longer I’m sure I could have touched it. I was to take the paved Turret Royd Road, (where another ancetsor had lived at #4) pass the last building and then continue on a footpath. Hmm – no sign of a path past the last house so I had to retrace my steps and take the lower road instead.
This eventually turned into a very, very narrow track, part path, part stream. It led past old buildings towards the main road and so I turned right over a little bridge and headed upwards again. Scattered cottages and ‘halls’ edged the path but many of them didn’t appear to have names. One fine building was built directly into the hillside, being barely 6 ft high at the back and 3 stories high at the front.
This hillside was directly opposite Stoodley Pike and the sun was trying desperately to find its way between heavy clouds. It was quite pictureque. Eventually I came across a couple heading towards me. “You seem to know where you are going” I ventured as we drew level outside Higher Underbank farm. “Yes, we live here,” came the reply. I asked for directions back down to the valley on a road that wouldn’t be too steep and slippery. “Ah, the best way would be to go through our garden, through the gate, turn right, meet a cart road and go past the mill and turn left.”
So off I went. I was very grateful for the short cut through their garden which eliminated some of the steeper, overgrown paths. I soon came to Potball. How’s that for a name? I had seen the name on my map before I’d left home. It turned out to be an imposing building directly overlooking the Calder Valley with an uninterrupted view across to Stoodley Pike. Then down past the ruins of Jumble Hole Mill. I think I’ve only been here once before and that was on a hike in the summer before I moved to Hebden Bridge. The ivy and moss soften the jagged outlines of ruined walls and broken pillars turning everything into elfin territory where everything is a brilliant vibrant green.
Soon I came to the railway tunnel and, on going under it found myself on the main road.
A little father on another tunnel was signposted Underbank House and I took a little detour to see this imposing mansion with its wrought iron gates, alarm system, cctv cameras – and trampoline! I don’t think John Gibson would have lived there in 1861. He was a plate layer for the railway – the same job as Ezra Butterworth.
It was very noisy walking along the main road back towards Hebden but I suddenly saw above me on the left three terraces and I could just make out through the trees the sign Ingle dene on the first group. Each house had a steep flight of steps going up to the front door and I went up one of those to get a better view.
The next block was Ivy Bank, and the last block was Fern Villas but that only consisted of two houses. A man was just leaving, being taken for a walk by his dog, and I asked him about a third house. He believed that one had been demolished, and, sure enough a grassy area to the right of the terrace suggested that he was correct.
A week ago I hadn’t even heard of Winters. I was coming to the end of tracking the homes of the Gibsons and had become intrigued by a strain of Gibsons who kept pubs in my local area, not always successfully, and some with tragic consequences, but I thought this would be a good research project for the dark winter evenings. When I came upon the fact that one pub was located in the appropriately named Winters – well, that was a no brainer. So the first day that the weather was reasonable enough to tramp over the moors I set off to find Winters. I’d discovered a Winter’s Lane perched high up on the hillside just below Badger Lane in Blackshaw so I caught the bus to Blackshaw Head. Other places that I’d listed as residences of the Gibson family were on my list too. I knew that I’d previously taken photos of a row of old cottages called Dry Soil just because the name amused me – and now I’d found out that a Gibson relative had lived there: John Gibson in 1881.
He’d also lived in Cally Hall (1871 census) which was another group of cottages on Badger Lane close by. I’d taken a photo of those picturesque cottages too with their amazing view over the Calder Valley, and I remember finding out that the name Cally had come from Calico cloth. So I stopped to take another photo now that I knew John Gibson had lived there in 1871 and had died there in 1887. (He’d also lived at Underbank at the bottom of the hill in 1861, but that was for another day).
I’d taken a copy of an 1861 map with me and a current ordinance survey map and I knew I was turn off Badger Lane at Marsh Lane. I found what I thought was the correct lane – a a well-used Bridle path but there was no road sign. A man was just turning into it with no hesitation and so I called out,
“Is that Marsh Lane?’
I crossed over.
“Do you mind if I join you for a little while I’m looking for Winter’s Mill.’’
He knew the place and so we followed the well-marked bridle path down. He was from Colne and had left his car on Badger Lane, was hiking down to Hebden for coffee, and then would take the bus back up to the car.
“I’ve always wanted to move to Hebden but my wife finds it depressing,”
I was looking for a mill pond where water would have been stored and used to keep the machinery at mill moving at dry times of the year. It was the pond’s presence on the map which had alerted me to the mill site because there’s nothing remaining of the mill today. The row of cottages marked on my 1861 map came into view and my hiking buddy mentioned that the old mill pond is now a garden at the back of the cottages.
The only definitive remains of the mill was a picturesque arch with initials and date carved above. A well positioned bench overlooked the valley and we sat and chatted, asking him about the accessibility of some of the footpaths back down to the valley. The Pennine Way passes this way but from the map it looks very steep and wooded and probably not a good option for today. The man agreed.
I wanted to take a photo of the cottages but trees were blocking my view so eventually I decided to go up the steep drive and see if anyone came out. At that moment I car came upon the drive and the owner of the end house, which had obviously once been a barn rolled down the window.
“Can I help you?” I explained my presence and she was very helpful. “You can walk right through the front gardens” she said. “It’s a public right of way.” So off I went along the front of the 4 cottages. As I stopped to take photos a couple with a toddler came towards me. Again I explained my mission. “We’ve just bought the end house, but haven’t moved in yet. Would you like to come in and see it?” For whatever reason this house seemed the most likely place for John Gibson’s shop and beer retailers as listed in Pigot’s directory of 1834. This John Gibson, born in 1780 and died in 1837 was the grandfather of the Dry Soil and Cally Hall John Gibson! Before moving to Winters he had previously been innkeeper of the Black Bull at Bridge Lanes recorded in 1811, 1822 and 1829. Inside the house the place was amazing. All the walls were exposed stone and the rooms retained their stone flag floors. The ceilings were not more than 6’6” high and the stone fireplaces were intact, though they now had stoves inset. I immediately wondered about damp and cold penetrating into the house but it was lovely.
The lady took me out back and within 6” of the back door was a small gully running with fast water over which a stone flat led into the large garden, half of which had obviously been the mill pond. An old water pump remained at the side of the pond. Again I wondered what this must be like in heavy rain but it looked lovely. I told her that my daughter Anna would just love such a place with a bare stone interior! Her husband asked for my email and said that the cottage had come with lots of old documents. I do hope he contacts me – but I guess I can always call now I know where they live. He said the cottage was built around 1730 but isn’t a listed building. I took my leave and wandered around the area for a while trying to find any signs of the mill but many of the tracks were took steep and slippery to explore today. The couple did tell me that there is an old photo of the mill but I can’t find it on Pennine horizons or the Charlestown website even though there’s a history of the mill on the latter site. The only one I can find was taken in the 1940’s of a lady outside the building that was then used as a toilet!
According to the Charlestown history site the mill was built in 1805 by John Sutcliffe. Between 1827 and 1832 the mill was purchased by William Horsfall and it seems likely that it was at that time that it was converted to steam power to be able to cope with competition from other manufacturers. In 1842 the mill was capable of turning raw cotton into finished cloth. It had departments for carding, spinning (4360 spindles) and weaving (90 power looms ). It was said to be the largest manufacturer of sateens and dimitie going into Manchester.
By the 1841 census there were 32 men, women and children listed as living in Winters: cotton spinners, weavers, carders, winders. The only person not engaged at the mill was Joshua Gibson, 35, and his wife Sally, 35 who were farmers. Soon after from 1844 to 1855 Joshua and Sally and their 9 children were living in Bridge Lanes and he was a farmer of 5 acres employing an unreadable number of workers. He gave up his license in 1855 and Richard Parker took on the job of landlord at the Black Bull, Bridge Lanes. and two years later he’s listed as a butcher. The following year he hanged himself in his slaughter house on May 30th, 1858 and was buried at Heptonstall church three days later.
In 1842 and 1864 two surveys were carried out regarding the value of the machinery, buildings, utensils and livestock. In 1864 the mill consisted of:
Nos. 1,2 & 3 rooms
Storehourse, store room & office
Boiler house, engine house
Yard and gas piping
There was also a smithy and a mechanics shop.
The 1842 evaluation for the domestic building included: Old white cow, Red and white cow and Roan cow,The new cow, Old stable manure, Bay mare, shaft and trace, General farming utensils and 3 stable buckets, 2 pack carts, Box tubs, lumber, wheel barrow and hand barrow, 2 water tubs
One interesting entry was for articles to be found in the ‘room over the school’ so Winters had its own schoolroom in 1842! By the next census in 1851 the mill employed about 75-90 people. Some workers lived on site eg at Winters Cottages (1851 census shows 63 people living at Winters with two cottages empty),
On February 25, 1868 the mill was struck by lightning.In1877 William raised more capital by a second mortgage on the mill and Underbank, but had trouble keeping up payments to suppliers and creditors.
By the end of 1880 the business, now owned by William Horsfall, was effectively Bankrupt. In March 1881 the machinery and engine boiler were sold and part or all of the mill was sold off for stone.The old part of Winters Mill used mules to spin yarn (called twist) and the newer part was used for power looms to manufacture fustian cloth In 1839 the coming of the railway meant that the mill could get raw cotton from Liverpool and send finished goods to Manchester much quicker.
I returned to Winter’s Lane thinking how many more people must have lived in this vicinity both the keep the mill going and also to necessitate a shop and beer house in the 1830’s. I’d checked with the locals that my planned route was easy to follow and it was. Winter’s Lane can carry vehicles but it ends and turns into a tiny track called Dark lane. This was more like Dark River today but my new hiking boots were up to the task. Dark Lane led back onto another lane that was just about passable by car, though very steep, although bags of salt were stationed every ten yards in anticipation of icy weather. The sound of traffic along the Calder Valley rose up to the path and the whistle of the train blended in with the birdsong from time to time.
Eventually I came out onto Rawtenstall Bank, a very steep road, though fully paved for cars, with several switchbacks. I decided not to take the short cut down Cat Steps!
A few terraces are strewn along the road and they are at a crazy angle with their roof line close to 45 degrees. One of these terraces is Glenview, and in 1901 and 1911 Arthur Gibson, Joshua’s grandson, was living at #9. Arthur was Thomas Gibson’s son. Thomas Gibson had been a butcher all his life, growing up in Winters and presumably attending the school there. At the age of 21 he married Hannah Stott and they had 9 children , the youngest being Arthur, 1873-1957. Arthur had been employed in the clothing industry all his life, first as a tailor’s apprentice then as a fustian cutter. A lady was just coming out of her house as a took a photo of the terrace. “I’m tracing my ancestors. They used to live at #9” I explained. “Ah, that’s that’s end one.” Weird. The last one was number 8! Ah well. Perhaps the terrace was longer at one time.
My next stop was 16 Bank Terrace, in 1911 the home of Joshua’s great granddaughter Ethel Gibson-Atack, and so the great great granddaughter of John Gibson who I had stated the day with. It is through Ethel’s husband, Harold Atack that I am related to Barbara Atack the president of the Hebden Bridge Historical society. When I first moved here and joined the society Barbara told me that her husband’s father had lived in Cheetham House where I was then living! Bank Terrace is so steep that it looks as if it’s falling down the hillside.
I turned off Rawtenstall bank onto Oakville Road where some imposing Victorian mansions are set up high above the road. At one of these, Oak Villa another Gibson relative – Mary Gibson-Butterworth lived in 1881. Mary was Joshua’s daughter and so had lived at the shop/inn that her father kept at Winters and was 11 years old on the1841 census. I wonder if she went to the school in Winters. 10 years later, in 1851, she was a servant at the inn in Hawksclough which I’ve not yet quite found, though I’ve been researching that too. Richard Parker was the innkeeper. Remember, a Richard Parker had taken over the license of the Black Bull at bridge Lanes from Joshua (Mary’s dad). In 1861 Mary married Ezra Butterworth a plate layer for the railway company and she was the housekeeper at the now demolished White Horse Inn in Lee’s Yard, Hebden Bridge. My 1871 they are living on Crown Street, my street, and Ezra is still an employee of the railway company but by 1881 at the age of 51 Ezra is now a farmer with 9 ares of land and he’s living in Oak Villa just off Rawtenstall End. The houses on either side of Oak Villa each have a live-in general servant. Mary and Ezra seem to have gone up in the world. Very rapidly.
Oh, oh my. The very next day I thought I’d try and find out more about Ezra’s rise to the upper class and I seriously couldn’t believe my eyes. On Ancestry I found a 34 page document entitled the Life and Times of Ezra Butterworth, 1827-1898 as told by his daughter Grace, 1863-1944, to her four children and recounted by them to his great granddaughters, all handwritten by Barbara Moss. It had been uploaded by ‘mossquire’ who I had exchanged several emails with about the Moss family over the last few weeks and so I’d never even thought to look for Gibson’s in his info online! I read quickly through some of the pages and it turns out that Ezra sent his children to the Moss school on Hangingroyd Road that I’ve been delving into over the last month! Truly amazing!. There was even a photo of him in his hunting gear. I emailed mossquire to see if he’d transcribed the 34 page document but no such luck. Think I’ll have to save that job for a rainy day – or a rainy week!
As I returned into Hebden along the canal I stopped to take a photo of #1 Fountain Street which is the first house from the canal in a row of Victorian back-to-back houses.
Annie Gibson Hart (1866-1917) was living there in 1911. She was a grandchild of Thomas Gibson. Her parents were Thomas Gibson and Hannah Stott-Gibson. She married a fustian cutter, Cornelius Hart from Bolton. At the time of her marriage she was a fustian machinist and the newly weds were living with her parents at Old Gate. By 1901 they were living at Hebble End, childless. Hebble End was the area of Hebden Bridge that I first stayed in the summer I came by myself to research my ancestry. 1911 saw them still working in the fustian industry. Prior to his marriage Cornelius had lived and worked at Lower Lumb Mill (built 1802) with his parents and siblings. Lumb Mill School was founded in 1845 by the owners of the mill. In 1851 there was one school room, 20’ by 16’, with 34 girls and 17 boys, who were taught reading writing and arithmetic. The children would have worked half time, with one group at school in the morning and another in the afternoon. Somewhere in this locality the Sutcliffes opened a one-room factory school. This was because in 1845 the Factory Acts said that children had to spend a certain number of hours in education if they were to continue working in the mills. 34 girls and 17 boys were taught reading, writing and arithmetic at Lumb.Half timing ended only with the Fisher Act of 1917. The ruins of a 200-year-old cotton mill have been brought back to life, thanks to a new hydro-electricity scheme that starts generating electricity today. The hydro scheme uses the original weir and water channels that supplied the industrial-revolution-era mill when it was first built in 1802, and will produce enough clean electricity to power around 40 homes and save 60 tonnes of CO2 per year from going into the atmosphere. The 450,000 project is the brainchild of Bede and Jane Mullen, who have lived by the ruins of Lower Lumb mill in Hebden Bridge for over 30 years. My photos of Lower Lumb Mill come from a hike I took in April.