My usual modus operandi on my hikes from my front door is to catch a bus on t’ th’ tops and hike from there. But these are not normal times and so, after several days of 6-7 mile hikes I decided to go ‘up first.’ A couple of days ago I’d walked down from Jack bridge so today I started from my front door and walked up to Jack bridge. The only time I’d done the walk this way round was the first time I ever did it, in 2017, when I was in England for the summer, and I’d followed a footpath pamphlet which had little indication of the climb involved. And I have to say I was actually surprised that it took me about the same time to walk up as it does to walk down. You get a different view and I saw things that I’d not noticed before.
Eventually after about an hour I came out of the woods, passed Hudson Mill where my ancestor Sunderland had lived (see a former blog) and found myself opposite the New Delight pub, which, of course, is closed. A couple of weeks ago I used its name in a new song I wrote for the Hebden Bridge Little Theatre choir.
The rest of my hike would be along paved roads. The little zippy bus was parked on Smithy Lane at the turnaround and for a few moments I considered getting on it to go back down the hill but I was in no hurry to get home so I continued walking. In front of my was Edge Lane where I’d explored for the first time a couple of days ago. Now I could see exactly where my route had taken me, passed Spinks House. A little further along I passed an old building, The Smithy, now a private dwelling. i’d never thought of Smithy Lane as being where the blacksmith’s was once located. Up until now it had simply been a bus destination.
I passed Edge Hey Green where a row of cottage was once divided from the outdoor toilet by the road. Last year I’d made a textile panel of one of the toilet outbuildings for my ‘doors’ project.
Wooden huts for the workers were built at Whitehill Nook, just below Draper Lane in Heptonstall/Slack and it became quickly known as Dawson City, after the Klondike city. I’ve been fascinated by this story since first seeing photos of the shanty town in the White Swan in Heptonstall on my summer visits to the area. By the time of the 1901 census, when Willie Wrigley was staying at the Pack Horse, Widdop, ten of the workers’ huts were occupied. Wives and children moved here with their husbands and soon the impact was felt in the local community. The Board School, built by my ancestors, of course, could not accommodate the extra children and so a spare room in the school master’s house was brought into service for the additional thirty children that came from Dawson City. Sanitation in the new city was obviously going to be a major problem and even as early as February 1901 two cases of typhoid had been removed from the shanty town to the Fielden hospital in Todmorden. In 1903 smallpox broke out. The navies were required to keep their children off school. Smallpox victims were taken to the isolation hospital at Sourhall close to Todmorden and vaccinations were given and a field hospital was built at Dawson city being constructed rom a tent and capable of caring for 14 patients. But in October 1903 it blew down in a gale. In all there were 60 cases of smallpox in the Hebden Bridge and Todmorden area, but only one patient died. In 1909 a woman, Mrs Edgar Harwood, fell from the bridge after going ‘for a stroll to admire the view.’ She was well known in Hebden Bridge and ran a dressmaking a millinery business under the name Townsend (her maiden name I think) and Milnes.
This area is set back from the main road and was one of the earliest major settlements in the town, dating back to the early 19th century. It was known as High street because of its elevation, not for its commercial prominence. Even on a totally dry day I find the steep cobbles between the steps very difficult to negotiate. The former mill itself is a three storey building on the main road, which I’d never noticed until today.
I posted the photo of Cuckoo Mill steps on the Hebden Bridge photo page and I was very surprised how many interesting comments it generated:
Ran up and down those steps many times as a child, remember when they filmed the movie 39 steps?
Hauled myself up those steps all through my pregnancy in 1980, kept me very fit
I had actually forgotten them til I saw this pic
I used to hate having to walk up them steps. 😂
I wish I had a pound for every time I have run up there!