On the occasion of his golden wedding anniversary in 1928 the Todmorden and District news wrote the following account of Daniel’s life. He was born in 1854 at Lane Side, Wadsworth, being one of family of ten children, and spent the early portion of his life in that village. As far as I can ascertain from early maps Laneside was a terrace housing three families adjacent to the spot where Walker Lane Wesleyan chapel was built in 1872.
In the extended note that Ted Hughes included in his Remains of Elmet book of poetry he writes “The men who built the chapels were the same who were building the mills. They perfected the art of perching their towering, massive, stone, prison-like structures on drop-offs where now you would only just graze sheep.”1 How right he was. Before the chapel was built in 1872 there was a Sunday School. From what I learned from a lengthy article celebrating a quarter century of the school’s foundation, and sandwiched between pieces about a letter received by a county magistrate purporting to be from Jack the Ripper, and a progress report on the construction of the Manchester Ship Canal marking the first anniversary of the first sod being cut, that non other than James Hoyle, another of my ancestors, had funded the building of this Sunday school in 1863. It was ‘established on Sunday morning, October 4th, 1863, through the kindness and benevolence of the late Mr. James Hoyle, Ibbotroyd, who fitted it up at his own expense at a cost of over £50 and not merely begun it but supported him until his death. It began on the first Sunday with 50 scholars and gradually increased to over 100 with over 20 teachers and officers. . . . as years rolled on the numbers increased and further space was needed and the late Mr Isaac Hoyle built the current sanctuary. A library was opened in connection to the school in 1864 and currently has 508 volumes ‘compare favourably with my other Sunday school library in the district. Singing class, choir, Young Mens Mutual Improvement Class but we are sorry to say that there is not as much interest in it as they would have liked. ““2 From 1863 until the building of the chapel in 1872 services were held at Club Houses, Old Town.
1 Remains of Elmet, Ted Hughes, 1979, p.71
Daniel was one of 10 children born to Thomas and Ann Eastwood. When they married in the mid 1840s Thomas was a worsted weaver, no doubt working at his home loom but by 1861 he was working for the railway, illustrating perfectly the abandonment of their traditional lifestyle of the home weavers and their seduction into the industrial age. Thomas went on to be a railway porter, a job he continued for the rest of his life.
By 1871 the family have moved just across the street, Walker Lane, to Clubhouses. They must have watched the construction of the chapel from their windows. From 1863 until the building of the chapel in 1872 services were held at Club Houses, Old Town. This must have been when the Eastwoods were living in one of the six cottages that make up Clubhouses. This strangley named little terrace of six early 19th century lay just across Walker Lane Lane Side. They were built as an investment by a local funeral club, hence their unexpected name. Some of the houses are two storeys, and others are three.
Originally the upper storey was used as a communal weaving shop and each cottage had an internal communicating door on each floor. In 1871 Daniel was 16 and a cotton weaver. Of his other siblings three were employed as throstle spinners, 3 as cotton weavers, one as a grocer’s shop boy and one as a railway clerk who presumably went into Hebden with his father, the railway porter. The station had opened in 1840 when it was the Western terminus of the line from Leeds.
By the following year when Summit tunnel was completed trains ran between Leeds and Manchester, stopping in Hebden Bridge just a they do today. The current station buildings date from 1893.
‘Although his educational facilities as boy were very meagre, he has constantly sought extend his knowledge many ways. In early boyhood he attended day school taught by Mr. James Parker in the club room at Walker Lane. When he became nine years age commenced work in the mill half-timer,” his weekly contribution of 1s. 8d. to the family coffers being considered at that time a valuable addition their income. At 13 years of age he commenced working full time. For brief period attended the evening classes the Mechanics’ Institute, Hebden Bridge.’
On 24 July 1878, at the age of 24 Daniel married 23 year old Jane Stell a throstle spinner living with her widowed mother and 4 siblings at Carrs farm on Rowland Lane , a cart track in Old Town which I often walk along for its expansive views. An outbuilding is now Piglet’s House b&b. It’s less than ½ a mile from Clubhouses where Daniel was living until his marriage. The name of the adjacent farm has always intrigued me – Stray Leaves! The couple were married at Birchcliffe Chapel where I currently volunteer in the Pennine Heritage Centre but that building wasn’t built until 1898. Daniel and Jane were married at the old Birchciffe Chapel on Sandy Gate. The first Birchcliffe Chapel was built in 1764 but the origins of the church can be traced to a building on Wadsworth Lane – Higher Needless. Don’t you just love these crazy names? An independent group were worshipping here when Dan Taylor, a young man born in Halifax, joined in 1762 and became its leader. He had become convinced about the Baptist position, but local ministers would not baptise him because of differing views about salvation. He found a group in Nottinghamshire willing to baptise him and later returned to Calderdale to baptise his congregation, which formed the Baptist church. A plaque on the wall records this fact. I’d seen this plaque on the wall before but had no inkling of my family’s connection with it, for it was actually Daniel Eastwood who was responsible for having the plaque erected and he performed the unveiling ceremony in 1913.
The credit of the conception and execution of the work belong largely to Mr. Daniel Eastwood. Mr, James Harwood, the owner and occupier of the property, old Birchcliffe scholar whose misfortune it now is to be blind, readily gave the required permission, his only regret being that he would never himself able look upon it. THE UNVEILING CEREMONY now in question was fixed for last Saturday after, noon, and, although the weather was wild and threatening and the place is exposed almost every wind that blows, not a few enthusiasts, ladies as well as gentlemen, climbed the heights and braved the elements order to pay tribute to the memory of the immortal founder of their church. Dan Taylor would on many a Sunday preach at Birchcliffe in the morning, at Heptonstall in the afternoon, walk forward to Burnley there to conduct evening service, and return home to Wadsworth on foot at the end of it aIL Like the tentmaker, Paul, he ministered to his personal needs with bis own hands, keeping a school and even shop and farm rather than in any sense burdensome to his flock, tramping about the country to raise money for the cause he had ever at heart, and preach, ing and writing constantly. It was in recognition of this strenuous and noble career and this historic character that the representative company undertook Saturday’s pilgrimage despite the adverse weather. The rain curtailed the proceedings in the open air, and necessitated adjournment to the school room. Mr. William Thomas presided at both meetings, and the unveiling was performed by Mr. Daniel Eastwood. It would be a lasting object to arrest the attention and arouse the curiosity of passers-by; for the inscription was of such a character that it would not easily be erased. Probably but for Mr. Eastwood it would never have been provided. (Applause.) Mr. D. Eastwood, stepping forward in response the Chairman’s call, said they had thought it wise to that, so that children going that way and seeing the inscription, might have their gratitude for the past and love of the work stimulated and that the interest of the people at large might be aroused- After a few further remarks, Mr. Eastwood unveiled the tablet, disclosing the following inscription: 4 Original meeting house of Birchcliffe Baptist Church, founded the Rev. Dan Taylor others, A.D. 1763.” (Loud applause).
Dan Taylor’s original 13 yds x 10 yds Birchcliffe chapel was replaced in 1825 and it was in this place that Daniel and Jane were married. It took me quite some time to find the location of the old chapel but eventually I did but nothing remains of it because in 1934, a new Sunday School was built behind the present Birchcliffe chapel using stone from the original chapel.
Again, Daniel had much to do with this event. In the first part of the 20th century, the church was well-known for its musical tradition, the involvement of its members in the civic life of the area and for thriving social and cultural organisation. The church closed in 1974 and the premises were bought by the Joseph Rowntree Trust.
Springs on the Birchcliffe hillside supply water to houses in parts of the town. A small part of the gathering area for the water is the burial ground of the chapel – hence the comment: ‘Good stuff this Birchcliffe water. Plenty of body in it’. The water was the cause of many local disputes. As young man, Mr. Eastwood devoted much of his time and energy to the welfare Birchcliffe Baptist Chapel, with which he has life-long connection. During his long association with the chapel he has held almost every office open to layman. As teacher, superintendent and assistant superintendent he has been associated with the Sunday school for over half century. For the past thirty years he has been superintendent and assistant superintendent. At various times he has taught the whole of the classes, whilst he was in charge the infants’ class for 22 years. During his period of office about 300 scholars have been under his care. Mr. Eastwood retains an excellent memory, and his reminiscences of the early days of the church make him interesting conversationalist. He was one of those who urged for many years the erection a new chapel. When the present handsome edifice was erected, Mr. Eastwood laid one of the corner stones. He also unveiled memorial tablet in the church. He remembers no less than eight pastors, from Mr. Lockwood to the Rev. A. Windsor. For a few years he has been deacon of the church. He has been prominently associated with Birchcliffe Y.M.C.A. since its formation, and at present holds the office president. For a long period Mr. Eastwood has been keen temperance advocate and a valued worker behalf of the Band Hope movement. Joining the Birchcliffe Band of Hope Society about 60 years ago, he soon became member the committee, and for a time acted secretary. He has also held the position of president. Mr. Eastwood has for many years been a member of the executive of the Hebden Bridge Band of Hope Union, and as public speaker has done valuable work for the temperance cause. He was one of the originators of the annual treat for the blind and cripples the district organised by the Union, and his zeal and hard work has done much to establish the event as popular annual excursion. Mr Eastwood took a leading part in the musical festivals arranged by the Band of Hope some years ago. He originated the ‘Pleasant Sunday Evenings’ which attracted huge audiences in the Cooperative hall many years ago. He took a great interest in the work of the local branch of the anti Opium league and spoke at many of the meetings. He has also a long connection with the local Free Church Council of which he was secretary and president. He was a member of the Local Board and was deputed to purchase the first ambulance for the district. He was one of the founders of the Hebden Bridge Nursing Association. His determine efforts to improve his education at length met with their rewards and he became a partner in the firm of Messrs. Eastwood Bros., clothing manufacturers on Albert Street and along with other manufacturers in the district he helped form the Hebden Bridge Commercial association 43 years ago. One of their achievements was to create a better approach to the Railway Station, improved facilities for passenger and parcels. For his efforts he was presented with a clock. As a young man he was manager of the old cocoa house on Market Street.
manufacturing and croft mill
Daniel was one of the founders of the Calder Valley poets’ society and was its first president.
a meeting of the society in December 1920 was held in King Cross, Halifax with Daniel presiding.On his retirement from that position he was presented with a book recording the history of the society. He was a keen student of nature and written many beautiful poems. He wrote a poem to celebrate their golden wedding which is reprinted. In January 1923 his poem about the passing of the previous year was reprinted in the paper.
Later poems have as their subject the first world war, one particularly poignant one about shell holes. At a meeting of the society held in Greetland in 1932 Daniel wrote of his plane ride, perhaps the first ever poem to have been written in a flying machine!
In 1932 Sir Alan Cobham started the National Aviation Day displays – combining aerial stunts with joyriding. It toured the country, calling at hundreds of sites, some of them regular airfields and some just fields cleared for the occasion. Generally known as “Cobham’s Flying Circus“, it was hugely popular, giving thousands of people their first experience of flying, and bringing “air-mindedness” to the population. So this must have been what Daniel participated in.