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Stansfield Hall

Walter Crabtree was the husband of my 3rd cousin twice removed! OK. He’s quite a distant ancestor. BUT he lived here:

The front elevation from the garden

At the moment I’m not sure how long he lived in Stansfield Hall, Todmorden, but he died there in July 1956, the year after I was born. So this cloudy Saturday morning I decided to go and check out the place. I knew that it had been added to and altered many times since it was built in 1610 for James Stansfield. A large extension was added in 1862 in the Gothic Revival style by John Gibson( oh, no, not ANOTHER GIBSON!)  For Member of Parliament, Joshua Fielding. Of the original 17th century house only a cross-wing survives. 

The cross-wing on the right is part of the original 1610 building

I’d never been to this area of Todmorden before and the approach across a small footbridge over the railway was rather – colorful. I climbed up the steep hillside and soon came to Stansfield Hall Road. The entire right hand side of the road was bordered by an impressive stone wall, too high for me to peek over but I could see the tops of trees of what was obviously an extensive and well cared for garden. I’d seen online the impressive gateposts leading into the curving driveway and, knowing that the building was now used as apartments I had anticipated that there might be a security gate that I wouldn’t be bale to negotiate.

What an entrance!

But, no security gate so I ended the gardens, up the drive and the Hall came into sight, but I was seeing the rear of the building. To my right spacious manicured lawns, flower beds and treed areas were occasionally dotted with tables and chairs, and the odd child’s toy.

Front door not too bad either

I felt awkward at imposing on the residents’  Saturday morning and taking photos from the lawn but my attention was drawn to  the sound of a a leaf blower, and turning the corner I saw its owner. I approached and he switched off the noisy contraption. I explained my quest and he pointed out for me the oldest part of the building – the cross-wing of the original 1610 house. He had heard of the Crabtree family. I asked his permission to go onto the lawn and take photos. He said that would be fine. Because of its elevated position and sloping grounds there were several stairs and hidden paths through the trees.

The man pointed out what had once been a snooker room, connected to the main building by a covered gantry. Once at the front of the house I could take in its vast expanse. There was also a nearby cottage, perhaps for servants? I think there had also been a gatehouse at one time but that has been demolished. The gardens were immaculate, and as I left I mentioned this to the man and asked  if he was responsible for the entire grounds. “No, just outside my bit of the building,” he replied. Ah, he lives here, whoops! As I left I heard a train pass by just below the garden. At one time there was a station at Stansfield, named appropriately enough Stansfield Hall railway station which opened in 1869. ‘ A train drew up there, unwontedly – it was late June’ – from Adelstrop, by Edward Thomas, one of the poems I remember from my childhood. 

The current railway track – Manchester to Leeds.

So who was this man who lived here? Born in 1875, and baptized at Cross Stone church high above Todmorden, he was living with his parents Charles and Ellen at 1 Cross Street, Todmorden, aged 6 on the 1881 census. His father’s occupation is given as Cotton Spinner and Manufacturer, employing ?114 hands (though it’s difficult to read). His older sister, Betsy, is a pupil teacher, aged 15. Walter had 5 siblings. I can’t locate Cross Street. He was still there in 1891. He was 15 but he is a ‘scholar.’ This is significant since children were working long before their 15th birthday. For example, in the next street, Myrtle, which is in the centre of Todmorden, Willie Brocock, aged 11, is a throstle spinner. On the day the census was taken in 1901 Walter is a noted as a visitor at the home, North Road, Ripon, Yorkshire, of Dr Arthur C. A. Ludgrove, a physician and surgeon from Sevenoaks in Kent. Walter Crabtree is now listed as a physician and surgeon himself. He was educated at Owens College, Manchester and took his MB ChB in 1899. He was a house physician at Manchester Royal Infirmary, and later an honorary radiologist at Reedyford Hospital, Nelson. 5 years later he married Edith Wrigley, my 3rd cousin, twice removed, at Cross Lanes chapel, on the way up the hill from Hebden Bridge to Heptonstall. The chapel has long gone but I’ve wandered around the cemetery which has a spectacular view over Hebden Bridge. Several Wrigleys are buried there. At the time of their marriage Walter was living at 125 Netherfield Road, Nelson, in Lancashire, a surgeon. He was 31. Rather late for a marriage at that time. Edith, a spinster, was 28, living at 9 Halifax Road, Todmorden, daughter of Thomas Henry Wrigley, house painter. In 1911 he was living with his wife, and a live-in servant, Jane Halliday, 19 years old. In 1939 he was living at 87 Barkerhouse Road, Nelson. When he died at Stansfield Hall he left over 8000 pounds to his widow. Quite a fortune at that time.

RAMBLES THROUGH MY FAMILY – 15 Untimely Deaths – Chapter 3: Stansfield Gibson

One name that takes up more newspaper columns than anyone else in my Calder Valley family. It that of Stansfield Gibson. Like his father Joshua he was a butcher and innkeeper like his father, but also like his father he took his own life. But that life had been a colourful one and he had certainly packed more than most into those 78 years. He married five times, fathered seven children, was accused of child molestation, purchased a chapel and was the proud owner of a prize winning pony.

It can’t have been an easy start in life for Stansfield, the 8th out of 9 children. His mother, Sally, whose maiden name he was name after, died when he was fifteen and his father, Joshua, hanged himself three years later. Just six months after this tragedy on November 2, 1858 Stansfield, then aged 19, married Harriet Walker at St James’s church in Hebden Bridge. I sometimes provide the music there for services and I often think about the significant events that took place in the building as I’m seated at the organ.

St James’s, scene of Stansfield’s first marriage

Their marriage was performed by Sutcliffe Sowden. Rev Sutcliffe Sowden had been a friend of Arthur Bell Nichols, Charlotte Bronte’s husband, and had presided at Arthur and Charlotte’s wedding and at Charlotte’s funeral less than a year later. Rev Sutcliffe Sowden had baptized Stansfield, then aged 17 and his brother Richard aged 15 on the same day June 24, 1855 at St James’s, less than three months after he had conducted Charlotte’s funeral service. Stansfield was to follow in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps being first a butcher and later a butcher-cum-innkeeper, a common dual occupation providing a ready source of food for guests at the inn. This necessitated a slaughter house being situated close to the inn, and in Joshua’s case this was the scene of his tragic demise. In Stansfield’s case it was the presence of his slaughter house that was to caused conflict with several of his neighbours. After their marriage Stansfield and Harriet continued living on Bridge Lanes where he had grown up. Its main street was known as High Street because of its elevation, not for its commercial prominence. When the entire development was demolished in the 1960s the foundations of those buildings were just left in place leaving an ugly scar at the west entrance to the town but through voluntary community efforts a landscaping project was undertaken and I can now stroll through this place along a reasonable footpath bordered by wildflowers. In fact, I saw my first bluebell of 2020 in this shaded spot.

Bluebell on Bridge Lane

By 1870 the family had moved to Meadow Bottom, close to the railway in Todmorden and it was here that Harriet died of tuberculosis on July 28, 1870 aged just 33 years of age. She was buried at Heptonstall church. With the death of his wife Stansfield became the sole parent of six daughters, the eldest being Louisa Ann who was just eleven years old.

Stansfield’s daughter, Louisa Ann (courtesy of John McKay)

On the census of 1871 the word scholar after her name has been crossed out and next to it is written and ‘half time Fustian Operator,’ meaning Louisa went to school part time, and worked in the fustian factory part time. No wonder so many children fell asleep at work and were injured by machinery. It was imperative that Stansfield find a new wife and stepmother for the girls and so just 9 months after Harriet died he married a widow, Susannah Greenwood, whose maiden name was also Stansfield, just to confuse matters! The couple were married at St Paul’s church, Cross Stone, in the township of Stansfield (!) on April 17, 1871. The church had been rebuilt in 1833, with money from the so-called Million pound act. With the increase in population during the industrial revolution two acts of parliament in 1818 and 1824 had funded the building of churches to cater for the religious needs of the people. The rebuilding of Cross Stone church was testament to the growth and success of Todmorden’s textile industry in the first half of the nineteenth century. But there had been a church on the site since 1450 when it was erected as a chapel of ease for Heptonstall church. As such it provided a church more readily accessible for parishoners living a long distance from the church. But this ‘chapel of ease’ like its mother church lies atop a very steep hill standing 300 ft above the valley floor. Today a road leading towards it is name Phoenix Street which I’ve always thought as amusing, especially since that street peters out as if it’s found the climb up to the church so steep that it can’t make itself rise from the ashes. How on earth coffins or grieving mourners, many of them elderly, reached the cemetery on snowy days in winter, I can’t imagine. I decided that the church would be a good starting point for my day with Stansfield but I decided to approach it from above walking first along the hilltops from the bus terminus at Blackshaw Head. It’s a wonderful walk – in fine weather that is – with amazing views over the Calder valley. Many days when the sky above the valley is dull, pewter-bellied clouds seem to hang suspended barely above my head, pushing me down, lowering my spirits. If I can persuade myself to venture out I climb out of the valley, by foot or bus and suddenly I’m above those clouds, in a world of ever-changing light, with glorious vistas spread out before me, making me feel like as if I’m getting my own private viewing of the beauty stretched out before me. As I have become more familiar with the area I can now pick out many more districts and buildings associated with my family. The wonderfully named villages of Lumbutts and Mankinholes are perched on the shelf on the opposite side of the valley.

View of Stoodley Pike from Cross Stone church

So steep is the hillside here at Cross Stone that the roof of the church is on a level with the road. It’s an unlikely spot for another Bronte connection but there is one. In 1829, a certain John Fennel was vicar here but before he got the Cross Stone appointment, he was the first head teacher in 1812, at Woodhouse Grove Wesleyan School from where he was dismissed for spending too much time arranging picnics for his niece Maria Branwell, who was to become the wife of Patrick Bronte and mother to Charlotte. When Charlotte visited her uncle John Fennel in 1829 at Cross Stone he was living in the old parsonage house in the chapel grounds. She wrote to her “dear papa” that the house was “nearly in ruins.” Six years before her stay Fennel had collected subscriptions amounting to over £200 in order to repair the parsonage. Either the repairs were not carried out or they were not successful if Charlotte’s letter reflected the situation correctly .

Cross Stone church, scene of Stansfield’s second marriage

Ten years after Stansfield and Susannah were married at Cross Stone the church itself closed for repairs, but then in 1894 dry rot set in and although it continued to function for some time it has now closed permanently and converted into a house. As I approached it a large For Sale sign dominated the site but on closer observation I realized that it was the adjacent building, not the church, that was for sale. This large two storey building has its own interesting history. Built as a school in the early 1800s it provided free schooling for six poor children in the town and the teacher’s income was provided by the parents of the 30-40 students who paid for tuition in reading and writing. A William Greenwood says that he held school on Sunday mornings and up to twenty children attended. They were charged one penny a week. Quills cost half a penny, copy books two pennies, a reading essay was sixpence and “rithmetic” was one shilling and eight pence. While the far right hand side of the house was the home of the schoolmaster the bottom storey served as the jail, a daily reminder of the fate awaiting those exhibiting unruly behaviour if ever there was one. Today wrought iron railings preventing the unwary pedestrian from falling into the house’s yard had been freshly painted judging by the drip mats beneath them, and were proudly sporting their new shiny black paintwork. I left the site of Stansfield and Harriet’s wedding and walked down the steep hill into Todmorden town centre to see if I could visit other places connected with Stansfield’s story. He moved his new family to Roomfield Lane, now the main Halifax Road in the centre of Todmorden town where he pursued his occupation of butcher. An article in the local paper on June 26, 1874 gives a momentary glimpse into everyday life for the people of Todmorden. “On Saturday forenoon last, as Marshall Sutcliffe was driving a galloway at Pavement, Todmorden, in a small butcher’s cart belonging to Stansfield Gibson, the galloway began to kick. There were in the trap two females, whose safety, with that of the driver, was a matter of concern to numerous spectators. The galloway, still kicking and plunging, got its head against Mr. W. Uttley ‘s butcher’s shop. It was then laid hold of by one or more persons, but continued kicking and plunging. The trap was upset, one of the young women slid off the side of the conveyance, and the other was taken from it by bystanders. After a sharp tussle with the pony to bring it to a standstill, it was finally subdued. The body of the trap kicked off, and the harness rent in various parts. Behind Roomfield Lane is the impressive structure of Todmorden market hall built in only eight months in 1879 and situated close to Stansfield’s shop. It’s one of my favourite markets but sadly today in the lockdown the marketplace was as empty as a ghost town.

Inside Todmorden Market Hall

But lovely as the Victorian market was, the living conditions of the surrounding residents were appalling as was borne out by the report of the sanitary committee on August 11, 1876: “If the following complaints are not rectified the ‘inspector of nuisances’ will take legal proceedings against the following parties: I would remind you that Miss Sutcliffe has a drain made up on her property in Roomfield Lane, and the house slops and refuse water are flowing on the street. At the same place, Stansfield Gibson, butcher, has a very offensive midden on the side of the street leading up to the back houses, and he is also in the habit of slaughtering sheep and lambs in a place behind his house, which has not been registered as a slaughterhouse. What a shambles! In fact the term shambles originally referred to a street or area in a city where the butchers lived, and has come to mean chaos or mess from the highly unsanitary conditions of waste disposal used there.

Judging by several reports in the local newspaper reports Stansfield was not an easy man to get along with, both in his professional life and also in his private life. As a butcher Stansfield would have raised the animals that he sold as meat in the shop and he farmed his own sheep and poultry. In January 1878 Stansfield was taken to court by the farmer of an adjacent field who claimed that Stansfield’s sheep had damaged his land. Two years later Stansfield encountered more problems caused by his business. In a column in the local newspaper entitled ‘Rival Poultry Keepers’ the reporter described an incident in which Stansfield and his 18 year old daughter Sarah Ann were summoned on a charge of aggravated defamation against a neighbour, one James Crowther. In court Crowther said that “about three months since he bought some poultry, and since that time he had had nothing but bother with the defendant, who had been continually buying fresh cocks to kill his. Stansfield said he would have another cock; Crowther replied, Thou can get as many cocks as thou likes, but keep that cayenne pepper off. ” Sarah Ann reportedly called James’s wife “a nasty b___” and added that she was continually abused by the whole family and on one occasion sent their cousin Oliver Stansfield to abuse her. She was almost afraid to stay in the house by herself. One day Mrs Crowther was standing at the shop door serving? the hens. Stansfield’s cock came and began to eat along with the hens. She shooed it off and Stansfield said “Throw a stone at it and I’ll take you to Todmorden”- meaning the court which was held in the town hall, a fine building standing mere stone’s throw from the scene of the altercation. When Mr Crowther appeared on the scene Stansfield challenged him to come out and he would give him a good hiding. Sarah Ann and Stansfield were fined £5, bound over to keep the peace for 6 months and ordered to pay the costs-15s. Perhaps Stansfield did not keep the peace as instructed or maybe the neighbours had had enough of the Gibson family for his landlady gave him notice to vacate the shop and house. Only two years later in the Spring of 1882 Stansfield along with three other butchers from Todmorden was fined under the cattle diseases act 10s for moving bullocks without a license. Animal identification and traceability was and still is important for disease control and public confidence in farm produce and a license is still required in Calderdale if you want to move even just one animal. But it wasn’t just issues in his business ventures that made newspaper headlines. There were family problems too. In 1883 Stansfield’s daughter, Sarah Jane, then aged 21 charged Bentley Fielden with the paternity of her daughter, born on Christmas day, 1882. Bentley denied being the father of the child and said that he had stopped seeing Sarah Jane because she had asked him to marry her. However the court ruled that Bentley should pay 3 shillings weekly for the upkeep of the child and ten shillings for the cost of the midwife who had attended baby Harriet’s birth. An interesting follow up to the story is that two years later Sarah Jane gave birth to another daughter, Alberta, and three years after that Sarah Jane married , yes, Bentley Fielden at Heptonstall church! But a happy marriage it was not. In 1897 Bentley was convicted of aggravated assault on his wife and a separation order was issued. Sarah Jane and Harriet moved in with her father, Stansfield, having received not one penny in support from Bentley during that time. After an incident when Bentley showed up at Stansfield’s house just as Stansfield had arrived bringing in a duck for their Sunday dinner Bentley seized Stansfield, hit him several times about the face and neck with both fists. Sarah Jane and her aunt, who was acting as Stansfield’s housekeeper managed to restrain Bentley while Stansfield ran off to find a policeman. In court Bentley accused Stansfield of having taken Sarah Jane to those dens of iniquity, Blackpool and Scarborough and slept with a child thirteen years of age. Stansfield denied this and no further action against Stansfield was taken. Bentley, on the other hand, was sentenced to one month in prison with hard labour.

In the spring of 1885 Stansfield decided to follow in his family’s footsteps and became landlord of the New Inn just across the main road from his butcher’s shop. Stansfield’s children Emily and Herbert assisted with work in the pub and it was from his work there that Herbert learned the job of being a landlord, a profession he was ultimately to take up himself. The New Inn that Stansfield had taken over in 1885 in a busy part of Todmorden was a 3 storey property almost next door to two more inns, the Rope and Anchor and the York Hotel but the area was full of mills and foundries, all with workforces that needed a pint after work. Indeed, within 250 yards more than one hundred houses had been erected during the previous ten years for the mill workers and there were at least 500 people living there This was a time when the word ‘inn’ actually meant that it had rooms for rent and under a previous landlord by the wonderful name of Robert Crook the business prospered and around twenty lodgers lived there. An added bonus for both residents and visitors was the presence of a resident pianist, an Irish girl named Dina who provided music for the nightly sing songs. The site of the New Inn is now the car park at Todmorden health centre and as I stood there 136 years to the day that Stansfield took over the pub I imagined the faint sound of a piano being played – Dina was on top form. Long after Dina’s music had faded into the mists of time on Friday the 13th October 1972, the building collapsed and fell down.

The New Inn, Todmorden

I’m sure the New Inn would have done a roaring trade on the day of the 1889 annual Todmorden Floral and Horticultural Show and Athletic Festival, a show still in existence. With prizes awarded for everything from ‘Two cauliflowers and 2 cabbages’, to ‘12 white gooseberries’ and ‘2 cock chickens’ the festival was a big attraction. For the 2 mile race for ponies six competitors turned up. Luke Greenwood’s pony led for the first mile, but was then passed by R. Cropper’s “Daisy” and Stansfield Gibson’s “Polly.” Gibson’s Polly got behind but at the mile and a half had regained second place. Stansfield took home with him a gentleman’s travelling bag worth £1 6 shillings as runner up. I wonder if Polly had been the pony who had thrown Herbert from her back just three years before.

Stansfield’s wife Susannah died a couple of days after Christmas in 1894 and was buried on New Year’s Eve high above Todmorden at Cross Stone church, the scene of her wedding to Stansfield. I wonder what the weather was like as the cortege made its way up the steep hill. Less than a year later, in the summer of 1895 Stansfield married another widow, Fanny Walters, 18 years younger than himself who had been widowed the previous year. They were married at Heptonstall church 1895 and later that year Stansfield took over the license of the Railway Hotel in Littleborough, a town on the West of the Pennines that had grown up around the industry enabled by the building of the Rochdale canal and the trans Pennine railway. Stansfield’s pub still overlooks the canal but it is now known as The Waterside, an upscale restaurant and bar.

The former Railway Hotel, Littleborough

Six years later Stansfield was widowed for the third time and soon after a notice in the local newspaper on February 8th 1901 instructed that all Stansfield’s household possessions were to be sold at auction because he was leaving the district. I find it fascinating to see Stansfield’s wordly possessions itemized and feel they need to be listed in their entirety since it gives an insight into both his standard of living and also gives us a snapshot of his day to day existence. I wonder if he could play the piano himself or if it was an instrument that others would play in the pub. I had to smile at the commode disguised as a small chest of drawers. “Dining room suite upholstered in saddle bag style including Couch, 2 easy and 6 single chairs, a noble 5ft walnut sideboard, with carved back having 3 bevelled plate-glass mirrors drawers, and cellaret complete; a brilliant toned cottage pianoforte, in walnut case, with panelled front and candelabra by Schuppinser and sons, London, oval walnut centre table; Milners’s patent fireproof safe, 26in. by 20 in by 20 in., brass curb, with fixed dogs: set of fire brasses: brass ash pan; pollard oak and brass-mounted coal vase, bamboo occasional table, tapestry bordered carpet square. 12ft. by 10ft., Axminster hearth rug, oil paintings: spirit decanters in E.P. Frame, F.P. Cruet, case of cutlery, flower vases and plaques, Chinese idol and stand; quantity of small Chinese figures and ornaments, Opera glass, glass dishes, wines and tumblers. Handsome walnut bedroom suite including 4 ft wardrobe, with centre mirrors, dressing table, with bevel plate glass mirror, washstand, with towel airer, marble top and back; and 3 upholstered chairs; stained dressing table, with mirror affixed; stained washstand, with tiled back, brass and iron Parisian bedstead, with tapestry hangings, woven wire, wool, and straw mattresses, feather beds, bolsters, and pillows, tapestry carpet square, 13ft. 4in. by 21ft 9in, toilet services, capital mahogany night commode to imitate small chest of drawers. KITCHEN: Polished birch long settle and cushions, stained square table, with deal top, Pembroke table, 3 bentwood chairs, wringing machine, wash tubs, clothes horses and dolly, dinner service, 2 copper kettles, fender and fire irons together with the usual kitchen and culinary requisites. Also a capital wicker work bath chair with cushions, etc., complete, nearly new. But why was he selling all his possessions? Less than a year after Fanny’s death he was getting married for a fourth time, to a widow named Maria Ann Winfindale. Her husband had been the landlord of The Falcon Inn in Scarborough on the coast in East Yorkshire and around 100 miles from Littleborough and so he was selling up and moving East.

The Falcon Inn, Scarborough

Only four years later Stansfield was widowed again. The call of West Yorkshire appears to have been strong for Stansfield moved back to the Calder Valley and I find Stansfield mentioned in the newspaper in perhaps the most unexpected of all his appearances. In June 1908 Stansfield bought a chapel! “A fairly good company assembled at the Dusty Miller Inn on the occasion of the premises formerly used as a chapel and school by the Primitive Methodists being offered by public auction. After some spirited bidding £151 was reached. And Mr 16 John Greenwood was the purchaser. Yesterday John Greenwood resold the property to Stansfield Gibson at a nice profit.’ Now whether he bought it merely as a financial investment I have been unable to ascertain and it took many hours of research both online and wandering around the streets of Mytholmroyd before I located the building – or rather, the site of the building for it no longer exists. A chapel and school had been built at Sunny Bank by the primitive Methodists in 1837 but when the congregation grew larger a New Chapel, Mount Zion, was built, which opened in 1888.

The outline of Sunny Bank chapel can be seen on the gable end of the current terrace

This second chapel was an enormous building almost at the bottom of Midgley Road and overshadowed the houses around it. But it was the earlier chapel that Stansfield purchased and at the end of Sunny Bank terrace there is an area of unkept grass. I clambered over a wall onto the grass. Above me I could discern the outline of a roof on the gable end of the existing terrace of cottages which would have been the chapel or school roof. I was standing inside Stansfield’s chapel. From the lack of further references to the building or Stansfield’s connection with it I presume that he purchased it as a financial investment. The following year, 1909-1910 Stansfield was living in a rented house 14 Brook Street in the centre of Todmorden. From the site of the New Inn it was only a minute’s walk to Brook Street. No houses remain on that road now just a post office , a discount store and a charity shop. But by 1911 Stansfield, now 73, was living at 1 Anchor Street, just a couple of minutes walk away. The census firmly states that he is living apart from his wife but with a housekeeper, Mary Dearden, ‘a widowed servant’ aged 69. 1 Anchor Street is the middle section of a three storey building, the front of which, facing the main road now houses Buttylicious snack bar which must have been Stansfield’s butcher’s shop, so I called in for a cup of tea to takeaway with me as I went to take vintage style photographs of the various back streets less then 8 feet wide housing a confusion of wheelie bins and recycling baskets.

Stansfield’s home in 1911

In 1914 while living at Halifax road capitalise he was entitle[d] to vote in the elections of Mytholmroyd the description of his qualifying property being Mount Zion! Five years later Stansfield decides to shut up shop for the last time and on 18 Aug 1916 the following advertisement appears in the local paper: ‘To let or sell – Butcher’s shop and house #139 Halifax Road, Todmorden; suitable for any business. Apply S. Gibson, Hebden Bridge.’ The following year Stansfield was making headlines in the newspaper again, and again for a disturbing reason. He was living at 40 Cameron Street, Burnley, with his son-in-law, a home close to the canal and in the middle of one of the long rows of terraced stone houses that characterize the town.

40 Cameron Street, Burnley

The newspaper article on 17 November, 1915 makes sad reading: ”Old Man’s Attempted Suicide. Old man, named Stansfield Gibson was charged with attempting commit suicide by cutting his throat with a table knife about 2-30 a.m. on Saturday, November 6th, 40, Cameron Street, where he lived with his son-in-law. At the time the occurrence the son-in-law heard a noise downstairs. Going down found the prisoner crouched at the bottom. He asked him what was the matter, and prisoner said: ” I have cut my throat.” The son-in-law picked him up, put him in a chair, and sent for the police. The police rendered first aid and took the man straight away to the hospital, where he had been until that morning when was discharged. Supt. Hillier said that the prisoner had become depressed through failing eyesight, and his home had been broken up at Todmorden about three months ago. The case was dismissed on the prisoner promising not to attempt anything of the kind again. Two years later Stansfield passed away. He died at 112 Bridge Lanes and he’s buried at Todmorden Christ church – a very sad end to a man who had certainly lived life to the full.

Christ Church, Todmorden, now a private residence.

The bizarre life of Stansfield Gibson. 1839-1917

Some of Stansfield’s descendants in the Moorcock Inn

Yesterday I met up with 4 people, who, like me, are descendants of Stansfield Gibson. They and their spouses had lunch, chatted, shared books of photographs and family tree charts and generally had an amazing time, all in the Moorcock pub that had been operated by Stansfield’s son Herbert in 1901. Before lunch I had been invited to visit Fielden farm close to the hilltop pub where Herbert had lived as a farmer after giving up the pub until his death in 1932. It’s an isolated farm and today, like every day on Blackstone Edge moor it was blowing a gale. Ominous clouds scudded across the sky but managed to hold onto their contents until I reached home!

Fielden farm, an isolated building on the hill above Littleborough, with Hollingworth lake in the distance.

One name that takes up more newspaper columns than anyone else in my Calder Valley family. It that of Stansfield Gibson. He was a butcher and innkeeper like his father, and like his father he took his own life. But in that life he married five times, fathered seven children, was accused of child molestation, purchased a chapel and owned a prize winning pony.

It can’t have been an easy start in life for Stansfield, the 8th out of 9 children. His mother, Sally, whose maiden name he was name after, died when he was fifteen and his father, Joshua, hanged himself three years later. Just six months after this tragedy on November 2, 1858 Stansfield, then aged 19, married Harriet Walker at St James’s church in Hebden Bridge. I sometimes provided the music there for services and I often think about the significant events that took place in the building as I’m seated at the organ.

St James, Hebden Bridge

Harriet was not from the Calder Valley but from Liversedge, a full 13 miles away. It was quite a rarity in my family for people to marry someone from outside the Upper Calder Valley at this time. She was the daughter of a wire drawer, someone who pulled hot metal through different size template holes to produce wire of varying thicknesses, a dirty and highly dangerous job. By the time she was 13 Harriet was a live in servant for a cardmaker (someone who made combs for carding wool) in Hartshead, the village where Patrick Bronte had met his wife Maria Branwell in 1811, when he was parson of the  church there. The Bronte’s two eldest daughters Maria and Elizabeth were born there but today there’s little focus on its Bronte connection, Haworth being the main focus of Bronte mania. Indeed, today Hartshead is primarily known for the Hartshead Moor Service Station on the M62. It seemed, however, as if Harriet Walker was following in the steps of the Bronte family because when Harriet married Stansfield Gibson at St James’s church in Hebden Bridge, the marriage was performed by Sutcliffe Sowden. Rev Sutcliffe Sowden had been a friend of Arthur Bell Nichols, Charlotte Bronte’s husband, and had presided at their marriage and at Charlotte’s funeral less than a year later. Rev Sutcliffe Sowden had baptized Stansfield, then aged 17 and his brother Richard aged 15 on the same day June 24, 1855 at St James’s, less than three months after he had conducted Charlotte’s funeral service.

Stansfield and Harriet’s marriage certificate with Sutcliffe Sowden’s signature.

Stansfield was to follow in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps being first a butcher and later a butcher-cum-innkeeper, a common dual occupation providing a ready source of food for guests at the inn. This necessitated a slaughter house being situated close to the inn, and in Joshua’s case his tragic demise. In Stansfield’s case it was the presence of the slaughter house that was to caused conflict with several of his neighbours.

After their marriage Stansfield and Harriet continued living on Bridge Lanes where he had grown up. Its main street was known as High Street because of its elevation, not for its commercial prominence. When the entire development was demolished in the 1960s the foundations of those buildings were just left in place leaving an ugly scar at the west entrance to the town but through voluntary community efforts a landscaping project was undertaken and I can now stroll through this place along a reasonable footpath bordered by wildflowers. In fact, I saw my first bluebell of 2020 in this shaded spot.

Blue bells on the former High Street

By 1870 the family had moved to Meadow Bottom, close to the railway in Todmorden and it was here that Harriet died of tuberculosis on July 28, 1870 aged just 33 years of age. She was buried at Heptonstall church. With the death of his wife Stansfield became the sole parent of six daughters, the eldest being Louisa Ann who was just eleven years old. On the census of 1871 the word scholar after her name has been crossed out and next to it is written and ‘half time Fustian Operator,’ meaning Louisa went to school part time, and worked in the fustian factory part time.

Louisa – courtesy of John McKay

No wonder so many children fell asleep at work and were injured by machinery. It was imperative that Stansfield find a new wife and stepmother for the girls and so just 9 months after Harriet died he married a widow, Susannah Greenwood, whose maiden name was also Stansfield, just to confuse matters!

The couple were married at St Paul’s church, Cross Stone, in the township of Stansfield (!) on April 17, 1871. The church had been rebuilt in 1833, with money from the so-called Million pound act. With the increase in population during the industrial revolution two acts of parliament in 1818 and 1824 had funded the building of churches.

Cross Stone church

The rebuilding of Cross Stone church was testament to the growth and success of Todmorden’s textile industry in the first half of the nineteenth century. But there had been a church on the site since 1450 when it was erected as a chapel of ease for Heptonstall church. As such it provided a church more readily accessible for parishoners living a long distance from the church. But this ‘chapel of ease’ like its mother church lies atop a very steep hill standing 300 ft above the valley floor. Today a road leading towards it is name Phoenix street which I’ve always thought as amusing, especially since that street peters out as if it’s found the climb up to the church so steep that it can’t make itself rise from the ashes. How on earth coffins or grieving mourners, many of them elderly, reached the cemetery on snowy days in winter, I can’t imagine.

Calder Valley from Cross Stones cemetery

I decided that the church would be a good starting point for my day with Stansfield but I decided to approach it from above walking first along the hilltops from the bus terminus at Blackshaw Head. It’s a wonderful walk – in fine weather that is – with amazing views over the Calder valley. Many days when the sky above the valley is dull, pewter-bellied clouds seem to hang suspended barely above my head, pushing me down, lowering my spirits. If I can persuade myself to venture out I climb out of the valley, by foot or bus and suddenly I’m above those clouds, in a world of ever-changing light, with glorious vistas spread out before me, making me feel like as if I’m getting my own private viewing of the beauty stretched out before me. As I have become more familiar with the area I can now pick out many more districts and buildings associated with my family.

Colden Valley from Blackshaw Head’s Bow Lane

The wonderfully named villages of Lumbutts and Mankinholes are perched on the shelf on the opposite side of the valley. On my journey I’d passed the picturesque Hippins Farm, scene of Ezra Butterworth’s ‘Death by Chamber Pot,’ – a story told in another chapter. So steep is the hillside here at Cross Stone that the roof of the church is on a level with the road. It’s an unlikely spot for another Bronte connection but there is one. In 1829, a certain John Fennel was vicar here but before he got the Cross Stone appointment, he was the first head teacher in 1812, at Woodhouse Grove Wesleyan School from where he was dismissed for spending too much time arranging picnics for his niece Maria Branwell, who was to become Mrs. Patrick Bronte. When Charlotte visited her uncle John Fennel in 1829 at Cross Stone he was living in the old parsonage house in the chapel grounds. She wrote to her “dear papa” that the house was “nearly in ruins.” Six years before her stay Fennel had collected subscriptions amounting to over £200 in order to repair the parsonage. Either the repairs were not carried out or they were not successful if Charlotte’s letter reflected the situation correctly1.

Ten years after Stansfield and Susannah were married at Cross Stone the church itself closed for repairs, but then in 1894 dry rot set in and although it continued to function for some time it has now closed permanently and converted into a house. As I approached it a large For Sale sign dominated the site but on closer observation I realized that it was the adjacent building, not the church, that was for sale.

For sale- the former school – and jail!

This large two storey building which also has a roof level with the roadway has its own interesting history. Built as a school in the early 1800s it provided free schooling for six poor children in the town and the teacher’s income was provided by the parents of the 30-40 students who paid for tuition in reading and writing. A William Greenwood says that he held school on Sunday mornings and up to twenty children attended. They were charged one penny a week. Quills cost half a penny, copy books two pennies, a reading easy was sixpence and “rithmetic” was one shilling and eight pence. 2 While the far right hand side of the house was the home of the schoolmaster the bottom storey served as the jail, a daily reminder of the fate awaiting unruly behavior if ever there was one. Today wrought iron railings preventing the unwary pedestrian from falling into the house’s yard had been freshly painted judging by the drip mats beneath them, and were proudly sporting their new shiny black paintwork.

I left the site of Stansfield and Harriet’s wedding and walked down the steep hill into Todmorden town centre to see if I could visit other places connected with Stansfield’s story.

He moved his new family to Roomfield Lane, now the main Halifax Road in the centre of Todmorden town where he pursued his occupation of butcher. An article in the local paper on June 26, 1874 gives a momentary glimpse into everyday life for the people of Todmorden. “On Saturday forenoon last, as Marshall Sutcliffe was driving a galloway at Pavement, Todmorden, in a small butcher’s cart belonging to Stansfield Gibson, the galloway began to kick. There were in the trap two females, whose safety, with that of the driver, was a matter of concern to numerous spectators. The galloway, still kicking and plunging, got its head against Mr. W. Uttley ‘s butcher’s shop. It was then laid hold of by one or more persons, but continued kicking and plunging. The trap was upset, one of the young women slid off the side of the conveyance, and the other was taken from it by bystanders. After a sharp tussle with the pony to bring it to a standstill, it was finally subdued. The body of the trap kicked off, and the harness rent in various parts. 3

Inside Todmorden market hall

Behind Roomfield Lane is the impressive structure of Todmorden market hall built in only eight months in 1879 and situated close to Stansfield’s shop. It’s one of my favourite markets but sadly today in the lockdown the marketplace was as empty as a ghost town. But lovely as the Victorian market was the living conditions of the surrounding residents were appalling as was borne out by the report of the sanitary committee on August 11, 1876:

“If the following complaints are not rectified the ‘inspector of nuisances’ will take legal proceedings against the following parties: I would remind you that Miss Sutcliffe has a drain made up on her property in Roomfield Lane, and the house slops and refuse water are flowing on the street. At the same place, Stansfield Gibson, butcher, has a very offensive midden on the side of the street leading up to the back houses, and he is also in the habit of slaughtering sheep and lambs in a place behind his house, which has not been registered as a slaughterhouse.4 What a shambles! In fact the term shambles originally referred to a street or area in a city where the butchers lived, and has come to mean chaos or mess from the highly unsanitary conditions of waste disposal used there.

Judging by several reports in the local newspaper reports Stansfield was not an easy man to get along with, both in his professional life and also in his private life. As a butcher Stansfield would have raised the animals that he sold as meat in the shop and he farmed his own sheep and poultry. In January 1878 Stansfield was taken to court by the farmer of an adjacent field who claimed that Stansfield’s sheep had damaged his land. Two years later Stansfield encountered more problems caused by his business. In a column in the local newspaper entitled ‘Rival Poultry Keepers’ the reporter described an incident in which Stansfield and his 18 year old daughter Sarah Ann were summoned on a charge of aggravated defamation against a neighbour, one James Crowther. In court Crowther said that “about three months since he bought some poultry, and since that time he had had nothing but bother with the defendant, who had been continually buying fresh cocks to kill his. Stansfield said he would have another cock; Crowther replied, Thou can get as many cocks as thou likes, but keep that cayenne pepper off.” Sarah Ann reportedly called James’s wife “a nasty b___” and added that she was continually abused by the whole family and on one occasion sent their cousin Oliver Stansfield to abuse her. She was almost afraid to stay in the house by herself. One day Mrs Crowther was standing at the shop door serving the hens. Stansfield’s cock came and began to eat along with the hens. She shooed it off and Stansfield said “Throw a stone at it and I’ll take you to Todmorden”- meaning the court which was held in the town hall mere stone’s throw from the scene of the altercation. When Mr Crowther appeared on the scene Stansfield challenged him to come out and he would give him a good hiding. Sarah Ann and Stansfield were fined 5 pounds, bound over to keep the peace for 6 months and ordered to pay the costs.5

Perhaps Stansfield did not keep the peace as instructed or maybe the neighbours had had enough of the Gibson family for his landlady gave him notice to vacate the shop and house. Only two years later in the Spring of 1882 Stansfield along with three other butchers from Todmorden was fined under the cattle diseases act 10s for moving bullocks without a license. Animal identification and traceability was and still is important for disease control and public confidence in farm produce and a license is still required in Calderdale if you want to move even just one animal.

But it wasn’t just issues in his business ventures that made newspaper headlines. There were family problems too. In 1883 Stansfield’s daughter, Sarah Jane, then aged 21 charged Bentley Fielden with the paternity of her daughter, born on Christmas day, 1882. Bentley denied being the father of the child and said that he had stopped seeing Sarah Jane because she had asked him to marry her. However the court ruled that Bentley should pay 3 shillings weekly for the upkeep of the child and ten shillings for the cost of the midwife who had attended baby Harriet’s birth. An interesting follow up to the story is that two years later Sarah Jane gave birth to another daughter, Alberta, and three years after that Sarah Jane married , yes, Bentley Fielden at Heptonstall church! But a happy marriage it was not. In 1897 Bentley was convicted of aggravated assault on his wife and a separation order was issued. Sarah Jane and Harriet moved in with her father, Stansfield, having received not one penny in support from Bentley during that time. After an incident when Bentley showed up at Stansfield’s house just as Stansfield had arrived bringing in a duck for their Sunday dinner Bentley seized Stansfield, hit him several times about the face and neck with both fists. Sarah Jane and her aunt, who was acting as Stansfield’s housekeeper managed to restrain Bentley while Stansfield ran off to find a policeman. In court Bentley accused Stansfield of having taken Sarah Jane to those dens of iniquity, Blackpool and Scarborough and slept with a child thirteen years of age. Stansfield denied this and no further action against Stansfield was taken. Bentley, on the other hand, was sentenced to one month in prison with hard labour.

In the spring of 1885 Stansfield decided to follow in his family’s footsteps and became landlord of the New Inn just across the main road from his butcher’s shop.

The New Inn

Stansfield’s children Emily and Herbert assisted with work in the pub and it was from his work there that Herbert learned the job of being a landlord, a profession he was ultimately to take up himself. But soon after the family moved to the New Inn Herbert was involved in a serious accident when “sustained severe injuries by being thrown from a horse. He appears to have struck the wall heavily with his head, and was so stunned as not to recover consciousness until next morning.6

I felt concerned for the young lad and I checked the newspapers for any update, worried that I might find a dreadful ending to the story. What I found surprised me, happily. Following his marriage to Elizabeth Lumb, herself the daughter of an inn keeper, the couple took over the Moorcock Inn on Blackstone Edge, that ancient paved road connecting Lancashire and Yorkshire, thereby becoming a third generation innkeeper. I’d ventured to the inn several times to sit it the beer garden high above Littleborough. The views into Lancashire are unrivalled and on clear days the high rise buildings in central Manchester are visible.

My visit to The Moorcock on a sunny day in 2021

The New Inn that Stansfield had taken over in 1885 in a busy part of Todmorden was a 3 storey property almost next door to two more inns, the Rope and Anchor and the York Hotel but the area was full of mills and foundries, all with workforces that needed a pint after work. Indeed, within 250 yards more than one hundred  houses had been erected during the previous ten years, and there were at least 500 people living there. This was a time when the word ‘inn’ actually meant that it had rooms for rent and under a previous landlord by the wonderful name of Robert Crook the business prospered and he had around twenty lodgers living there. An added bonus for both residents and visitors was the presence of a resident pianist, an Irish girl named Dina who provided music for the nightly sing songs. The site of the New Inn is now the car park at Todmorden health centre and as I stood there 136 years to the day that Stansfield took over the pub I imagined the faint sound of a piano being played – Dina was on top form. Long after Dina’s music had faded into the mists of time on Friday the 13th October 1972, the building collapsed and fell down.

I’m sure the New Inn would have done a roaring trade on the day of the 1889 annual Todmorden Floral and Horticultural Show and Athletic Festival, a show still in existence. With prizes awarded for everything from ‘Two cauliflowers and 2 cabbages’, to ‘12 white gooseberries’ and ‘2 cock chickens’ the festival was a big attraction. For the 2 mile race for ponies six competitors turned up. Luke Greenwood’s pony led for the first mile, but was then passed by R. Cropper’s “Daisy” and Stansfield Gibson’s “Polly.” Gibson’s Polly got behind but at the mile and a half had regained second place. Stansfield took home with him a gentleman’s travelling bag worth £ 1/ 6 shillings as runner up. 7 I wonder if Polly had been the pony who had thrown Herbert from her back just three years before.

Halifax horticultural show

When Stansfield’s wife Susannah died a couple of days after Christmas in 1894 the newspaper carried this memorial to her:

‘She is gone, she is gone to the region of light

She was with us today, she’s in heaven tonight

Though to part with our mother was a trial severe

Yet it is better that she should be yonder than here.’

She was buried on New Year’s Eve high above Todmorden at Cross Stone church, the scene of her wedding to Stansfield. I wonder what the weather was like for the cortege to make its way up the steep hill. Less than a year later, in the summer of 1895 Stansfield married another widow, Fanny Walters, 18 years younger than himself who had been widowed the previous year. They were married at Heptonstall church 1895 and later that year Stansfield took over the license of the Railway Hotel in Littleborough, a town on the West of the Pennines that had grown up around the industry enabled by the building of the Rochdale canal and the trans Pennine railway. Stansfield’s pub still overlooks the canal but it is now known as The Waterside, an upscale restaurant and bar.

Waterside restaurant on the Rochdale canal, formerly The Railway

Six years later Stansfield was widowed for the third time and soon after a notice in the local newspaper on February 8th 1901 instructed that all Stansfield’s household possessions were to be sold at auction because he was leaving the district. I find it fascinating to see Stansfield’s wordly possessions itemized and feel they need to be listed in their entireity since it gives an insight into both his standard of living and also gives us a snapshot of his day to day existence. I wonder if he could play the piano himself or if it was an instrument that others would play in the pub. I had to smile at the commode disguised as a small chest of drawers.

“Dining room suite upholstered in saddle bag style including Couch, 2 easy and 6 single chairs, a noble 5ft walnut sideboard, with carved back having 3 bevelled plate-glass mirrors drawers, and cellaret complete; a brilliant toned cottage pianoforte, in walnut case, with panelled front and candelabra by Schuppinser and sons, London, oval walnut centre table; Milners’s patent fireproof safe, 26in. by 20 in by 20 in., brass curb, with fixed dogs: set of fire brasses: brass ash pan; pollard oak and brass-mounted coal vase, bamboo occasional table, tapestry bordered carpet square. 12ft. by 10ft., Axminster hearth rug, oil paintings: spirit decanters in E.P. Frame, F.P. Cruet, case of cutlery, flower vases and plaques, Chinese idol and stand; quantity of small Chinese figures and ornaments, Opera glass, glass dishes, wines and tumblers. Handsome walnut bedroom suite including 4 ft wardrobe, with centre mirrors, dressing table, with bevel plate glass mirror, washstand, with towel airer, marble top and back; and 3 upholstered chairs; stained dressing table, with mirror affixed; stained washstand, with tiled back, brass and iron Parisian bedstead, with tapestry hangings, woven wire, wool, and straw mattresses, feather beds, bolsters, and pillows, tapestry carpet square, 13ft. 4in. by 21ft 9in, toilet services, capital mahogany night commode to imitate small chest of drawers. KITCHEN: Polished birch longsettle and cushions, stained square table, with deal top, Pembroke table, 3 bentwood chairs, wringing machine, wash tubs, clothes horses and dolly, dinner service, 2 copper kettles, fender and fire irons together with the usual kitchen and culinary requisites. Also a capital wicker work bath chair with cushions, etc., complete, nearly new. But why was he selling all his possessions? Less than a year after Fanny’s death he was getting married for a fourth time, to a widow named Maria Ann Winfindale. Her husband had been the landlord of The Falcon Inn in Scarborough on the coast in East Yorkshire and around 100 miles from Littleborough and so he was selling up and moving East.

In July 2022 I headed out to Scarborough for a few days to escape the record temperatures expected throughout England. It seemed that Scarborough would be about 20F cooler than Hebden Bridge so off I went. As I was wandering around the town I suddenly caught sight of The Falcon Inn in quite a prominent place in the town, at the back of a town square filled with coffee drinkers from the local cafe. And I suddenly recalled that this place was connected to Stansfield. At first glance it appeared to be closed up. The front door was securely closed but a sign read ‘Please ring the bell. Don’t knock.’ I did as I was bid but to no avail. Some of the windows on the upper floors were open so perhaps it’s not closed permanently. But this chance encounter led me to do some research into Maria Ann who seemed to make a habit of marrying beer merchants and brewers.

The Falcon Hotel, Scarborough

Only four years after his marriage to Maria Ann (whose second marriage it was) Stansfield was widowed again.

The call of the Calder Valley appears to have stretched the entire width of Yorkshire because Stansfield moved back and I find Stansfield mentioned in the newspaper in perhaps the most unexpected of all his appearances. In June 1908 Stansfield bought a chapel! “A fairly good company assembled at the Dusty Miller Inn on the occasion of the premises formerly used as a chapel and school by the Primitive Methodists being offered by public auction. After some spirited bidding £151 was reached. And Mr John Greenwood was the purchaser. Yesterday John Greenwood resold the property to Stansfield Gibson at a nice profit.’ Now whether he bought it merely as a financial investment I have been unable to ascertain and it took many hours of research both online and wandering around the streets of Mytholmroyd before I located the building – or rather, the site of the building for it no longer exists.

A chapel and school had been built at Sunny Bank by the primitive Methodists in 1837 but when the congregation grew larger a New Chapel, Mount Zion, was built, which opened in 1888. This second chapel was an enormous building almost at the bottom of Midgley Road and overshadowed the houses around it. The poet laureate Ted Hughes was brought up in one of those homes

“Blackness

Was a building blocking the moon.

Its wall – my first world-direction-

Mount Zion’s gravestone slab.”8

But it was the earlier, former chapel that Stansfield purchased and at the end of Sunny Bank terrace there is an area of unkept grass. I clambered over a wall onto the grass and above me I could discern the outline of a roof on the gable end of the existing terrace of cottages which would have been the chapel or school roof. I was standing inside Stansfield’s chapel. From the lack of further references to the building or Stansfield’s connection with it I presume that he purchased it as a financial investment.

The following year, 1909-1910 Stansfield was living in a rented house 14 Brook Street in the centre of Todmorden. From the site of the New Inn it was only a minute’s walk to Brook Street. No houses remain on that road now just a post office , a discount store and a charity shop. But by 1911 Stansfield, now 73, was living at 1 Anchor Street, just a couple of minutes walk away.

Back street in Todmorden – 2022

The census firmly states that he is living apart from his wife but with a housekeeper, Mary Dearden, ‘a widowed servant’ aged 69. 1 Anchor street is the middle section of a three storey building, the front of which, facing the main road now houses Buttylicious snack bar which must have been Stansfield’s butcher’s shop, so I called in for a cup of tea to takeaway with me as I went to take vintage sepia photographs of the various back streets less then 8 feet wide housing a confusion of wheelie bins and recycling baskets.

1 Anchor street

In 1914 while living at Halifax road he was entitle to vote in the elections of Mytholmroyd the description of his qualifying property being Mount Zion! Five years later Stansfield decides to shut up shop for the last time and on 18 Aug 1916 the following advertisement appears in the local paper:

‘To let or sell – Butcher’s shop and house #139 Halifax Road, Todmorden; suitable for any business. Apply S. Gibson, King Street, Hebden Bridge.’ Hospital?

The following year Stansfield was making headlines in the newspaper again, and again for a disturbing reason. He was living at 40 Cameron Street, Burnley, with his son-in-law, a home close to the canal and in the middle of one of the long rows of terraced stone houses that characterise the town. The newspaper article on 17 November, 1917 makes sad reading: ”Old Man’s Attempted Suicide. Old man, named Stansfield Gibson was charged with attempting commit suicide by cutting his throat with a table knife about 2-30 a.m. on Saturday, November 6th, 40, Cameron-street, where he lived with his son-in-law.

40 Cameron Street Burnley

At the time the occurrence the son-in-law heard a noise downstairs. Going down found the prisoner crouched the bottom. He asked him what was the matter, and prisoner said: ” I have cut my throat,” The son-in-law picked him up, put, him chair, and sent for the police. The police rendered first-aid and took the man straight away to the hospital, where he had been until that morning when was discharged. Supt. Hillier said that the prisoner had become depressed through failing the eyesight, and his home had been broken up at Todmorden about three months ago. The case was dismissed on the prisoner promising not to attempt anything of the kind again. Three weeks later, however, Stansfield passed away, perhaps from his injuries. In August 2021 I went into Burnley to find 40 Cameron Street. It’s in an area of densely packed terrace houses. The paint around the door was peeling off and the stonework has been painted cream. A black taxi cab was parked outside, perhaps the driver lives at number 40. I took a stroll around the back street and immediately stepped back in time at least 50 years. The street is close to the ruins of a mill, possibly Cameron Street mill and the Leeds Liverpool canal lies at the end of the street.

He died at 112 Bridge Lanes in Hebden Bridge, near the bluebell and he’s buried at Todmorden Christ church – a very sad end to a man who lived a ‘thrilling’ active lived life to the full etc.

Christ church Todmorden is now a house. A double murder took place in the vicarage there in 1868
:https://www.halifaxcourier.co.uk/news/calderdale-vicarage-where-double-murder-took-place-sale-aps485000-1003208

Note: 11 Ap 1891 On the 11th inst at the Parish church Heptonstall by the Rev E P Powell vicar, Mr Stansfield Gibson of Mt Pleasant Todmorden to Miss Annie Howarth of Bank bottom Todmorden. Died 1894.

1 The Grimshaw Family by F. Baker – Halifax Antiquarian Society transactions, 1945, p.55

2 https://sites.rootsweb.com/~todmordenandwalsden/St.PaulsCrossStone.htm

3 https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0002122/18740626/068/0002

4 https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0002123/18760811/086/0008

5 https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0001940/18800730/067/0005

6 https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0002124/18860604/077/0005

7 https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0002124/18890830/153/0007

8 Mount Zion, by Ted Hughes in Remains of Elmet

My Crabtree connection

Stoodley Pike from Upper Eastwood, home of the Crabtree family

CHARLES CRABTREE – manufacturer – and his son, Walter of Stansfield Hall

Charles Crabtree 1832-1912

There are certain family names in the Calder Valley that are so ubiquitous that people researching their family history pray that they won’t find them in their family tree.  Greenwood is one. Sutcliffe is another. A third is Crabtree, so it was with some trepidation that I embarked upon digging into the roots of Walter Crabtree. Walter’s parents, Charles and Ellen, are a perfect example of the confusion such names can cause the genealogist. They were married on April 6th, 1865. Ellen’s maiden name was Crabtree. She married Charles Crabtree. Both their fathers were named Abraham Crabtree! Charles’s father was a greengrocer. Ellen’s father was a farmer. And to further confuse matters on June 16th 1867 an Abraham Crabtree of Chapel House, a grocer and farmer drowned in a dam at Cockpit, Todmorden.  (annals of Tod) p24. This didn’t bode well, but I knew that a certain Charles Crabtree, who was a distant relative of mine was a man who had made his mark in Todmorden, both as a mill owner and a benefactor, so perhaps I would be able to distinguish this particular Charles from all the other Crabtrees in the vicinity. He is connected to my family through Edith Wrigley who married his son, Walter Crabtree in 1906.

 Charles’s obituary dated 1912 reads  “Beginning life in a humble way, with no apparent advantages over his fellows, he rose by industry and enterprise to a position of a large employer of labour.” Charles was born in 1832 at Upper Eastwood, a small cluster of houses centred around Eastwood old hall that I’d explored last year. Apart from the group of buildings around Eastwood Old Hall with its datestone that reads John Eastwood, 1630, the hillside leading up to Great Rock is criss- crossed with paths and dry stone walls amongst which are scattered isolated homesteads with only rough cart tracks leading to them even today. Sitting high on the hillside with uninterrupted views across the Calder Valley to Stoodley Pike is one of these isolated dwellings, Greystone, where Charles aged 9 was living with his parents, Abraham, a worsted weaver and his mother Ann in 1841. From  Greystone a track leads through two fields to two adjoining cottages named Chapel Houses.

1851 map showing Grey Stone, Crabtree Lane, Eastwood cotton mill, Chapel House and Mount Pleasant
Little has changed

As its name suggests this building was originally a chapel, Benthead Chapel constructed in 1719 and capable of holding 200-300 people. I still find it mind blowing that on such a remote hillside a chapel capable of holding so many people was required.

According to the Charlestown history page “ From the mid 18th century, the chapel went into decline due to the ‘exceptional mortality in the district’. Hmmm. I wonder what caused this ‘exceptional mortality” in this area. Could it possibly have been caused by inbreeding? On one page in the 1851 census 14 out of 19 people listed are Crabtrees. The congregation dropped to a handful of people” and the building  was subsequently divided into cottages. On the 1851 map the lane connecting these three locations, Eastwood, Greystones and Chapelhouses, all closely associated with my Crabtree ancestors was marked Crabtree Lane! A description of the place on the Charlestown history site which the site states was probably written in the 1840s reads:
“It must not be imagined from what has been written so far, that the inhabitants of Eastwood were all upright and honest citizens. There were evil doers in those days as there are now, and laws against theft or damage to property were much more drastic. Tradition has it that representatives of the village were sent as convicts to Australia. Stealing was by no means uncommon and occasionally cloth was taken from the handlooms. Hand weaving persisted for a long time after the coming of the power loom, and the weavers sometimes took precautions against theft by tying the warp ends to their feet before retiring for the night……The less reputable amongst the population indulged in such sports as cock fighting, rabbit coursing, clog fights or wrestling for wagers. The Non Conformists on the other hand, still strongly under the influence of puritan tradition, looked askance at such pleasures and regarded them as enticements of the Devil”.

It was the beginning of March, 2021. We’d had a few consecutive days of Spring weather – meaning it hadn’t poured with rain and the temperature had stayed above 32F, so I set out find Greystones where Charles, a boy of 9 was living with his father Abraham, a worsted weaver and mother Ann in 1841. As I took the bus up to Blackshawhead the sun won the battle with the clouds and by the time I got off at the bus terminus 1000ft above sea level it was a lovely sunny Sunday morning. Opposite the bus terminus is the former Blue Ball pub where Ezra Butterworth had rather too much to drink one night and staggered home down Davey Lane to his home at Hippens, where he went to bed, fell out again in a drunken stupor breaking the chamber pot and dying from his wounds. His story is told on another page of this blog. I followed Davey Lane with its wonderful views across the Calder Valley across to Stoodley Pike, passed the scene of Ezra’s demise. Today I noticed an ancient paved trail leading West from Hippens bridge alongside Hippens Clough which looked interesting to explore some other time.

I reached Great Rock which I’d noticed is marked as Grisly Stone on the 1851 map. Sometimes it’s been known as Devil’s Rock. It’s an outcrop of millstone grit that’s been weathered into a fantastical shape, similar to Bridestones which is close by. I even found my maiden name etched into it along with dozens of others.

Devil’s Rock

At Great Rock I took a pathway of Eastwood Lane. It’s surface reminded me of a patchwork quilt of stones and bricks obviously constructed, reconstructed and patched over many many years, centuries.

To my right a smaller track was signposted to Greystone Farm (only) and I could see a long stone building across the field. I headed for the farm which faces Stoodley Pike and though I stopped to take photographs for several minutes no-one came out to talk to me. I was disappointed.

Greystones from the back
Front of Greystones.

According to Historic England the earliest deed of the property is 1675 and the single storey gabled porch bears date 1789. The farmhouse is to the left, then comes the barn which still has its semi circular cart entry and then on the far right the cottage has a higher roof line. On an 1851 map I’d traced a track to the side of Greystones which led to Chapelhouses, but I’d not bargained for such difficult walking conditions. The path was sunken between two walls and was really no more than a stream. That would have been OK if the stream had had stones at its bottom. My boots are waterproof. The problem was mud! Mud in which my boots almost disappeared, so deep was it. It was very sticky too, and trying to lift up my foot out of its clutching grasp was no easy thing. I found myself clutching at various branches and grasses to steady my slips but all that resulted in was getting hands full of blackberry thorns. Luckily this track only lasted for 15 minutes. I wondered if was an ancient holloway like Bow Lane which connected Hudson Mill Road to Blackshawhead where the amount of that path has sunk is commensurate with its age.

I found myself in a more open area and adjacent to the gable end of a building. If I was correct this should be Chapelhouses, originally Benthead chapel. My luck was in. A couple were enjoying the sunshine in their garden and I explained my presence. There are two buildings now, one Chapelhouses and next door Chapelhouse Farm. Both buildings are Grade ll listed and it was the building on the left that was one Charles’s home. According to Historic England it was built in the late 17th or early 18th century and was used for non-conformist worship in the mid 18th century and was converted into four cottages in the mid 19th century.

The original Benthead Chapel

They were interested in my Crabtree story and soon went to find the person next door who lives in the part of the building that was actually the chapel. I learned that around 1900 the building had been left empty and it wasn’t until the 1980’s that it was restored and made into four dwellings. (Just like Lily Hall). I was able to take photos of the building and just make out the datestone by the door though it’s impossible to decipher. Apparently these is an old photo before the renovation but I haven’t been able to find in online. There is no mains water still here, and water is obtained from a nearby spring.

Chapel houses

By 1851 Charles was listed as a cotton weaver living with his parents in Eastwood, though in this census the names of many of the houses are not specified. But six homes away in the old Bentwood Chapel which was being shared by 6 families was another Abraham Crabtree, a grocer, with his wife Mary and three daughters, Mary Ann, 20, a cotton weaver, Ellen, 18, a dressmaker and Betty, 16. Also living with them was Young Barker a grandchild, aged 10. Being ten years old Young Barker is obviously not the illegitimate son of one of Abraham’s daughters which is usually the case. (see wikitree). It was almost a case of marrying the girl next door because two days before Christmas in 1852 Charles and his betrothed Mary Ann Crabtree made what must have been a cold journey into Halifax to be married at St John the Baptist church. They were one of seven couples who were married there that day. After their marriage they set up home in one of the sections of Chapel houses – now the home of five different Crabtree households! The first ten years of their married life saw the birth of a son, Barker, and a daughter Ann, named after her grandmother. But not only that, Charles had become a cotton manufacturer, employing seven men, a major step up from the weaver he was on his marriage certificate. Everything seemed to be going well for the young family but then Mary died. She was just 33. The couple had had two children and I wondered if she died in childbirth. Just over a year later he married Ellen Crabtree at St John’s in Halifax, the same church as his first wedding. Not only that but and together they had five children. Charles, Mary Ann and Ellen all had fathers named Abraham Crabtree! This is why I was reluctant to begin any research into my Crabtree ancestors! It took me a while to figure out that Ellen was none other than Mary Ann’s younger sister. I think that the writer of the register was as confused as I was, because in the margin he has added Chapelhouses, which convinces me that I have the correct people! Together Ellen and Charles had five children. Perhaps my suggestion of inbreeding possibly causing the usually high incidence of mortality in this vicinity was not too far from the truth.

Charles’s family demonstrates succinctly the development of the textile trade in the Calder Valley. His father, Abraham, had been  a handloom weaver living at Greystones high on the hill above Eastwood but by the time Charles was 18 his family had moved down the hill into the small community of Eastwood and both father and son were employed in cotton  manufacturing. In fact a cotton manufacturer, Thomas L. Sutcliffe was their immediate neighbour in Eastwood and it’s likely that it was in Sutcliffe’s cotton spinning mill in Eastwood that the father and son earned their living. Eastwood Shed was built between 1833 and 1848 for cotton weaving. The addition of this weaving shed to the spinning at Upper Mill created an integrated cotton manufacturing unit. An earlier small water powered cotton spinning mill in Higher Eastwood. The mill had been built by the Eastwood family and then leased to a number of manufacturers over the years, one such being the Sutcliffe Brothers.

Two years ago I’d taken a hike up the steep road to Eastwood and seen all that remains of the mill today. A friendly resident of Rose cottage was, of course, pruning his roses and offered to show me round. The three storey mill shed, which once housed the waterwheel is now used as a cow shed. I peeked in to see the heavily worn stone steps of a spiral staircase, its rusted handrail, the peeling whitewashed walls – all very spooky. The man led me above the mill site to view the original mill ponds now the site of some lovely gardens.  This was later replaced by a horizontal Lancashire steam boiler which was dragged up the hillside from the bottom by 12 chained horses. Though Edward Cartwright had invented the weaving machine in 1784 several decades of refinement were necessary  and it wasn’t until 1842 that the semi-automatic Lancashire Loom came into being taking weaving from a home-based artisan activity to a steam driven factories process.

In December 1860 Charles Crabtree  launched out as an employer running a business with John Marshall, operating a few looms at Burnt Acres on the valley floor employing 7 people. So the employment – just like the chapel, has moved from the hillside in Eastwood to the valley bottom, giving access to the canal for both the shipment in of raw materials and the shipment out of finished goods, as well as the river to power looms before the advent of steam power.  This mill was to be my first stop on my ‘Crabtree day.’

The site of Charles Crabtree’s mill  was easy to locate being sandwiched on a narrow strip of land between the Calder River and the Rochdale Canal in Eastwood but the mill that occupies the site now is not the original Crabtree mill. Charles gradually increased his business and he moved with Ellen into the centre of Todmorden. Unfortunately their home on Dale Street hasn’t survived. In 1884 he acquired Ferney Mill with 614 looms.

I continued along the canal towpath, reminding myself of its important role in Charles’s business, and once in Todmorden I took the road out towards Burnley. Only a mile from the town centre I located Ferney Mill Road but the mill itself is no longer there.

I put a posting on Todmorden Past and Present Facebook page and received the following response from Rebecca Marshall: “My father bought the mill and demolished it and built the houses there now. However I did find a career poster dated around 1950 to attract workers. At that time about 400 operatives were working at Ferney Mill: “Good wages, good conditions and good employee services are proffered for employees while engaged in the manufacture of  Florentine and Satin Drills and ring Weft yarns specially spun for the local drill trade. There is a weaving school and a training school covering the spinning processes, a research and welfare department, cricket and sports clubs and social committee. As an added incentive Tea and sandwich service is available for the morning and afternoon rest breaks!” I wandered around this area in Todmorden where vast areas of wasteland surrounded by ruined walls topped with razor wire are all that remain of the huge textile mills that once covered this valley. Today many are used as dumping grounds and one had an amazing array of unwanted children’s furniture and toys including a large pink and white unicorn. Farther along Ferney Lee Road a former mill building had been converted into a suite of studios and workshops and the name Grumpy’s Mill was emblazoned in fancy ironwork. Was this part of Charles’s mill I wondered?  When I got home I ran this question on the Todmorden Past and Present Facebook page and within a few hours I got the following response; I wasn’t aware of ‘lee’ being in the name but certainly Ferney Mill. Its mine!” And from a lady “I worked at Crabtree Mill when I left school.”

At work in Ferney Lee mill

Charles appears to have been well liked by his employees and when he died in 1912 his obituary read: Last year, on the attainment of his jubilee as a manufacturer, Mr. Crabtree gave a treat to his employees, and they in return made a presentation to him of a walking stick, and of an umbrella to Mrs. Crabtree. For a long number of years, Mr. Crabtree attended Heptonstall Parish Church and officiated as sidesman for Stansfield. He was also identified with St. Paul’s Church, Cross Stone, and he had close ties with Myrtle Grove Congregational Church, Eastwood where he had been baptised. I was keen to visit the chapel but like so many others in this ‘Valley of a Hundred Chapels’ (the title of Amy Binns’s book) so many of them have been demolished or are used for secular purposes. The only thing remaining of the chapel is its graveyard. From the Charlestown history site: By the early 1800s, with the coming of industrialisation, the population was moving from the tops into the valley bottom. Discussions about moving the chapel began in about 1805 and local gentry settled endowments for the new chapel to be built. The new chapel opened in the summer of 1807 was called Myrtle Grove and stood on the site that later became Eastwood Railway station. It had a capacity of 500 people. The congregation again declined from about 1820. In 1838 the railway petitioned to include the site of the Chapel and it was purchased by the railway company in the following year. Another of my ancestors, Thomas Butterworth and his wife Alice (nee Jackson) had their 6 children baptised together at Myrtle Grove chapel just two years after Charles.

Though not able to view the actual chapel itself I was able to get a good three dimensional view of the 1840 chapel from a very unexpected source which rather amused me. Again, from the Charlestown history site: A few years ago one of the group was taking stuff to the tip at Eastwood and saw a small wooden model in a skip. She rescued it and later we discovered that it was of Eastwood Chapel. Who made it, when or why, we don’t know. It’s a three storey stone building. .

After Charles’s second marriage in 1865 he and Ellen went on to have five more children, the youngest being Walter who was born in 1875.  Cross Street where Walter was raised was in the centre of Todmorden but is now partly a car park and partly a garden area, from where I’ve watched the Lantern festival. It leads to the imposing Market Hall which was built in 1879. But I thought I’d pay a visit to where it once stood, to see if anything remained.

A double fronted house numbered 37 with a small iron railing around a flagged area barely two feet wide on the main Halifax Road seemed to be positioned close to where Cross Street once was, and, yes, lo and behold, on the side of the house high on the wall was an old street sign – Cross Street. A similar sized building had been added to the rear of the building and the side was adjacent to the car park. Could this possibly have been number 1, Cross Street, home of Charles Crabtree for at least the last 32 years of his life? When I got home I was eager to find if anyone could verify that number 37 Halifax Road was once 1 Cross Street, the home of the Crabtrees. I posted my question onto the Todmorden Past and Present FaceBook page and within 24 hours I’d had over 40 responses, two from former residents of the building. I learned that the house had once been called Galen House and after the Crabtrees left it had variously been the office for a local plumber, a toy shop, and the home of a family who operated a taxi business. One former resident, Sam Woodworth-Barnstone wrote “I always wanted to rip off the Cross Street sign when we left but always came round to the thought it’s been there over 100 years. Let’s see how many more years it can survive.” He then describes the inside of the house: “The best room was the attic. No-one ever looked up there but after everyone had moved out I had a peep. It extended the full size of the house with four original stone pillars in the middle with a skylight looking down on Halifax Road.”  Charles and Ellen would remain living at Cross Street for the rest of his life, Charles dying in 1912 at the age of 80 and Ellen in 1919 at the grand old age for the time of 86. They are both buried at Cross Stone church high above Todmorden.

At the far end of Cross Street is the river with a footbridge. I crossed the bridge and found myself in a park with a children’s playground. It surely takes the Darwin award for the best park name: Tipside.

By 1891 two of the 5 Crabtree children were teachers, one was a warehouseman in a cotton factory – I wonder if it was his dad’s factory – and one was a dye machine maker – presumably an engineer. Walter was still a scholar at the age of 15, when most young men of his age at that date in time would have been earning a wage. In fact, on the same street in the 1891 census there is Willie Brocock, throstle spinner in a cotton factory, aged 11, Tom Halliday, a moving carrier aged 14, Emily Sparks, cotton spinner aged 12, and yes, another Crabtree family containing John, 13, a cotton weaver. I think it’s interesting that my Crabtree family is living cheek by jowl with their employees, rather than in a manufacturer’s mansion up a hill and away from the smoke and grime of the town. That this area of Todmorden, known as Roomfield,  was not all sweetness and roses is born out by thus 1876 Nuisances inspector’s report. “In the first place I would remind you that Miss Sutcliffe, has a drain made up on her property in Roomfield Lane, and the house slops and refuse water are flowing on the street. At the same place, Stansfield Gibson, butcher, (another ancestor who I write about) has a very offensive midden on the side of the street leading up to the back houses, and be is also in the habit of slaughtering sheep and lambs in a place behind his house, which has not been registered as a slaughterhouse. Sarah Horsfall, of York street, has a privy on her premises with a defective box in, and the liquid runs on the door and out at the door bottom, and is very offensive.”

Walter enrolled at Owens College, Manchester, an  institution that  had been founded in 1851, named after a textile merchant, John Owens who had gifted  almost 100,000 pounds for is establishment. Owens college eventually became the University of Manchester. What an amazing coincidence. My daughter, Anna, decided to study abroad for a year while she was pursuing a psychology degree at the University of California in Santa Cruz. The University she selected was Manchester and she was housed at Owens College, where I visited her in 2009.  I love the following quotation from Wikipedia: Since the later 1800s many notable people have worked and studied at University of Manchester as, for example, Benedict Cumberbatch. Unlike Cumberbatch Walter studied not drama but medicine and in 1899 he received his MB ChB, a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery. He became a house physician at Manchester Royal Infirmary and on October 30, 1906 he married into my family by taking as his bride Edith Wrigley, the daughter off Thomas Henry Wrigley, whose granddad had lived at Lily Hall in 1841 and whose great great granddad was none other than James Wrigley, my great great great great granddad.

A distressing account was to be found in the Todmorden newspaper on Dec 23, 1904 when Walter was at the home of his future wife as her mother was getting ready to go to chapel.  At the inquest held at Todmorden Town Hall Edith related the story,  “I was the sitting-room (upstairs) when I heard a bang. I went with Dr. Crabtree to see what was the matter, and we found my mother laid at the bottom of the attic stairs. She was lying face downward, with her feet on the bottom step. She was conscious, and said” I think I must have gone dizzy.” My father was not at home at the time. The stairs are not very steep. We lifted her on to the bed.” Walter takes up the story: I found she was paralyzed below the shoulders. I came to the conclusion that the spine was severely injured, probably with dislocation or treatise. Dr. Currie was, sent for, and with him I made an examination. I found the two lowest cervical vertebra and probably one or two of the dorsal vertebra displaced. Under such circumstances recovery was scarcely ever known.  Death occurred rather suddenly at the last. The jury returned a verdict of ‘ Death from injury to the spinal cord, caused by accidentally falling downstairs.” The house where this happened was almost adjacent to the Town Hall, on part of Halifax Road that was  known as York Street at the time of the accident. She was buried at Cross Lanes Chapel where, two years later Walter and Edith were married.

Cross Lanes chapel – long demolished

It’s one of the many churches which no longer exists, though the cemetery remains, barely clinging to the steep hill overlooking Hebden Bridge. The newspaper article seems to imply that there was  an element of  secrecy to it: An interesting wedding was solemnised on Tuesday afternoon at Cross Lanes chapel.  It was kept as quiet as possible but many friends watched the ceremony . The contracting parties were Dr. Walter Crabtree, of Nelson, youngest son of Mr. Charles Crabtree. cotton manufacturer, Todmorden. and Miss Edith Wrigley eldest daughter of Mr. T. H. Wrigley (Messrs Wrigley and Sons, painters and paperhangers, Hebden  Bridge and Todmorden). The bride, who was smartly attired in brown silk crepe de chine, with cream velvet hat, was attended by her sister (Miss Annie Wrigley). and was given away by her father. Mr. H. Cockcroft. of Woodlands. acted as best man. The newly-married couple afterwards left for London and Bournemouth to spend their honeymoon. They have received many handsome wedding gifts.

The couple settled in Nelson, Lancashire and three years after their wedding war broke out. As a medical man Walter’s expertise saw him involved in some of the fiercest fighting of that war. He offered his services to the war effort and in December 1915 he was granted a commission as lieutenant. According to the Todmorden Advertiser Six weeks after leaving Nelson he was at an advanced dressing station in France, and has been so engaged ever since except for a short period, when he was attached to one of the battalions of the Scottish Rifles. He was at one of the advanced dressing stations in the Somme operations. Wounded men would be sent to an Advanced Dressing Station after receiving an initial diagnosis at their front line Regimental Aid Post The ADS was normally run by a Field Ambulance, the name given to a mobile medical unit, not a vehicle. It was better equipped than the RAP, but could still only provide limited medical treatment. More serious cases would be referred to a Casualty Clearing Station, a larger and better-equipped facility that normally provided medical care for an entire division. In 1918 serving with the 93rd field ambulance in France Walter was promoted to Major and in July 1919 he was awarded the military cross, in recognition of his distinguished and meritorious service in battle situations. His father had died in 1912, and his mother in March 1919. What a pity they couldn’t have known about his military recognition. At the age of 48 Walter’s wife, Edith died and three years later he remarried. I am indebted to Jane Hall, the great great niece of Janet Junor Mackenzie, Walter’s second wife for the following information. Apparently Walter and Janet met on a cruise and were married at the Palace Hotel in Inverness on April 29, 1926. Janet was a lecturer in needlework, possibly at Aberdeen Teacher training College. Walter and Janet travelled a great deal throughout Europe before the second world war broke out and she kept a diary of their travels. Jane  remembers visiting Walter & Janet at Stansfield Hall.

After Walter’s death in the summer of 1956 Janet moved back to the village of Avoch in the Black Isle Scotland, she moved into Rose Cottage the house where she was born, and she lived there until she died in 1968. Walter left 8000 pounds , close to 200,000 in today’s money.

For an account of my visit to Stansfield hall:

http://blog.hmcreativelady.com/?s=stansfield+hall

RAMBLES THROUGH MY FAMILY – 15 Untimely Deaths – Chapter 4 : Rose and Richard Gibson

Richard was the youngest of Joshua Gibson’s nine children and had been born in Winters, though by the age of ten the family had moved down into the valley and were running the inn on Bridge Lanes. Unlike his brother Stansfield Richard sought work away from the family business and was a millwright throughout his life. The millwright’s trade combined the practical elements of those of the carpenter, blacksmith and stone mason, with those of an engineer, requiring a resourceful turn of mind since the occupation of millwright demanded the ability to design mills and milling machinery, requiring the application of arithmetic and geometry to the manufacture of all the components of a working mill. Like Stansfield Richard was married five times. He fathered ten children with his first wife, Alice Rawson. I felt very moved as I saw their signatures on their marriage certificate signed at St John The Baptist, Halifax. Richard’s was large, flowery, confident. Alice too signed her own name but in tiny writing, simple and straightforward.

Marriage certificate of Richard and Alice

I wondered how much those signatures penned 160 years ago reflect their owners’ personalities. Following Alice’s death at the age of 49 Richard remarried three more times, all to widows. Sarah Crowley died three years after she married Richard and three months later Richard married Mary Ann Whittaker who was living at the Golden Lion in Todmorden at the time of their marriage. Three and a half years later Mary Ann died and five months later Richard married Rose Gibson who had already been widowed twice. Rose Stansfield had only been married for a little over a year to Richard Gibson when she was found lifeless in a lock of the Rochdale canal in the centre of Todmorden in the winter of 1899. Richard’s father, Joshua Gibson, had also committed suicide in the slaughter house of his pub, the Bull Inn in Hebden Bridge forty years before. And when Richard took his own life ten years after Rose The Hebden Bridge Times even headed their account – ‘Can Suicide Be Hereditory?’

Hebden Bridge Times

An inquest into Rose’s death was held at Todmorden town hall on Nov 17, 1899, the day after her death, and it was reported in the Todmorden and District News: ‘Todmorden drowning case probable suicide. During the breakfast half-hour Monday morning great excitement prevailed in the neighbourhood of the Golden Lion bridge, capitalise Todmorden, by reason of a report that the dead body woman had been found floating in the canal and the sensation was increased by the fact that deceased’s husband appeared on the scene before the body had been recovered and actually assisted in getting the lifeless form out of the water. The deceased was Rose Gibson, aged 54 years, wife Richard Gibson, millwright, of 5, Longfield Rd Todmorden. She was very well-known in Todmorden district, being at one time the landlady of the York Hotel.The body was at once removed to 5, Longfield Rd Todmorden.

In matters such as this rumours of a somewhat ugly character soon ran rife in the town but the verdict was: “Found drowned, without mark of violence or injury, having probably drowned herself, but not sufficient evidence to show the state her mind the time.” Richard’s testimony was that the couple woke around 5:30 on the morning in question. Rose got up saying she was going to make some cocoa. That was the last he saw of her. When he got up about 7:30 she was not in the house and so he went to search for her, first calling in at her daughter’s house, thinking she might be there. But to no avail. He went back home to see if she’d returned but she had not. He set off again in search and when he got to the Golden Lion Bridge he heard that there was woman in the canal lock at Neddy Bridge.. He went to look, and found it was his wife. He recognised her by her hair and shawl. She was only a couple of hundred yards from her home. Despite five or six people gathered around Richard testified “I had to ask four or five times before they would put a hand on.” On being asked if she had ever hinted at taking her own life Richard replied “Well, she has sometimes said she would: she told me on Sunday that she had been a bit queer at times ever since the change of life. She has also been a hit upset about letter from a niece in Middleton. The Coroner: Has she been taking too much drink lately? Well, Sunday night she wanted a pint bottle for beer, and I fetched her one from the White Hart.”

So off I went in search of the canal lock at Neddy Bridge, scene of her death and Rose’s home at Longfield. I couldn’t locate Neddy Bridge on a map but by posting for help on FaceBook I found that that particular lock on the Rochdale canal is directly opposite the Golden Lion. The lock had taken its name from a former landlord and coach proprietor at the Golden Lion – Owd Neddy Blomley. From my home in the centre of Hebden Bridge I walked the four miles along the Rochdale canal to Todmorden. Mallard ducks and Canada geese accompanied me along the towpath, honking vociferously for this was Spring and thus the height of mating season. Fragments of former houses and mills edged the towpath from time to time, their stones covered with bright green moss, and I liked to imagine it was the hair of some wonderful canal monster.

Moss on walls

At Callis gardens the vegetable beds were springing into life and early crocuses were adding splashes of yellow in the flower pots displayed on the roof of the houseboats moored on the canal. Stoodley Pike topped the hills to my left while the Wizard of Whirlaw dominated my view to my left. As I approached the town of Todmorden I could see Cross Stone church atop the hill and I thought about Stansfield’s wedding there one hundred and fifty years ago. Along the towpath’s edge herb gardens had been planted, part of the Incredible Edibles, an urban gardening project started in Todmorden in 2008 that aims to bring people together through actions around local food. In 2009 Prince Charles visited the project to give his support and since its beginning 700 similar groups have sprung up worldwide. Just before Neddy Bridge a large sign with letter 5 ft tall is set into a wall above the marina. It spells the word Kindness.

The Kindness sign situated on the site of Rose and Richard’s home

Running beneath the bridge a steep cobbled footway connects the towpath to the main road. I was in search for Rose and Stansfield’s home at the time of her death – 5, Longfield Road. Longfield Road rises steeply from the main road where it crosses the canal at the Golden Lion. On my right was Cockpit, home of Ellen Maria Farrar who had assisted in the laying out Rose’s body after it was taken from the lock. Today a lady was gardening outside Cockpit in the early morning sunshine and I explained the reason for my presence and we mulled over Rose’s story together.

The current resident of Cockpit

As I sought out the house numbers on Longfield Road I realised that number 5 no longer exists. Judging from a retaining wall above the canal and the long flight of steps that must once have been a terrace of houses that in Rose’s time overlooked the Golden Lion inn and the canal I realised that the word Kindness is on the very spot where Rose and Stansfield’s house had been. A few weeks later I happened to see two photos spanning one hundred years superimposed on one another in an estate agent’s window in Todmorden.

Old photo showing 5 Longfield (courtesy of Daniel Birch)

The end result was that the author/photographer, Daniel Birch, delivered his book ‘Todmorden Now and Then’ to my door. Imagine my surprise when leafing through I found two photos superimposed of the old and the new view of where I suspected Rose’s house had been. And there it was, in a terrace of four storey houses directly above the canal and Daniel confirmed that ‘the steps leading to Longfield Road are still in place.’

My next stop was the Golden Lion, where, just to confuse things, Richard’s third wife had been living when she married Richard. It is primarily a live music venue of considerable repute. I was rather taken aback by the bright yellow coat of paint that has recently come to adorn the side wall, a rather bright gold, dare I say garish?

The Golden Lion in its golden hue

The current owners have been threatened with a £20,000 fine and even jail for painting the exterior wall this obtrusive colour. The Guardian and The Independent have both taken up the story in which the owner says it was done after the council asked local businesses to brighten up the town in the face of the pandemic. Six months later I returned to the scene and saw that the wall has now returned its former white hue. I looked in vain for a golden lion too but found instead a little outdoor street market, redolent of the strong sense of community that is prevalent in Todmorden. Built as a coaching inn around 1760 the Golden Lion inn was a halt on the Manchester to Halifax stage coach service. Many important meetings have taken place over a few glasses of ale in here and I was sad not to be able to sup a glass in Rose’s memory today in such historic surroundings. High on the list of significant meetings held here was one which resulted in the proposal to erect Stoodley Pike, a monument marking the end of the Napoleonic Wars. Its erection was first discussed in this very pub in 1814. Six years later the first meeting of a new company established to built [build] the amazing edifice of Todmorden Town hall was held here too. Today The Golden Lion is known as one of the small market town’s most haunted buildings. It runs UFO-spotting meetings and patrons sometimes stay overnight in the upstairs room, provided they provide their own sleeping bags—and a fair dose of skepticism.

The Golden Lion in its usual colours

Before I went to pay my respects to Rose I needed to know more about her life and to do that I had obtained her marriage certificate since Stansfield appeared to be her married name. Once that was in my possession I was able to piece together something of Rose’s story. Rose had been born in Mickleover, Derbyshire. Just two miles West of Derby the quaintly named village played an important part in the industrial revolution for it was there in 1717 that the world’s first industrial scale textile factory, a silk mill, was built. It’s cutting edge technology caused it to become quite a tourist attraction and both Daniel Defoe and Benjamin Franklin visited the mill. Rose’s father, Thomas had been a silk weaver but like many of the families around the area he was a silk weaver working with a hand loom, not the silk factory. Rose was the first of five children born to William and Harriet (nee Ambrose) and she arrived in the world just two months after her parents had been married at the parish church in Mickleover. In the early 1850s the family moved 85 miles north to Tonge in Lancashire, close to Rochdale and on May 6, Rose married Joseph Bamford, a 21 year old labourer living in Tonge. A daughter and son were born to them but in the winter of 1871 when only 30 years old Rose became a widow. It took her 8 years to find another husband, this time marrying John Stansfield, a bachelor living in Todmorden and several years younger than Rose. John was a master whitesmith like his father and employed a few other men and boys. A whitesmith was a metalworker who did finishing work on iron and steel such as filing or polishing, a much needed skill in the factories of the industrial age when small intricate parts constituted the large machinery. They set up home together at 4 Eagle Street in Todmorden with Rose’s daughter Sarah Bamford, moving to 1 Raglan Street, the next street, some time before 1891.

4 Eagle Street, Todmorden

Of course all this time I had been wondering what precipitated Rose’s untimely death and perhaps an article in the local newspaper may give some insight into Rose’s predicament. In 1893 Rose took John Stansfield to court for deserting her. The account of the trial is a harrowing one. John had been ill for twelve months suffering from dropsy and Bright’s disease. For the previous month he had been bedridden and unable to go to his place of work in Der Street where he employed five or six men in his whitesmithing business. Rose had nursed and attended to him throughout his illness providing him with beef tea, milk, bread and mutton chops. His friends had looked in from time to time to cheer him up and had brought with them whiskey, brandy and even a bottle of champagne on one occasion. On Friday evening January 20th Rose went to bed about quarter past eleven and bade John goodnight ‘on the best of terms.’ About 5:30 in the morning she went downstairs and found that her husband had gone.’ 24 Not only her had left but the bed to which he had been confined had also gone! Rose ran the short distance to Eagle Street where John’s two brothers and two sisters lived together and was told that John was with them but she was not allowed to enter. The prosecution brought evidence that Rose had not properly cared for her husband and that she had consumed the liquor meant for him. John’s friends had had to pick her up off the floor, so drunk was she, and they had made the decision to remove him from the house. The court ruled that since John could no longer work because of his illness he had insufficient means to support Rose financially and though he had sent one month’s rent to their Raglan Street landlady, he would be unable to give her a weekly allowance. The case was dismissed. John died four months later at his brother’s house, 4 Eagle Street. Rose moved in to live at the masonic hall in the centre of Todmorden with her daughter and son-in-law, presumably as the caretaker.

Masonic Hall, Todmorden

She was still living there when she married for a fourth time, in the Todmorden registry office on September 19, 1898, this time to Richard Gibson and so it is at this point that she enters my family tree. So, after walking past the Town Hall where the inquest into Rose’s death took place I headed to the masonic hall. This imposing building is opposite the White Hart Inn that played such a pivotal role in my family’s story for it was in that building that the bastardy court was satisfied that James Wrigley of Lily Hall was indeed the father of Elizabeth Ann Whitham, and it’s through her birth that all my ancestors in this story can be traced.

White Hart where Richard purchased Rose’s final beer

It was from this pub that Richard brought Rose her final pint of beer. Before I knew of any connection between this pub and my family my daughter Sarah and I had had lunch there when we were visiting Calderdale in June, 2017. The masonic hall was built in 1862 and is a Grade ll listed building. Today as I looked at it for the first time I see that is a very substantial building but it currently looks disused. From the masonic hall it was only a couple of minutes walk to my final stop in Rose’s story: the canal lock itself. I realised that overlooking the lock is the garden of House des Lowe, a cafe I frequent in ‘normal’ times which is owned by my textile teacher and her husband. I’ll never again be able to sit enjoying my coffee in their rose bedecked garden without thinking about my own Rose. I took a few photos as I stood beside the lock, thinking about that morning 120 years ago.

The scene of Rose’s drowning at Neddy Bridge lock

“Don’t go jumping in now,” quipped the man sitting on the bench beside me giving me a strange look.

Richard was 69 when he hanged himself in the staircase of his home at 17 Union Street. Today only the street sign remains. The rest of the terraced street was demolished in the 1970s.

RICHARD GIBSON

Todmorden & District News – Friday 29 July 1910: IS SUICIDE HEREDITARY? At Todmorden Town Hall, on Monday morning, Mr. E. H. Hill, coroner, held an inquiry concerning the death of Richard Gibson (69). millwright, of 17, Union Street Todmorden, who had been found hanging his residence on Sunday night. Mr. Richard. Dewhirst was chosen foreman of the jury. Sarah Gibson, the widow, was the first witness. She said her deceased husband was 69 years of age The Coroner: Had he been drinking lately ? ?Witness: Just a little. When? On Friday and Saturday. Did he bring the drink into the house with him? No, sir. What was he doing on Sunday ? Laying in bed most of the day. He came downstairs two or three times to have a smoke. Did he have anything to eat? No, only a drink of cocoa. When did you last see him alive ? Just turned half-past six at night. Where was he then? Upstairs, laid on the bed, partly dressed. He asked me where I was going (he saw that I had clothes on ready for going out), and I told him I was going to his daughter’s house. Did he seem cheerful? No, he was very quiet all day. And then you went out? Yes. I locked the house door and went out, and got back at half-post seven. And what did you find? l shouted Are you coming downstairs? but there was no reply. Then I called out again, but he did not answer, so I went to the bottom of the stairs, and saw bis legs hanging down the staircase, and I ran out for help. Who cut the body down? Mr. Hanbury came in first. But your husband was quite dead, I suppose? Yes, sir. Had you had any trouble? Well, he had had bit of bother in the public house with man on Saturday night, and the man threatened to summon him, and sent him a letter. That seemed to prey on his mind. Had he ever threatened anything of this kind? No, sir. Has he ever been in an asylum ? No, sir. Or any of his relatives? Not to my knowledge. Have any of his relatives committed suicide? Yes, his father committed suicide. At about the same age, wasn’t it?Well, I think so. The Foreman: Hadn’t he a daughter who committed suicide? Yes, his last wife did also. John Hanbury, an out-door labourer, of 15, Myrtle-street, Todmorden, said be knew deceased. Coroner. l was just coming out of my lodgings on Sunday evening about half-past seven when I met Mrs. Gibson. She said her husband was trying to hang himself. I ran to the house and found him hanging in the staircase. The Coroner, in summing up, said he presumed the jury had no doubt deceased hung himself. The next question they ‘had to decide was whether there was sufficient evidence to show what was the deceased?s condition of mind. He was bound to say that in great many of the cases which had to investigate either some of the relations had been insane or had committed suicide. When they found there had been two or three suicides in family it was certainly some evidence that there was strain of insanity in that family; and doctors had found that in the case of such families a suicidal tendency showed itself at a certain age. Were the members of the jury satisfied deceased hung himself, and was there sufficient evidence to determine the state of his mind at the time. The Foreman said he thought there was little doubt that deceased was temporarily insane. His wife said had received a threatening letter which preyed on his mind somewhat. The Coroner: Yes, but the same time a letter of that kind would not upset the reason of man with thoroughly sound mind. A unanimous verdict was returned to the effect that deceased committed suicide whilst of unsound mind.

Scarborough, here I come

Day 1, Scarborough

I’m sitting in the restaurant of The Grand Hotel, Scarborough, with a perfect view out to sea with Scarborough castle perched on the cliff top beyond the harbour.

The impressive looking Grand Hotel

At least the trains were on time today AND the taxi turned up so I arrived in Scarborough on time, right at 2 p.m. Even though it was well before noon when I set off my fellow travellers were already in party mood, and I thought back to my train journey through Scotland just 2 days ago where it is illegal to consume alcohol on trains, something I wasn’t aware of.

Fellow travellers bound for Leeds

I knew that checkin at the hotel wasn’t until 4 p.m. and according to their email this was ‘strictly enforced.’ As I was in the process of booking my stay I’d briefly noticed a video on YouTube describing the hotel as ‘The worst rated in Europe?’ and I dismissed it as another crank’s hyperbole, but it had mentioned that the lines for checkin can be over an hour long, both with the high number of guests and the gross incompetence of the staff. So I decided to take my time and I found a handy shoe store on my walk through town since last week in Stonehaven the strap had broken on my beloved Jambou sandals and was irreparable. The main street was busy, busy, busy and I had to pick my way around push chairs, dogs, toddlers on reins and mobility scooters as I wound my way to the hotel. It was only just gone 3 o’clock but my backpack was too heavy to cart around and sight see. The building is impressive to say the least. As are the list of previous guests: Frederick Delius, Gracie Fields and The Beatles, along with Sir Winston Churchill, Edward Vlll and Ramsay MacDonald, England’s first labour prime minister. And, if the Daily Express is to be believed ‘ADOLF HITLER dreamed of converting a seaside hotel into his personal palace if he had invaded Britain. The fuhrer planned to hold court at the spectacular Grand Hotel in Scarborough which towers over the North Yorkshire resort’s Golden Mile.’

There were three receptionists at the checkin desk and just one person in front of me. I waited 20 minutes and then I was called to the desk. Everything was going along nicely. He assured me that my room was ready and suddenly a supervisor appeared and announced a change of shift. Even though the receptionist was halfway through checking me in he had to stop and I waited for another person to log in to the computer, find where my booking information was and eventually complete the transaction. My room was on the fifth floor which was fortunate because that’s as high as the lift goes. I hadn’t paid extra for a sea view but I had paid extra for a window! There are many rooms named ‘city rooms’ without windows if you can believe that! It was already quite warm in my room with its west facing aspect so I went over to the window to open it.

View through my window

Couldn’t. I immediately had visions of me roasting alive since the temperature was expected to reach 90F – or more. Hmm.

15 minutes after setting foot in my room I went off to start exploring the town – that’s so ‘me’ when I’m travelling. As I waited for the lift an employee was waiting too. “I can’t seem to open my window,” I began. “They all open,” he replied. “Can you show me how?” I felt as if I’d just turned into Emma Thompson in the movie I saw last week ‘Leo Grand’ so I took him back to my room and he worked his magic, and in moments the window was open to its full 6” capacity.

I made my grand entry into the lobby down the majestic staircase, designed specifically so that two ladies wearing crinoline dresses could pass with their escorts without impediment, and headed for the terrace, overlooking the sea.

Seagull poop is a major problem here, along with their shrill cries and propensity to want to come and eat or drink anything you have in your hand. In fact, the entire town has a major seagull problem and signs keep reminding people not to feed the birds, even at tuppence a bag, but I saw many people doing just that.

My bird’s eye view from the terrace

Each morning I would see someone with a giant hose pipe hosing down all the exterior flat surfaces to keep fresh poop from setting hard.

Man with giant hose

As I sat there watching the birds’ antics I began to differentiate the swooping calls of certain birds and then I heard little tweets and looked up at the amazing brick facade of the building above me. At the time of its construction this was the largest brick building in Europe, and the largest hotel in Europe.

It was designed by Cuthbert Broderick who designed the grand edifice of Leeds Town Hall and in whose memory I have been known to raise a glass at the nearby Wetherspoons, named after him. Cuthbert paid amazing attention to detail. The intricate moulding around the rounded arched windows is beautiful. He even personally designed the metal downspouts.

Attention to detail

This evening, perched above many of the windows were nests, and the fluffy baby seagulls were tweeting to their parents “It’s tea-time, mummy.”

Leaving the hotel I took the steps at the side, running the length of the Victorian funicular railway, leading down the cliff to the beach. Known as ‘seagull’ alley the steps were deep in white guano. The road along the seafront was packed with people, most of them with young children, eating fish and chips and queuing at the fresh seafood stalls. The beach was a mass of people, some with beach umbrellas but many, many people in as few clothes as possible getting burned by the intense sun but women in saris seemed to have the best idea with loose fitting clothing but with all skin covered, especially those wearing burkas.

On hearing that I was bound for the seaside my morning taxi driver from Islamabad had recounted his recent visit to Turkey with his caucasian girlfriend who insisted in getting as tanned as possible. “In Pakistan we cover up when the sun is strong,” he called. “She cried all the next day because the burns hurt so much.”

Fried human
I was tempted but I didn’t!

I passed Scarborough fair full of screaming children enjoying the rides and headed towards the lighthouse which was less densely populated affording me great views of the castle and the bay, entire dominated by the Grand Hotel. Colourful tourist boats vied for position with the fishing boats and the two arms of the jetty were packed with prawn creels – all very picturesque.

By 6 o’clock I was back in my room, and after checking that the tv remote was present, and that the tv worked, and that the shower worked, I set off to find dinner. I’d booked dinner at the hotel (by accident) and I soon regretted it, although I hadn’t seen any places to eat dinner part from fish and chip stalls so far.

The Grand Hotel dominates the view

The dining room was absolutely enormous capable of seating several hundred people but there were only about 20 people having dinner. I had to show my room key to the receptionist who told me I could sit anywhere. I sat down at a table by the window and waited to be served – and waited, and waited. Eventually I went back to the check-in desk. A different receptionist looked up from her desk which I noticed had an interesting sign attached – on her side of the counter!

Sign attached to the dining room receptionist’s desk

“Oh, didn’t she tell you? You serve yourself from the buffet table.” Got it.

Just one half of the dining room

It was a hot buffet. Just what you need when it’s the hottest day of the year. The serving spoons in the dishes of macaroni cheese, breaded pollock and roast pork slices had heated up under the heat lamps to the point where I was in serious danger of burning my hands if I used them. All the food had been sitting there for 2 hours under these heat lamps and there was only one cold dish – lettuce and cucumber slices. Dessert proved to be somewhat better with cool cheese cake available in several different flavours. The glasses for water were so tiny I had to go and refill mine 4 times during my meal. Coffee (instant) and tea were served in the lounge.

The exterior of the dining room – such a contrast from the interior

After this wonderful experience I took a walk to the south side of the bay passing the original spa building which was what sparked off the development of Scarborough as a town for wealthy tourists rather than just a fishing community. Adjacent to the building is an outside area with deck chairs and a bandstand that I’d seen on my previous visit to Scarborough in 2018 when I’d taken a special excursion steam train direct from Hebden Bridge.

An attractive sea wall close to the Spa

A notice drew my attention. The Spa Orchestra was giving an outdoor performance here tomorrow morning at 11 o’clock. What fun it would be to sit in a deck chair, open to the elements, overlooking the sea listening to the orchestra in the covered bandstand. Farther along the promenade the seafront wall was edged with local rock, wonderfully weathered.

I returned to the hotel via the blue bridge that was constructed to allow access to the Spa from the rest of the town and my passage was accompanied by very persistent seagulls. I poked my nose into the cabaret taking place in the ballroom. As the website states: ‘LIVE entertainment is available every night in the hotel’s stunning ballroom, with dazzling cabaret shows featuring professional dancers and entertainers dressed in stunning costumes.’ Here a solitary singer was singing to a backing track while a grandad entertained his grandchildren on the dance floor.

Cabaret anyone?

I purchased a booklet about the history of the hotel from the front desk and retired to the almost empty lounge for my ‘happy hour,’ reading about the history of the building and writing my journal.

Poo steps

Day 2

I slept remarkably well considering the thinness of the walls and the screeching of the seagulls through my open window. My breakfast companions were a group of heavily tattooed Belgian motorcyclists on one side and a table with two mums and five children under the age of three. One of the little ones had a piercing scream which she used to good effect and even when she had been whisked off out of the restaurant her cries could be heard from the level above. Going back to my room there were two men in the lift when we were joined at the next floor by a woman in uniform. “Yer work ‘ere, luv?” one of them asked her. “Yes.” “Well it’s raining in our room, pourin’ in through t’ ceiling. ‘Ere, look. A’ve taken a video,” and he pulled out his phone to show his movie. Well. I had woken up to strong winds, rain and heavy clouds which had completely taken me by surprise.

Enjoying theSpa orchestra

I called the Spa to find out if the outdoor concert would still be held outside. I wasn’t interested in attending if it had been moved indoors because of the rain – I wanted the experience the special ambiance of the outdoor setting. I was assured that since it had now stopped raining the concert would go ahead in the courtyard so I made my way down to the Spa. There was a small coffee stand in the Sun Court and a long line beside it. There was one person making the tea and coffee and dealing with the money. Coffee? I can’t honour the bitter brown drink that I was served with by that name. Hot water had been poured on the contents of the sachet of instant brown stuff that passes for coffee in many establishments in England. Ugh! Anyway, I found a comfy looking deck chair and plonked myself down to relax beneath the racing clouds.

Although the repertoire wasn’t my cup of tea (more like the coffee) the standard of performance was excellent, many of the instrumentalists doubling up on a second instrument. The orchestra consisted of ten members and the director who had a degree from York University. It’s the last remaining professional seaside orchestra in the country and performs 8 concerts a week during the ten week season. Although almost without exception the audience were grey haired the orchestra were definitely not. In fact, the trombonist appeared to be in his mid twenties. The concert finished at 12:30 and then I followed my plan of catching the bus and spending the afternoon in Robin Hood’s Bay. The bus ride took 50 minutes mostly through rolling countryside where the corn, oats and barley were golden in the sunshine which had made its appearance during the concert. The heather on the open moorland was just beginning to show its purple colouration. I hadn’t been to Robin Hood’s Bay since hiking 39 miles of the Cleveland Way from Saltburn to Scarborough in 1982. I saw a sign pot for Boggle Hole youth hostel where we had stayed.

I was here -at this very spot in 1982, heading to Boggle Hole Youth Hostel

The village is also the starting/ending point of the famous Wainwright’s Coast to Coast footpath, 117 miles of which I hiked, beginning at Richmond and ending at St Bees. Since we were hiking both to and from the village I hadn’t remembered that there is no traffic allowed in the village – or perhaps there was when I went before, but the bus stopped at the top of the village in a large car park with toilets available. I popped in to use the facilities but popped out again immediately. You needed two 20p coins to access the facilities and I didn’t have a single coin in my purse. Fortunately I soon found someone to give me change. I thought pay toilets were a thing of the past.

Suitably refreshed I set off down the one street that leads to the sea. It’s so steep in many places that steps have been put adjacent to the road to assist the heavy foot traffic, and busy the village was.

In its terrain it is similar to Hebden Bridge but with its golden stone and picturesque bolt holes the village has a much prettier feel to it – less Yorkshire Grit, more Yorkshire colour. I recently watched a travel program about the village’s history and the bolt holes were escape routes and places of hiding for the pirates who made this almost hidden village their headquarters. These side streets were wonderful with their nooks and crannies, buildings on top of other buildings, covered passageways and tiny well kept gardens in full bloom at the moment. If you look up Robin Hood’s Bay on the web you are confronted with page upon page of Holiday Lets. A very small proportion of the houses are owner occupied but there are some interesting tourist shops and lovely pubs.

I took a look in the dinosaur ‘museum’ which, alongside the dinosaur skeletons has fossils to purchase. I bought another ammonite necklace in honour of my ancestor, Samuel Gibson, (1793-1849) a notable fossil collector from Hebden Bridge whose fossil collection I have been to see in the back rooms of the Manchester Museum. He lived for a while in Mytholmroyd, keeping a pub in which were displayed his collections. I had to clarify with the shopkeeper that this was a genuine ammonite fossil since it was only £1. And them I just had to buy a lapis lazuli bracelet, £6, and two more stone bracelets.

From one of the little shops I bought a fresh crab sandwich and wound my way down to the beach at found a spot on the cliff wall to sit and eat my picnic.

Hmm, I wonder what these are in the sea wall

I didn’t realise it at the time that a tunnel from my sitting spot into the cliff wall was actually a smugglers’ tunnel leading to one of the tiny streets with the cottages so that the smugglers could take their goods directly from the boats to their homes. I took off my new shoes and paddled through a few rock pools, got an ice cream from the van parked on the sand and then an iced latte.

Yum Yum

On the way back up I explored the mosaics on the cliff wall and then headed up to the bus stop at the top of the village. I didn’t have long to wait and in 50 minutes I was back in Scarborough, the view having been better from the upper deck of a double decker.

I spent an hour or so wandering around the town, suddenly seeing a hotel whose name seemed familiar – the Falcon Inn. It looked closed up but the front door sported a handwritten sign saying ‘Please ring the bell for service. Don’t knock.’ well, I tried but no service appeared. It looked abandoned but some of the windows were open. I asked a couple of my taxi drivers but they didn’t seem to have heard of it despite it being quite a large establishment. one of my ancestors, Stansfield Gibson married, in 1901, as his fourth wife the widow of the man who kept this hotel. His story can be found on another post in my blog.

The Falcon Hotel

Eventually I took up temporary residence at an outside table at the King Richard lll inn, and spent an hour people watching. As the pub’s website says: ‘We take our name from THE King Richard III! It has long been believed Richard III stayed in the Grade I listed building whilst on naval business in Scarborough back in the 1400s.’ Some of today’s people’s summer outfits were stunning. Back in the hotel I had a quick shower, chatted to Anna from the terrace about how her new job is going, being serenaded by the seagulls throughout our conversation

Serenading seagulls

and headed to the hotel restaurant for dinner. After writing my journal in the bar I headed off to my room by 9:30 and watched a couple of quiz shows on tv before switching out the light.

Day 3.

On waking up next morning I was relieved to find a coolish breeze issuing from my open window. I watched a YouTube video about the history of my current residence, and after breakfast took a little stroll into town to judge the severity of the heat since the government’s extreme red alert health warning was still in place. The highest temperature ever recorded in England would be today, 104F which was why I had selected Scarborough as my destination, where it was only predicted to reach 80F. And, oh yes, I bought another pair of sandals from the same shop since the blisters I incurred yesterday were very painful. All three of my Jambou sandals have worn out and my only remaining pair of sandals are on their last legs.

Enjoying a paddle in the North Sea

Back in the hotel I set off to explore the ‘hidden’ rooms- the premier restaurant, the cricket room and a couple of completely empty lounges with furniture that looks as if it’s never been sat in. My attempts to call a taxi from the free taxi phone in the foyer took a while but I eventually got a response and so after an iced frappe and a poppy seed muffin in the

At the Cat’s Pyjamas. Could I order fried man on toast?

courtyard of The Cat’s Pyjamas I got the taxi to take me to Peasholme Park from where I could hop on a miniature railway to take me to Scalby Mill,

The engine on the turntable at the end of the track

Abandoned carriage

reminding me of the little railway I took with Anna in the Bois de Boulogne on my last trip abroad before Lockdown. The ride was only ten minutes long but I saw the extent of the park with its boating lakes full of dinosaur boats – certainly a place worth exploring on a cooler day.

The dinosaur boats looked like lots of fun

I took a little wander around the north bay with the same view of the castle we had when we were just completing our Cleveland Way hike. I thought about going to Sea Life aquatic centre but many of the animals are outdoors. In normal circumstances I’d have walked back along the beach into town passing the brightly coloured beach huts and climbed up the cliff to the castle and the church where Ann Bronte is buried but with such heat I didn’t think that would be wise.

Sign at the entrance of the Grand Hotel

So I walked back to the little railway station and waited for the train in a covered area serenaded by birds nesting on the ledges above me. I had a hot dog (ha!) in the park but it was just too hot to explore the park though I did pass the giant outdoor arena seating 8000 where big names were being advertised. I was surprised to see Simply Red are appearing there this month and also George Ezra, two of my favourite acts. Built in the 1930s and revamped in 2010 it has played host to Elton John, Brittany Spears and Noel Gallagher.

Open air theatre and boating lake

Back in town I tried to book a two hour boat trip to Whitby passing Robin Hood’s Bay but despite the heat, it was currently 85F, apparently there was too strong a wind out at sea to run the trip, so I settled for a short half hour sail around the harbour. As people boarded the little boat I really felt like Jacques from As You Like It- an observer rather than a participant. The volume at which many of the people speak to each other (with no alcohol involved), and the yells and screams every time the boat swayed or bounced over the wake that the speed boat in front of us made me cringe. They were so intent on taking selfies too. Of course I was the only person of the 20 of us on board traveling alone which gave me the opportunity to watch the British, mostly Yorkshire folk, at play. One man looked remarkably like Mark Twain!

The ship’s mate pointed out the headland of Filey Brigg to the South and we could just make out Flamborough Head beyond. As the boat turned and headed back north into the harbour I found it quite incredible to think that I’d walked the entirety of the cliffs in front of us.

From the boat

On the way back to the hotel I wandered around the Bolts, the back streets of what is left of the fishing village of Scarborough, providing me with my daily fix of abandoned doorways and rusting bannisters on well-worn staircases connecting the old streets, here all encrusted with guano.

Dinner in the dining room was a very hot, gloomy, uncomfortable affair since the management had closed all the windows and drawn the heavy curtains in a vain attempt to stop the heat getting in. A hot buffet was just what I needed for dinner 🙁 Back in my room I was treated to a lovely golden sunset.

Sunset from my room

Day 4

The weather forecast was for it to be the hottest day ever recorded in England, and the met office got it absolutely right. While the temperature in Hebden Bridge was forecast to be 98F

I was to enjoy the comparative cool of 89F in Scarborough. So faced with the prospect of a considerable hiked up to the castle so I plumped for an hour’s bus ride hoping that the open windows of the bus would give me some semblance of a breeze. Bridlington’s high was predicted to be a mere 76F .

Riders of the bus – with apologies to The Doors

The bus wound its way through the Yorkshire Wolds through loads of caravan sites! These vast places were something else with their own bus stops (sometimes 2, so extensive were the sites), boating lakes, playgrounds, indoors sports dome, supermarket, fishing lakes, and at one I even saw a tractor pulling a train taking residents of the park up from the beach since all the caravans are perched on the cliff tops.

The most famous of these sites is The Blue Dolphin with 350 sites for touring caravans and tents and 1000 static caravan, and this was just one of the sites the bus drove through.

I’d never been to Bridlington before and I’d imagined it as a fishing town so I was expecting an industrial town centred around an active fishing industry. No way! The place is a Mecca for tourists with its huge bay and welcoming sands, fish and chip shops in every second building – not what I expected at all. My first stop was a stroll around the harbour and an iced coffee at Tilly’s coffee shop, the name of my kitty.

Every shade of blue imaginable

Many of the boat tours had been cancelled due to the strong south east winds causing rough sea conditions further out to sea than I could see. I watched a pirate ship, complete with its Jolly Roger flag sail from the dock but it was only a 15 minute ride.

After picking up a seafood platter at one of the ubiquitous seafood shops I found one of the few benches in the shade. I’d just sat down to eat when I found myself looking at a dead seagull chick in a shop doorway. The ladies on the next bench told me they’d heard it fall late last night (!?).

I decided to walk along the South Promenade. It sounded so grand, and indeed, there was a Spa that’s now a theatre. Various water features were scattered along my route, pools in full use and an artificial water course for paddling on concrete. I selected to go for a paddle in the sea and its coolness was very much appreciated. At one point I was passed by a land train and every so far a train logo was painted on the promenade, so despite the heat I thought I’d walk the full length of the promenade knowing I could take the land train back into town. It ran every 20 minutes so when I’d had enough walking I sat on a bench and waited for the train at the next painted logo. I stuck out my hand as the train approached. It slowed down. It stopped. The driver leaned out of his cab. “I can’t pick you up. The nearest place to get on the rain is a mile further along, at the Spa.” I pointed to the logo painted on the promenade. “Oh, that’s just to warn people to beware of the train. Sorry luv.”

With heavier steps I headed back into town and made my way to the bus station which wasn’t easy since it’s in a residential neighbourhood and completely surrounded on all sides by Victorian terraced houses.

I couldn’t decide whether or not to break my journey at Filey on the way back. I’d only ever been there once and that’s when I was 6 years old and I went with my dad for a week at Butlins holiday camp. My mum wouldn’t go. Very odd. I think she thought Butlins was “common.” Knowing I’d be in the vicinity I’d watched a YouTube video about the old camp. It closed down many years ago, its station, where I suppose we must have arrived, abandoned and houses built on the site. I also found out that Butlins had once owned the Grand Hotel where I was staying. Anyway, I thought I’d give it a whirl so I got off the bus at Filey bus station and found my way down the steep hill to the beach. Nothing much attracted my attention, or maybe I was just hot and tired. I’d no recollection of going in the sea but I did find a photo proving that I did, all those years ago.

At Filey in 2022

Age 6 at Filey

I didn’t stay very long. I got the bus back to Scarborough and relaxed on the terrace with “Enduring Love’ my chosen book for this trip. Again the restaurant was really too hot for me to eat in and I asked the receptionist if I could take my dinner out onto the terrace. She replied that she didn’t know what the rule was about that. “Well, I’ll just do it and see what happens,” I replied. I filled my plate with food that had been sitting under the hot lights for over 2 hours, covered it with another plate and headed onto the terrace. It must have been 20F cooler there but I did have to recover my plate with the spare plate immediately between every bite otherwise the seagulls would have whisked every morsel away.

I had very little packing to do, mainly the two pairs of new shoes I had purchased. Next morning I took at taxi back to the railway station and had an uneventful journey back to Hebden Bridge.

Lifeboat activity

Stoneshey Gate

It was a Winnie the Pooh day, blustery, with a distinct promise of rain,  as I set off to visit Stonesheygate, on Widdop Road. It was apt that I wearing my new hat, which arrived yesterday, a birthday present from Rachel. Apparently it had been sitting in the post office for several weeks and last night Rachel had apologized for it being ‘unseasonable.’ However, as I braved the open moors on Widdop Road I could envisage similar winds battering the slopes of Mt Everest. My new beanie was from Peter Hilary’s new range of high end outdoor wear and this was a very special present from Rachel because  a couple of years ago Rachel had gone to Everest with Peter Hillary, the son of Sir Edmund!

I’m still on my pilgrimage to visit as many houses where my ancestors lived as I can during this crazy summer. I think I’m over the 100 mark at the moment, and all within either walking distance, or a 5 minute bus ride.

Stoneshey Gate

In 1891 John Sunderland,  1826-1903, was the 65 year old  head of one of 4 families living at Stoneshey Gate. He was the  great-grandfather of  the wife of my 3rd cousin 2x removed. (I’m so glad that Ancestry.com figures that out!). Only 5 minutes walk past Slack Baptist church (you can’t beat that name) I came to a collection of cottages marked Stoneshey Gate, adjacent to a very grand looking building which I late found out has a datestone of 1794 and is Grade ll listed building.

I

Kate Lycett’s painting of Stoneshey gate

It wasn’t easy to get a good photo from the road since the house is screened by rhododendron bushes, today in full flower, though being severely battered by the wind gusts. But I spied a footpath sign that led to a very narrow stone paved track past the back of the building, appearing to disappear into shrubbery leading steeply down to Hardcastle Crags and from there I saw what an imposing building this is.

The side overlooking Hardcastle Crags

It’s perched on top of the ridge above the valley below where Abraham Gibson had built his mill, now THE local tourist destination. Abraham Gibson, who  had donated Gibson Mill to the National Trust, had lived at Greenwood Lee, just a few minutes’ walk from Stoneshey Gate and a couple of years ago I was given a grand tour of the building and grounds, complete with peacocks, because it was up for sale. Two years later it still is. See previous blog which caused the son of the current owner to contact me. http://blog.hmcreativelady.com/2018/03/05/my-story-of-greenwood-lee/#comment-1226

Greenwood Lee, once the home of Abraham Gibson

Indeed, I found a business connection between the two men:  19 December 1884 Between Abraham Gibson of Greenwood Lee (The Liquidator of the Colden Cotton and Commercial Co Ltd in voluntary liquidation) vendor and Gamaliel Sutcliffe of Stoneshay Gate cotton manufacturer, William Gibson of Stoneshay Gate cotton manufacturer, William Mitchell Sutcliffe of Heptonstall Grocer, purchasers – agreement on sale and purchase of the Company’s Estate and Effects. Recently burnt down mill called Jack Bridge Mill and the remains thereof with the Weaving Shed, Warehouse buildings cottages engine house engines boilers shafting mill gear and millwright work etc. Gameliel Sutcliffe married Susannah, daughter of Abraham Gibson of Greenwood Lee – virtually next door neighbours.

The view over the valley of Hardcastle Crags is fantastic and above the valley is Shackleton Hill, with the small hamlet of Shackleton barely managing to cling to its position halfway up the ‘mountain.’ Last month I climbed up to Shackleton and was rewarded  with views across to Slack and Widdop Road where I was now standing.

View across the valley to Stoneshey gate from Shackleton

According to the 1891 census Stoneshey was occupied by four households: two farmers, (one being my John Sunderland), a coachman and a widowed housekeeper. Yet on the electoral roll of 1894 both Gameliel Sutcliffe and John Sunderland are listed as living at Stoneshey, and qualify to vote as ‘Land and tenament’.

In 1891 John was 65, his wife Grace, 61 and his daughter Susannah, 32. By 1901 John is a widower, still living with his daughter but they have moved to ‘New Houses’ where John is listed as a retired farmer and his daughter Susannah, now 41, has been lured by the industrial age and is now a machinist in a fustian factory. I wonder where? New Houses is a small terrace set close to and beneath the road, with a row of outhouses across the street, some of which are numbered to show which cottage they belong to. No wonder people used potties for calls of nature in the middle of the night, especially in a raging storm.

Outhouses

A lady had just driven up to the cottages and was walking to her door. I explained my presence and they fact that I was taking photos but she hurried indoors. I didn’t realise until I got home that this terrace was originally called New Houses because the sign on the terrace today says Craggside.

New Houses

So what about John’s earlier life?  John had married Grace Crabtree in 1849 at Heptonstall church. At that time he was living at Hawdon Hole, where my friends Freda and Chris live and which I’ve had the good fortune to visit and see inside. He was an overlooker and the following year he was still an overlooker but is now living on Smithwell Lane which extends from the centre of Heptonstall towards Jack Bridge. Their son Abraham was born the following year, with Eliza, James and Susannah following in quick succession. James died at the age of 4. From 1861-1881 the family remained living on Smithwell Lane and John was a cotton throstle overlooker. This was someone who supervised the throstle doffers! Throstle doffers would removed the full bobbins from the cotton spinning machines and replace them with empty ones. What a contrast to become a farmer – even though Stonesheygate was no more than 10 minutes walk away. I wonder what prompted that decision. John died in 1903  at the grand old age, at that time, of 77 and he’s buried at Heptonstall church. His wife Grace had died 5 years before him. Two years after her father died Susannah married John Helliwell, a widower,  at the ripe old age of 47 – most unusual. John, a stone mason,  was living at New Houses at the time of his marriage and Susannah had moved to Acre farm.  They set up house together at New Houses, most likely in John’s  home and 1920 finds her at 5 Knowl top.  They are all buried at the Baptist cemetery at Slack.

Slack chapel

As I researched the buildings at Stoneshey Gate the following morning I came, quite by chance, upon a document that had been sent to me by James Moss last month. His father had spent years at Halifax library reading the Hebden Bridge Times and Halifax Courier picking out pertinent stories. James wrote, “We used to pull his leg that it was a perfect hobby, sitting in a library reading the newspaper. I suspect it can be done by electronic word search but then he went through it page by page. When I was working from Halifax Police Station I occasionally called in the Library and the staff remembered him as ‘the toffee man’ because he always had toffees with him and would always offer the staff one.”

Octagonal rear of the chapel. I could easily mistake this for Heptonstall Methodist chapel

One of these articles mentioned Stoneshey Gate as being the residence of Gameliel Sutcliffe, a man of some importance, so, of course, that set me off on a whole new direction and many more hours of ‘diggin.’  I knew that Sutcliffe was a very prolific name in the Heptonstall area. There’s a large area in the cemetery surrounded by an elaborate wrought iron fence containing many Sutcliffe tombstones, and I’d seen a few of ‘my’ family marry Sutcliffes but I’d never pursued that link of research because I knew that it would be too overwhelming and confusing. But in Stoneshey gate I have not a family member, but a Sutcliffe who was living at the property at the same time as John Sunderland. If the date stone on the building is correct, sometimes they can be marking a rebuild or an extension, the property appears to have been built for Gamwell Sutcliffe 1718-1803 since he was born at Lee, Heptonstall and his family moved to Stoneshey Gate. He was obviously a man of some substance for he is recorded as overseer of the poor in Heptonstall, a person who responsible for the relief of poor people in the township. He also is recorded as having occupied Rooms 20 and 21 in the Colonnade gallery of the Piece hall in Halifax in 1787 one of 320 people listed in the newly built cloth hall which had opened 8 years previously. His son,  Gamaliel, 1750-1840, lived at Stoneshey Gate and is listed as a stuff manufacturer. On the Power in the Landscape website I found the following: 1789 DRAFT BOND OF INDEMNITY dated 30th September 1789 – Robert Thomas of Blackshaw Royd in Stansfield, p. Halifax gentleman only surviving brother and heir of Richard Thomas, late of same, gentleman deceased who died intestate) to Gamwell Sutcliffe of Heptonstall p. Halifax, gentleman.
The said Gamwell Sutcliffe has contracted to buy a messuage with buildings closes etc. called Stoneshay Gate within Heptonstall for the sum of £700 now in occupation of said Gamwell Sutcliffe.
And whereas John Thomas the eldest brother of said Richard Thomas went abroad, beyond seas (as supposed) about 40 years ago and hath never since been heard of but no certain proof can be found of his death. Hebden Bridge Lit Sci Society.

On your horse!

He made his will in 1803 and is buried at Heptonstall Church in the old church in the nave. Gamaliel, 1750-1840 was member of a committee supporting those affected by the Luddites. On Wednesday, 12th May 1813, James Knight, Constable of Halifax, chaired a Meeting of a numerous and highly respectable Public Meeting of Inhabitants of the Town and Parish of Halifax, called by the Constables of Halifax, to take into Consideration the Services of those Gentleman who so meritoriously exerted themselves during the late Luddite disturbances in the West Riding of the County of York, at the White Lion Inn Halifax. In the early 1790s he built Bob Mill, Lower Colden and in 1800 he built the two Lumb Mills. Another member of the family confusing also called Gameliel Sutcliffe (!), the son of George Sutcliffe had owned Brearley Hall in 1920 and had travelled to Australia and America and wrote journals of his travels. It was THIS Gamaliel Sutcliffe that James Moss’s father had mentioned in his articles from Halifax library.

Lumb Mill on Hudson Mill Road

In 1927 another Gamaliel Sutcliffe of Stonesheygate died in the house in unfortunate circumstances. A two column article in the newspaper detailed his death, his standing in the community and lists the mourners at his funeral. He had been a Justice of the Peace for 40 years,a supporter and regular attender at Heptonstall church and it was he that had donated the land which is now name the ‘new’ cemetery, and paid for its enclosure by a “substantial stone fence and massive gates at considerable cost. He was always ‘good company’ with his numerous reminiscences of his travels abroad.” Apparently he wrote a journal of his travels, even venturing as far as Australia but I haven’t located it – yet.

Another interesting reference to Stoneshey gate was its connection with John Wesley, the founder of the Methodists.  On 24th May (which just happens to be my birthday)  1738, he experienced a religious awakening – which he referred to as feeling his heart strangely warmed – and which profoundly changed his life. His brother, Charles, had experienced the same spiritual conversion just 3 days earlier. In 1747, he visited the Upper Calder Valley for the first time at the request of William Darney. He preached at Stoneshey Gate on  5th May 1747,  The crowd were gathered in the yard at the house and others sat on a wall. During the sermon, the wall collapsed and all fell down at once. The people just sat where they fell and continued to listen to Wesley’s sermon. In 1764 the Heptonstall methodist chapel opened constructed to an octagonal plan that Wesley himself had suggested.  The first octagon was Norwich in 1757, followed by Rotherham in 1761, Whitby in 1762 and Heptonstall in 1764. Wesley said: “All our houses should be of this shape if the ground allow.”
Local historians Chapman and Turner later wrote: “Wesley had obviously been impressed by the roof at the Rotherham Octagon, he had the same man construct the roof in Heptonstall. The sections were brought by the most direct, though hazardous, road over Mount Skip, the people meeting the procession of pack horses and singing hymns of joy. Men and women laboured with their hands to build the chapel with the most primitive of tools.”

Kate Lycett, a wonderful artist who currently lives in a building in the centre of Hebden Bridge that once was the Bull Inn where my ancestor, Joshua Gibson was landlord, has done a painting of Stoneshey Gate showing its view overlooking the valley of Hardcastle Crags.

And just think . .  . 24 hours ago all I knew of the place was an entry on my excel spreadsheet with  name Stoneshey Gate and the name of a distant ancestor who had lived there  on the census map of  1891. Unfortunately – or perhaps fortunately, I currently have 235 dwellings on that spreadsheet!!! Over 200 are within walking distance or a 10 minute bus ride.

Of Dale House and Higgin House – and the Butterworths

Ezra Butterworth

Two days ago I was thrilled to find a blog which mentioned Scammerton, Pry  and Erringden Grange farms, all farms that had been lived in at various times by one or more of my ancestors. https://landscapestory.co.uk/2020/04/27/april-spring-solace/Like me the writer records chatting to the current farmers. Not only that but the blog was really well written and was obviously the work of someone who is inspired and enthralled by the landscape of this area as much as I am. As I read further I found that to my amazement he visited the ruins of one farm, Dale, even having a picnic in what had once been the living room and when he got back home he went on Ancestry and found out who was living there in 1851: my ancestor, Thomas Butterworth! Now I’d had a few excursions onto this hillside, primarily to look at Winters, a tiny settlement where one of my ancestors had kept a beerhouse, and I knew from old maps where Dale was located, but it wasn’t clear how to get there. Although paths are marked on old maps I have no idea how steep they are, whether they are still in use, whether I need to climb stiles, or walls, or whether they consist of vertical stairways. )

So today off I went armed with current maps, old maps – and a picnic. When I boarded the bus to Blackshaw head the driver asked, “Do you live there? We’re not taking walkers, you know.” Well, no, I didn’t know that, and I’m still not sure that’s the official line, but I was one of two passengers on the bus so it was hardly crowded.

I headed off down Marsh Lane, knowing that led down to Winters and once in the little hamlet I found a diagonal track going steeply towards Dale – in fact, it was so steep and slippery with dry sandy soil that I did a few Heather specials – sitting down and sliding down the path on my rear end. The view across the valley was lovely and for the first time I notice the bulge of Erringden  Moor between me and Stoodley Pike. It almost looked like a glacial drumlin. I knew from the map that this path was only about half a mile but its steepness made it seem much longer. I was too scared of losing my footing and dropping my phone to take photos of the path but I saw a tiny building on my left that I recognized from the Charlestown history site. It appears to be an outside loo with a stream running through it.


This building pictured above is referred to as the Cludgie (name for a toilet), but we are unsure what its original use was. The person on the photo was known as ‘owd Betsy who lived in the cottages.

And then suddenly another path crossed me hugging the contour of the hill and there was Dale – within an arm’s distance. The outside walls of the farm was about 3 ft high and the fireplace and some stone shelving was pretty intact. I welcomed a sit down on the wall after taking photos and was just contemplating setting up my phone for a distanced selfie when someone appeared on the path.

I asked her which was the least steep road back down into the valley and she told me about a set of steps that go all the way down after crossing a little wooden bridge. She seemed in no hurry and so I told her of my reason for visiting the site, how I’d found a blog about it. “Oh, that’s probably Paul’s” she responded. She lives in the valley and had great knowledge about local history resources. She even took my photo and emailed it to me so I didn’t have to bother with the distanced selfie!

Bridge over Dale clough

Finishing my picnic I followed her directions and crossed the wooden bridge over Dale Clough and the stairs awaited me.

At the top of the stairs was another ruined building, Higgin House and I stopped to take a couple of photos but it was impossible to step within its walls because it’s completely overgrown by large trees. Then I tackled the steps. From looking at contour maps it would seem that they ran vertically for almost 500 ft, but fortunately for much of the time there was either a wall, or an iron railing to steady myself.

The way down

As I eventually reached level ground I found myself at Knott Hall which I’d ‘discovered’ a few weeks ago from another path. I followed Oakville Road, avoiding the main road and retracing my steps from 2 days ago. I knew that a row of terraced houses here once housed a non-alcoholic brewery in the cellar. It was owned by Billy Holt’s father. I’d reread Billy Holt’s autobiography during the lockdown. He had once lived at Hawdon Hall and the current owners of that place that given me the book as a birthday present last year. Small world! I’d wondered which house had been the brewery. At that moment a lady came from round the back of the cottages so I asked her if she knew the answer to my question. She pointed to a separate cottage and told me that the beer cellar had now been filled it. It was the house that I’d taken a photo of and sent to my daughters a little while ago because there’s a trampoline on the garage roof! http://www.hebdenbridgehistory.org.uk/charlestown/oakville.html#old

Billy Holt’s dad’s brewery ( with trampoline)

Of Thomas Butterworth

The first time I can locate Thomas with any degree of certainty is when he married Alice Jackson at Heptonstall church  on October 20, 1811. They are both from Stansfield. There is a possibility that Thomas was baptized 6 June 1792 at Warley. I selected ‘that’ Thomas because his father was Ezra, and Thomas named one of his sons Ezra. In 1813 the first of their 7 or possibly 8 children was born, a daughter, Charlotte. 6 of the children were baptised at Myrtle Grove chapel on the same day, June 25, 1837. This meant that Charlotte was 24 when she was baptized, Richard 20, Sarah 17, Abrahma 15, Thomas 13 and Ezra 10. William was born in 1841 after a 10 year gap – strange. Last autumn when the leaves fell I noticed for the first time a cemetery close to the road to Todmorden and a few days later I overheard a conversation in which someone else was remarking on the fact that they’d never noticed the cemetery before.  Apparently this is all that remains of Myrtle Grove chapel, Eastwood. From the Charlestown history site: By the early 1800s, with the coming of industrialisation, the population was moving from the tops into the valley bottom. Discussions about moving the chapel began in about 1805 and local gentry settled endowments for the new chapel to be built. The new chapel opened in the summer of 1807 was called Myrtle Grove and stood on the site that later became Eastwood Railway station. It had a capacity of 500 people.

The congregation again declined from about 1820. In 1838 the railway petitioned to include the site of the Chapel and it was purchased by the railway company in the following year. A view of the Eastwood population at this time but there’s no source given:

“It must not be imagined from what has been written so far, that the inhabitants of Eastwood were all upright and honest citizens. there were evildoers in those days as there are now, and laws against theft or damage to property were much more drastic. Tradition has it that representatives of the village were sent as convicts to Australia. Stealing was by no means uncommon and occasionally cloth was taken from the handlooms. Hand weaving persisted for a long time after the coming of the power loom, and the weavers sometimes took precautions against theft by tying the warp ends to their feet before retiring for the night……The less reputable amongst the population indulged in such sports as cock fighting, rabbit coursing, clog fights or wrestling for wagers. The Non Conformists on the other hand, still strongly under the influence of puritan tradition, looked askance at such pleasures and regarded them as enticements of the Devil”. A new chapel was built and opened in 1840 so it would have been at the old chapel that Thomas and Alice had their children baptized.

Description: yrtle Grove

(from the Charlestown history site).

Another snippet  which amused me was this: A few years ago one of the group was taking stuff to the tip at Eastwood and saw a small wooden model in a skip. She rescued it and later we discovered that it was of Eastwood Chapel. The three photos below show the level of detail on the model. Who made it, when or why, we don’t know.

The model of Myrtle Grove chapel

Back to Thomas and his growing family. In 1841 the Butterworths were one of four families living at Higgin House, and Thomas is a worsted weaver. Yesterday, after I’d left the ruins of Dale I passed another ruin and took a photo of the place. This turns out to be Higgin House! It’s perched directly at the top of that steep flight of stairs. According to the Charlestown site it was once part of the Horsfall estate. (Leave that for a rainy day!) I wonder if the ‘sled road’ mentioned below was the steep stepped path I walked down yesterday:

The Rebuilding of Underbank House
The building of the New House that replaced the Great House at Underbank. John Lister Horsfall’s account book records the pulling down and building of the present day Underbank house (short of the Thomson’s modifications of course). The following is a summary.

First a sled road was made to allow stone to be pulled from Castle Hill to Underbank. Work began on March 10 and finished on March 20, 1834. This stone was used for “fronting” and for rebuilding some field walls. The road was then brought across the Higgin house and the Orchard field. This required 5 people and another to cut trees and cost 2 pounds, 18 shillings and 6 pence.

1851 find the Butterworth at Dale and by 1861 Thomas and Alice, both woolen weaver have moved to Underbank and their son, Ezra, has taken on the role of head of household, a plate layer for the railway line and a widower at the age of 33. However, there was less than 6 months between his first wife Sarah  Horsfall. (Higgin House was part of the Horsfall’s estate!)  dying and his marriage to Mary Gibson, daughter of the innkeeper of the Bull Inn, Hebden Bridge, who hanged himself in this slaughter house – see other postings in my blog). According to the handwritten account of Ezra’s life Sarah died in childbirth. “At some time he married, but, unfortunately his wife was a kleptomaniac, and was always taking home things she did not need and had not paid for. While this was a great worry to Ezra, it did not raise the problems at that time, in such a small community as Hebden Bridge then was, as it would today. Ezra just returned the goods to the under- standing shopkeepers and that was the end of the matter. She died early in married life on the birth of her first child. Ezra then met and married Mary Gibson.
She was also born on a small farm called Winters at Eastwood on 5th September 1830. She was the fourth child and first daughter and always said she was unwanted as her mother disliked girls. However other daughters were born and they were accepted. Mary ran away from home when she was eight years old to her grandmother who kept a coaching inn in Bridge Lanes, The Bull. She spent a happy childhood there and had many tales to tell of people who frequented the inn.
She was a good teller of tales and one which made a great impression on us was of the young woman who was poor and sold things from door to door. On being asked why she was doing this she said, “When I was young a well-to-do old man wanted to marry me but I loved a young man who was poor. We married but soon he died.” She added “But many’s the time I’ve rued that day for the old man’s brass ‘ud a bought a new pony.”
It was this grandmother who when Mary was young, once pointed to the smoke of a house chimney and said solemnly “Mary, whenever there’s a neck there’s trouble.”

As a young girl she was apprenticed to Molly Day, a dressmaker. where she learned to sew most beautifully making voluminous dresses of the time entirely by hand.
She and Ezra must always have known one another though it was not until June 1860 that they were married. Her brothers had warned her of Ezra’s drinking habits like many others associated with the railways in their early days. It was his great weakness.

They started married life at Weasel Hall, which is still there and can be seen on the hill- side from the main street in Hebden Bridge. (In fact that is the very view that I currently have as I sit at my desk in my living room). There on the 29th January Grace was born and two years later Gibson.”

My painting of Grace – from a photo

Thomas died at the grand old age of 75  in 1868 and he’s buried at St James’s in Hebden Bridge (where I sometime play the organ for services)  but I’ve been unable to find him on the burial plot map.

P.S – Crazy fact from the Charlestown history site that I found while researching this page :
The Rochdale canal at Charlestown was crossed by an iron bridge which by 1934 was showing serious signs of wear. In 1939 track subsidence made it necessary for the bridge to be replaced. The job was given to Dorman Long who also built Sydney Harbour Bridge. What?????

Crazy coincidence: 2 days after writing about my trip to Dale I received a message about the website that took me to Dale – from the Heptonstall Historical Society of which I am a member:

I’m going to carry on sharing items of online interest that have come my way for the lockdown period. Let’s start with an absolutely gorgeous website of photographs and writing about our local landscape and its history put together by Paul Knights. Enjoy: https://landscapestory.co.uk/

Exploring Charlestown

Yesterday I finished reading a very unusual book called ‘Break.up’  (her punctuation) by Joanna Walsh which I really enjoyed and so this morning I began to reread a book by Billy Holt called ‘I Haven’t Unpacked’ that Freda and Chris had given me as a birthday present last year. They live in Hawdon Hall, where some of my ancestors lived and they’ve done a pile of research into their property. As Chris was showing me some documents one day I kept seeing I haven’t unpacked written in the margin. I thought it meant he had more information that he hadn’t unpacked yet!

So today I started to reread the book thinking that with a year’s extra knowledge of the area I would enjoy the book even more. The first chapter describes his early life when his father ran a brewery from a small stone terrace on Stoney Lane, Charlestown. Now I’d found Stoney lane a couple of weeks ago as I walked to find Mulcture Hall, so I thought I’d go that way again for my walk . To prepare I looked at the Charlestown history site and noticed that Billy Holt’s brewery is mentioned on a walk, complete with map and description of historical sites along the way so off I trotted.

In this terrace was Holt’s brewery

On the way there I passed Stubbins Wharf pub and thought I’d see if I could locate Stubbin House. I looked for it a couple of times but this time I found it, right next to the canal just beyond Stubbins Wharf pub. How many times must I have passed it, unknowing of its connection with my family, walking along the canal. Charles Lord lived there in 1901 and 1911.  In 1886, he went into partnership with Johnathan Stansfield at Hebden Bridge producing fustian and other materials. He became sole proprietor of the business in 1895.He was a member of Hebden Bridge UDC and a member of the Todmorden RDC [1895] and a Guardian of the Todmorden Union.

Born at Old Chamber in 1856 to John Lord, a butcher and farmer, and his wife Catherine the family had moved to Lee’s yard and were on the census in 1861 and 1871. He married Charlotte Ann Gibson, and it is through this union that I am related to Charles Lord. Charlotte had been born, along with 4 other siblings, in Russia when her dad, William, an engineer/mechanic was there from 1851-1860. 1881 find Charles in Albert street and  from 1891 to 1901 he is living with his family  in some comfort, presumably, at Stubbin House.

Stubbin House

It is now split into two houses, and there is a large addition to the side and rear. It’s currently up for sale at £475,000, which is really high for Hebden Bridge! A 4 bedroom period semi detached with large, well maintained garden, and parking for 2 cars – unheard of in the centre of Hebden Bridge! By 1911 he was back at old Chamber where he had been born.

(Update: Oct 7. On Monday I was taking a walk along the canal and as I passed Stubbin House a lady – with doggy – was just coming out from the garden. I’d noticed a few weeks ago that the For Sale signs had disappeared, so I asked her if she lived there. “I will, beginning Friday,” she cheerfully responded. I explained my interest in the house and she said that life up a the top of Cragg Vale had become too difficult. I joked about there being llamas that seem to enjoy the high altitude. “Oh, those are my llamas. Alpacas, too.” My friend had stayed at her Airbnb llama farm back in 2017. Small world!)

Stubbin House

I did indeed find the row of cottages in which the brewery was located and discovered that I had taken a photo of the end house a couple of weeks ago because there was a trampoline placed above a garage!

Jumble Hole Mill

I stopped for a little picnic in the ruins of Jumble Hole mill . Opposite me some ivy covered ground where believe it or not there were ten dwellings. A few collapsed walls  are all that remains of the five storey Spa Mill that started life as a water-mill.

I then took a short detour that the guide book recommended to see an amazing flight of well worn steps that the mill workers would take to the mill. My question, therefore, is where did they live? The remains of Cow Bridge Mill can be seen on the far side of the river (late 18th century, used for worsted and cotton spinning).

Step t’th’ mill

I was now retracing the steps that I’d taken a few weeks ago, following the Pennine Way. On that occasion I’d taken the very steep high road up to Winters. This time I carried on straight eager to see the ruins of Mt Olive chapel. I couldn’t believe I’d passed so close to it the first week without seeing it. I guess that’s what guide books are for!

All that remains of Mt Olive chapel

From the side I was approaching from all I could see was an old wall, maybe 10 ft high with a semi boarded up window, but when I came around to the front I saw a steep path, still with its iron railings in place, and then several gravestone, some quite ornate.

As it once was

There were no buildings close by, just an amazing view over the valley (and the sewage works) across to Stoodley Pike. A chair and table – with boots – were set in place for the weary traveller.  From the Charlestown history page: The chapel opened in 1842 after occasional services were held in the area since 1836. The chapel was an offshoot of mount Zion at Heptonstall. Some extracts from the Underbank Mill Sunday school minute book record:

The only remaining wall of the chapel
  • The first entry in June 30th 1845 “School meeting held at the hall?, Samuel Smith in the chair”
  • 1846 “The name of the building Mount Olivet to be inscribed on stone on the front of the building”
  • The minister receives 10 shillings a week
  • “1866 Looking for a teacher for the day school and a preacher”
  • On 19th april 1868, John Uttley, a well known temperance veteran, died at Naze Bottom residence. He was one of the oldest abstainers in existence, being one of the founders of teetotalism and at one time a colleague of the famous Joseph Livesey (Tod. Almanac 1871)
  • 9th November 1872, “9 people to be baptised in the lodge owned by Mr. Stead at Jumble Hole”
  • In 1876 there were 58 members
  • In 1885 the minister was Rev.J.H.Smith

In 1909 the Chapel was moved down to the Halifax road with the old chapel being demolished after the war. Every year the old chapel used to have an anniversary celebration with brass band. Ah, this must be the brass band I wrote about in an previous post.

 I continued on my way remarking on the good quality of the stone sets paving the road and soon I came to Nabby Nook cottage where is little stone sign recorded there laying of the stone sets in 2014.

Stone sets on Nabby Lane

Today Nabby Nook, with its bright blue and white painted walls and windows looked almost Mediterranean under this morning’s clear blue sky. A couple of times the track led down cobbled paths so steep that I could hardly negotiate them!

Nabby Nook

Eventually I arrived at the flatter land with its scattered mansions, Higher Underbank, and Knott Hall. “The main dwelling is Higher Underbank House which was thought to have been built about 1612, but around 1770 a new frontage was added. This is a fine example of a yeoman clothier’s house where spun wool would have been brought to and sent out for weaving and the finished product then sent out to market. On the rear wall you can see the blocked up intake door where goods would have been hoisted up.” I found this too from Dr David Harrison: “The family of Christopher Rawdon – a nineteenth century philanthropist who is the subject of my next book – once owned much of the valley around Underbank Hall, and a walk along the wonderfully named Jumble Hole Clough reveals an array of derelict mill, lost graveyards and workers cottages.”

OLD CHARLESTOWN

The present site of the Air Training Corps is the original site of Charlestown. On this incredibly small site there were 14 back to back dwellings. Two pieces from the Todmorden Almanac report that in July 1830 a child was born with four legs! and in 1880, “scarlatina of a malignant type broke out causing two fatal cases, the origin was undiscovered”.
We don’t know the date the terraces were built were built at present.

  • In the 1851 census 68 people living there with 7 vacant houses
  • In the 1920s several houses were empty.
  • In the 1920s one of the dwellings was a cobblers shop run by Teddy Speak who was also known as peg leg
  • A Mrs Johnston ran a bakers from her house making onion and potato cakes and who used to supply dinners for Callis Mill.
  • There was a sweet shop that was run from someone’s front room
  • Old Charlestown was demolished in the mid 1950s and became lock-up garages. – from the Charlestown history site.

Site of Old Charlestown
The sign above the door is ‘Temple.’

I passed ‘Temple.’ I’ve seen that I had ancestors living here but I can’t find out anything about the derivation of this strange name. As I returned to Hebden along the main road I saw the ‘new’ Naze Bottom Chapel which is now a private residence.

The ‘new’ Naze Bottom chapel replaced Mt Olive

The chapel was built to replace Olivet Chapel on the hillside. In November 1906 “a grand bazaar was held in the Co-operative Hall, Hebden Bridge, whereby a sum exceeding £700 was raised in aid of the Nazebottom scheme”. The first sod was cut in July 1908 and was opened in March 1909 by Mrs E.J.Crossley of Royd House.

The opening of Naze Bottom chapel in 1909.

Joseph Haigh Moss 1791-1861

  1. Joseph Haigh (Hague) Moss 1791-1861

Joseph was baptised at Cannon Street chapel. Manchester in 176. The chapel no longer exists but Jonathan Schofield has this description of its location and history: “After widening and damage in World War II, all trace of old Cannon Street was finally removed as the Arndale Centre emerged in the 1970s. The street had been built on what was previously open land from the middle of the eighteenth century and several Georgian period properties survived until 1907. Cannon Street Independent Chapel, one of the first buildings to arrive from 1760. At the rear of the building there were several tombs. The last interment had been that of Dugal Mann, tape manufacturer, in 1788. The building closed as chapel around 1860, by which its congregation had long disappeared from the city centre.”

This 1907 photo shows a man and child passing Cannon Street Chapel

Joseph’s mother (Mary Moss, nee Hague) died when he was 18 and 4 years later he married Jane Moorhouse in Halifax Minster. I’ve not been able  to find out anything about her. Within a year their first child was born and, keeping on the family tradition of giving the first son the surname of the mother as a Christian name, he was named Moorhouse Moss. They went on to have 10 more children, two of whom died in their first year and it’s possible a further 2 fell into this category. At the time of his marriage he was a fustian cutter, just like his father, but the next mention of him is as a schoolmaster, aged 50, at Calderside on the 1841 census. It’s the last entry in the census and appears after Hebble End but I haven’t been able to locate the building. The 1851 census route is Bridgegate, Toll House, Hebble End and Bridge Lanes. The Moss school is the only building listed at Hebble end.

The houses bottom right at Calder Bank now demolished and the field above them now the site of Riverside School which opened 1909. To its left across the river is Central Street School.

The only students listed are his own children. Perhaps this was Hebden Bridge’s first Home Schooling experiment! By 1851 He was running his own school and his wife, Jane   was named as the schoolmistress. They had 9 boarders from age 11-13 all born in Lancashire or Yorkshire.

1851

Joseph Moss. 59. Schoolmaster. Manchester

Jane. w 58. Mistress. Wadsworth

Mary. d 35.  Wadsworth

Grace Fielding. 10. Scholar. Todmorden

Eliza Ann Brewer. 12. Brad.ford

Mary E. Tiffany. 10. Halifax.

John Chadwick. 13. Bacup.

John Worrall. 12. Cheshire.

James Hardman 11. Bacup.

Samuel Atherton. 10. Bacup

John Smith. 12. Pontefract.

William Firth. 1. Todmorden

Susannah Greenwood. 14. Servant, Heptonstall

However, by 1861 the school had moved to Slater bank and there are 26 students. So at this point I need to talk about the Moss Schools:

SCHOOLS

There’s a school listed at buttress bottom in the 1851 census run by Henry Bourne Smith , b. Heptonstall, and his wife Mary Ann, b Stansfield. Again, the only 4 listed scholars are their own children. I can’t find them on any other census or in marriage records. There is a Henry Smith on Bridgegate, a shoe maker and boot maker married to Mary on the 1861 census.

Before  the coming of the Board schools (ed. in 1870) there were several private schools in Hebden Bridge, attended by fee-­paying students, some of them boarders. When New Road was made in 1806 a schoolroom was demolished and rebuilt. George Mellor,  whose school it was, moving into Bridge Gate and Samuel Chambers taking over the new building. There was also a Mr. Moorhouse (ed. JH Moss married Jane Moorhouse. Any relation? Can’t find) who kept a school in part of the White Horse Inn, but the best known of these schools was Moss’s Academy. from Research done by Colin

Waterboard men at work in Lee’s Yard
Lee’s Yard – now the car park/market place

From M/S4/4 Sketches of Old Hebden Bridge and its people by Antiquarian 1882, chapter 2 (transcribed?) by  Ken Stott. The author was born in 1804 and this series of sketches was published in 1882 in Hebden Bridge Times and Calder Valley Gazette in installments between January and June.

In the minute book of the turnpike trustees for that time occur the following entries:

April 3rd. 1805. Meeting held at Wm Patchett’s, HB, the trustees treated with Patchett for land in the Holme, the Ing and the Brink, for 11p per yard. The trustees agreed to take down a building (ed. This must be the old school)  in Appleyard’s land, in the occupation of George Mellor, and rebuild it upon a convenient place thereby.

Aug 7, 1805-paid $76 to  Appleyard for 1,562 yards at Hebden Bridge, and $52-10-0 for re-building the school-house, to John Butterworth, mason, and for railing off the ground $4-0-0. .

Upon the school-house being pulled down Mr Mellor seems to have removed his school near The Shoulder of Mutton where I remember it being: the school-house mentioned as being rebuilt is now the building converted into four cottages, at the bottom of New Road, opposite Mrs Appleyard’s house, and occupied by Stansfield Riley and others. A Mr Appleyard left in his will, dated 1826, many buildings in town, including the White Swan. There’s another William Appleyard 1768-1829 who was an innkeeper and yeoman. In 1881 his daughter Ann was living at Holme House, and she died there in 1884. This is directly across from the current florists and so this substantiates the idea of the florists being the old school. I have a plan for the sale of land for the erection of my building. The land was purchased from Dr Appleyard.

This row of old buildings may have been the 4 cottages opposite Mrs Appleyard’s house. ‘My’ bank is the building to its right.

Whether Mr Mellor ever went bank to the new school-house or not I cannot say positively but I remember a Mr Samuel Chambers keeping a school there. This building in my time was the only one on New Road, with the exception of those opposite Croft Terrace in New Road, one of which is occupied by Mr James Wheelhouse. 

Joseph Hague Moss, son of James Moss of Machpelah started a school about the year 1817 in a room in Lees Yard (the site of the present car park). It must have been successful as a few years later he moved into better premises at West End and then on to Hebble End. (Probably listed as Calder bank – or calderside???in 1851 census)

He was also involved with Salem Church and Sunday School, and he had the use of a room there as a classroom. [Calder House  Academy in Salem Sunday School 176 on roll  in 1851 Education  Census.]

Salem chapel – find out about the Academy.


Salem chapel
Salem chapel

The 

1851 Census shows him, aged 58 and born in Manchester, living at Hebble End, next to the toll.. house, with his wife, Jane, aged 58 and born in Wadsworth, and nine boarders. 

Hebble End.

Joseph Moss. 59. Schoolmaster. Man.

Jane. w 58. Mistress. Wads.

Mary. d 35.  Wads.

Grace Fielding. 10. Scholar. Tod. 

Eliza Ann Brewer. 12. Brad. 

Mary E. Tiffany. 10. Hx.

John Chadwick. 13. Bacup.

John Worrall. 12. Cheshire.

James Hardman 11. Bacup.

Samuel Atherton. 10. Bacup

John Smith. 12. Pontefract.

William Firth. 1. Tod.

Susannah Greenwood. 14. Serv. Hpt. 

At the same time his son George Hague Moss was keeping a school at Slater Bank, aided by his sisters Ann (32), Esther (21) and brothers Alfred (19) and Edwin (17) and they had five boarders. In both schools the boarders were aged nine to 12 and lived fairly locally, the furthest away being Cheshire on one side and Pontefract on the other.

Joseph Moss died about 1860 (No) and George took over the two schools as “Moss’s Academy for Boarding and Day Students”. The building later used as the Masonic Hall was used as the school and the boarders lived at Slater Bank, and walked from there to Salem in procession every Sunday. The boys were known as “Moss’s Bulldogs” which suggests that they had occasional disputes with the local lads!

2. Mosses set up schools

1861- he’s now aged 70 they are living at Slater Bank with 26 students. There are 2 servants. -check. Apparently this was where the students boarded and they attended school in what is now the masonic hall on Hangingroyd Lane where I go to the Camera Club meetings. Joseph and his daughter Hannah  and son Edwin are school teachers and assistant schoolteacher is Oscar Cockcroft. Some students come from as far away as London. The school Act giving every child the right to free education was passed in 1870.

1863 book of poems published. “The Orphan Boy” was very popular and was printed and sold throughout the country. I’ve held a copy of his Miscellaneous Poems at Birchcliffe.

Bandmaster of Hebden Bridge Brass band? 

Lived with his son William at Lee Mill cottages.

1871

RMP214 Birchcliffe 1812

Handwritten letter from Joseph Hague Moss to Mr Edward Ramsden – Jumples,  Mixenden. This is likely to be the Rev Edward Ramsden, 1791-1853, son of John Ramsden

Ramsden, Rev EdwardRef 56-R115

[He was educated at St John’s College Cambridge [1813], ordained Deacon (Chester for Lichfield) [5th April 1817], and appointed Perpetual Curate of Lower Darwen, Lancashire [1829-1839] before becoming Perpetual Curate of St John’s Church, Ovenden [1838], the first incumbent of Bradshaw [1839-1853], and Curate of Illingworth [1841]. He wrote a number of collections of verse including The Christian Minister [1842] and Christ the Foundation [1844]. The family lived at
Jumples House which was demolished in 1961.

Jumples, Mixenden in the process of demolition in 1961 to be replaced by high rise flats.

Dear Sir, Having frequently seen your poetical productions in the Wakefield Paper I have  long waited for an opportunity to make myself known to you. Being roughly the same age with yourself I have ___ the muse but with far less success than you appear to have done. For only a few days ago I was mightily pleased with a small pamphlet that fell into my hands entitled the Practicing Woman but lo! When I got to the end I found the following lines inscribed on the back – they seem to be the production of no mean pen- and perhaps the writer may be an offended methodist. Let that be as it may the cause of truth has nothing to fear- even from a more extensive satire if the foolish writer should determine to persevere. However, I will present you with a faithful transcript of what I have seen and believe me to be a friend desirous of your interesting correspondence – Joseph

I’ve read this book and sure enough

It is a lump of labored stuff

Which. Bit by bit at various times

Has all been moulded into rhymes

Most of the lines from bad to worse

Would make for b better prose than verse

For if one smoother word be found

To suit another is the sound

It must be shifter to the end

The broken parts of rhyme to mend

And yet poor thin g in thoughts so deep

He may have lost some nights of sleep

And doubtless may have had to seek

Full oft a quarter of a week

For words well suited to explain

The needless nonsense of his brain.

But after all for pity’s sake

We must some small compassion take

And do him justice in advance

He is a Poet born by Chance.

RMP:215

1813 Letter from J.H. Moss to Ramsden

Dear friend, March 5, 1813

Includes a letter he wrote ‘just as it stands’ in my 17th year

Oh love! Fond tempter – could I find in thee

That blest alliance to each virtuous aim;

That truth unrivaled, formed alike to know

A bliss in sorrow and a hope in woe;

With morbid pleasure would I grace thy name

And give myself they suppliant boast to be.

But ah! Too oft with formal joy elate

Th’unwary victims proudly meet their fate;

While long delay and hope derived at last,

Misplaced the future and revenged the past.

Ah! Then no more with joy the bosom warms

Ot trusts tomorrow hopeful of its charms.

But black despair, fast brooding drinks that quivering breath

And spreads a gloom on every avenue but Death.

I am now about 21 years of age, the oldest in a numerous family of motherless children who are continually  pouring out their little prattling invectives against my singularity of action and appearance. 

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