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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.

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:

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 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.


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.

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.


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. 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!

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:

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.”


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.


Joseph Moss. 59. Schoolmaster. Manchester

Jane. w 58. Mistress. Wadsworth

Mary. d 35.  Wadsworth

Grace Fielding. 10. Scholar. Todmorden

Eliza Ann Brewer. 12.

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:


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


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.


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.


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. 

Happy Easter

This post is my Happy Easter greeting to family and friends

Spencer Lane

So it’s been two weeks now that I’ve been confined to walks that I can do directly from my living room. As the days have gone by I’ve found that this valley supplies enough new vistas and previously unexplored areas to keep me busy. It’s a wonderful feeling to explore a new footpath, see the town from a new angle, or notice a sign or building that I’ve passed many times but not noticed before. In the past people stayed more within the vicinity of their home, and it’s often seemed strange that people sometimes lived their whole life, never stepping out of a 10 mile radius of their homes. But during this last 2 weeks as I’ve explored I’m coming to understand that idea much more.  And if I find myself on a path, looking at a view, passing a house where one of my ancestors lived, however distant a relation they might have been, I arrived home excited and eager to find out more about what I’ve just seen.

Take yesterday.  I’d spent a couple of days downloading and transcribing newspaper articles, around 20 of them, mentioning one of my distant ancestors Stansfield Gibson – “quite the lad.” I’d been working on that in the morning and by lunchtime the fine weather on this Good Friday beckoned. I thought of the times when, as a young teen, living at Windermere Street my family had got up early, walked to the Tramways pub and boarded a bus to some distant place. I think these were excursions from my dad’s fishing club but I remember going as far as Symonds Yat in the Wye valley. I recalled these trips on always on Good Fridays and Easter Mondays.

Crow Nest House

At the beginning of the lockdown I discovered a trail, new to me, that runs from behind Hebden Bridge railway station, following close to the railway track towards Mytholmroyd and leading to the bridge on Carr Lane. It felt magical. I felt as if I was the first person to discover this trail. At first I thought the track only led to a large imposing victorian house that is right up against the railway lines and which acts as my cue to alert me to get ready to get off the train when I’m coming in from the Halifax direction. But then, one afternoon, quite by chance I noticed a small yellow arrow on a post indicating ‘footpath.’ So off I trundled. The house, Crow Nest house is an imposing edifice. There’s something spooky about it.

Crow Nest

It reminds me of Fall of the House of Usher or the house in Debussy’s Pelleas and Melisande or Henry James’s Turn of the Screw. Most days since this first discovery I’ve taken this walk. I’ve seen 20 nappies on the line many of the days, I’ve witnessed someone giving instructions of camera usage over the garden fence at the requisite 2 metre distance. I’ve noticed the ‘Beware, cocker spaniel at large’ sign on the garden gate, and a man chopping logs.

(Update, Oct 7. Reading ‘A Century of Change’ tells me that the house once belonged to the manager of the Hebden Bridge gass works). The path passes through the bottom of Crow Nest Wood. To my right a steep bank  is covered in trees whose varied barks fascinated me and lead to me take photos just of tree bark.

I peered into a hole in a tree stump and was delighted to see a dim world filled with toadstools – for the little people, no doubt.

Occasional traces of man’s intrusion on this natural landscape bring half hidden pipe lines and broken fences. Two steep brick walls career down this hillside, one of them covered in now faded graffiti. To my left there’s a big boggy area running the entire length of the path. I think this suggests that the railway track is laid on a man made embankment. Occasional trains pass by within 30 ft of me: one passenger, maybe two on board what would normally be standing room only services between Leeds, Manchester and Preston.

At my side of the boggy land is the remnants of a wooden fence, created, I think from old railway sleepers. I wonder, idly,  if it would be silly to give some of my favourite trees names. I seem to be getting to know them intimately. One afternoon sees me taking photos of trees that resemble other things – a goose in flight, or maybe it’s a pterodactyl, Siamese twins, and intimate human body parts! I post a photo of a tree knocking down a wall onto Facebook and I immediately get a response from someone saying that it looks like a man with his hand in the air – so obviously I’m not alone in seeing ‘other things’ in these tree parts.

Flying pterodactyl?

After a couple of days just walking along the track and back the same way I venture onto Carr Lane and find Carr Lane farm, obviously a working farm, and to my right a large grand newish house with beautifully laid out garden and conservatory.

Carr Lane farm

I have a shufti at what lies beyond and find that I’m in open countryside, above the treeline but with another layer of hills above me. I watch a shepherd on the opposite hill gathering his flock with the help of his sheepdog. I can see the brick houses of Mytholmroyd to my left. In the early days in this area all settlements and  buildings were situated on the hilltops, where everyone lived, raising sheep and spinning and weaving, taking their woven cloth to the Cloth halls, such as the one in Heptonstall, and the Piece hall in Halifax, via packhorse routes. The only time anyone came into the valley was to cross the rivers, because the Calder Valley was one big marsh, unsavoury and unhealthy. When the industrial revolution was born the mills had to be built in the valleys because all the mills were powered by water. This led to the building of houses for the mill workers being built in the valleys. In the post-war years brick built housing estates were created creating, in many cases a link between the hilltop communities and the valley floor terraces. These brick houses in Mytholmroyd are perfect examples.

The next day I followed the path above Carr Lane farm, a lovely bridleway with extensive views to my left and woodland to my right. A stone wall ran along the edge of the path and had been ‘attacked’ by several of the trees lining the path. The trees always won. In front of me was the tiny hamlet of Wood Top. Now I’d visited Wood Top a couple of times before. The first time I’d got the name mixed up with Wood End. I’d an ancestor who had lived at Wood End but I’d gone to Wood Top by mistake. But, once there one of the current residents had shown me round, pointing out the raised area that had once been the mill pond.  Wood Top was an old hand-loom weaving hamlet; by the late nineteenth century, it produced fustian – hard-wearing cotton material. Its inhabitants included the Saltonstall family; John was a fustian dyer, and one of his daughters, Lavena, a fustian clothing machinist, later became the best known of the local suffragettes. The  house, built in the mid C17 with an added early C19 cottage and barn now converted to form a dwelling is a Grade 11 listed building.

Wood Top

Today I watched a herd of goats enjoying  their breakfast, served in a big basket. The baby kids were clambering up the slope and jumping over the wall, and I realized that their breakfast was being served on top of the former mill pond. From Woodtop there are two choices, one being down the road suitable for cars, and I took that one day, finding myself at the top of the brick walls mentioned earlier, or the footpath that leads behind Fairfield, so I took that another day, leading me past the former Catholic church, now apartments, that my ‘naughty, naughty’ ancestor Willie Wrigley designed. (See Willie Wrigley post).

Goats having breakfast on the site of the old mill pond

Yesterday, getting to Wood Top was my only intention, but the weather was lovely and I couldn’t resist extending my walk, this time up the second set of hills to Old Chamber. I’d only ever been to this area once before and that was on a hike down from Stoodley Pike in Sept 2018 when I’d stopped at the Honesty Box – a little hut where walkers can stop in, make themselves a drink, buy some homemade cake, and put a coin or two in the honesty box.  But the Honesty Box is just past the tiny hamlet of Old Chamber so I hadn’t seen the rest of the settlement. This time I was coming up to it, up a very steep path with beautiful sets. If it hadn’t have been for a couple a long way  in front of me who looked a lot older than me I probably wouldn’t have attempted it, but it was too lovely to miss.

Spencer Lane

Another couple with two small children were coming down. They had stopped to let the two little girls play in the ‘sand pit’ by the side of the road  –  which was actually the grit for icy weather. “It’s not as nice as the sand in our sand box at home” the little girl volunteered.

Approaching Old Chamber with its guardians

I could see a massive rounded arch atop a derelict barn at the top of the hill and, with my love of all things ruined, I increased my pace. Though the barn was surrounded by a wire fence I could see the old fireplaces, reminding me of the barn in our field at Affetside where I grew up. Perhaps that’s why I have a ‘thing’ about old buildings.

This got me thinking of a very early memory I have of my dad and some other guy removing the roof from our ruined barn one very hot day and my dad getting terribly burned by the sun. They were taking the roof off so that it wouldn’t collapse on me when I played in there. It had a huge stone fireplace too –  and a date stone of 1842 (?) . At Old Chamber there were huge rotted wooden sliding doors into another barn, this time a brick one, and from the sound of it there  was possibly some lambing in progress. Across from the barn a dead baby lamb was lying on the grass. I passed a water trough covered in moss where the only colour was a couple of plant pots hanging on the side, bursting with colour.

Water trough

Delightful. I saw several signs advertising Bed and Breakfast and a couple were sitting in the garden drinking an afternoon glass of wine overlooking what must be one of the best views in the valley. Old Chamber is on a level with Heptonstall, which you can see across the Calder Valley. I must find out more about this settlement – and how it got its name. I came to ‘The Lodge’ and as I was taking a photo of the date stone above the porch, 1642, a man approached me from the next cottage where he’d been sitting on a bench. “If yer think that’s impressive, wait til I show you t’ door.” And he came around the pulled the door to. “But that’s not old,” I said, gazing at what looked to me a new very solid looking carved  door. “Cost three thousand pounds  did that door,’” he said. “It’s brand new.” “They wanted to put new winders int’ back, an awl, but they weren’t allowed t’put 9 glasses in. ‘T council towd ‘en they couldn’t. ‘ad t’ be 4 an’ 4.” I did wonder how they’d got planning permission to renovate ‘the lodge’ with the new stones.

I continued on my way, taking ‘New Road’ according to my map. This proved to be a cart track, with the cobbles mostly worn away and it was slippery with loose stones but I took my time.

View over to Heptonstall from Old Chamber

I was shown the way by two butterflies who kept fluttering in front of me and landing on dandelions. The previous night I’d attended a Camera club online lecture about Macrophotography by Tony North. His close ups of insects were amazing and he described how he would get down on his stomach so as not to frighten the butterflies. So I gave it a go!

When I came to the mast of the TV transmitter I realized that I was now directly opposite my apartment. For a few weeks I’d been wondering if there was access to the top of the hill directly in front of my living room window and now here I was – without trying! I followed the steep road down and suddenly found myself at Weasel Hall where, in December 2017 I’d gone to explore since one of my ancestors had lived there:

Weasel Hall

I reached the canal, crossed the river by a rarely used bridge and found myself an Easter bonnet. What do you think?


The Long Causeway

On the Long Causeway

It had been almost a year since I’d been on The Long Causeway, a road running along the top of the ridge from Blackshaw Head. I’d taken my daughters there and we’d had a grand old time exploring Bridestones, outcrops of millstone grit rocks and boulders which are ½ a mile long. Amongst these rocky outcrops are a number of odd-shaped formations that have been caused by weather-related erosion over thousands, if not millions of years.  One huge boulder in particular, known as ‘The Great Bridestone’ is fantastically shaped at its base, looking like an up-turned bottle, as if it might topple over at any moment. There are a number of myths and legends associated with The Bridestones, many of these going back to the mists of time. More recently, perhaps, there are a number of local traditions that have become connected to the place and its many, strange-shaped rocks and boulders. However, today I wasn’t going to explore the stones, which necessitates a diversion from the road.

Again, it was another sunny day, and a couple of times on the hike I felt positively warm! Starting from Blackshaw Head Bridestones can be see in the far distance, it it looked a mighty long way. There were great views over the Calder Valley to Stoodley pike and there were a few newborn lambs enjoying the sunshine too. At one point I decided to take a cart track, clearly marked on my map but it soon petered out into a narrow footpath heading steeply down so I backtracked, something which I don’t like doing, and kept to the road. Very few cars passed, a few bicycles, no other walkers, but someone on a pony came along and then galloped off into a field.

On t’ tops looking towards Blackshaw

I was taking this walk because of the virus and of course that was on my mind as I took some photos of things in nature that resembled the diagrams of the virus itself which pervades our news screens incessantly at the moment:

I passed several old halls before arriving in the little community of Cross Stones. It’s dominated by a church which can be seen from Todmorden perched high above the town. I have several ancestors buried in the cemetery. There has been a church here since about 1450 and it was built as a Chapel of Ease for Heptonstall Parish to serve the townships of Stansfield and Langfield. A chapel of ease was specifically built for the convenience of those parishoners who could not easily get to the main church. It is built high up on the hills above the Todmorden valley, with wonderful views over the surrounding countryside. But it’s a very steep climb and it must have been quite a task to get a coffin up there on a snowy day in winter. It wouldn’t have been very pleasant for the mourners either, who would probably have had to walk to the graveyard. In recent times the fabric of the building became unsafe and the church was closed and converted to a private house. As I approached I saw a for sale sign – hmmm, church of sale, but no, it was the old school next door that was for sale.

A few years after 1713 a man named Pilling collected £65 from friends in London and with local help as well, he built a schoolhouse near Cross Stone Church. It was maintained by the chapelry and in 1743 the interest on the money made £3 a year, which paid for the free instruction of six poor children. The teacher was the chapelry clerk and he was paid by the parents of the 30-40 schoolchildren for instructing them 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. The top room housed the school and the bottom served as the jail, whilst the far right hand end of the house was the home of the schoolmaster.

A few gravestones surround the actual church but a large graveyard is across the street and it is still in use. One of the original entrance post is still intact but the other one is prostrate but its cap has been incorporated into the wall.

Entrance posts to the cemetery

Close by I came across a ceramic frog in someone’s garden and I took a photo of it for an art project I’m working on. Then just around the corner I saw the following road sign.

6.2 miles

A morning in Winters


A week ago I hadn’t even heard of Winters. I was coming to the end of tracking the homes of the Gibsons and had become intrigued by a strain of Gibsons who kept pubs in my local area, not always successfully, and some with tragic consequences, but I thought this would be a good research project for the dark winter evenings. When I came upon the fact that one pub was located in the appropriately named Winters – well, that was a no brainer. So the first day that the weather was reasonable enough to tramp over the moors I set off to find Winters. I’d discovered a Winter’s Lane  perched high up on the hillside just below Badger Lane in Blackshaw so I caught the bus to Blackshaw Head. Other places that I’d listed as residences of the Gibson family were on my list too. I knew that I’d previously taken photos of a row of old cottages called Dry Soil just because the name amused me – and now I’d found out that a Gibson relative had lived there: John Gibson  in 1881.

He’d also lived in Cally Hall (1871 census) which was another group of cottages on Badger Lane close by. I’d taken a photo of those picturesque cottages too with their amazing view over the Calder Valley, and I remember finding out that the name Cally had come from Calico cloth. So I stopped to take another photo now that I knew John Gibson had lived there in 1871 and had died there in 1887. (He’d also lived at Underbank at the bottom of the hill in 1861, but that was for another day).

Todmorden Advertiser and Hebden Bridge Newsletter – 15 April 1887

I’d taken a copy of an 1861 map with me and a current ordinance survey map and I knew I was turn off Badger Lane at Marsh Lane. I found what I thought was the correct lane – a a well-used Bridle path but there was no road sign. A man was just turning into it with no hesitation and so I called out,

“Is that Marsh Lane?’


I crossed over.

“Do you mind if I join you for a little while I’m looking for Winter’s Mill.’’

He knew the place and so we followed the well-marked bridle path down. He was from Colne and had left his car on Badger Lane, was hiking down to Hebden for coffee, and then would take the bus back up to the car.

“I’ve always wanted to move to Hebden but my wife finds it depressing,” 

I was looking for a mill pond where water would have been stored and used to keep the machinery at mill moving at dry times of the year. It was the pond’s presence on the map which had alerted me to the mill site because there’s nothing remaining of the mill today. The row of cottages marked on my 1861 map came into view and my hiking buddy mentioned that the old mill pond is now a garden at the back of the cottages.

Cottages at Winters

The only definitive remains of the mill was a picturesque arch with initials and date carved above. A well positioned bench overlooked the valley and we sat and chatted, asking him about the accessibility of some of the footpaths back down to the valley. The Pennine Way passes this way but from the map it looks very steep and wooded and  probably not a good option for today. The man agreed. 

I wanted to take a photo of the cottages but trees were blocking my view so eventually I decided to go up the steep drive and see if anyone came out. At that moment I car came upon the drive and the owner of the end house, which had obviously once been a barn rolled down the window.

“Can I help you?” I explained my presence and she was very helpful. “You can walk right through the front gardens” she said. “It’s a public right of way.” So off I went along the front of the 4 cottages. As I stopped to take photos a couple with a toddler came towards me. Again I explained my mission. “We’ve just bought the end house, but haven’t moved in yet. Would you like to come in and see it?” For whatever reason this house seemed the most likely place for John Gibson’s shop and beer retailers as listed in Pigot’s directory of 1834. This John Gibson, born in 1780 and died in 1837 was the grandfather of the Dry Soil and Cally Hall John Gibson! Before moving to Winters he had previously been innkeeper of the Black Bull at Bridge Lanes recorded in 1811, 1822 and 1829.  Inside  the house the place was amazing. All the walls were exposed stone and the rooms retained their stone flag floors. The ceilings were not more than 6’6” high and the stone fireplaces were intact, though they now had stoves inset. I immediately wondered about damp and cold penetrating into the house but it was lovely.

The lady took me out back and within 6” of the back door was a small gully running with fast water over which a stone flat led into the large garden, half of which had obviously been the mill pond. An old water pump remained at the side of the pond. Again I wondered what this must be like in heavy rain but it looked lovely. I told her that my daughter Anna would just love such a place with a bare stone interior! Her husband asked for my email and said that the cottage had come with lots of old documents. I do hope he contacts me – but I guess I can always call now I know where they live. He said the cottage was built around 1730 but isn’t a listed building. I took my leave and wandered around the area for a while trying to find any signs of the mill but many of the tracks were took steep and slippery to explore today. The couple did tell me that there is an old photo of the mill but I can’t find it on Pennine horizons or the Charlestown website even though there’s a history of the mill on the latter site. The only one I can find was taken in the 1940’s of a lady outside the building that was then used as a toilet!

According to the Charlestown history site the mill was built in 1805 by John Sutcliffe. Between 1827 and 1832 the mill was purchased by William Horsfall and it seems likely that it was at that time that it was  converted to steam power to be able to cope with competition from other manufacturers. In 1842 the mill was capable of turning raw cotton into finished cloth. It had departments for carding, spinning (4360 spindles) and weaving (90 power looms ). It was said to be the largest manufacturer of sateens and dimitie going into Manchester.

By the 1841 census there were 32 men, women and children listed as living in Winters: cotton spinners, weavers, carders, winders. The only person not engaged at the mill was Joshua Gibson, 35, and his wife Sally, 35 who were farmers.  Soon after from 1844 to 1855 Joshua and Sally and their 9 children were living in Bridge Lanes and he was a farmer of 5 acres employing an unreadable number of workers. He gave up his license in 1855 and Richard Parker took on the job of landlord at the Black Bull, Bridge Lanes.  and two years later he’s listed as a butcher. The following year he hanged himself in his slaughter house on May 30th, 1858 and was buried at Heptonstall church three days later.

View of the Calder Valley from Winters

In 1842 and 1864 two surveys were carried out regarding the value of the machinery, buildings, utensils and livestock. In 1864 the mill consisted of:

  • Blowing room
    Carding room
    Throstle Room
    Mule rooms
    New mill
    Nos. 1,2 & 3 rooms
    Beaming room?
    Storehourse, store room & office
    Boiler house, engine house
    Yard and gas piping
  • There was also a smithy and a mechanics shop.
  • The 1842 evaluation for the domestic building included: Old white cow, Red and white cow and Roan cow,The new cow, Old stable manure, Bay mare, shaft and trace, General farming utensils and 3 stable buckets, 2 pack carts, Box tubs, lumber, wheel barrow and hand barrow, 2 water tubs

One interesting entry was for articles to be found in the ‘room over the school’ so Winters had its own schoolroom in 1842! By the next census in 1851 the mill employed about 75-90 people. Some workers lived on site eg at Winters Cottages (1851 census shows 63 people living at Winters with two cottages empty),

On February 25, 1868 the mill was struck by lightning.In1877 William raised more capital by a second mortgage on the mill and Underbank, but had trouble keeping up payments to suppliers and creditors.

The name Winters

By the end of 1880 the business, now owned by William Horsfall,  was effectively Bankrupt. In March 1881 the machinery and engine boiler were sold and part or all of the mill was sold off for stone.The old part of Winters Mill used mules to spin yarn (called twist) and the newer part was used for power looms to manufacture fustian cloth In 1839 the coming of the railway meant that the mill could get raw cotton from Liverpool and send finished goods to Manchester much quicker.

Winters Lane

I returned to Winter’s Lane thinking how many more people must have lived in this vicinity both the keep the mill going and also to necessitate a shop and beer house in the 1830’s. I’d checked with the locals that my planned route was easy to follow and it was. Winter’s Lane can carry vehicles but it ends and turns into a tiny track called Dark lane. This was more like Dark River today but my new hiking boots were up to the task. Dark Lane led back onto another lane  that was just about passable by car, though very steep,  although bags of salt were stationed every ten yards in anticipation of icy weather. The sound of traffic along the Calder Valley rose up to the path and the whistle of the train blended in with the birdsong from time to time. 

Dark Lane

Eventually I came out onto Rawtenstall Bank,  a very steep road, though fully paved for cars,  with several switchbacks. I decided not to take the short cut down Cat Steps!

A few terraces are strewn along the road and they are at a crazy angle with their roof line close to 45 degrees. One of these terraces is Glenview, and in 1901 and 1911 Arthur Gibson, Joshua’s grandson,  was living at #9. Arthur was Thomas Gibson’s son. Thomas Gibson had been a butcher all his life, growing up in Winters and presumably attending the school there. At the age of 21 he married Hannah Stott and they had 9 children , the youngest being Arthur, 1873-1957. Arthur had been employed in the clothing industry all his life, first as a tailor’s apprentice then as a fustian cutter. A lady was just coming out of her house as a took a photo of the terrace. “I’m tracing my ancestors. They used to live at #9” I explained. “Ah, that’s that’s  end one.” Weird. The last one was number 8! Ah well. Perhaps the terrace was longer at one time. 


My next stop was 16 Bank Terrace, in 1911 the home of Joshua’s great granddaughter Ethel Gibson-Atack, and so the great great granddaughter of John Gibson who I had stated the day with. It is through Ethel’s husband, Harold Atack that I am related to Barbara Atack the president of the Hebden Bridge Historical society. When I first moved here and joined the society Barbara told me that her husband’s father had lived in Cheetham House where I was then living! Bank Terrace is so steep that it looks as if it’s falling down the hillside. 

I turned off Rawtenstall bank onto Oakville Road where some imposing Victorian mansions are set up high above the road. At one of these, Oak Villa another Gibson relative – Mary Gibson-Butterworth lived in 1881. Mary was Joshua’s daughter and so had lived at the shop/inn that her father kept at Winters and was 11 years old on the1841 census. I wonder if she went to the school in Winters. 10 years later, in 1851,  she was a servant at the inn in Hawksclough which I’ve not yet quite found, though I’ve been researching that too. Richard Parker was the innkeeper. Remember, a Richard Parker had taken over the license of the Black Bull at bridge Lanes from Joshua (Mary’s dad). In 1861 Mary married Ezra Butterworth a plate layer for the railway company and she was the housekeeper at the now demolished White Horse Inn in Lee’s Yard, Hebden Bridge. My 1871 they are living on Crown Street, my street, and Ezra is still an employee of the railway company but by 1881 at  the age of 51 Ezra is now a farmer with 9 ares of land and he’s living in Oak Villa just off Rawtenstall End. The houses on either side of Oak Villa each have a live-in general servant. Mary and Ezra seem to have gone up in the world. Very rapidly. I just don’t understand their rapid rise in finances.  In correspondence with author Frank McKenna, Will Thorne, a Victorian platelayer himself, stated that the platelayer was the ‘most neglected man in the service.’ (McKenna, The Railway Workers, p.35-36). ‘The railways were one of the few organisations in the Victorian period where someone from a lowly background could rise up to better their ‘lot’ in life. For many, these opportunities were small, but for the industrious they definitely existed. However, excluding women, who could not advance for obvious reasons, one group of railway employees had almost no opportunities to advance beyond their station. These were the platelayers. By 1860, W.M. Mills stated that on Britain’s 8863 miles of railway there were 8598 platelayers. Gangs of platelayers were marshalled under a foreman or ganger, and were allocated a section of line to look after. This had to be inspected twice a day and any faults in the track’s gauge, level and superelevation were to be mended by using their picks, shovels, hammers, wrenches and track gauges. They also had to maintain line side fences and keep the culverts clear, as well as retrieve any item that may have fallen from a train. All these tasks were to be done in all weathers.

Further, to this, platelayer’s working conditions were the poorest of any railway employees. For six days a week they had to be on duty between 6am and 6pm, and at the end of the day they had to make sure that the line was clear and in good working order. Naturally, if the work had not been completed by 6pm, they had to stay until it was done so. Pay was probably the worst of any railway employees, apart from women, and the hard graft was rewarded with a measly 17 to 21 shillings per week. Indeed, sickness on a Sunday would mean that a platelayer would forfeit his Monday pay.’

( the site of Dr David Turner)

I fail to see how Ezra, son of a handloom weaver, a labourer still living at Dale with his parents at the age of 24, a plate layer for the railway at 33 has amassed the money to build several houses in the centre of Hebden Bridge. In the census of 1871 his describes himself as a ‘railway contractor’ and has built, according to Grace’s bio, ‘some houses on Carlton Terrace on the site of what is now the Cooperative building.’ In Feb 1889 he commissioned an architect to draw up plans for the construction of two houses and a missal on Savile Road. The building plan, which I found in the archives, has ‘dis’ pencilled in above the ‘Date of Approval by the Council,’ therefore reading ‘disapproval.’ Hmm . . . this man is really proving to be an enigma for by 1891 he is residing there. This gentleman’s residence remains today, a showpiece of the man who made it!

Oak Villa

Oh, oh my. The very next day I thought I’d try and find out more about Ezra’s rise to the upper class and I seriously couldn’t believe my eyes. On Ancestry I found a 34 page document entitled the Life and Times of Ezra Butterworth, 1827-1898 as told by his daughter  Grace,  1863-1944,  to her four children and recounted by them to his great granddaughters, all handwritten by Barbara Moss. It had been uploaded by ‘mossquire’ who I had exchanged several emails with about the Moss family over the last few weeks and so I’d never even thought to look for Gibson’s in his info online! I read quickly through some of the pages and it turns out that Ezra sent his daughter, Grace to the Moss school on Hangingroyd Road that I’ve been delving into over the last month! Truly amazing!. There was even a photo of him in his hunting gear. I emailed mossquire to see if he’d transcribed the 34 page document but no such luck. Think I’ll have to save that job for a rainy day – or a rainy week! (Task completed)

Ezra Butterwoth – husband of aunt of husband of my 1st cousin 3x removed!!!

Ezra Butterworth 1828-
husband of aunt of husband of 1st cousin 3x removed

Mary Gibson-Butterworth 1830-1918
Wife of Ezra Butterworth

Joshua Gibson 1806-1858
Father of Mary Gibson-Butterworth

Thomas Gibson 1828-1897
Son of Joshua Gibson

Thomas Henry Gibson 1869-1947
Son of Thomas Gibson

Amelia Whitham-Gibson 1869-1949
Wife of Thomas Henry Gibson

James Farrar Whitham 1837-1901
Father of Amelia Whitham-Gibson

Father of James Farrar Whitham


JOHN NUTTON 1862-1934

Daughter of JOHN NUTTON

Jack Dean Denton 1920-1995

Heather Jacqueline Denton
You are the daughter of Jack Dean Denton

Update on Ezra’s story

June 2020

From Ezra’s story an account of the life and times of Ezra Butterworth (1827-1898) as told by his daughter Grace (1863-1944) to her four children and recounted by them to his great-granddaughter Barbara Moss I knew that Ezra had become estranged from his son, Gibson, and that he was often afflicted by drink. However, it wasn’t until today that I did some more digging in the local newspapers and found several stories corroborating both his standing of high esteem within the local community and his drunken episodes. 17 October, 1890. Ezra Butterworth, farmer, Hipping was summoned for having his dog out without a muzzle. He sent his man servant to plead guilty.—P.S. Sutherland said that on Sunday afternoon last, about 2-30, he was on duty along with P.C. Copping near Blackshawhead, and there saw defendant’s dog on the highway without muzzle. Defendant and his man-servant were with it. It was a sporting dog.—The manservant admitted the accuracy of the sergeant’s evidence, but said they were only just crossing the road. They had been into a neighbour’s field to look at two young horses—The sergeant said they were nearly a mile from Hippings, and he saw the dog and the two men travel about 100 yards along the highroad. They then left the road and went across a grass field.—Fined 1 shilling and costs 9 shillings. On the other hand in 1884 he was deemed suitable as an overseer and in 1885 he was elected Liberal councillor for Stansfield, and in 1894 a parish councillor

From the journal:

In 1890 Ezra decided against the wishes of Mary and Grace to lease Hippins farm from the Savile estate, paying an advanced payment that would secure his tenancy for the next 25 years. (Is it just a coincidence that Ezra built his residence, Oak Villa, on Savile Road?) It stood on the hillside and was 75 acres in extent. He spent a great deal of money on improvements building a new barn and putting a new inside to the house. He bought from Ireland twelve Kerry cows and a bull and settled down to a very different way of life. They hired a couple to live in the cottage, the man to run the farm and his wife to help in the house.

While still living at the farm Ezra resumed railway work and his son Gibson agreed to assist on the farm, doing bookkeeping and managing the workers on the understanding that a remuneration of 70 pounds a year should be paid to him on the sale of farm stock. When the stock was sold Gibson inquired after the money that they had agreed upon but Ezra told him that his mother had taken all the proceeds. She had left Hippings two days after the sale, having previously told her husband that unless he promised to sign the pledge and abide by it she would not stay. Ezra’s drinking bouts could last two or three weeks at a time, the newspaper recorded. The following is evidence that Ezra’s drunkenness caused problems outside the household too. In the Burnley newspaper we read that on 20th May, 1882 Ezra Butterworth, a traveller from Hebden Bridge, was summoned for being drunk whilst charge a horse and conveyance in St. James’ Street, Burnley at eleven o’clock Thursday night, the 17th ult.—Fined 10s. He did not abide by his pledge to Mary and so two days after the sale she left and went to live with her newly married daughter and husband Elias. However, when Ezra died in December of 1898 it was discovered that he had revised his will and left everything to his wife, and his daughter, Grace, and her husband textile manufacturer Elias Barker and Gibson had been left nothing. So Gibson took out a court action to reclaim what he thought was owing to him. Gibson’s relationship with his parents had not been an easy one. At one time Gibson had been turned away from the home for disobeying his parents. “Grace did a lot of heavy work about the farm when her brother would not lift a finger to help her.” In February 1900, two years after his father’s death Gibson brought a court action against his mother, Mary, and his son-in law Elias Barker claiming wages that he had earned as his father’s ‘hired servant’ at the rate of 70 per year as agreed. The report of the court case spanned three columns in the paper and then, just as Grace was brought to testify the judge adjourned the court because the proceeding had taken up so much time. As I was searching for the next episode in the saga I found the following story covered comprehensively in the Todmorden newspaper:


Can a tale be harrowing and comical at the same time? Is this story a candidate for the Darwin awards? The newspaper heading had it all: The Blackshaw Mystery – Threat with a loaded gun – Disgraceful and sickening behaviour. At the age of 71 Ezra was found in a pool of blood on his kitchen floor by the postman. With the assistance of a neighbouring farmer they two got Ezra settled in his bed but he died later that same evening. One of the witnesses at the inquest was John Whitaker a fustian cutter of Stubb, Mytholyroyd who had been staying with Ezra for the previous three weeks. One night another man joined them and, according to the newspaper report John reported “We all slept together.” Coroner: “Was it cold that night?” (Laughter) “No sir, I thought it very warm” (renewed laughter). We frequently stayed in bed together til 4 in the afternoon. I have persuaded him to stay in bed late telling him that it would save money.” About 10 days before his death the two had been drinking at the Blue Ball. On his way home Ezra fell down and John went back to the inn and the landlord’s son came to assist, and together they managed to get Ezra home, and settled him in bed. Some time during the night he fell out of bed onto the chamber pot, breaking it in two pieces and cutting himself somewhere behind. He stayed in bed for several days , John and his house cleaner bringing him a little food and drink, but eventually took up his loaded gun from the rack in the kitchen saying “I’ll shoot ’em all,” and John quickly left. A few days later he was found by the postman laying on his back on the living room floor, senseless, though still alive, undressed and without his stockings (!). The postman called for help from the farmer next door and together they got him up the stairs and in to bed. Dr Cairns from Hebden Bridge was called and described a 4 to 5 inch wound on the right thigh or buttock. He suggested that this, plus the exposure of being on the cold stone floor was the cause of death. Elias Barker, Ezra’s son-in-law was called as a witness. He had been summoned to the farm immediately the postman raised the alarm. He was asked if there was any money missing from the house, or any articles. No he responded. “Did you remove the chamber pot?” “Yes.” “What did it contain?” “I called it pure blood.” The court accepted that no foul play was involved.

As I returned into Hebden along the canal I stopped to take a photo of #1 Fountain Street which is the first house from the canal in a row of Victorian back-to-back houses.

1 Fountain Street

Annie Gibson Hart  (1866-1917) was living there in 1911. She was a grandchild of Thomas Gibson. Her parents were Thomas Gibson and Hannah Stott-Gibson. She married a fustian cutter, Cornelius Hart from Bolton. At the time of her marriage she was a fustian machinist and the newly weds were living with her parents at Old Gate. By 1901 they were living at Hebble End, childless. Hebble End was the area of Hebden Bridge that I first stayed in the summer I came by myself to research my ancestry. 1911 saw them still working in the fustian industry. Prior to his marriage Cornelius had lived and worked at Lower Lumb Mill (built 1802) with his parents and siblings. Lumb Mill School was founded in 1845 by the owners of the mill. In 1851 there was one school room, 20’ by 16’, with 34 girls and 17 boys, who were taught reading writing and arithmetic.  The children would have worked half time, with one group at school in the morning and another in the afternoon.  Somewhere in this locality the Sutcliffes opened a one-room factory school. This was because in 1845 the Factory Acts said that children had to spend a certain number of hours in education if they were to continue working in the mills. 34 girls and 17 boys were taught reading, writing and arithmetic at Lumb.Half timing ended only with the Fisher Act of 1917. The ruins of a 200-year-old cotton mill have been brought back to life, thanks to a new hydro-electricity scheme that starts generating electricity today. The hydro scheme uses the original weir and water channels that supplied the industrial-revolution-era mill when it was first built in 1802, and will produce enough clean electricity to power around 40 homes and save 60 tonnes of CO2 per year from going into the atmosphere. The 450,000 project is the brainchild of Bede and Jane Mullen, who have lived by the ruins of Lower Lumb mill in Hebden Bridge for over 30 years. My photos of Lower Lumb Mill come from a hike I took in April.

Willie Wrigley’s story

This old photo of Blake Dean was shown in the Hebden Bridge Camera Club meeting Oct 3,

The Story of Willie Wrigley

Willie Wrigley was my second cousin three times removed: James Wrigley, my gt gt gt grandad was Willie Wrigley’s great uncle.

In 1881 Willie was living on New Road Hebden Bridge. That’s the main road through town, which my living room window looks down upon directly. It’s the A646. He married Charlotte Greenwood at St John’s parish church in Halifax, now known as Halifax minster in April 1894 and six months later their daughter Gwendoline (I’m thinking Wendolene Ramsbottom from Wallace and Gromit) was born. Two years later son George was born, 1896. By 1901 the family were living at 19 Garnett Street, Hebden Bridge – or WERE they? Willie’s name is heavily crossed out on the 1901 census for this address. Further research on the Malcolm Bull site reveals that at least on March 31st, the night that the 1901 census was taken Wille Wrigley, architect, was an overnight visitor at the Pack Horse Inn, Widdop.

Pack Horse Inn – a photo in the pub

Oh my! Last weekend (Sep 16, 2018) I’d taken a hike around Widdop reservoir for the first time and called in for a quick drink at the very same Pack Horse Inn. It claims to be the highest and most isolated pub in the  Upper Calder Valley. So yesterday I called back in at the Pack Horse and chatted to the landlord, telling him of my connection to the place. There are currently three double rooms above the pub which are being renovated so that they can be used as guest room once again. He told stories of drinking after hours in this remote pub, the guests and the publican reckoning that they were too isolated for a police raid. Drunken guests would fall asleep on the floor, under the tables secure in the knowledge they were safe for the night. I’d love to know if Willie was just a visitor for the night, or whether he was living there. In January 2004, the pub won the National Civic Pride gold standard award, as the most scenic pub in Britain, beating 200 other pubs. Besides the landlord and his family there are two visitors listed, Willie Wrigley, architect, and Marshall Sutcliffe, cab proprietor. Also on the census at the pub were two men who are classed as boarders and give general labourer as their occupation. This would therefore seem to indicate tat Willie was not a boarder, but a ‘real’ visitor. He’s 27 years old. It’s a very remote spot between Heptonstall and Widdop. Yesterday (Sep 26, 2018) I approached it from the Colne side, up a treacherous single track road, one of the steepest I’ve seen in this area. In the six miles there was one sheep and a couple of scattered lights coming from remote farmhouses – that was all. Widdop reservoir opened in 1878.

Widdop Reservoir


The water level is very low


The wooden trestle bridge designed by William Henry Cockcroft. Blakedean Railway trestle bridge was 590 feet (180 m) long and 105 feet (32 m) high and consisted of pitch pine.


The stone stanchions are visible. It was completed on 24 May 1901, my birthday!


The stanchions are all that remains today  of the spectacular bridge


Heptonstall School 

Yesterday I explored the valley where the famous railway trestle had been constructed. I was searching for the only part of the bridge that survives – the stone stanchions that formed the base of the bridge as it crossed the river, just below where the two streams meet. They are still there but the tiny track that led down to them through the russet coloured bracken was too treacherous for me so I contented myself with taking photos from the upper track that had once formed the bed of the railway line. A nearby quarry presumably supplied the stone for the stanchions, and probably the level track on the hillside that you can see from Widdop Road, opposite Widdop Gate, held tracks that brought the stone from the quarry to the bridge site. The trestle bridge was designed by local Hebden Bridge architect and surveyor William Henry Cockcroft, and though I have Cockcrofts in my family tree I don’t presume to be related to this particular man! He and his two sons were the first passengers on the first truck to go on the bridge. Wooden huts for the workers were built at Whitehill Nook, just below Draper Lane in Heptonstall/Slack and it became quickly known as Dawson City, after the Klondike city. I’ve been fascinated by this story since first seeing photos of the shanty town in the White Swan in Heptonstall on my summer visits to the area. By the time of the 1901 census, when Willie Wrigley was staying at the Pack Horse, Widdop, ten of the workers’ huts were occupied. Wives and children moved here with their husbands and soon the impact was felt in the local community. The Board School, built by my ancestors, of course, could not accommodate the extra children and so a spare room in the school master’s house was brought into service for the additional thirty children that came from Dawson City. Sanitation in the new city was obviously going to be a major problem and even as early as February 1901 two cases of typhoid had been removed from the shanty town to the Fielden hospital in Todmorden. In 1903 smallpox broke out. The navies were required to keep their children off school. Smallpox victims were taken to the isolation hospital at Sourhall close to Todmorden and vaccinations were given and a field hospital was built at Dawson city being constructed rom a tent and capable of caring for 14 patients. But in October 1903 it blew down in a gale. In all there were 60 cases of smallpox in the Hebden Bridge and Todmorden area, but only one patient died. In 1909 a woman, Mrs Edgar Harwood, fell from the bridge after going ‘for a stroll to admire the view.’ She was well known in Hebden Bridge and ran a dressmaking a millinery business under the name Townsend (her maiden name I think) and Milnes.

Update: May 16, 2020. All these Mosses are related to me!

1909 May 2l Mrs Edgar Harwood of Hurst Dene, Birchcliffe Road HB fell to her death from the Blakedean Trestle Bridge. Mr Abraham was the foreman of the inquest jury.
Mrs Mortimer Moss and Miss Moss (Ibbotroyd) were at the funeral.

The next thing I find:

Jul 14 , 1909. (only 2 months later) Married at Wainsgate Baptist Chapel, Claude Stansfield Redman, eldest son of Richard Redman of Pleasant Villas, Hangingroyd Road, HB, and Miss Bertha Moss, youngest daughter of the late Mortimer Moss and Mrs Mary Moss of Ibbotroyd, Wadsworth. Mr Wilfred F Redman cousin of the Bridegroom was the organist and John Smith uncle of the Bride, assisted the Rev W J Hamam. The Bride was given away by her uncle Mr E Harwood of Hurst Dene, Birchcliffe Road, FIB. Best Man was James Redman (brother), Groomsmen were Richard Thomas, Henry Helliwell, and F Pickles. Three bridesmaids were Miss Martha Moss, Miss Nellie and Edythe Redman (sisters of the Bridegroom).
Wow! E. Harwood of Hurst Dene!
1909 May 2l Mrs Edgar Harwood of Hurst Dene, Birchcliffe Road HB fell to her death from the Blakedean Trestle Bridge. Mr Abraham was the foreman of the inquest jury.
Mrs Mortimer Moss and Miss Moss (Ibbotroyd) were at the funeral. That means that the woman who died was the bride’s aunt.

There’s an extensive article in the newspaper: May 28, 1909



So, getting back to Willie. The first reference I find of him is in the 1881 census when he is the 8 year old son of George and Elizabeth Wrigley who lived on New Street, Hebden Bridge. That’s the main road through the town, and the one that my apartment overlooks! George is a painter, employing 6 men and 2 boys so he’d be a well known figure in the town. I can’t find the family on the 1891 census but on 12th June 1894, he married Charlotte Greenwood at Halifax Parish Church. Charlotte was born in Mytholmroyd, the daughter of James Greenwood. 


Update: May 25, 2020 I’m spending a lot of time during lockdown sorting out my photos – al 31,000 of them and during that process  yesterday I found that Charlotte Greenwood, who married Willie Wrigley was born at Hill House. It took me a little time to locate it but it still at the top of a hill – hence the name!- just off Raw Lane. Raw Lane runs parallel to Burlees Lane which I explored last week for the first time and posted about. I had ancestors both at Great Burlees farm and Stephenson House on Burlees Lane. Raw Lane is just above Burlees Lane and I’d wanted to explore it so now I had a good excuse, so the weather was perfect and I set off. Raw Lasne turned out to be a lovely well preserved old road, often enclosed by trees.



At the top of the lane leading down to Hill House a man was working in his garden and I chatted to him for a few minutes explaining my mission. Then I walked down the cobbled path leading to Hill House. As is mostly the case the road side is the back of the house and I was fortunate to see a lady approaching the house from the garden and we ended up chatting for 20 minutes or so. She’s lived there for 26 years and could tell me much about the recent renovations of the house and barn. I’d discovered that Charlotte had been born there in 1871 and that her father, James Greenwood had been a farmer there with 28 acres. When the current owner moved there the same 28 acres came with the property. She brought me a framed photo of the house taken from a helicopter, just like the one my parents had of our house in Affetside. The helicopter had landed in our field to sell his print. There’s a dated stone above the font porch of 1678 and the initials IMG and she assured me that this was the date of a remodel. Perhaps the ‘G’ signifies that the house had been in the Greenwood family for many generations but when I checked online when I got back home I could find virtually nothing about the house, so I put a posting of Mytholmroyd’s history society page and I’ll see what comes from that. I had noticed that on an early census Stephenson House on Burlees lane is the next house on the census to Hill House and I got a great view of the from of Stephenson House from Hill House. From  Burlees Lane I only saw the back. A very, very steep trail went directly down from Hill House into Redacre wood and I was soon back in Mytholmroyd. From Caldene avenue on my way home I had a perfect view of Hill House. 


Willie established a partnership  in 1894 with Joseph Frederick Walsh as Walsh and Wrigley, architects and surveyors. I’m still trying to find out where he studied. However, the   business only lasted 16 months. It’s disillusion was significant enough to be noted in a London newspaper: 


NOTICE is hereby given that the Partnership heretofore subsisting between us the undersigned Joseph Frederick Walsh and Willie Wrigley carrying on business together at Hebden Bridge in the county of York as Architects and Surveyors under the style of Walsh and Wrigley has been dissolved by mutual consent as from the 30th day April 1896. All debts due and owing by the said late Partnership will be received and paid by the said Willie Wrigley.—As witness our hands this 30th day of April 1896. JOSEPH F. WALSH.

Willie’s work included St Thomas of Canterbury Catholic Church, Hebden Bridge.

Fairfield church is now apartments. I’ve contemplated living there!

However, it would seem that as early as 1900 all is not well in the architect’s business. In the Todmorden and District News on Friday 27 April, 1900 we read that the Hebden Bridge urban council finance committee recommend the Council let the back top office over the fire brigade station to Mr. Willie Wrigley, architect, at £lO per annum. 

The 1901 census, taken on the night of March 31st,  lists him as a visitor to the Pack Horse, Widdop. His wife and two children are at 19 Garnett Street, Hebden Bridge. A couple of months later, in July of 1901 there is a long and detailed article in the local newspaper featuring the house in Garnett Street AND Mr Wrigley! 19 Garnett Street is and undwelling. An article in The Independent Wednesday 24 November 2004 explains this curious construction: “These underdwelling/overdwelling houses are unique to Hebden Bridge,” explains estate agent Ben Turner. “During the industrial revolution the workers needed houses. This area is very hilly and there is a shortage of land, so instead of building one terrace on the hillside, they would build a house and then build another above or below it.” The layout of Willie’s house, the underdwelling, below his landlady’s house, the overdwelling, plays a significant role in this account. 

The house on the right is #19 Garnett Street. Mrs Halstead lived in the overdwelling, and the Wrigleys below it in the underdwelling. 


Stairs to the underdwelling at 19 Garnett Street

July 12, 1901 Todmorden and District News

The Hebden Bridge Ejectment case

 At Thursday week’s Petty sessions Mrs. Mary Elisabeth Halstead. Hebden Bridge applied for order of ejectment against Willie Wrigley, architect, Garnett-street. Hebden Bridge, tenant one of her dwelling houses but the case was adjourned until Monday to enable Mr. Shaw, solicitor (on behalf of the applicant), to prove the delivery of a certain message. Mr. George Parker, solicitor, now appeared on behalf of Wrigley. At the request of the clerk Mr Shaw again presented the facts of the case, observing that the tenancy was a monthly one (by which he meant four weeks) and was determined by notice to quit given by Wrigley himself in a letter which he sent to Mrs Halstead personally. The letter ran: I hereby give you one month’s notice to deliver possession of this house, to date from May 28th next. PS —If you are agreeable this notice may date from last rent day, April 30th, and if so, I must know not later than Wednesday next.” The notice, which was delivered by a child of Wrigley’s aged from five to six or seven years, was accepted by Mrs Halstead. A reply to that effect was written by one of Mrs Halstead’s daughters, at the dictation of her mother, and handed to the child. The houses belonging to Mrs Halstead were built the slope of a hill, and Wrigley lived underneath the applicant . The later, from her window, saw the child deliver the note at its father’s house. The reply ran as follows: “I accept the notice for the 28th May and shall be pleased for you to go out on that day.” Nothing more was heard of Wrigley after the service of the statutory notice upon his wife until the 25th June, when he, along with his wife, went late at night, to Mrs. Halstead and family’s house. It happened that the whole of the family had retired for the night. However, Wrigley knocked at the door and on Mrs Halstead looking out of the window Mrs Wrigley inquired if she had gone to bed. Mrs Halstead told her that she had but eventually she came downstairs and opened the door. Wrigley and his wife then said they had come to pay the rent, but Mrs Halstead refused to take it, he (Mr Shaw) having advised her to do so. Then Wrigley said “If you don’t take the rent I will drink it and then you will know when you do get it.” Mrs Halstead replied “I want you to remove quietly,” to which Wrigley responded that they were to remove to Halifax the day following. As a result of the arrangement Mrs Halstead caused the house to be advertised as to let on May 10, 17, 24 and 31st. Mrs Mary Elizabeth Halstead, on being called, deposed that she was the owner of the house in question; that the tenancy was a four-weekly one . and the rent 4s. 6d. per week. Mr. Wrigley had been the occupier for little over two years. She remembered the letter from Wrigley, giving up possession of the house, to which she replied that she would accept it from the 28th May. She gave the reply to the little girl who brought the notice, and watched the child from her window, take it home. She did not see anything more of Wrigley or his wife until they came and woke her up. That was on the 25th June, which was the rent day. They had all retired for the night, when she heard the door bell ring. She looked out of the window and there saw Mr. and Mrs. Wrigley. On being asked what they wanted. Mrs Wrigley said she wanted to see her (Mrs Halstead) and asked her to come downstairs. She did so and Mrs Wrigley then said she wanted to pay the rent She (Mrs Halstead) said she could not accept it, am! told her to and see Mr. Shaw, the matter was entirely in his hands. Wrigley then interposed and said that she (Mrs Halstead) must take the rent. She replied “No; when are you going remove.” Wrigley responded, “We are going to remove to Halifax to-morrow.” She (Mrs Halstead) mid to that, “ I shall be pleased if you will go quietly. but the rent 1 can’t accept. Wrigley next exclaimed “If you won’t accept the rent I will spend every penny in drink and then you will know when you get it.’ Again she (Mrs Halstead) said “I shall very sorry for you to do so, but the rent I can’t take. You will have to see Mr Shaw.” That conversation took place at 10 o’clock at night – By Mr Parker: He asked me if I was willing to let him stop if there were no more rows. That was on the 14th June. Mr Shaw: What has been your experience of Wrigley as a tenant?  Mr Parker: I must protest against that.—The Clerk advised the Bench that Mr. Shaw was justified in ascertaining what the conduct of the tenant had been. If disturbances had occurred and the tenant had promised not to repeat them in the future that would be taken into consideration.—Mr. Parker observed that he absolutely objected to the question ; conduct another matter altogether and had nothing to do with the contract. His point renewal or no renewal, and no condition could affect that. The conditions stated and accepted renewed the tenancy, which must be put an end to by notice. If there was any remedy for condition it was not ejectment, but rather by damages.—The Bench allowed Mr. Shaw to put his question as to the kind of a tenant Wrigley had been?—Mr. Parker asked that such should be directed to .lune 14th, and not to any prior dale. Mrs Halstead, in replv Mr. Shaw. said she objected Wrigley’s habits, which were the means of disturbing the other tenants, several times. The other tenants, particularly two maiden ladies, said they would leave if the rows continued. Wrigley was in the habit of coming home tipsy, bringing with him other men and they cursed and swore, and tumbled things about. Mrs. Wrigley had told her herself that. Mr. Parker, interposing, objected to anything Mrs Wrigley had said being brought before the Court that way.—Mrs Halstead, proceeding, said Wrigley had been told that if he went on rowing he would have to go. He had been a most disagreeable tenant and neighbour. The last time she mw him was at 2-30 on Thursday morning, when he came home with two other men and some dogs. They carried most fearfully until 4-30. then were quieter for half hour, but afterwards began cursing awl swearing again. It gave one the ladies referred to a most violent attack palpitation. The Clerk : have you not given him notice?—Mrs Halstead: We did give him notice a few months ago. but he and Mrs Wrigley came to us to ask if they might still live in the house and Mrs Wrigley came to n*k if they might still live in the house if would better. I was lenient with him. thinking would do better. —Mr. Shaw deposed to serving the statutory notice at house Wrigley. Mrs. Wrigley said she would give it to her husband when he returned adding that he was always away and that she did not know when she would see him. She never said single word as to any permission having been given on the 14th June, It was on the 20th when served the notice. John Halstead, husband of MrsHalstead, said he conversation with Mrs Greenwood (Mrs. Wrigley’s mother), who asked him if her daughter and her daughter’s husband could stay few days longer in the house as they had nowhere go. He told her he did not mind a few days if Wrigley would turn over anew leaf. Mrs Halstead acquiesced in that arrangement. By Mr. Parker: Did Mrs Wrigley say to you that if they were not out within a fortnight the arrangements would not go forward, and that they would want to stay, and did you say all right?—No.—About three days before the end of that fortnight Mrs Greenwood came see you. Did she say that they had decided to stop in Hebden-Bridge and that they wanted to renew the tenancy? This on June 14th. and did you say it would be all right? —No.— Mr. Parker, in ’addressing the Bench, submitted that the applicant had not made out her case. He admitted that the tenancy was a monthly one. The rent book, however, showed that the rent was paid regularly every two months. Mr. Wrigley. the tenant, was making arrangements to leave Hebden Bridge. and hegave notice, thinking that his arrangements would allow him leave the end of the month. He had letter accepting that, and the Bench would observe that the notice was not to run from the date which was given, but three weeks later. Therefore the notice itself would not have expired until the 25th June. He was instructed that there was no acceptance of that condition. He did not know what became of the letter Mrs. Halstead said she wrote, but if the Bench came to the conclusion that it was written, there was evidence to show that it had reached the defendant. Mrs. Wrigley would say that on June 7th Mr. Halstead went to their house and asked them why they had not left. They said they were making arrangements which they hoped to quit in a few days. He suggested that they should get out in fortnight, and they replied that they expected to do that, but Mrs Wrigley remarked that if they did not go to Nelson they would want to stop and renew the tenancy. Upon that Mr. Halstead said “ Yes, yes,” implying to her that that would be all right. The arrangements about leaving fell through. and three days before the expiration of that fortnight. Mrs Wrigley’s mother, who made the original arrangement of the tenancy, went to see Mr Halstead about it being renewed. Mrs Greenwood was unable come to court, but she had an interview with Mr. Halstead, after which she told her daughter that she had arranged with him as to the tenancy being renewed. There was no application for the rent due the 28th May. The tenancy was renewed, the notice withdrawn the consent of Mrs. Halstead’s agent, who arranged the tenancy. On the June Mr. Halstead went to see Mrs. Wrigley. and seemingly he was the proper person to deal with. He now begged to submit to the Bench that Willie Wrigley was in lawful possession of the house, and he wished the Bench to dismiss from their minds the nonsense as to Wrigley’s conduct. Evidently was not of the serious nature the owner of the house had tried to make out, the fact that the man had been in possession over Iwo years being proof of that. They would have given him notice and had him removed long ago had their statements been true. As a matter fact nothing occurred until Wrigley gave notice himself. When the incidents that had been mentioned occurred they did not appear to know for the owners did not say whether it was after the supposed condition had been made not. He submitted too, that no tenancy could have a condition of that kind attached to it. If there was a condition made the remedy for a breach of it could not be by ejectment. He asked the Bench to hold that the tenancy had been renewed in a proper manner. Charlotte Wrigley, wife of Willie Wrigley, said she and her husband were present when Mr Halstead came to see them on the night of the 30th May. She asked if it would be alright if they did not go out in a fortnight, and Mr Halstead said yes. Two days before the tenancy expired her mother went to see Mr Halstead. They had not attempted to take another house. Then they got a notice to quit. Mr Shaw made a lengthy reply and asked that an order he made out for the defendant to deliver possession in 21 days. Ultimately Mr Shaw’s application was granted. 

Four years later in the Bolton Evening News, December 22, 1905 we read:

During the hearing at Todmorden of a charge of deserting his family against Willie Wrigley, architect, a native of Hebden Bridge, it was stated that he had gone through £900 in very little time by drinking. Mrs Wrigley said her husband had treated them like dogs. The prisoner owed £16 to the Guardians and pleading hard not to be committed the Bench finally adjourned the case.

The full story appeared in the Todmorden Advertiser and Hebden Bridge Newsletter – Friday 22 December 1905, and amazingly was reprinted in the Aberdeen, Scotland paper the following day!

Todmorden Advertiser and Hebden Bridge Newsletter – Friday 22 December 1905

SERIOUS CHARGE AGAINST AN ARCHITECT. Willie Wrigley, architect, formerly of HeBden Bridge, But lately residing at Newchurch, near Leigh, was charged under warrant with running away from the parish of Hebden Bridge, and leaving his wife and family chargeable to the common fund of the Todmorden Union.—Prisoner pleaded not guilty to running away. and said he was away working.—Mr. John Uttley, recording  officer for the Hebden Bridge district, said that on the 28th November last, Mrs. Wrigley applied to him for outdoor relief, stating that her husband had not sent her anything for two weeks, and that she and her children were starving. Previous to that, in October, 1904, prisoner left the district and obtained a situation at Wigan, and from that time to the present he had never been to see his wife and children. In the first week in January, 1905. Mrs. Wrigley was granted outdoor relief to the extent of 7/- per week, and that was continued regularly until the second week in August last. Mrs Wrigley was confined in June, which occasioned extra attendance and maintenance, and following that both mother and child contracted scarlet fever. Altogether the amount of outdoor relief granted was £ 6 13s. ld., towards which prisoner had repaid 14/.. In the second week in August last prisoner began sending his wife 10/- per week. and consequently the outdoor relief was stopped. In the letters accompanying the remittances were some very strong remarks, one of which was that she would live to curse the day on which she was advised to apply for poor law relief, and another that he could get the money to char ont of the country the next day if he wanted. When the wife came to him again bethought it time to take out a warrants—Prisoner said he had sent money regularly when in  employment, and he only ceased because be was  When he went away she told him she could do very well without him, as she was earning 12s. a week, and she wanted him to go.—Mrs. Wrigley, who appeared in the box with an infant child in her arms, corroborated the relieving officer’s statements. She had received a letter from prisoner’s master saying they could not get him to go to his work through drink. She added that her husband had turned them out of doors in the middle of the might, and had treated them like dogs.— Prisoner said he had been nearly teetotal since leaving Hebden Bridge. sod had dose his hest to get, and keep work, but the building trade was very bad.—Mr. Hoyle: hat pimpoNition have you to make ?—Prisoner : I shall have to get a situation as soon as I can. —The Magistrates Clerk : If you don’t get a situation, there will he a situation at Wakefield for you. (Laughter )—Prisoner said he was quite aware of that. He was an arebi. Poet really. hut latterly be had been acting as time keeper and measurement clerk for a builder, at 25/- a week. He was willing to pay the relief back at 10/- a month.—The Mayor (after reading one of the letters sent by prisoner to his wife), mid it was quite evident that he had no intention of ever returning to his wife and family. In one letter be said “I shall never see you again.” —Supt. Brown said they had had no great difficulty, in finding this man, and a considerable amount of expense bad been incurred. If he had had any good intent towards his wife he would not have concealed his address from her Prisoner said he was now doing very well at Leigh, and it would ruin him if he had to go to prison.—Mr. Daley : Will you tell the Bench how long it took you to get through a fortune of MP—Prisoner : That does not bear on this case.—Mr. Uttley : It bears to your previous character.—Prisoner : IC was Got 000; it was only :11500; and /200 went in an architect’s practice at Blackpool.—The Clerk: When bad you £5OO —Prisoner : I should say seven years ago. It is since I was married.—Mr. Uttley : Will you tell the Bench what you meant by a;6titig you could get money with which to go out of the country ? -Prisoner : That was really to keep her from pestering me at my work.—The case was adjourned for three months, to give prisoner an opportunity of showing what he was prepared to do.

A further article 5 months later shows that Willie had not reformed himself – and he was arrested.

May 11 1906, Todmorden and District news

 ADJOURNED CASE OF WIFE NEGLECT. Willie Wrigley, architect, Culcheth, should have put appearance answer to change of neglecting his wife. The case had been adjourned from time to time in order see if defendant kept up his payment regularly. John Uttley, relieving officer, said he had received a letter that morning saying that defendant was walking from Manchester and would endeavour to be in Court at the time, but he had not yet arrived. The case was adjourned eight weeks ago, up to which time had been paying 12s weekly; but since then he had been out of work and had only sent one sum of 6s. Altogether the defendant owed the Union £22,—ln reply to the chairman, the relieving officer stated that altogether Wrigley had paid £2 14s. during the part five months.—A warrant for his arrest was granted.

In the Burnley Express, 5 June 1907 we read:

The maximum sentence of three months’ hard labour was passed at Todmorden yesterday on Willie Wrigley, architect, of Hebden Bridge, charged with neglecting his wife and children.  It was stated that prisoner had formerly a splendid business at Hebden Bridge.  A fortune was left him, and he quickly got through it.  He had been cohabiting since with another woman at Southport, where he was arrested.  His own family had cost the rates £41. Earlier reports show that the charges had been before the magistrates’ court at Todmorden as early as December 1905 (but adjourned at that time to give him another chance).  He had gone through £900 in very little time by drinking.  He had run away, and written threatening letters to his wife.

In the census of 1911 Willie, his wife and children are living at 8 Old Gate.

On May 14, 1912 he became a member of the Wakefield Freemasons, passing on June11, 1912 and raising on sept 10 of that year. His address is given as King Street, Hebden Bridge and his profession as architect. He remained a member at least until 1921 when that particular record finishes. King Street is the main A646, on the Todmorden side of Market Street.

June 26 1913 finds him in serious trouble. He is sentenced at the court in Todmorden. He is described as 5’51/2” with  dark brown hair and is aged 39. He becomes an inmate of Wakefield jail. I have written to the prison archives for clarification of the crime and the sentence (Oct 1, 2018)

On August 18th , 1915 he signs up with the 26th reserve battalion of the Manchester regiment at Heaton Park.  Today, Oct 1st, I purchased a book at Hebden Bridge visitors’ centre entitled, Going to War -People of the Calder Valley and the first weeks of The Great War.  He gives his address as Northwell, Heptonstall, and his occupation an architect. He’s 39 years old. Isn’t that quite old to be drafted? Conscription during the First World War began when the British government passed the Military Service Act in January 1916. The act specified that single men aged 18 to 40 years old were liable to be called up for military service unless they were widowed with children or ministers of a religion. When admitted to the service his distinguishing features were a scar on left leg and a mole in the middle of his back. He was 5’5 1/2″ his his chest measured 35 ½”. He was awarded the British Medal and the Victory Medal.

Elizabeth Ann Whitham

In the summer of 2016 I spent seven weeks in Calderdale researching my maternal grandmother’s ancestry. Though born and raised in the tiny village of Affetside in Lancashire I now live in Northern California and I was eager to make this trip to find out more about my heritage. For the previous seven years I had been doing as much research online as possible but I had come upon a puzzling fact: my great, great grandmother, Elizabeth Ann Whitham had been married twice, but had given the name of two different fathers on her two marriage certificates. First Elizabeth Ann married Ishmael Nutton at St John the Baptist church in Halifax on April 27, 1861.   His residence at the time of marriage was Skircoat and Ishmael’s occupation was woolsorter. Ishmael’s father, James Nutton gives his occupation on the marriage certificate as woolsorter too. Elizabeth Ann, whose residence was Halifax, gives her father’s name as William Whitham with the space for his occupation left empty. In the 1861 census an Elizabeth Ann Whittam (born Heptonstall, 1841) is a cook at a large boarding school on Hopwood Lane, Park House. So far, so good. The school was run by the Farrar family. John Farrar (1813-1883) born at Heptonstall (just like Elizabeth Ann) was the “schoolmaster: Classical, commercial and mathematical.”(1861 census). Interestingly the road that joins Shaw Hill in Skircoat is Farrar Mill Road.

Ishmael died from alpaca poisoning (sorting alpaca wool) on March 17 1876. I found his grave at Christ Church Mt Pellon. Elizabeth Ann, now 40, was now head of the household living at 20 Haigh Street, Halifax, with her sons Charles 18, John 17 and William 14. She also has a lodger, James Hainsworth Leeming, eleven years younger than her. In 2016 I went to find her house. Haigh Street is still there, partially, but as ill-luck would have it the part I wanted has been demolished. It’s a street sandwiched between factory buildings, many of them derelict. Five years later Elizabeth Ann married James Leeming, a widower, originally from Horton near Bradford. But here, things get a little more complicated because she gives the name of her father not as William Whitham but as James Wrigley, a plasterer. Try as I might I just couldn’t figure this out. She’d given two different names for fathers on her two marriages. The simplest explanation is that I’d got the ‘wrong’ Elizabeth Ann, but that didn’t seem likely since the birth years were about the same and they’d both been born in Heptonstall. Completely at a loss I just happened to find a person online offering to help with people’s ancestral brick walls in Calderdale. I emailed Roger Beasley of the CFHS one evening in August, giving details of my predicament and, lo and behold by the time I woke up the next morning he had solved my mystery. He wrote: “I think I may have worked out why Elizabeth Ann Whittham gave both William Whittham and James Wrigley as her father. Her mother, Sally Farrar, daughter of James Farrar, married William Whittham in 1822. Their children were: Hannah (b.1828), Farrar (b.1831), John (b.1833), James Farrar (b.1837). William Whittham died in 1837. In the 1841 census there was a James Rigley, plasterer, living next door to the widow, Sally. It seems possible that Elizabeth Ann Whittham was the illegitimate daughter of Sally Whittham and James (W)rigley. I couldn’t find a baptism for Elizabeth Ann Whittham which was common for children born out of wedlock. However, I did find the record of her birth in 1840 on FreeBMD.” Perhaps Elizabeth Ann herself wasn’t aware of her true father when she married for the first time. But Roger Beasley’s email also contained two other very important facts. I’d been unable to trace Elizabeth Ann’s mother. Roger found her to be Sally Farrar of Heptonstall. When I got the church records for St Thomas’s Heptonstall there are 190 Farrar baptisms recorded! Roger did find a birth record of Elizabeth Ann in 1840 on FreeBMD in which she’s registered in Todmorden. When her birth certificate arrived from England I found that, sure enough, as Roger had surmised there is no father named on it. Her mother’s name is Sally Whitham nee Farrar and Elizabeth Ann was born at Lily Hall. I can’t help wondering if James Wrigley and his wife, knew that Sally was giving birth to James’s daughter literally in the next room – in Lily Hall.

So in September 2016 I embarked upon some research into the family of James Wrigley. After all, if these facts are correct he is my great, great, great grandfather! I found two online Wrigley family trees with the correct James Wrigley, of Heptonstall. I contacted both tree owners and they both live in New Zealand. James was one of eight children. One of his brothers was Abraham and remarkably there was a photo of Abraham taken with his own son John. From Grace Hanley in New Zealand I found out that “John came to NZ in 1863, Edmund in 1865 and Hannah, James and their mother Sally arrived in NZ, 1883.” James Wrigley, Elizabeth Ann’s biological father had married Mary Pickles on March 15th 1840. One of James and Mary’s children was Mally Wrigley. She married James Barker of Water Barn, Rossendale on July 14, 1866 in Heptonstall. Mally and James were both weavers when they married but by 1871 and 1881 he was a cotton operative.

I will return to Calderdale this summer to further my research and would love to meet up with people who may have recognized some of their ancestors in my story.

With many thanks to Roger Beasley.

Searching for relatives of Willie & George Wrigley & Gwendoline Flynn nee Wrigley all born in HB c.1900. I am daughter of George trying to trace any family members still in the area.
Elizabeth West (nee Wrigley) <>
Northampton, UK – Saturday, February 10, 2001 at 23:20:11 (GMT)

He was in jail [1901, 1911].

With help of ROOTSCHAT members, the following story has emerged

In December 1905, Willie was brought before Todmorden magistrates because, after a fortune had been left to him, he had spent £900 in a short time, by drinking. He had then run away and left his family – incurring welfare charges of £40 on the rates, and written threatening letters to his wife.

He was cohabiting with another woman in Southport, where he was arrested.

In June 1907, he was charged with neglecting his wife & children, and the maximum sentence of 3 months’ hard labour, was passed

The family lived at 8 Old Gate, Hebden Bridge [1911]

Walsh & WrigleyArchitects. Partnership established in 1894 by Joseph Frederick Walsh and Willie Wrigley. The business lasted 16 months.

Further update: June 6, 2020

I was trying to find information on the location of Green Springs on Widdop Moor today when up popped a comment on RootsChat. Oh my! It took my by surprise: Sheffield daily telegraph 4th nov 1861. Murder and Suicide by a Mother Mytholmroyd On Friday last, at midday, a most awful tragedy was perpetrated at Hill House, Wadsworth, Mytholmroyd, by a married woman, named Greenwood, wife of Mr. Greenwood, farmer. The following are a few of the particulars. It appears that during the forenoon Mr. Greenwood had gone to Mytholmroyd with a week’s butter, and while away his wife cut the throat of her little daughter, about five years old, after which she cut her own throat, and ran out bleeding profusely into the house of a neighbour, named Sutcliffe, and then ran back into her own house. She still had the razor in her hand. Sutcliffe took it from her, and the mother pointed to the child in an adjoining room, with its head almost severed from its body. It would seem she had had two razors at work; one was also lying on the table, opposite the looking glass, covered with blood, along with two empty razor cases. The house presented more the appearance of a slaughter-house than human dwelling, such was the quantity of blood on the floors. The little girl’s hands were tied with a shred of cotton lining. Mrs. Greenwood has been in a desponding state of mind for some time, but not so much so as to cause much alarm. Mrs. Greenwood was still being attended by Drs. Fielden and Howard, but no hopes are entertained of her recovery. Our correspondent adds, in postscript : “Since the above was written, it is reported that Mrs. Greenwood is dead also.” The story made many newspapers even reaching Bristol and places further south. Charlotte Greenwood, who married Willie Wrigley was the daughter of James Greenwood and his second wife, Elizabeth Jackson, but Charlotte had been born in the house where this awful tragedy occurred. I walked along Heights road yesterday, looking down with pleasure at Hill House and its commanding position and recalling my visit and conversation with the current owner. I know that the place will hold different thought for me whenever I see it perched on the hill above Mytholmroyd and I can’t help but wonder if the current owner knows of this story about her home.