The next morning we headed out after breakfast and caught the bus to Whitby. The bus soon filled with people. I thought we’d be the only ones on board. everyone else were grandparents with grandchildren – not something you’d see on a bus in the U.S.
In Whitby we explored the other side of the river, climbing up the Khyber Pass (!) to the whale bone arches. The usual view of the abbey was barely discernible in the dense mist. Then it was on to the trains back to Hebden. as we waited on the platform we heard that the next train due had been cancelled because the rails had become too hot in the direct sunshine. We wondered where the train was coming from. The next announcement was that the next train was cancelled because the track was flooded! However, all three of our trains showed up on time and we had a lovely journey back.
Anna spent the evening in Manchester catching up with her Manchester Uni friend Kez. The TV news was full of news of flooding throughout the Calderdale valley.
The next morning we walked into Todmorden along the canal. at least, we tried to. About a mile from Todmorden the tow path had been washed away by the weekend flood and the path was closed. just before we reached the town a sudden tremendous downpour soaked us through. It lasted for about 3 minutes and then stopped! Crazy weather. We had lunch at The Little Bird cafe and dried out as best we could. Unfortunately the indoor market was closed but we explored the charity stores before catching the bus back to Hebden.
For dinner we went to Il Molino’s, a restaurant I hadn’t been to before. It’s upstairs in the original corn mill just by the famous pack horse bridge over the river. It was a lovely way to end Anna’s visit. The taxi picked her up at 6 a.m. the next morning and whisked her away to Manchester airport for her journey to New Orleans for a bachelorette party.
The following morning we set off for Staithes. Anna had seen a lovely photo of this little town, almost hidden in a ravine on the coast of North Yorkshire and had suggested we visit. From that time on Staithes kept popping up all over the place for both of us. Just the week before her visit I had gone to some of the art studios that were showcased in the Open Studios weekend in Hebden Bridge and one of the first things that caught my eye in Kate Lycett’s studio was a little notebook – with her watercolour of Staithes on the cover. I asked her to sign a copy for Anna and I wrapped it in Christmas wrapping paper (!) and gave it to her as we travelled through Yorkshire on the train. The sense of the size of Yorkshire was definitely apparent on our trip. Our first train took us to Dewsbury, the next to Thornaby, the next to Whitby. It was very foggy all day. Our ride from Thornaby followed the River Esk and we stopped at many many station, just 3 or 4 minutes apart. One of the stations was for sale. Anna just loves these old buildings.
Arriving in Whitby we spent a couple hours or so exploring the town. It was very busy with tourists, this being the second weekend of the school holidays. Even the 199 steps up to the abbey were scattered with parents with kiddies in tow, reminding me of how we used to take day and weekend trips like this almost every weekend when our children were small. We didn’t go into the abbey and there’s a high wall around it so we couldn’t see much of it, but it was founded by Hilda in 680AD.
We wandered around the graveyard perched on the cliff top and remarked on the amazing patterns of the weathered sandstone – and its various colours too. We passed the new youth hostel that I’d taken a peak into when I visited Whitby in 2016 with Judith, and then we found the original youth hostel building that Colin and I had stayed in when we hiked the Cleveland Way in 1979. Back down the steps we wandered around the harbour with its tall ships and we passed many people in steam punk outfits.Whitby is renowned for its steam punk festival because Bram Stoker used Whitby as an inspiration for Dracula. Then it was on to Staithes, a half hour journey by bus. The bus was just like the bus from Hebden to Haworth. In the dense fog the driver seemed to go way too fast!
We had booked a room at the Captain Cook Hotel, which Anna had picked out. I later found that it had originally been built was the Station Hotel and the dining room had old photos of the railway viaduct that spanned the valley and was demolished in 1960 because for much of the time trains couldn’t use it because of the high winds. We could see the stanchion on the other side of the valley. The hotel was above the old town so we had great views of the town each time we climbed the hill. This was especially beautiful at night when the orange street lights gave a warm glow to the picturesque buildings. Our room was on the third floor and it was so foggy that we could barely see the ground.
We were getting hungry by this time and so an hour after our arrival we set off the explore Staithes, passing the huge blue wire lobster! This village, often used by photographers and watecolourists consists of houses huddled together – higgledy piggledy. I read its like a set of child’s building blocks that have fallen down and scattered randomly.
There is a homogeneity that comes from the red roof tiles and there must be some ordinance that people can only use a certain colour palette for painting their houses. It was much much quieter than Whitby and it was much more to Anna’s liking. She’d read the reviews of places to eat and had selected the Cod and Lobster that’s right on the waterfront. It’s so close to the sea that it’s been washed away three times! Again, we felt so fortunate to be able to have dinner outside and not be freezing cold. From our table we watched the tide leave the little fishing boats high and dry and as darkness fell the orange street lights of the town gave the houses a lovely warm glow. The colour of the lights always reminds me of the view of Bolton from my bedroom growing up at Affetside. American street lights are white, not orange – quite different.
We left the Cod and Lobster and climbed the hill, getting back around 9:30. Our actual journey on 3 trains and a bus had taken 6 hours.
Breakfast in the dining room was from 9 til 10 since this was a Sunday so we made our plans for the day and then headed downstairs. Anna wanted to do a hike.it was still incredibly foggy, but warm, humid and rain was not in the forecast fortunately, so we decided to walk along the cliff top, past of the Cleveland Way that I’d done in 1982. For the next few miles the cliff edge was a couple of feet on our left hand side and rolling corn fields stretched into the distance on our right. The entire path was covered in butterflies too. We could see the harbour at Port Mulgrave, just a few shacks and little boats before we reached Runswick Bay. This wasn’t anywhere near as pretty as Staithes but we stopped for coffee at the Cliffemount Hotel that I’d seen mentioned online. Again we were able to sit outside in the beer garden.
We headed inland to Hinderwell because when we’d passed through this little village on the bus we’d seen several scarecrows and wanted to take a close look. It reminded me of the Flower pot festival I’d visited with Rachel in Settle in 2015. People had gone all out on these from Laurel and Hardy to Elvis. Great photo opp. We had lunch at the Badger Hounds after finding that the Runcible Spoon was closed and the only other place serving food, The Brown Cow, was only serving BBQ.
From Hinderwell we took the bus to Saltburn-by-the-Sea, a half hour journey. We’d already remarked on the high prices of the bus fares on our journey from Whitby to Staithes and this was just the same. As we were waiting for the bus we chatted to a local lady. As always, English conversations begin with the weather. she told us that the dense fog was unusual and that it had rolled in following the extreme heat last Thursday. She had been a teacher in several different countries in Africa and she made the same comments as we had done about British people sitting out in the full sun, wanting to get sunburned. She suggested where we should get off the bus in Saltburn and within minutes we found ourselves in the midst of the Saltburn food festival.
Hundreds of pop-up food and drink stands lined the streets. Bales of hay provided places for people to sit and enjoy live music. The National Health service has really fallen on hard times. They now provide bales of straw as people wait in line for an appointment in the surgery. Anna had read about the vertical tramway and we took it down the hill and then walked out along the pier. We were surprised to find that it had been ‘yarn bombed.’ Well, that’s what it’s called in Hebden Bridge. Delightful.
Around 4:30 we left Saltburn and headed back to Staithes on the bus. The seagulls were very noisy as they roosted on the cliff. We were trying to find the spot where Colin and I had taken the only photo of Staithes from when we were on ur Cleveland way hike. It wasn’t too difficult to find and it was the very same place that Kate Lycett had painted her picture from.
Anna had booked her trip to England in April so it had been a long time to wait for her arrival. She was to spend 8 days in England with me before flying back to San Francisco by way of a 4 day hen party in New Orleans.
A couple of days before she arrived I’d met my first Wrigleys. Let me explain. By chance someone had spotted a couple looking around the village of Heptonstall – with a New Zealand accent, by the name of Wrigley. Knowing that I had ancestors in the village named Wrigley, some of whom had emigrated to New Zealand, I’d been contacted and later that day I found myself in the company of a lady who shared the same great great great grandfather as me – James Wrigley, 1778-1846. Even better – we were in the house where he had lived! James Wrigley had been a cabinet maker in 1841 and his children and grandchildren went on to own a building company in Hebden Bridge, building about 50 of the largest buildings in town – including the one I currently live in. I was able to spend an hour with Ruth and Garth in Hebden Bridge pointing out the buildings and we spent a few minutes in my apartment too so that they could have the experience of being inside a Wrigley building.
The BBC proms are in full swing at the moment and I recorded the season. This oboeist had me in stitches!
I’d also just finished putting the final touches to photo books and my 30,000 word written journal of the trips I took in 2018. It seemed a good time to do it before I decide about any trips this winter and next spring.
I went to to Manchester airport to meet Anna just as I’ve done on the last two times she’s come to visit and we spent the afternoon getting reacquainted with my little town. Now I have a two bedroom place she was able to spread out rather than trying to sleep on the living room sofa and have her bags strewn all around.
We took a walk along the canal and through Hardcastle Crags and the next day we met with my brother-in-law and wife at the Piece Hall in Halifax. The weather was kind to us and we were able to sit on the patio for lunch at the Square Chapel, overlooking Gaol Lane where my great great grandparents, George and Charlotte Gledhill had lived.
In the evening Anna suggested we go up to Heptonstall to watch the sunset. We strolled around the hilltop village with its views over to Stoodley Pike and we wandered around the old ruined church where my gt gt gt gt grandparents are buried. Just as we were coming back onto the main street Anne and David just happened to drive past and so we met up with them and others at the Cross Inn. There aren’t many days each year warm enough to sit outside after dark and enjoy a beer.
The weather the next was forecast to be the hottest day ever recorded in England so we weren’t able to do very much in the way of exercise. Anna had visited the local gym where she could get a day pass and I was very surprised to find that it was air conditioned. Apart from the One Stop little market nothing else in the town has air conditioning. The temperature reached 97F. We took a little stroll around the shops in town and sat in the square where an opera singing was entertaining the people soaking up the sun. I was amazed that she could stand in the full sun for over an hour, singing beautifully. Just then I received a text message from someone asking if they could invite the opera singer on the square over to my At Home. I just love these crazy coincidences!
Next morning we set off on the bus to Haworth. It’s one of our favourite rides – over the hill tops, and we weren’t disappointed. We were doing some window shopping when a lady coming out out of a shop said, ” If you haven’t been in there it’s worth a visit.” So in we went to The Cabinet of Curiosities. The place had been a family business for 30 years and an amazing array of antique shop fittings has been assembled, many things from apothecary shops and museums. Next door is the Apothecary tea rooms which we ventured into for the first time. A deck at the back was a lovely place to have lunch , especially when a cloud covered the sun for a few moments.
After lunch we climbed Penistone Hill and had a good laugh at the name! Anna recognised it from an American podcast (like Todmorden!). This a true Bronte country and within 30 paces we were away from any tourists and out on the moors. Last time I came here it was with headphones from the Parsonage Museum, listening to a song cycle of Emily’s poems created by Unthanks.
We spent the afternoon preparing for a little get together later that evening.
People who don’t know me look with unabashed incredulity when, in answer to their question, ‘Where are you from?’ referring of course to my accent which I like to consider ‘mid-Atlantic’ to borrow Mark Twain’s description, I tell them that after 32 years in the U.S I have decided to move back to England. Their eyes tend to pop out of their sockets even more when I mention that for most of those years I lived in California, for the last 14 years within 5 minutes walk of the Pacific Ocean.
But for those I know better, or wish to, I explain that in England I find connections which make me feel part of the country, part of the landscape, and townscape.
Take today for example.
It all started off a couple of weeks ago when I saw a flier entitled Literary Calderdale, listing books about and by local authors. I decided that borrowing some of these from the library might make an interesting project, so I began to read Millstone Grit, written in 1975, by a local lad, Glyn Hughes. Todmorden, Sowerby Bridge, Millbank, Hebden Bridge, all places that I am now familiar with and frequent weekly feature prominently. Hughes makes reference to a ‘character’ by the name of Billy Holt, who, with his pony, Trigger travelled extensively in Europe. He wrote about this travels and there were photos of Billy lying under Trigger, reading a book! Three days later I discovered that Billy Holt lived at Hawdon Hall, just above Hardcastle Crags, a place that one of my ancestors had lived in. In April I’d been invited to visit the place because the music director of the Little Theater choir, of which I am now the accompanist, lives there with Freda, a writer of note, having worked for many years on How We Used to Live, and wrote scripts for a long running local series, Heartbeat. When I mentioned to Freda that I was reading the Glyn Hughes book she asked me if I knew of Billy Holt, and within a matter of days his autobiography appeared as a birthday present. I’ve only read part of it, nothing relating to Hawdon Hall yet, but I have found a passage in which he visits his grandparents at 10 Der Street, Todmorden. Now, I have ancestors who lived at 9 Back Der Street and a couple of weeks ago I went to take photos of their house!
Back to Glyn Hughes’s Millstone Grit. He quotes a passage from Elizabeth Gaskell’s book, Mary Barton. I’ve had a copy of Elizabeth Gaskell’s book about the Life of Charlotte Bronte for a while but I just couldn’t get into it. It’s still on my bookshelf. But last year I had discovered that Gaskell’s house in Manchester has been restored and in 2014 it reopened, decorated as much as possible as it would have been when Elizabeth lived there, 1848-1865. Charlotte Bronte visited her there several times, and so it had been on my list of what to do on a rainy day. Today was the day! I found that her home was close to the Manchester Museum where I’d been to visit Samuel Gibson’s fossil and flora collection and so I thought I’d pop in there for a coffee b before heading off to the Gaskell house. As I entered the museum I thought I’d gate crashed a children’s party. The noise of lots of school children echoed through the halls – for this is half tear. The place was packed with babies, push chairs, toddlers, grandparents. The rooms containing the animals exhibits were packed. Over children were holding clipboards and doing treasure hunts. A room housing an exhibition about the Amritsar Massacre, however, was peaceful in decibels, but heart-wrenching in content, but since I’ve been to Amritsar I thought I’d take a look. Gandhi’s teaching of non-violence brought back memories my mum seeing him at Bolton railway station, and his teaching of Satyagraha had me seeing visions of Philip Glass’s opera of the same name.
India’s leader Mahatma Gandhi was on a secret visit to the North-west and the nervous young journalist was dispatched to Bolton’s Trinity Street railway station with orders from his editor to interview The Great Man.
It was September 25, 1931, and years later, Frank Singleton recalled his late-night rendezvous with The Father of India on the deserted, rain-soaked platform.
Earlier, he “bribed” the station porter with the currency of the day – a cigarette – to determine the timetable for a visit surrounded by the utmost security, given Gandhi’s continuing conflict with the British Government over independence for his homeland.
The train arrived at a desolate, windswept station right on time and Singleton, writing in the Bolton Evening News in 1961, described how, as he stood alone in anticipation, he “beheld history in the making”.
“Gandhi, from his corner window seat, blinked at me through his iron-rimmed spectacles and smiled. My excitement mounted when he turned down the window. This, of course, was the moment that was to be vital in my career – whatever it was in his.
“‘Sir’, I said resolutely, notebook at the ready, pencil poised, heart beating . . . ‘have you any message for the people of Bolton?”‘
As the train slowly chugged away, with Singleton in pursuit, Gandhi leaned out of the window, smiled, blinked again and, through a cloud of choking black smoke, replied: “No.” Singleton’s “brief encounter” at Trinity Street station nearly 75 years ago was the prelude to Gandhi’s very secretive arrival in the nearby village of Edgworth, where he met northern mill owners at the Victorian mansion Greenthorne, off Broadhead Road, the home of Miss Annie Barlow.
Miss Barlow was a member of the philanthropic Barlow family whose head, her older brother, Sir Thomas Barlow, was physician to Queen Victoria, and was one of the siblings responsible for establishing the present Barlow Memorial Institute in the village. My mum and dad held their wedding reception in the Barlow’s institute and I’ve been there with my own daughters over the last few years.
Then on to Elizabeth Gaskell’s house. It’s an imposing place and when she and her minister husband rented it it took half his salary. Here she entertained Dickens, Charlotte Bronte, John Ruskin, Harriet Beecher Stowe (whose home I’ve been to in Massachusetts). I sat at the table in the dining room where she wrote. Actually Mary Barton was written two years before she moved here, but I purchased a copy so that I can scrawl all over it and return my current copy to the library. I have to say that I found the docents some of the most knowledgeable and approachable volunteers that I’ve ever encountered in such a place. I spent well over two hours there and was even allowed to play the piano. It is a John Broadwood salon grand. When the last of Elizabeth’s children died there in 1913 much of the furniture was put up for auction, the piano being included. Apparently the current piano is on ‘permanent loan.’ I left my card with one of the docents who is going to find out if there is a record of the serial number of the piano at the auction. I have visions of the story of ‘Mr Langshaw’s Square Piano,’ a non-fiction book I reviewed for the state magazine of the Music Teachers’ Association of California, in which a square piano, which had been turned into a chicken coop was purchased in Preston, Lancashire, and when the author eventually traced the serial number it turned out that the piano had belonged to non other than Charles Wesley, composer of hymns and brother to Methodist founder Charles Wesley.
Mr Langshaw’s Square piano: Review published in the California Music Teacher magazine.
By Heather J Morris
Madeline Goold. First publ by Corvo 2008 in England. 2009 publ BlueBridge, 2009
Two chance encounters: my taking a short cut from the parking lot to Pacific Avenue. through Logos, a used book store in Santa Cruz and halfway across the world a woman’s search for a used harpsichord that took her to an auction where she purchased a square piano that had been abandoned long ago and subsequently used as a chicken coop. The story of this square piano and its restoration just happened to unfold less then twenty miles away from my hometown in northern England and the timing just happened to coincide with the beginnings of my own search for the first piano to reach California. Once purchased and installed in a barn on her property Goold becomes intent on her mission: restoring the piano. Finding a number engraved in copperplate numerals two centimeters high she was confident that she now had the serial number that would be a key to this very instrument’s history. With this in hand, and the nameboard ‘Broadwood and Sons, Piano makers to Her Majesty and the Princess, Great Putney Street, Golden Square, London 1807’ she finds a restorer, David Winston, who is willing to take on the project ‘if no one else had had a go at it.’ (p 23).John Broadwood’s son had visited Beethoven in Vienna and a year later he presented the composer with a six-octave grand piano (which is now in the Beethoven house in Bonn). With a tenacity worthy of Sherlock Holmes Goold digs out the dispatch record showing the date that this piano began its journey by boat and wagon from Broadwood’s yard in Great Putney Street to a Mr J. Langshaw, Organist, Lancaster. Langshaw was a man of means in what was then a major port – Lancaster in the northern county of Lancashire. Born in London he had studied with Charles and Samuel Wesley. Charles was the brother of John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement, and Charles today is remembered primarily for the over 6000 hymns he wrote. Goold took herself of to Lancaster, met up with a descendent of Langshaw.
The book is both an entertaining and easily accessible study of the social structure of England at the turn of the nineteenth century, focusing on the Langshaw family, and a scholarly dissertation on keyboard makers of that period, a time when new inventions were being incorporated into the very fabric /structure of the piano. Great little place for a cake, coffee and a catch up. Lovely that it is a little bit tucked away, meaning you lose some of the hustle and bustle sometimes associated with Lancaster on a sunny day.The music room is now a self catering place owned and renovated by the Landtrust.
One of the Gaskell’s neighbors was Charles Halle and he came to the house to give piano lesson to the children, at one guinea per lesson, and outrageously high price for that date.
One photo in the house drew my particular attention. It shows Mr Gaskell with a very young Beatrix Potter. Now my first holiday I ever took was with my mum to the Lake District and we stayed at Youth Hostels. We visited Beatrix Potter’s house in Hawkshead. Somewhere, I think I have the drawing I did of her cottage. And I distinctly remember my mum saying that as a 20 something, at the height of her Youth Hostelling years she had visited the cottage and Beatrix Potter was there in her garden!
As I left the building, once known as the Pink House, but now restored to its original warm stone color, I sat in the garden and ate my picnic, watching as groups of school children excitedly entered the house, perhaps from a day care centre, this being half term. In the original servants’ quarters a groups of elementary children were dressed as servants and were being given tasks to do. What a wonderful learning experience.
The weekend had been hot. In fact, for Northern England, specifically Calderdale, it had been a scorcher. Crowds of scantily clad people had descended on Hebden Bridge. Everyone wanted to sit in the sun, so unused are they to seeing this flaming ball high in the sky. Men tore off their shirts. Their skin, used to its normal coating of worsted and waterproofs, rebelled and assumed the colour of boiled lobster.
And STILL they sat in outside, in the full sun, outside the pubs in the town square. The womenfolk, chameleon-like, have shed their epidermis of boots, jeans, jumpers, jackets and beanies, where the only flesh visible is the tip of the proboscis, and now strut about like a tank -topped Barbie in cotton mini and heels. And what heels! Negotiating the cobbles, the stone steps, the pavements ‘under construction’ in these stilts is an art in itself – an art form that many have not yet conquered in the limited amount of sun-time available. Motorcyclists revved their engines at the traffic lights on Bridgegate. Convertibles raced down Crown Street, like cows let out to pasture for the first time after a winter in the barn, only to be halted in their progress by giant purple hippopotamuses, otherwise known as buses, slowly and pedantically negotiating their way around the line of people queuing at the Royd’s ices van, and spilling onto the road like melted 99s.
Faced with this scene from my favourite perch in my new apartment I opted for a weekend out of town. No, not a weekend mini break to some equally packed city but a chance to spend time on the moors above Calderdale. But I decided to spend part of Easter Monday on a trip to Todmorden, 20 minutes by bus, and hunt for houses my ancestors had lived in. I now have over 8000 people in my family tree but Ancestry.com doesn’t provide a way to search your tree by place, so I’ve started to make my own list based on places rather than names. I’d found 8 addresses in Todmorden where my relatives had lived so this seemed a good day for Ancestor Hunting.
My first address was on Pitt Street, a street running at right angles to Burnley Road, on the East side of the town centre. Number 17 had been, in 1891 and 1901, the home of my great great great aunt, Sarah Duckworth, nee Wrigley, and her husband George, a labourer in a cotton mill. They had married in 1873 at Heptonstall church, on April the 12th. I wondered, idly, if it had been such a warm day as today for their wedding. George had been born in Rawtenstall in Lancashire, one of my mum’s favourite place for a ‘run out’ in the car and I’d been there with Rachel on our famous, or should I say, infamous, Irwell valley sculpture trail! The stone terrace was typical of the mill workers’ houses. Part of the terrace has been demolished, number 17 having gone, but as I paused to take a photo of the street sign a man came out of the first house. I told him my story and he related to me the story of a young child who, in 1963, disappeared from outside her home, number 1, and was found much later beneath the ice in the frozen canal. The canal is close to Pitt Street but she couldn’t have walked so far by herself. Perhaps I can find the story in a local newspaper.
A couple of streets away was Derby Street where the Duckworths were living in 1881 prior to their move to Pitt Street. The houses were identical but I did notice that from their back yards there was a good view of Stoodley Pike. Derby Street led to Russell Street which has been completely rebuilt. In 1881 Eliza Wrigley, my first cousin 4 times removed was a cotton weaver. She’d been born in Hebden Bridge and baptized in Heptonstall. Now, at the age of 33 she was living with her cousin, John Bowden, a warehouse man, and his wife, Mary, a sticker of pieces.
The next street was Back Der Street where Eliza had moved to and was living in 1891, 1901, with her cousin Mary. Probably John had died. Mary is now a charwoman, a drop in status, but at 60 she’d probably had enough of mill work. I’d presumed at Back Der Street would have been a back-to-back house with Der Street, but no, the houses on both streets have both front and back doors. Derlane Mill was at the bottom of the street. 1911 sees Eliza, still single, living alone at 9 Der Street and her occupation is a cotton hank winder. She died two years later.
Derdale Mill, built in 1861, was another attempt at co-operative manufacturing under the management of the Todmorden (Derdale) Cotton and Commercial Company. The rearing party was held in April 1862, but by November 1869, the Company was bankrupt. The shareholders held an extraordinary general meeting in Sobriety Hall where it was resolved to wind up the concern. This was probably as a direct result of the Cotton Panic caused by the American Civil War, resulting in a severe downturn in trade for all cotton manufacturing businesses. On 9th February 1870, Caleb Hoyle and Henry Maden of Rockcliffe House, Bacup, purchased the mill for £9,120. The mill was safe, and continued in the production of textiles until about 1996.
The next place on my list was (number deleted for privacy) Thorn Place. I had to cross the Rochdale Canal to get to Kilnhirst Road.
I’d never been to this part of Todmorden before, under Stoodley Pike. It’s quite lovely – away from the busy Burnley Road, and very green and leafy. I was in search of the home of Ethel feel, nee Wrigley, who lived there from 1930 until her death in 1963. At first I couldn’t find the street. A street sign seemed to be quite misleading, taking me to the back door, but two helpful window cleaners came to my rescue. I told them my story and they asked if I was looking for a part in a play. ??? Apparently a ‘high up man at the Todmorden Hippodrome” lives in Thorn Place. They encouraged me to knock on the door on number 1 telling me that they knew which numbers had ‘nice people’ behind them – and which didn’t! The lowest house on the steep slope was built by the builder of the rest of the terrace, after he had completed his street. I eventually located the front of the street all of which had large front garden, unlike the mill workers’ cottages on Pitt and Derby street. This was obviously a step up. The garden looked lovely on this sunny day, and the front door was slightly ajar. I was grateful for the advice the window cleaners had given me asI called “Hello” and knocked on the door. A lady appeared and on telling my story she immediately invited me in. The interior decor felt as if it was something from a stage set. It was a lovely period piece with all the trimmings of the fireplace, the bay window, anaglypta, cornices and picture rail. She told me that the house had been built around 1910 and she’d lived in it for 20 years. Coming from the streets around Pitt and Der it had indeed been a step up. Her mother, who had lived next door may have known Ethel Seel, and she’d contact me if so. Ethel, my 3rd cousin, 2x removed, had been born in 1898 in Hebden Bridge. Her mother, who died when Ethel was 6, had been buried at Crosslanes Chapel. Aged 24 she married Gilbert Riley Steel, a bank clerk, at Cross Lanes chapel. I have other Wrigley ancestors buried there. They had one daughter, Elinor M. and Ethel was buried at Christ Church, Todmorden Jan 3, 1964.
Heading towards the town I passed Myrtle Street, Dale Street, Brook Street and Roomfield Lane where other ancestors lived but where the actual terraces have been demolished. Returning to Hebden Bridge the annual duck race had just finished – a fundraiser where you pay for a plastic duck and then all the ducks are thrown into Hebden Water and the first duck to reach the finish line wins the lucky owner a trip to somewhere or other! Crowds of people were heading to find the nearest pint after all that excitement in the sun. I headed back to my place and viewed it all from my eyrie while sipping a nice cup of Darjeeling.
Update: I did, in fact, find newspaper references to the the little girl who went missing:
Snow Hampers Hunt
Todmorden Times Feb15, 1969
Police mounted a
massive house-to-house check in Todmorden to-day in an effort to trace
three-year old Dawn Fielder missing from her Derby Street home since Thursday
afternoon. More than 100 men and women from the West Yorkshire police reported
to Todmorden police station early to-day. Scores of civilians from a wide area
around Todmorden were calling at the Burnley Road station to day to offer their
services. More than five inches of snow fell during the night and the whole
area is now covered with a thick blanket of snow. “The snow has made
things difficult.” said a senior police officer to-day. ” But we
shall continue to use parties of volunteers to go over the whole area
again.” Throughout yesterday and last night the control centre at
Todmorden was kept busy dealing with reports that Dawn had been seen. But
checks have failed to confirm any reports Dawn was last seen in Pitt Street,
just 40 yards from her home, at 4 o’clock on Thursday by her grandfather, Mr. Fred
Dawn The search for three years-old Dawn Louis Fielder, who
has bees missing since Thursday from her home In Russel Street, Todmorden, was
resumed to-day. More than 100 strong volunteers and police—set off early to-day
to mane the search. Some will concentrate on house -to – house inquiries, while
others check the banks of the hale-long canal which runs through the centre of
Todmorden. A police spokesman at Todmorden said to-day: “The searcher are
keen and we are still hoping the girl will be found alive.” The spokesman
said they were unable to use police skin-divers to search the canal because of
a four-inch thick layer of ice.
MISSING GIRL, 3, DEAD IN CANAL Three – year – old Dawn
Fielder, who has been missing since February 13, was found dead yesterday in a
canal 200 yards from her home at Todmorden, Yorks. Police said last night that
crime is not suspected.
I wasn’t sure how I was going to cope with this weekend. It ‘s the anniversary of my mum’s death, nine years ago, and I had planned to participate in an alumni weekend at Sheffield University. I’d gone last year and had thoroughly enjoyed the Music department’s alumni get together of rehearsals, meals and good conversation culminating in my participation in a wonderful concert in Firth Hall, scene of my graduation ceremony. But a couple of weeks ago I got word that the weekend’s events had been cancelled – so what to do?
Last year on April 6th I had surprised myself by setting out from my apartment to go to the Coop in town to buy some pasta, and had somehow found myself climbing up to Stoodley Pike. 8 miles later I did, in fact, call in at the Coop for some pasta. I had decided on that rather strenuous hike that I would celebrate my mum’s life each year by going on a hike.
Now my mum loved taffies, as she affectionately called the, and she was never prouder than when her daffies in her font garden in Tottington came in to flower, so I decided it would be very appropriate to go a ‘Daffy Hike.’ Fortunately it was a glorious sunny day and I decided to re-travel my steps through the Colden Valley, a walk I’d first done last Autumn when the fall colors were at their height. I had ancestors that lived at Hudson Mill so I took the bus to New Delight and retraced my steps in search of some daffodils. I certainly wasn’t disappointed and found lots of flowers seemingly planted at random along the old pack horse trail or scattered like yellow stars in the woods lining the track. High above Jack bridge I stopped to watch a couple of hikers crossing the narrow slab bridge and thought that next time it would be fun to be on the far side of the Colden Beck. The path was lined by trees and stumped that were covered in a feathery almost neon green moss that was so long it gently wafter in the little breeze. It reminded me of something from a Tolkien story, As I grew close to the two chimneys of Lumb Mill I decided to go and have a closer look. I was able to get right up to the base of the towering chimneys and even reach out to touch them. There’s a lot of building work being done there. It looks like a sizable house is under construction in the remains of the former mill. There were several picturesque bridges and fantastically shaped trees, and even a large spider’s web that was half concealed under a bridge.
Reaching Mytholm I took a wander around St James’s churchyard, where many of the graves were bedecked in lots of daffodils in pots and jam jars.
Sunday dawned dull and dreary and although I had planned to possibly go on a guided walk about transportation in Sowerby Bridge the overcast morning didn’t inspire me to get up and go. So I settled for a while, engrossed in Enduring Love by Ian McEwan which I’d begun yesterday, and found was a real page turner. However, by 1 o’clock the sun was shining and I had itchy feet to be out and about. I got the bus to Blackshaw Head and headed along Davy Lane, a new path for me, so one I would mark on my OS map in pink when I got home. Blackshaw Head, as its name suggests is perched on t’tops and so I had extensive view in all directions. I could see Pry Farm and Scammerton Farm where some of my ancestors had lived and one, Giles Sunderland, had left the farm in during World War 1, never to return.
I passed by lots of newborn lambs. It’s usual for sheep here to give birth to twins, but occasionally triplets will be born. Next into view across the valley was a field of alpacas – yes, alpacas. You can take an alpaca trail – that might be fun!
Next came Great Rock – hmm, that’s its name. It’s a huge single boulder of granite. On bonfire night I came to Great Rock farm from where I could see other bonfires across the valley, but it was totally dark and I didn’t quite know where Great rock itself stood, but now I found it. Of course it’s covered in graffiti because it’s close to the road, but at least it’s antique etched graffiti rather than spray painted. I was enjoying being on t’tops so rather than take the track down to Eastwood I continued along the top road. I one point it dropped down sharply to cross a stream, then climbed up again. I could just see the top of Cross Stones church where I have ancestors buried. I’d only been on this moor once before (apart from bonfire night) and the views are fantastic, right across to Stoodley Pike. I could clearly pick out the trail that we’d used when my daughters came to see me last May.
Eventually I came to Martin’s Lane, marked on the map as a Public Bridleway and it was very well maintained as it led down towards the Calder Valley. I was most surprised when I came to the back of a large building with three arched doorways, now closed with iron doors but it looked very much like a church. Sure enough as I rounded the corner and the front of the building came into view I could see the house name was Chapel House. A man was gardening and I asked him about the building. apparently the first chapel on the site was built,t in 1707 but this one dates from the 1890’s. At various times it’s been both a Quaker and a Methodist chapel. But who attended? I was halfway up a hillside with no – I mean no – buildings around. Hmmmm. Something for a rainy day’s research!
The bridleway petered out at the chapel but the man assured me that the narrow track in front of me continued down into the valley. Oh, but my. it was soooo steep. I edged my way very slowly being careful not to slip on the loose stones. At one point there was a small memorial garden just off the path with several Bury Football Club scarves wrapped around the overhanging tree. Just below the site was the railway line and the path regained the main road by way of a tunnel underneath the track. I had planned to get the bus back to Hebden but I was so enjoying my adventure that I decided to walk back to Hebden Bridge by way of the canal towpath. It took me a little while to figure out an access point for for a little while I was on the far side of the canal but I was able to cross a bridge in Eastwood and returned to Hebden along the towpath. It was so warm that I had to take off my jacket for the remainder of the walk home, around 3 miles. When I reached the Coop where I’d planned on buying something for dinner greeter at the door informed me that they were closing in line one minute – at 5 o’clock.
The canal between my apartment and Ted Hughes’s birthplace
Last weekend it was the Ted Hughes festival. I’d signed up to attend events on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It was my twin daughters’ birthday too, and I thought this would be a good way to celebrate . . . . I’d purchased two tickets for the poetry reading on Friday evening but at the last minute the friend who was to attend with me couldn’t make it. I advertised the ticket on Hebden Bridge’s facebook and it was quickly purchased. The reading was to take place in Hope Chapel, literally the next building to where I live, and one that my Wrigley ancestors had had a hand in renovating – but that’s another story. I met my companion for the event on the steps of the chapel and we decided to sit on the balcony. The downstairs area was pretty full but there were only a dozen or so people upstairs to enjoy readings by Ted Hughes’s daughter, Frieda, and one of my favourite writers, Simon Armitage who I had met at Haworth Parsonage last year. Listen to Simon reading ‘Thankyou for Waiting’ with which he opened his reading.
Frieda was on first, introduced by a member of the Elmet Trust who demonstrated as much pizzazz at introducing the evening’s edification as the squashed spider outside my kitchen window. Luckily, my escort had a great sense of humour, and I related how, on attending a meeting with the Elmet Trust with Sarah I had been told to ‘wash out my mouth’ on mentioning something about the Bronte family (and it wasn’t said in jest!).
Chatting with Frieda Hughes
Simon Armitage reads Poundland
One poem that Frieda gave a special introduction to was ‘The San Francisco Fire’ which she commented that she still finds it difficult to read without a surfeit of emotion. The poem tells of her attending a 49ers game in San Francisco on the day of the Oakland Fire, October 20th, 1991, and realising that, as the ash fell, she realised that many of the spectators would discover that their house had been burned down in the fire. It was highly significant day in my family too. It was Rachel and Sarah’s 6th birthday and we’d arranged for a magician to entertain at the party we were hosting that afternoon at our home in Walnut Creek. During the morning, however, the house where the magician had been doing a similar party had had to be evacuated in the fire and his box of magic tricks had literally gone up in smoke – not a day to forget, though we were decidedly fortunate compared to many people. After the reading I asked Frieda to dedicate the poem to my daughters in honour of their birthday – the following day. Simon’s selection of poems was more upbeat than the ones he had chosen for the Haworth reading, and his super-droll reading of Poundland was hilarious. By the time I left I was animated and inspired by meeting and chatting to Frieda, the daughter of Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes. She seemed very approachable and easy to talk to.
The following day I took a tour of Ted Hughes’s birthplace. It seemed pretty amazing to me that I could walk from my apartment to the house in Mytholmroyd where England’s poet laureate (from 1984-his death in 1998) was born. I’d visited the house before but hadn’t been inside. In 2008 it was purchased and turned into a bed and breakfast. Rachel and I had thought about staying there a couple of years ago but we decided to stay in the Old Dairy in Heptonstall instead. Simon Armitage, as president of the Elmet Trust, had presided at the opening ceremony. This time I, along with 5 other ladies, got the whole tour of this tiny three storey house with outside ginnel, where next door’s washing was on the outside line. I found it rather uncanny to hear a recording of Hughes himself reading a poem about the room we were sitting in. We were able to see the view from his room of Scout Rock, and see the site of Zion chapel which dominated the street, cutting out all light from Ted’s window.
View of Scout Rock from Ted’s room
He lived there until he was 8. His father was a carpenter for a building company in Hebden Bridge. My ear perked up. Could he have worked for my Wrigley forefathers? They had the largest construction company in Hebden Bridge. I read previously that Ted’s mum was a Farrar from Heptontall. I too, have Farrar ancestors from Heptonstall! The visit made me eager to read about Hughes’s life. His father had fought both at Ypres and Gallipolli and suffered from PTSD. The centenary of the end of WWl is coming up in November and there is a tremendous amount of work being done in Calderdale and beyond to commemorate the local fallen soldiers. I have knitted scores of poppies which will be added thousands of others and form a perimeter to Lister Lane cemetery in Halifax. My own grandfather took his own life after returning from Belgium, when my mum was only 13. Giles Sunderland, one of my distant ancestors died in France in 1916.
Ted’s uncle’s house was at the other end of the street
This looks as if it was taken years ago. The barge is currently being used for transporting stone for the renovation of the canal tow path. Mayroyd Mill is in the distance.
The next day had been forecast for rain but it was dry when I set off, again to Mytholmroyd, to take a guided tour of places that Ted Hughes wrote about in his poetry. The guides were two members of the Elmet Trust who Sarah and I had met before. It was advertised as a 4 hour walk, bring lunch and wear boots. That was about it. For the first hour and a half we strolled leisurely along the canal, seeing the imposing Southside house where one of Ted’s uncles had lived, the spot where Ted and friends used to fish close to the long tunnel (where marks showed where the horses’ ropes had worn away the stone), again visiting the house (just the downstairs) and the site of Zion chapel. At each stop our guides read excerpts from Ted’s poems and showed old photos about the particular places. One photo was a class picture of Ted at Burnley Road junior school – built by my Wrigley ancestor yet again!
Then we headed up. Up. Up and more up – almost vertically through Red Acre wood where the site of Ted’s various camping trips were pointed out to us. It had begun the drizzle slightly, but I found this sort of weather much more evocative than had it been a bright sunny day. But . . . and this is where I feel the guides needed some guidance. They set a very, very fast pace up the hillside, stopping for our lunch break with a great view of Mytholmroyd sewage works!
Ted camped here!
Ted’s uncle’s house farther along Aspinall Street
There seemed little regard for the pace of the group, and it was virtually impossible to stop to take photos. I inquired how much further to walk, how much longer the walk would last for. Neither question could be answered by the ‘sweeper’ and the guides were mere specs in the distance a hundred feet above us. This was the point of no return so, with a rehearsal back in Hebden looming, I headed back down to the valley. I arrived back ten minutes before the planned finish time of the guided hike. I wonder what time the rest of the group got back!
Heading back down
Three days later I went into my favourite quilting supply store in Halifax. I got chatting to the assistant about a project I’m working on – Hardcastle Crags. “Ah, I live close by,” she said, “in Heptonstall.” We swapped stories and business cards! She and her brother used to take things to be repaired by a clogger who lived at Lily Hall in the mid to late 1960’s. She used to swim in the mill pond at Hardcastle Crags – where, according to an article in the newspaper, a former young resident of Lily Hall had drowned. And then she said “And I went to school with Frieda Hughes.” She described how they would make cardboard swords together and pretend to be pirates. Her parents (or grandparents had also known the Hughes family in Mexborough, where they moved to when Ted was 8). Ted wrote two poems about local Heptonstall characters, ‘Granny Riley’ and ‘Donald Straight Up’. The assistant has some family heirlooms given to her by the daughter of these two, and she intends to pass all this information on to Frieda, who might be unaware that these two were real Heptonstall village characters.
Ready to eat
From the quilting store I went for a coffee to read the next chapter in the book I began reading this morning – Nimrod: the story of Ernest Shackleton’s Antarctic expedition. I’d visited a pub in Ireland lined with photos about his expedition. However, I’d never connected the name Shackleton with Yorkshire until the book recounted how, 4 generations before Ernest, the Shackletons had moved to Ireland from Yorkshire. When I explored Eastwood a couple of weeks ago I’d been given a tour of the little hamlet by John Shackleton. There’s a prominent hill above the Calder valley called Shackleton. . . . another connection that might provide interest on a dark damp evening in Hebden Bridge!
The walk home
Later . . .playing with the Halifax Concert Band at St Mark’s, Siddal
Our first night. Where else could we start our visit but in Stubbing Wharf?
Visit to Heptonstall where we explored the church, paid homage to Sylvia Plath, had lunch in the White Lion and walked home the long way via Slack Bottom. The day finished with a performance by Ursula Martinez and then a night cap in the White Lion
The following day we explored Haworth, visited the parsonage and went to a talk about Emily Bronte’s poetry.
A fantastic concert by Camille O’Sullivan at Hope Chapel ended a busy day
Halifax agricultural show
Afternoon refreshment in The Big Six
Creating butterflies at The Piece Hall
Catching up with my journal at Old Gate
On our evening walk into Mytholmroyd we saw this poster. Is this for real, Mr Lyon????
Saturday morning was spent at the Mytholmroyd Gala. I’ve been involved in a research project, funded by Manchester University, to find out if the rural areas of Calderdale are age friendly. Part of the project was to take photos depicting snippets of life in this area that involve people over the age of 60. 4 of my photographs were selected for the exhibition which will now go on tour of the area. The results of the research were presented at the International Festival of Public Health.
Photos on display
The mayoress’s entourage!
In the evening my song Lily Hall was given its first performance by a local choir which I accompany.
Singing choral evensong in Halifax Minster
On Sunday as part of Halifax Minster’s Summer Festival people were invited to join the choristers and participate in the singing of choral evensong. I’d gone to this event last year and thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s an amazing experience to sit in the choir stalls and sing in this lovely building where so many of my ancestors were baptised and married. Our rehearsal was followed by tea and cake, before the actual service. These children are choristers with amazing soprano voices. Top G? No problem! Singers of all ages gathered for tea. Unfortunately during the rehearsal the organ develped some technical problems because of the heat of the afternoon, but they were able to fix it before the service. After the service I thought I’d get a drink in the Piece hall before catching the train home, and i stumbled upon a TV recording session of The Antiques Roadshow. people had been queuing for several hours in the heat of the afternoon sun to have their precious possessions assessed by experts. of course, Fiona Bruce was on hand to meet and greet.
Fiona Bruce snacking!
Monday was a trip to Manchester with 5 other ladies. First of all, just on the spur of the moment I directed them to Manchester cathedral. Before my daughters had come to visit me in May I’d requested that 2 of the marriage registers showing the marriage of my ancestors there in the 1820’s be put on display. However, we never got to go to see them.
So today I popped in, by chance found the chief archivist, who, within 10 minutes had
Marriage of my great great great grandparents, 1821
Marriage of my great great great great uncle and aunt, 1818
located the marriage registers and put them on display in the Cathedral’s museum, wow! Then, breakfast at Harvey Nichols, a trip around Manchester Central Library and the
In the Portico Library – founded in 1806.
Portico Library and finally an elegant afternoon tea at the Midland Hotel – where Rolls met Royce, no less!
Of course, a little window shopping was involved too! Lovely day out.