Month: December 2018

Foster Mill

Circa 1900. Foster Mill, owned by Redman Bros, was part of the Hebden Estate Company. William Henry Cockroft designed the Methodist Chapel. Moss Lane on the hillside leads to Heptonstall Road. Top left is Cross Lanes Chapel with the Manse on the right. The group of houses, right of centre, is Slater Bank.
Both chapels and the mill all now demolished.



Foster Mill

The building over the bridge was the stables for the mill

Photo of Foster mill cottages , and in the background the side of the stables and the bridge

Today, Dec 13, 2018, I’d planned to take a short stroll into Hardcastle Crags – mostly because it wasn’t raining and there was a hint of blue sky. I’d spent yesterday in the archives, the first time in 6 months. For the previous few days I’d been finding out interesting things from an interactive historic map of Calderdale and had come up with the idea of printing out a map and marking on all the houses in the area (basically the ones I could walk to from my apartment) that my ancestors had lived in, and those they had built. From this I’d discovered the whereabouts of Foster Mill. And wouldn’t you know it! It occupied the space on which a row of newish houses has been built, as far as I can tell the only new houses to have been built on flat land in Hebden Bridge since 1900. When Anna was here in May we’d gone to have a look at a house for sale on that very street – Spring Grove. Foster mill had been worked on extensively by my Wrigley builder ancestors. In 1842 the mill chimney had been plastered by Thos. Jas. & Geo Wrigley for Wilm & Jas Saga – 14.5 days work.

Bedding boxes form part of the Community garden. Was the building behind part of the Foster Mill complex?

In 1890 they had rebuilt the mill after a devastating fire and in 1908 Foster Mill shed and cottages had been painted outside. Only two days ago I’d gone out after a storm and taken photos of an old building close to the site of Foster Mill and had chatted to a guy who uses it to house a car repair business. I’d remarked on the number of quirky decorations on the buildings close by – very Hebden Bridge. So today, outside this old building a man was planting some bedding plants in some waste ground. On impulse Iasked if he knew if the building had once been connected with Foster Mill. “Perhaps,” he said. “That very old on the left, just before the bridge was the stables for the mill.” I’d taken several photos of that building since I’d moved to the town, simply because it had some great doors with flaking paint – one of my specialities. “There used to be a row of cottage where we’re standing. I have a photo of them. Would you like to come in and see it?” and with that he led the way over to one of the houses on Spring Grove. The photo was framed and on display in his living room. One of my ancestors lived in a cottage at Foster Mill. I wondered if it could have been one of these. I commented on his piano, where music for a Chopin Nocturne and the obligatory Fur Elise were on the music stand. I mentioned that I teach piano and we exchange info with the possibility of him taking lessons. It turned out that we had met once before in that connection when I was looking for a space to teach piano!

Foster Mill packhorse bridge built to connect Heptonstall to the fulling mill

From Malcolm Bull’s Calderdale companion:

Next to Hebden Vale Iron Works on Victoria Road / Foster Lane, Wadsworth.

There was a corn mill, then a fulling mill [in the 17th century]. Around 1808, it was converted to a worsted spinning mill. In 1851, it was described as 6-storeys and was driven by an iron waterwheel 36 ft in diameter and 14½ ft wide, a 23 hp engine, and a 16 hp engine. The mill was destroyed by fire on 1st December 182814th December 1853, and 17th May 1888 In 1888, it was one of the largest cotton spinning mills in the valley. After the fire, the mill was rebuilt by Redman Brothers. On 27th April 1891, photographs of the neighbourhood were taken from the top of 168-foot high chimney by R. S. Blackburn. The day was dull and the negatives not very clear. The building was demolished in 1985. The base of the mill chimney is still visible.


I took my leave of Mr ____ and carried on, over the bridge, which only this week I discovered is named Foster Mill Bridge. It’s similar to Hebden Bridge being very very steep, narrow, cobbled and with very low parapets. This was because the horses that used these Pack horse bridges were laden with bolts of woven fabric which clear the height of the parapets. It was built in the 17th century

Today, now that I knew its precise location, I could clearly make out Dog Bottom house and even see the progress of the stone wall since chatting with the mason two days ago. My friendly blue heron was nowhere to be seen today but I did take notice of a sign that I must have passed before. Well, I’d read it before but since I didn’t recognise the names of the places the sign mentioned, or the lay of the land in the vicinity, it hadn’t meant anything to me. Today I understood it all – yeah! Just another day of feeling connected to the landscape.


Dog Bottom!

The area enclosed is red is Dog Bottom


Thomas’s business card

Today I went in search for Dog Bottom. Well, with a name like that who wouldn’t! Thomas Gibson was living there in 1861with his wife, Sally, nee Wrigley, who was living in Lily Hall at the time of her marriage in 1838. In 1841 Thomas and Sally, my great great great great aunt and uncle  were living at Lily Hall too.

Thomas was a well known local photographer. When I first found his address on the 1861 I discovered that Dog Bottom was the name given to a small area of flat land on the way to Hardcastle Crags, just across Hebden Water from Hebden Bridge Bowling club. I often walk along here just to get out and about. Recently I’ve been making friends with a blue heron that often stands right on the weir just past Dog Bottom. This morning, through looking at some historic maps I found that there is an actual building named Dog Bottom so I set off to find it. Soon I encountered a couple who were letting their dogs swim in Hebden Water, despite the chill in the air. I chatted with them and asked if I could take a photo of their dog in ‘Dog Bottom.’ She gladly agreed and I explained why! “Ah, you can see Dog Bottom house through the trees if you go a little further,” she suggested. “They’re having a lot of building done there. I’d love to go inside. It’s a really old house,” she continued.

Dog Bottom: Current home of Freud’s great grandson, and former home of my great great great great aunt and uncle

So, having looked for my heron, unsuccessfully, probably because it was so late in the day I headed across the river and soon came to a sign. Well, at least I know I’m in the right place. Masses of new building work was under construction and after taking a few photos of the original house I got into conversation with one of the builders who was laying a stone wall. He told me that the name Dog Bottom is derived from a pack of wild dogs that used to roam the area. First of all I asked if the owners were friendly – and explained my interest. He was eager to tell me all he knew about the owner – none other than Siegmund Freud’s great grandson! Wow. That was a turn up for the books. The psychologist’s grandson was Lucian Freud the famous artist who owned to fathering 14 children, though friends put the estimate at around 40, and the current owner of Dog Bottom is one of those 14 children: From the Daily Mail

  1. The Whirling Dervish

Growing up, Francis Eliot, 45, considered himself the son of Perry, the raffish 10th Earl of St Germans, although it was an open secret that he was the issue of Jacquetta’s long affair with Freud. Francis Eliot was named after artist Francis Bacon. It was an open secret that he was Lucian Freud’s son. He was named after Freud’s fellow artist Francis Bacon, giving rise to a sardonic joke from Perry, who knew he was not the boy’s biological father: ‘How do you like your bacon ? Freud?’

Francis is married with two children and lives in an artistic community in Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire. He is an expert whirling dervish, the eastern dance practised by Islamic mystics, and teaches dance in the 5 Rhythms method, combining movement and meditation.

I rather think my photographer ancestor would have appreciated this story! This was not the outcome that I’d anticipated when I set off for my little stroll this afternoon!

Lucian Freud Biography:


Lucian Freud was a German-born British painter known mostly for bold and realistic portraits and nudes. His 1995 painting of a nude, obese woman, Benefits Supervisor Sleeping, sold in 2008 for $33.6 million, a record high price for the work of a living artist. The grandson of Sigmund Freud, his background was primarily in drawing, and he was a tutor at the Slade School of Fine Art in London in the late 1940s and ’50s. Freud began getting recognition in the early 1950s, making his mark as a new kind of realist, with muted colors and heavy brushstrokes that emphasized the flesh. Freud was known to spend thousands of hours on a single portrait; he often painted people he knew who were willing to endure months of sitting under the gaze of a probing eye. A retrospective exhibit in 1987 and 1988 in Paris, Washington and London helped make Freud an international star. By the end of his career, Lucian Freud was among a handful of painters described as the world’s best, and the value of his painting began to soar. The National Gallery of Australia bought Freud’s After Cézanne (2000) for $7.4 million in 2001, and in 2011, a few months after Freud’s death, his Boy’s Headsold for nearly $5 million.

As his business card tells us Thomas had a studio on Crown Street, Hebden Bridge. I have yet to find out which building his studio occupied, but I currently live adjacent to Crown Street!

Muddy paw prints on my jeans was a small price to pay for such an interesting afternoon!

I  visited their grave a while back  – a very imposing memorial – in Heptonstall cemetery. I must visit it again now that i know a little more about them.

The 901 bus to Huddersfield – a fabric artist’s view

The 901 to Huddersfield.


Blue-butted sheep clinging to the hillsides are woollen smudges on green felt

Faintly mottled with age and growing decrepitude.

Fragments of ancient walls crisscrossing the quilted landscape

Are half finished seams defining and redefining the juxtaposition of fabrics.

Hand embroidered backstitches create paths through the panorama

While roads are unravelled seams bordered by messy ditches to be constructed, moved and rethought time after time.

The motorway looming below is an ugly fray, brutally ripped open, causing mayhem to the surrounding countryside

Xs mark the placement of buildings clustered in their cross-stitched confusion along

A trailing blue ribbon slip-stitched in meandering waves through darkened valleys of worsted cloth.


It’s late afternoon and the winter light is fading.

In my workspace I turn on the overhead light causing the sun to break through brocade clouds

Bringing a luminescence to the tightly woven silken threads.

Circles of shining sequins sowed like seeds over the felt

Are reservoirs feeding thirsty machines and people

Living in their cross-stitched villages, in the shadows of their buckram chimneys,

Connected by their ribbon river and their running stitched roads

And tonight, secure in their blanket stitched beds.

Set in Stone?

Set in stone?


On viewing the West wall of Manchester Cathedral


A first view:

Black, pitted,

Scored by aeons of weather

Scared by centuries of man.

Man and horse struggled

Through the penetrating precipitation

Of a Mancunian winter to carry that once-golden stone

Masons left their marks

Gauged with chisels, struck with hammers, polished it until smooth.


Set in stone implies ‘forever’

Yet here the ravages of time, be they made by man or Nature’s serendipity

Have destroyed those chiseled lines,

Blurred those straight edges,

Roughened those smooth surfaces until

Only scattered remnants of fine tracery peak out with blinded eyes from beneath its wretched face.

And now, like an ancient mummy the once-smooth skin is black and pitted,

A volcanic crater of aging epidermis.


But wait,

A second viewing, now informed by a Father

Garbed in mockery of the knights that lie prostrate beneath our feet.

That ancient wall that spoke to me of medieval masons

Whose marks I’d traced with hesitant fingers,

Yearning to connect across the centuries,

Its marks are mutilations, wounds wrought by virtuous Victorians

Intentional disfigurements of medieval craftsmanship

By prim men in straight-laced garb

Yearning to cover the ancient disorder with modern clarity of line.


This wall, with its pock marks and scuffs bore witness to my forefathers,

Their birth, their love, their demise.

Music shrouds their spirits for

Without them I wouldn’t exist.

“That wall needs a face lift.

Cover the blemishes, obliterate the scars,” the renovators had said.

Today that white wash has flaked away into its own oblivion

Leaving the pitted West wall to conjure its own convoluted saga.

A musician’s view of the 12:27 to Leeds

The 12:27 to Leeds


“The next train to depart from platform one will be the 12:27 to Leeds

Calling at Mytholmroyd, Sowerby Bridge, Halifax, Bradford Interchange, New Pudsey and Leeds.”

The contralto’s opening recitative sends ‘shivers down my spine.’

This platform change has me running Prestissimo beneath the bridge passage synching my pulse to the finale of the William Tell Overture.

I slip for a moment on the wet cobbles but managing to avoid a fully fledged glissando,

I run up the stairs in whole steps and, with the leap of a tritone, like the Devil I jump aboard.

The iron Lion growls and lets out a roar as this Carnival of human Animals settles back in its seat to enjoy this Short Ride in a Fast Machine.


The Water Music to our left softly serenades with Tales from Vienna Woods

While the Ash Grove placidly sits on the hillside above soulfully singing Dido’s Lament over a ground bass provided by lowing cows.

Below me Mytholmroyd church still manages to keep its asymmetrical head above water

But with much more rain it’ll become La Cathédrale Engloutie.

But for now in these green quilted fields Sheep May Safely Graze

Farther along the valley abandoned factories resound to the rhythm of Bolero

As ghosts perform a Danse Macabre on the skeletal remains of neglected buildings.


Through a dense mist of atonal fog Britten’s Night Mail performs an accelerando through the entire Four Seasons

Coming at last to a rest in Winter at Sowerby Bridge

Where the platform is humming to the Waltz of the Flowers as Eidelweiss pirouttes with Roses from the South

But at this time of year all respectable Bumble Bees have already taken Flight.

Continuing at a tempo moderato the train goes ‘past cotton grass and moorland boulder’ and eventually

Rows of saw-toothed weaving sheds climax in Halifax’s phallic folly

As, through the rustling leaves of Der Lindenbaum, I glimpse The Lark Ascending.


Heading over Coley viaduct a phrase of staccato raindrops bounce off Satie’s umbrellas keeping dry the heads of men intently involved in Le Golf

As, high above them, marching with Pomp and Circumstance, huge pylons stomp across the course con moto like Martian fighting machines.


At length a dolce phrase from a Bach Suite greets our arrival After Eight in Halifax, home to Mackintosh and Quality Street.

And several crochets climb aboard accompanied by small quavers stoically holding hands.

They scale the half steps and jump eagerly onto the two lined staff stretching across the page

While white haired minims and legless semibreves prop up the bar.


Subito, we plunge into the blackness of the Hall of the Mountain King,

Where sparsely orchestrated Catacombs lurk at ever diminishing intervals

“Where’s our Lux Aeterna when we need one?” I ask the ripieno gathered around me

‘But answer came there none’

For a grand pause was written into the score and everyone was silent.


Back under the Nuages Gris and ever onward past Jardins sous la pluie

We pause for a brief fermata at Bradford station

Where the train suddenly goes into retrograde motion for the remainder of the trip.

As we make a controlled ritardando into New Pudsey

The vast expanse of Asda’s car park is revealed as a Land of Hope and Glory

Wherein ‘the machine of a dream’ vies for space with a mercury Queen.

Ponies scatter on the sodden field dreaming of a life in the sun in Copland’s Rodeo

While at the Major’s poultry farm I spy a Ballet of Unhatched Chicks

Caused by a sharp cat wandering into the flat yard

And causing havoc in The Hut on Hen’s Legs.

Hen’s LegH

“Oh puss, get out” I cry to myself, sotto voce,

But my voice is lost in a cacophony of cell phones

As aleatoric pings Come Together in a final cadenza

Heralding not The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba into Leeds railway station

But a Fanfare for the Common Man.

James Wrigley – my great great great grandfather – therein lies a tale.

James Wrigley – my great great great grandfather – therein lies a tale.


Between 1809 and 1811 James and Mally Wrigley moved from their home on Toad Lane Rochdale to Heptonstall. Toad Lane Rochdale is famous all over the world for being the home of the Cooperative movement. In fact, I went to a lecture last night given by the Hebden Bridge Local History Society about the origins of the first cooperative mill, Nutclough Mill which just happens to be in in Hebden Bridge, and how it was eventually bought out by the Cooperative Wholesale Society. It brought back memories for me of going to the Coop in Bolton, not just for food, but I had my elocution lessons in a room upstairs, was a member of the verse speaking choir (which is why I can recite so many poems) and the singing choir. Verse speaking and elocution festivals were held in the ballroom about the food store. I also went to the Coop dentist and Coop opticians in that building. The first coop on Toad Lane Rochdale is now a museum which I visited during my summer trip to England last year. The site of the museum at 31 Toad Lane was where the ‘Pioneers’, 28 working people opened a co-operative store on the 21st December, 1844.


I’d discovered, surprisingly, that James and Mally Wrigley are my great great great great grandparents. It’s from my connection with them that I am related to the Wrigley builders of Hebden Bridge, and the Gibsons of Hebden Bridge. Between the birth of their fourth and fifth sons the growing Wrigley family moved from Rochdale to Heptonstall. I don’t know where they lived immediately but by 1840 they were living in Lily Hall. Lily Hall is pivotal in my family history.

Lily Hall, Heptonstall

But for the Wrigleys of Lily Hall I wouldn’t have the ancestors in Heptonstall and Hebden Bridge that first brought me to stay in this area with Rachel in the summer of 2015 which eventually led to me moving to Hebden Bridge in Sept 2017 after 32 years in the U.S.

When James (junior) was married at St Thomas’s, Heptonstall on March 15, 1840 he was living with his parents James and Mally in Lily Hall. His occupation is given as a white limer, one who paints walls and fences with white lime, and his father is a cabinet maker. James’s new bride is Mary Pickles of Rochdale. James and Mary both made their mark in lieu of signature so they were probably illiterate. A witness to their marriage is Thomas Gibson, a 20 year old whitesmith who was living next door at Lily Hall. Sometime the following year in 1841 Mary gave birth to a son, Thomas, who soon died and was buried at St Thomas’s on July 15, 1841. In 1843 Sarah was born and a year later Martha in 1844. In 1847 Mally was born – named after her grandma. By the census in 1851 James and Mary were living at Town Gate Heptonstall and James is a head plasterer, thus carrying on the family tradition of being connected with the building trade. In 1852 James’s wife Mary died at the age of 37. She’s buried at St Thomas’s: Plot #V1 9 Flat In memory of MARY the wife of JAMES WRIGLEY of this Town who died June 12th 1852 aged 37 years Also of JAMES WRIGLEY her husband who died Sept 2nd 1886 aged 75 years. Two years, 2nd July 1854 later he married another Mary, Mary Ackroyd, a widow whose maiden name had been Pickup. The following month (!) their daughter Mary Ann was born on August 21st. The next 3 censuses 1861, 1871, 1881 have the family living at Millwood, an area between Hebden Bridge and Todmorden near the Shannon and Chesapeake pub (which I noticed yesterday is closed and up for sale for £195,000). Mary died in 1876 and James lived to the grand old age of 75 and was buried with his first wife (!) at St Thomas’s.

Shannon and Chesapeake pub is for sale

So, how does all this tie in with MY family tree. Well, here’s an article I wrote explaining just that. It was published in the Calderdale Family History Journal:

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.

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.


So, just two months after James married his first wife Mary Pickles, his next door neighbor gave birth to James’s child, Elizabeth, who took as her surname her mother’s married name of Whitham. On June 11th 1840 just 3 weeks after Elizabeth Ann was born at a petty sessions held at the White Hart in Todmorden in front of 2 justices of the peace James was acknowledged as Elizabeth Ann’s father and ordered to pay 4s 6p to the Overseers of the Poor in Heptonstall for the maintenance and support so far incurred and he is ordered to pay weekly 1s 6p weekly until the child reaches 7 years of age. When Sarah and I had lunch in the White Hart we’d no idea of how significant a role this building had been in our family’s history.

Through a couple more years of research, especially when I moved to Hebden Bridge I found out more about the Wrigley family. They continued to expand their building business, building some of the largest buildings in Hebden Bridge and surrounding area. But that’s for another post on my blog. Sally had already given birth to six children when she had Elizabeth. Their early deaths make very sad reading. Her first two children died less than a year old. Her third, Hannah, outlived her, dying at 66, then Farrar died aged 5 and John aged 2, then she had James Farrar (1837-1901) and 7 months later her husband, William Whitham died. No wonder she was living back with her parents in Lily Hall in 1840.