Relocation of historic weir structure preserves town’s industrial heritage

The official unveiling of the historic sluice structure at Fielden Square, Todmorden
The official unveiling of the historic sluice structure at Fielden Square, Todmorden

A piece of Todmorden’s industrial heritage has been unveiled at its new location as a gateway feature to the town.

Early 19th century ironwork from the original Todmorden Weir sluice gate, which was displaced by work on the Todmorden flood defence scheme, was officially unveiled at Fielden Square on Tuesday.

The sluice gate had to be moved from its original location on Walsden Water as part of the £13 million third phase of the scheme to improve flood defences in Todmorden.

Due to its historic significance, it was carefully dismantled and taken away to be refurbished before being reconstructed on its original supporting stones.

After consultation with Todmorden Civic Society, town councillors, Calderdale Council’s conservation team and residents, it was agreed that the site at Fielden Square would be the best place for the historic structure as it is a gateway point into the town.

Donald Murray, Volker Stevin project manager for the Environment Agency’s (EA) Todmorden flood alleviation scheme, said: “We felt that, in this case, there was an opportunity to retain a piece of the town’s industrial heritage which would otherwise have been lost and we are pleased that the community has supported our proposals.”

Mr Murray also thanked the sluice structure’s former owner, Alison Carlton, for her co-operation and support for the plan to preserve and move the feature to its new site.

Mark Tupman, Environment Agency project manager, said: “This will be an interesting feature which will be easily visible to visitors entering Todmorden from the Walsden direction.

“Our environmental assessment team have worked hard to design a scheme to relocate these ironworks and we are pleased to see them in their new surroundings.”

Todmorden Civic Society provided details for an interpretation board which explains the history of the weir and its significance in providing a major source of energy to drive machinery in local cotton mills.

Darren Midgley, civic society chairman, said: “The interpretation board and the relocation of the sluice lock helps to tell the story of Todmorden’s industrial past. It can be enjoyed by future generations and visitors to the town.”

Mr Midgley, who did the honours at the unveiling ceremony, thanked Volker Stevin and the EA for their help with the project.

Kate Moretin-Deakin, honorary president of the civic society, said: “This is an excellent example of private and public sector agencies working together to improve the town.”

The weir was once used to provide water power to the mills by regulating the flow from Walsden Water through mechanical sluice gate structures via a mill race. This fed a water wheel on the site of what is now Morrison’s.