I was lucky to meet Freda, who will be sadly missed

editorial image

Having just been sent the Todmorden News by my brother, I was sad to hear that Freda Mosley has passed away, I am sure she will be sadly missed, being a warm and generous person.

I had the good fortune to meet her, by appointment, in about 2005 at her home, on a visit to Walsden from Hastings, where I live.

I had asked if I could see St Peter’s Church, where I was the only boy soprano in 1947-48, when we lived at Rough Bank, owned by John Willie Jackson, his wife a cousin of my grandad.

As Freda was an officer of the church, she arranged to meet me later with a lady who was a member of the Hird family, a cousin of the actress Thora Hird, whose dad came from Tod.

When we arrived at the church gate, I pointed out the copper beech tree by the gate planted by my family in the 1870s next to Ralph Marland’s grave. He was my great-great-grandad, he lived formerly at 783 Rochdale Road when it was detached and all one property.

He was one of the brothers who built Sun Vale Iron works (loom makers etc.) from 1848 to 1865. Sunvale was named so, because they had a Centre Vale in Tod.

We entered the church where I was able to see the table inscribed with my cousins’ names, John and Mary Crowther, having been made by their children to their parents’ memory.

Sadly the pipe organ was destroyed in the fire of 1948. It brought back memories, of my singing in the organ gallery and sometimes hand pumping the organ, for the organist and choir master, John Eddy Stockwell, who had done the job for maybe 40 years or more. I used to have to sing what I thought, at the time, were the most boring solos.

I remembered being in the church practising for the 100th anniversary, the same evening before the great fire started, and viewing the fire burning, from Rough Bank and listening to the clock, chiming midnight.

That evening was a challenge for the whole village and very traumatic indeed, apart from the destruction of a lovely church building except the walls and tower, and the important Westminster chiming clock was unharmed too.

I told Freda that we held the church services in the school after then, as she didn’t live in Walsden when these events took place.

I remember her very well and her kindness and warmth towards me. God bless her.

Brian Marland