When controversy raged over market

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OUT in time for Christmas, and rather complementing Roger Birch’s latest edition of Todmorden Album, a new book puts the spotlight on one aspect of the town’s shopping habits over the years - its market.

Todmorden was fast becoming a cotton town at the start of the 19th century and, as author Dorothy Dugdale explains in Todmorden Market: A 200-Year Snapshot of Todmorden Life, it was inevitable it would become a market town.

The longer hours people had to work in the factory era hived away much of their leisure time - as handloom weavers at home they had been able to take a break when they liked - and moving from valley top to bottom meant it was harder to grow produce themselves.

So from around 1802, when a market first appeared at White Hart Fold in Todmorden town centre, a new era in shopping began.

Things gathered pace midway through the century when Todmorden Local Board took the market on and, using press reports from the time, Dorothy is able to focus on three key public meetings which resulted in the decision to build the market hall and market ground around which Todmorden is still centred today.

Then as it would be now, a new development on this scale was surrounded by controversy, with the Board, whose chairman John Fielden, youngest son of John Fielden MP, wanting to build but opposed on grounds of potentially escalating costs by Enoch Horsfall, concerned about the strain the cost would place on the ratepayers of the time. Finally, it opened in December 1879. Newspaper reports of the time could be quite dry, but Dorothy brings the exchanges - which resonate today, when argument and counter-argument rage about the presence of supermarkets - to life.

She also devotes plenty of space to how the market, not just a place to shop and where Todmordians once did almost all of their shopping but a meeting place, developed through the 20th century and adjusts to new challenges in the 21st.

Material taken from the Market Inspectors’ logs make for very interesting reading about a place full of hustle and bustle.

Todmorden Market by Dorothy Dugdale is priced at £4.50 and is available from Todmorden Tourist Information Centre, Todmorden News Centre, Border Books on Halifax Road, Todmorden, and at Todmorden Market Hall.