Images reveal more of what Todmorden used to look like

Cornholme Mills, with double gantry over Burnley Road, courtesy of Todmorden Antiquarian Society
Cornholme Mills, with double gantry over Burnley Road, courtesy of Todmorden Antiquarian Society

Todmorden Town Hall Court Room overflowed for our first meeting of 2014, when members and visitors flocked for our ever-popular vice-chairman Robert Priestley’s slide-show.

These pictures of Todmorden’s past were recently found amongst Robert’s late sister, antiquarian Betty Savage’s, effects.

Robert began by showing us copies of artist’s impressions of Todmorden landscapes, some found decades ago in the damp cellars of our Town Hall. Local born artist A. W. Bayes is best known for his painting of the Chartists meeting in 1842 at the Basin Stone on the moorland hills high above Walsden. John Holland visited Todmorden circa 1870 to paint local beauty spots. Digital prints have been re-created from A. W. Bayes and John Holland’s original oil paintings and can be seen or purchased at Todmorden TIC.

In 1971, John Chadwick, who was an antique dealer in Todmorden, took photographs of every street in Todmorden! John was a dedicated historian and co-founder of Todmorden Antiquarian Society. Robert took us on an amazing pictorial historic journey around Todmorden Borough. We saw churches, chapels, huge mills, local folk and countryside all bringing Todmorden’s past to life.

Lots of small shops traded alongside the imposing Dale Street Co-operative Stores. Bridge Street Chapel was alongside the smoke-darkened Town Hall and on present day County Bridge stood a row of tall shops in close proximity to old cars driving along narrow A-roads.

Robert described many Todmorden mills which thrived until manufacturing moved overseas. A photograph taken from Longfield hillside showed a multitude of mills with tall chimneys between the Rochdale Canal and Halifax Road. During the 1960s many higgledy-piggledy dwellings were demolished, as shown at Blind lane with Centre Vale in the background. Roads were widened and parking areas constructed.

A photograph showed Grammar School pupils marching along Patmos after celebrating their 50th anniversary, together with the new building extension completed around 1965.

Amongst these newly discovered slides are some mysteries!

Further information from readers would be most welcome.

A photograph taken from present day Lover’s Lane in Centre Vale Woods (where once stood Carr House Farm) shows Todmorden Cricket Ground with a wooden shed roof in the foreground. There are also several slides dated 1944 depicting “Salute the Soldier Week” with crowds at Centre Vale, including various military dressed groups.

Thanks to Ken Lobley for his expertise projecting the slides, and to Robert for our fascinating insight to Todmorden’s past through his expanding collection of historic town slides.

Our next meeting will be held in Todmorden Town Hall Court Room on Tuesday, January 28, at 7.30 pm. Ray Riches will tell of Hebden Bridge’s Little Theatre. Visitors are always welcome.