Plaque for ‘honest John’ aims to attract tourists

Mayor of Todmorden Coun Abid Hussain and Fielden Society at the unveiling of plaque to commemorate former home of famous Todmordian John Fielden.
Mayor of Todmorden Coun Abid Hussain and Fielden Society at the unveiling of plaque to commemorate former home of famous Todmordian John Fielden.

A plaque has been unveiled to commemorate the former home of one of Todmorden’s famous sons and hopefully boost tourism to the town.

John Fielden MP lived at Dawson Weir House, on Rochdale Road, between 1811 and 1843.

Known as ‘Honest John’, he introduced the power loom to the Calder Valley and also fought for shorter working hours, promoting the Ten Hours Act.

The special blue plaque was installed at the house last week to highlight its importance in the history of Todmorden.

The wording on the plaque states: “John Fielden MP bought this house on his marriage in 1811 and lived here until 1843.

“His eight children were born and raised here.

“Opposite Waterside Mill, the house was at the heart of the Waterside community and the business of Fielden Bros was in part conducted from here.”

The Fielden Society asked Todmorden Town Council if it would fund a blue plaque in memory of John Fielden and made a donation towards the cost.

The town council then applied for planning consent and arranged the manufacture of the plaque. It was made and fitted by Stephen Cliffe, of Procast Foundry Ltd.

A special unveiling ceremony was held last week at Dawson Weir House, at which Mayor of Todmorden Coun Abid Hussain did the honours.

Coun Hussain said: “It was a pleasure to do it and I would like to thank the Fielden Society and the town council for organising it.

“I was very honoured to unveil the plaque for such a distinctive person of Todmorden.

“Let’s hope it brings more tourists in. It will do Todmorden a world of good.”

Shirley Fielden, secretary of the Fielden Society, said the new plaque is in a much better position than the previous one at Laneside.

“We decided it was a good idea to have a new plaque on Dawson Weir House because that was the hub of the Waterside business,” she said.

“John Fielden lived there for 30 years and brought his family up there.

“We must thank the Smith family, who live there now, for allowing us to put the plaque there.

“They have had quite a lot of interest, people looking up to see what it’s all about.

“We are really pleased it’s there. It’s in a much more prominent position than the one at Laneside.

“It’s such an important site regarding the Fielden family and the industrial revolution.”

Douglas Wilson, also of the Fielden Society, said he thought it would be good for the tourist industry.

He was pleased that the town council had contributed funding towards the project.

“It’s a local matter, so I’m glad that we worked together on this,” he said.

Jacqui Matthews, manager of Todmorden Information Centre, said she gets a lot of enquiries about the Fieldens and the plaque might be of interest to historians and tourists.

“A lot of people come in to say they are interested in the history of the town,” she said.