Safety concerns shut steps as owner search goes on

The Old Chapel Steps, Knowlwood Road, Todmorden
The Old Chapel Steps, Knowlwood Road, Todmorden

A steep set of steps connecting two Todmorden roads has been closed for safety reasons - and it will be up to whoever owns the steps to repair them.

Calderdale Council has closed the steps, known as the Old Chapel Steps, which connect Knowlwood Road and Lumbutts Road, and hope the public might be able to help them with information as to who owns them.

Until recently there had been confusion over ownership and a council “public footpath” sign on Knowlwood Road had pointed to them.

Knowlwood Road resident Mr Terrance Holden raised the issue with the council as he believed the stone steps were unsafe - and would be especially so in wet or cold weather, being uneven, unstable and in poor repair.

“I just wanted somebody to come and have a look at them because they are very dangerous and if someone falls down the steps it could be serious,” he said.

A lamp-post sign had directed people towards them, indicating it was a public right of way and seemed to imply council responsibility for them.

Mr Holden alerted the council to the situation and when he returned from a holiday at the end of the summer was amazed to find the “public footpath” sign moved to an alternative linking route about 100 yards further along Knowlwood Road.

The message came back that the council had been unable to trace the owner on the land register and Mr Holden, who has also raised the matter with Calder Valley MP Craig Whittaker’s office, said they appeared on no immediate neighbour’s deeds.

He urged that at least a warning sign be placed there, an action now carried out by Calderdale Council - but the search for ownership goes on.

Calderdale Council’s head of planning and highways, Geoff Willerton, said officers had inspected the steps and had now closed them in the interest of public safety.

“We have installed barriers and notices on site to make sure people don’t use the steps, and we’ve removed the public footpath sign which had previously been put up in error.

“We do not own the steps, and it is the landowner’s responsibility to maintain them.

“We have tried to identify the owner to encourage them to repair the steps, but have so far been unsuccessful.

“If anyone has any information which could help our search, please call us on 0845 245 6000,” he said.

It is believed the steps were once part of the former Knowlwood Chapel - hence the name given them over many years locally - which was demolished some years ago.

When the chapel and school were demolished, believed to be some time during the 1960s, the congregation moved down to the Wesleyan Chapel at Shade, a building which is now private residences.