At the first Todmorden Antiquarian meeting of this autumn Philip Lee presented ‘Todmorden Mills’ and Catherine Emberson described ‘Aspects of Centre Vale’.
Philip has studied the chronological history and development of selected Todmorden’s Mills.
Lumbutts Mill dates back to 1557 when it was built as a cornmill by the Foxcroft family from Sowerby. Several families ran the mill, until it became part of the Fielden Bros cotton mills. In the 1830s the Fieldens invested in several dams linking with the Rochdale Canal Company systems on Gaddings Moor. In 1856 there were 97 people employed, including 39 children.
In 1891 Edward Fielden wanted to close Lumbutts, but owner John Fielden refused permission. Lumbutts Mill closed in 1926 and some employees moved onto Robinwood Mill.
During the 19th century the Ingham Brothers owned Woodhouse, nearby Millsteads and Cinderhill Mills.
Woodhouse had detached chimney, engine-house, and ware-house.
Woodhouse closed in 1930 and was converted into 20 apartments in 2003.
Nanholme Mill, standing off Shaw Wood Road, had high reputation for its fabrics produced.
This mill remains today.
There is a record of a small spinning mill at Burnt Acres in 1811. From Dugdale Dawson in 1878 several companies produced cotton, dyes, picker-makers. Martin Holt acquired the site in 1893 and rebuilt in the current form.
His son John, reportedly a millionaire, took over management.
In the 1960s Perseverance made under-felt from shoddy. In 1971 Fothergill and Harvey manufactured glass-fibre products, such as military ammunition boxes.
This mill is still working – recently Menzolit’s chemical factory, then for storage facilities. Philip showed the memorable 1898 fire which illuminated the skies above Eastwood’s Bridgeholme Mill (formerly Perseverance), witnessed by 10,000 onlookers.
In 1821 the original Centre Vale House was built to accommodate Thomas Ramsbottom’s growing family.
The mansion, Carr Laithe and Platts hillside farms were sold to John Fielden MP in 1842. He lived at Centre Vale House whilst campaigning for Parliamentary 10-Hours and Factories Acts.
The bronze-cast statue of John Fielden was designed by John Foley in 1869 and is Grade 2 Listed monument.
John Fielden died in 1849 and his eldest son Samuel moved into Centre Vale House. Samuel was one of the richest men in England.
He set about expanding Centre Vale Estate, improving buildings, buying the cricket field and Ridge Hillside. Ewood Mill was demolished to make way for Fielden School organised by his wife, Sarah. The next Fielden generation had outgrown Todmorden.
Centre Vale Mansion, parkland, cricket field, Carr Laithe and Platts were sold for £10,000 to the Mayor of Todmorden. The official opening of Todmorden’s Centre Vale Park took place on Saturday, March 30 in 1912 amidst a storm whilst the civic procession left the Town Hall.
Our Garden of Remembrance had previously been the kitchen garden for Centre Vale Mansion.
The bandstand, shelters and bowling pavilion were erected in 1914. Slides of the opening bandstand concert, attended by over 16,000 people, were contrasted with the replacement structure in 2000.
Other slides featured the bowling green opening in 1914, the 1960s playground and former swimming baths.
Todmorden Antiquarian’s next meeting will be on Tuesday, October 22 when David Glover will present ‘Branwell Bronte and His Friends’ at 7.30pm in Todmorden Town Hall Courtroom. All are welcome.