Todmorden facts for kids
A view over Todmorden
|Population||15,481 (Including Cornholme and Portsmouth, West Yorkshire. 2011)|
|OS grid reference|
|• London||174 mi (280 km) SSE|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|EU Parliament||Yorkshire and the Humber|
Todmorden (//; locally // // or //) is a market town and civil parish in the Upper Calder Valley in Calderdale, West Yorkshire, England. It is 17 miles (27 km) from Manchester and in 2011 had a population of 15,481.
The historic boundary between Yorkshire and Lancashire is the River Calder and its tributary, the Walsden Water, which run through the town. The administrative border was altered by the Local Government Act 1888 placing the whole of the town within the West Riding.
The town is served by Todmorden and Walsden railway stations.
The name Todmorden first appears in 1641. The town had earlier been called Tottemerden, Totmardene, Totmereden or Totmerden. The generally accepted meaning of the name is Totta's boundary-valley, probably a reference to the valley running north-west from the town. Alternative suggestions have been proposed, such as the speculation "maybe fancifully" that the name derives from two words for death: tod and mor (as in mort), meaning "death-death-wood", or that the name meant "marshy home of the fox", from the Old English.
In 1898 Blackheath Barrow—a ring cairn monument situated above Cross Stone in Todmorden—was excavated and proved to be a site of "surpassing archaeological interest", according to J. Lawton Russell, one of the men who carried out the excavation. Various Bronze Age items were discovered, including sepulchral urns, a human skull, teeth and hands.
Russell contended that Blackheath Barrow was primarily a religious site, specifically intended for the "performance of funeral rites", as there was no evidence that it had been settled for domestic use. Of particular interest were the four cairns, positioned at the cardinal points of the compass, and it has been suggested that this indicates "a ritual evocation of the airts, or spirits of the four directions, with obvious correlates in relation to spirits in the land of the dead".
The various finds from the 1898 dig are now housed in the Todmorden Library, on permanent display.
The earliest written record of the area is in the Domesday Book (1086). Settlement in medieval Todmorden was dispersed. Most people living in scattered farms or in isolated hilltop agricultural settlements. Packhorse trails were marked by ancient stones of which many still survive.
For hundreds of years streams from the surrounding hills provided water for corn and fulling mills. Todmorden grew to relative prosperity by combining farming with the production of woollen textiles. Some yeomen clothiers were able to build fine houses, a few of which still exist today. Increasingly, though, the area turned to cotton. The proximity of Manchester, as a source of material and trade, was undoubtedly a strong factor. Another was that the strong Pennine streams and rivers were able to power the machine looms. Improvements in textile machinery (by Kay, Hargreaves and Arkwright), along with the development of turnpike roads (1751–1781), helped to develop the new cotton industry and to increase the local population.
In 1801 most people still lived in the uplands; Todmorden itself could be considered as a mere village. During the years 1800–1845 great changes took place in the communications and transport of the town which were to have a crucial effect on promoting industrial growth. These included the building of: (1) better roads; (2) the Rochdale Canal (1804); and (3) the main line of the Manchester and Leeds Railway (1841), which became the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway in 1847. This railway line incorporated the (then) longest tunnel in the world, the 2,885-yard Summit Tunnel. A second railway, from Todmorden to Burnley, opened as a single line in 1849, being doubled to meet demand in 1860. A short connecting line, from Stansfield Hall to Hall Royd, completed the "Todmorden Triangle" in 1862, thus enabling trains to travel in all three directions (Manchester, Leeds and Burnley) without reversing.
The Industrial Revolution caused a concentration of industry and settlement along the valley floor and a switch from woollens to cotton. One family in the area was particularly influential on the town; the Fielden family. They created a "dynasty" that changed the town forever by establishing several large mills, putting up assorted impressive buildings and bringing about social and educational change.
A double murder took place at Christ Church, Todmorden on 2 March 1868. The victims' graves lie in the churchyard. Miles Weatherhill, a 23-year-old weaver from the town, was forbidden from seeing his housemaid sweetheart, Sarah Bell, by the Reverend Anthony John Plow. Armed with four pistols and an axe, Weatherhill took revenge first on the vicar and then on Jane Smith, another maid who had informed Plow of the secret meetings. Miss Smith died at the scene, while the vicar survived another week before succumbing to his injuries. Weatherhill also seriously injured the vicar's wife. On 4 April 1868 Weatherhill became the last person to be publicly hanged in Manchester, at the New Bailey prison. Local legend has it that the face of a young woman is sometimes seen in the window of the vicarage, now in private ownership.
Throughout the first decade of the 20th century, the population of the Borough of Todmorden remained constant. The ten-yearly UK census returns show figures of 25,418 in 1901 and 25,404 in 1911. Like the rest of the Upper Calder Valley, Todmorden's economy experienced a slow decline from around the end of the First World War onwards, accelerating after the Second World War until around the late 1970s. During this period there was a painful restructuring of the local economy with the closure of mills and the demise of heavy industry.
On 1 January 1907, Todmorden Corporation became only the second municipality in the British Isles to operate a motor bus service. By the end of that year, the fleet had expanded to five double-deck vehicles: two by Critchley-Norris, two by Lancashire Steam (predecessor of Leyland Motors) and one by Ryknield. In 1931, the service became jointly operated by the Corporation and the LMS railway under the name "Todmorden Joint Omnibus Committee". At its maximum size in the 1940s and 1950s, the undertaking operated 40 vehicles over 50 route miles (80 km) through the rugged South Pennine terrain.
Until 1938, the town was served by no fewer than six railway stations: Todmorden, Stansfield Hall, Cornholme, Portsmouth, Walsden and Eastwood. With the exception of Todmorden railway station, all closed during the middle third of the 20th century although Walsden railway station reopened on 10 September 1990 on a site a few yards north of the original 1845 railway station. In December 1984 a goods train carrying petrol derailed in the Summit Tunnel between Todmorden and Littleborough causing what is still considered as one of the biggest underground fires in transport history.
In 1980, Todmorden found itself at the centre of a celebrated murder enquiry. On 11 June that year police were called to J.W. Parker's coal yard in Todmorden after the discovery of a body, subsequently identified as 56-year-old Zigmund Adamski from Tingley, near Wakefield. The former coal miner had not been seen since setting out on a local shopping trip five days earlier. Although still wearing a suit, his shirt, watch and wallet were missing. A post mortem established that he died of a heart attack earlier that day, and discovered burns on his neck, shoulders and back of his head. These appeared to have been dressed by a green ointment, which toxicology tests were unable to identify. Adamski's case has never been solved, no suspect was ever arrested and in a television documentary the coroner, James Turnbull, described it as "one of the most puzzling cases I've come across in 25 years". Among the explanations to gain currency was that Adamski was the victim of extraterrestrial abduction. After intense media interest, the Todmorden police force were forbidden from talking further to the press about the case.
In 2008, a group of local residents initiated the Incredible Edible Todmorden project to raise awareness of food issues and in particular local food and food provenance. The project has been responsible for the planting of 40 public fruit and vegetable gardens throughout the town, with each plot inviting passers-by to help themselves to the open source produce. The project has attracted publicity, media attention and visitors and the idea has been replicated in at least fifteen towns and villages in the UK.
Other villages and towns in the Upper Calder Valley include Hebden Bridge and Mytholmroyd. The territory of the civil parish of Todmorden also extends to cover Eastwood, Walsden, Cornholme, Mankinholes, Lumbutts, Robinwood, Lydgate, Portsmouth, Shade, Stansfield, Dobroyd, Ferney Lee, Gauxholme and Cross Stone.
Medieval Todmorden had consisted of the townships of Langfield and Stansfield in Yorkshire, and Todmorden/Walsden section of the greater township of Hundersfield in the Ancient Parish of Rochdale, Lancashire. The township of Todmorden and Walsden was created in 1801 by the union of the older villages of Todmorden and Walsden.
Todmorden has a Greek Revival town hall (built 1866–1875) which dominates the centre of the town. The building straddles the Walsden Water, a tributary of the River Calder, and was situated in both Lancashire and Yorkshire until the administrative county boundary was moved on 1 January 1888. Designed by John Gibson of Westminster, this imposing building has a northern end which is semi-circular. One interesting external feature of the town hall is the pediment to the front elevation, which reflects the fact that it straddled the boundary as it depicts the main industries of the two counties. The fine carved stonework has two central female figures on a pedestal. The left-hand sculpture represents Lancashire (cotton spinning and weaving industries), and the right-hand one Yorkshire (wool manufacturing, engineering and agriculture).
Todmorden has the look of a Victorian mill town. Other notable buildings include Dobroyd Castle (completed in 1869), now used as a residential activity centre for schoolchildren; the Edwardian Hippodrome Theatre, and the Grade I listed Todmorden Unitarian Church (built 1865–1869). Dobroyd Castle, the town hall and the Unitarian church were all built at the behest of John Fielden and his sons and designed by John Gibson, who had been a member of Charles Barry's team at the Houses of Parliament. Pre-Victorian buildings include two 18th century pubs; Todmorden Old Hall, a Grade II* listed manor house (Elizabethan) in the centre of town, and St. Mary's Church which dates from 1476.
Todmorden is situated alongside the Pennine Way, Pennine Bridleway, Mary Towneley Loop and Calderdale Way and is popular for outdoor activities such as walking, fell running, mountain biking and bouldering. Its attractions include canals and locks, a park containing a sports centre, an outdoor skateboard park, tennis courts, a golf course, an aquarium/reptile house and a cricket ground. There are wooded areas around the town and cafés and restaurants. The Hippodrome Theatre shows films as well as putting on live performances. The town has a small toy and model museum, a library and a tourist information centre, along with independent retailers. Annual events include a carnival, agricultural show, beer festival, music festival and the traditional Easter Pace Egg plays.
Centre Vale Park in Todmorden is the setting for several pieces of local art, including tree carvings by the sculptor John Adamson. Also in the park are the reconstructed remains of Centre Vale Mansion, next to Todmorden War Memorial in the Garden of Remembrance, and nearby there is a sculpture of a dog. This was sculpted by local sculptor David Wynne in 2005, and was cast in steel at the local Todmorden foundry Weir Minerals. It was donated to the park by the sculptor and the foundry, but installation was delayed for several years due to the extensive flood alleviation works. In 2011, the dog was featured on an episode of Derren Brown's The Experiments. Brown spread a rumour that the dog was lucky; it then gained a reputation for bringing luck to anyone that touched it. During the First World War the mansion was used as a military hospital.
The 120 ft Stoodley Pike monument (built 1814 and rebuilt in 1854) stands atop the 1,300 ft hill of the same name. It commemorates the defeat of Napoleon and the surrender of Paris. It is a prominent feature of Todmorden's moors, and is a landmark on the Pennine Way.
Images for kids
Coat of Arms of the former Todmorden Borough Council.
Todmorden Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.