Map ref. SD 930223


List of known occupiers





FIELDEN Samuel, John & William


LORD John & sons, engineering


FIELDEN James, picker maker










Railway Company




FIELDEN & GREENWOOD, picker maker


Walsden Saw Mill on 25” O. S. map


HAYES A. woodworker
Illustrated story

Clough Farm

John Fielden was a farmer at Clough Farm in Walsden, and began the business of fustian making, where most of the work - spinning, weaving, warping and sizing - was done in the homes of local people who were paid by the finished piece. In 1785, he decided to build a small carding and spinning mill on his land so the cotton preparation and spinning could be done under one roof, and contracted William Fielden, mason of Calfhey, to do the work.

This mill and the one at Knowlwood Bottom were the first spinning mills to be built in the area. The mill was completed in 1786 and when it was partly furnished with machinery, John entered a partnership with John Travis of Heyside near Oldham, Abraham Crossley of KNOWLWOOD BOTTOM MILL, and John Crossley. John Fielden's eldest son Samuel was brought in to manage the place. Joseph Travis of the firm Travis & Milne at Heyside was made a co-partner about 1790. Joseph was the eldest son of original partner John Travis.

The power for the machinery was a water wheel, and dams and goits were constructed for water storage, the water being taken from the river at the bottom of Inchfield Fold meadow. The water power was always precarious, especially in the summer months when rain ran too quickly off the hillsides and not enough percolated through.


The mill was a small affair, with a dwelling house at one end for the partners. There were 3 storeys, with the cotton and willowing room and warehouse on the ground floor. The spinning Jennies, carding engines, stretching frames, winding, and warping machines were in the rooms above. Joseph Travis moved to live in the dwelling house with his wife Esther about 1791.

Their son Joseph was born there in 1792 but then Esther died. In 1796, he married a second wife, Betty daughter of Jeremiah Bottomley of Inchfield. Betty had been one of the card room hands when they met. Joseph and Betty went on the have nine children, all of who were born at the mill between 1799 and 1812.

In 1797 there is a reference to the mill in the Royal Exchange Insurance Policy Registers on 18th December as follows:

John and Joseph Travis, Abraham & John Crossley, cotton manufacturers, Cotton Mill, Walsden.

First class cotton risks, own occupation, £200.

Clockmaker's work £200,

stock in trade £100,

total £500,

premium £5.10s.6d.

In February 1798 the partnership was dissolved and was reported in the press as follows:

Clough Mill near Todmorden; John Travis of Heyside in the Parish of Oldham, Joseph Travis of Clough Mill, Abraham Crossley of Knowlwood, John Crossley of Salford Manchester, John Fielden of Clough in Walsden, cotton manufacturers and co-partners trading as Travis, Crossley & Co. Debts to be paid by all but Abraham Crossley.


John Fielden's wife, Martha, had died by this time, and he married a second time to Sally Wood. She brought her wayward brother, Jonas, to live at Clough and he was set to work as a hand weaver for the firm. He was apparently an eccentric and awkward person, very set in his ways and inflexible to the ways of others, and a little deficient in the brain department. John Fielden had many problems dealing with him. On one particular occasion, Jonas was having problems with his loom, but rather than ask for help in fixing it, he was so put out by the broken loom that he declared his intention to kill himself by drowning in the canal. No one believed him but nonetheless he was followed at a distance, just in case. He arrived at the canal bank, removed his clogs and stockings, and dipped his toes in the water as if testing the temperature. He then replaced his stockings and clogs and returned home. When asked why he had decided against drowning, he replied that the water was so cold it would have killed him!

In 1801, the insurance register shows:

Joseph Travis and John Fielden of Clough, Walsden, cotton manufacturers.

Clough Mill, cotton, own occupation, stores, first class cotton risk: £150.

Millwright and gears: £50

Clockmaker spinning, carding and breaking engines: £400

Stock in trade: £200

Premium £9.4s.0d.


Following the death of John Fielden in 1802, his son Samuel took over, working with Joseph Travis and trading as Fielden & Travis. They both attended the markets in Manchester and are mentioned as customers of Jeremiah Jackson, machine maker, in his account books.

Joseph Travis died at Clough Mill in 1818 at which point the mill passed to Samuel and his brothers John and William Fielden. They altered the original factory, which had been small and poorly lit. They widened and heightened the rooms to make space for more modern machinery, including power looms. There were now three good and well-lit rooms and an attic for mules.


The railway was built during the 1830's, and its route passed between the mill and the turnpike road, isolating the mill from road and canal. To make matters worse, the railway was slightly elevated at this point. In order for the mill to continue, a low tunnel was cut underneath the railway, bringing a road through to the mill from the turnpike.

The tunnel - just over 7 feet high, and very narrow


In the early 1830's, there was a spare room that the brothers rented out to John Lord and his sons. The Lords had been employed by the Fielden Brothers of Waterside Mill as mechanics, but now wanted to branch out on their own. At Clough Mill, they began the business of machine making. They supplied Clough Mill and Knowlwood Bottom Mill with machinery and were so successful that they left these small quarters after a few years, and within 12 years were able to build the large CANAL STREET WORKS on Halifax Road.

Meanwhile, about 1842, another Fielden took spare rooms at the mill. He was James, a distant relation, and a picker maker.
Pickers were essential items of equipment used by the weaver for throwing the shuttle across the warps. Originally, the handloom weavers made their own from sticks of holly, hazel or birch. All they needed was a knife and a tool to make the holes. However, as the weaving looms became more sophisticated, so there was need of a better picker. James Fielden is credited with being the inventor of the "modern" picker.
He made the first one whilst sitting at his own hand loom from a bit of flat wood and two small pieces of leather. He made these and sold them for three ha' pence a pair. People bought them either direct from James or from the grocers' shops. Pickers were made later in all forms and shapes and by machine, and James was one of the first to produce them in this way.
He and William Holt, his nephew, produced a machine for making harder pickers from compressed leather and they set up a manufacturing business first in a workshop at INCHFIELD FOLD. James then moved his business to Clough Mill, and by 1851, he was employing 14 men and 3 boys at his workshop in the mill. His brother Robert continued at Inchfield and between them they employed over 50 workers in 1852. When he died in 1855, aged 57, he was a very rich man as evidenced by his WILL.

The Fielden family of Clough Mill continued with the business of cotton spinning and manufacture alongside their distant cousin James and his picker making works. Samuel and John Fielden died, leaving their brother William the sole surviving son of Old John. William continued at Clough Mill and was joined by his brother John's son Samuel and his own son, John.

John the son of William married Peggy Bramley and had 10 children.


Peggy Bramley

photo by courtesy of Vic Fielden


Peggy and John lived at Clough and nearby Thistle Hall (Rose Cottage) where they brought up their children. John was a book keeper at the mill, later becoming a fully fledged cotton manufacturer until his death in 1860. Their second son, also John, emigrated to Australia in the 1870's where he worked on the beginning of the Adelaide to Darwin train line in the 1880s

John Fielden junior

photo by courtesy of Vic Fielden


Amongst the Australian Fielden papers is the document shown left, which appears to be notes relating to various annuities due to members of the family from the assets of Clough Mill. A partial transcript is below. (Courtesy of Vic Fielden)


Mrs. Sutcliffe.....

John Fielden......

Mrs. Firth..........

Sam Fielden.......

Mrs. Highley......

Jas Fielden........

Martha Fielden...

Joshua Fielden...









The above named people are the surviving children of Peggy and John Fielden, and some of their photos are shown below, again courtesy of Vic Fielden. Mary Ann was the daughter of Peggy Bramley, born before her marriage to John.

Mary Ann Bramley

(Mrs. Sutcliffe)

Susan Fielden

(Mrs Firth)

James Fielden


Josiah Fielden

Samuel Fielden


In 1860, the Walsden Rates Book shows William, his son John and nephew Samuel as occupiers, whilst the owner was William. That same year, both William and his son John died, leaving his nephew Samuel in sole charge. Samuel was the last of this Fielden family at Clough Mill.

He was left to face the disastrous slump in trade during the cotton panic of the 1860's. The mill lay empty from 1865 to 1868, although Samuel attempted to keep the business going. He remained in charge until 1876 when bankruptcy loomed. The Halifax Guardian of 11th November 1876 reported:

Meeting of creditors of Samuel Fielden, Clough Mill, Walsden, cotton spinner and manufacturer. Debts amounting to £1000 proved.


Following the demise of Samuel Fielden in 1876, the mill lay empty once more. Its position, adjoining the railway line by Walsden Station, made it a valuable asset for the Railway Company, who purchased it in 1879, but it remained empty until 1882 when Mr. Smith Starkie rented it. He was a machinery broker.

On 17th July 1884, Smith Starkie auctioned off the machinery at Clough Mill. The Todmorden Advertiser carried the following report:

At Clough Mill, Walsden, 1 Lancashire Boiler 25' x 7' diameter, 1 vertical boiler 4'6" x 2'3" diameter, horizontal engine, 10 looms 38" reed space, 2 cloth plaiting machines, mechanics tools, reed making tools, clog iron cutting and punching machine.

During Mr. Starkie's occupation there was a fire on the premises, which was reported as follows:


Smith Starkie

3rd Nov 1892

At 2-55am, a fire was discovered in the building known as Clough Mill, owned by the Railway Company, but occupied by Mr. Smith Starkie, Machine Broker, and by Mr. George Ashworth, Joiner. Through the prompt action taken by the Todmorden Fire Brigade, only slight damage was done.


Smith Starkie was followed as tenant by Greenwood and Fielden, picker makers, and in August 1895, the mill was the cause of great excitement in the area. This is evidenced by the following report:

27th August 1895


The work of felling a mill chimney was successfully accomplished at Clough Mill, Walsden, by the famous Lancashire Steeplejack Mr. J. Smith of Rochdale. The stack was 135 feet high and was erected about 60 years ago. Mr. Smith and 3 assistants, with the help of creosoted pitch-pine timber, a ton of coal, a quantity of shavings, 2 barrels of paraffin, and a barrel of tar, as well as some solid pitch, razed it to the ground in about 16 hours. The above chimney was connected with a mill formerly worked by Mr. Samuel Fielden, but is now used as a machinery warehouse and picker shop, and is owned by the L. & Y. Railway Company.


Very little is known about the following years in the life of Clough Mill. It seems to have been given over to joinery and woodworking, and on the 1907 Ordnance Survey Map is designated as a saw mill. Today, the mill is converted into a private residence, and the tunnel remains the only way in.


Additional information

researched, recorded and referenced by Mrs Sheila Wade

Hebden Bridge WEA

 Local History Group


Jeremiah Jackson's accounts books 1815-16

Messrs. Fielden & Travis, Clough

Jeremiah Jackson's accounts books 1818

Samuel Fielden, Clough Mill

Baines Directory 1822

Samuel Fielden cotton spinner

Pigot & Deane Directory 1824-5

John & William Fielden Clough Mill

Baines Directory 1825

John & William Fielden Clough Mill, cotton spinners

Pigot's Directory 1828-9

John & William Fielden Clough Mill Walsden, cotton spinners

Parson & White's Directory 1830

John & William Fielden Clough Mill, cotton spinners

Jeremiah Jackson's accounts books 1832

Mr. J. W. Fielden, Clough Mill

Pigot's Directory 1834

John & William Fielden Clough Mill Walsden, cotton spinners

Jeremiah Jackson's accounts books 1837

J. & W. Fielden, Clough Mill

Todmorden Voters 30th July 1842

William Fielden living at Clough Mill, freehold land and mill, Clough Mill.

White's Directory 1842-3

William Fielden, cotton spinner & manufacturer

James Fielden, picker maker

White's Directory 1847

John & William Fielden Clough Mill, cotton spinners & manufacturers

White's Directory 1853

John & William Fielden Clough Mill, cotton spinners & manufacturers

Walsden Rates Books 1860-64

Occupiers J. S. & W. Fielden, owner William Fielden, mill, Clough, rateable value £170.8s.6d.

Walsden Rates Book 1865

Empty. Owner J. & W. Fielden. Rateable value £175.19s.6d

White's Directory 1866

John & William Fielden Clough Mill, cotton spinners & manufacturers

Walsden Rates Books 1866-67

Occupier Samuel Fielden, owner J. & W. Fielden, rateable value £132.10s.0d.

Walsden Rates Books 1868-71

Occupiers Fielden & Jackson, owners J. and W. Fielden, rateable value £132.10s.0d.

Rochdale Observer Saturday 11 May 1872


SAMUEL FIELDEN and SAMUEL JACKSON trading as "Fielding and Jackson & Co." cotton spinners and manufacturers Clough Mill, Walsden.

Walsden Rates Books 1873-75

Occupier Samuel Fielden, owner J. and W. Fielden, rateable value £132.10s.0d.

Slater's Directory 1875

Samuel Fielden Walsden Mill, cotton spinners & manufacturers

Walsden Rates Books 1876-81

Empty, owner Railway Company, rateable value £132.10s.0d.

Walsden Rates Books 1882-90

Occupier Smith Starkie, owners Railway Company, warehouse, rateable value £8.10s.0d

Walsden Rates Books 1895

Occupiers Fielden & Greenwood, owners Railway Company, picker shop, Clough Mill, rateable value £4.15s.0d.

Occupier Smith Starkie, owners Railway Company, brokers warehouse & power, rateable value £25.10s.0d.

Coronation Souvenir 1902

Howarth Fielden, makers of pickers etc. Clough Mill