also known as Pioneer Mill


Map ref. SD933213


Known occupiers  


Pioneer Mill Co.


SUTCLIFFE James & Son Ltd.

1910 14th September

FLETCHER W. & T., lace manufacturers of Derby & Nottingham



Second World War

ROWNTREES Chocolate Manufacturers, cocoa

Building now owned by Peter Rigg, part of Gordon Rigg’s Garden Centre
Illustrated history
This mill is one of the newer mills, and the last to be erected in Walsden. It was the brainchild of a group of working men of Walsden, all members of the Walsden Co-operative Society. Always looking for new ways to improve the circumstances of the working classes, the Society not only ran shops on the co-operative system, but also built housing for the workers. The mill, however, was a new venture for them.
On 8th May 1899, a special meeting of members of the Walsden Co-operative Society was held at Hollins to consider a proposal by the Committee to build a weaving shed on the Joint Stock Principle. Eli Stansfield of Woodbottom Terrace was the President of the Society at the time.

Walsden Co-op at Hollins about 1890. Photo with kind permission of Roger Birch


He moved that such a company should be established under the name Pioneer Mill Company, and when completed, the mill should be known as the Jubilee Mill in commemoration of the Jubilee of the Co-operative Society. The members adopted the motion unanimously, and seven provisional Directors were appointed.

On 22nd December 1899, the Directors of the proposed new mill communicated with the owner of the land on Strines Road, behind BOTTOMS MILL in Walsden. The owner of the land was Mr. Richard R. Taylor who, by this time, was living in Manitoba in Canada. Richard was the son of Ormerod and Ellen Taylor, and father and son were in partnership at STRINES MILL as Dry Salters and Chemical Manufacturers. Ormerod died in 1880 aged 69, leaving the family business and most of the land at Strines to his only surviving son. Richard inherited the lovely family home at Holly Bank on Strines Road as well as the business and surrounding land.

It was some time before matters were settled, but by April 1901, operations commenced. Messrs. Preston and Dryland were the contractors. On 8th June that year, Mr. Thompson Helliwell, the Chairman of the Directors, laid the corner stone of the new mill. Another of the Directors, Jonathan Gledhill, presided over the occasion, and the proceedings passed smoothly.

The Directors

The following six men were the first Directors of the new mill, taken from all walks of life, with experiences of different situations. A good mix, I think.


Thompson Helliwell

Thompson was one of the Directors born with the proverbial silver spoon in his mouth. He was a son of John and Grace Helliwell of Pudsey Mill at Portsmouth, Todmorden. John Helliwell was a Bobbin Manufacturer at the mill for many years, building up a very successful business, which eventually fell to his son, Thompson. Thompson was born at the mill and had nine siblings. He left the business of bobbin manufacture to become a commission agent for oil, and later, a chemical manufacturer. He married rather late in life, in his late forties. His wife, Harriet Morgan, was the daughter of a Welsh blacksmith, 22 years his junior. They settled to married life at Stones Villas in Walsden, and had one daughter, Constance Grace Morgan Helliwell in 1887.


Holly Bank House

Constance was sent away to a large boarding school in Ashford in Berkshire and her parents moved to live at Holly Bank, once the home of Ormerod and Richard Taylor. This remained their home for the rest of their lives. Thompson died there aged 75 in 1913, and Harriet, also aged 75, in 1935. They are buried together in a vault at Christ Church in Todmorden.


Eli Stansfield

At a different level in the social scale was Eli Stansfield, another of the Directors. He was born in 1846 at Bottoms in Walsden, next door to the BUTCHERS ARMS pub run by his uncle Eli Crossley, the seventh child of George Stansfield and Sally Crossley. His father worked as a roller turner all his working life, and had a difficult time when his wife died prematurely in 1856 leaving him with the care of seven children.

Eli's oldest sister, Mary, took over the role of mother. She gave up her job in the cotton mill to care for her father and younger siblings whilst her father continued to work. Eli left school as soon as he could and became a warehouse boy - every penny was needed. However, he was keen to do well in life and took to a trade, becoming a machine fitter in a cotton mill.


1, Henshaw Road, Walsden

He married Sarah about 1872 and moved to live at 1 Henshaw Road, Walsden. Eli and Sarah later settled at Woodbottom Terrace in Walsden, where they brought up their five children. Four of the children survived, Sarah Hannah dying in 1886 at the young age of 10. Eli ensured his sons Samuel and Arthur had a better start in life than he, arranging apprenticeships for them as machine makers.

Eli worked as a mill mechanic for the rest of his life. He died at Woodbottom in 1905 aged 58 and is buried at St. Peter's in Walsden.

Eli cared deeply about the welfare of the poorest in his native town and joined the Committee of the Co-operative Society of Walsden, rising to be the President. He also put himself forward for election to the Todmorden Council, and was still a serving Councillor when he died.



Jonathan Gledhill

Jonathan was a Burnley Road man. He was born about 1850 in the School House next to the NATIONAL SCHOOL on Burnley Road. His parents, Joseph and Sarah Gledhill, lived and taught at the school for many years. The 1851 Education census shows the school had 90 day scholars and 294 Sunday scholars.

The National School by kind permission of Frank Woolrych


Jonathan was obviously well educated and became an auctioneer, valuer and accountant. He was a well-known personality round Todmorden. He married Margaret and by 1901 they had three children. In 1881 they lived at 6 Ridgebank, Burnley Road and then moved to Calder Bank near the National School.


Inchfield Villa

When Jonathan was elected as a Director of the new Pioneer Mill in 1899, the family was living at Inchfield Villa in Walsden. This is the only Walsden address he is known to have lived at, and it didn't last long because by 1901 he was back on Burnley Road at Harehill House with Margaret, his three children, and a servant.



William Fielden


William was born in 1837, and with his wife, Hannah, began his married life about 1860 living at 1, Lock Street at Shade. In the early days, he was a scutcher in a cotton mill and then a cotton carder. About 1877, he started work at ALMA MILL for Messrs. Abraham Ormerod & Brothers in the card room.

He and his family moved to one of the workers' houses near the mill at 17 Alma Street, Walsden. They are there in 1881 and 1891 with their large family. The children all work in the mill in various capacities, and by 1890, William was promoted to the position of overlooker in the card room.

17 Alma Street, Walsden


On 8th October 1898, the following report appeared in the local press:


"A party of about 30 persons of the card room employees at Alma Mill partook of tea at the Hollins Inn Walsden and after full justice had been done to it a presentation consisting of a black ebony walking stick with silver hoop, and a silver mounted pipe, was made to Mr. William Fielden of Alma Street who had worked in the card room of this mill for 21 years, for his urbanity and kindly disposition as overlooker for a period of 8 years."


William died before 1901, although his widow and children remained at 17 Alma Street.


James Rigby Dawson

CALFLEE COTE is a small farm of maybe five acres, high up on the hillside above Warland on the very edge of the Walsden boundary with Blatchinworth, and almost at the end of civilisation. For many years, this farm and the neighbouring Calflee Farm were in the hands of the Scholfield family.

James Dawson was the long-time farmer at Calflee Cote, having married Susan Scholfield in the 1830's. In addition to farming, James traded as a stone merchant, making good use of the quarries in the vicinity of his farm. He had a flourishing small business, employing several men, including his son, Charles.



Charles married Ann Rigby and their second child was James Rigby Dawson. He was born at Calflee Cote in 1863 in the cottage attached to the farm, where he continued to live until 1868 when the family moved down the hill to Warland Gate End. Charles continued in the stone trade until his premature death at the age of 39 in 1874.

His widow, Ann, moved to live at Crescent in Bottoms, Walsden with her six surviving children, including James Rigby who was just eleven years old at the time. James Rigby had started work as a cotton throstle doffer at the aged of eight years - quite illegal even in those times.


By 1881, aged 18, he was a weaver in a mill. He married Mary Fielden in 1885 and they settled at 9 Co-operative Street in Bottoms, in one of the Co-operative Society houses. By this time, he was a cotton loom overlooker. They later moved to 801, Rochdale Road at Bottoms, which is where they were in 1901. They appear to have been childless.


Co-operative Street, Walsden

James Rigby was a public-spirited working class man. He was elected to the Todmorden Council, and between 1919 and 1920 was Mayor of the Borough


Robert Jackson

Born in 1855 at Ramsden Wood, a son of Zachariah Jackson and Mary Crossley, Robert Jackson was as well educated as was possible in his circumstances and became a prominent figure in local politics, representing the working classes through the Liberal party and the Co-operative movement.

Ramsden Wood cottages


He was an active temperance worker and life long United Methodist. He started work as an assistant in a grocery and drapery shop. Robert eventually rose the ladder from shop boy to become the Secretary of the Walsden Co-operative Society and President of the Todmorden Co-op.


Square in Walsden, about 1900

Robert married Mary Stansfield in 1878, setting up home at number 41 Square, then 29 Alma Street and later on at Henshaw Road. Whilst still living at Square, their first daughter, Anna Mary, was born. A second daughter, Amy, was born on 22nd. December 1885, but sadly she didn't survive to her second birthday. Robert and Mary had no further children.

Mary died 15th November 1902. The almanac of the time recorded her death as follows:

Mrs. Robert Jackson of Henshaw Road, Walsden, died in a most sudden manner at the age of 50 years.

Robert busied himself with his work and politics and in 1904 he was nominated by the local Liberals to represent Walsden ward on the Town Council. As there was no opposing candidate, Robert enjoyed the privilege of a walk over. By 1907 he had been elected as an Alderman on the Council and in 1910 he was made President of the Todmorden Educational Guild. On 9th November 1911, Alderman Robert Jackson was elected Mayor of Todmorden by a unanimous vote of the Town Council.

Robert married a second wife, Edith Pilling, who was 17 years his junior. She became his Lady Mayoress. She was the daughter of Abraham and Jane Pilling of Langfield. Edith outlived Robert, went on to marry Alfred Nuttall, retiring to live in St. Anne's-on-Sea. She died in 1957 aged 85, and is buried at Cross Stone with her parents.

Robert held his position as Mayor for eight years, serving the community throughout the First World War. In the ordinary course of events, he would have stepped down from his term as Mayor on 9th November 1914. However, the First World War had started and in view of this the Council invited him to accept office for another year, the general expectation being that the war would be over by then. As the war continued, the same process was repeated year after year in response to the wishes of the entire Council.

In recognition of their services as Mayor and Mayoress for an unprecedented period of 8 years and for their untiring efforts during the war, the Council presented them with the Freedom of the Borough. The ceremony took place on 24th February 1919. The scroll conferring the Freedom was contained in a magnificent silver casket, and in addition, Robert and Edith were presented with a mahogany bureau and a silver tea and coffee service, purchased from publicly subscribed funds. Their wartime services were summarised in a resolution adopted by the Town Council, extracts of which are below:

"During their Mayoralty, sums amounting to over £20,000 were raised for various war charities by public appeals made by Alderman Jackson.........By their unostentatious generosity, their inspiring optimism, their unfailing courtesy, and their exemplary sacrifices, Ald. and Mrs. Jackson have endeared themselves to the people. During a Mayoralty unprecedented in its strain and length of service they have at all times maintained the dignity of the office and possessed the entire confidence of the inhabitants."

Robert finally retired from the office on 9th. November 1919 and he was awarded the O.B.E. for his wartime services. He died in 1922 aged 68 years. He was living at Stones Villas in Walsden when he died. He is buried at Lumbutts Chapel with his first wife Mary and his blind sister, Ann. His full story can be read HERE

The Jubilee Mill Company didn't last very long. By 1907, James Sutcliffe & Sons Ltd. Cotton Manufacturers occupied the mill, and on 14th September 1910 the premises were leased to Messrs W. and T. Fletcher, lace manufacturers of Derby and Nottingham.


During the 1930's, the mill lay idle, but in the autumn of 1939, it was re-opened by Messrs J. W. Greaves, cotton-wadding manufacturers of Rochdale, after being closed for 4 years. By 1941 the mill was producing cocoa for the troops. The chocolate firm of Rowntrees of York took it over to fulfil a Government contract as it was in a less vulnerable area than York.


The mill is still in full use today.