Burnley Road



Map Ref SD936243


Ridgefoot Mill weaving shed about 1910

by kind permission of Malcolm & Freda Heywood


Known occupiers










ORMEROD Abraham & Bros.








Demolished-site used for Abraham Ormerod Medical Centre built 1938


Illustrated story


In the 1790's, Anthony Crossley of Todmorden Hall saw the emergence of cotton as a potential money making proposition. Mills were springing up throughout the valleys and the construction of a canal was being discussed in Parliament. He owned land but didn't really wish to be involved on a personal level, so he built a mill on his land for renting out to those who did. This piece of land was right in the middle of Todmorden village, on Burnley Road.


a painting of the mill in the 1820's, long before the railway 

changed the view forever. This was used as Buckley's letterhead.

The mill was turned originally by waterpower, and the reservoir for the storage of the water was made at Hall Ings between Todmorden Hall and Dawson Weir at Dobroyd. This became known later as Buckley's Dam after the first tenant, John Buckley. John Buckley's first choice for a site was in Bradford.


However, local opinion there was against the erection of a mill along the lines that John wanted, and such was the hostility that he was driven out of Bradford and ended up in Todmorden. John was in partnership at first, trading under the name Buckley and Sanderson, and later John Buckley and Sons, Ridgefoot Mill.


As time progressed, John Buckley decided to erect a weaving shed and acquired a site on which the old Patmos Inn stood. He demolished the inn and constructed a 3 storey weaving shed. However, the foundations were unsound, the building shook, and machinery could not be installed. The building became a machinery shop and warehouse, although a weaving shed was built later.

By 1811 it was the largest mill in the Township with 6,000 spindles. In 1832, John added a mule frame with a further 1,280 spindles at a cost of £213.6s.8d., and by 1835 there were 150 power looms weaving a mixture of worsted and cotton, used for men's coats.


During the latter part of the 1830's there was a down turn in the cotton trade and many firms suffered great losses. The major casualty was John Buckley and Sons, who became bankrupt in 1839. A newly emerging firm, Abraham Ormerod and Brothers of Gorpley Mill, snapped it up and proceeded to expand by adding weaving sheds and other machinery. The stories of the other mills owned by the Ormerod family can be read here: HOLLINS   GORPLEY   ALMA 


Abraham Ormerod



Photo by kind permission of Roger Birch

Abraham Ormerod built Ridgefoot House on land adjacent to the mill, where he and his family lived for many years. The mill is on the left boundary of the garden on this photograph.


Abraham was born at Todmorden Edge 12th September 1804 and died at Ridgefoot House in February 1888. Before he died, he directed that a medical clinic should be built as a gift to the town. Following probate of his will, the Leeds Mercury published a precis of the contents:

The value has been declared at £48,170-9s-5d of the personal estate of Mr. Abraham Ormerod, late of Ridgefoot House, Todmorden. The testator bequeaths to his wife, Mrs. Mary Ormerod, an annuity of £1,000 for her life, and the use of his plate, pictures, furniture and household effects, horses and carriages, which on her decease are to go to his two daughters. He devises his cottages, farms and lands known as Todmorden Edge, to the use of his son, Mr. John Howarth Ormerod, with the remainder to his children, or, in default of issue, to the testator’s two daughters; he devises all his other real estate and bequeaths the residue of his personal estate in trust as to one third each for the benefit of his son and two daughters and their children, with contingent remainders to his nephews, Mr. Abraham and Mr. William Ormerod, in whose business the trustees have authority to leave at their discretion a portion of the testator’s capital.


A report in the Yorkshire Factory Times, 16th Aug 1889, sent in by John Alan Longbottom, says:

A Week's Stoppage - The works of Messrs. Ormerod Bros. Stopped on Friday night for a week, during which some repairs are to be done at one of the sheds

A view of the mill and town centre railway arches


This occured during a bad spell for the cotton trade when most of the mils in Todmorden were working short time, some a week on and a week off, and others on a 3 day week.


William Lord was the manager at Ridgefoot Mill from about 1874 until his death in 1900. He was a well known man in the area, and a total abstainer from alcohol. At the time of his death, he was the treasurer of the Todmorden Band of Hope Union, and had been connected with Lumbutts Methodist Chapel all his life. He was working at the mill until a week before his death, caused by bronchitis, which eventually developed into bronchial pneumonia. His funeral took place at Lumbutts Chapel on 31st March 1900 at which there was a large gathering. Out of respect for this man, the Fielden's mill at Lumbutts and Ridgefoot Mill closed early to enable mourners to attend. His friends at Lumbutts errected a tablet in his honour, which was the work of ALFRED BAYES. The tablet reads:



"Good and Faithful Servant"
In Loving Memory of William Lord
A good and earnest worker in this church and school for many years, especially interested in the welfare of the young, and an energetic worker in the temperance cause, this tablet was errected as a token of respect by teachers, scholars and friends.

Died March 28th 1900, aged 63 years.

As with most of these mills, towards the end of the 19th century parts of the buildings were sub-let for other uses. In the case of Ridgefoot, a shuttle works was established and used by John Crossley & Son and Horsfall & Co., whilst a reed manufactory was set up by Marshall & Stephenson.

The mill site immediately after demolition.

Photo by kind permission of Roger Birch

The mill was demolished in 1936 when the land was needed for road widening.

Abraham Ormerod's gift to the town, a medical centre, was was erected in 1938 on the site of the Ridgefoot Mill, and known as The Abraham Ormerod Medical Centre. It was opened by H.R.H. the Princess Royal, Mary Countess of Harewood, on 23rd. July 1958. The centre closed some time ago, and latterly used as a supermarket. There are plans afoot for re-development.

Additional information

researched, recorded and referenced by Mrs Sheila Wade

Hebden Bridge WEA Local History Group


Notes from contemporary historian, John Travis:

About 1790, Anthony Crossley of Todmorden Hall began to build Ridgefoot Mill. A reservoir was made in New Inn Meadow, or Hall Ings, extending from near the hall on the west side to Dawson Weir at Dobroyd. The head goit goes under the canal at Salford, through the hall grounds, across the back of St. Mary’s Church, through the White Hart Inn farmyard, to the mill. The mill was first let to Buckley & Sanderson, afterwards John Buckley & Sons who were the ultimate owners. Buckleys had some twining jennies in a large room over a row of houses built by the Spinners & Weavers Union in Doghouse Lane. These were pulled down for the railway. Buckleys built a mill 3 or 4 storeys high at Patmos, but the foundations were bad so they never installed machinery and it was used as a mechanics shop and warehouse.

Mr. John Kerfoot of Doghouse was the manager for Buckley Bros of Ridgefoot Mills and was a Sunday School teacher at Christ Church.

Brick chimney was built close to the boilers with an ornamental top. This stood about 9 years after the property was purchased by the Ormerods who erected a stone chimney on the hill near the top of Todmorden ridge. The waterwheel for the original mill was made by Robert and William Barker of PRIESTWELL WORKS.

Ridgefoot Mills owned by John Buckley & Bros., cotton spinners and manufacturers of mixed cotton and worsted goods for the Bradford and Halifax markets. He succumbed to bad trade and sold the mills, waterfall and mansion to Abraham Ormerod & Bros of GORPLEY MILL. They repaired and re-shafted the mill and weaving shed for cotton machinery, and furnished for spinning and manufacturing piece goods for the Manchester trade, getting it partially working by 1844.


History of Bradford by James, (1841)

In 1792, plans for the first steam factory in Bradford were made by John Buckley, cotton manufacturer of Bradford. In 1793, notice was signed threatening legal action if Mr. Buckley built a steam factory. He afterwards removed to Todmorden.


Holden 1809-1811

John Buckley, cotton spinner


Crompton’s 1811 spindle enquiry

Todmorden Water (no firm stated) 2,880 mule spindles, 12 x 20 doz.


Commercial Directory 1816 – 1820

John Buckley & Co. cotton spinners


Leigh’s Directory 1818

John Buckley & Sons, cotton spinners & manufacturers, Todmorden.


Baines 1822

John Buckley senior, cotton spinner & worsted manufacturer.

John Buckley junior, cotton and worsted manufacturer.


Todmorden Township map 1823

Ridgefoot Mills shown on land owned by Mr. Buckley, also reservoir at Salford and land there between the canal and Walsden Water.


Baines 1824/5

John Buckley, cotton spinners & manufacturer, North Street, sateens, velveteens, jeans.

John Buckley junior, manufacturer, North Street

Joseph Buckley, manufacturer, Pavement (home address?)


Pigot 1828/29

John Buckley & Co. cotton spinners & manufacturers, worsted, fustian etc. manufacturers.


Parson & White 1830

John Buckley, North Street, cotton spinners & manufacturers, worsted, fustian etc. spinners & manufacturers.


Account book of Jeremiah Jackson 1832

Buckley Bros Todmorden, one pair of mules (1280 spindles) £213.6s.8d.


Pigot 1834

Buckley Bros. Foot Ridge Mill, cotton spinners & manufacturers, worsted, fustian etc. spinners & manufacturers.


History of Worsted Manufacture, John James.

About 1834, Buckleys were the first to manufacture “gambroons”, a cloth used for men’s coats, which was woven from yarn consisting of threads of cotton and worsted twisted together on a doubling frame.


Bradford Observer 28th August 1834

Partnership dissolved between John Buckley, Joseph Buckley, William Buckley and Henry Buckley of Todmorden and Manchester, cotton spinners and cotton & worsted manufacturers, as regards William Buckley.


Powerloom Returns by Robert Barker 4th February 1836

Buckley Bros; 150 worsted and cotton powerlooms; average wages aged 12 to 18, 8 to 10 shillings, aged 18 plus, 11 to 13 shillings. Difficult to obtain labour.


Census 1841

John Buckley, Ridgefoot, aged 45, cotton and worsted manufacturer


A Short History of Todmorden, Joshua Holden

In 1842 during the Plug Drawers Riots, the Hussars from Burnley were quartered at Buckleys Ridgefoot Mill, which was built by Anthony Crossley about 1796.


Halifax Guardian 13th May 1843

Auction 25th May 1843 by order of Buckley Bros. (bankrupts) –

  1. Cotton mill called Buckleys Old Mill, 92 feet by 31 feet 8 inches, worked by fall of water 18 feet 6 inches, 15hp; conducted by head goit to reservoir adjoining mill.
  2. New shed past 2 storeys, intended to use as weaving shed, 131 feet 9 inches by 61 feet 6 inches.
  3. Loom house, 140 feet by 119 feet.

Late owners and occupiers the Buckley Brothers.


Walker 1845

Abraham Ormerod & Bros. Ridgefoot and Gorpley Mills, cotton spinners & manufacturers


White 1847

Abraham Ormerod & Bros. Ridgefoot and Gorpley Mills, cotton spinners & manufacturers


White 1853

Abraham Ormerod & Bros. Ridgefoot and Gorpley Mills, cotton spinners & manufacturers


Todmorden Rates Book 1860-1865

Owned and occupied by Abraham Ormerod; mill, shed etc; Northgate; rateable value £485.3s.4d.


Kelly 1861

Abraham Ormerod & Bros. Ridgefoot, Gorpley and Hollins Mills, cotton spinners & manufacturers


White 1866

Abraham Ormerod & Bros. Ridgefoot, Gorpley and Hollins Mills, cotton spinners & manufacturers. (Abraham Ormerod – Ridgefoot House, Peter Ormerod – Pexhouse, William Ormerod – Stoneswood.)


Todmorden Rates Book 1866-1879

Owned and occupied by Ormerod Bros; shed, mill etc; North Street; rateable value £436.4s.0d.


Rivers Pollution Commission 1869

Abraham Ormerod & Bros. Ridgefoot Mill, Todmorden

Our works are situated on the River Calder. We employ 300 hands. Rateable value is £436.4s.0d. The bed of the stream has not silted up. Our works are not affected by floods. There has been no alteration in the condition of the river within our knowledge. It is polluted by works above, and by mines. We obtain supply of water from the river. If the river were rendered clear and colourless, it would not make much difference to us. We manufacture yearly 500 tons of goods. The whole of the liquid refuse produced at our works flows direct into the river. We use both steam and water as power; 100 nominal hp. We consume yearly about 2,500 tons of coal, the ashes from which are conveyed to the railway to be used as ballast. The excrements of our workpeople are used for agricultural purposes. No suggestions to offer as to the best means of avoiding pollution in future, or as the conservancy of the rivers and streams.


Kelly 1871

Abraham Ormerod & Bros. Ridgefoot, Gorpley, Hollins and Alma Mills, cotton spinners and manufacturers


Census 1871

Abraham Ormerod, Ridgefoot House, aged 66, magistrate, cotton spinner & manufacturer, landowner.

William Ormerod, Stoneswood House, aged 64, cotton spinner & manufacturer.

Peter Ormerod, Pex House, aged 59, cotton spinner & manufacturer.


Halifax Guardian 9th March 1878

Fire at Ormerod’s Ridgefoot. Soon put out. Little damage.


Halifax Guardian 18th May 1878

Ormerod’s of Ridgefoot – wage reduction


Todmorden and Hebden Bridge Advertiser 1st August 1879

Ormerod’s Ridgefoot Mill – 14,300 spindles, 430 looms; working 4 days a week.


Todmorden and Hebden Bridge Advertiser 16th January 1880

Ormerod’s Ridgefoot Mill – engine breakdown and engine house wall forced out. Stoppage of mill for some time.


Todmorden and Hebden Bridge Advertiser 30th January 1880

Ormerod’s Ridgefoot Mill – stated again after engine repairs


Todmorden and Hebden Bridge Advertiser 6th February 1880

Two large mills in Walsden and one in Todmorden, Ormerod Bros., began working full time


Todmorden Rates Book 1880-1897

Owned and occupied by Ormerod Bros; shed, mill etc; Ridgefoot; rateable value £568.

1884 – 28hp steam, 1hp water

1897 – rateable value £220.


Todmorden and Hebden Bridge Advertiser 3rd February 1882

Ridgefoot Mill closed owing to dispute.


Todmorden and Hebden Bridge Advertiser 3rd February 1882

Manchester Winter Assizes

A. Ormerod & Bros v. Todmorden Joint Stock Mill Co.

Action brought in respect of the diversion of a water course. Ormerod’s complain their rights have been interfered with.


Halifax Courier 4th March 1882

Ormerod’s weavers at Ridgefoot Mill, resumed work at old rates after playing for about 1 month.


Halifax Courier 5th January 1884

Death of Peter Ormerod of Pexhouse, aged 70, principal partner in the firm of Ormerod Bros. of Ridgefoot and Alma Mills. He served on the Local Board and was president of the Liberal Club. He employed about 600 hands.


Halifax Courier 5th July 1884

Todmorden trade is bad – Ormerod Bros of Todmorden and Walsden to run 4 days a week


Halifax Courier 20th September 1884

Abraham Ormerod of Ridgefoot House celebrated his 80th birthday.


Manchester Examiner 22nd July 1887

Ormerod Bros (all mills) 48,000 spindles, 1,300 looms; working full time but for past 3 months a quarter of the machines stopped.


Todmorden Valuation 1897

Occupied by Horsfall & Co; owned by Ormerod Bros; shuttle works; Ridgefoot; rateable value £29.15s.0d.


Kelly 1897

Abraham Ormerod & Bros. Ridgefoot, Gorpley, Hollins and Alma Mills, cotton spinners and manufacturers.

Horsfall & Co. Ridgeplace Mills, shuttle makers.


Coronation Souvenir of Todmorden 1902

John Crossley, manufacturer of shuttles, picking sticks etc. Ridge Shuttle Works, Todmorden.


Kelly 1908

Marshall & Stephenson, Ridgefoot Mill, heald, reed and temple makers.

John Crossley & Son, Ridgefoot Mill, shuttle maker.

Abraham Ormerod & Bros. cotton spinners & manufacturers, Ridgefoot