Square Road is charming; lined on one side by pretty cottages and on the other by a strip of land that rises up to what is now Rochdale Road in Walsden. The road is narrow, and was once part of the old highway leading from Todmorden to Walsden and beyond.

Square about 1910

There was nothing very much before this old highway was made. There was no road of any description, maybe a simple packhorse trail; the canal and railway were yet to come. There was a water-powered mill at Inchfield Bottom, and a farm called Winterbutlee a little further along the valley, but little else stirred until the year 1764, the year the highway was made.

The new road started at Inchfield Bottom and wended its way southwards passing Winterbutlee, through the hamlet of Bottoms and on to Calderbrook. Immediately south of the mill the road followed the path of the narrow river, and this was the area known as Nip Square. There was just enough space between the highway and the river to build cottages with the backs to the river and the fronts facing the highway. It would have been a pleasant spot, with uninterrupted views of the hills and moors.

The existing cottages are original and were built in small groups at different times over a period of several years. If you have a close look, you can see the joins!!

Square in 2006


In its 250-year history, Square has witnessed many events. It has seen a cotton mill, two beerhouses, several hand weaving shops, a pig slaughterhouse, blacksmith's works, clogging shops, a Methodist Meeting House, a Sunday School and even a post office. There has been upheaval and chaos with the building of the canal, the main road and the railway all within yards of the cottages. It has witnessed hundreds of births and deaths, happy occasions and tragic times, and some of these times and people are described in this story, beginning with the earliest residents.

James and Sarah Taylor

About the same time as the old road was finished in 1764, a family by the name of Taylor arrived on the scene from the Littleborough area. James Taylor was born at Nip Square about 1765 and this is the first known family to have lived there. His parents died, leaving James and his siblings to fend for themselves. James was sent off to Higher Shore in Calderbrook to follow an apprenticeship as a woollen weaver until reaching the age of 21 years.

Shortly after his apprenticeship ended, James married Sarah Fletcher. A couple of children later, James brought his family back to Walsden to the house where he was born on Square. They were certainly resident on Square between 1790 and 1792 when their children Ann and George were baptised. James worked at Inchfield Mill. Where his house was is a mystery. None of the current houses is as early as 1764.

Thomas, Sarah and Alice Taylor

A contemporary of James Taylor was Thomas Taylor, who also lived at Square and is believed to have been his brother. By 1787, Thomas was living in a house on Square that he owned, and it is highly likely this is the mystery house where James Taylor was born and possibly the two families shared the house for a couple of years.

Thomas married Sarah Ingham, the daughter of William Ingham the fulling miller at INCHFIELD MILL. They had one surviving son, William Taylor. Sarah also had an illegitimate daughter, Nancy Ingham. Sadly, it seems their mother died sometime before 1794. This left Thomas with responsibility for his stepdaughter Nancy and son William. He quickly married again, his second wife being Ann Pilling. She produced a further three children, Mary, Ralph and John Taylor. Thomas was still living on Square when he died in 1829. There is more about Thomas later in the story.

James Crossley

Another early family to arrive at Square was a Crossley clan. A son John was born at Square about 1780. It seems his father was James Crossley, a pig butcher. James was a butcher in the true sense of the word. People brought their pigs to him for slaughter. He killed them and cut them up, receiving some blood pudding, a pork joint and the usual allowance of meat and ale whilst engaged on the job. So somewhere amongst this tiny community were the facilities for him to do this. The family had moved on before 1790 but the son John returned several years later.


In 1790 there were six plots of land registered for LAND TAX at Square. One plot was larger than the other five. This was owned by William Ingham, the miller at Inchfield Mill. His tax was assessed at 1s.8d a year. However, it is known he deferred building on his plot until about 1795. The other five plots were owned and occupied by Thomas Taylor, John Crabtree, Thomas Butterworth, Enoch Law and Robert Law, each of whom paid 11d. tax.


the oldest 4 cottages built about 1777

Thomas Taylor probably lived in the mystery house. The other four plots must have been the row of cottages now numbered 22 to 28. It is thought they were built about 1777. They were built as a detached block of four cottages and are the oldest houses still existing on Square.


John and Hannah Crabtree

John Crabtree owned one of these four cottages in these early days, living there with his wife Hannah Bottomley. They married in 1782 and it is possible they moved in shortly afterwards. They had ten children, three of who died young. In 1798 the Crabtrees left Square to live at Furwood in Walsden, and rented out their cottage rather than sell it. When John died in 1803, he stated in his WILL that the house was to be sold and the profits used for the maintenance of his widow and children. In the event, his widow Hannah continued to receive rent for the house for a further 10 or so years before it was sold to Thomas Taylor about 1814.

Samuel and Sally Greenwood

Sally was the daughter of John and Hannah Crabtree, and it is known they lived in John's cottage on Square, one of those numbered 22 to 28. They moved in after John's death in 1803 and remained until about 1814. Possibly six of their many children were born at Square between 1803 and 1813. Samuel was a handloom weaver, and no doubt his loom was kept busy most of the time with help from Sally and the children.

Numbers 22 and 24

Thomas and Sally Butterworth

At much the same time as the Crabtrees, Thomas Butterworth arrived with his family. He bought his own house, possibly as early as 1783 when he married his wife Sally Wadsworth. This will have been one of the row 22 to 28. They had twelve children at Square before selling up and moving to Henshaw Barn about 1806. From the land tax assessment records, it seems that Thomas may have sold his cottage to James Fielden (1768-1828) before moving to Henshaw.

numbers 26 and 28

Enoch and Nancy Law

Then came brothers Enoch and Robert Law. Their father was JOHN LAW, the Bridgemaster for the Salford Hundred. John was a master stonemason, and it could be that he was instrumental in building the cottages at Square for his two youngest sons.

Enoch and his family were living at Square before 1788. In September 1785, he married Nancy Bottomley, sister of John Crabtree’s wife Hannah, and probably moved in after that. They had seven children, all born at Square. Five of them reached adulthood. Enoch died in 1804, leaving his house in the hands of his widow. She moved away with her children, but continued to receive the rent on the house for several more years until her death in 1814 when Thomas Bottomley acquired the cottage.

Robert and Alice Law

Enoch’s younger brother, Robert Law, married Alice Greenwood in 1790 and moved in immediately. Like his father, he was a master stonemason. They had seven children at Square, but sadly only 3 of them survived their parents. Alice died in 1805. Robert sold up, packed his bags and moved to Todmorden where he died the following year.

A lady by the name of Sally Walton appears to have acquired Robert's house in the block numbered 22 to 28, and in 1806 the tenant was John Greenwood. John was still there in 1808, but was then replaced by William and Betty Crossley.

William and Betty Crossley

WILLIAM CROSSLEY and his wife Betty Haigh moved to their home at Square in 1808 from the NAVIGATION INN at Gauxholme, where they had lived with Betty’s uncle, James Haigh. The uncle died in the summer of 1807 leaving Betty a bequest of £10, which was a hefty sum in those days. They brought three young sons with them and then produced a daughter and four more sons whilst living on Square. All eight children reached adulthood.

Betty’s brother, Samuel Haigh, was married to Mary Crabtree, a daughter of William and Betty Crabtree who also lived at Square. Samuel and Mary lived on Square when first married, possibly with Mary's parents, and their first child was born there. They moved on before 1806.

William was a hand weaver and also worked as a carter at Inchfield Mill. They eventually settled in the house belonging to Sally Walton and previously Robert Law in the original row of 4 cottages. They continued to live at Square until 1822 when they moved up to the top of Inchfield Fold to a house known as Knowsley.


Square Lock

The 1790’s were busy times for the residents of Square. The ROCHDALE CANAL was being cut parallel to the highway, maybe 50 yards from their front doors. The area will have been a hive of activity, with contractors, engineers and navvies milling about. Construction began in 1794 and the first boat to go through Walsden was in 1798.

William and Betty Ingham

During the building of the canal, William Ingham the fulling miller at Inchfield Mill built four cottages on the plot of land he owned. This row was attached to the side of number 28, and is now numbered 30 to 36.

Over the door of number 34 is inscribed WIB 1795, representing William Ingham and his wife Betty.

Water well and trough

William and Betty didn't live at Square but at the house attached to the mill where he worked. This left his cottages free for renting out to tenants. In addition to the four cottages, William built stables and gardens to the side of number 36 with a well and water trough to the front.

With the erection of these four new cottages, other families moved in, whilst some of the original residents departed. The new arrivals moved into the vacant cottages and life on Square continued ...

Samuel and Nancy Law

The presence of Samuel and Nancy Law is explained by the fact that Nancy was Nancy Ingham, granddaughter of William Ingham the miller and stepdaughter of resident Thomas Taylor. They married in 1799 and lived at Square from the start of their marriage. It is believed they lived initially with her stepfather in the mystery house where Thomas and his brother were born nearly 40 years earlier. The first five of their twelve children were born at Square.

Together with his brothers Robert and Thomas Law, Samuel began in the cotton spinning business at SMITHYHOLME MILL. They leased several acres of land, which included the mill, Lawhey Farm and GAUXHOLME STONES Farm. This was in 1804. In addition to the spinning business, the Law brothers ran a grocery shop at the mill. Records from the mill accounts show us that on the 19th October 1804, the following sales were made to the folk of Square:

Quarter stone of apples

Mally Law



1 stone apples

Samuel Law



25lbs 6ozs cheese

Samuel Law



6lbs 8ozs treacle

Samuel Law



2 stone flour

Samuel Law



1 stone apples

Samuel Law jnr



30lbs treacle

Samuel Law jnr



25lbs 8ozs cheese

Samuel Law jnr



Half a load turnips

Samuel Law jnr



3 stone flour

Samuel Law jnr




By 1809, Samuel had packed his bags and moved his family to Lawhey Farm. He and his brothers later sold the mill at Smithyholme and built a new and larger mill at RAMSDEN WOOD.


Samuel and Sarah Law

Samuel and Sarah were the parents of the Samuel Law mentioned above. They were middle-aged by the time they arrived on Square from Henshaw Barn where they had farmed for several years. Samuel was a master clogger, and continued this trade to some extent after moving to Square. This was mixed with organising a cell of handloom weavers for whom he provided the warps and wefts bought from his sons' mill at Smithyholme.

Samuel was no stranger to the cotton business, having invested large sums in LUMBUTTS MILL when cotton was the emerging industry in the valley. When they arrived on Square, three or four of their many children were unmarried and moved with them. One of these was JAMES LAW who became an early pioneer in the wilds of Canada. Another was Abraham, and there is more about him later in this story.

The land tax assessments show that Samuel and Sarah lived in the house owned initially by Thomas Butterworth and then by James Fielden, and was one of the row numbered 22 to 28.

Samuel died at Square aged 79 in 1824, after which his widow moved to join her sons at Ramsden Wood. However, several of their children and many of their grandchildren continued with the Law family tradition of living at Square.


Abraham and Susan Crossley

This is another family who must have lived in one of the original four cottages, numbers 22 to 28. Abraham Crossley was married to Susan Fielden and they had eight children. They were living at Square from before 1798, at least three of their children were born there, and two of them died there in 1800. Susan died at Square in 1808 aged 47 years. Abraham stayed put with his five surviving children before marrying Mally, the widow of John Heyworth. Mally had nine children of her own, five of whom were unmarried and young enough to need to move with her when she married Abraham. At the last count, this makes ten children all told. The family moved out to Inchfield Fold sometime after 1815.

Abraham and Susan Fielden

Abraham and his wife, Susan Butterworth, moved from Winterbutlee to Square about 1803. Five of their seven children were born at Square, and two of them died there. Abraham worked as a handloom weaver. Where they lived prior to 1814 is a mystery. However, from 1814 they lived in a cottage owned by a Nancy Crossley, possibly a newly built house now numbered 12 or 14.


William Ingham the miller died in 1806 leaving a WILL that shows where his houses were and who lived in them. He left all four cottages to his wife Betty for the rest of her natural life, and then they were to pass to his only grandchildren, Nancy Ingham (now married to Samuel Law) and William Taylor, aged 6 at the time.

number 32
number 30
The two cottages nearest to Todmorden he bequeathed to 6-year-old William Taylor, stating they were occupied at the time by William's father Thomas Taylor and William Crabtree. These were the present numbers 30 and 32.

William, Betty and Alice Crabtree

William's first wife, Betty Crossley, died in childbirth at Square in 1798. They lived in either 30 or 32. The death of his wife left William with 6 young daughters and a son, so understandably he married again very quickly. His second wife was Alice who gave him another three children before he died at Square in 1807.
The two cottages furthest from Todmorden plus the stables William Ingham bequeathed to Nancy Ingham, (then married to Samuel Law). He stated in the will that Thomas Butterworth and Ely Fielden recently occupied these. These were the present numbers 34 and 36 and must have been empty at the time he made his will.

numbers 34 and 36


Ely and Betty Fielden

This family lived in either 34 or 36. They had seven children, five of whom survived. He is recorded as being a cotton spinner so may have worked in one of the nearby spinning mills, or could have been in the business himself. Betty died at Square in 1802 leaving her husband with their five children. He remained in the cottage with his children until 1806.

All the above early residents of Square occupied numbers 22 to 36 plus a mystery house as we have seen above. There were no more houses until 1809.


James and Sarah Fielden

When Thomas Butterworth left, it is likely he sold his house to James Fielden and the tenants were Samuel and Sarah Law as detailed earlier. James Fielden bought this house and then acquired another plot of land on which he built a substantial house in 1809, the present number 20.


number 20

James and his wife Sarah continued to live at their old home at Hollingworth Gate in Walsden until the new house on Square was ready. At the time it was built it was detached and the largest house on the street.
There is a datestone over the door JFS 1809, representing James and Sarah Fielden. Their sixth child, Samuel, was baptised in March 1809, at which time the family was installed in their new home at number 20.

Sarah was his second wife. His first wife had died soon after the birth of their only child in 1794 and he married Sarah Crossley 3 years later. James and Sarah brought their children up at Square – and there were a lot of them! Sarah had 10 in all to add to James’ eldest daughter by his first wife. Four of these children died, two of them in December 1817.

James earned a living as a weaver, and no doubt this was hand weaving at home. However, he was clearly fairly well off as he was able to buy a house and then built a bigger one. He may have been a middleman, organising a cell of handloom weavers and running a small business from his home.

When James and Sarah arrived in 1809, there were 10 houses, 9 of which are still standing. By 1828 several more houses had been built. James died in October 1828 aged 60 years. Amazingly, his WILL shows he owned no less than six of the houses when he died. Four of these may have been numbers 8, 16, 18 and 20.

His wife had something to do with this because in his will he states:

 “I do bequeath and give unto SARAH my wife her third of all the houses …”.

He goes on to leave her a weekly income of 4 shillings but only in the event of her being unable to work through sickness, plus their bed. However, should she remarry, she had to lose the 4 shillings and the bed! She was also allowed to remain in the matrimonial home for 12 months rent free, but after that, rent must be paid to his estate. He doesn't’t sound like a very generous sort of chap.

Six of his surviving children received a cottage each, and the seventh received money of equal value. The widow Sarah decided to forgo the 4 shillings and the bed when she married Reuben Haigh of Hollow Dean Farm in 1830. When Reuben died she returned to live at Square, which is where she died in 1849.

The children who each inherited a cottage were: John, Betty, Johnny, Samuel, Abraham and James. Betty, John, Abraham and Samuel all made use of their inheritance by living in their own homes. James was only 9 years old when his father died. He was the only child to be told which house he had inherited – the matrimonial home of his parents. The others appear to have been given a choice of cottage. It is to be wondered if they fell out over this decision.

Samuel and Betty Law

Betty was a daughter of the above James Fielden of Square, and when he died in 1828 she inherited one of his six cottages. Samuel was a son of Robert Law who owned one of the original four cottages until 1805. He was born at Square in 1802, but was sadly orphaned when he was just 4 years old. Most likely a member of his extended family brought him up. When he reached the age of 18 in 1820 he inherited a considerable amount of money from his late father’s will. In 1826 he married Betty Fielden and they lived at Square until about 1840. Samuel worked as a weaver and twister-in.

John and Sarah Fielden

John was the eldest son of James and Sarah and the executor of his will. He also inherited one of his cottages. He married Sarah Crossley in 1823 and went to live at Sarah’s home at Henshaw where their first three children were born. In 1825 they moved to Square where they remained to the end of their lives. A further eight children were born at Square. Five of their eleven children died young. Sarah also died at Square aged 49 years. Her sister Maria was also a long time resident, marrying John's brother Samuel.

John was originally a weaver, but changed jobs to work as a miller at Inchfield Mill. This was a bad choice. The Leeds Mercury newspaper reported on Saturday February 23rd 1850:

Melancholy Accident

A serious catastrophe took place on Saturday evening last, about half past eight o’clock, at the corn mill of Mr. Richard Smith, Walsden. It appears one of the millers named John Fielden, whilst attempting to uncouple the engine from the mill wheels, was, by some means, caught in the machinery, and so severely crushed that he only lived ten minutes after the occurrence. He has left a family of five orphans to lament his loss.

An inquest was held on the body on Tuesday last before J. Dearden Esq. at the Hollings Inn, Walsden, when the verdict was, “Accidental death”.

John was 52 years old. His unmarried children remained at Square, looked after by their big sister Ann Fielden who was aged 23. They continued to live in number 20 and her married brother James lived in a separate part of the same house where he ran a grocery shop.

Abraham and Mary Fielden  
Abraham was another son of James and Sarah, born at number 20 Square in 1811. He lived at Square for over 50 years. He married Mary Greenwood and they settled in number 16, which may have been the house he inherited from his father in 1828. They had seven children. William worked as a powerloom weaver in a local mill. Their son John married Elizabeth and it is believed they lived in a part of Abraham's house in 1861. John was another Square resident who was a local Methodist preacher. During the 1860's "cotton famine" the family moved to Castleton near Rochdale.

number 16


Maria Crossley

Maria was born at Henshaw in 1814 and married Samuel Fielden, another son of James and Sarah. Her sister Sarah was already married to Samuel’s brother John Fielden and living at Square. Like his siblings, Samuel inherited a cottage on Square when his father died in 1828 and probably took Maria to live there after their marriage. This was possibly number 8. Their daughter was born at Square at Square and was baptised on 9th March 1834. Tragedy struck the household a couple of weeks later when Samuel died aged 25.

Maria remained on Square with her baby, and within a short time married John Crossley born at Square in 1810 the son of John and Mary Crossley who lived at number 14. John worked as a carter and then tragedy struck again. John died aged 31 in 1841. They lived at number 8.


number 8

Seven months to the day later, Maria married James Crossley and they remained at Square where their first child was born. James was a weaver at the time. Towards 1850 they removed to live at Strines. Number 8 was taken over by William Crossley who was brother of John, Maria’s previous husband. However, they were back living in number 8 by 1861. James is now a stonemason and Maria is working as a laundress. James died at Square in 1863.


Two years later Maria married for a fourth time. This was to Joseph Newell, a picker maker who was a widower with numerous young children. They left number 8 to live across the road on Birks Terrace, but were back on Square by 1881, this time in number 26.

Maria died in 1887 aged 73 having outlived four husbands and managing to retain her Crossley name during two of her marriages.


John and Mary Crossley

John and Mary were the parents of Maria's second husband John Crossley.

John appears to be the son of early resident, James Crossley the pig butcher. He says in the 1851 census he was born at Square but there is no record of any suitable baptism for him. His wife Mary also says she was born at Square at much the same time, about 1780. John and Mary spent the first years of their marriage at Bottomley but by 1810 they were back on Square. John worked as a handloom weaver. Four of their eight children died in infancy at Square.

In 1814 they were living in the row 22 to 28 in Enoch Law’s old house, prior to that is a mystery. However, by the time of the 1841 census they were in number 14, and there they stayed until they died, John in 1853 and Mary in 1854.

number 14


In 1811 a census was conducted but it was not as detailed as later censuses. Only the name of the head of the household was recorded, along with the total number of males and females living in the house. Even the address went unrecorded, although by a bit of judicious thinking, the addresses can be worked out from the list of names available. The following chart appears to be a list of the heads of household at Square on the day of the census in 1811.

name males females total
Abraham Fielden 3 4 7
Samuel Law 2 1 3
John Jackson 1 3 4
John Crossley 3 4 7
William Crossley 4 2 6
Samuel Greenwood 3 3 6
Abraham Crossley 5 5 10
James Fielden 7 4 11
William Dawson 4 5 9
Tom Taylor 3 2 5
Samuel Law 4 1 5


Thomas and Mary Law

Thomas Law was colourful character from a dysfunctional family. His father Samuel was a rogue and a layabout who may have been the Samuel Law shown second in the chart. Thomas married Mary Sutcliffe in November 1811 and settled at Square where three children were born. They were distant cousins of the other Law residents, but had none of the respectability and energy associated with them. There is more about this family in the story of GAUXHOLME STONES.

Samuel was disowned by his own father for being unreliable, and passed this trait down to his own sons. One of his sons, William, was convicted of some crime and transported, leaving a wife and numerous children to the mercy of the township overseers. Thomas meanwhile was convicted and found guilty of felony and sent to Lancaster Castle Jail for 2 years on 22nd January 1817.

On his release he returned to Square to find his wife heavily pregnant, and naturally the child was not his. She was receiving POOR RELIEF at 7 shillings a week. Thomas had no work and went to the overseers to claim extra money. He was not only refused, but the whole family was sent packing over the county border to Stansfield in 1820.


Robert, Mally and Susan Fielden

One resident of Square who became an eminent businessman of the township was Robert Fielden. His second wife was Mally Fielden, and about 1822 they moved from Todmorden Edge to Square with their son James. A daughter Susan was born at Square in 1824, but unfortunately her mother died in childbirth. Susan was baptised at St. Mary’s four days after her mother died in March 1824.

Baby Susan survived and Robert went on to marry a third time a year later. His new wife was Susan Haigh. Their first child, Robert, was born at Square in 1826.

In a Trades Directory for 1823 is an entry "Robert Fielden, picker maker, Square" His brother James is credited with inventing the modern picker. He made the first one whilst sitting at his own handloom, from a bit of flat wood and two small pieces of leather. He made these and sold them for 1½d a pair. People bought them from the grocers' shops. Robert no doubt worked closely with his brother, and may have had a workshop at his home on Square. As the business developed, Robert branched off on his own and eventually founded the firm of Robert Fielden & Sons. As late as 1936 Robert Fielden & Sons claimed to be the largest picker making business in the world.

Robert and his family moved from Square to Inchfield Farm in 1827, presumably because his business had outgrown the space available. There he built INCHFIELD PICKER WORKS. Many residents of Square worked as picker makers, and probably worked for Robert at his Inchfield works.

In August 1829, Thomas Taylor of Square died aged 66. He too had acquired quite a portfolio of cottages on Square. He owned four of them. He was more generous to his widow than James Fielden was to his. In his WILL he left her the rents and profits on all four of his houses during her widowhood, plus the use of all his household furniture, plates, linen and china.

On her death or remarriage, he bequeathed to his son Ralph Taylor the cottage then occupied by Samuel Crossley. To his daughter Mary he left the cottage then occupied by widow Mally Howarth, and to his son John he left the house John was living in. The fourth house, which was the matrimonial home, he said should be sold with the proceeds being spilt between the children. All three of these children lived on Square with their families.

Mary was married to James Heyworth who was a stonemason. Their first five children were born at Square, maybe even more of them. During the 1830's, James opened a stone quarry on Langfield Moor in a place called Jail Hole and the family moved nearer the quarry to Swineshead.

John was married to Grace and they had five children at Square. John was a mechanic. They left Square during the 1830's to live at Shade.

Ralph married Sally Lum. They had an army of children - nine of them, all born at Square. He was variously a weaver, blacksmith and in later years a railway labourer. They remained at Square for the rest of their lives, probably in number 22. Ralph died of a short illness in 1842 aged 46. Sally remained in the number 22 earning a living as a "layer out". When Thomas Fielden a local school master died on January 1st 1854, she assisted in the laying out of his corpse. On her way back to Square she collapsed and died. She was 49.

The widow Ann wasn't’t easily giving up her inheritance. Her children had some time to wait before they could receive their inheritances. She remained a widow, and refused to die until some time after 1843.


number 12

According to Thomas Taylor's will, Samuel Crossley occupied one of his houses in 1829. This may have been half of number 12. He certainly lived there in 1830.


Samuel and Sally Crossley

Samuel was known by the nickname Sam Pennoth for some reason and lived on Square from about 1816 with his wife Sally Fielden. She was a niece of James Fielden who built number 20. Samuel was a corn miller working at Inchfield Mill, and as soon as the Beerhouse Act came into force in 1830, he paid his 2 guineas fee for a licence and opened the first beerhouse on Square at number 12, known as The Dusty Miller.

Numbers 12 and 14 were built originally as a detached block of 3 cottages. When Samuel opened the beerhouse at number 12 it was still a single cottage.


In 1828, Sally’s mother died. Her father, Abraham Fielden of North Hollingworth, gave up the farm and moved to live with Sally and her family at the Dusty Miller a couple of years later. JOHN TRAVIS wrote:

After the death of Old Ab’s wife of Hollingworth, he gave up the farm and for a short time went to live with his son-in-law Samuel Crossley, a working corn miller and beerhouse keeper at Square, Walsden, where the old man had a chamber for his loom and furniture to himself. Mrs. Sally Crossley, his daughter, and her children, looked after his wants, and as he still wove a little by hand at home and read the newspapers, a number of men going to sit and read with him often. Then he removed to a small cottage behind the Hollins Inn where he had better accommodation …

Old Ab probably moved out when Samuel and Sally left The Dusty Miller to take up the Black Bull Inn at Gauxholme, about 1833. When they left, Sally's first cousin Abraham Fielden took over.

Abraham and Betty Fielden

Abraham and his wife Betty Crossley took over the Dusty Miller at number 12 when the Crossleys vacated about 1833. They were newly married and all their seven children were born at number 12. Sadly, four of these children died as infants, two of them in the same week in May 1839. They sold groceries and provisions in addition to beer and ran a successful business over the following 20 years.

Both Abraham and Betty died young – Betty was only 40 and Abraham was 50. The house and business was taken over in 1856 by Abraham’s nephew Samuel Fielden, son of his brother John.

Samuel and Hannah Fielden


The Dusty Miller

When Samuel’s uncle Abraham died in 1856, he and his wife Hannah Newell took over the running of the Dusty Miller at number 12. Samuel was a blacksmith by trade, and continued with this work in addition to the beerhouse. They had no children so no doubt ploughed their energies into their work.

It was during their occupation that the next door cottage was acquired and the two were converted to one building.

During the 1870’s, Samuel and Hannah left the beerhouse and moved to another of the cottages on Square where he continued to work as a blacksmith. The beerhouse was taken over by John Roberts and his wife Elizabeth. They remained in charge for about 20 years and then Robert Scholfield was landlord for a short period and then Benjamin Howarth. The beerhouse survived until the 1930's when it was kept by the Smith family. It is now a private residence.

Abraham and Nancy Law

Abraham was the son of Samuel and Sarah Law who lived on Square for over 20 years in the early days. It was a family affair. His brothers Samuel and James lived at Square after marriages and also his sister Mally (married to Andrew Heyworth). His first wife's sister Mally lived at Square with his nephew John Law, and his first wife's brother Abraham Fielden kept the Dusty Miller at number 12. There were also several nieces and nephews on the road to keep him company.

He was brought up on Square and learnt his trade of clogger from his father. His first wife was Susan Fielden. They lived at Winterbutlee down the road from Square until Susan died in 1822. He moved back to live on Square with his surviving three children and continued his work as a clog and pattern maker.

Before too long, Abraham married his childhood friend, Nancy Crabtree, the daughter of William and Alice of Square. Another nine children were born, although three of them died young.


number 10

At some point soon after 1830, Abraham opened the second beerhouse two doors down from his brother-in-law Abraham Fielden of the Dusty Miller. Abraham’s beerhouse was at the present number 10 and was known as the Cloggers Arms after his own profession.


During the late 1830’s there was chaos in the district as the railway was being cut through. The line emerges from a tunnel somewhere behind the houses on the other side of the river. The railway labourers, plate layers, engineers and contractors would have been milling about everywhere, needing somewhere to live and more importantly to Abraham, somewhere to quench their thirsts! He prospered well during this boom time.

However, the good old days were threatened a year or so later when the Railway Company were building a new and better road parallel to the old highway on the other side of the strip of land opposite the cottages, bye-passing the old highway.

There was more upheaval as the road was built and more thirsty builders and labourers to boost the trade at the two beerhouses, but Abraham was shrewd enough to see the new road would be detrimental to his trade in the long term as travellers along the new road would no longer pass his door. He and Nancy decided to build a new beerhouse with four attached cottages alongside the new road, and opposite to Square.


They moved to the new premises in 1841 taking the name of Cloggers Arms with them. The new beerhouse eventually became the CROSS KEYS and the new road became Rochdale Road. Number 10 returned to being a domestic residence.

The new Rochdale Road with Square on the left


1838 was a turbulent year for the whole township, with RIOTS AND REBELLIONS against the new Poor Laws. A petition was organised in support of the township overseers in their fight against the new laws. Eighteen residents of Square signed this petition. The column on the far right of the chart shows our best guess as to the number of the house the person occupied.

Abraham Crossley
roller turner
Anthony Crossley
John Crossley
Abraham Fielden
beer shop
Abraham Fielden
James Fielden
John Fielden
James Greenwood
John Greenwood
John Heyworth
Mally Heyworth
Abraham Law
shop keeper
John Law
roller maker
Samuel Law
Edmund Lord
Thomas Newell
Susan Rigg
William Rigg

Anthony and Martha Crossley

Martha Sutcliffe made an unfortunate marriage when she married Anthony. She already had an illegitimate daughter Sally by Jeremiah Heyworth in 1818, and in 1822 gave birth to Anthony's child John. They married in July 1824 and went on to have eight more children. They were living at Square in 1831 and Anthony worked as a weaver. They had moved on by 1841 and by 1851 they were living apart. Martha disowned him and in the 1851 census said she was a widow, although Anthony was alive and kicking living at Cloughfoot. He was a rogue and a petty thief, and came to a sticky end as reported in the Halifax Guardian on 3rd January 1863:

Man drowned
On Monday morning the body of Anthony Crossley was found in the Rochdale canal at Gauxholme. It was first discovered by Joseph Turner, who was walking on the bank, and who supposed it to be a bundle of clothes floating down. Deceased was a beamer, age 65 residing at Gorpley. When found he had neither coat nor hat on, but was upright in the water. No marks of violence were found on the body. Deceased was last seen alive on Sunday night, about half past ten o'clock, when he called at the White Lion Inn, Wadsworth Mill, and was supplied with twopennyworth of rum. He was a married man, and had a wife and five children, but had not resided with them for the last six years.

On Thursday an inquest was held on the body, when it was stated that deceased had been in the employ of Mrssrs. Ormerod, Gorpley Mill, Duelsgate, and that during that time he had frequently stolen from the premises quantities of fents, and had continued the practice up to his death. According to the statement of a witness, who was housekeeper to John Crossley, blacksmith (with whom the deceased lodged), the deceased had recently had in his possession between 20 and 30 yards of fents, which on being discovered, had led to some words between himself and Crossley, the latter having threatened to inform Messrs. Ormerod if he did not take it back. He left home at eight o'clock on Sunday evening. Verdict - Found drowned.

James and Nancy Fielden

Nancy was the niece of Abraham Law of the Cloggers Arms and the daughter of Samuel Law and Nancy Ingham. She married James Fielden, always known as Jimmy, who was a committed Methodist.


He preached at KNOWLWOOD CHAPEL and taught in the Sunday School. It was said of him:

"James Fielden was one of the most remarkable men ever connected with any church. He was an ideal school superintendent, and he exerted a great influence for good amongst the young people."

James Fielden (1809-1891)


Jimmy and Nancy lived in her mother’s cottage at number 34. Their oldest children were born at Square, then the family moved to Pexwood during the 1840’s.

During the construction of the railway between Todmorden and Walsden, there were many itinerant workers in the area and the population outgrew what little educational facilities there were.

Jimmy Fielden had lived on Square from his marriage about 1829 and during this chaotic period he described it as a “destitute neighbourhood”. He and his friend Joseph Dearden were so worried by the situation they built a school for the children at Square. The school was named the United Methodist Free Church Sabbath School. It was a small affair in a room above two cottages, numbers 2 and 4. In addition to schooling, church services were held there.


numbers 2 and 4. Photo taken from the chapel's centenary handbook kindly provided by

Janet Beardwood

Entry to the school was gained via some steps built onto the side of number 2 by Abraham Craven.  It may be this was happening when the 1841 census was taken on the night of June 6th as these two cottages were unoccupied that night. The outline of the doorway can still be seen in the gable end and as recently as 1947 a stained glass window was removed from the same wall.

The first Sunday there were three scholars, and the second Sunday there were five. Preaching began in January 1842 and the first preacher was George Hudson. There was no pulpit, so in order to be seen and heard, he stood on the caretaker's tool box. The venture was so successful that in 1844 a library opened and it was decided to build a new school and preaching house. A site was found at Inchfield Bottom and in October 1847 the foundation stone was laid. The following year the school and chapel moved away from Square to its present position at INCHFIELD BOTTOM.


In the 1841 CENSUS there are 17 families in occupation and 2 unoccupied houses. There are two beersellers, two carters, a clogger, a journeyman joiner, a journeyman gardener, a corn miller, a picker maker, six powerloom weavers, four railway labourers, a journeyman roller turner, a spinner, a wheelwright, a wood turner, seven weavers, a dress maker, a whitesmith and two widows. Many of these families had ties to Square from the very beginning of the road. Five children of Samuel and Nancy Law were residents, Samuel’s brother Abraham was still at number 10, two of William Crabtree’s daughters were there, three of James Fielden’s children, and a son of Thomas Taylor.

In 1843 a survey was conducted throughout the township. The survey shows there were just seven registered owners – Samuel Law (widower of Nancy Ingham), Ann Taylor (widow of Thomas), the executors of James Fielden, Martin Mitchell, James Travis, Ogden Mitchell and John Chatburn. The column on the far right of the chart is our best guess as to the current house numbers.

Owner Occupier area in perches current no's
Samuel Law John Law & others 14 30-36
Ann Taylor Mary Howarth & others 9 22 & others
Executors of James Fielden John Fielden & others 12 20 & others
Martin Mitchell Abraham Fielden & others 6 12
James Travis James Parker 3  
Ogden Mitchell James Howarth & others 3  
John Chatburn Jeremiah Jackson 4 2 & 4

John Chatburn owned numbers 2 and 4. He was not a local man and the cottages were rented out. These two cottages are now one house, and it appears they were originally built as two cottages, then converted to one dwelling, then back to two, and now back to one. The cottages were built as “extensions” to the adjacent number 6, and at a later date.

In 1843 they were occupied by Jeremiah Jackson. They were four perches in measurement. Jeremiah was a newly married man without children, and earned a living as a weaver. He and his wife must have lived in the downstairs rooms underneath the schoolroom.

Numbers 30 to 36 are shown as owned by Samuel Law. It seems clear from later events that his wife Nancy Ingham had come into possession of all four of her grandfather’s cottages, numbers 30 to 36. She had died in 1838 and left the cottages to Samuel for his life time then to their eldest son, John Law. Samuel stated in his WILL of 1845:

"...And whereas my son John will, at my decease, be entitled to certain freehold cottages at Square which were devised to my late wife..."

John Law

John had a tragic life. He married three times and had eight children, but lost all three of his wives and six of his children. He lived most of his life on Square, inheriting numbers 30 to 36 from his mother. His first wife was Mally Fielden who died at Square aged 22. His second wife was Sally Haigh who died aged 30, and his third wife was Sally Fielden who died at Square aged 39. The maternal grandparents brought up his surviving daughter, Susan Law. His son Samuel lived with him. John was variously a blacksmith, whitesmith and iron turner, and in 1841 and 1851 he is living at the present number 36. He died there in January 1853 aged 54. His son Samuel moved away, married Grace and ran the ROSE & CROWN on Halifax Road.

John left a will leaving his four cottages to his two children, Susan and Samuel. Susan inherited the plot of land with stables and the two cottages now numbered 34 and 36, including the water well and trough in front of number 36. The other two cottages, numbers 30 and 32 were left to his son Samuel, although eventually ended up in Susan’s possession. She continued as owner of all four cottages until 1898.

Enoch and Betty Law

Enoch was a younger brother of John. He was brought up on Square by his parents and in 1839 he married Sarah Newell. They settled at Square in one of his brother’s cottages, the current number 30. He was originally a clogger like his grandfather and uncle Abraham. Maybe there was a family business on Square.


number 30

Enoch Law



Enoch and Sarah had five children who were born and brought up on Square, although the family moved during the 1860’s after nearly 30 years at number 30 to farm at ROUGHSTONES in Walsden.

Abraham and Hannah Crossley

Abraham and his wife Hannah Newell moved from Strines to Square about 1835. Their youngest four children were born there, and all eight of them were brought up on Square. Initially they lived at number 26 where William was a journeyman roller turner or mechanic.

Their eldest son, Thomas, worked at the cotton spinning mill of Richard Walker in Blue Pits, a village near Rochdale. He had worked for three years in the card room, but at the beginning of February 1848 he was promoted to work as a fireman in the boiler house on a wage of 10 shillings a week. On the morning of Tuesday 29th February, Thomas was leaving the boiler house when the central boiler exploded. There was total devastation and Thomas was blown forward by the blast and landed some 20 yards away from the building. He was terribly scalded from the steam and died 10 minutes later. Two other young men were also killed. Thomas was just 22 years old. He was buried on 3rd March at St. Mary's, and apparently Mr. Walker paid all the funeral expenses.

His devastated family continued to live at Square, and by 1851 had moved to number 34. Abraham died at number 34 in 1864, about 30 years after first arriving on the road. He was still working as a mechanic. The widow Hannah remained in the house with her unmarried daughters Alice and Mary. They had moved away by 1881.

number 34


The 1851 CENSUS is more complicated than the 1841. There are 22 separate households living on Square in 1851, yet there were only 19 houses. It is believed these “missing” three homes were at the back of two of the cottages. There are two side passageways on Square. One is between numbers 14 and 16, the other between numbers 20 and 22. In both cases the sides of the relevant cottages have signs there were once windows and doorways leading off the passageways. This suggests these cottages were converted to back-to-back houses during a time of increased population and shortage of housing, with number 14 being two houses and number 20 being three houses.

Between these 22 families, there were 2 clog and shoe makers, 2 errand boys, 3 handloom weavers, 14 powerloom weavers, 7 labourers, 5 picker makers, 2 iron turners, a grocer, a joiner, a corn miller, a contractor, a bread baker, a char woman, a beerhouse keeper, a bobbin turner, 15 scholars and a post master.


number 2

The arrival of the postmaster must have caused some excitement on the road. He was 47 year old widower, John Lacy. This was the first POST OFFICE in Walsden and was at number 2 where the school had once been. When John Lacy died in 1853 the post office moved to its present position on St. Peters Gate.

Reuben and Mary Haigh

Further chaos and upheaval arrived in Square in 1852 with the building a new COTTON MILL right on their doorsteps. Linen draper Reuben Haigh, his brother-in-law Edmund Barker who was an overlooker at FRITHS MILL, and Edmund Lord, a corn millers man at GAUXHOLME CORN MILL, formed a partnership and built a small mill on the strip of land opposite the cottages, between the old highway and Rochdale Road. They furnished it with machinery and in a very short time it became a flourishing concern. It must have been a blot on the landscape for the Square residents, but it will have provided badly needed employment for some of them.


numbers 38 to 42 about 1900

Along with the mill, three more houses were added to Square. They are the current numbers 38 to 42 and were added to the side of number 36. It seems they were erected on the plot of land and stables once belonging to number 36. I believe they were built to house the owners or managers of the new mill.

Reuben Haigh, his wife Mary Barker and their four surviving children, moved to live at Square to be close to his mill, and probably lived in one of these new houses. Their daughter Grace met and married another Square resident whilst living there. He was William Taylor, grandson of the original Thomas Taylor who had lived on Square all his life.

By 1860, the partnership dissolved and the mill was sold to the Todmorden Cotton Company who built the large concern at ALMA MILL in 1855. This was a Limited Company, one of the first such companies in the area. The shares and dividends were doing well at the time, and the idea was to use Square Mill as an extension to Alma Mill.

However, disaster was just a few years away. The American Civil War caused a severe downturn in fortune for all the cotton manufacturing concerns, and this company was one of the victims. In 1864, the company sold the mill to Crossley & Co. The new owners could do no better, relinquishing the mill to John Horsfall by 1868. He is the last known owner. The mill was closed and empty from 1879 until it was demolished in 1888.

Meanwhile, life continued …

Samuel and Elizabeth Law

Samuel was the oldest son of Abraham Law who ran the Cloggers Arms at number 10. He was brought up on Square and in 1838 married Elizabeth Eastwood. They began married life down the road at Newbridge, then moved to Square during the 1840's. They may have lived at number 18 where Samuel followed his father's trade of clogger. Samuel and Elizabeth had five children but only three survived infancy. They moved to Hollins Street during the 1860's.


number 18


William and Betty Rigg

William is one man who saw it all at Square. He arrived in Walsden with his parents, Thomas and Susan, when he was a young lad. Thomas was a shuttle and bobbin maker, or wood turner. He made wood pickers and repaired reeds and other things for handloom weavers. Thomas and Susan resided in number 6 and lived to be very old people. Thomas died at Square in 1835, whilst his widow plodded on until 1843 when she died aged 93. Two of her widower sons shared her home on Square – John who was a journeyman gardener, and Thomas, a wood turner like his father.


William married Betty Jackson and they settled at Square in 1823 in number 24, where they brought up seven children. He was a time-served joiner and coffin maker. He lived in number 24 for over 60 years. In 1881 he is widowed and living alone, aged 78. He lives off "income from a club". John Travis says that he:

“flitted at length when carried away to Walsden churchyard”.

This was in 1885. He was aged 83.


number 24



Abraham and Mary Taylor

William's next door neighbour was another man who lived in the same house on Square for over 60 years. He was Abraham Taylor, a grandson of the original resident Thomas Taylor. He was born at Square in 1835, the son of Ralph and Sally. In May 1856 he married Mary Fielden. Her parents also spent some time on Square and were residents in 1861. They were Thomas and Martha Fielden and probably lived in one of the newly erected houses numbers 38 to 42.


number 22

Abraham and Mary lived in number 22 from marriage until Abraham died there in 1895. This also seems to have been the house in which he was born. He worked variously as a turner and a weaver. They lived next door to William Rigg for nearly thirty years. In 1891 when Abraham and Mary were both aged 56, neither is working. A note alongside says that Abraham is "paralytic". I'm sure this must mean paralysed and not drunk!!! Their home is recorded as having two habitable rooms.

In the 1861 CENSUS there are still more separate households than houses. This time there are 26 households, but only 22 houses, so we now have 4 missing cottages that must have been at the backs of numbers 14 and 20.

As for occupations, there was still a good mix, with 2 lady annuitants, a blacksmith, 2 cloggers, a corn miller, an engineer, some iron and wood turners, a joiner, 4 labourers, 2 mechanics, 6 picker makers, a railway plate layer, a telegraph clerk, a local preacher, a cotton spinner & manufacturer, 6 scholars and many cotton mill workers.

John and Betty Mills

John and Betty show in the 1861 census living in one of the new houses at the end of the road and working as a cotton spinner & manufacturer. They previously lived at Shade where John entered into a partnership with William Dugdale. They took on the lease at SHADE MILL trading as Messrs. Dugdale and Mills and the partnership grew from strength to strength until the men were able to build their own mill at Bottoms in Walsden. BOTTOMS MILL was finished in 1853 and the partnership lasted until John retired in 1875.


John and Sally Fielden

Sally was also a Fielden. Her brother was Samuel who took over at the Dusty Miller in 1856. John and Sally married on New Years Eve 1859, and went straight away to live at Square where they produced six children over the next ten years. Three of these children died young. John worked as a picker maker. It is thought they lived in part of number 14, which at this time was divided into two separate homes. The entrance to the second home was accessed through a side passage between numbers 14 and 16.

One Tuesday morning in July 1875, John was found drowned in Square Lock. On 17th July, the Halifax Guardian reported:

Suicide by Drowning

On Tuesday morning, John Fielden of Square, Walsden, was found struggling in the Rochdale Canal near his house, under circumstances which left but little doubt that he had gone in with the intention of drowning himself. He had been drinking about a fortnight, and on Tuesday morning went to make hay for a relative. He left the hayfield about ten o'clock without saying anything, and about half an hour later was found in the water by John Fisherwood. Fisherwood went into the water to assist him, but he sank. Fisherwood then dived after him and brought him to the surface, and he was got out. Means were adopted to restore animation, but without avail. Deceased was 51 years of age.

Sally remained at Square with her three surviving children. In the 1881 census she is living at number 6. She died in 1888.

number 6


The 1871 CENSUS shows 23 households with the following mix of occupations: 3 agricultural labourers, a beerseller, a blacksmith, a whitesmith, a clogger, a joiner, 4 labourers, 3 picker makers, a railway clerk, a tanner, a washerwoman, 9 scholars and various mill workers.

There are still 23 households in the 1881 CENSUS, and again in the 1891 CENSUS, so there are still back to back houses on the road. However, by the 1901 CENSUS the houses at the back of number 20 are not recorded and number 20 is unoccupied. The whole road has been re-numbered to reflect the current numbering system. One back to back remains - at the back of number 14. This has the separate address of 1, Back Square Road.


In 1901, a young lady by the name of Hannah Sutcliffe was living in number 6 with her elderly grandfather, a retired grocer. Hannah was 23 and about to be married to Fred Stansfield. Her grandfather died two weeks after the census was taken and she married Fred shortly afterwards. Two years later Hannah took her own life as reported in the Rochdale Free Press on Friday 10th April 1903:


Singular Death of a Married Woman

Remarkable Letter

Quite a sensation was caused in the Walsden district last weekend by the mysterious disappearance of a young married woman named Annie Stansfield, who had lived happily with her husband at Square Road, and whose body was ultimately recovered from the canal at no great distance from her home.

At the inquest on Monday afternoon, Fred Stansfield, husband of the deceased, identified the body. His wife was 25 years of age. He last saw her alive on Friday night. She went out at 8 o'clock to buy some meat and at half past 10, as she did not return, witness became uneasy. Then he visited the butcher's shop and found the deceased had not been there. After making several inquiries elsewhere without success, witness informed the police.

In the early hours of Saturday morning Stansfield found a note pushed under a looking glass upstairs in his house. The note read as follows:


Dear Husband, I cannot live any longer. It is no use you saying I don't stammer, I do and the knowledge makes me miserable. I feel quite worn out in mind and body. Kindly think of me sometimes and forgive me, as I hope God will forgive me. You have been good to me, so don't think you are to blame at all; you are not.


Your loving wife


In reply to the coroner, Stansfield stated that when he last saw deceased she did not seem at all depressed. She had consulted a doctor for nervousness in December last, but not since. Tom Fielden, lock keeper, gave evidence as to finding the body in the canal. There was no evidence of violence on it. The jury returned a verdict of to the effect that deceased had drowned herself whilst of unsound mind.



Numbers 30 to 36

Way back in 1853, John Law left these four cottages to his two children, Samuel and Susan. Susan married George Beanland and they eventually settled in Sowerby where they ran a successful coal and lime merchants business. At some point Susan came into possession of all four cottages.

An indenture of Conveyance dated 20th October 1898 shows that Susan and three of her children sold the cottages to Sarah Eastwood. Sarah Eastwood was the first child of Thomas Fielden J.P. and Margaret Roberts. She was born in Walsden in 1850 and married widower William Eastwood quite late in life - in 1889.

Sarah sold the four cottages on 5th March 1906 for £350 when she is described as a widow of 19, Wolsley Road, Blackpool. The purchaser was Young Lord of North Hollingworth Farm and the 4 tenants were:

No. 30    Smith

No. 32    Joseph Crabtree

No. 34    Jonas Dugdale

No. 36    Richard O' Near

Young Lord died on 11 June 1915 and Probate was granted to his widow Hannah Lord and son George Henry Lord. George Henry Lord died on 13 August 1916. Hannah Lord sold all 4 cottages on 11 September 1925 to Harry Fielden, weaver, of 4 Peel Cottages Walsden.  She was at 6 Quebec Street, Walsden by then.

Harry Fielden died on 10 July 1932 and the property passed to his widow Margaret Fielden. She died 18th November 1940 when the property passed to her daughter Mary Sutcliffe of 3 Heather Bank, Walsden. Mary Sutcliffe sold number 34 to Frank and Ellen Jackson on 19th November 1946. This seems to be the first time any of the four cottages were sold separately.



So life and death continue on Square, and how many ghosts are lurking now some of their secrets are in the open?


Links for Square








Our grateful thanks to Sue Coventry and other residents for their kind assistance