The White Hart in 1830

Before 1728 only the church, Todmorden Hall and a handful of cottages formed the present town of Todmorden. The area surrounding the church and the Hall was farmland with outbuildings. In 1728, John and Tamar Fielden of Todmorden Hall opened up a hostelry on this farmland and called it The New Inn, later re-named the White Hart. Before John Fielden died in 1734, he gave the Inn and farm to his nephew, Samuel Fielden of Bottomley as a free gift.

Samuel never went to live at the New Inn. He preferred to stay at Bottomley with his wife, Jane Robinson, and their four children. His wife died in 1770, whereupon Samuel turned BOTTOMLEY FARM over to his youngest son and moved to live in a cottage at Doghouse on the New Inn farm estate. His eldest son, Samuel junior, lived at the Inn and was the licensee.

On 8th March 1780, Samuel sold the Inn and farm for the sum of £460, part for cash and part on a mortgage. This seems a very small amount considering it included the dwelling house, barn, outbuildings, a Preaching House and some houses, not to mention several acres of prime farm land. The purchaser was John Greenwood of Langfield, a fellow Quaker.

Tradition has it that Samuel began to get above himself on occasions, and despite being a devout Quaker, had a tenancy to drink too much whilst at the Inn, and that on one such occasion he sold his interest in the Inn and the sizeable farm land for a paltry sum. His children later made it known that they thought the purchaser had taken advantage of old Samuel whilst he was drunk. To put matters right, the purchaser offered the tenancy of the Inn and farm to the sons and son-in-law of Samuel for the very fair rent of £30 a year for so long as they desired. None of them was inclined to take up the offer.

When old Samuel made his WILL, some 12 years before his death in 1798, he left the proceeds of the sale and the balance due on the mortgage, to Samuel junior. The amount of his estate on his death was under £20, which caused some of his descendants to accuse him of further indiscretions such as drinking away the proceeds of the sale.

The White Hart about 1888


Samuel Hanson took over the tenancy when John Greenwood bought the Inn. He was also a Quaker, and remained at the Inn for a good number of years. In December 1801, a meeting was held at the White Hart when Samuel Hanson was still the landlord. It was decided that Todmorden should have its own market on a Thursday of each week, and that the first one should be on Thursday 4th February 1802.

The market was set up on Church Street under the church walls and spread out up to and including the White Hart Fold. Later, the market was also opened on a Saturday and a cattle market was held once a month, with a large cattle fair twice yearly at Easter and Michaelmas. The ordinary market had the likes of Dan o' Dock selling nettles and herbs, and the wife of John o' th' Clogger setting up a stall made of an old wooden door laid across two butter tubs, selling muffins, parkin and treacle.


Samuel Hanson was succeeded as landlord by Richard Midgeley, a retired Life Guardsman, and he by George Eccles from Keighley.


photo by kind permission of Roger Birch

George was landlord for many years, and was still there in 1847. It was during his tenancy that the Court of Petty Sessions was set up at the inn. This was held in the large chamber otherwise used by the Freemasons. Mr. John Crossley of Scaitcliffe and Clement Royds of Rochdale were the presiding magistrates and William Eastwood, solicitor, was the clerk.

Many a local was hauled up to this court for petty offences, including WILLIAM CROSSLEY. This was known as "going up Eccles steps" due to the fact that access to the room was by way of a flight of steps up the outside of the building. The Court moved to a room in the Queen Hotel in January 1847.

In 1821, there was a bit of bother at the White Hart between Mrs. Eccles, wife of the landlord, and James Stansfield, ironfounder of Todmorden. What happened and what was said is not recorded, but the following submission appeared in several newsapapers:

Whereas I, James Stansfield of Todmorden, Iron Founder, have defamed and made use of very scandalous and disgraceful language to the great injury of the character of Mrs. Eccles of the White Hart Inn, Todmorden. Now I do hereby beg pardon of the said Mrs. Eccles; and that such language was so used by me without any cause or foundation whatever. As witness my hand this 6th day October 1821. James Stansfield. Witnesses: George Cockcroft and William Sutcliffe.

JINNY HAIGH succeeded George Eccles as landlord. She was born in 1809, the oldest child of Reuben and Grace Haigh of the MOORCOCK INN on Inchfield Moor. She was married very young to John Hill, the son of the landlord of the Waggon and Horses at Walsden. He died and she married John Fielden with whom she had a daughter. Sadly for Jinny, her second husband also died and by 1841 she was running the Waggon and Horses as a 32 year old widow.
Later that year she married a third time to Joseph Firth. They moved from the Waggon to take over the White Hart about 1848, by which time they had 4 children. Joseph died at the White Hart in 1849, leaving Jinny widowed for the third time. Jinny continued to run the pub with help from her youngest brother, Samuel Haigh.
Sometime after 1851 she married for a fourth and last time. Her husband was a local butcher, William Crossley. Together, Jinny and William ran the White Hart until ill health forced Jinny to hand over the reins to William. She was diagnosed as having cancer of the uterus in 1856, and died on 28th September 1857 aged just 48.

William remained at the pub with Jinny's children until he retired to live at Pex House. Shortly after his retirement, he was still a young and active man, prone to a gamble and a bit of fun, evidenced by this article, which appeared in the Leeds Mercury on 23rd January 1858:

A horse race, which excited considerable interest among the sporting men of this town, took place on Wednesday last on the Halifax Road, the distance run being about a mile. The riders were Mr. William Crossley, late landlord of the White Hart Inn, Todmorden, and Mr. William Greenwood of Gauxholme, manufacturer. The winner to take both horses. For some distance, Mr. Greenwood was considerably ahead, but on passing a point of the road where his horse had been accustomed to stop, it suddenly swerved, and before he could collect himself, his opponent passed him and won the race by several lengths.

William died at Pex House on 11th March 1859 aged just 41. Jinny and William are buried together at St. James' Church in Hebden Bridge.
Ann Bancroft was the next tenant. She was a spinster and lived there with her sister Charlotte who later married Abraham Haigh, brother of Jinny the previous landlady.








In 1888, during the occupation of landlady Miss Dugdale, a new billiard room was added. She handed over to a local town councillor, William Smith Hollinrake of Waterside House Todmorden, in November 1893. He had been an employee of the Waterside Fieldens, but at the age of 49 decided to give up and purchase the tenancy of the inn. He later bought the pub from the owner, a member of the Fielden family.


Soon after William took over, he organised a meeting of all the licensees in the district and they met on March 7th 1894 at the White Hart to form the beginnings of a Licensed Victuallers Association, and in January 1895 they held their inaugural dinner at the White Hart at which 62 people sat down to a "first class dinner". They were known as the Todmorden and District Licensed Victuallers Wine and Beer Sellers Association. Mr. Hollinrake sold the pub in 1898 to a brewery. He died on 1st February 1901.

In 1899 the inn was extended and then in 1935 it was demolished as a one-storey building and re-built in mock tudor style with three storeys, opening 1st October 1935 as the White Hart Hotel. It continues today as a popular pub, restaurant and social meeting place.





Grateful thanks to Anita Firth for sending us the memorial cards

of Joseph Firth, Jinny Haigh and William Crossley