Written by JOHN TRAVIS about 1900

transcribed by Arlene Hinman 2003

Returning to the point where the DULESGATE and Walsden roads diverge at Gauxholme, we find that, near the bridge, before the construction of the railway, there used to be two tangs of land between the river and the narrow old lane (known as Hacking-lane) which led up to Knowlwood; the other branch going over Gauxholme Stones fields to CLOUGH MILL, and Inchfield Fold. On the lower of these tangs was the shop of Abraham Stansfield, a grocer, better known as Ab’ o’ Noggs,” together with a number of houses, and a beerhouse in the occupation of Roger Bramley. These building were entirely done away with on the construction of the “Manchester and Leeds” Railway in 1839-40. Immediately above this point the river swerved in its course, and a dam was made which supplied the Gauxholme Cotton Mill lower down. This dam was alternatively known as “Kay’s dam” and “the Ashes dam,” the former name being the name of the tenant of the mill, and the latter the name given to it when the Todmorden Local Board took it over for a rubbish tip. This dam, now filled up would most probably be made before the canal was cut in 1794-1800.

Above Kilnspring bridge was the KNOWLWOOD BOTTOM MILL of Messrs. Abraham Crossley and others, the premises being used for cotton carding and spinning, and the power derived from a water wheel until about 1830. Many alterations were made at the place under the management of William Crossley, a son of one of the former proprietors. The land between the turnpike and the river was known as Little Knowl estate, and this property extended from Kilnspring bridge to the Woodbottom Clough.

A good deal of the property around Knowlwood is of very early date, some of the houses near the branch co-operative store there dating back probably as far as 1770. The cottages by the steps leading up to KNOWLWOOD CHAPEL were built in 1830, and other cottages close by were built in 1840 by Abraham Halstead and William Sutcliffe, of Knowlwood. All the other additions to the buildings in the immediate neighbourhood are of more recent date, but on going forward to Sandhole we find five cottages which were erected by Nicholas Ogden and John Walton in 1806-8.

Wood Cottage was built before 1840 at the higher end of what is know as “Slip land,” so called because of the tendency of the land to slip towards the canal. At Woodbottom, John Butterworth, the grocer, built a new shop and house on the left-hand side, and three houses on the right-hand side, about the year 1842, the work of erection being interrupted for a time by the plug-drawing rioters from Rochdale, who passed through the neighbourhood, and stopped the workmen from continuing their labours. Many other were delayed for the same reason, the rioters ordering all the workmen as they passed along to cease work. The origin of Woodbottom itself goes back a very considerable time. The barn and several cottages formerly had rooms in them for hand-loom weaving, and this is an indication in itself of that fact. The row of six cottages which stands in front of WOODBOTTOM is dated 1796, whilst the row which stands near, on the right-hand, in 1826, and those on the left in 1710. “Stoney-brink”, the oldest house being the one which stands in the barn fold.

Cottages at General Wood in 2003

This one was built by James Rhodes, farmer; and in a meadow at the back of GENERAL WOOD FARM (which is dated 1700), it is said that John Wesley preached on one occasion, the date being given as May 31st, 1753, whilst he and Mrs. Wesley were the guests of James Rhodes for one night at General Wood farm.
From Woodbottom to the Hollins Inn, along the Hollins-road, there are no buildings of any age, but the cottages which adjoin the inn are of a very peculiar type, specially made so as to accommodate them to the different levels of the roads, back and front. The Hollins Inn is particularly interesting, on account of the fact that it was built in the year that the owner of the Henshaw estate died, viz., 1708. The name of the inn is probably derived from the from the tradition that there used to stand two holly trees on the site on which it was built, and the “Hollins” is merely taken as an equivalent for the plural of holly. There is an inscription over the doorway which bears out this statement, the words Ds AGRIFOLY being cut in the stone.

Fifty or sixty years ago, the inn had a farm, barn, and the usual accommodation for cattle and horses, as well as accommodation for the occasional guests who passed that way. The farm property was later taken for the erection of mills, cottages, etc., as the demand for labour became greater. The barn was on the right hand side of the road, on the site now occupied by the Walsden Co-operative Society, there being also one small cottage at the back of the inn, in the occupation of Mr. Shackleton, who combined the businesses of grocer, blacksmith, and wheelwright, his shop and smithy being in front of the public house on the roadside.
In 1835, a stone quarry was opened in Henshaw wood, and a new road was made by the side of the inn, past the cottages and the old Henshaw barn farm.

Henshaw Barn in 2003


Formerly the road to this part had been a cart road from a point lower down the Hollins-brow. The road was afterwards continued round by way of ”Cobthurst” dam to the quarry, to get as easy a gradient as possible.

The houses at Henshaw (Henshaw house and the farm buildings, etc.) were partly removed before the Walsden Church was consecrated in 1848. The rest of the material being afterwards carted up to Scaitcliffe, and used for building purposes there. All the other property in the immediate district has been erected since 1855, with the exception of two cottages at Hollins-bottom, Birks Bar or Tollhouse, BIRKS MILL (a small carding and spinning place which was built in 1790 and which was water driven), and the farmhouse and barn at Birks, which at an earlier date was occupied by John Greenwood, carrier, a member of the DEANROYD family of Greenwoods.



The Henshaw estate came into the possession of the Radcliffes of Todmorden Hall by purchase from Robert Henshaw, Esq. In the year 1491, the estate comprising over 200 acres of land, and extending from Birks Clough to Swineshead or Earnshaw Clough. The other boundary of the land in the valley was the river or Walsden water, and the common or moor was the boundary on the east side. The property descended in the course of time to Radcliffe Scholfield, who was the donor of the site of the Meeting-house for the Society of Friends at Shoebroad in 1697, the land being given for a term of 6,000 years. Mr. Scholfield was related to the Radcliffes of Todmorden Hall through his mother, who was Alice, daughter of Saville Radcliffe, and Jas. Scholfield, of Scholfield Hall in the township of Butterworth, Rochdale, which family could trace their descent back to 1585. The grandson of Mr. Scholfield afterwards became the steward of the Manor of Rochdale during the time of the Byrons. The children of Mr. Scholfield were Richard, Miranda, Isabel or Frances, Penelope and Alice. Richard became a clergyman of the Church of England, and left a son who also entered the ministry, but under the Presbyterian Church, afterwards being minister at Hallfold near Whitworth, being succeeded by his own son in that post. Miranda did not marry, but died at Rochdale in her 81st year, being buried with her father and mother at St. Mary’s Church, Rochdale. The mother and daughter were the signatories to a deed which granted to James Rhodes, the farmer of the General Wood farm and the entertainer of John Wesley, who has already been spoken of, the site of the first house in Woodbottom. Frances or Isabel Scholfield became the wife of the Rev. Nathan Stocks, incumbent of St. Mary’s Church, Rochdale. Penelope married Mr. John Fox, of the Rhodes, near Middleton, and the youngest daughter married Lieutenant Luke Crossley of Scaitcliffe Hall.

Under the will of Mr. Scholfield, the Higher and Lower KNOWL FARMS, with Woodbottom, Butcher Hill, and Lower Swineshead, passed into the hands of the Firths. It is surmised that the marriage between these two was in a way brought about by Joshua Fielden, of Swineshead Middle farm, who was one of the executors of the will of Radcliffe Scholfield. This Joshua Fielden was a cloth merchant, who had considerable dealings in the Yorkshire districts, and it was there that he probably met the John Firth mentioned above. The warrant for the above surmise is in the fact that John and Esther Firth had a son who was called Joshua, who succeeded to the property, and afterwards sold it to Thomas and Charles Lord in 1787 for the sum of £1,850. One of the trustees of the will mentioned was John Travis, of Inchfield-fold, Walsden, from whom the writer of these reminiscences is directly descended. His will is dated 11th October 1709, and is witnessed by Edward Thornley, curate of Littleborough; and Luke Crossley of Scaitcliffe, who had married Alice Scholfield, and had come into possession of the Henshaw estates by purchase. The payment included the forfeiture of his wife’s share of the parental estates. Joshua Fielden of Swineshead, the other trustee of the will, died in 1727, and was buried in the graveyard of the Friends’ meeting house at Shoebroad.