The Fielden Legacy in Buildings

There are many buildings, both great and small, located in and around the Todmorden area that are associated with the Fielden family.  Some, such as the Town Hall and the Unitarian Church, are large grand affairs that cost huge amounts of money to build them.  These buildings were built by the owners of the Fielden Brothers' cotton empire when they desired to contribute something to the people of the town.  However, dotted around the surrounding area are buildings much smaller and less prepossessing, but nevertheless playing their own part in the Fieldens of Todmorden story.
 

Todmorden Town Hall

The Town Hall was built between 1871 and 1875 on land in the centre of the town where three valleys converge.  The Fielden Brothers commissioned John Gibson to build it and acquired the land for the sum of £5,500. The building exhibits lavish internal and external features and was finished to an extremely high standard.  The building costs totalled £54,000 with the brothers sharing the expense between them.  It stands in the middle of Todmorden as a lasting and magnificent memorial.







 

 

Todmorden Unitarian Church



The Unitarian Church occupies a commanding position overlooking the town centre.  It was completed in 1869 at a cost of £35,835 shared by the Fielden Brothers. The original intention was to create a building capable of seating five hundred people and costing no more than £6000 but in the end a far larger church evolved.  John Gibson had been engaged in 1865 to design and build the church and the first stone was laid in December 1865.
 Upon their deaths the three brothers, John, Joshua and Samuel were remembered on plaques inside the church.  Joshua and Samuel are buried beside the church. 
These days the church is in the care of the Historic Chapels Trust who maintains the building and surrounding area and organise services from time to time.

  

Dobroyd Castle


The architect John Gibson built Dobroyd Castle for John Fielden.  Gibson designed a huge castle on the hillside overlooking the valley.  It took over three years to build and it was reported that no expense was spared.  It had a total of sixty-six rooms, a large stable block, conservatories and a model farm.  When it was finished in 1869 it had cost £71,589, a lot more than was spent on the Unitarian church or the Town Hall.

Although John and his wife Ruth lived there, the younger generation of Fieldens wanted fresh pastures and moved to various locations to become 'landed gentry'.  It was never a popular venue for family gatherings and was sold in 1942 for £10,000 to the government and used as an approved school for a while.  Of recent times, a group of Buddhist monks had lived there as a fairly closed community.                                          © Tricia Field Knowles

However in 2009, Dobroyd Castle came back to life again.  The castle has been taken over by Robinwood Activity Centres and used as an adventure activity centre for upto 190 childeren, aged 8-11years old.   All the activities are carried out within the grounds, even the lodge has been restored, and the children have an excellent opportunity of seeing a grand Victorian building at close quarters.  Dobroyd Castle is now full of children's voices and full of life again.

Edge End Farm

 
© Tricia Field Knowles 

 

Edge End Farm was the birthplace of Joshua Fielden in 1748.  He grew up there raised a family and took over the tenancy of the farm from his elder brother.  This particular Joshua went on to establish the foundations of the textile empire, which subsequently played a major part in the development of Todmorden. Initially the family made a living from sheep farming and the weaving of woollen cloth, but in 1782 the move was made into cotton, which at the time was the promising new textile.  Like many of his contemporaries he spotted the opportunity to enter an emergent market in its early stages.









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