Past Events

Each year, the Socity organises a number of events that have, in some way or another, links to the wide Fielden family or to Todmorden in general.

Below are reports of just some of the events.

FIELDEN INTERNATIONAL REUNION 2016

The streets of Todmorden resounded to voices with a number of accents over the weekend of 6th/7th August.  The reason; the Fielden Society were holding their 3rd International Reunion.  The role that John Fielden M.P. and his ancestors and descendants played in the development of Todmorden, its industries and its major civic buildings is well known, but of course there were many branches of the Fielden family.  Whilst the roots of the “Fielden “ name seem to be in Todmorden ,some of the family had lived in the surrounding areas encompassed by Burnley, Halifax, Oldham, Rochdale and Blackburn and worked in the textile or farming industries and other industries. 


However, in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, there were a small number of Fieldens who sought life overseas.  A father and later one of his sons emigrated to America and Canada respectively and the Fielden Society of America reckon there are around 7,000 Fielden descendants from these two people.  There is even a “Fielden Farm” in Missouri.

The ancestor of some of the Australian visitors had a different story, as he was sent to Australia “on His Majesty’s pleasure”.  After serving his sentence, the Fielden traits shone through and he became a very successful entrepreneur, businessman and landowner in the new country.

During the weekend, the visitors from the UK and overseas met in the Town Hall, were welcomed by the Mayor of Todmorden, looked at items describing the history of the Fieldens, but of even more interest they looked over a series of family trees to find who was related to whom and were their ancestors from Lancashire or Yorkshire.  They visited many of the key buildings that were built by the Fieldens, including the Town Hall, the Unitarian Church and Dobroyd Castle.  One Australian even pulled pints of beer in a pub which had been run by one of his ancestors nearly 200 years ago.

On Sunday they visited the Grimston Park Estate near Tadcaster, which is the home of the current descendants of John Fielden.  Even the Yorkshire weather joined in the successfu occasion, as many of the overseas visitors saying they had brought waterproofs,
but not needed them, that is until they just got off the coach on its return to Todmorden.

Whilst this was a special occasion for the overseas visitors, the members of the Fielden Society are always interested in meeting
up with the people from this area who have a Fielden in their family tree somewhere in the past.

Annual Dinner

The year started for the Fielden Society with the Annual Dinner at the Old Hall in January. The meal was really excellent and was enjoyed by all who attended.  The Old Hall staff made us feel welcome again by decorating the original 'kitchen' of the building with candles and other festive objects.  

The Fielden connection to the Old Hall is quite a strong one in that a John Fielden started a woollen business at the Hall
early in the 1700s.  He married Tamar Halstead in 1707 and continued to live at the Hall and run his business from
there until his death in 1734.  The photograph shows some of the guests and the huge fireplace where joints of meat would be spit roasted.

Family Picnic,  

What a wonderful afternoon we spent in Centre Vale Park with family members on Sunday, 14th August. The weather was kind to us after a tremendous downpour in the morning.  About eighteen adults with several children gathered in the footprint foundations of Centre Vale House. Ian and Janet Fielden had prepared an interesting quiz/treasure hunt around the park that proved to be popular with both parents and children alike. Wine and soft drinks were served as we enjoyed our individual picnics.

Games followed for the children, rounders in particular kept the little ones busy and worked of excess energy whilst the adults were able to sit back, relax and socialise. Participation prizes were given to the children. The family travelling furthest to join us were John and Ann Fielden from Knottingley, who brought along their two grandchildren. A couple of strangers walking by the statue of John Fielden commented that she was Barbara Fielden and they were from Queensbury, West Yorkshire. They had never been to the park before, but were introduced to the Fielden gathering.

During the afternoon the Littleborough Brass Band  played in the bandstand right across the field from the Mansion ruins. What a nice way to spend a Sunday afternoon.We said our goodbyes about 5 o clock.

   Fielden members, young and not so young.
Good shot at rounders. 
Thankfully, missed the camera man!
 
   A Lancashire band plays in a Yorkshire bandstand.

Fielden Exhibition in Todmorden to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the Society

During April there was an Exhibition of the numerous aspects of the Fielden Society's activities and events at the Tourist Information Centre in Todmorden Town Centre.  Exhibits reflected the history of the various branches of the Fielden  families of Todmorden and also past events related to the Fielden Society.  The exhibition opened on Saturday 3rd April and lasted for the entire month. Other events took place during the summer to mark the fifteenth anniversary of the Formation of the Fielden Society. 

   Jack Taylor and David Fielden (Chairman) at the opening of the exhibition on Sat 3rd April. 
   A group of the Committee, who all have common ancestors back in the 16th century, prepare for the Exhibition at the Tourist Information Centre 
   Some visitors work out their links in the Fielden Family trees

Opening of Pocket Park in Fleetwood

  Cutting of the ribbon 

 

On Thursday 10th July 2008 a crowd gathered to watch the official opening of Pocket Park in the centre of Fleetwood by Mayor of Wyre Borough Council, Doreen Lofthouse, Michael Reaper and John Fielden (great nephew of Sam Fielden).This opening was the latest act in a series of events that which takes us back to Lancashire in the middle of the 19th century.  At that time the Fieldens were major shareholders in the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company.  Samuel Fielden (1816-1889), a senior partner in the family firm, was known for his sense of public duty and philanthropic tendencies.  In his later years, he became involved in investing in the development of Fleetwood as a port, not only in the building of Wyre Dock in 1877 but also in endowing local institutions.
 
Fleetwood, on the Lancashire coast, had been given some impetus to develop as a packet (ferry) port for Ireland and Scotland. The railway from London reached no further than Lancashire in the 1840s, so anyone wishing to travel to Scotland could catch the train from London to Fleetwood and then continue their journey by ship up the Irish Sea and into the Clyde.  Indeed one person who made use of this route was Queen Victoria in 1847.  Eventually the main line over Shap Fell was completed and this ended the usefulness of this idea.  The port did continue to develop in a minor way, with sailings to Ireland and the development of a fishing fleet.
 
Sam bought heavily into property in the town in 1874 and 1875 when the 'packet port' idea was at its zenith.  In 1887 he bought a building, at the east end of Dock Street, that was turned into the Fielden Public Hall, reading room and Library.  Sam Fielden refused to attend the opening ceremony, as he strongly believed that good deeds needed no public recognition.  However his wife Sarah, accompanied by her companion, Annie Bentley, agreed to open the Library later that year.  During the ceremony a special Fielden hymn, written for the event, was sung for the first time and it was announced that the new Esplanade in Fleetwood was to be renamed the Fielden Esplanade. Though there are no signs to recognise the fact it is still officially called the Fielden Esplanade to this day.
 
   The Original Library endowed by Sam Fielden. 

 The Library served Fleetwood for many years, but recently it was found to be too small for the town and the demands of modern technology and access provisions.  Therefore it was decided that the original building should be sold with the proceeds going into the local Fielden Trust.  A new Library has now been built nearer the town centre, at the junction of North Albert Street and Victoria.  You can even get married in its distinctive hall, which is topped by a lighthouse gallery.
 
On the opposite side of the road was a derelict piece of land owned by Michael Reaper, owner of Home bakery.  With the help of money from the Fielden Trust, from Doreen Lofthouse (of the Fisherman's Friend company) and donations from local firms, a park has been designed and made.  Full of planters contributed from local schools, benches and ceramic artwork, the park enhances the local environment.  Large boards acknowledge the roles of the benefactors and the historical significance.

 
   The new library opposite Pocket Park 

  
So on the 10th July 2008, John Fielden, the great nephew of Sam Fielden, was asked to join others in the opening of this public amenity.  Luckily the sun shone, the band played and the Fielden hymn was sung again, 120 years after its first rendition at the official opening of the Fielden Free Public Library in 1887.
 
The Fielden Hymn
Come, raise aloud your voices in one harmonious lay;
Let no harsh word or discord be heard in town today.
But let your pent-up feelings break out in grateful song
and may this day's proceedings live in our memories long.
Chorus
Come raise aloud your voices in one harmonious lay;
Let no harsh word or discord be heard in town today
We thank our benefactors, with willing hearts and kind
Who nobly make provision to feed the hungry mind;
Who use their wealth and influence and throw a cheering ray
To lighten life's rough journey and cheer man on his way.
Chorus

The daring deeds of warriors we sing in deathless lays
And surely acts of kindness deserve our warmest praise.
The well-known name of Fielden shall shine on history's page;
When wall and roof and rafters are crumbled down with age!
Chorus

Yes acts so kind and gracious shell be remembered long,
And handed down for ages in story and in song
God bless our benefactor. God bless his worthy wife.
May heaven be pleased to grant them a long and happy life.
Chorus
(Words by Samuel Laycock, a Lancashire dialect poet, tune "God bless the Prince of Wales")





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