When steam made valley an industrial powerhouse. . .

The Todmorden Triangle in use in the 1930s, from the Pennine Horizons archives
The Todmorden Triangle in use in the 1930s, from the Pennine Horizons archives

Steam power spawned the Industrial Revolution, and the steam railway locomotive fired it, asserted David Taylor in his talk to Todmorden Antiquarians.

When more power available meant more production, more raw materials and more access to markets were essential.

Therefore local mill owners, led by Honest John Fielden, fought and won to bring the new-fangled railway to Todmorden, leaving Halifax, Bradford, Dewsbury and Huddersfield out in the cold for some years.

The Manchester and Leeds Railway ran from Manchester to Littleborough in 1839, Hebden Bridge to Leeds in 1840, and was completed when Summit Tunnel opened in 1841, amid great rejoicing, surveyed and engineered by George Stephenson himself,

In all, 25 contractors were engaged, employing upwards of 4,000 men.

Excursions featured from the start. One, on August 23, 1844 left Hebden Bridge at 6am with the return from Hull departing at 5.30pm.

The train was 82 (four-wheel) wagons long pulled by three engines with entertainment provided by two brass bands.

The first Todmorden Station (1840) was timber built, with a stone one following in 1843/4. The present station dates from 1865 but lost some facilities in the 1960s.

It was fortunate that the line from Sowerby Bridge to Littleborough via Rishworth was not completed, or Todmorden would have been sidelined.

The Todmorden triangle, currently being reinstated, dates from 1862, and, easing congestion in Todmorden Station, helped to keep trains moving.

The images shown come from the Pennine Horizons project which preserves photos, archives and artefacts from the three valleys which meet at Todmorden.

Antiquarians next meet on March 25 at 7.30pm in Todmorden Town Hall. Subject : “Executions at York”. All are welcome. There will be no demonstration!