The early origins of Stoodley Pike were explored by Nick Wilding, historian and film-maker, utilising historical research, documentary interviews and film footage in his illustrated talk and video presentation given to Todmorden Antiquarian Society recently..
He also chronicled how it had featured in local lives down the years, and recalled the event held in 2014 to mark the bi-centenary of the laying of the original monument’s foundation stone.
According to legend an original cairn at the site on Stoodley Moor probably related to a Bronze Age burial. This was followed by a further structure of some description, but 1814 saw the erection of the first Pike.
Nick highlighted the involvement of the masonic movement, especially in terms of the procession and celebrations that marked the laying of the foundation stone.
It was, however, its significance as a peace monument that he wished to bring to the fore, in recognition of its national and international significance as the oldest man-made peace tower in Britain and only the fourth such in the world.
Inspired by the 1814 Treaty of Paris the building of the Pike was sponsored by local people, marking the communal relief in reaching the apparent end of 22 years of war.
Nick had interviewed local citizens and recorded humorous tales and ‘derring-do feats’ in and around the monument.
The 200th birthday celebration held on May 3, 2014 was the culmination of the Calder Civic Trust’s plans to mark the occasion and thanks to funding provided by Todmorden Town Council hundreds of people made their way up to the current Pike to do just that. The 1814 structure had been struck by lightening and collapsed on February 8, 1854, the very day the Russian ambassador was leaving Britain at the start of the Crimean War.
Many volunteers were involved in assembling the homing pigeons, puppeteers, a samba group and Todmorden Community Brass Band at the summit. It had been hoped to release French pigeons but this scheme did not come to fruition - 200 homing pigeons from Todmorden saved the day and these were released from the balcony to great applause. French guests visiting from Todmorden’s twin town of Roncq appropriately took part in the festivities.
Nick’s uplifting, highly entertaining presentation reinforced the significance of the monument, and the landscape surrounding it, all of which have made an impact on local people since Bronze Age times, and the 2014 celebrations form another chapter in the long history of Stoodley Pike.
On April 28, Steve Woods will speak on ‘The History of Wuthering Heights’. The meeting commences at 7.30pm and is held at Todmorden Town Hall. All are welcome.