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Riots & Protests - Radical history around Todmorden

The first of two walks telling the story of the early radical social movements of the Upper Calder Valley while enjoying its unique topography and scenery.

On this walk you will visit a hilltop gathering place (the Basin Stones) where Chartists in the 1840s demanded the right of all men to vote; learn about the local struggle to resist building a large workhouse; and see where the Plug Riots and one of the Anti-Poor Law Riots took place. If you listen to the mobile app. downloads you will hear modern renderings of ancient Chartist songs and re-enactments of the riots.

This trail (and the accompanying one starting from Hebden Bridge) will take you back to the earlier roots of the contemporary cooperative spirit of the Upper Calder Valley; to the Chartists, the Suffragettes, the Worker’s Cooperatives, the Trade Union Movement, the early housing cooperatives and the radical Clarion Cycle Clubs. You will visit the spots associated with the predecessors of the Upper Calder Valley’s present day radicalism, not only the buildings of the Industrial Revolution but also the open spaces surrounding them where the protesters were as likely to gather to protest but also to enjoy life.

About the Trail


The walk is about 8 miles taking about 4-5 hours with rests and refreshments. Can be done as a shorter (4 mile) walk, by catching a bus back at the halfway point.

How strenuous:

This walk involves some fairly steep climbs and descents which would be described as moderate difficulty in walking guides. It requires walking boots and certainly should not be undertaken in very rainy and misty weather.

Not suitable for very young children.

Start & Finish:

The trail begins and ends at Todmorden Railway Station (Postcode: OL14 7AA, OS Grid Reference: SD 935 243).

Several buses and trains run each hour from Halifax, Leeds, Manchester, Burnley and Rochdale.

Where to download the app:

For iPhone/iPad: Go to the Apple Store from your iPhone or iPad & search for Pennine Horizons. ** For iPads you must select the tab 'for iPhone only', or it will not find the Pennine Horizon App.

For Android: Open the Play Store & search for Pennine Horizons. Click on the application & follow the instructions to download.

Where to buy a guide:

The guide is available in various bookshops & Tourist Information Centres around the area.

You can also buy a copy, by popping in to the Birchcliffe Centre, Birchcliffe Road, Hebden Bridge, HX7 8DG. Or dropping us a line at info@pennine-horizons.org.uk or calling on 01422 844450.

More information

Some dates

  • 1838-1848: High Point of Chartist Campaign in Calder Valley
  • 1838: Todmorden and Mankinholes Anti Poor Law Riots
  • 1842: Calderdale Plug Riots, Basin Stones Gathering
  • 1873: Large Victorian workhouse finally built at Mankinholes
  • 1914: Todmorden Weavers Institute opened

Some sources

  • Binns, A (2013), Valley of A Hundred Chapels, Grace Judson Press.
  • Croft L (1994), John Fielden’s Todmorden. Tygerfoot Press
  • Fowler, A (2003), Lancashire Cotton Operatives and Work 1900-1950, MPG Books
  • Jenning, B (ed) (1992), Pennine Valley, Amadeus Press.
  • Salveson, P (2012), Socialism with a Northern Accent, Lawrence Wishart
  • Thompson, E. P. (1963), The Making of the English Working Class, Penguin

With thanks to; This trail was inspired by Tom Greenwood and other members of the Hebden Bridge Trades Club walking group who introduced these places on their regular 10 mile Sunday hikes. E.P Thompson’s The Making of the English Working Class was brought to life.

Thanks to Richard Peters, Linda Croft, Gwen Goddard, Katie Witham, Alan Fowler and the Calder Valley Voices. Thanks also to Mike Punch for his magnificent recording.