Happy Birthday Stoodley Pike: by Nick Wilding
Tuesday, 16 December 2014
It's two hundred years since the building of the original Stoodley Pike Tower, and Nick Wilding, local film-maker and historical researcher, was determined that the anniversary should be celebrated in style. In the last Hebden Bridge Local History Society meeting of 2014, Nick shared his wonderful filmed collection of reminiscences about the Pike, as well as the record of its fantastic birthday party.
The 1814 tower is almost unique in having been built to celebrate a Peace Treaty rather than a military victory. The Napoleonic wars had dragged on for over twenty years by the time the Treaty of Paris was signed in 1814, and the local population of the Upper Calder Valley was delighted to celebrate a new age of peace. When it fell down on the eve of the Crimean War in 1854, the power of an omen once again attached itself to the place. It was rebuilt in 1856 when peace returned.
Stories of doom and disaster seem to have been long associated with the place - there are folk tales of flames flaring from the stones, hints that this was the devil's seat, and even in modern times stories of electrical storms when aggressive squirrels attacked walkers!
But the Pike was also a much loved playground, and some of the reminiscences Nick has caught on film tell of the antics of the local boys, riding bikes on the parapet, jumping off onto the soft peat, suffering from ricocheting shot-gun pellets and foraging for explosives left behind after Home Guard training.
Stoodley Pike's connection with political justice, from the Chartists to twentieth century peace movements was reflected in the birthday celebration. Visitors from the French twin towns were welcomed to the party. And a 'right good do' it was: Stoodley Pike is pretty inaccessible, and the logistical problems of getting everything and everyone there formidable - but everyone played their part and there was a brass band, a flight of peace pigeons released from the towers, and a large crowd to say Happy Birthday Stoodley Pike.
The Hebden Bridge Local History Society will next meet at 7.30 at Hebden Bridge Methodist Hall on 14th January to hear Sylvia Thomas talk about the Wakefield Court Rolls and what their 700 years of evidence can offer local and family historians. Details on the website: www.hebdenbridgehistory.org.uk
Many thanks to Sheila Graham for this report
See also: HebWeb News - Bicentenary Celebration on Stoodley Pike
See HebWeb photos of the Stoodley Pike celebration on Saturday 3 May
Previously, on the HebWeb
Wills, Inventories and Economic Activity in the Parish of Halifax at the end of the 17th Century: Alan Petford (30 Nov 2014)
Local History Society Archive explored - Following the 65th AGM, members of Hebden Bridge Local History Society were treated to a sample of some of the treasures to be found in the Society's archive. (19 Nov 2014)
Views from two communities on the outbreak of war in 1914 - Mike Crawford, Wolfgang Hombach and Nick Wilding (27 Oct 2014)
The Listed Buildings of the Hebden Bridge area with Peter Thornborrow. (14 Oct 2014)
Valley of a Hundred Chapels by Amy Binns (29 Sept 2014)
History Group Study Day report: Power and Potability (11 Sept 2014)
Whose land is it anyway? How parliamentary enclosure shaped the landscape of the Calder Valley: speaker, Sheila Graham. Read more (6 April 2014)
Calder Valley Buildings of the Seventeenth Century: the craftsmen and their patrons Read more (27 Jan)See Small Ads (12 March)
Some thoughts on historic buildings and their repairs by Alan Gardner
Local History talk on Witchcraft in the Upper Calder Valley: As make-believe witches come knocking on our doors John Billingsley, folklorist and author of many books on the subject, told members of the Local History Society that to our ancestors witchcraft was very real indeed. More info (27 Oct)
Local History talk on Mytholmroyd's Moderna: Joan Laprell spoke to the Hebden Bridge Local History Society where she recalled the village within a village that was the Moderna Blanket Factory in Mytholmroyd, where she worked for ten years. More info (12 Oct)
Local History talk on maps: The first meeting of the new season of lectures for the Hebden Bridge Local History Society was launched by Tony Morris speaking about the history of maps and map-making as well as cartographic crime. More info (30 Sept)
Bridge Mill: History on our doorstep. Justine Wyatt, with the support of the mill's current owner David Fletcher, has uncovered more of the story of the building, and gave a fascinating talk to the Hebden Bridge Local History Society. Read more (3 April)
Working from home in 1825; Working from home is not a new concept, Malcolm Heywood told members of the Hebden Bridge Local History Society. William Greenwood's described his several different occupations. Read more (20 March)
The Grave of Robin Hood: mysterious goings-on in Calderdale. Kai Roberts told the local history society about Robin Hood in Calderdale and especially the monument known as Robin Hood’s Grave. Read more (11 March)
Todmorden Weavers and the Great War. Alan Fowler, former lecturer in Economic and Social History, told a meeting of the Hebden Bridge Local History Society that the local Weavers’ Association had 4000 members at its peak. Read more (19 Feb)
Untold Stories: A glimpse into the lives of local people - Tony Wright has for the past ten years been collecting personal life stories on film and audio tape. Read more (18 Jan)
City in the Hills - Corinne McDonald and Ann Kilbey told a meeting of the Local History Society of Dawson City, the building of the Walshaw Dean Reservoirs and the publication of a new book. Read more (16 Dec)
Clubhouses: self help and co-operation - A small row of houses in Old Town, called Clubhouses, encapsulates some of the history and spirit of the Calder Valley explains Julie Cockburn. (30 October 2012)
Small Town Saturday Night - The story of a love affair with rock 'n roll at its peak in the 1950s and 60s from speaker Trevor Simpson.
The world of Cornelius Ashworth, speaker Alan Petford, Local History talk of 10 October 2012