Thursday, 9 June 2016

The Symbolism and History of Underbank, Calder Valley: Once the Industrial powerbase of Christopher Rawdon

The area of Charlestown in the Calder Valley, West Yorkshire, was once an industrial heartland, filled with mills and dye works, all catering for the wool trade in the eighteenth century. The area is still littered with the derelict remains of these mills, now overgrown with foliage as nature reclaims the industrial landscape. The family of Christopher Rawdon - a nineteenth century philanthropist who is the subject of my next book - once owned much of the valley around Underbank Hall, and a walk along the wonderfully named Jumble Hole Clough reveals an array of derelict mill, lost graveyards and workers cottages.

The strange script above the walled-up doorway of Higher Underbank House. One theory is that it read 'John Horsfall' - the man who once owned the building. Parts of the building may date to the seventeenth century.

Underbank Hall, built by Christopher 'Kit' Rawdon in 1788. His son James Rawdon lived there until 1824 before moving to Liverpool. The Rawdon family finally sold the Hall in 1855. The Hall is a fine example of late eighteenth century West Yorkshire architecture. There is an inscription on the stairway showing the date 1788 and the initials C S R - standing for Christopher Sophia Rawdon - Sophia being Christopher's wife.
At the side of Underbank Hall you can walk up the valley side along Jumble Hole Road. A pathway then can be found that runs along the valley side, and a lost grave yard can be found which once belonged to Mount Olivet Chapel, which has been long demolished. As mill workers moved to the valley bottom, a new chapel was built there and the congregation moved with it. The above photo reveals a date stone in the wall of the grave yard showing the year 1846. The chapel of Mount Olivet was however opened in 1842. According to a list of minutes on the Charlestown History website, an inscribed stone for the chapel was erected on that date, and is a reminder of the chapel.

The lost graveyard of Mount Olivet, situated off the wonderfully named Jumble Hole Road. There are some interesting gravestones that relate to Underbank.

The 'Temple' on Underbank Avenue.

The remains of mill workings off Jumble Hole Road.

The remains of a mill off Jumble Hole Road. There were many mills and workers dwellings on the valley side, the mills taking advantage of the fast running streams that still run down the valley side.

Higher Underbank House, which is situated along the upper valley side on the pathway. This is a short walk past the graveyard of Mount Olivet. This is the building that has the strange inscription above the blocked up doorway (seen above), the building perhaps dating to the seventeenth century. The cobbled pathway winds around the building as you traverse the valley side, and it certainly has a feel of days gone by as you pass the out buildings and ancient water trough.

The cobbled pathway climbing up to the valley side. You pass a few isolated cottages as you walk up the valley, giving you a sense of the history of the area. It is now part of the Pennine Way.

A few from the upper valley. Stoodley Pike can be seen in the distance, the hill dominated by its monument completed after the Crimean War in 1856. It replaced an earlier monument that was completed after the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.

Pendle - a photo that mysteriously wouldn't disappear from this post - but isn't too far away from Charlestown, situated just over the Lancashire border.

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