Lumbutts, the Site of Early Fielden Mills


Lumbutts and its close neighbour Mankinholes occupy the rolling plateau land above the Todmorden Valley.  The Fieldens began to influence the area’s development in the late 18th century when the small water powered mill at Lumbutts was tenanted by Joshua Fielden and Sons of Waterside Mill.  Samuel, the eldest son of Joshua, took responsibility for the running of the operations there and around 1803 bought the place in his own name.
The area was probably originally settled in part by having a reliable source of water close at hand.   The large catchment area of Langfield Common, facing rain bearing winds from the west, ensure that the fast flowing stream from Black Clough never runs dry.  Some sources claim that the mill at Lumbutts was originally a corn mill using an undershot wheel as a power source.  No doubt some sort of dam to hold back water and keep a good ‘head’ for the wheel would have been constructed.  However the output of the mill was set to change as the influence of the Industrial Revolution began to reach these areas.  Textiles could produce a wealth
which food never could .

The expansion of the mill in the 1830s caused the area itself to expand with some houses for workers being constructed.  However the biggest changes in this part of the hillside were linked to the maximisation of textile production of the mills.  Major dam construction took place between 1833 and 1838.  Westerly Gaddings was built next to Easterly Gaddings and various improvements to the
existing dams and sluices were made.   There was at this time a tower which contained two thirty foot overshot water wheels, to give power to the mill.  A third storey was added and another wheel too. These wheels were sited vertically one above each other with the water from the system of dams entering at three different levels.  Power, which was free and sustainable, was working the Fielden Spindles in their mill. These days they would probably have won an eco award.  Today, this area has become a development with some houses, partly incorporating the older structures.

Lumbutts Mill wasn’t the only one using the water of Black Clough.  Immediately below the road down the valley was Greenwood’s Mill with its own dam above it.  Below it there was Jumb Mill and dam and Causeway Mill and dam.  The latter owned by the Fieldens. A huge amount of work was being done by one fast flowing stream.  Even though the power generated by these waterwheels seems small by today's standards, it needs to be remembered that for each 1hp generated by water, it would possibly replace thepower generated by half a dozen men, or even more.

A lot of jobs were provided for the local inhabitants of the area, so in addition to the ancient farmhouses which dot the plateau there are a few terraced houses built in Victorian times.  There was not enough accommodation to supply the mill’s workforce, so most workers must have walked up the paths and tracks on a daily basis.  This must explain why one of the streets down near the bottom of Causeway Wood Road up to Lumbutts is called Fielden Street.

 Major parts of the dams, weirs, water channels and foundations of the Greenwood and Jumb mill can still be seen in the streams and it is an interesting valley to explore.

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