James Lord was born to Charles and Sarah Lord around 1818, one of seven children who all grew up in the Shade area of Todmorden. His first job was as a weft packer and by 1850, he had married Ann Heyworth, a girl from a family of stonemasons at Swineshead.


Stationmaster's House and crossing

In 1851 they had moved to Clough, Walsden, with a son Charles aged one, where James ran a beerhouse. It was situated near to the stationmaster's house. He, amongst other jobs, would operate the level crossing gates at the end of the lane before the bridge was built.

The family grew and with seven children to feed by 1861, he would need every penny he could earn, so as well as the beerhouse, he became a banksman for a coal proprietor.


Perhaps that is when the germ of an idea began to form of owning his own hotel. He continued in the beerhouse trade and also working as a coal merchant, helped by his son Charles, but by 1873, he had realised his ambition, had built, and was running the Railway Hotel at Walsden. This pub was to stay in the family for nearly 40 years.


The building was large and had three floors, with an imposing front door and a side entrance. Situated across from the station, and on the main road between Walsden and Todmorden, it occupied a prime position and was a proud achievement for a man who had started his working life in the cotton mill.

The Hotel, across the road from Walsden station


He became known by the nickname of "Fisherman", but why is not clear. Sadly, he did not live long to enjoy his new life as he died in 1874, leaving his wife and son Charles in charge of the pub.

Charles was born in 1850 and he married Alice Ann Haigh, daughter of Joseph and Sarah who had lived at the Moorcock Inn on Inchfield Moor. Alice's grandfather was Reuben Haigh who kept the Moorcock and Alice would be no stranger to pub life. Her immediate family was mostly involved in the coal mining industry, so maybe that is how she met Charles as she had moved down to live at Clough by 1870.


They married in 1875 and had seven children. By 1881, Charles was the landlord of the Railway and still a coal merchant, but change was on the way. Charles left the Railway by 1888 and in 1901, he was the landlord of the Old Robin Hood in Lever St., Bolton. It was a large establishment and he was helped by three of his children. Charles died in 1902 and Alice in 1915.


Montreal Street

Charles brother, James Lord, became the landlord in 1888. He had started his married life in nearby Montreal Street, working as a coal agent. His wife was Selina Uttley, the daughter of John Uttley, who kept the Woodcock Inn at Warland. Selina's family was also involved further in the licensing trade with her brother Michael at the Rose and Crown at Castle, and her married sister Betsy at the Jubilee Inn at Crompton.


James and Selina married in 1877 and bought the Railway in 1888 with some financial help from Boddington's Brewery. It appears that at some point James sold the pub back to the brewery for £5.000 but stayed on as the tenant, so keeping the pub in the same family.

James and his family of six children removed from the Railway after 1893, having decided that a more lucrative trade was to be had near Blackpool when an opportunity arose for him and his family of six children, which was too good to turn down. Three of their children had died in childhood and the others would have a better life in the clean, clear air of the countryside, free from the pollution of the mills.

Blackpool was a popular place and more people were travelling for holidays there, so when a pub called the Castle Gardens at Carleton, near Poulton, became available, it became James and his family's next home and place of work. It was in a rural spot, but its appeal was just that.

The Castle Gardens


It would have been a nice outing for the holidaymakers at Blackpool to drive into the surrounding countryside, take a meal or refreshment and generally have a good day out. A welcome diversion when they tired of the pleasures to be had in Blackpool.

The Railway continued in the hands of the same family, being taken over by Charles William Lord, cousin of James and Charles, the two previous owners, and son of Moses Lord, the brother of the original owner, James Lord. Charles William was one of six children born to Moses and Jane. He married Elizabeth Ann Hollinrake in 1890, and they set up home in Beech Street, but she died a year later and he then went to live with is father in Alma Street. In 1897, he married again, to a lady from Shropshire, Eliza Gittins. Together they took over the Railway Hotel until Charles died in 1902 aged only 37.


Toronto Street

Charles' spinster sisters, Annie and twins Jane and Betsy were at 10, Toronto St in 1901, and Annie and Betsy were running a bakery and confectionary business whilst Jane worked as a weaver. Toronto Street is still there today at the back of Rochdale Road and fronting onto the railway.

After the death of Charles William, Sutcliffe Fielden became the licensee of the Railway and must have had connections to the Lord family as he is buried in the same grave at Christ Church as Charles William, the previous landlord, and his first wife Elizabeth Ann. He had also lived next door to Charles and his family in Alma Street in earlier times.

Sutcliffe was born around 1870, the son of William and Hannah, and was raised in the Shade area along with his eight siblings. Eventually they moved to Alma St, just round the corner from the Railway. He became a mill worker when he left school, like most of his family, and after his father died in 1900, he continued to live with his mother in Alma Street and had employment at the railway as a porter. Maybe he worked at his local station, across the road from where he lived. His brother Walter had also left the mill and done well for himself by becoming a house painter and employing workers in his business.

Sutcliffe got the opportunity to become the landlord of the Railway after the death of Charles William in 1902 when he left his job on the railway and took over the licence. He stayed there until he died in 1912 aged 41, so ending the family connection with the pub after nearly 40 years.


During the Lord family's occupancy of the pub, a few notable events took place. The usual bet of running from a certain place to another in under a certain time was again put to the test. A Whitworth man wagered 10 shillings in July 1882 that he could go to Stoodley Pike and back from the Railway Hotel in 1 hour. He did it in 8 minutes under.


On the 20th February 1886, a mule spinner named Thomas Gill, a man of 49 who lived at School St., Shade, had been attending his club in an upstairs room at the hotel, when he fell down the stairs and died on the 23rd form his injuries. With unforgiving stone steps and flag floors, his fall would have been a hard one and as in other such cases proved fatal.


In August 1891, a meeting was held for horsemen of all description, called to form a branch of the Manchester, Salford and District Lurrymen and Carter's Union. They obviously though that with amount of carters and the like in the area, they needed to be affiliated to a union, with the protection and benefits they would gain from it.


A special presentation took place in 1902, to John Crossley, who had been an overlooker at the nearby Hollins Mill and had recently retired. The spinners of the mill presented him with a marble clock with the inscription " Presented to Mr. John Crossley, by spinners of Hollins Mill, January 25th 1902".

After the Lord family connection with the pub ended, another phase started in the life of the Railway with Willie Taylor who was followed by Arthur Brooks. Harry Green is also a well-remembered landlord for his exploits with an open-sided car he bought, nicknamed the "Pneumonia Wagon" by the pub regulars. He would take a car load of the regulars on a trip round the various neighbourhood pubs and beerhouses in the car, many of them clinging on to the sides for saftety, and others having to alight to push the car up the hills.

A succession of landlords followed, each bringing their own brand of hospitality to the pub, but time was finally called in 1969 when it closed and stayed empty until Tony Pollard bought the building in 1973, exactly 100 years after James Lord had pulled the first pint. Tony converted the building into flats, but kept the original structure, leaving it to be seen as it was first built.