view of Warland in 2005

Warland is a tiny hamlet, very old and charming, bridging the border between the townships of Walsden and Blatchinworth & Calderbrook on the eastern side of the Walsden valley. The infant Walsden Water, often erroneously called the River Calder, runs through the hamlet and is the borderline between the two old townships. Nowadays it is the border between Lancashire and Yorkshire.

It is still accessed by a narrow, steep and twisting lane that starts by the canal and winds its way upwards, over the old stone bridge passing the ruins of the once thriving spinning mill and weaving sheds.
The area was and still is heavily wooded, with Walsden Water tumbling down the craggy slopes in a narrow ravine between the trees, known as Calflee Clough. The water, artificially dammed to create a waterfall, flows swiftly over and round a great number of boulders. Abraham Scholfield, about 1830, commented that most of the year he could bridge the river at Warland with his clog.
Purchased by the Fielden family during the 1600's, the estate provided employment for the few families who lived there. The farm, quite a large house for its time, bears the initials of Joshua Fielden and the date 1665.

John Fielden was the farmer in the late 1700's, paying rent of 10s.9d. to John Ingham, who may have been a tenant himself. On his death in 1807, the lease passed to his son, also John. The speed of the flow of Walsden Water made a perfect power source for a waterwheel, so John junior built himself a small mill next to the river at the bottom of the hill. He became a fustian manufacturer as well as shepherd. The yarn was prepared and spun at the mill before being put out to local hand weavers.

A man who used to work for John on a Saturday, taking in the woven cloth and packing it into bundles ready for market, said they always loaded the bundles on a Sunday morning when Veevers boat came up from Todmorden, and that after this was done, John would get ready to attend St. Marys church in the afternoon.


Ruins of the old mill

For a long time John had pleaded poverty to all who would listen, announcing he was lucky to get sixpence a cut for his cloth, but somehow managed to earn enough to buy the estate. On hearing this, his brother Nicholas said, "Well, our John has laid out those sixpences well".

John married late in life. His wife was Hannah, daughter of John Fielden of Platts House. She was a bouncing young woman and on one occasion when being teased about the advanced age of her husband, said, "When John buys a carriage, he means to ride". He certainly did, for he was still fathering children after he was 60.

There was other potential on the Warland estate and this was the stone. John let a piece of his land to Robert Stevenson who set to work to open a quarry. Warland Quarry was opened in 1823 and was successfully worked by Robert Stevenson and his sons for many years. Large quantities of stone were quarried and sent away by canal boat to various parts of Lancashire for engine-beds, churches etc. The proximity of the canal made it an ideal location for the quarry works. The excavations and the destruction of trees etc. by tipping refuse amongst them completely changed the landscape of these once finely wooded slopes.

John Fielden died in 1836 leaving his estate to 5 of his children: Mary, John, Ruth, Samuel and Thomas Fielden. Shortly afterwards, Mary married John Haigh of the Moorcock on Inchfield Moor, and together they took over the running of the farm. John Fielden's widow, Hannah, remained at the farm for a further 30 years, cared for by her sons and Haigh granddaughters.

It seems that the trustees of John's will felt it necessary to sell the estate in order to properly divide the monies between his children, and in 1845 the following advertisement appeared in the press:

The Leeds Mercury Saturday, March 8, 1845;


Auction by Mr. Abraham Stansfield at the house of Mr. George Eccles at White Hart Inn in Todmorden on Thursday 25th March 1845 at 7 o’clock in the evening.


All that freehold estate called Warland in the several townships of Todmorden & Walsden and Blatchinworth & Calderbrook (which adjoin each other) comprising a substantial farmhouse, one other commodious dwelling house and 5 cottages with the barn, outbuildings and gardens adjoining; also several closes of arable meadow and pasture ground contiguous thereto, and containing by admeasurement 50 acres 2 rods 30 perches or thereabouts, with a quantity of unenclosed waste ground lying adjacent, and containing by admeasurement  42 acres 2 rods 9 perches, which said premises are now in the several occupations of Mr. John Haigh and Mrs. Fielden.

The above estate is freehold in inheritance and exempt from tithe, is situate at a distance of about 3 half miles from the town of Todmorden and 2 and a quarter from Littleborough, and adjoins the turnpike road leading between those places. It is intersected by Warland Clough which conveys the water from an extensive reservoir lately constructed by the Rochdale Canal Company in the vicinity of this property. The extent or fall is very considerable, being estimated at more than (?) yards, and the Canal Company is under an engagement with the mill owners of the neighbourhood to provide a constant supply of water that will fill a gange 32 half inches by 3 half inches already fixed in the clough. The power that may be realised is computed at 37 horses.

The land also presents eligible sites for manufacturies, cottages and other buildings, being intersected by the Rochdale Canal and Todmorden turnpike road, to which latter it has frontage of 198 yards on one side and 68 yards on the other. Thus the facilities of transit both by land and water and the other advantages connected with the property combine to render it in every respect eligible for a capitalist, who is desirous of embarking in some branch of manufacture.

The estate also contains extensive quarries and beds of valuable stone, of a very superior quality for building purposes, as evidenced by the large quantity which has of late been sold and conveyed to Manchester and other distant places, for which purpose the Rochdale Canal also affords every facility. This feature of the estate possesses attractions perhaps not inferior to those of its capabilities for a manufacturing establishment; and a person of enterprise might at one and the same time turn to profitable account the several advantages which are so palpably combined in this estate.

The respective tenants of the estate will show the premises and further particulars may be obtained on application to Mr. John Stansfield of Ewood near Todmorden (the surviving Devisee in Trust for sale) or at the office of Mr. James Stansfield, solicitor, Todmorden, at whose offices a plan of the said estates may be inspected.


John Haigh remained the tenant farmer at Warland for the next 23 years, raising ten children there. There were 69 acres of land to farm not to mention the mill. The quarry continued to be leased to the Stevenson family. Life continued much as one would expect in these remote and desolate parts. One moment of excitement occurred in December 1855 when the big barn burnt down, but there is no record of further incidents.

A reminder of the times can still be seen on a boulder in the river by the side of the old stone bridge. On it are engraved the words "PEACE 1856", celebrating the end of the Crimean War.


John Haigh and his family left the farm about 1857 to return to his roots at Top of All Farm, Inchfield. Warland farm by then was sold to Messrs H. Kelsall and William Bartlemore of Rochdale. Hannah Fielden, his mother-in-law, remained in the cottage at Warland with her son and granddaughter, Alice Haigh. She was an old lady by this time.


The new owners of the farm leased it out to Martha Dawson, widow of Abraham. She farmed the land whilst her son worked in the quarry for the Stevensons. In July 1860, Martha had employed a Halifax labourer by the unlikely name of Elisha Beaumont to help with the hay making. One Saturday evening, her son John went to the shipon where he found Beaumont inflicting "shocking cruelty" on one of the cows. The newspaper report of the incident and subsequent trial at the Magistrates Court doesn't explain exactly what the labourer was doing, but it was bad enough for him to be sent to prison for 2 months with hard labour.


the weaving sheds are just to the left of the houses

The quarry continued in the hands of the Stevenson family, but now the family branched out into cotton manufacture, taking over the running of the mill at Warland, and employing 23 people in 1861.

By 1881, the farm was tenanted by Charles Hetherington, an in-comer from Cumberland. He stated he farmed 50 acres. Charles was still the farmer at Warland in 1887 when the estate again changed hands, being purchased by Alderman Thomas Whittaker of Accrington. The estate was divided into Lots to be sold at auction on 10th. February 1887 at the Reed Hotel, Yorkshire Street, Rochdale. The advertisement poster is transcribed below:


Lot 1.

Warland Farm

With dwelling house, cottage and outbuildings, partly in Walsden and partly in Blatchinworth, occupied by Charles Hetherington as yearly tenant. The quarry in the said farm. A cottage adjacent to the farmhouse. A chief rent of £1.4s.2d reserved on a lease for 999 years of a plot of land and privileges sometime portion of said farm.


Contents of above premises 47 acres, 3 rods, 5 perches statute measure


A tract of common or waste land

Part unenclosed in Blatchinworth, near or adjoining the above described farm containing 42 acres, 3 rods, 13 perches statute measure occupied by the said Charles Hetherington ..


Lot 2

A Perpetual Yearly rent of £24 payable in respect of 2 plots of land in Walsden containing together 2 acres, 2 rods, 27 perches (parts being now the sites of a weaving shed and reservoir)

Lot 3

A Yearly Rent of £8.5s. reserved on a lease for 999 years of a plot of land at Warland forming the site of a dwelling house now occupied by Mr. J. Sadler and of several cottages within the Reversion in Fee of such plot, and the mines and minerals thereunder.


William Dawson

In 1891, William and Mary Ann Dawson and their five sons: James, Ernest, Herbert, John Arthur and Frank, were resident in one of the cottages adjacent to the farm. William was a Todmorden man who had previously lived in Luddenden Foot. He was a cotton spinner.

Mary Ann (Thorpe) Dawson


William died at Warland that same year and his widow and sons moved down live at Wilderness near Summit, a mile or two away from Warland. About 1913, Mary Ann and her 5 adult sons emigrated to Connecticut, USA.

the five Dawson sons


Warland Links










I am indebted to Sharon Dawson Dunning for the photos and information about her family, William and Mary Ann Dawson and their five sons.