Todmorden, pronounced TOD-mer-den, aka Tod, is in Calderdale, West Yorkshire. It’s surrounded by steep Pennine slopes and moorland and overlooked by a looming tower called Stoodley Pike.
Todmorden probably means Totta’s Valley. Or it could mean Marshy home of the fox, which I prefer. Another theory is that it’s derived from the German and French words for dead – Tod and Mort. But that sounds a bit fanciful to me. It does look a touch spooky on a stormy day though.
Ted Hughes was born in the area – in Mytholmroyd, pronounced MY-then-royd – and he lived in the Calder Valley with Sylvia Plath who’s buried in Heptonstall.
Other Todmorden celebs include John Fielden, a Victorian MP, who secured a ten hour day for factory workers.
Then there’s John Kettley. John Kettley is a weatherman.
Band leader Geoff Love was born there. Emerson of Emerson, Lake and Palmer comes from Todmorden. So does the saxophonist from Supertramp. Dr Harold Shipman was a GP in Tod. And Andy Kershaw’s just moved there.
Around the town, there are oddly placed vegetable patches, and butterfly and bee houses. It’s all thanks to ‘guerrilla gardening’ group Incredible Edible The butterfly houses are a bit like the Spirit Houses you find in Thailand.
We popped to nearby Hebden Bridge, for lunch at the marvellous Mooch. And we visited the excellent Calder Gallery run by friendly Phil who knows everything.
Hebden is pretty Bohemian and has quite a hippy heritage, with the highest concentration of lesbians per head in the UK. According to BBC News Online –
The town centre is a medley of organic, locally sourced and vegetarian eateries, independent coffee houses, eco-friendly shops and arts and culture venues. Some people might even dub it a sort of Yorkshire San Francisco.
We had a scrumptious dinner at the cosy Cotton Mill Cocktail Club in Todmorden, with a jolly, trendy and eccentric clientele and great service.
Next day, we visited the cute Todmorden Lucky Dog, which featured in a Derren Brown programme about how we make our own luck. I patted it, so will presumably be lucky forever more.