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Useful Notes / Todmorden

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My Summer of FOG OF DOOM!

Todmorden is a small market town in the North of England, situated in the North of the Peak District and the South Pennines. It was formerly a heavy industrial town. It is in Yorkshire but is best known for its overly-convoluted boundaries and history. Secondly, there is a disturbingly high death rate among people from the expanded area of Calder. While suicides are more prominent in neighbouring Hebden Bridge, homicides are more common in 'Tod'. Appropriately, one of the meanings of the town's name is "death death (dead) wood" (another etymological interpretation transcribes as "marshy home of the fox", an accurate description). It is twinned with Roncq in France and Bramsche in Germany.

Basically, it is the Forks, WA of Englandnote , but with more wildlife and less infrastructure. It is the only settled tri-valley in the world (the centre of the town at the converging point of three Pennine hills), and home to the sole route from Lancashire to Yorkshire through the Pennines. It's also home to the highest beach in England, though, at Gaddings Dam! There is one other main pleasantry: a pub on every street corner.

It is famously the home of former actor Tony Booth, who is also former Prime Minister Tony Blair's wife Cherie's father (don't hold it against them). It is also home to the woman who married Osama bin Laden's son, the policeman who was reportedly abducted by aliens, and factory owner John Fielden, an avid campaigner for workers' rights. Harold Shipman, who murdered over 200 of his patients, worked as a GP in Todmorden. A guy who made his name in the 70s by jumping on keyboard instruments, throwing them across the stage and stabbing with knives - all while playing virtuoso parts - also was born in Todmorden. And his friend who, also in the 70's, played saxaphone, clairinet and cracked jokes - often all at the same time. There are also Nobel Prize winners and actual celebrities from it, but these are more or less overlooked when people hear the words "Alien Abductions". In August 2013 the former bassist for The Smiths, Dale Hibbert, opened a high-end coffee shop across from the Lidl, unusual for the town and something you'd probably be more likely to see in downtown NYC. The town has received a few Royal visits, is home to national biking magazine Singletrack Magazine, and is on the route of Le grand Dèpart, the precursor to 2014's Tour de France.

On top of that, the average temperature over a year is 2 degrees Celsius. The source of the river Calder is in Todmorden, as well as a good stretch of the Rochdale Canal and the entirety of Walsden Water; the town floods regularly. On the days of heatwaves experienced the hillsides will undoubtedly catch fire. Though miserable most of the time, the area is prone to freak and hostile weather: in one June Todmorden experienced a week of intense blizzard at gale force 8 followed by a week of downpour, flooding, and electrical storms centred around the hilltops, then a week of relative heat wave and drought ("Temperatures in the Twenties!"), before 'epileptic storms' for a week: Amazonian-esque downpours coming and going suddenly every five minutes. Also, on any given day in the year, expect to look at the sky and see a blank canvas of grey.

Todmorden is, additionally, surrounded by extensive moorland on the hilltops, which separates it from other nearby towns, especially that of Bacup; the road joining the two towns (and counties, Bacup in Lancashire) is viewed as one of the most dangerous in England. And, because of the difficulty in hastily getting to the town, to arrive within emergency service response times Todmorden has its own fire station and ambulance depot, a rarity in small towns. These also serve Hebden Bridge while fire engines from a total of five independent districts service the townnote . It is also not strange to discover that bomb disposal units frequent the place.

Notably, it was originally the two villages of Todmorden and Walsden before their amalgamation in 1801. Walsden is still a village in its own right, under the parish governance of the township of Todmorden and Walsden. Presently, the town is in a Greater Manchester postal code district and a Lancashire telephone number district, based on the movement of borders and creation of boroughs. This is partially because the historical Yorkshire/ Lancashire border followed the path of the River Calder, bisecting the town until 1888. Because of this, the Wars of the Roses did not affect the town as it was situated in both counties at the time; to this day the town retains the Tudor Rose, a compilation of the White Yorkshire Rose and the Red Rose of Lancashire, as its own.

Parts of Todmorden, Saddleworth being the largest, were... displaced when Greater Manchester was created, and the Yorkshire residents of these were less than pleased with the new arrangement. To add to the confusion, before the digital switchover in May 2009 the analogue television signal was received from BBC North West, based in Salford, and afterwards Todmorden received the digital signal from BBC Yorkshire and ITV's Yorkshire Television as opposed to Lancashire and Greater Manchester's ITV Granada signal. Because of the broadcast region, some people in Walsden (nearest to the Greater Manchester border) can still receive BBC North West, allowing the channel to claim broadcast to the largest area in England: it covers Cumbria, Cheshire, the East Midlands, Greater Manchester, the Isle of Man, Merseyside and Yorkshire and the Humber. (The signal also gets as far as Flintshire and Wrecsam Maelor on the other side of the Welsh border, thus serving two countries). Two villages in North Yorkshire and a small number of houses in West Yorkshire quantify the statement of Yorkshire, which is much like Texas in being unquestionably the largest county in England.

It is also the location of the Stoodley Pike Monument which is often mistakenly called Stoodley Pike (a lá Frankenstein), the name of the hill it is on, and is one of the symbols of Calderdale. This old burial site is prone to Alternate Landmark History, describing the monument, and formerly cairns, as a Tracking Device used by aliens. The hills surrounding the town have always been of special archaeological interest, as well as the expansive listed buildings and protected sites in Todmorden, many of special interest.

The town itself is a microcosm of One London, 33 Boroughs - despite being small itself it includes Todmorden, Walsden, Bottomley (a hamlet also within Walsden yet split into three areas of its own: Upper, Central, and Lower), Hollins (also within Walsden), Mankinholes, Lumbutts (within Mankinholes), Carr, Shade, Gauxholme, Cloughfoot, Sourhall (which Bacup tries to claim), Eastwood, Robinwood, Mons, Stansfield, Langfield, Stoodley, Cornholme, Portsmouth, Lydgate, Blackshaw, Wadsworth, Heptonstall, Erringden, Dobroyd, Ferney Lee, Castle Hill, Cross Stone, Charlestown, Centre Vale, and Cliviger (which Burnley tries to claim). Many of these areas, also, have their own churches. While some have none (like Bottomley, which admittedly hasn't got a road), some have multiple (like Todmorden, Walsden, Mankinholes, and Ferney Lee). Large towns in England generally only have only one church covering each parish, so the excessive number in such a small town as Todmorden is unusual and can likely be attributed to the swaths of different factory owners, all who would have their own constructed for their family and workers to attend.

Transport in Todmorden has always been crucial: the town remains the only way of transporting over the Pennines as opposed to having to go around. The Rochdale Canal with its Bridleway was used enough to erode the banks and the Summit Tunnel was the longest tunnel in the world at the time of construction. On the 1st January 1907 the township became only the second municipal district in the British Isles to operate a motor bus service, long before larger cities and towns. There were forty buses offering transportation around the rugged South Pennine terrain: motor vehicles almost necessary to traverse many of the roads in the area. In recent history, a train carrying petrol in the Summit Tunnel derailed and caught on fire between Todmorden and Lancashire, not far from the chimney in Lower Bottomley, Walsden (the tunnel still services as a steam railway), and is one of the worst, and biggest, underground fires in history.

Adding to the alien abduction hysteria of the town, a man was found dead five days after he went missing. He had died of a heart attack the day he was found, at a coal yard. During the post-mortem burns were found on his body, and these had been treated with a strange green ointment. Toxicology reports could not determine the nature of this, and no one could be found to be questioned in association with the death, supposedly heightening the likeliness of the man being abducted extraterrestrially. Many of the 'UFO' sightings can be explained by the fact that Todmorden is below a popular flight path, though there is no good reason for so many minor, localised, earthquakes to occur.

A main trait of residents of Todmorden seems to be superstition as the town is reportedly haunted, occupied by as many ghosts as there are people.

The generally accepted pronunciation of Todmorden is 'TOD-mur-dun', or with no stress at all, as per the local accents - The BBC, instead, uses 'tod-MOOR-den', with a stressed and elongated second vowel sound. This is often mocked by those from Oop North, the difference overcome by simply referring to the place as "Tod".

Works based/made in Todmorden:

  • Juliet Bravo (1980-1985), cop drama.
  • Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit (1990)
  • All Quiet on the Preston Front (1994-1997), Preston is a Lancashire town but the series was filmed everywhere from there to the Midlands.
  • Amidala's Unlimited Wardrobe for Star Wars: The Phantom Menace was Made In Todmorden in the mid-Nineties.
    • As was Darth Vader's get-up.
    • And the X-Men costumes.
  • The League of Gentlemen (1999-2002)
  • My Summer of Love (2003), starring Emily Blunt. The stereotypes of the film are all, actually, pretty true. Note: it was filmed in Spring, when the town gets sun.
  • Life on Mars (2006-2007)
  • 2007 film Hot Fuzz is sometimes jokingly said to be based on Todmorden: like Sandford, Todmorden has won or been runner-up for Britain In Bloom pretty much every year it was run, for aeons; and there's more than your average number of murders.
  • A 2010 BBC Radio 4 programme, Costing The Earth: The New Diggers, featured guerrilla gardeners from Todmorden.
  • A 2011 Derren Brown Channel 4 special on luck was made in Todmorden which, if nothing else, proved how gullible the residents are.
  • A 2013 BBC documentary about Alien Abduction told stories of Todmorden. Well, it would.
  • The TV series Happy Valley. The title is very misleading, as it's about kidnap and rape and literal There Is No Kill like Overkill: Car vs. Cop version.
  • This town is mainly notable for, if nothing else, having so much more stuff happen in such a tiny place compared to everywhere else in the country bar London.
  • There is also more than a suspicion that Tackleford, which its creator vaguely locates "somewhere in Yorkshire" is an Expy of Todmorden. Lots of strange things happen in Tackleford.
  • Fortean Times periodically visits, largely because of the Alien Abduction connection and the undeniable fact this is a part of the corner of England that has claimed more UFO sightings than the rest of the country put together. The thing about the high ghost population and the disproportionate number of suicides is also of interest to the right mindset. This is also one of those places where, allegedly, wallabies established themselves as an out-of-place species after escaping from captivity.

Tropes as portrayed in fiction:

Alternative Title(s): Churches Aliens And Appalling Weather