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Stoodley Pike

20th June 2020 @ 6:06am – by Charles Cavill
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geograph by humphrey bolton

This is number 12 in the series of short history "pieces" from members of the Audlem and District History Society

Walkers along the Pennine Way, as they pass through the village of Mankinholes in West Yorkshire, will notice on a nearby hilltop a monument in the form of a square base supporting an obelisk. This is Stoodley Pike. How many have wondered why it was built?
The present structure is the second building on the site, although it seems that there must have been a cairn or beacon site previously as the name appears on maps predating any building. The first pike was begun in 1814 in the belief that Napoleon's exile to Elba had brought an end to the French Revolutionary wars and should be celebrated. Before the construction was completed Napoleon was back, but not for long, and the building was finished in 1815 after the Battle of Waterloo had ended the war conclusively.

The upper part of the first building was conical. Inside was a staircase leading to a small room with a fireplace at the top. Within a few years the structure had been vandalised and the entrance had to be blocked up. The pike was weakened by lightning strikes and on February 8th 1854, the day on which the Russian ambassador left London at the start of the Crimean War, the locals heard a loud noise and realised that the building had collapsed. This led to a myth that the building falls down in times of trouble. Trans-Pennine Heritage by Keith Barry states that the pike fell again on 18th November 1918. The armistice was not, surely, a time of trouble, nor do I think there was any damage on that occasion. You can't believe everything you read in books.

stoodley pike

A meeting was convened as early as March 10th, 1854 to raise the estimated £300-400 needed to rebuild the pike which had already become a local landmark. The final cost was £812, the shortfall being met by a member of the local Fielden family, wealthy textile manufacturers. It seems that the whole work was done in 1856.

The pike needed some repair work in 1889, again paid for by the Fieldens. This work included fitting a lightning conductor and making better light for the staircase. As it stands today, 1,300 feet above sea level, the structure is 120 feet high. The base has a viewing gallery 40 feet above the ground accessed by 39 steps and, on a clear day, visitors have excellent views from Holme Moss and Emley Moor to the south, and Boulsworth Hill and Haworth Moor to the north.

On the right day it is worth the effort of a visit.

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