The Fire that Destroyed a Retail Gem

Although no-one realised it at the time, the fire which ripped through Dale Street Co-operative Stores 37 years ago was the final nail in the coffin of a proud Todmorden retailing tradition.

The Co-operative Society had been taken over by Rochdale Pioneers the previous year; townsfolk nevertheless treasured their jewel in the crown - built by the society in 1886 at the heart of the town.

Little damage, in fact, was done to the shops at ground level but the second and third floors were gutted leading to a gradual decline of the once magnificent building. It could not be saved and was finally demolished in 2000.

Investigators decided that the fire had probably started in one of the attics where workmen had been using an acetylene cutter to remove an old water tank. Damage was estimated at 150,000.

Less than 24 hours later valley firemen were battling another major blaze when the Dyeworks in Hebden Bridge went up in flames.

Read the full story in Milltown Memories, issue 8. If this or other stories stirs a memory, we'd be happy to know - send us your memories and comments.