At Luddenden Foot, a canal runs from Littleborough to Todmorden which passes through Sowerby, Luddenden Foot and Hebden Bridge. This canal was used to help construct the railway at Hebden Bridge and Todmorden. The canal had a "basin" at Luddenden Foot where the bargees ("boaties") tied up.They would stay overnight at one of the three taverns here, The Woodman, The Weavers Arms and The Anchor and Shuttle.
There was also a corn mill by the canal in the 1800's owned by George and William Thompson with mills on the hilltop at Midgley which were owned by Ely Titherington who was a wealthy worsted spinner. Ely and his son James also owned a house called Old Ridings overlooking the Luddenden Valley. Luddenden Foot is probably best known for its association with Branwell Bronte the unfortunate brother and artist of the Bronte sisters of Haworth.
In the 1800's Branwell Bronte who was working as a station master at Luddenden Foot railway station, frequented the Lord Nelson Inn with the Luddenden Reading Society.
Some of the members were9:
Timothy Wormald, the landlord of the Lord Nelson and clerk to the church across the way. John Whitworth a mill owner at Longbottom on the canal, who owned a fine residence called Peel House beyond Luddenden.
John Garnett, a manufacturer of Holm House.
Francis Grundy, a railway engineer (Richard Grundy drove the first train from Manchester to the Calder Valley.)
William Heaton a handloom weaver of Luddenden.
Francis Leyland a printer.
William Wolven, a ticket collector
G. Thompson, a corn merchant.
John Murgatroyd, a wealthy woollen manufacturer of Oats Royd, Luddenden. He employed the Liverpool Irish in his mills. Many Irish worked the mills and canals (Cols, Colls, Killiners and McColls).
George Richardson the wharfinger of Sowerby Bridge (controlled the warehouses and Wharfs)
Branwell Bronte lodged at Turn Lea cottages ("up t' hill"). His bedroom window overlooked the Ewood Estates at Midgley, once owned by John Grimshaw who inherited Ewood when he was twelve from his grandfather. Later it was inherited by John Crossley of Caitcliffe Hall. Branwell also lodged at Brearley Hall. By the end of March 1842 Branwell Bronte had been dismissed from his post as station master at Luddenden Foot. (The railway had arrived in 1840)
Unfortunately he was soon dismissed. The notebook in which he was supposed to keep the station records became his personal journal and comprises a miscellany of rough sketches, draughts of poems and the occasional note on railway affairs. He also missed the fact that his under-clerk was stealing railway funds. During this period he was writing some of his best poetry and mixing with an important circle of Halifax writers, artists and poets who encouraged him to publish some of his poems in The Halifax Guardian.
The 1634 datestone over the door of the pub recalls its origin as a private house. It did not become an alehouse until the middle of the 18th century when it was called the White Swan. In 1776 one of the district's first libraries was set up in the pub which was an added attraction to local literary regulars including poet William Dearden and the knight-errant Branwell.
The Lord Nelson today is an excellent, comfortable village local. With lots of small individual rooms. The front bar has exposed stone walls and stone mullioned windows. Hanging in the bar is a floodlit photograph of the pub with a caption which reads: "I would rather give my right hand than undergo again the malignant yet cold debauchery which too often marked my conduct there". Branwell Bronte. A stylised statue of Branwell stands nearby in Old Station Road.