Todmorden: A Great Town

Last update: 18.11.16 First posted: 18.11.16 by in

Todmorden has been recognised as one of the best three towns in the UK at the annual Academy of Urbanism’s awards ceremony in London. Citing Todmorden as “an example of what community-led initiatives, energy and enthusiasm can achieve”, and formally recognising that “Incredible Edible has become part of a new identity” for our town, we were up against Blackpool and Clonakility in Southern Ireland in The Great Towns section.
A wonderful part of being selected to complete for this accolade is that Ian McMillan, the Academy’s Yorkshire poet in residence, and erstwhile ‘Bard of Barnsley’, writes a poem celebrating each town (see Todmorden’s below). How you can compare such three diverse settlements against each other is hard to fathom? The eventual winner was Clonakilty, which was praised for its “strong sense of collective urbanism and civic pride” and the fact that “it is one of the few towns in Ireland without traffic lights and with free parking“.
Our Todmorden delegation arrived at the ceremony with a portable ‘Kindness’ sign made by Mary and Fred and we duly gave this to the winners as both a real and symbolic gesture of friendship and solidarity. We also invited the Clonakilty folk to come see us and the work of Incredible Edible in Todmorden in the New Year and started a discussion about twinning our two places, not least as they and the rest of Ireland are still in the EU.
Being part of this process has firmly brought Todmorden and IET to the attention of the country’s leading urban thinkers and planning practitioners. – many of whom had heard of what goes on here but now know a lot more about us and what we have achieved over the last decade. The prize could not have gone to a nicer bunch of people, who said they are now inspired to create an Incredible Edible project in their community. We should all aim to go visit Clonakilty next time we are in that part of the world. I know I will.

Here is Ian’s lovely and insightful poem about our town:

TODMORDEN
This is a border town in a Northern Valley
And it faces both ways: Lancs and Yorks
But to understand Todmorden fully
Bring your knives and bring your forks
Bring your plates and an open mind.
This is a border town on the cusp of change
A bespoke and unique one-of-a-kind;
Think canalside milltown then rearrange
Your expectations into this:
A border town that knows no bounds
That fills me with Todmorden bliss
Reduces me to Mmmm-ing sounds
As though the whole of Tod is edible;
Chew it slowly. The taste’s incredible
(Ian McMillan, 2016)

The Bard of Barnsley balancing Kindness on one hand
The Bard of Barnsley balancing Kindness on one hand

Ian McMillan recites his new Todmorden poem at the awards ceremony
Ian McMillan recites his new Todmorden poem at the awards ceremony

Mary Clear presents Clonakilty, ‘The Great Town’ award winners, with a Kindness si
Mary Clear presents Clonakilty, ‘The Great Town’ award winners, with a Kindness sign

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