This article is referenced in the blog post “The Big Valley Hotel“.
A Relic of Luddism.
The murder of Mr. Horsfall during the reign of terror in this district, consequent on the Luddite disturbance in 1811 and 1812, will not soon be forgotten, and many yet living will remember the circumstances related at the time of the murder, and the search then and afterwards made for the weapons used without discovering them. At that time it was positively asserted that the murderous weapon had been buried somewhere in the neighbourhood of Armitage Bridge, or Netherton Wood. A circumstance transpired during the latter part of last week, which tends greatly to clear up this portion of the dark transaction. Mr. G.S. Tolson, manufacturer, of Dalton, has a dyehouse at Armitage, not far from the bottom of the “Big Valley,” and has lately purchased that estate. A number of men were last week engaged in removing an old quickset hedge, in order to supplant it with a strong fence wall, and while thus engaged, they discovered the lemains of a large horse or cavalry pistol buried deep under the hedge. From the dilapidated state in which it was found, there is not the least doubt but it has lain there for more than half a century. On its becoming known that such a weapon was discovered, many circumstances were related tending to confirm the supposition that this was the very instrument by which the murder was committed, as it is well known the murderers took that direction from Crosland Moor in their way to Honley. Among these circumstances, the following was recollected. An old Waterloo veteran, now 73 years of age, named Bob Wood, some five years ago, while conversing in the Big Valley Hotel with the landlord and John Worth, foreman for Mr. Tolson, declared he kuew for a positive fact that the identical pistol with which Mr. Horsfall was shot was buried under the hedge at Armitage, but he could not point out the exact spot. Since the fatal occurrence — now nearly 53 years — this instrument of death has lain where it was found till last week. It is in a deeply corroded state, the whole of the stock and other woodwork completely rotted away, the lock and ramrod are rusted partially away, but the brass trigger guard, and the brass casing or socket that held the ramrod, are in a perfect state of preservation. It is now in the possession of Mr. Jesse Kaye, landlord of the above hotel, where large numbers of people have been to inspect it.
Charles Brook had cut the ceremonial first sod for the Meltham Branch Line almost exactly a year before.
“Navvies'” Tea Party.
In the formation of the Huddersfield and Meltham Railway, as in all such like undertakings, large numbers of “navvies” collected from all parts of the country are employed. Generally speaking, this class are of a loose, wild, reckless character, and in many instances quite lawless. The “navvies” engaged on the Meltham line have, however, so far proved a happy exception, they, on the whole, behaving themselves in a quiet, and orderly manner ; so much so, that they have gained the respect of the gentry of the neighbourhood, which was testified on Tuesday last, when upwards of 200 of them were treated to a good substantial tea in the spacious dining hall of Meltham Mills, and to which it is needless to say the bronze-faced navvies did “ample justice.” This treat was got up principally through the liberality of Charles Brook, sen., Charles Brook, jun., J.W. Carlile, and Edward Brook, Esqs., and the Rev. E.C. Ince. In testimony of their appreciation of the character of the “navvy,” the whole of the above gentlemen were present on the occasion with the ladies of their respective families, and addressed some very appropriate remarks to the assembled workmen, who paid great attention to what was said to them. At a later period of the evening J.W. Carlile, Esq., amused and interested the audience by exhibiting his magic lantern, and a very agreeable evening was spent.
The Local Board.
Public Footways and the Railway Company.
A deputation, consisting of Messrs. Thos. Etcliells, Allen Crosland, and Benj. Spencer, waited upon the Board, asking for their advice and interference with respect to the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company, who while making the new line to Meltham had entirely stopped up one public bridle way, and another was partially stopped. Great inconvenience and annoyance had been felt by the public. The bridle paths ran through Dungeon Wood, and were alleged by the deputation to be the only places available for the working classes to resort to to obtain fresh air after their labours were completed, and they urged upon the Board the necessity of taking immediate action in the matter. The Board promised to do so. Mr. Ashton intimated that the Highway Committee had already taken it in hand, and that while walking through the wood with Mr. Shaw that very morning he took the liberty to knock the wall down which had been placed in the path, and would do so again.
The deputation thanked the Board and retired.