Lost in Time: Woodfield Station – Part 1

If you read any history of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company’s [[Meltham Branch Line]] that is longer than a few paragraphs, chances are it will contain a brief mention of the ill-fated [[Woodfield Station]], which was situated in [[Dungeon Wood]] and apparently both opened and then closed for good in June 1874. The reason why the mentions are brief is undoubtedly because the authors could find little information other than the following article, which appeared in the Huddersfield Daily Chronicle on 18 June 1874:

LOCAL AND DISTRICT NEWS.

Closing of Woodfield Station.

Some months ago the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company decided on adding a station on their Meltham branch. A platform was made, a station-house erected, gas lamps put up, and gas conveyed from the road. The signboard was also duly put up, on which was painted “Dungeon Wood,” and every expense was incurred necessary to meet, what we presume was considered, the wants of the neighbourhood. As the work approached completion the signboard underwent a change, “Dungeon Wood” giving place to what was probably thought a more euphonious name — “Woodfield” — and placards duly announced the opening on the first of the current month. All, however, has come to an untimely end. Yesterday the railway company issued a bill announcing that after the 30th of this month the station will be closed ! It would be interesting to the shareholders to know how much money has been spent on this little experiment. Surely it was never expected to be a paying station, and if an average of one shilling per day is the financial result, that sum is in excess of what persons outside official railway circles ever expected would be realised.

The article raises more questions than it answers, particularly when you consider that if the station did indeed open on 1 June 1874, the decision to close it must have been made within a couple of weeks by mid-June.

The notices to which the article refers to appeared in two consecutive Saturday editions of the Chronicle (20 & 27 June):

Despite an exhaustive hunt, the article and the two notices appear to be the only references to the station to have appeared in the newspaper.

Finally, to the best of my knowledge, the station never appeared on any Ordnance Survey map, which implies it was soon dismantled by the railway company rather than being mothballed. This helps explain why authors have never attempted to pinpoint where the station was actually located.

As someone who enjoys a good puzzle, the air of mystery about Woodfield Station was too much to resist!

To my mind, there are three questions about Woodfield Station to be pondered, and I’ll tackle each one in a separate blog post:

But, before tackling those questions, let’s look at the background…

Dungeon Wood

Comprising of several acres of ancient oak woodland, Dungeon Wood runs along a strip of valley between Crosland Moor and the valley bottom, along which flows the [[River Holme]]. Along with much of the neighbouring land, it was part of the Beaumont Estate.

Parts of the wood were mined for stone and the open quarries led to several recorded deaths when people tumbled in by accident, e.g.:

  • In December 1855, Mary Mellor of Crosland left the path and died after falling into a quarry.
  • In July 1860, a group of boys were trespassing in the woods to collect berries when they spotted the local gamekeeper and ran. Thomas Garside accidentally tumbled over the edge and, as the Chronicle rather gruesomely stated, “Deceased evidently fell on his head, as his skull was fearfully fractured, and the brains scattered about the place.”

The 1854 Ordnance Survey map shows the extent of the woods (shaded green) in the years before the construction of the Meltham Branch Line, along with the routes of various paths that ran down through the wood from Starling End and also from the short road below Dry Clough Lane. The footpaths dropped down to join either Woodfield Road (now Meltham Road) near to Dungeon T.P. (Toll Point) or the access road to Woodfield House.

1854 map of Dungeon Wood
1854 map of Dungeon Wood

Meltham Branch Line

After considering three possible routes for their branch line to Meltham, the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company selected a route which branched off from the Penistone Line before Lockwood Viaduct and then ran through the lower reaches of Dungeon Wood before entering a tunnel at Butter Nab. Mr. Bentley Shaw, the owner of Woodfield House, was a vocal opponent to this choice of route, as it meant the line passed along the edge of Woodfield Estate.

The choice of route also meant that the line would sever all of the traditional footpaths down through Dungeon Wood. Although the railway company was obliged to provide ways by which the paths could pass over or under the railway line, the temporary blocking up of the paths during the spring and summer of 1865 proved highly contentious. On more than one occasion, the Lockwood Local Board ordered the blockages to be removed.

The footpath dropping down from Starling End to Dungeon T.P. was diverted slightly so that it ran in a ditch alongside the railway line (with a wooden fence to stop access onto the track) before merging with the other footpath and then passing under the line at the bridge which will be familiar to anyone who has used the lower entrance to Beaumont Park. The other footpaths, which previously joined the access road to Woodfield House, were diverted to a public footbridge over the line.

The railway bridge over the footpath.
The railway bridge over the footpath.

Unfortunately I don’t have an Ordnance Survey map from the period between the competition of the railway line in the 1860s and the laying out of Beaumont Park in the 1880s. However, this 1892 map shows the location of the footbridge (in green), the approximate former route from Starling End (in blue) which was blocked off at the time Beaumont Park was laid out (more of this later!) and the bridge (in red).

1892 map of Dungeon Wood
1892 map of Dungeon Wood

It was in that period between the opening of the line and the opening of Beaumont Park that Woodfield Station was built, opened and then closed. In the next blog post, we’ll speculate as to why it was built!

Accidents, injuries and deaths on the Meltham Branch Line: 1890 onwards

Following on the previous blog posts, this is a list of the other accidents and deaths on the Meltham Branch Line from 1890 onwards that I found whilst researching through old newspapers.

Once again, this is primarily based on researching the Huddersfield Chronicle archives.

20/Aug/1892: Vandeleur Earnshaw

The Chronicle reported that a gardener named Vandeleur Earnshaw had attempted to board the 5:50am train at Meltham Station when it was already in motion. Whilst jogging alongside the train, he had managed to open a compartment door and was attempting to get in when he ran off the end of the platform. He tumbled down, fell partly onto the track and the train “passed over the leg just below the ankle”. He was rushed to Huddersfield Infirmary where it was necessary to amputate the limb.1

Vandeleur Earnshaw2 was born around 1857 in Meltham, the son of wood cutter Abraham and Martha Earnshaw. He married Sarah Hannah Duckitt on 23 March 1878 at Meltham Mills and they raised a family in Meltham, where he worked as a domestic gardener.

It seems the accident meant that Vandeleur could no longer work as a gardener and the 1901 Census lists him as a 44-year-old “silk boiler” (most likely working for Jonas Brook & Bros. Ltd.) living with his wife and seven children at 18 Shady Row, Meltham. He died in 1916, aged 60, and was buried on 15 November at Meltham Mills.

Their son, Serjeant Hilton Earnshaw was killed in action on 31 August 1916 and is buried at the St. Amand British Cemetery, Pas-de-Calais, France. He was serving with the 9th Battalion Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding Regiment).

08/Mar/1894: Eastwood

From the Huddersfield Chronicle (10/Mar/1894):

NARROW ESCAPE

On Thursday afternoon, as the 3:40 train from Huddersfield to Meltham was entering the Meltham Station, the porter, Eastwood, a youth about 16 years of age, was seen to run alongside the train and attempt to catch hold of the carriage handle. He succeeded in getting hold, but lost his footing, the train dragged him a short distance on the platform, when he left his hold, and the train turned him over, and but for the timely assistance of Wright Smith, the head porter, he would in all probability have been killed. His eyes are badly knocked and swollen, and his knees bruised. It is expected that he will be all right again in a few days.

The Huddersfield Daily Examiner (05/Feb/1915) reported on the celebrations for Wright and Ellen Smith’s golden wedding anniversary. The couple, who married on 4 February 1865, were then living at 4 Beaumont Street in Netherton.

After spending fifty years together, the couple continue to live happily in their cottage at Netherton, and although he has passed the allotted span of three score years and ten Mr. Smith may frequently be found working on the land with neighbouring farmers. For over thirty years he was employed by the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Co., first at the Huddersfield goods warehouse, and afterwards at Meltham, where he held the position of foreman porter prior to his retirement about five years ago.

Wright was born around 1840 in Almondbury and most likely died in 1927, aged 87. His wife was Ellen Dunn, also born around 1840, who likely died in 1922, aged 82. They had no children.

06/Mar/1895: Landslip and Derailment

The Huddersfield Daily Chronicle reported extensively on a landslip which occurred around 7pm on Wednesday 6 March 1895 — mostly due to the fact that one of their reporters was greatly inconvenienced by it!3

Following the completion of a district council meeting in Meltham, a number of people waited for the 8:28pm departure to Huddersfield but there was no sign at all of the train and the station staff seemed unsure as to what exactly had happened, other than a rumour of a derailment and an assurance that there would likely be no more trains that evening. The reporter set off walking down the line and arrived at Healey House station around 9pm, where he found the station master in “blissful ignorance of the accident, but wondering much what had become of the missing train”.

Now joined by as gas works employee who had been waiting for the train to Huddersfield at Healey House, the pair set off into the darkness, lighting matches to aid them through Netherton Tunnel and then Butternab Tunnel. Exiting the latter, they found the cause — a landslip had “encumbered the line for some distance” and the train heading towards Huddersfield had ploughed into the debris, causing a slight derailment.

The driver, named Mallinson, was praised by the reporter for keeping a cool head and assisting some dozen passengers — none of whom had sustained any injuries in the accident — to walk down the line to Lockwood station.

A team of workmen had already arrived on a train from Mirfield to the other end of the landslip and the reporter was offered the opportunity to ride on the footplate back to Lockwood. From there, he had to walk in the heavy rain back to Huddersfield, having missed the last tram of the day.

The article ended with a report on the rumours which “prevailed at the various stations on the line as to what had really happened”:

Some would be satisfied with nothing less than a holocaust of the whole of the passengers, and others added the horrors of a fire to the appalling catastrophe which their imagination pictured. The reality fell far short of this.

14/Dec/1895: Thomas Edward Taylor

Meltham wine merchant Thomas Edward Taylor (of Messrs. Taylor Bros.) was lucky not to have been injured when he tried to board the 7:25am train from Meltham Station which was already in motion.4 According to the newspaper report, he pushed a signalman to one side, grabbed hold of the second-class carriage and was dragged down the platform — one foot on the carriage and one still the platform. The train was quickly stopped and a guard took down the merchant’s details.

The Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway (L&YR) company prosecuted Thomas Edward under a railway by-law which penalised anyone attempting to enter or leave a train in motion. In court in mid-January 1896, he pleaded guilty and was fined £1 with a further £1 0s. 6d. costs.5

This was almost certainly the Thomas Edward Taylor born around 1858 in Meltham, the son of woollen weaver Uriah Taylor and his wife Martha (née Sedgwick or Walshaw). The various records name him as a “mineral water manufacturer”, rather than a “wine merchant” and he married an American woman named Bertha (who was born around 1870) sometime around 1893. Court records show that he was found guilty of “working a horse which was in an unfit condition” in July 1899 and fined 5s. and 7s. 6d. expenses.

In August 1900, he was named as one of “Messrs. Taylor Bros.” of Meltham who was attempting to obtain a beer licence for a grocer’s shop on Brow Road, Paddock. However, as Taylor didn’t reside there, it was not granted.

The 1901 Census lists the couple with a 3-year-old daughter, Eva Irene Taylor, and living with his older brother, jeweller Henry Taylor, on Market Place, Meltham. They then spent some time in the United States, where a son named Henry was born around 1907. By the time of the 1911 Census, they were back in Meltham and living at Law Cottage.

04/Mar/1896: John Allen Woodhouse

It was somewhere along the stretch of line between the Netherton and Butternab Tunnels that local man Vincent Senior made a gruesome discovery on the morning of Thursday 5 March 1896.6

Vincent was born around 1862 in Dewsbury and moved to Huddersfield where he married local woman Ellen Hirst in 1890. He lived for a while with his in-laws in Almondbury before moving to Netherton and he worked as a “platelayer“, which meant his job was to inspect the railway line for wear and tear and obstacles. He is recorded as joining the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants union in 1896.

On that March morning, he set off early at around 5:30am from Netherton to walk the line to Lockwood and found the body of a man by the side of the line at Butternab Bank. As no trains had run yet that day, it was assumed the man had been hit by a train the night before and had suffered extensive injuries to the neck and head. Vincent ran to fetch help, finding local Police Constable Ruddick, who ordered the body moved to a nearby log cabin. A Mrs. Crowther also assisted in laying out the body.

The Chronicle (06/Mar/1896) gave the following description of the deceased:7

Height, 5ft. 6in. ; dark brown hair, ginger moustache, and blue eyes ; dressed in blue cloth jacket and vest, fustian trousers greasy on front of legs, black overcoat and cap ; black, white and red check shirt, blue and white scarf, grey stockings and light laced boots. The only articles in the pockets were two clay pipes and two tobacco boxes.

By the following day, the Yorkshire Evening Post reported that the deceased had been identified as 33-year-old John Allen Woodhouse, an unmarried mill hand who lived on Plover Lane in Lindley.8 He had visited his aunt in Netherton on the day of his death and was least seen leaving her house that evening.

John Allen Woodhouse was born 24 November 1863, the son of local weaver James Woodhouse and his wife Mary, and was baptised at All Hallows parish church in Kirkburton on 2 November 1865. By the time of the 1891 Census, aged 28, he was living with his older sister Matilda and two younger brothers at the family home on Plover Road. It appears that their parents were both dead and Matilda was now the head of the family. At the time, John Allen was working as a “cotton piecer”, which meant his role was to mend broken threads.

An inquest was held on Friday 6 March at the Commercial Inn, Netherton, with district coroner Mr. W. Barstow presiding.9 It was reported that John Allen’s body had been identified by his aunt Ann Woodhouse, and that he’d visited her house in Netherton at around 5pm that Wednesday where he ate tea. Ann told the inquest that her nephew had been in low spirits:

He took a long time over his tea, and sighed several times while he was having it. He had not been well for some time and had been under the doctor, and he made a remark to her to the effect that he thought it was nearly all over for him. She told him that she thought he would look up again, and he replied that he did not think he would. He talked very little, but answered her when she spoke to him.

Ann went on to state that John Allen’s father had been twice in an asylum and had died in Wadsley Asylum (Sheffield) about three weeks before. John Allen’s brother then told the inquest that the deceased had not worked for nearly a month due to ill-health and seemed “run down” — presumably he had been deeply affected by his father’s illness and death.

Ann stated that John Allen had left her house at around 7pm and that she supposed he intended to head home to Lindley (about a 4 mile walk northwards of Netherton). Instead, it seems he wandered down either Nether Moor Road or Butternab Road and then onto the railway line where he waited for it to get dark. Given the nature of the injuries, he likely laid with his head on the line and was struck by one of the last trains of the day — none of the drivers had reported seeing anything on the line that night, so the body laid undiscovered until the following morning. The jury returned a verdict that he had probably committed suicide but it was impossible to know the exact state of his mind at the time.

John Allen Woodhouse was laid to rest at Holy Trinity parish church, South Crossland, on 3 July 1896. If I can find his gravestone, I’ll add a photograph to this blog post.

27/Sep/1900: Joe Morehouse

On 9 September at around 8:30am, 24-year-old brass finisher Joe Morehouse was collecting blackberries by the railway side near Beaumont Park with a friend named William Brown. He slipped and fell a short distance — presumably onto the railway line — and claimed he’d hurt himself. It was reported that his health deteriorated and he eventually died at 3:50pm on 27 September. At an inquest, his doctor reported that Morehouse had been in poor health recently and a verdict of “accidental death” was returned.10


My access to the Chronicle‘s archives ends in 1900, but I did find a few later reports in other sources…

21/Sep/1905: Christopher Mallinson

Reported in the Railway Accidents 1876: Return of Accidents and Casualties (July-September 1905) that goods guard Christopher Mallinson had been in charged of the 4:35pm goods train from Meltham to Lockwood. Seven waggons were uncoupled at Lockwood and “allowed to run into the shoot road” at the station. Maillnson claimed he couldn’t then stop the waggons using his brake and “consequently used two sprags, one of which rebounded and struck him, breaking his leg”.

The waggons were then stopped by William R. Bond, who did so purely with the brake, which led to the verdict that “there was no need for Mallinson to use a sprag to stop the waggons, and I attribute the accident to his own want of caution.”

20/Aug/1914

The Huddersfield Daily Examiner (20/Aug/1914) reported on an apparent suicide:

LOCKWOOD RAIL TRAGEDY

A weaver named Sam Gill (55), widower, who lived at 13, Batley Street, Moldgreen, with his two daughters, was found lying dead on the railway near Beaumont Park this afternoon shortly after the train which had left Meltham at 1:38 had passed. His head was completely severed from his body.

Samuel Gill was born around 1859 in Fulstone, New Mill. The 1911 Census lists him as a 52-year-old widower and living with him were his nephew, Ernest (aged 26), and two daughters, Alice (aged 24) and Jane Gill (aged 12). His wife, Janet, had died in 1909, aged 50.

The inquiry into his death heard that “the deceased had been somewhat peculiar of late” and that a witness had seem him climb over a wall near Beaumont Park and lay his head on the railway line as the train approached. A verdict of “suicide whilst of unsound mind” was recorded.

19/May/1921: Headless Body

From the Yorkshire Post (20/May/1921):

Yesterday afternoon the headless body of a man was found on the Meltham branch line of the railway near Beaumont Park, Huddersfield. The man was apparently about 45 years of age.

I could find no further articles about this apparent suicide, but 1921 was a year in which headless bodies were found on railway lines near Buckhurst Hill (March), Euxton (July), Etchingham Station (August), Bath (August), Newton St. Loe (September), Cambridge (December) and Hull (December). In the last case, the inquest heard that Robert Turner was in the habit of removing his shoes and sleeping wherever he was — his boots were stood neatly beside his decapitated body, so it was assumed he had decided to sleep on the railway line!

14/Feb/1952: Wyndham Bradley

The following accident was reported in the Yorkshire Evening Post11 and it occurred nearly 3 years after the last passenger train in May 1949:

MAN HURT AT STATION

Wyndan Bradley (60), Midland Street, Huddersfield, a foreman platelayer, fell from the platform at Netherton railway station, near Huddersfield, today and injured his back. He was detained in the Huddersfield Royal Infirmary.

Likely the Post got the name wrong, and this was Wyndham Bradley, born in the village of Leintwardine, Herefordshire, circa 1891.

By the time of the 1911 Census, 21-year-old Wyndham was living with his married sister, Mary Priestley, at Bottoms Wood in Slaithwaite and working as a dyer’s labourer for a woollen manufacturer. A couple of years later, he married local woman Gertrude Moore in Slaithwaite on 11 October 1913.

Gertrude was born in 1890, the daughter of Fred Moore and his wife Emma (née Bamforth). It seems Gertrude’s father died before she was born, aged only 23, and the 1891 Census finds Emma and daughter living with Emma’s parents, labourer Joseph Bamforth and his wife Charlotte, in Upper Holme, Slaithwaite. At that point, 25-year-old Emma was working as “cotton card room hand” — before cotton could be spun into a thread, it had to be carded to align the fibres and Emma would have operated a carding machine, and this was a low-status job in the cotton factory. Emma’s siblings also mostly worked in the local cotton factories, as “cotton spinners”, “cotton piercers” and “cotton twiners”.

Gertrude continued to live with her grandparents until her marriage. By the time of the 1911 Census, she too was working in the cotton mills as a weaver and perhaps she worked in the same mill as Wyndham?

Wyndham died in 1958, aged 67. There are two likely death registry entries for Gertrude in the Huddersfield area:

  • Gertrude Bradley: born 09/Feb/1890, died 1969
  • Gertrude Bradley: born 03/Aug/1890, died 1982

23/Jun/1958: Runaway Carriages

A set of four empty carriages that had been left in a siding on the branch line rolled down towards Lockwood, likely released by vandals.12 A quick-thinking signalman (presumably at Meltham Junction) routed them off into the good yards but they ploughed through the buffers and went over Swan Lane, crashing into the booking office of the station.

Amazingly no-one was injured, although the stationmaster and a booking clerk were trapped in the rubble and had to climb out.

1958.06.23 crash 2

1958.06.23 crash 1

Martin Bairstow’s The Huddersfield & Sheffield Junction Railway: The Penistone Line contains a couple of photographs taken by Peter Sunderland showing the aftermath of the crash. The one reproduced below shows the damage after the carriages had been removed.

© Peter Sunderland
© Peter Sunderland

The booking office was later demolished, as can be seen on this Google Street View of the crash site:

This wasn’t the first time an accident like this had happened — 16 empty wagons had rolled free from a siding on the evening of 9 September 1953 and crashed a wooden fence, leaving one blocking Swan Lane and two others teetering above the road.

Prior to that, in October 1913, a train had been shunting truck of coal when a few of them broke free, demolishing the buffers and wrecking part of the signal box. The Manchester Guardian (29/Oct/1913) reported that two trucks full of coal fell 40 feet onto the road below and five more were left hanging down the embankment. The signalman (W.G. Brackenbury of Newsome) had jumped to safety through the window of his signal box, sustaining only minor injuries.


Coda

With the closure of the line to passenger services in 1949, it was used purely for transporting goods.

Despite opposition from businesses in Meltham, particular David Brown’s, the branch line officially closed on 5 April 1965 and, following one last train carrying dangerous chemicals which ran to Meltham in January 1966, the line was dismantled in the autumn of 1966. After 100 years, the Meltham Branch Line was consigned to the history books.

Having said that, the next time you find yourself walking along the stretch of Meltham Road between Big Valley and Lockwood, take a moment to look down into the valley towards Woodfield Park Sports and Social Club. A little bit of the Meltham Branch Line still seemingly survives in the hundreds of wooden railway sleepers used to edge the grounds of the club…

…and a little further along, you’ll find some more which were used to fence off the access road down to the sports club:

The Cost of Beaumont Park (December 1883)

beaumont4

After the formalities of handing over Dungeon Wood for the creation of Beaumont Park in May 1880, work began in earnest on planning and layout out the park, making safe the more dangerous parts of the wood, and constructing the various buildings and facilities.

beaumont4

Initially, a figure of around £5,000 was mooted as the total cost for opening the park. However, as work progressed, the costs kept on rising.

By July 1882, the Borough Accountant had submitted a statement of expenditure stating the sum spent to date was £9,418 11s. 1d.

By January 1884, it was reported at a Town Council meeting that the total costs were now £22,495 8s. 6d., and some Councillors voiced concerns that this was now in excess of £1,000 per acre of land.1

In December 1883, the Huddersfield Chronicle published a breakdown of the cost for the year ending 31 August 1883, as reported in the Borough Fund Account:2

£ s. d.
W.J. Dunderdale, Charges, re Plan of Park 12 12 5
Tenants’ Compensation 0 14 6
Advertising and Cab Hire 3 5 6
ROADS
Coventry Art Metal Co., Palisading (balance) 323 3 6
Manual Labour and Teamwork 705 11 5
Stone and Dross 84 15 9
Coal, Oil, and Sundries 14 9 7
LODGE
Manual Labour and Teamwork 3 5 5
Stone and Bricks 3 10 2
Timber and Joiners’ Work 123 18 5
Plumbers’ Work 38 8 4
Plasterers’ Work 73 7 0
Spoating, £10 15s. 6d. ; Iron Fixtures, &c., £11 3s. 3d. 21 9 2
LAYING OUT
Manual Labour and Teamwork 5,257 10 2
Timber, Iron, Tools, &c. 323 16 11
Joiners’ and Plumbers’ Work, &c. 19 12 3
Stone, Lime, Cement, &c. 288 0 2
Pot Pipes, £198 19s. ; Iron Pipes, &c., £17 8s. 7d. 216 7 7
Coal, Tar and Oil 29 17 10
Plants, £216 2s. 2d. ; Seats, £63 2s. 279 4 2
R.L. Lowe, Concreting Lakes (on account) 160 0 0
W. Goodwin and Sons, Slaters’ Work at Band Stand (on account) 28 0 0
T. Longbottom and Sons, Concreting at Band Stand (on account) 7 19 0
£8,197 18 3

In modern terms, this reported annual cost was around £1,000,000.

A separate Chronicle opinion piece gave the total cost of Beaumont Park by 31 August 1883 as £18,328 18s. 11d. They then bemoaned the fact that the land value of Dungeon Wood was likely only £1,500.

Whilst this was indeed a sizable amount of money, they noted that the total expenditure on Greenhead Park so far was £37,338 16s. 6d.

From 1884 onwards, the Beaumont Park Committee came under increasing pressure from the Town Council — particularly Councillor Chrispin — to ensure the park was completed as prudently as possible.

The Beaumont Park Committee

Mr. Henry F. Beaumont (1833–1913), of the Whitley Beaumont estate and Crosland Hall, South Crosland, had initially offered in May 1879 an area of land around 30 acres in the Crosland Moor area for conversion into Huddersfield’s first public park.1

25, John William Street, Huddersfield, May 17th, 1879.

To Joseph Batley, Esq., Town Clerk.

Dear Sir.

I am directed by Henry Fredk. Beaumont, Esq. of Whitley Beaumont, to ask you whether or not the Corporation of Huddersfield are willing to accept from him the gift of a portion of Crosland Moor, containing an area of not less than 30 acres, for the purpose of a public park and recreation ground. Mr. Beaumont would offer the land in its present state, without contributing anything towards laying it out as a park, and would probably ask the Corporation to surround such park with a public road, where such public road does not now exist. If such a gift is acceptable to the Corporation, I will, on receiving your intimation to that effect, make you a more definite offer, and Mr. Beaumont will meet the Mayor and such committee or deputation as may be desirable upon the ground. Before receiving your reply it does not appear necessary to enter into details, and I shall, therefore, be glad to hear from you as soon as possible, whether or not Mr. Beaumont’s offer is entertained by the Corporation.

I am, dear sir, yours, respectfully,
W.J. DUNDERDALE.

The Huddersfield Chronicle provided much coverage of the offer and stated that, “May we not confidently assert that Huddersfield, for the first time since Doomsday, has had the gift of thirty acres of land?”

Although the Huddersfield Corporation were keen to take up the offer, and indeed toured the proposed site in early June, it was felt the location was too remote and inaccessible.2 The area of Dungeon Wood, a steep-sided wood which ran along the western side of Meltham Road towards Big Valley, had previously been mooted as a possible location for a park as early as 1866. By mid-July, the Corporation had persuaded Beaumont to donate that instead.3

At a meeting held on 8 August 1879, the mayor proposed that Beaumont’s offer be accepted:

MR. BEAUMONT’S OFFER OF A PARK FOR HUDDERSFIELD.

ACCEPTANCE BY THE CORPORATION.

A committee of the whole Council was held last evening, under the presidency of the Mayor, when the offer of H.F. Beaumont, Esq., J.P., of Whitley Beaumont, of a Park at Dungeon Wood, Lockwood, was brought forward, on the report of the special sub-committee appointed to consider the offer. Upon the motion of the Mayor, seconded by the ex-Mayor, It was almost unanimously resolved to accept Mr. Beaumont’s offer. The land which will be thus acquired by the Corporation covers 25½ acres, of which five will be required for roads. The whole of Dungeon Wood will be taken in from the commencement of Starling End to the end of Butter Nab. It is proposed to bound the upper side of the new Park with a road ten yards wide, which will extend from Starling End to Butternab. Butternab Lane will be widened from six to ten yards, from its junction with Woodside Road to its termination at Batternab. Other roads will be constructed upon the property effecting junctions with Dryclough Lane and Moorend Road. A portion of the site is in the township of South Crosland and the rest is in Lockwood. With the exception of four fields the whole of the site is woodland, and from the terrace overlooking the Meltham branch line of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway a magnificent view may be obtained. The entire coat to the Corporation of making the roads. &c., stipulated for will be £4,153, which it is estimated will be covered by an annual rate of one-sixth of a penny in the pound, spread over the whole co the borough.

We cordially congratulate the inhabitants of Huddersfield upon the acquisition of a Park, and doubt not that they will duly appreciate the generosity of the donor, as well as approve of the stops taken by their municipal representatives.

Huddersfield Chronicle (09/Aug/1879)

By November that year, a Deed of Conveyance had been signed and a ceremonial handover took place on Saturday 29 May 1880 in which Mrs. Beaumont cut the first sod of earth. A council meeting which occurred previously on Wednesday 19 May 1880 had confirmed that the park would be named the “Beaumont Park” and a rather flowery opinion piece in the Chronicle (21/May/1880) lamented that apparent delays between Beaumont’s offer and the handover, although the newspaper’s claim that the park could have been ready and opened for the summer of 1880 was certainly naïve!4

As soon as Beaumont made his initial offer, the Town Council had appointed a subcommittee to liaise with him and to progress the project. With the handover ceremony complete, the Beaumont Park Committee was formed (by a resolution passed by the council on 16 June) to oversee the planning and development of Dungeon Wood.

A meeting of the committee took place on 22 June 1880 and the minutes recorded that the members were “the Mayor, Aldermen Woodhead, Brigg, Denham, Crossland, J. Vickerman, J. Haigh, W. Hirst, Marriott, Sykes, and Schofield (S)”, with the Mayor presiding. It was reported that Mr. Beaumont’s estate agent, Mr. Dunderdale, had a recent large-scale survey of Dungeon Wood in his possession and the committee resolved to obtain a copy so that they could begin planning roads, paths and fences.

As the work progressed over the following months and years, concerns began to increase over the total cost of the park to the town and this became a contentious issue between some of the councillors at the Town Council meetings. Councillor Chrispin, in particular, was an outspoken critic of what he regarded as the excesses of the Beaumont Park Committee and their inability to reign in the costs of developing the park. However, the Chronicle did later note that the expenditure to date on Greenhead Park had exceeded £32,000.5

The Huddersfield Chronicle regularly summarised the meetings and the following gives an overview of the issues and progress, along with other notable events. The date shown is that of the meeting or event.

26/Sep/1880

The area that had been previously cleared and laid out for the sod cutting ceremony was used again on the morning of Sunday 26 September 1880 for the commencement of the annual Honley Feast.6 The temporary stand housed around 250 vocalists and 50 musicians, and it was estimated some 5,000 people attended the event. The event began at 7:15am with the singing of the hymn “Come Let Us Join Our Cheerful Songs” and was followed by a selection of choruses from Handel’s “Messiah”. Afterwards, the choir and musicians were given refreshments in Lockwood Town Hall.7

18/Mar/1881

Plans were considered for how existing roads would be affected by the park, particularly Hanson Lane and Moor End Road.

05/Jul/1881

The Districts, Highways and Improvements Committee accepted a proposal to name the road which was to be built at the top of the park, “Beaumont Park Road”.

11/Aug/1881

Plans for an entrance at Dryclough were abandoned and a new site was chosen for the main entrance gate and lodge house.8 The committee visited Butternab Road to view progress. It was agreed that they would advertise for “competitive designs” for the layout of the park.

13/Dec/1881

The Borough Surveyor reported that the building of Beaumont Park Road was nearing completion and that the project to widen Butternab Road was progressing well.

10/Jan/1882

The Borough Surveyor reported that he felt all the roads for the park would be completed by June.

07/Feb/1882

It was reported workmen had begun fixing the balustrade along the Butternab Road frontage. The Borough Surveyor stated that he was nearly ready to submit his layout for the park.

23/Feb/1882

A deputation from the Huddersfield Naturalists’ Society attended and applied for “some part of the Park to be reserved for the society as a section for the culture of aquatic and other plants”. This was agreed and suitable spaces were marked on the map.

A small group, including the Mayor and Borough Surveyor, were deputised to visit a park in Rotherham which was reported to be “composed to a certain extent of rocks”.

Finally, it was agreed to approach the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company to see if the land above the northern entrance to Butternab Tunnel could be used as part of the Park.

13/Apr/1882

It was resolved that “the fence forming the boundary the boundary of the park along the lower or deferred line of road from Butternab to the tunnel be a dry stone wall with lined tops instead of palisading.”

09/May/1882

The Borough Surveyor reported that good progress had been made on laying out the park and that 36 men were currently employed on the work.

05/Jul/1882

The Executive Subcommittee paid a visit to the park and inspected work on the new entrance lodge before walking over to the Butternab end of the park where they found that work laying out the artificial lake was progressing well. The Borough Surveyor submitted a plan for the proposed band pavilion and it was approved.

11/Jul/1882

The Borough Accountant submitted a statement of expenditure which showed the amount spent to date was £9,418 11s. 1d. An article in the Chronicle (29/Jul/1882) raised concerns that so much had been spent yet very little of the appeared to have been in layout of the various paths and areas for the public.

08/Aug/1882

The Borough Surveyor reported good progress and that the roof was currently being added to the entrance lodge. The number of men employed was now 40.

11/Sep/1882

Having been granted space in the park, the Huddersfield Naturalists’ Society met at Victoria Hall to discuss how they should proceed with the proposed botanic garden.

29/Sep/1882

The committee met at the park where they were pleased with the progress at the Butternab entrance. It was reported that Messrs. R. Whiteley and Nephew had tendered for the construction of the band stand at a cost of £139.9

10/Oct/1882

The District Surveyor reported that he had purchased 250 rhododendron trees at cost of just over 82 shillings from Mr. Lister Kershaw.10 It was also reported that the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company had agreed to lease the land above Butternab Tunnel to the Huddersfield Corporate at a cost of £1 per year.

95 men were now employed to work on the park.

The Tramway

A new tramway from Huddersfield to Lockwood was opened on 11 January 1883. Rather than terminate at Lockwood Bar, the line ran a further half mile along Meltham Road to a terminus at Dungeon Cottages, where a route up to a lower park entrance was planned. Although this proved popular and meant that a Meltham Branch Line station in Dungeon Wood was superfluous, a decision was taken in 1901 to dismantle the extension and site the terminus back in Lockwood.

10/Jul/1883

It was resolved to purchase 20 extras seats for the park, along with iron vases.

122 men where now employed in the park.

13/Oct/1883: The Official Opening

The official opening ceremony for Beaumont Park was conducted by the youngest son of Queen Victoria, HRH Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany, and his wife Princess Helene, Duchess of Albany.11

A formal procession of around 4,000 people, which stretched for a mile and half, travelled from Huddersfield to the park, although the combination of cars, elaborate floats, horses, marching bands and people walking meant that parts of the parade moved at different speeds. Soon the carefully planned procession had descended into chaos, much to the delight of the thousands of spectators lining the route.

The most detailed newspaper description of the event was printed in the Huddersfield Chronicle (15/Oct/1883).

07/Dec/1883

The release of the Borough Fund Accounts gives the Chronicle the opportunity to show the annual breakdown of costs for Beaumont Park.

16/Jan/1884

At the monthly meeting of the Town Council, Councillor Crispin raised concerns at the amount of money thus far spent on Beaumont Park — £22,495 8s. 6d. — and the negative publicity this was generating, given that only two-thirds of the work was complete. After much debating, it was finally agreed that a sum of £2,500 would be made available to finish the work.

It also was noted that the spend equated to over £1,000 per acre of park. In today’s terms, that equates to over £100,000 per acre with a total cost in excess of £2,000,000.

12/Feb/1884

It was reported that Mr. Gilbert D. Winter had made a gift of two swans for the lake in the park, and that they had been received since the last meeting and were doing well.12

21/Feb/1884

It was resolved that the balustrade “which had been constructed near the lake, and overlooking the railway tunnel” be extended to prevent accidents.

The Borough Surveyor was instructed to procure 20,000 primroses and 5,000 daffodils for planting in the park and to erect signs prohibiting dogs from entering the park unless they were under control.

45 men were working on the site.

09/Apr/1884

It was agreed to purchase a roller and lawn mower for the park and a resolution banning the sale of refreshments in the park on Sundays was passed.

In a separate Town Council meeting, letters of condolence to Queen Victoria and to the Duchess of Albany on the event of the death of HRH Prince Leopold, who had opened the park only a few months before, were drafted and approved.

13/Jun/1884

69 men were now employed at the park and their average weekly wages amounted to £71.

It was resolved to obtain tenders for 50 more seats and benches for the park and a letter from the Huddersfield Temperance Brass Band offering to play in the park during the summer evenings was considered.

24/Jul/1884

The committee met at the Town Hall and proceeded by special tram car to the stop at Dungeon Wood. From there, they walked up the path to entrance next to the Meltham Branch Line bridge. They found considerable progress had been made and the work was of a satisfactory nature.

They than considered a proposal to build a refreshment room in the park and it was proposed the Borough Surveyor draw up a plan for their approval.

Concerns were raised at the number of “rabbits and other ground game” in the park and the damage they were doing. It was proposed that a “gun be purchased and a licence procured for the purpose of killing the ground game”.

The committee also agreed to the purchase of music stands for the band stand and that glasshouses be erected for the propagating of plants.

15/Aug/1884

Initial plans for the refreshment rooms were approved and the Borough Surveyor was asked to complete them and estimate the costs.

10/Oct/1884

57 men were now working in the park.

The Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company had consented to greenhouses being built on a strip of their land, at a cost of 5 shillings a year. However, the company had also complained that water was flowing from the park onto their railway line and the Borough Surveyor was asked to investigate.

16/Oct/1884

The site for the refreshment rooms was agreed and it was resolved that they should cost no more than £800.

12/Jun/1885

Six tenders had been submitted for the concrete work required to “complete the roof and floors” of the refreshment rooms. They were considered and John Cooke of Folly Hall was awarded the job.13

A discussion took place around the issue of asking the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company to consider building a station “at a place convenient to the park”.14

16/Dec/1885

Once again the issue of the cost of Beaumont Park was raised at a Town Council meeting. Previously, it had been agreed that a limit of £2,500 was to be placed on completing the park and later the sum of £800 had been approved for the refreshment rooms. However, it was reported that a further £4,234 had been spent to date, although this figure was later contested.

Councillor Chrispin was particularly critical of what he saw as being the excesses of the Beaumont Park Committee and the heated debate appears to have tried the patience of the Mayor.

12/Mar/1886

It was agreed that park gardener be allowed the sum of £4 a year to purchase seeds.

26/May/1886

Tenders were accepted for various jobs required to finish the refreshment rooms.

11/Jun/1886

Arrangements were made for live music in the park every Thursday evening and a request for a pay rise from the park superintendent, Andrew Paterson, was turned down.

29/Jul/1886

The refreshment rooms — now dubbed “The Castle” — inspected and found satisfactory, although it was proposed that a lightning conductor should be fitted to the building.

It was noted that members of the public had been damaging plants and flowers in the park and that notices should be posted to discourage such behaviour.

04/Mar/1887

A gift of two swans from the Central Wards Committee were accepted with thanks.

07/Apr/1887

A tender from Mr. F. Maffin for the erection of a propagating house and potting shed (“not including heating apparatus”) was accepted.15

08/Jul/1887

The park superintendent, Andrew Paterson, had again applied for a pay rise and this time it was accepted. His salary was increased from 25 to 30 shillings a week and he was allowed to continue to live rent-free at the park’s entrance lodge.

03/Aug/1888

The tender of Mr. C.H. Carney “for the supply and fixing of the iron gates for the entrance to the park near Meltham Road” was accepted.

These are presumably the gates which still exist at the park’s lower entrance:

beaumont2

06/Sep/1888

It was recommended that the Town Clerk write to the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company to inform them that water was dripping from the railway bridge onto the path near the Meltham Road park entrance. It was also suggested that the company may wish to plant flowers on the railway embankment to make it more attractive to park visitors.

A tender from Messrs. H. Cross and Son for the painting the iron palisading gates in the park was approved

Finally, it was resolved that a fence should be placed around the tree planted by the Duchess of Albany at the park’s opening ceremony and a “brass plate or painted board” be fixed to indicate the importance of said tree.

07/Dec/1888

Purchase of six iron plates detailing the bye-laws for the park were approved, to be fixed in suitable locations.

08/Feb/1889

It was agreed that the Town Clerk should write to Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company and to Mr. H.F. Beaumont “as to the desirability of planting with trees the railway embankment abutting Meltham Road, and the land on each side of the roadway leading from Meltham Road to the park entrance”.

This was seemingly agreed by the parties involved, as the route is indeed lined by trees:

beaumont3

03/Apr/1890

The estimate for the annual cost of running the park, submitted by the Borough Accountant, was agreed and the Finance Committee was requested to include the sum of £550 in their budget for the next financial year.

06/Jun/1890

The tender of Mr. H.B. Kendall for “painting and varnishing seats” in the park was approved.16

07/Aug/1890

The committee approved a plan to lay a pipe to provide a drinking water fountain near the children’s playground.

18/Jun/1891

The Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company was once again approached regarding the planting of trees near the Meltham Road entrance and a previous decision to plant the railway embankment with shrubs was changed to the planting of seeds instead.

The park superintendent, Andrew Paterson, received a pay increase from 30 to 35 shillings a week.

Decisions were also made to approach the railway company with the suggestion of building a station at the western end of the park and to engage bands to play one evening a week during the summer months. The Payments Committee later agreed to that, on the proviso that not more than £30 should be spent per annum on live music in each park.

It was later reported that the railway company replied on 15 July to say that they were considering the suggestion.

16/Dec/1891

At a Town Council meeting, it was apparently decided that the Beaumont Park Committee should be combined with the Greenhead Park Committee to form a general committee responsible for the town’s parks and this appears to be the last reference in the Chronicle to the Beaumont Park Committee.

In one final swan song (apologies for the pun!), it was noted at the same meeting that two swans from Greenhead Park were to be transferred to Beaumont Park and that one of the swans from the latter should be sold.


Andrew Paterson, who is mentioned above, was born around 1836 in Scotland. His wife, Margaret, was born in Durham and they married sometime around 1869. She died between the 1901 and 1911 Censuses.

Andrew’s name was recorded by local newspapers as both “Patterson” and “Pattison” and the 1871 Census names him as “Abraham Patterson” — at that time, he was a domestic gardener at Dog Kennels (this is a house situated on Dog Kennel Bank Lane, Almondbury, where it is believed the hunting dogs of Longley Hall were looked after).

They had one daughter, Mary Ellen Paterson, who was born around 1871 in Kirkheaton and was living with her father as a spinster in the lodge at the park when then the 1911 Census was taken. Mary Ellen worked as a dressmaker. It is currently unknown what happened to Mary Ellen after her father’s death.


Sources and Further Reading:

Cutting of the First Sod of the Beaumont Park

beaumont1

On Saturday 29 May 1880, a lavish ceremony took place to commemorate the formal handing over of around 25 acres of Dungeon Wood to the people of Huddersfield for the establishment of the first public park in the town — Beaumont Park. The donor was Mr. Henry F. Beaumont (1833–1913), of the Whitley Beaumont estate, and his wife cut the symbolic first sod of earth.

A public notice had appeared in the local newspapers a week before, which confirmed the name of the proposed park and invited response from those who wished to take part in the parade:

beamontparknotice1880

The silver spade which was to be used by Mrs. Beaumont to cut the first sod was briefly put on display in the shop of jewellers Messrs. Pearce and Co. on Cloth Hall Street prior to the ceremony.1 In September 1883, the spade formed part of the jewellers Messrs. Pearce and Sons display at the Huddersfield Fine Art and Industrial Exhibition, which attracted over 100,000 visitors in just over a week.2

On the day itself, the event didn’t go quite as smoothly as planned — the Mayor’s initial speech was drowned out by one of the bands who were still marching towards the venue and, no sooner had Mrs. Beaumont cut the sod of earth, the fence keeping the public at a distance collapsed, allowing the hoi polloi to mingle with the dignitaries. With the route to the steps blocked by the crowd, the Beaumonts and the Mayor and his wife had to clamber up “three or four feet of boarding” to get onto the grand stand to make their speeches.

During Beaumont’s speech, he appears to criticize the Ramsden family — the then owners of Huddersfield. Since around 1870, the Ramsdens had leased an area of land to the Huddersfield Corporation, known as Greenhead Park. Even after Beaumont had generously donated Dungeon Wood to the town, the Ramsdens seemingly refused to give away Greenhead Park and, instead, the Huddersfield Corporation ended up having to buy it from them in the mid-1880s.

An opinion piece in the Chronicle on 1 June felt the event lacked pomp (“a flag or a piece of bunting was a rare sight”) and that the general public in attendance had been rather unappreciative of the generosity of Mr. Beaumont (“Huddersfield might have had a park given every year, so undemonstrative were the mass of the people”).

The following is a transcription of the event which appeared in the Huddersfield Daily Chronicle (31/May/1880). A small number of errors in the original article have been corrected and speeches reformatted in italics, but, due to the nature of the transcribing such articles, there may be occasional typographical errors introduced. If you spot any, please leave a comment!

An image of the article is reproduced below the text.


CUTTING OF THE FIRST SOD OF THE BEAUMONT PARK.

On Saturday afternoon, in weather which was so irreproachable that it might have been especially selected (or the occasion, the first sod of the New Park site, which Mr. H.F. Beaumont has so generously placed at the disposal of the people of Huddersfield, was out by Mrs. Beaumont, in the presence of a large number of people who had assembled to take part in the auspicious ceremony.

Dungeon Wood, which all who know the locality will remember, is most picturesquely situated to the right of the Meltham line at its junction near the Lockwood Viaducts, has for more than a decade of years been looked at with a loving eye by those who coveted a public park. So far back as October, 1866, Mr. John Ashton, then a member of the now defunct Lookwood Local Board, proposed and Mr. Bush worth seconded a resolution by which a committee was empowered to see Mr. Dunderdale. Mr. Beaumont’s agent, with a view to obtaining a knowledge of the terms at which it would be disposed of for a public park. That committee was instructed to report to the next meeting; but they failed to do so for various reasons, and on March 11th, 1867, the Board having become frightened at finding itself in debt to the tune of £4,500, passed a resolution by a majority of five to two, forbidding the committee to take any further steps in the matter. The scheme thus became in abeyance, and when the Local Board became swallowed up in the Huddersfield Corporation, the project of a public park at Dungeon Wood was at least publicly forgotten. It slept in peace for over twelve years, until in May, 1879, Mr. W.J. Dunderdale offered to the Huddersfield Corporation, on behalf of Mr. Beaumont, about 30 acres of land at Crosland Moor. The Corporation, at their meeting on the 21st of the same month, agreed to accept the gift, providing that the conditions, on further information, were such as they felt able to undertake, and a committee of Aldermen was appointed to consult with Mr. Beaumont on the matter. As will be seen from the Mayor’s speech hereafter, the first site was hardly considered sufficiently accessible, and Mr. Beaumont then very generously offered to give Dungeon Wood. Of this offer the committee reported in favourable terms, and at a committee meeting of the whole Council, held on August 8th, upon the motion of the Mayor, seconded by the ex-Mayor, it was almost unanimously resolved to close with Mr. Beaumont’s proposal.

The land thus acquired by the Corporation covers 25½ acres, of which five will be required for roads. The whole of Dungeon Wood will be taken in from the commencement of Starling End to the end of Butternab. It is proposed to bound the upper side of the new Park with a road ten yards wide, which will extend from Starling End to Butternab. Butternab Lane will be widened from six to ten yards, from its junction with Woodside Road to its termination at Butternab. Other roads will be constructed upon the property effecting junctions with Dryclough Lane and Moorend Road. A portion of the site is in the township of South Crosland and the rest is in Lockwood. With the exception of four fields the whole of the site is woodland, and from nearly all sides of it a most magnificent view can be obtained. The weather on Saturday was all that was needed to show the beauties of the prospect in their utmost splendour. Looking from the terrace which overlies the Meltham line, the glorious sunshine and clear atmosphere showed a picture which pen cannot paint. Down the valley of the Holme, to whose dirty water distance lent its usual enchantment, the eye wandered with loving pleasure. To the right and left lay the background of the picture — the trees of the wood with their varying shades of green sloping down sharply to the valley. To the right front lay Honley Moor like a patchwork quilt; in the direct front, Armitage Bridge Church and the beautiful wooded crescents by Colonel Brooke’s house; to the left, towering crest above crest stood Castle Hill, and the eye followed on the grand range of bills, patched with grass, corn fields, and wood, until the horizon line became merged in that of the dark majestic range which marks the confines of the county. Half a dozen steps in an opposite direction revealed another picture quite as imposing if not quite so rural. To the right lay Huddersfield, or a good part of it, and most conspicuous of all, the new public assembly room, the scene partially topped with the fringe of trees which comprise the avenue at Whitley Upper; whilst to the left lay Crosland Moor, and standing sharply above it, and hiding the valley in which lies Edgerton and Birkby, was the splendid slope of Woodland extending down from Fixby to Grimscar. The scenery could by no possibility have been visible under more favourable conditions than on Saturday. It may be added here that the entire cost to the Corporation of making the roads, &c., stipulated for in connection with the new park will be £4,153, which it is estimated will be covered by an annual rate of one-sixth of a penny in the pound, spread over the whole of the borough.

Such an auspicious event as the cutting of the first sod of the new park was necessarily attended with considerable ceremony. Mr. and Mrs. Beaumont did not arrive on Saturday until the 3 7 p.m. train from London. They were met at the George Hotel by the Mayor and Mrs. Walker, and just before four were escorted from the hotel to the Corporation Offices. Here, or rather in Buxton Road, the volunteers had assembled, and in the vicinity were a great number of carriages waiting to take part in the procession which was to be organised. Shortly after four Mr. and Mrs. Beaumont arrived, and the procession, which had been marshalled by Mr. Withers (in the absence of our own Chief Constable), started in something like the following order :—

  • The C Troop of the 2nd West Yorkshire Yeomanry Cavalry, commanded by Captain A.C. Armitage.
  • The 6th Corps, 5th W.Y.R.V., headed by the pioneers and band of the corps, and under the command of Lieut.-Colonel Day and Major Freeman.
  • A small body of the Borough Policemen, and the Police Fire Brigade.
  • The Linthwaite Brass Band, in uniform.
  • Superintendent Townend with the mace.
  • A carriage containing A. Walker, Esq., the Mayor, and Mrs. H.F Beaumont; also H.F. Beaumont, Esq., and Mrs. A. Walker, the Mayoress.
  • A waggonette, drawn by four horses with outriders, conveying Magistrates, Aldermen and Councillors of the borough.
  • Two conveyances containing other Town Councillors.
  • Several private carriages containing various borough magistrates, aldermen, and town councillors.
  • A conveyance carrying a number of Officials of the Corporation, beads of departments.
  • A long string of the general public in carriages, cabs, &c.
  • The Huddersfield Fire Brigades’ Band.
  • A small body of Borough Policemen.
  • The public on foot, a very miscellaneous crowd, led off by a small contingent of the Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes.
  • The 32nd or Holmfirth Corps of the West Riding of Yorkshire Volunteers, commanded by Captain Thos. Beardsell; and the 41st or Mirfield Corps of the West Riding of Yorkshire Volunteers, commanded by Captain Williamson, preceded by their band.

The route taken was along Buxton Road, down Chapel Hill, to Lookwood Old Bar, up Swan Lane to the Yews, thence up Moor End Road to the park at Crosland Moor end. The route was crowded with sightseers, and occasionally a flag or banner was displayed in honour of the event. The scene at the stone laying was scarcely in keeping with the ceremony which had hitherto accompanied the proceedings. One of the small fields to the left of the road leading op to the rifle range was selected for the crowning ceremonial of the day. At the edge of the wood a grand stand had been erected for the accommodation of ladies, and in front of this was a railed-in space. To the right of the stand a small tent had been erected, from the entrance of which a crimson carpet was laid to the centre of the enclosure, where had been placed four tiny flags, indicating the sod which had been prepared for Mrs. Beaumont’s spade. Around this central object members of the town council and other privileged people placed themselves. The volunteers and cavalry were drawn up somewhere close to the road, and the general public thronged between them and the enclosure railings with a great deal of density. Indeed, the Linthwaite Band found great difficulty in getting itself into its proper quarter near the grand stand, and the big drummer’s drumstick waved more than once over the heads of the public before he and his instrument found a resting-place. When the Mayor led Mrs. Beaumont out of the tent there was considerable cheering, upon the subsidence of which His Worship essayed to commence the proceedings; but the music of the last band in the procession rendered his words inaudible, and he had to wait until the tune was played to the end. The troubles, however, had only began, for scarcely had the sod been lifted when the fence gave way, and the sanctity of the inner space was invaded by the general crowd. The Corporation lost its cohesiveness, and dirty children issued from their hiding-place under the grand stand, and mixed with the municipal throng, gazing with eager eyes on the Mayor’s gold chain, and jeered at those common councillors who had left their Sunday chimney pots at home, and ornamented their heads with their everyday “Jim Crows.” Then, as soon as Mr. Beaumont had got out the preliminary “Mr. Mayor” to handing over the conveyance, the band began the National Anthem, and the air was taken up by one or two of those in the distance. Mr Beaumont’s little speech finished, it became necessary for him to make his longer one. But he could not speak to advantage from the middle of a crowd, and so he looked hopefully at the grand stand. The crowd however, had blocked up both entrances to it, and so Mr. Beaumont and the Mayor, and Mrs. Beaumont and the Mayoress, had to undergo a little gymnastic exercise by struggling up the three or four feet of boarding in front of the grand stand. This accomplished, things went on smoothly. The speeches were made in comfort, and at the end of them the band played and the people sang a verse or two of “Auld lang syne.” Most of the carriages then returned to town. A large number of persons, however took advantage of the opportunity to wander through the wood; and the romantic surroundings were heightened by the playing of some of the bands. The volunteers marched into another field, and had tea before they returned home ; and a good number of the general public, we suspect, would have been glad if they could have enjoyed a cup without the bother of going home for it.

The spade presented to Mrs. Beaumont was of silver, and was beautifully chased and engraved. It was enclosed in a pollard oak case, lined with maroon velvet. The inscription was as follows:—

Presented by
The Mayor. Aldermen, and Burgesses of
the Borough of Huddersfield

to

Mrs. H.F. Beaumont, of Whitley Beaumont,
on the occasion and for the purpose of her
Cutting the First Sod

of

“The Beaumont Park,”
the munificent gift of her Husband,
Henry Frederick Beaumont, Esq,
to the borough as a Public Park,
29 May, 1880.

Upon the emergence of the party from the tent, the Mayor presented Mrs. Beaumont with the spade. In doing so he said :— Mrs. Beaumont, it is my pleasing duty to present you on this occasion with this spade, as a memento of this important occasion, in consideration of your kindness in promising to be present and gracing this assembly, and also in taking part in this important undertaking. I have very great pleasure in name of the Huddersfield Corporation and of the burgesses generally, in presenting this spade to you, to perform this interesting ceremony, and I trust you will always hold this as a memento of this day’s proceedings. I am very glad to see that your son and others of your family accompany you, and I trust that they will remember this event as long as they live. I trust that whenever you think of this occasion it will be with pleasant recollections, because it is so important an occasion affecting the welfare of the people of the district. I have very great pleasure in presenting you now with this spade. (Loud cheers.)

Mrs. Beaumont said:— I thank you Mr. Mayor. She then proceeded to out the sod, and handed it to her husband, amidst general hurrahing.

The band then played the National Anthem, the large assembly being uncovered.

Mr. Beaumont, who bad placed the sod upon the parchment deed conveying the land to the town, then addressed the Mayor as follows:— Mr. Mayor, by this deed I grant, and with this one sod in the name of the whole, I deliver possession to you Mr. Mayor, and to the aldermen and burgesses of the borough of Huddersfield, all the lands described in the deed, for the purpose of a public park for the inhabitants of Huddersfield for ever. (Loud cheers.)

The party then mounted the grand stand, from whence Mr. Beaumont again addressed the assembly. He said:— Mr. Mayor, ladies and gentlemen, I may say that the first part of this interesting ceremony has been ably performed. It would ill become me to bestow any praise upon my wife for the way in which she has performed it; except that she has done it, I may say, ably. (Cheers.) It is now my duty to perform my part of the ceremony, and to say a few words upon an occasion which I believe to be a most auspicious one. I have long seen that your town has needed a park — (hear, hear) — and I only wished that others who owned land more central, indeed more suited in my opinion for this purpose, would have come forward to give it, but in default of this loan only say that it gives me great pleasure to be able to place at your disposal the very best site at my command. (Cheers.) I hold that public parks and open spaces are almost necessities to large and populous towns. (Hear, hear.) I hold that they tend to increase the happiness of all, young and old, rich and poor, one with another; that they tend to develop the frame and constitution in the young ; that they promote the general health of the people. Indeed, I might almost say that they tend to increase the length of life of the people. (Hear, hear.) If you look at the youth in towns where they have no parks, where they live in alleys and narrow streets ; if you look at what are somewhat irreverently termed gutter children in large towns where there are no public parks or open spaces, you see them squalid, pallid, and unhealthy; if, again, you look on the other side, at those who live in outside villages where they have the power of breathing the fresh air of heaven, where they have plenty of space, where they are not cramped for room, you see a totally different thing. There, as a rule, they are clean, ruddy, and robust, and I am inclined to think that if you give to the people bodily health, a healthy state of mind is pretty sure ; is at least most likely to follow. Now, sir, if we try to rear young stock, whether young cart-horses or young thoroughbreds, or sheep, or cattle, do we not look out for a healthy situation, and above all a good stray and space to enable them to exercise their freedom. If young stock are cramped up in too small places, they degenerate; at any rate if they don’t they never come to any great size, as they may do if they have plenty of space for freedom. And so I hold it is with the human race. The great Duke of Wellington told us years ago that the battle of Waterloo was won in the playing-fields of Eton, and so I present to you for your town this piece of ground, the further part of which will make an excellent playing field for the youth of Huddersfield, and I trust will be a lasting advantage to all dwellers, present and future, in this district. Look at London, the great metropolis. Considering its size and population, and somewhat necessary crowding of inhabitants, it is really a healthy town. Why is it healthy? One great reason, I hold, is that there are so many parks, so many open spaces, and so many recreation grounds for the people. We have several in London, Hyde Park among them. I have been told that it is a park for the aristocracy and not for the poor. But I believe it is as much for one as the other. When I was in Parliament some time ago as a representative of this part of the division of Yorkshire — (applause) — I used between seven and eight in the morning, after an arduous night’s work for you, to go into Hyde Park and ride there to gain my health. I met very few riding, but there were hundreds walking, many of them youths going to bathe in the Serpentine. Later in the day, about the middle of it, the aristocracy and plutocracy — (a laugh) — took possession of it, but it was at a time when the poorer classes never required it. Later in the evening, between seven and nine, on my way home to dinner, they were gone; and thousands of the working classes were enjoying themselves among the trees and walks. Then there is St. James’s Park and Green Park — essentially a people’s park — Battersea Park, Victoria Park, Regents Park, and others which I might name. And I believe that these parks in London — I speak subject to correction — are kept up at the expense of the nation. I can’t see why London should be the only favoured city; and I can’t see why you should not have a grant from the Consolidated Fund to keep up this your park, now you have got it. If anybody has any doubt as to whether such parks are appreciated, I would ask them to take the first train for London the day before a bank holiday, and take the trouble to walk in the parks I have mentioned. If they walk through them either in the morning, afternoon, or evening they will find thousands and thousands enjoying the fresh air. Only last Sunday I walked through one of them — Regents Park, and from one end to the other it appeared to be crowded with people. There were, I should think, between 4,000 and 5,000 artisans, dressed in their Sunday best, going about enjoying the air; and there were some there also who looked to me as if they hadn’t the wherewithal to buy Sunday clothes with. This is not the time to talk politics; but let me hope that there is a good time coming when all may be well clothed. (Hear, hear.) I hold also that these parks and open spaces, if properly managed, tend very much to elevate the minds of the people. Everything that is beautiful has an elevating tendency. We can see from the other side of this platform a most magnificent landscape — a most beautiful view. The situation is lovely, and I hold that it has capabilities by which you can make it one of the most beautiful things of its sort in England. (Applause.) I can imagine this ground might be laid out in terraces from the top road down to the railway. On these terraces might be grown flowers, shrubs, and ferns, in their proper seasons — a most beautiful and elevating picture for the minds of thoughtful people. In this place you have the capability — and I believe you will make use of it — to make one of the most beautiful things of the sort in England. You may have romantic secluded places, where an enormous number at least may come and rest after the toil and labour of the day, to enjoy rest, study, or meditation. I might go farther and say a great many more things upon this subject, but time is pressing, and there are others to speak after me. I have, moreover, had somewhat a hard day in coming from London for this occasion, so I will conclude by thanking you for the very handsome present you have given to my wife, and also for the reception you have given me. I also thank Captain Armitage and his yeomanry, and Colonel Day and Major Freeman and the volunteers for the honour they have done me in being present on this occasion. (Applause.)

The Mayor said he was happy, on behalf of the Huddersfield Corporation, to accept the deed, and the sod as an emblem of the land described in the deed, and he promised on behalf of the Corporation and their successors for ever to maintain and protect their interests therein for the benefit of the public at large. (Cheers.) He held in his hand, now, the best guarantee that Huddersfield was to have a public park. The deed was already signed, and it, along with the sod, he had now great pleasure in handing to the Town Clerk on behalf of the Corporation and burgesses of the district. Mr. Batley having accepted his charge, the Mayor went on to say — It had fallen to his lot to represent the burgesses of Huddersfield in the acceptation of Mr. Beaumont’s gift. In some respects he was very glad that it had, for he felt very proud at that moment of being Mayor of the borough of Huddersfield through the kindness of those who elected him to fill that post; not so much for the honour of filling it as for being able to take so important a part on that occasion. In the history of the borough that was the first time they had been able to congratulate themselves upon having a public park fur the people for ever. He held and maintained that it was the duty of public bodies, when they had the means at their disposal, to provide proper recreation grounds for the people. (Hear, hear.) There was one thing in connection with the park which to his mind showed very particularly the characteristics of the donor, and that was the manner in which the communication was made to the Town Council by Mr. Beaumont. There was no solicitation on the part of the Corporation, they had no claim upon Mr. Beaumont ; but he spontaneously came forward and offered them 30 acres of land if they would accept it. The land thus referred to he would, for the sake of distinction, call the rifle ground site. A deputation was formed to meet Mr. Beaumont on the ground, and when he heard from the deputation that the site was scarcely suitable for the people in consequence of its being so inaccessible, either by road or rail, be (the Mayor) could see that Mr. Beaumont was slightly disappointed. But he was equal to the occasion, and he said, “Well, gentlemen, if this site is not suitable, is there any other which you know of that will do for the people of Huddersfield? — (cheers) — for if there is one thing more than another I intend to do, it is to provide a public park for the people of this district.” (Applause.) Seeing that Mr. Beaumont bad voluntarily made them that offer, the representatives of the burgesses were not slow to take advantage of it. They gave him a hint that Dungeon Wood, now happily and appropriately named the Beaumont Park, would be a very suitable site, and more accessible to the public. Mr. Beaumont at first shook his head. He said, “There is a difficulty in the way, I am afraid, which I cannot easily surmount ; but,” be added, “if I can surmount this difficulty, nothing shall be wanting on my part to do so.” (Cheers.) They were witness that day that Mr. Beaumont had overcome the difficulty, and he (the Mayor) was glad to say that they had come in their thousands to recognise the generosity and munificence with which Mr. Beaumont had that day given a park to the people of Huddersfield. (Cheers.) So far as the park itself was concerned, he had heard it graphically described ; but he was not a landscape gardener, neither could he indulge in the language of a Buskin, but he thought if they went to that part of it known as the Dungeon Rocks, they would see one of the finest views in the district — they could see np the valley of the Holme for a distance of eight miles, with a horizon-line including Cook’s study on the one hand, and Tinker’s monument on the other. The valley was most beautiful, and the view was one of the most beautiful to be seen in the county of York. Then, again, there was another advantage in connection with it. Nature had done so much that it only remained for the Corporation to provide the necessary walks and seats, and to secure the dangerous parts in it, in order to make it one of the most beautiful parks in the riding. (Hear, hear.) Then he hoped that the company which was not usually very energetic in the public interests — he meant the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company — (laughter) — would not neglect the park, but would provide them with a station in the midst of it, so that people could start from Huddersfield, Lockwood, or the adjacent stations, be conveyed to the park at a cheap rate, and enjoy on a summer’s day one of the greatest blessings nature could give them. (Hear, hear.) There were many who could afford to go away to the sea side, or to foreign climes, but there were thousands who could not do either. The next best plan for the latter, therefore, was to do as Sir Francis Crossley did at Halifax, when, it he could not take the men to the mountain, he brought the mountain to the men. (Cheers.) Mr. Beaumont had done this for Huddersfield. (Renewed cheers.) They had only to wait a short time, and then any one of them, walking through the park, could say, in the words of Alexander Selkirk —

I am monarch of all I survey,
    Of my right there is none to dispute.

(Applause.) He had heard it said that the new park was out of the way. Well, he hoped that the result would be that the poor man, coming from his work in the evening, would be able to enjoy it, would refresh his body by eating his food there, and his lungs by inhaling the pure air which the park would be always ready to afford. Of one thing he was quite sure — that they would never regret the ceremony of that day ; on the other hand, he was sure that as they enjoyed its benefits they would be grateful to Mr. Beaumont, and that his name would be honoured, not only in his lifetime, but in that of his successors. (Cheers.) Then again, the rich would walk through the park, and be hoped they would have soon an impression of the liberality of Mr. Beaumont that they would be encouraged to go and do likewise — (hear, hear) — in other parts of the borough. He was quite sure that they could not have too many parks. Such pleasure grounds would not always be so palatable if their cost had to come out Of the rates — (near, hear) — but if they could find a number of gentlemen who in the north, south, and east would emulate Mr. Beaumont in the generous gift they had that day received at his hands, he was quite sure that Huddersfield, healthy as it was, would be still more so if the people could enjoy these recreation grounds without let or hindrance. He hoped that when the park was opened the ceremony would be graced by the presence of Mr. and Mrs. Beaumont and their family. He was glad that Mr. Beaumont had brought his own own there that day. He thought the young gentleman would remember the ceremony of that day as long as he lived, and would think with pride of the generosity which moved his father to present to the people of Huddersfield that which they could not under the circumstances provide for themselves. He thanked his audience on behalf of the Corporation for supporting them on that occasion, and he was sure that Mr. and Mrs. Beaumont would be pleased to see that their efforts were so well appreciated by that multitude. (Cheers.)

Alderman Woodhead — in response to loud calls — congratulated the Mayor upon the position he occupied that day, at having been made the recipient, on behalf of the Corporation of Huddersfield, of that magnificent gift of a public park. And if it were true what was once said by one who knew what was in the heart of man — “It is more blessed to give than to receive” — he might congratulated even more than that large assembly his friend Mr. Beaumont, who had that day had the privilege of bestowing a park upon the town. For it was a privilege to be able to confer a blessing of the vast importance of this park upon a people, and with the Mayor he rejoiced that Mr. Beaumont’s name would be associated with his gift throughout all generations. Allusion bad been made by Mr. Beaumont in his admirable speech to the benefits which would accrue to the people of this district, so far as their health was concerned ; and there was no doubt that by bringing men into contact with those schools of natural beauty much would be done, not only to promote their bodily health, but to promote their mental health also. The benefits which would be received by men and women would not be confined to the time they were there, but they would carry with them to their homes some of the sunshine which they had imbibed. Their health would be improved, and they would make all the more amiable husbands and fathers, and wives and mothers would in time to come bless Mr. Beaumont’s name for having brought sunshine and blessing into their homes through the instrumentality of his park. Mr. Beaumont and the Mayor had said all that needed to be said with reference to the park, and he could only warmly and strongly emphasise the sentiments uttered by them. The people of Huddersfield rejoiced in this park, and they hoped that it was the beginning of better days so far as parks were concerned in Huddersfield. (Hear, hear.) He daren’t have said that if the way had not already been marked out by the Mayor — (a laugh) — he was under his worship’s protection. The Mayor had given the hint — Mr. Beaumont had given it very legitimately, and being under the wing of those gentlemen he was perfectly safe. There could be no doubt that if they could bring to people simple, innocent, elevating pleasures, snob as those which they would enjoy on visiting that park, they would be conferring one of the greatest blessings that a community could enjoy. Englishmen had not so fixed a climate as their friends on the continent, and the Yorkshire climate was what the Americans would call a good deal more mixed, and the mixture had a good deal of liquid in it. Still, they had many glorious days, snob as that one; he hoped that they would often come there, and their brows would be often fanned by the breeze which should come over that hill, and that as they enjoyed the sunshine they would remember the incidents of that day, and hoped that soon they might be renewed in other quarters of the borough. He trusted that those hopes and aspirations would receive their fulfilment at no distant day; and as the poet said of John Gilpin —

And when he next doth ride abroad,
    May I be there to see —

so when next there was the cutting of a sod for a new park, might they be all present to witness it. (Applause.)

In the evening the Mayor entertained a select party at dinner, which was served in the dining-room at the Corporation Offices. The repast, which was supplied by Mrs. Bolting, of the George Hotel, was of a most elegant and recherché description.


Cutting of the First Sod of the Beaumont Park (Huddersfield Chronicle)

The Meltham Branch Line

I’ll likely blog a bit more about this subject, but the Meltham Branch Line — which operated for nearly a century before closing in the mid-1960s — has left an indelible mark on the local landscape and holds a particular fascination for me as our house would have been a good vantage point to watch the trains go by on the other side of the short valley which runs from Netherton village down the hill towards Big Valley.

The line was built by the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway (L&YR) company in the 1860s, taking nearly 5 years of construction before it was deemed safe to carry passengers, despite only measuring 3½ miles. The build was beset by numerous problems — from unstable ground and landslips to collapsing tunnels and opposition from landowners — but would become a vital and lifeline during the Second World War.

The Huddersfield.org site has an excellent overview of the branch line and I’ll try to avoid repeating anything from there.

For those curious where the line went, here’s a description including some relevant portions of an 1892 map of the area…

The line ran from Lockwood to Meltham and branched off to the right from the Penistone Line (Huddersfield to Sheffield) just before it passes under the Hanson Lane bridge. If you’re travelling out of Huddersfield, you can see the old trackbed if you look to your right after pulling out of Lockwood Station. It appears as “Meltham Junction” on the old maps:

If you peer over the side of Hanson Lane, you can see the start of the old track bed (overgrown with trees) as it heads off into Dungeon Woods. In this photograph, the track bed runs horizontally across the middle, with Lockwood Viaduct in the background:

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From there, the track follows the contour of the valley-side through the lower edge of Dungeon Wood, running below what would become eventually Beaumont Park a couple of decades later. Much of the ground here proved unstable and required some serious engineering to make the trackbed safe from landslips. In February 1866, the Huddersfield Chronicle reported that heavy rain was suspected of contributing to a landslip which caused nearby properties to become unsafe — in particular the toll-house at Dungeon bar had developed alarming cracks and the toll collector was steadfastly refusing the enter the building.

The line passes over the eastern lower entrance to Beaumont Park:

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Particularly impressive is a deep cutting with buttress walls which can now be accessed by foot thanks to the efforts of the Friends of Beaumont Park:

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As you can see from the photograph, the walls of the cutting slope inwards to the ground, but this wasn’t originally the case — originally they rose nearly straight up to a height of nearly 40 foot.

On the morning of Monday 1 October 1866, when it was noticed that the upper side of the cutting was beginning to collapse at the base, workmen spent the day carefully clearing the cutting of tools and equipment in fear of an imminent collapse. Below the cutting lay Woodfield House, at the time owned by Bentley Shaw, a vocal opponent of the branch line, and it seems he heard what was happening and ordered his servants to empty his outhouses which were sited between the cutting and Woodfield House. At 7:45pm, the walls caved in over a length of 40 yards, completely filling the cutting and causing part of the hillside above to collapse. Huge boulders were loosened by the slip and rolled down the hill towards Woodfield House, but their momentum was slowed by a large stone wall at the edge of the property, which was demolished over a length of 50 yards.

Three weeks later, a further landslip caused part of Meltham Road to collapse, leaving a large hole in the road. Understandably, local residents began to fear parts of a nearby embankment, which was apparently only being propped up by wooden railway sleepers that were already warping due to the weight, might collapse and destroy their houses.

The outcrop of land around Big Valley and Daffy Wood necessitated the first of three tunnels on the line and it’s possible (with suitable footwear!) to walk the track up to the northern tunnel end:

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Butternab Tunnel runs for 768 feet and passes under Butternab Road (not named on the map below, but shown as the boundary road between Huddersfield and South Crossland):

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The southern end is now on private property and inaccessible, but the Forgotten Relics web site shows how it’s been converted by the owners.

On 13 April 1864, construction began on this end of the tunnel with the symbolic removal of the first mound of earth by John Worth, manager of a dye works in nearby Armitage Bridge. The positioning of the tunnel had proved contentious, as a Mr. Tolson was the owner of a natural spring (which you can see in the photograph on the Forgotten Relics site) which ran close to the tunnel entrance and presumably Tolson received income from channelling the water down to the dye works. After the railway company guaranteed the water would not be contaminated by the construction work, they invited Mr. Worth to the ceremony where he was presented with a new spade by Jesse Kaye, owner of the nearby Big Valley Hotel, which he used to cut the first sod.

The local newspaper covered the event and reported that a large number of spectators watched the ceremony, “attracted there by the novelty of the occurrence, as well as the fineness of the day” and that Mr. Worth “removed the soil like one accustomed to such work”. The event complete, apparently everyone then went to the Big Valley Hotel where “refreshments were plentifully provided, and a merry evening was afterwards enjoyed by all who partook of the same.”

The Huddersfield Chronicle later reported on an accident which occurred on the afternoon of Friday 11 August 1865, during the latter stages of the construction of this end of the tunnel. A local sub-contractor, Joe Marriott, had been working with a group of men to remove some of the wooden supporting beams which had propped up the tunnel roof. Apparently he felt his colleagues were slacking and, “in a state of excitement”, grabbed an iron bar and began prizing out one of the beams which suddenly gave way, bringing down more of the beams and a section of the surrounding framework. Joe was buried under much of it, crushing his body. His was still alive when his co-workers dug him out, but the newspaper reported “the principal injuries being internal there is little hope of his recovery”.

It seems almost certain that this was the Joseph Marriott who was born in Huddersfield, the son of local cordwainer John Marriott and his wife Harriet (I suspect her friends joked about her becoming Harriet Marriott!). Joseph was baptised at St. Peter’s parish church in the centre of Huddersfield on 4 February 1833. By 1851, aged 19, he was working as a joiner and living with his widowed grandmother, Susy Ellis, on Swine Market in Huddersfield. In 1855, he married widow Ellen Smith of Heckmondwike and they had at least one child together, Joseph, along with two children from her first marriage.

The good news is that Joseph seemingly made a full recovery from the accident and the 1871 and 1881 Censuses report the family living at 80 Northumberland Street in the centre of Huddersfield, with Joseph continuing to work as a joiner. He eventually died in 1884, 20 years after being dragged barely alive from Butternab Tunnel. His wife Ellen passed away on 8 October 1887, leaving an estate worth £392, which implies Joseph did well for himself — that’s the equivalent of around £45,000 today.

I’ll blog more about the injuries and deaths associated with the branch line in a future post.

The line now swings south-westwards, running almost parallel to the modern-day Meltham Road but on the western side of the valley, passing by houses at Delves. This necessitated the building of a small bridge to provide those houses with an access route onto Nether Moor Road (the bridge is shown to the left of the “330” near Delves) and I’ve included a photograph taken on the bridge, which has an excellent view over towards Castle Hill:

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From the bridge at Delves, the tracks runs on towards the 1,000 foot long Netherton Tunnel. Just before the northern tunnel entrance, it passes over Nether Moor Road:

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The bricked-up tunnel entrance isn’t easily accessible without trespassing or clambering up an embankment, but I did once venture up there a couple of winters ago:

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The tunnel passes under the village of Netherton and emerged almost immediately into Netherton Station, where the platform edge ran right up the tunnel.

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This photograph by James shows the unusual shape of the tunnel. During its construction, there had been partial collapses in October 1864 and August 1865, due to the shale rock running at an angle rather than horizontally, which had left the vertical side walls of the tunnel unstable. The latter collapse caused subsidence in the village above and the Huddersfield Chronicle (26/Aug/1865) reported that house of Jonathan Lund1 had to be demolished as it had become dangerously unstable.

To help better distribute the weight of the tunnel — and the village above! — the side walls were rebuilt to curve inwards.

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In late November 1866, heavy prolonged rain led to floods throughout the north of England and the Huddersfield Chronicle (24/Nov/1866) covered the extensive damage but reported that, amazingly, there had been no known local loss of life. An area around the southern end of Butternab tunnel was washed away, blocking the existing stream which exacerbated the flooding below Netherton. At the station end of Netherton Tunnel, a landslip buried a part of the station, which was currently under construction.

The line now swings south-west and runs along the Holme valley towards Meltham, running parallel to Huddersfield Road. Once you know what you’re looking for, the line is very easy to spot in the valley as trees have grown on the raised embankment. A good vantage point to view from is Wood Bottom Road, on the other side of the valley.

This photograph, taken from Huddersfield Road, shows the old trackbed running across the middle of the image. Whether it’s possible to get down there and walk along the line, I’ve yet to find out!

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The line then crossed over what is now (and may have been back then) Crosland Factory Lane, and the bridge abutments remain in place:

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The small Healey House Station appears to have been built primarily for the benefit of the owners of Crosland Hall and Healey House, and apparently the families of both houses would hire a train every August and head north to Scotland for the grouse shooting season. Shortly after the station, a false 90-foot tunnel was built so that the trains would not spoil the view from Healey House.

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From Healey House, the line pushes on straight for the end of the line in Meltham, crossing once over Huddersfield Road near at Hall Heys. As can be seen in this photograph from 1910 (from the Kirklees Image Archive), the approach to “Iron Bridge” was fenced in as apparently horses on the road were too often spooked by the trains. After the line closed, the embankment was levelled and the bridge abutments mostly pulled down, although the bases are still there at either side of the road if you have a keen eye.

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This last section of the line is now known as the Meltham Greenway and provides a pleasant walk into Meltham village. Should you ever find yourself on the Greenway, be sure to listen out for the sound of the waterfall and seek out the side footpath which leads you up to Dolly Folly Falls:

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One final note, as detailed on Huddersfield.org, Meltham Mills was one of the few places in the country to manufacture and repair vital gears during the Second World War. Whereas the factories in Coventry and Birmingham were repeatedly targetted by the Luftwaffe and put out of action, the Germans seemingly knew nothing of the little Meltham Branch Line and its steady stream of repaired armoured vehicles and supplies of new gear boxes.

Huddersfield Daily Examiner (14/Jan/2014) – Wood Trail is on Track

Wood Trail is on Track

Pupils create nature walk on old rail line

Huddersfield school pupils are helping a special community project take shape and learning about local heritage as they go. The students are working with Friends of Beaumont Park on a lottery-funded scheme to research local railway history and manage nearby woodland. The scheme received £49,900 from the Heritage Lottery Fund in 2012 and is supported by Kirklees Council, which owns the site.

It has seen youngsters from five of the area’s schools help clear the old Meltham branch railway line to create a heritage walking trail. They have also designed information boards and created wood carvings for benches near the trail’s entrance, which were put in place yesterday.

Teachers have been trained in Forest School techniques to help them use open space to encourage interactive play, health, recreation and personal development.

Everyone involved in the scheme has been learning about nature and the importance of effective woodland management. Schools taking part in the community project include Moor End Academy and South Crosland Junior School. The scheme is scheduled for completion in 2015 and will also see the creation of an attractive open space for local people to enjoy, as well as a series of nature talKs, leaflets, signposts and trail markings. Meltham branch railway line closed in 1965 and the new heritage walking trail follows its original track bed.

Peter Turner, of the Friends of Beaumont Park, said: “As well as local schools, Kirklees Council, as owners of the site, actively support the project through help from various departments.

“Volunteers for the Friends group will work with them and Environmental Alliance to create an attractive open space for all the community to use. “It is money from the Heritage Lottery Fund which has made this project possible and the Friends of Beaumont Park are extremely grateful to them”.

The British Architect (18/Feb/1887) – Contracts Open

The following contract for Beaumont Park appeared in The British Architect.


CONTRACTS OPEN.

BUILDING WORKS.

Huddersfield, Feb. 23. — For the erection of propagating and potting house in Beaumont Park. Specification my be seen at the offices of the borough surveyor, Town Hall, Huddersfield.