150 Years Ago: Huddersfield Chronicle (24/Jun/1865)

A selection of articles and news from the Huddersfield Chronicle from 150 years ago today.

You can download the whole issue as a PDF file (14.3MB).


Adverts

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Selections of Wit and Humour

The bachelor has to look out for number one — the married man for number two.

Magistrates in Petty Sessions

HARBOURING DISORDERLY COMPANY. Wm. Hopwood, occupier of the Brown Cow beerhouse, Castlegate, was summoned for having disorderly persons in his house. Police Sergeant Mellor stated that on Monday, about twenty minutes to four o’clock, he went to the above house, and found in one of the rooms six women and 15 or 16 men, under the influence of drink. In the front room there were five men, who had apparently partaken freely of liquor. Mellor spoke to the landlady concerning the conduct of the company, who were indulging in most obscene language, and left the house, but returned with another officer about twenty minutes to five o’clock, when the company were still behaving themselves in a very improper manner. Some of the women were “unfortunates,” and one was a returned convict. Police Constable Sedgwick gave corroborative evidence, after which Mr. J.I. Freeman, on behalf of the defendant, said he was instructed to deny the statement of the officers. The persons in the kitchen were the relatives of Hopwood’s wife, but it was true that one of them had had the misfortune of being convicted. He (Mr. Freeman) had been assured that no bad language was used, and there was no disturbance. Mary Gannon, a washerwoman, substantiated the statement of Mr. Freeman, and afterwards Mr. Superintendent Hannan informed the Bench that the house had been very badly conducted, and that the defendant had recently been convicted at the sessions of harbouring prostitutes. Fined 10s. and expenses ; total 19s.

THE “UMBRELLA” COURTSHIP. Ann Mooney was summoned for assaulting Mary Walters on the 20th inst. Complainant stated that on Tuesday the defendant seized her by the hair of the head and dragged her to the ground. The only motive for the assault was that the complainant had threatened to summon the defendant, who had assaulted her on the Sunday. Defendant asserted that the complainant had annoyed her, and had accused her of “being with a man under an umbrella in the passage.” The case was dismissed.

District Intelligence

HOLMFIRTH — Mill Accident.

On Wednesday last, at the mill of Messrs. Joshua Barber and Sons, at Holmbridge, a young woman named Thewlis, met with a serious accident. It appears that she was employed on a condensing machine, and that she had to put a chain on to a pulley connected with the machine. To do this it was her duty to do so on the outside of a slowly revolving wheel also connected with the machine ; but instead of doing so she thoughtlessly put her arm through the spokes of the slow wheel, and before she could withdraw it she was caught and her arm was dreadfully mutilated. Dr. Trotter was sent for, and was soon in attendance, and recommended her to be sent to the Huddersfield Infirmary, where she was at once conveyed. No blame attaches to any one but the young woman herself, who is 30 years old and ought to have been more cautious.

KIRKBURTON — Omnibus Accident.

On Monday evening last an accident occurred to Jenkinson’s omnibus on its way to Kirkburton, which was unattended with the slightest personal injury. The ‘bus had proceeded all right as far as Fenay Bridge, and while ascending the steep hill, near the works of Messrs. Riley Brothers, the off hind wheel came off, but the ‘bus was brought to a stand before the passengers were aware of any danger. Being brought to a stand, the ‘bus fell down for want of support, which caused the breaking of the springs. Another ‘bus was speedily obtained from Burton, and the passengers conveyed to their respective destinations.

MELTHAM — “Disgraceful Conduct of a Band.”

Under this head a letter appeared in the Chronicle of the 10th instant signed a “Lover of order,” complaining of the Holme Mills band playing past the church at Meltham on Whit-Monday, while the Rev. Mr. Ince was preaching, and continuing to do so after they had been requested to desist. In reply to this, we have received a fetter from Mr. Godfrey Wood, leader of the band, stating that the writer of the previous letter had been unnecessarily hard upon the band, who were strangers to what was going on in the church, and were ignorant of the practices of Meltham on this occasion. Mr. Wood also alleges that it is a common practice on holiday occasions for bands to play through the villages, and the Holm Mills band only observed this rule, and had no idea of interrupting any one. He also enquires how the band could give up in the middle of a tune, when they were in marching order, and complains of the “excited manner” in which the person went to the band and demanded them to desist, at which the band were not well-pleased, and refused to answer the enquiry where they came from. The band is not Mr. Crowther’s, but relies on its own resources, and is called the Holm Mills brass band, and while going to play for other Sunday scholars on the above day, they had no intention of disturbing the “kind people at Meltham,” and urges that Whit-Monday not being set apart for religious worship the same as Sunday, they had a perfect right to play and enjoy themselves on the occasion.

Local News

Patent Self-acting Fire Extinguisher.

A patent self-acting fire extinguisher has been tested near the Cloth Hall, by Mr. Alfred Wilby, of Hightown, near Cleckheaton. The patentees are Messrs. J.G. Hey and V. Savory, Cleckheaton. The extinguisher, which is a simple invention, consists of a perforated ball, supplied with water by means of a metallic tube, at the end of which is a valve. This valve is held by solder, which is covered by a fusible material. The ball is also charged with the patent combustible material, which will ignite when the temperature of heat has reached 140 degrees. The explosion of one material thus ignites the other combustible compound, the valve is opened, and the water flowing through the perforated ball, is ejected in all directions, the distance being in a measure in proportion to the quantity of water passing through the mains. The extinguisher, which may be attached to steam or water pipes, is useful and comparatively inexpensive.

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:

150 Years Ago: Huddersfield Chronicle (10/Jun/1865)

A selection of articles and news from the Huddersfield Chronicle from 150 years ago today.

You can download the whole issue as a PDF file (16.4MB).


Adverts

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18560603_02

Poetry, Original and Selected

A BIRD’S NEST.

What architect, with well-matured plans,
Could vie with this attractive symmetry,
And raise so light a structure and so sure,
On slender beams that sway with every breeze ?
So snng and smooth is it within, that one
Inspires from it a deeper love of home,
And longs to share in all its perfectness.
Scarce one insinuating drop of rain
Can scare the simple life that breathes within ;
For overhead a canopy of leaves,
So carelessly disposed, yet each soft blade
Overlapping other, that a compact roof
Of velvet green secures from nature’s frown :
But not from ruthless hand of cruelty.
That with one grasp makes vain the work of days,
Creates a song of woe where bright-eyed joy
Was budding into summer ecstacy.
Learn life’s economy, ye thriftless, here !
No sprig too sightless for an honoured place,
Or woolly fragment for the cushioned bed.
Art thou discouraged oft by adverse fate ?
Through what inclement days the parent bird
Piles up with care the units of its home !
Wilt thou less strong appear, when rest
Eternal interests in Stern Duty’s scale ?
Speckled, or white, or blue as southern skies,
Each egg brings newer grace to all within ;
So even holy thought thou utterest may
Within thy home lure tenderest hearts to bring
Such fresh’ning charms a world cannot supply.

— Henry Williamson, Huddersfield.1

Selections of Wit and Humour

He that is taught to live upon little, owes more to his father’s wisdom that he that has a great deal left him does to his father’s care.

Foreign Miscellany and Gossip

The American papers record the death of Old Hannibal, a travelling show elephant. He was 11ft. 8in. high, weighed 15,000lb, and was 66 years old. He consumed 300lb of hay, three bushels of oats, and 46 gallon of water daily. For 36 years he travelled 3,000 miles every year.

Sales by Private Contract

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Public Notices

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Local News

We understand the Enderby Hall Estate, situate about five miles from Leicester, was on Wednesday last offered for sale by auction, and purchased for the sum of £67,000 by Charles Brook, Jun., Esq., of Meltham Hall. The estate, which is situated in one of the loveliest parts of Leicestershire, comprises about 730 acres, and 45 acres of woods and plantations. The purchase also includes the lordship of the major, with the advowson. Mr. Henry Tinker, of Holmfirth made the purchase on Mr. Brook’s behalf.

Magistrates in Petty Sessions

A DRUNKEN FREAK. Alfred Whiteley, otherwise known by the sobriquet of “Sixes” was brought up on a charge of drunkenness. On Saturday afternoon the defendant was hired to take to a field a horse belonging to Mr. Henry Stocks, brewer, Spring Mill, but, instead of doing so, he mounted the animal, and rode too and fro until five o’clock, when he proceeded to the stable of F.R. Jones, jun., Esq., with a view of obtaining a saddle, to enhance the pleasures of the afternoon. In the stable, however, he found a horse already saddled, and with the coolest impudence he seated himself upon it, and drove away with the two animals up Crosland Hill. He was pursued by a man on horseback in the employ of Mr. Jones, and overtaken at the bar on Crosland Moor. This witness went to Milnsbridge and gave information to the police, and the defendant was eventually escorted to bridewell. — Mr. Laycock : He pleads guilty to being drunk. — Defendant, who urged that he was “partly” intoxicated, admitted that he took the horse from the stable, so that he could have a ride, but argued that there was a “chief p(o)int” about the case. — The court, however, failed to observe the force of the argument, and apparently believed that the “chief pint” (of ale) was that which impelled the defendant to commit the foolish act with which he was charged. — Mr. Superintendent Heaton informed the Bench that “Sixes” had several times received the special attention of the magistrates.— Defendant asserted that he would “sign teetotal,” and promised never to place himself in a similar predicament again if he were discharged. — The Chairman said they could not believe him, and he would be fined 10s. and expenses ; altogether 10s. — Defendant: Or in default ? — The Chairman : One month to Wakefield. (Laughter)

General District Intelligence

CUMBERWORTH — Accident to a Child.

On Tuesday last an accident occurred to a little girl while walking in procession with the school children in Cumberworth. A wedding party was passing along at the same time, when one of the vehicles knocked the child down, the wheel passing over her. She was immediately picked up, and the marriage party were very solicitious as to her injuries which fortunately proved but slight. One of the gentlemen considerately and handsomely gave the child a sovereign to compensate her for the fright sustained.

FARNLEY TYAS — The Feast.

Wednesday last was a pleasant day at Farnley, it being the annual feast. The day was remarkably fine, which caused an immense influx of visitors, and the village presented quite a lively appearance. The usual quantity of nut, gingerbread, and other stalls filled up the principal attractions till the evening, when a grand gala, got up by Lady Dartmouth’s brass band was held in a field belonging Mr. Robert Kaye, where the usual sports were indulged in till dark.

Cricket

Lockwood v. Manchester.

This match was played at Lockwood, on Whit-Monday, and resulted in favour of the former by 10 runs on the first innings. The game throughout was very closely contested, and the batting, bowling, and fielding were excellent.

Marriages

On the 5th inst., at the Independent Chapel, Honley, by the Rev. Henry Hustwick, Mr. William Waring, sculptor, of Liverpool, to Ann, youngest daughter of Mr. Thomas Heaton, of Honley. This being the first marriage celebrated in the above chapel since its re-opening, a handsome family Bible was presented to the bride by a few of her friends worshipping there.

Accidents, injuries and deaths on the Meltham Branch Line: 1870-1889

The construction of the Meltham Branch Line during the 1860s had resulted in the deaths of at least three people — curious all named James: James Phiney, James Mace and James Beaver — along with numerous injuries, which are detailed in a previous blog post.

The line initially opened for the transportation of goods in August 1868 but a series of landslips caused to the line to temporarily closed. It wasn’t until inspections in May and June the following year that the line was deemed safe for public transportation and the first passenger service left Huddersfield to Meltham on 5 July 1869.

As to be expected, incidents, accidents, and occasionally deaths, continued to occur over the years and the ones that were found during research for the decades 1870 and 1880 are listed below.

01/Aug/1871: Louis Beecher Furniss

Louis Furniss was a painter who had been employed to do work at the various stations on the Meltham Branch Line, including signs and name boards. On the afternoon of Tuesday 1 August 1871, he boarded the Meltham train at Netherton, entering the carriage closest to the engine. En route to Meltham, he leaned out of the carriage door window and struck up a conversation with the train driver. It was unknown if Furniss, who possessed a door key, had unlocked the carriage door or if it hadn’t been secured properly, but it suddenly swung open and he fell out — fortunately, he landed and rolled away from the track rather than falling under the train.

Alerted by the shouts of his fellow passengers, the driver applied the brakes. Furniss was carried unconscious back to the train and laid out on the floor of a first-class carriage. The train, presumably after allowing passengers to get out at Meltham Station, returned to Huddersfield where Louis was taken to Huddersfield Infirmary and his head injuries (described as “severe”) were attended to.1

Louis Beecher Furniss was born in 1849 in Bradford. He married Mary Quinn in 1871 in Huddersfield and they raised a family of four children. He died in 1912, aged 62.

03/Jun/1875: Samuel Mellor Johnson

According to a few sources, Samuel Mellor Johnson was riding a horse along the Netherton to Meltham turnpike when his horse was spooked by a train passing over the road bridge and he was thrown off and killed. As a result, the approaches the bridge were fenced in.

However, I could find no newspaper articles to confirm this story and there are no death registry entries in Huddersfield for anyone with that (or a similar) name in 1875.

04/Jan/1876: E. Schofield

Reported in the Railway Accidents 1876: Return of Accidents and Casualties (January-March 1876) that goods guard E. Schofield injured his toes at Meltham Station after a heavy object fell on his foot and that this accident was beyond his control.

26/May/1876: George Wood

Reported in the Railway Accidents 1876: Return of Accidents and Casualties (April-June 1876) that “weigh clerk” George Wood injured his foot at Meltham Station during shunting operations.

21/Jun/1876: T. Beaumont

Reported in the Railway Accidents 1876: Return of Accidents and Casualties (April-June 1876) that labourer T. Beaumont “slipped whilst at work on the Meltham Branch, and sprained his back”.

25/Sep/1876: Benjamin Taylor

33-year-old cotton grinder Benjamin Taylor was injured as he alighted from an evening train at Meltham Station on Monday 25 September 1876. He missed his footing and fell between the platform edge and the train, breaking his leg above the ankle. At first he thought it was just a bad sprain and the fracture wasn’t diagnosed until a couple of days later.2

The 1881 Census lists Taylor as a “cotton card grinder”, married to Mary (born in Linthwaite) and with 7 children. The family were living on Calm Lands, Meltham, at the time. He most likely died in 1898, aged 56.

24/Apr/1877: Elijah Ingram

44-year-old American-born Elijah Ingram3 was a cooper employed by Bentley and Shaw Brewery in Lockwood, who lived in Cowcliffe, Huddersfield. On the evening of Tuesday 24 April 1877, at around 5:55pm, he attempted to cross the railway line at Lockwood Station in order to catch the train from Meltham into Huddersfield but was struck by a goods engine travelling at around 30mph in the other direction. He was flung over 10 yards onto the platform. Bleeding profusely from his head injuries, he was carried to the nearby Railway Hotel where a surgeon named Hall attended to him. Elijah never regained conciousness and died after vomiting a large amount of blood.4

At the inquest into his death, his widow Ann stated that Elijah was not hard of hearing, but sometimes struggled to understand what was being said to him.5 However, he suffered from rheumatism and this affected how quickly he could move.

The driver of the train, Alfred Hinchliffe, told the inquest that he had seen Elijah but that the deceased had his back to the approaching train. Alfred shouted and sounded the train’s whistle, but Elijah had already stepped out onto the line, seemingly unaware, and was hit by the front of the engine. It was also noted that other passengers were near to Elijah but they apparently failed to alert him of his peril.

The jury returned a verdict of “accidental death” and noted that the station employees had taken reasonable precautions to alert passengers that a goods train was due through the station shortly.

One outcome of the tragedy was that the railway company built a subway to join the two platforms at Lockwood Station. Prior to that, passengers on the down line had to cross over the tracks to buy a ticket, before crossing back over again.

19/Nov/1877: William Fletcher

William Fletcher of Outcote Bank, Huddersfield — a painter in the employment of Bagnall & Quarmby of Shipley — was engaged in painting the bridge over the railway line at Meltham Station when the scaffolding he was stood on collapsed. He fell down onto the tracks, sustaining a severe head wound and a spinal fracture. The Huddersfield Daily Chronicle (21/Nov/1877) reported that William was paralysed and there was faint hope of a recovery.

As far as I can see, there were no further newspaper reports about Fletcher and there is no obvious local deaths recorded for that name in 1877. It may be that he was the William Fletcher who was born around 1860 and who died in mid-1878, aged 18. If so, this might help explain the lack of a recorded inquest into his death.

05/Dec/1877: Michael Quinn

Not long after William Fletcher’s accidental fall, Michael Quinn of Holmfirth was employed whitewashing the gable end of the goods warehouse at Meltham Station when the scaffolding he was stood on collapsed. The Chronicle reported that he suffered bruised ribs and that the lime wash, which he had been painting the walls with, had fallen onto his head and splashed his eyes.6

This was most likely the Michael Quinn born around 1851 in Holmfirth, the son of Irish labourer Thomas Quinn and his wife Cecilia.7 By 1871, 20-year-old Michael was working as a plasterer. The lack of an entry for him in the 1881 Census implies that he was the Michael Quinn who died in 1880, aged only 29.

07/Feb/1878: Collision at Huddersfield

At around noon on Thursday 7 February 1878, a Meltham train collided at a low speed with a waggon at Huddersfield Station. The Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer reported that Rev. Joshua Richard Jagoe (vicar of Meltham Mills) and Rev. E.C. Green (vicar of Christ Church, Helme) were the most seriously injured of the passengers. The guard on the train sustained a scalp wound.

19/Oct/1879: Collapse of Retaining Wall

At around 9pm, Abraham Taylor, a weaver residing at Delph, heard a “loud rumbling noise” outside. Upon investigation, he found a retaining wall in the cutting situated below the farmhouse of Joseph Brook had collapsed onto the line. Although the ”Huddersfield Daily Chronicle” (21/Oct/1879) reported that the debris “had fallen onto the line behind Woodfield House”, the description actually implies the collapse happened on the section between Butternab Tunnel and Netherton Tunnel, which tallies with the location of Brook’s farmhouse at the place known locally as Delves. The collapse may have been caused by the 8:35pm departure from Meltham passing by the spot.

Taylor sent his son to inform plate layer George Moorhouse, who lived nearby at Netherton Fold. Moorhouse inspected the damage and sent word to the signalman at Meltham Junction not to allow any trains onto the branch line. Within a short time, 22 men had been recruited to help move the debris, which was estimated at 60 tons. Work to clear the line carried on throughout the night by lamp light and necessitated cutting away some of the embankment. By mid-morning, the line was declared safe and the 11:07am departure from Huddersfield was allowed to run to Meltham.8

13/Jan/1880: Derailment

Just before 9am on Tuesday 13 January 1880, a train heading from Meltham to Huddersfield derailed on a set of points at Meltham Junction, Lockwood. Fortunately the driver was proceeding with caution at the time and, despite the train being full of passengers, no-one was injured.

The Manchester Times (17/Jan/1880) reported that:

The engine, instead of running on the down line, passed into a siding, and was on its way towards a luggage train which was standing there, but with which it did not come into contact. The tender and the first carriage left the line and cut up the permanent way for about twenty yards, but the remained of the the train fortunately kept the metals, and the passengers in that portion were not much inconvenienced. The passengers in the third class carriage were greatly terrified, and got out at the earliest possible moment. Though none of them were injured the whole were more or less severely shaken, and were glad to escape from the train.

A team of workmen from Hillhouse were able to repair the damage within a couple of hours and the line was reopened.9

12/Aug/1881: Bradley Jessop

52-year-old plasterer Bradley Jessop, in the employ of William Eastwood Jowett, fell from scaffolding at Meltham Station on Friday 12 August 1881. He suffered a fractured thigh and head wounds, having fallen head-first from a height of 20 feet. Although the initial prognosis looked good for Bradley, he died at 3:45pm on Tuesday 23 August “from exhaustion (the result of the brain injury)” with his wife at his side.10

The inquest into the death was held on 25 August at Huddersfield Infirmary and was chaired by coroner Mr. Barstow. It was heard that Bradley was one of three men whitewashing the inside of the roof of the railway goods station. For no apparent reason, he tumbled off the scaffold — asked to explain what might have happened, the other workmen felt that he may have overreached himself and lost his footing. His widow stated that, before he died, her husband could give no reason as to why he fell. A verdict of “accidental death” was returned by the jury, who felt that no blame could be attached to anyone else.11

Bradley Jessop was born around 1830 near Berry Brow and appears to have been raised by Francis and Esther Jessop.12 He married local woman Ruth Percival, daughter of weaver James Percival, at the parish church in Almondbury on 16 March 1851. The couple settled in Berry Brow and raised a family of four children.

Following her husband’s death, Ruth continued to live in Berry Brow with her children and she died in 1886, aged 65.

Coincidentally, in 1867, Bradley was the foreman in charge of a group of men whitewashing at Spring Gardens Mill, Milnsbridge, when 24-year-old plasterer’s labourer Andrew Flynn fell off his plank and was caught up in the factory’s machinery. He died about 7 hours later of his injuries. The jury at the inquest into the death laid no blame on Bradley and returned a verdict of “accidental death”.13


Details of the incidents prior to 1870 can be found in a previous blog post.

There is one further blog post detailing accidents from 1890 onwards.

150 Years Ago: Huddersfield Chronicle (03/Jun/1865)

A selection of articles and news from the Huddersfield Chronicle from 150 years ago today.

You can download the whole issue as a PDF file (16.2MB).


Adverts

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Wit and Humour

A gentleman a few days ago said to a young lady who had just returned from the sea-side, “I’m delighted to see you’re back — or rather, your face — again.”

To Be Let

WESTFIELD TERRANCE. MRS. FARRAND, having been induced to take a good House at the above address, would be glad to LET SITTING and BEDROOMS to one or two Gentlemen.

Fashions

MISSES SHAW, Milliners, Dress and Mantle Makers, are NOW SHOWING some of the Choicest NOVELTIES, suitable for the present season. An Inspection is respectfully solicited. 15, Ramsden Street.

Turnpike Roads

TOLLS TO BE LET.
LOCKWOOD AND MELTHAM TURNPIKE ROAD.

Notice is hereby given, that the TOLLS arising at the several Tollgates, Bars, and Chains upon the Turnpike Road from Lockwood to Meltham, and a Branch of Road to Meltham Mills, all in the parish of Almondbury, in the West Riding of the County of York, called by the several names of the Dungeon Gate, Netherton Gate, and Chain and Harewood Bridge Gate and Chain, WILL BE LET, either BY AUCTION OR TICKET, to the best bidder, for the term of one or more year or years, as may be agreed on at the time of letting (and subject to such conditions as will be then and there produced), at the house of Mr. Samuel Bradley, the Imperial Hotel, in Huddersfield, on Thursday, the 8th day of June next, between the hours of Three and Five o’clock in the afternoon, in the manner directed by the General Turnpike Act, or Acts of Parliament, which Tolls are now in the hands of the Trustees of the said Road, and produced in the year last past the sum of £1,043 9s. 1d., and will be put up at that sum.

Whoever happens to be the highest bidder must at the same time pay one month’s rent in advance (if required) of the rent at which such Tolls may be let, and give security with sufficient sureties, to the satisfaction of the Trustees of the said Turnpike Road, for the payment of the remainder of the money monthly, or in such other proportions as shall be directed by the said Trustees.

A deposit of £30 will be required from each person intending to become a bidder, previously to any bidding by such person being accepted.

By Order,
EDGAR FENTON, Clerk to the Trustees of the said Turnpike Road.
Huddersfield, 3rd May, 1865.

Public Notices

GRAND CRICKET MATCH OF THE SEASON.
MANCHESTER v. LOCKWOOD

THE above Grand MATCH will be played on the Lockwood Ground on Whit Monday, June 5th. Wickets pitched at Eleven a.m. Admission 6d. No dogs admitted.

Magistrates in Petty Sessions

DAMAGE BY HENS. Daniel Fisher, of Kirkheaton, was charged with doing damage to a field of grass the property of Ephraim Sykes, of the same place. The damage was laid at 6s. Mr. Dransfield defended. The defendant keeps a number of hens, which continually trespass in complainant’s field, and have scratched up his hay grass. He cautioned defendant six weeks since to keep them out, but without effect. The complainant did not press for a penalty, only this his property should not be destroyed. At the recommendation of the Bench he withdrew summons on the expenses being paid.

District Intelligence

CLAYTON WEST — Dastardly Outrage.

During Friday and Saturday nights last, some rascal entered the small plantation belonging to John Kaye, Esq., of Clayton, known as “Plumpton Park,” and cut down and destroyed a number of young valuable trees. A reward of £20 has been offered by Mr. Kaye for the discovery of the perpetrators of the outrage.

MELTHAM — Freak of Nature.

A singluar freak of nature has occurred at Thickhollins, the particulars being as follows. Mr. Benjamin Wilson, spindle maker, of Thickhollins, sat an ordinary English duck on the usual number of eggs to form a brood. On Thursday evening week the duck hatched her progeny, when among the brood was one most extraordinary formed, it having three legs and four feet. The usual two legs — one on each side — are properly formed, but a third one is attached to the body behind, and is perfect down to the centre joint, from which place a fourth foot branches out, so that the little waddler has four perfectly formed feet — the two hind ones being webbed together — and three legs.

NETHERTON — A Long-Needed Improvement.

Netherton for many years past has been much behind many villages in public improvements, but the formation of the railway and other causes appear to have given a good impetus to it, and, of late, considerable improvements have been made. Among the greatest of these is the laying down at present of a substantial and much-needed flagged causeway, together with the erection of a handsome pillar lamp, at the cross, which, when completed, will be an ornament to the village.

LINDLEY — A Centenarian.

On Monday last, a hearty old lady of Lindley, named Sarah Firth, widow of the late Thomas Firth, of that place, accomplished her 100th birthday. The old lady continues in the enjoyment of all her faculties, with the exception of hearing, in which at times she had found herself rather deficient of late years. She walks nimbly about, and goes about her usual household work with alacrity. Her eldest child — a daughter — is still living, and is 79 years of age. This centenarian has forty grandchildren now living, several of whom having emigrated to Australia, no information can be obtained as to the total number of great grandchildren, but there are between forty and fifty of them living in England at the present time. Her eldest grandchild is upwards of fifty years old.1


Does anyone know if the “handsome pillar lamp” in Netherton is the one stood on Moor Lane? If so, it’s celebrating its 150th birthday this month!

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Folly Dolly Falls, Meltham

The curiously named Folly Dolly Falls is a little hidden gem of a waterfall to the east of Meltham, just off the Meltham Greenway section of the old Meltham Branch Line.

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Essentially a fault line where sandstone meets softer shale, a small stream (which used to be called Gylloproyd Dyke) cascades over the fault. As far as I’m aware, the stream rises from a spring not far above the falls, then flows down through a culvert under the old railway line and then eventually joins Hall Dyke near Bent Ley Mills. The stream also forms part of the old boundary line between Meltham and South Crosland.

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In recent years, a viewing platform has been built, giving an excellent view of the falls and the stream above. It’s worth noting that the falls are on private property, so be respectful if you visit!

It was somewhere around here on a rainy afternoon in April 1864 that the first sod of earth was cut for the railway line by Charles Brook. The journalist who covered the event had obviously never hear of “Gylloproyds” before, and wrote it down phonetically as “Gill-up Rudes” in the article.

Surprisingly, the falls aren’t signposted but you’ll likely hear the water easily enough as you approach them along Meltham Greenway. Look for a path dropping down off the Greenway, with a circular metal gate for accessing a private field. Don’t go into that field, but instead follow the path down to the right, before the gate. You can either continue down the steps to reach the stream, and then walk up to the falls, or take the higher path to reach the viewing platform.

The flow over the falls is highly dependant on recent rainfall, so it becomes little more than a trickle in dry periods. However, this means that the falls can freeze up during particularly cold spells, making for a dramatic flow of solid ice.

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As for the meaning behind the name of the falls, if you look elsewhere online, you’ll likely find a half-story about a woman named Dolly building a cottage somewhere above the falls — quite why that should be dubbed a “folly” isn’t explained. In the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Society’s 1987 booklet about the Meltham Branch Line, there’s even a claim it “took its name from the suicide of Dorothy Seymour who killed herself jumping over the forty-two-foot high waterfall after being jilted by her lover”(!)1

A much more likely source for the name is given in Richard Orton’s The Story of Meltham (published 1977):

This name first appears in the Baptism Register for 1819. The entry states:- “Alice, daughter of Samuel and Sarah Wood, clothier of Dollyfolly, baptised.” The two questions arise in connection with this — who was Dolly and what was his folly? Perhaps Dolly was the nickname either of Samuel Wood or of some other clothier who lived in the house before him. The nature of his folly is in dispute. A recent correspondence in the “Huddersfield Examiner” suggested that Dolly committed a folly in building a house in such an out of the way spot. This correspondence was prompted by a photograph printed a few nights previously of Folly Dolly Falls in spate. Anyone familiar with Folly Dolly Falls will know that it is in spate only after heavy rain when there is plenty of “top water”. Most of the time there is only a trickle coming down the Falls. I would suggest that the folly was connected with this fact. It was not at that time a folly to build cottages in out of the way spots. There were many cottages built in spots much more out of the way. We can still see the ruins of them dotted about on the edges of the moors. Wherever there was water a weaver’s cottage would be built. In any case this particular spot is less out of the way than most. Two paths cross there, one from Meltham to High Brow past the brickworks, and the other from Helme to Bent Ley. Before the turnpike road was built up the valley these paths would have been much used. Dolly Folly would be quite a busy cross roads. We must seek some other reason for the folly. Clothiers at that time were thinking in terms of mechanisation. It had been discovered that looms could be driven by water power, more cloth produced and more prosperity attained. One can imagine Dolly saying to his wife, “Everybody’s doing it. We must have a water wheel.” So he dug a dam, and a channel from the dam to the stream, constructed a wheel, connected his loom to it and sat down waiting for the wheel to turn. Nothing happened! There was indeed plenty of water after heavy rain, but very little of it got into his dam. The majority went straight past and over the Falls. It is possible that the dam never filled up at all. Dolly certainly committed a folly in imagining that that stream could ever provide enough power to drive machinery.

I owe this suggestion to the late Mr. Matthew Kaye who himself heard it from Mr. Francis Creaser. Francis Creaser was born in the 1860’s at a time when there would still be people living who could remember Dolly and his Folly. There is no doubt that somebody dug a dam and a channel. They are still there to be seen (silted up now of course). Then apparently he found out too late that he had wasted his time and energy. Would not this make him a laughing-stock of the neighbourhood? Would not his Folly be talked about in the taverns? One needs something like this to account for the sudden appearance of a new place-name, and this seems to the writer the most likely explanation. The evidence is quite strong, a trustworthy tradition traceable through known individuals of proved reliability, going back to within living memory of the event itself and concrete evidence in the form of a mill dam in a place where there is not enough water to fill one.

We owe the preservation of this story to an event which took place in 1940. Matthew Kaye was called to put out a grass fire at High Brow. They took their hoses but found there was not enough water power to operate them, and so had to fight the fire by hand, a job which took all night. Next day, working at Royd Edge Dye Works on some sewers in the presence of Francis Creaser, whom he had called in to advise (being the man who had put the sewers in in 1885), he remarked on his night’s work, and Mr. Creaser replied, “You made the same mistake as old Dolly!” and of course explained his remark.

The 1841 Census lists a 70-year-old widow Sarah Wood living in Meltham, apparently with her married daughter, Alice (25) and husband Henry Chapman (30).

Photographs

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Location

Accidents, injuries and deaths on the Meltham Branch Line: 1860-1869

It’s almost inevitable that the construction of a railway line results in injuries and even deaths, and the construction of the Meltham Branch Line in the 1860s was no different. There were also a number of accidents and at least two suicides once the trains started to run.

I’m sure some of the people named below have been lost to the mists of time, but hopefully the details given will help relatives who are researching their family tree. The date given is that of the event.

This blog post is primarily based on researching the Huddersfield Chronicle archives and will be split into three parts, the first of which covers the 1860s up to the start of regular passenger services on the line in July 1869.


15/Oct/1864: John Eastwood

At the southern end of Netherton Tunnel, temporary tracks had been lain so that horses could pull trucks of debris from the excavations. At around 8am on Saturday 15 October 1864, John Eastwood was using a horse to shunt empty trucks when the animal shied and he became pinned between the buffers of two of the trucks. He was carried unconscious back to his lodgings in Netherton where a surgeon from Lockwood attended to him. At first it was feared that Eastwood’s spine had been broken, but instead it was discovered his hip and groin had taken the force of the impact that and he was expected to slowly recover.1

Eastwood was named as being around 60 years old and from Hyde (presumably a reference to Hyde in Tameside, Manchester). Although his fate is unknown, there was a death of a John Eastwood recorded about the same time in Huddersfield.2

18/Oct/1864: Tunnel Collapse

Just a few days after John Eastwood’s accident, there was a partial collapse at the other end of Netherton Tunnel. It was reported several (unnamed) men barely escaped in time, having abandoned their tools and possessions.3

26/May/1865: “Johnny”

The Chronicle reported that an Irish labourer named “Johnny” had been working on scaffolding at the southern entrance to Butternab Tunnel when it collapsed. Part of the scaffolding fell onto him and he was swiftly taken to Huddersfield Infirmary where it was discovered that, among various injuries, both his legs were broken. Initially it was assumed he would die but the newspaper reported that he was now slowly recovering.4

01/Jun/1865: “Old Sam”

The Huddersfield Chronicle (03/Jun/1865) reported that a horse keeper known as “Old Sam” was walking a horse along a tram line at Meltham Station when he tripped backwards over some blocks of stone and his horse fell onto him. Although the weight had crushed his chest, it was not thought the injury would be serious.5

17/Jul/1865: James Phiney

A local labourer named as James Phiney was caught in a small landslip above Butternab Tunnel’s south entrance on the afternoon of 17 July 1865 and fell down onto the track bed (reportedly a fall over around 60 feet). He died en route to the Huddersfield Infirmary, leaving a wife and five young children.

I suspect the Chronicle may have recorded the man’s name incorrectly or that they were wrong in saying that he was local, as I could find no records for a local man of that name, nor a death registry entry in the area for anyone with a similar name. There are two recorded deaths of “James Finney”s in 1865, but neither near Yorkshire.

11/Aug/1865: Joseph Marriott

The accident which occurred to joiner Joseph Marriott in Butternab Tunnel is detailed in a previous blog post, so a summary will suffice…

On the afternoon of Friday 11 August 1865, Marriott’s actions led to an accident which trapped him under some heavy wooden beams and other debris in the southern end of Butternab Tunnel. His colleagues managed to drag him out but the Chronicle reported that he’d suffered internal injuries and “there is little hope of his recovery”. Thankfully for his wife Ellen, the newspaper was proved wrong — Marriott recovered and continued to work as a joiner in the Huddersfield area until his death in 1884.

19/Aug/1865: Tunnel Collapse

According to the Chronicle there were two incidents on Saturday 19 August 1865 in Netherton Tunnel which necessitated a complete rebuild.6 In the early hours, a portion of the side wall collapsed and, around noon, a more serious collapse occurred — around 15 men were working in the tunnel at the time but were able to escape without injury. The collapse was severe enough to cause subsidence in the village above and it was reported that the house and outbuildings of Jonathan Lund7 were so damaged that they had to be demolished.

The cause of the collapse was reported as being due to the shale strata running at an angle, which meant the vertical tunnel walls not only carried the weight of the tunnel above but were also being pushed sideways by the strata. The Chronicle stated that it had “now been decided by the contractors to take it down and substitute the barrel or egg-shaped tunnel, which is considerably stronger than the perpendicular walls.”

This photograph by James of the bricked-up southern entrance shows the unusual shape of Netherton Tunnel:

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By late September, the Chronicle reported that work on the new “egg-shaped tunnel” had been pushed “with such vigour” that the expected delay to the construction would not be as great as had originally been feared.8

Photographs taken more recently in the tunnel show one of the walls bulging inwards slightly, presumably due to the pressure of the shale.

30/Sep/1865: James Mace

MELTHAM. Fatal Accident on the Railway

A fatal accident occurred on the line in course of construction at Meltham, on Saturday morning, to a “tipper” named James Mace, or May, a native of Suffolk. The man had been employed on the works some short time, and on the previous night, after receiving his wages, indulged freely in drink. He went to his work as usual on Saturday morning, and about seven o’clock, or a little after, he drove his ballast waggon to the “tip.” Having yoked his horse to the empty truck to return, he — as he had frequently done before — whipped the animal into a running pace. In attempting to cross the line in order to turn the waggon on the right line he stumbled and fell across the rails, when the wheels of the truck passed over both legs and abdomen, killing him instantly. The body was removed to the King’s Life Guardsman Inn, Meltham Mills, where an inquest was held, before Mr. J.R. Ingram, deputy coroner, on Monday evening, and a verdict of “Accidental death” returned.

James Mace had married Mary Marshall in 1852 and they had one son, Caleb Mace (1854–1919). He was buried at Meltham Mills on 2 October.

04/Oct/1865: John Dillon

On the final stretch of the line running into Meltham, in a cutting at Hall Heys, an Irish labourer named John Dillon (who had only recently begun working on the line) was caught in a landslip and tumbled down onto the trackbed. Although he ended up with a broken leg, he was lucky not to have been struck by a large boulder weighing more than a ton which landed close to him.

It seems possible he may have been the Irish-born John Dillon listed in the 1871 Census as an 80-year-old stone breaker, so would have been in his mid-70s at the time of the accident. The census shows him living with his younger brother Thomas (aged 70) as a lodger on Castlegate in Hudddersfield.

18/Jan/1866

The Chronicle briefly reported that an unnamed miner had been injured after a small explosive charge had detonated prematurely whilst excavating Butternab Tunnel. The miner’s hand had been crushed between rocks and it was feared would have to be amputated.9

February 1866: Landslip

From the Huddersfield Chronicle (10/Feb/1866):

Slip of Foundations at Lockwood.

The occupants of the houses on the roadside at Dungeon, abutting the fields occupied by Mr. Haigh and others, have been alarmed for several days by the jeopardy in which their dwelling-houses have been placed. In some of the inner walls of the houses cracks and fissures half an inch in width have appeared, while the doors which before shut easily, have had to be altered in order to make them close as before. The toll-house at Dungeon bar has suffered greatly, the collector and others consider it unsafe to remain within. Both gable ends, as well as the front walls have opened, and there are large crevices in the adjoining ground. The new arch on the Meltham branch railway, opposite the houses, is also said to have sunk several inches. The cause of this damage seems inexplicable, some attributing it to the “shelving” nature of the foundations, acted upon by the great weight of the new line, which forced the ground outwards into the field. Others allege that it is the effect of the continued heavy rains.

Although repairs were made to the toll-house, apparently the toll collector steadfastly refused to use it again and it gradually fell into a state of disrepair. A few years later, the Chronicle (29/May/1869) reported that a “number of mischievous lads determined upon a lark” demolished part of the building’s roof which then caused it all to fully collapse “into the field of Mr. Haigh”.

17/Apr/1866: William Dyson

The Huddersfield Chronicle (21/Apr/1866) reported the following:

On Tuesday morning a severe accident occurred at the Butternab tunnel, on the Huddersfield and Meltham branch line of railway. A young man, named William Dyson, was working on this railway near the entrance to the above tunnel, when he accidentally fell among a heap of stones, by which his leg was fractured. He was removed to the Huddersfield Infirmary, where the fracture reduced, and he is progressing favourably.

The name William Dyson was extremely common, so it hasn’t been possible to identify who he may have been.

05/May/1866: James Sheard and James Hey

The Chronicle (12/May/1866) included the following article about a railway labourer who apparently enjoyed a spot of night poaching in the local woods. By now, delays in the construction of Netherton Tunnel meant that shift work had been introduced and work carried on through the night, with the tunnel lit by candlelight.

NETHERTON.

Singular Escapade — Two Men Shot in a Tunnel.

At half past two o’clock on Saturday morning Police-constable Yates, when on duty in the village of Netherton, met on the highway James Sheard, formerly game watcher for Geo. Armitage, Esq., of Milnsbridge, but who had latterly been working as a labourer in one of the tunnels on the Huddersfield and Meltham branch railway, at Netherton. Observing something bulky under Sheards coat, the officer enquired “Where are you going so late Jim?” After a little hesitancy, Sheard replied “I may as well tell you the truth at once, I’m going to have a shot.” Yates rejoined, “No, you’re not so give me the gun.” Sheard scampered off with the officer at his heels, in the direction of Delph wood. Finding the officer gained ground, and was within a few yards of him, Sheard suddenly turned and ran into the Delph end of Netherton tunnel where a number of men were working by candle light. On reaching the men, Sheard cried out to James Hey, a mason, “Here take this gun,” it was a double barrelled gun and doubtless it was his intention to conceal it. The gun was in two parts, and unfortunately the nipples struck against a stone and both barrels went off. The constable imagined at first that the shot had been levelled at him, but bearing a deep groan he went to the spot and found Sheard laid on his back bleeding from wounds about the face and head. Part of the contents of the gun had lodged in the head, and the flesh from the hand of Hey was completely shot away. Mr. Calvert, a medical practitioner at Netherton was sent for, and by his advice the officer moved Sheard in a cart to his residence at Swires-lane, Crosland Moor, where he still lies in a very feeble state. On Saturday Hey, who was in a very weak state was taken to the “Oldfield-lane doctor,” at Manchester, where his lacerated hand was examined and dressed. Sheard is now under the care of Mr. Roberts, surgeon.

The Leeds Times (12/May/1866) provided some further details:

Early on Saturday morning a man named James Sheard, who had with him a gun, was met by a police constable in the highway at Netherton, near Huddersfield. To escape being captured he rain into a tunnel now in course of formation on the Huddersfield and Meltham line, and in which a number of men were at work. He separated the barrel of the gun from the stock, and was handing the barrel to one of the men, named Hey, to have it concealed, when he struck the nipple against some hard substance, the cap exploded, and the charge blew away a portion of the fleshy part of Hey’s hand, and inflicted a serious wound on the forehead of Sheard, who was conveyed home in a dangerous condition.”

From the description, it sounds as though Sheard ran off down Nether Moor Road towards Delves Wood (sometimes marked on maps as being Round Wood or Butternab Wood) before veering onto the trackbed and into the northern end of Netherton Tunnel.

Various cases reported in the local newspapers attest to Sheard’s character and to his poaching activities…

Sheard appeared before the local magistrates’ court on 17 April 1860, alongside Thomas France, charged with “tresspassing in pursuit of game on land belonging to S.W. Haigh, Esq.” on 4 April. The two men had a dog and were seen walking on the edge of the land. As Mr S.W. Haigh was one of the magistrates that day, he stepped down from the bench during the hearing. Although Sheard was seen to trespass with the dog, it was felt there was not enough evidence to prove he intended to poach and the case was dismissed.10

Later on that year, Sheard was found guilty of poaching in Southowram, near Halifax. Also charged was a Seth Green, who was reported to be one of the “most hardened poachers in the district” and had only recently been released from prison for poaching.11

Sheard again appeared before the magistrates on 22 April 1862, this time having brought a charge of assault against a gamekeeper named Dan Fearnley. Sheard was leaving the Spinner’s Arms pub at Colne Bridge (near Cooper Bridge) with a hare which he claimed a Joseph France (presumably a relative of the previously mentioned Thomas France) had given him in his pocket. Fearnley, and his two sons, accosted Sheard, accused him of having poached the hare and wrestled him to the ground, pinning him down. The bench felt Sheard was unable to prove his allegation fully and he was awarded one shilling for the damage done to his coat and shirt in the fracas.12

September 1864 saw him charged with “riotous and drunken conduct at Moldgreen” in the early hours of a Sunday morning. This time, he had been accompanied by several men, including Samuel France and William Schofield. Schofield had thrown a rock at a police constable, severely injuring him. Sheard was fined a total of 22 shillings.13

In March 1965, Sheard was before the magistrates, charged with “wantonly and cruelly ill-treating a dog […] by allowing a larger dog to worry it” at Crosland Moor. By now Sheard was a gamekeeper in Milnsbridge. The bench heard that Sheard had a large bull mastiff dog which attacked a small terrier, giving it fatal injuries. The bench felt that it had been an accident and the case was dismissed.

There are no recorded deaths for a James Sheard or a James Hey in 1866, so they seemingly both survived the incident in Netherton Tunnel.

October & November 1866: Landslips

The deepest cutting on the line lies to the north of Butternab Tunnel and is above Woodfield House. On the morning of Monday 1 October 1866, it was noted that the larger of the supporting walls was beginning to collapse near the base and workmen spent much of the day removing equipment from the cutting. At around 7:45pm, the retaining walls collapsed over a length of 40 yards, filling the cutting with debris and causing a large landside which sent boulders crashing down towards Woodfield House — The Times reported that some of the rocks were 3 to 4 yards across.14 Fortunately the exterior boundary walls of the estate absorbed much of the impact, although they were demolished over a length of 50 yards.

On Wednesday 24 October, part of Meltham Road between Lockwood and the Dungeon toll-bar collapsed as a horse and cab was passing over it. The horse managed to free itself from the hole without injury and workmen soon arrived to carry out repairs. It was believed that the work on the railway have undermined the area and locals grew increasingly concerned that the defences against further landslips — which seem to have been built mostly from old railway sleepers — were wholly inadequate.15

Floods caused by heavy rain the following month resulted in damage throughout Huddersfield and an area around the southern end of Butternab Tunnel was washed away, blocking the existing stream which exacerbated the flooding below Netherton. At the southern end of Netherton Tunnel, a landslip buried a part of the station, which was currently under construction.

It wasn’t until March 1868 that the Chronicle was able to report that the cutting above Woodfield House had been fully cleared and all of the debris from this landslip — and the subsequent one in November 1867 — had been removed.16

15/Nov/1867: Landslip

The Chronicle (23/Nov/1867) reported that a “heavy slip” had occurred “at the deep cutting behind Woodfield House”. The report, which was printed over a week later, stated that 500 tons of debris were being removed from the cutting each day by a team of 60 men, but the clearing work would “yet take many days”.

01/Mar/1868: Patrick Pendrick

The Huddersfield Chronicle (09/Mar/1867) reported that navvy excavator Patrick Pendrick17 was injured in a landslip at Butternab cutting. Although it was reported that he had been “severely crushed about the chest” and that the “injuries are of a dangerous description”, it was expected Pendrick would recover.

16/Jan/1868: James Beaver

Arguably the most tragic death on the line occurred as a result of an incident on Thursday 16 January 1868. A young boy named James Beaver, living in Armitage Bridge, who had been employed to do help out with the work on the railway, tampered with one of the waggons loaded with debris at the southern end of Butternab Tunnel. Apparently the waggon began to move, James fell under it and one of the wheels rolled over his arm, crushing it.

The Chronicle initially reported on the incident saying that although the boy’s arm had been amputated at the shoulder, he was recovering well at Huddersfield Infirmary.18 Sadly, however, he died on Sunday 26 January.

At the subsequent inquest, a verdict of “accidental death” was recorded. It was noted that the accident was caused by James’ own actions and that he had previously been told off for playing with the waggons.

I’m extremely grateful to Shaun Beaver, whose great grandfather was James’ younger brother, for sharing details about his family history.

James Beaver was born 17 June 1856 in Rutland, the son of labourer Matthew Beaver and his wife Elizabeth (née Tyler). He was baptised in Oakham, Rutland, on 13 July 1856. Matthew had apparently been imprisoned for larceny and also fined in October 1857 for damaging a tree belonging to the local vicar, Rev. H. Finch.19 In fact, Matthew’s name appears in the local Petty Sessions listings several more times for minor offences.

The family moved to Huddersfield at some point after 1861 and it seems feasible that Matthew was a labourer working on the construction of the branch line, which would help explain why young James was given work. Apparently several boys were employed on the line and James had been beaten for a minor misdemeanour prior to the accident.

Young James Beaver was buried in the graveyard of St. Paul’s in Armitage Bridge on 30 January 1868.20 Sadly, James’ family could only afford the burial and his unmarked plot is shown in the centre of this photograph:

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April 1868: Landslip

Although the exact date isn’t given by the Chronicle, an article published on 25 April 1868 detailed a landslip and rockfall which resulted in some heavy boulders rolling down and blocking the line near Woodfield House. Due to their size, it had been decided to resort to blasting the boulders into small rocks, but Bentley Shaw, the owner of Woodfield House, obtained an injunction to halt the work.

Unable to proceed with work, the railway company entered into negotiations with Shaw and it would seem they insured him against any damage to Woodfield House and paid for him to temporarily relocate his family to Harrogate. Blasting resumed on 21 April.

On 16 May, the Chronicle reported that work was nearing completion and that the side of the cutting was “being sloped off from the top, which it is expected will have the effect of stopping any more falls from the wood”.

22/Sep/1868: Derailment

The line had finally opened to goods traffic in August 1868 but would soon close temporarily. However, before the closure, an accident was reported at Meltham towards the end of September:21

RAILWAY ACCIDENT

A slight accident occurred at the Meltham Station on Tuesday. It seems a number of coal trucks were being moved on the line near the coal shoots, when the trucks being pushed too far several of them dropped off the line on to the road below and were smashed. No personal injury was sustained.

01/Oct/1868: Closure of the Line

Following another landslip in the cutting behind Woodfield House, goods trains were suspended on the line. Keen to ensure it could not happen again, the railway engineers proposed that a giant retaining wall should be constructed measuring 150 yards long and 40 feet high, with a thickness of 10 feet, to hold the hillside above the cutting in place. The Chronicle reported that it was doubtful the line would re-open until the end of the year.22

Nearly 150 years later, the impressive sloping retaining wall (seen on the left of this photograph) continues to hold the hillside, and Beaumont Park above it, in place:

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26/Nov/1868: Accident to Labourer

Around noon on Thursday 26 November 1868, an unnamed Irish labourer was working in the cutting behind Woodfield House, north of Butternab Tunnel, when he became accidentally trapped between two ballast wagons. He was taken to Huddersfield Infirmary where it was reported he was being treated for internal injuries.23

December 1868: Landslips

The Huddersfield Chronicle (12/Dec/1868) reported that “the heavy and incessant rains” had caused several landslips, including a serious one which appears to have occurred near to Folly Dolly Falls where much of the six foot high railway embankment had collapsed, leaving the rails hanging across the gap.


Having invested so much in the line, it seems the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway weren’t prepared to admit defeat and during the early part of 1869 redoubled their efforts to get the line open again.

Formal inspections in May and June 1869 proved favourable and, on 5 July 1869, the first passenger service to run on the line left Huddersfield Station.

It’s perhaps worth noting that this relatively short 3½ mile long branch line took 5 years to build — roughly the same length of time it took them to build the Huddersfield to Penistone Line, which was a roughly four times longer and required several viaducts and lengthy tunnels.

Details of the incidents that occurred during the 1870s and 1880s are covered in this blog post. Incidents from 1890 onwards are covered in this blog post.

Cutting the First Sod of the Meltham Branch Line (April 1864)

The ceremonial cutting of the first sod of the Meltham Branch Line occurred on 4 April 1864 at around 3pm on a miserable rainy afternoon in Meltham and took place at a location named as “Gill-up rudes”, which I’ve yet to find on any period map.

However, based on the description given below, it may have been somewhere near where Low Cote Mill once stood.1 I’m going to take a complete stab in the dark and say it may have happened somewhere around here…

According to the local newspaper write-up of the ceremony, around a thousand people attended the event, including a number of local dignitaries and business owners. The sod of earth was cut by Charles Brook, a well-known and much-liked local businessman who reportedly knew most of his 2,000 employees by sight.

The article is of importance as it details the planned route of the branch line:

The contemplated line will be […] about 3½ miles long, and will be a single line, the total cost being estimated at £70,000, or £20,000 per mile. It will commence at the Huddersfield end of the Lockwood viaducts, passing behind Woodfield House, the residence of Bentley Shaw, Esq., by a deep cutting about half a-mile in length, the average depth of which is 40 feet, and then proceeding by a tunnel 200 yards long, through rock, under “Butternab.” This tunnel will be followed by an embankment 200 yards long and 80 feet deep, passing by a culvert over the stream that runs down to Armitage Fold, then passing through a small cutting and approaching Netherton through a small tunnel, from which it will emerge on to another embankment 60 feet high ; then through a tunnel of rock and shale 335 yards long, ending in a cutting a quarter of a mile in length. It then passes along an embankment the whole length of the “big valley,” behind Healey House. The average height of the embankment will be 20 feet, and it will be fully half a mile in length. It next traverses a small tunnel about 30 yards in length, under the grounds of Healey House, then through a shale cutting a third of a mile long, averaging 25 feet in depth, and then proceeds forward by an embankment half a mile long, averaging 20 feet high, crossing the Lockwood and Meltham turnpike road by a skew bridge 36 feet span and 16 feet high on to “Gill-up rudes,” the place where the sod was lifted, passing on to the terminus at Meltham proper, just below the church, where will be the station. A short branch will diverge at “Gill-up rudes,” passing under the grounds of Meltham Hall by an open cutting, winch will afterwards be arched over, then filled up level, then by small cuttings and embankments on to Meltham Mills, the whole length of the branch being 700 yards. The Railway Company will construct the first 300 yards of this line to the end of their boundary lines of deviation, and Messrs. Brook the remainder. Another short branch will join the main line near where the sod was taken up, and run to the silk mills at present occupied by Messrs. Ainley and Taylor. The gradients will be 1 in 60 at one part, 1 in 120 at another, the remaining small portion being level. It is expected that the line will be completed in less than two years, the company being compelled to have it working before the expiration of five years from obtaining the act, which received the royal assent in June, 1861.

As noted in the description, the original intention had been to have a spur branch off from the line — at the elusive “Gill-up rudes” — which would then run down to Meltham Mills. Ultimately this was abandoned, apparently due to the cost of the necessary earthworks.2

If anyone local knows where “Gill-up rudes” might have been, please leave a message! The mystery of “Glll-up rudes” has been solved — see below!

As a side note, almost exactly a year later, Charles Brook organised a large tea party for the navvies working on the line which ended with a magic lantern show presented by J.W. Carlile.


Update: 25 May 2015

When I posted this, I couldn’t find any references anywhere to the elusive “Gill-up Rudes” where the ceremony took place. I suspect now this is because the location retained its name to the locals but, over the years, the exact spelling was forgotten.

Joseph Hughes’ 1866 book, The History of the Township of Meltham, contains a description of the Meltham boundary:

First. The East end of one close called Bentylee and from the said Bentylee following the water to Gylloproyd Dyke, and from the said Gylloproyd Dyke unto the East end of old Helme, and from the said East end of old Helme unto Wykenforth ford…

From that, and an 1892 map of the area which shows the boundary line, the boundary description begins near Bent Ley Mills and goes anticlockwise up to Helme. Between those two particular locations is the stream which flows over Folly Dolly Falls and then runs into Hall Dyke, so it would seem that Gylloproyd Dyke is the old (and long forgotten) name for that stream.

Therefore, the elusive location of the sod cutting ceremony — and also that of the planned spur to Meltham Mills — was somewhere near to Folly Dolly Falls. That also happens to be near to where Meltham Mills Halt (also known as Spink Station) was later built when the spur was abandoned.

As for the name, “Gyllop” is sometimes used in old texts to mean “gallop”, and a “royd” is a cleared area of ground. So, perhaps this was once an area made suitable for galloping on horseback?

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.

Yorkshire Post (17/Jun/1950) – Reopened for a Day

REOPENED FOR A DAY.

Over 800 Colne Valley and Meltham school-children went on a day trip to London yesterday. For the occasion Meltham Station,. which was closed for passenger transport over a year ago, was reopened. Two trains took the party to the capital.