The Netherton Gas Company

This is a follow-on blog post from the previous one about the Netherton lamp post.

11138004_496885053796844_1033697703_n

Wrigley Mills, Netherton, also known as Cocking Steps Mill, had had its own gas supply as early as the 1850s and discussions had begun by December 1852 amongst some of the wealthier inhabitants of Netherton with Messrs. John Wrigley & Sons for the mill to share its supply with the village.1 Unlike natural gas today, the mill would have most likely created its own gas supply by burning coal.

The intention was to form a company, issue shares and then use the money to lay mains from the mill up to the village. The gas would then be sold for a higher price to end customers than the company was paying the Wrigleys in order to recoup the costs and to hopefully pay an annual dividend.

The shareholders met again on the evening of 14 March 1853 to discuss the planned route of the gas main up the hill to the village.2 At a meeting a week later at the Rose and Crown Inn, they examined several estimates for the laying of the pipes and they selected that of Mr. Boothroyd, a plumber of glazier of Lockwood.

This was presumably 29-year-old Joseph Boothroyd (born Fartown) of Buxton Road, Lockwood, listed in the 1851 Census as a “master plumber and glazier employing 2 labourers”. He had married Elizabeth Thompson on 14 December 1845 at the parish church in Huddersfield and they had at least 7 children.

The work was scheduled to be completed by 1 September, which was a significant date, as the shareholders had already agreed the supply terms with the mill. From the first day of September until the very last day of April, the Wrigleys would supply gas to the village at a cost 4s. 3d. per thousand cubic feet.

By September 1853, the Huddersfield Chronicle was able to report:3

The Gas Works.

These works have now been completed, and pnt into operation, and the inhabitants of Netherton are rejoicing in the light which has been happily shed upon them. The gas is of good quality, and most, if not all, the principal innkeepers, grocers, and other public dealers, as well as many principal families have gas in their rooms, and have their burning apparatus in the first style of the day. We are informed that a subscription is on foot to have one or more gas lamps in the streets for the use of the public.

A further report appeared in the Huddersfield Chronicle (12/Nov/1853):

The Gas Company.

The public-spirited gentlemen in this little village have now enlightened the place outwardly as well as inwardly. Gas lamps are being put up at the corners of the streets, in front of some of the inns and the larger shops, and again at the entrance gates to gentlemen’s houses. Thus the inhabitants will have no difficulty in going to any part of the village in the night time, and many accidents will be thereby prevented.

The first year evidently went well, as the Chronicle (16/Sep/1854) reported gave an update the following year:

Gas Company.

The first annual meeting of the Netherton gas company was held on Wednesday night, at the Rose and Crown Inn, and the result of the year has richly rewarded the shareholders, and shows that their enterprising spirit has been appreciated. James Wrigley, Esq., occupied the chair, sad the report of the secretary, Mr. Samuel Pontefract, showed that the affairs of the company are in a very prosperous position. In the first year’s operations of such an undertakings the expenditure was, of course, heavier than may be anticipated in future years. Near ten per cent interest was declared, and the shareholders were paid seven and a half per cent on their shares, and the residue was left to meet future incidental expenses. The report gave great satisfaction, and after a vote of thanks to the worthy chairman the meeting closed.

This success caused other villages to consider setting up a similar scheme, and the Chronicle (04/Nov/1854) reported that a second meeting had taken place at the Town Hall in Honley, chaired by Mr. Joseph Midwood, for the purpose of “forming a gas company”.

The gas supply for Huddersfield was supplied the town’s Gas Works and, in November 1860, it was announced that the company was to be dissolved in order to form a new company (the Huddersfield Gas Company) which would supply the town centre as well as many of the outlying districts.

In mid-June 1884, the Netherton Gas Company found themselves on the wrong side of the law when Sergeant Shuttleworth and Police Constable Chapman, who were patrolling Netherton at night, nearly fell into a trench that had been dug by the side of the road by Joseph Taylor for the purposes of laying new gas pipes. Taylor had requested that the company provide a warning light but “was told that there was no necessity for one”. Hopefully the company covered Taylor’s fine of £1 and 6s. 6d. costs!

At some point, a separate South Crosland Gas Company was established, although this seems to have been an offshoot of the Netherton Gas Company.

advertisement from the Huddersfield Chronicle (19/Nov/1887)
advertisement from the Huddersfield Chronicle (19/Nov/1887)

Before long, most of the villages surrounding Huddersfield had their own gas supply companies, which led to a wide variation in prices being charged. The supplies could also be temperamental and in December 1872, the supply to Meltham was cut off, leaving the village in darkness. Several of the local mills were running overtime shifts that evening but they had to be closed and the staff sent home in the dark.4

Further newspaper references to the Netherton Gas Company are summarised below and are from the Huddersfield Chronicle unless specified (the dates given are those of the article):

  • 10/Mar/1893 — At a meeting of the South Crosland Local Board, assurances were given that the gas company would, in future, ensure that the Board’s surveyor was notified in advance of any road works. It was also noted that the company was unable to reduce the price of the gas used for public lamps in the village.
  • 24/Jun/1893 — A public meeting was held at the Netherton Liberal Club to consider “the advisability of asking the Huddersfield Corporation to bring the gas to Netherton”, as the price of the gas supplied by the Netherton Gas Company was nearly double that paid by those in Huddersfield. A small committee was elected to progress this matter.
  • 21/Jul/1893 — A meeting was held by the ratepayers of South Crosland and Netherton at the Oddfellows’ Hall in Netherton to discuss the pricing of the gas supply. The price of gas in neighbouring areas was read out: 2s. 9d. in Huddersfield, 3s. 4d. in Meltham, 3s. 9d. in Honley, Slaithwaite and Linthwaite, 5s. 10d. in Netherton and 6s. 6d. in South Crosland. John Radcliffe5, of the Netherton Gas Company, attended and stated that the rumours of the company’s profit margins were much exaggerated and had never been more than 10 percent per annum. The meeting ended with the proposition (which was carried by a large majority) that “we request the Huddersfield Corporation to treat with the Netherton Gas Company, with a view to the purchase of their plant”.
  • 21/Dec/1893 — The Huddersfield County Borough Council meeting discussed a letter sent by the Netherton Gas Company asking if the Corporation would be willing to “take over the pipes and apparatus put down by the company”. The Corporation agreed that it would be willing to “meet the company in a fair and amicable spirit, and to take over such of the pipes and apparatus as might be found to be of use” to them.
  • 08/Mar/1894 — The South Crosland Local Board reported that the Huddersfield Corporation Gasworks had written to the Board to inform them that they would be digging up the road to inspect the gas mains which belonged to the Netherton Gas Company and that they would also be laying new gas mains to the area.
  • 17/May/1894 — Following the inspection of the Netherton Gas Company’s mains, it was reported to the Huddersfield County Borough Council that leaks were found that would amount to around 500,000 feet per annum and they entire mains would need to be dug up to locate and repair the leaks.
  • 19/Jul/1894 — The Huddersfield County Borough Council considered a request by the Netherton Gas Company that they purchase the existing mains for £300. It was agreed to offer the company £266 instead.
  • 16/Aug/1894 — It was reported that provisional terms had been agreed for the takeover of the Netherton Gas Company’s mains.
  • Leeds Times (22/Sep/1894) — At the meeting of the Huddersfield County Borough Council it was reported that the mains had been purchased for £266 and the Huddersfield Gas Works was now supplying the area. Over 200 applications for the new gas supply had been received from the “inhabitants of Netherton”.

And with that, the 41 year history of the Netherton Gas Company came to an end!

150 Years Ago: Huddersfield Chronicle (01/Jul/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

1865.07.01 advert 1

1865.07.01 advert 2

1865.07.01 advert 3

Selections of Wit and Humour

Why was Bonaparte’s horse like his master? — Because he had a martial neigh (Marshall Ney).

Education

1865.07.01 advert 4

Local News

HIGH PRICE OF MEAT.

Meeting at Crosland Moor.

In consequence of the high price of butcher’s meat, a meeting of working men was held in the schoolroom, Crosland Moor, on Monday night last — about 300 persons being present — to devise means to obtain a reduction in the price of that article of food. Timothy Bates occupied the chair. Resolutions were adopted to abstain from the use of butcher’s meat for one month, and unless the price be then lowered, another meeting should be convened to consider what further steps should be taken in the matter.

Magistrates in Petty Sessions

CARD-PLAYING ON FOOTPATHS.

Levi Crompton, Mark Gledhill, and Ephraim Gledhill, weavers, Longwood, were summoned for obstructing a footpath. Police Constable Wilson stated that he had received frequent complaints of men and boys playing cards and otherwise gambling on footpaths in the fields. About a quarter past seven o’clock, on Saturday evening, he saw the defendants in a footpath near Leach’s, at Longwood. The officer concealed himself behind a wall, and from his hiding-place espied Mark and Ephraim Gledhill playing at cards. Crompton stood up, looked about to see if there was any one coming, and then sat down again. Levi said, “I’ll bet on the game.” Wilson, after satisfying himself, presented himself to the defendants, and seized one of them (Ephraim), who had the cards in his hand. The defendants sat near a style, and obstructed the footpath. The defence was that no money was played for, and that the footpath was not obstructed. The officer said he had previously cautioned the men, who were fined 2s. 6d. and costs each ; in all, 10s. 6d.

AUDACIOUS PROCEEDINGS AT THE UNICORN INN.

John Ainley, a notorious character, who answers to the alias of “Ripponden Jack,” had been summoned under the following circumstances :— Mr. Superintendent Hannan said the complainant in this case was Ann Senior, occupier of the Unicorn, a licensed house, at Castlegate. Ainley and other notorieties had been accustomed to frequent the complainant’s house, create disturbances, and assault and rob people. When the beerhouses closed, many persons resorted to the Unicorn, and therefore it was important to the complainant that an end should be made of such unruly behaviour. If the case was proved he should ask their worships to inflict a penalty that would deter the defendant and his associates from continuing their disgraceful proceedings. Mrs. Senior stated that between eleven and twelve o’clock on the previous Tuesday evening the defendant and others, who were very much “beerified,” came into her house and demanded a quantity of drink. She refrained from filling any ale for them, and Ainley threatened to turn out the lights. They were ordered to quit the premises, but the defendant rejoined that he would go when he pleased. Ainley pushed her (complainant) about a good deal, and was taken out of the house by a companion named Stringer. Defendant was fined 10s. and expenses ; altogether £1, or the option of 21 days in gaol.

A FILTHY TONGUE.

William Moore, a labourer from Birchincliffe, Lindley, was summoned for using abusive and obscene language to Elizabeth Hey, of the Walker’s Arms Inn, of that place. The defendant pleaded guilty. The language used was foul and filthy in the extreme, and having previously been guilty of similar indecencies, he was fined 10s. and l1s. expenses, or the alternative of a month to prison.

District Intelligence

FARNLEY TYAS — Fatal Accident

Yesterday (Friday evening week) the inhabitants of Farnley Tyas were thrown into a state of excitement by the report that Mr. John Kaye, of the Golden Cock Inn, of that village, had met with a severe accident. On enquiries being made the facts proved to be as follow :— Mr. Kaye, who was a farmer as well as innkeeper, was on Friday afternoon proceeding to his field with a cart load of sheep nets and stakes, accompanied by his servant boy Wigglesworth. Mr. Kaye was sitting on the top of the loaded cart, and while proceeding down Field Lane, to the field, the horse took fright Mr. Kaye was thrown backward off the cart, and fell on to a heap of small stones. The boy Wigglesworth ran for assistance, and the injured man was removed home where Mr. Dyson, surgeon, of Almondbury was promptly in attendance but all efforts were in vain, and Mr. Kaye died about half-past twelve o’clock on Saturday noon. Deceased was 66 years of age and highly respected, not only by the villagers but by all who knew him. He was a man of whom it might truly be said, few in any sphere have passed through life more respected and esteemed for his sterling qualities as a master, a husband, parent, and friend. Mr. Kaye, like most of the tenantry on the Farnley estate, was descended from an ancient family, who from generation to generation had lived upon the same farm, borne the same name, and been equally respected, from the time of the Saxons. Mr. Kaye was a man of unostentatious manners, kind disposition, and warm attachment. In his business as a publican he was remarkable. In his house no tippling was ever allowed, and if a man was the worse for liquor, no persuasion could induce him to supply more. Equally inflexible was he where he saw a man wishful to spend money that ought to be taken to his family. One pint, and one only, would he suffer such an one to have in his house. This, and his other qualities had endeared him to the whole village, and his loss will not soon be forgotten.

HONLEY — Female Club Feast.

On Monday afternoon, the ladies of the “Lily of the Valley” Lodge of Ancient Royal Shepherdesses had their annual tea at the Coach and Horses Inn, Honley. The lodge consists of upwards of 100 females, 82 of whom sat down to tea, which Mrs. Walker, knowing the tastes of the ladies, took care to make of the right sort. Besides a good supply of “Jamaica,” they had an abundance of “Shem, Ham, and Japheth,” in the shape of ham sandwiches, which were enjoyed with much zest. The time was danced merrily away.

NETHERTON — Funeral of a Musician.

On Wednesday last hundreds of persons assembled to witness the funeral obsequies of Godfrey Berry, a cloth miller for Messrs. Crowther, of Lockwood, but who resided with his wife and family at the Big Valley. The deceased was only 46 years of age, was inordinately fond of music, and highly respected by all who gained his acquaintance. The deceased originally sprang from Marsden, where his father was greatly esteemed for his love of the divine art. The custom of Old Berry was, immediately after dinner, to gather the whole of his children round the table, and there give them a lesson in music. This was repeated in the evening, till the old man could at any time produce an excellent concert among his own family. His son Godfrey followed in the steps of his father, and being a good instrumentalist himself — being able to perform upon many different instruments — taught all his family music in the same way he had himself been taught. Berry, who had been ill some time, died on Sunday evening last. His musical friends assembled on Wednesday last to pay a last tribute of respect to his memory. The members of the Meltham and Netherton bands preceded the mournful cortège from the house of the deceased to the grave, at Crosland Churchyard, playing effectively the Dead March ; and as the procession passed through the village the inhabitants turned out to take a last farewell of one they esteemed.

MARSH — Popular Indignation.

On Monday evening last Marsh was the scene of great excitement consequent upon an attempted piece of lynch law, known as riding the “stang.” The circumstances giving rise to this popular expression of indignation appear to be as follows. Some two years ago a pensioner named Henry Iredale took up his residence in Cross Lane, Marsh, and lived, to all appearance, as a single man. About twelve months since a man known as “Lanky Ben” died leaving a widow and several children. Our hero of the army soon became familiar with the widow and thus matters went on till some weeks since when the real wife of the pensioner — whom it seems he had left in her native Wiltshire — put in an appearance, to the great discomfiture of the soldier. His treatment of his lawful partner and the scandal thus brought on Marsh aroused the indignation of the populace who resolved on the summary punishment of the delinquents by burning him and his cara sposa in effigy. Accordingly figures were prepared; one representing a soldier — scarlet coat, sergeant’s stripes, cap, boots, and all complete ; the other, a female in full dress ; and with these, preceded by the Lindley brass band, accompanied by nearly 2,000 people, they commenced parading the village about nine o’clock on Monday night. They, however, had not proceeded far before they were intercepted by Police Sergeant Sedgwick, Police Constable Stansfield, and Police Constable Hawksby, who induced the parties to give up the figures, which they did with great reluctance. These were deposited for security in the stable of the Junction Inn, from whence the mob determined to take them, which becoming known to the police, they managed to escape with them from the back of the stable over the fields towards Paddock. They were, however, observed by an old woman, who screamed out at the top of her voice, “T’ police are staleing ’em.” At this hundreds started in pursuit, and succeeded in recapturing the female from Sedgwick, which they afterwards burnt in front of Iredale’s house, in Cross Lane. Stansfield was more fortunate, as he escaped with his capture, with the loss of its head only. The crowd continued to pace about the place, making noisy demonstrations, the band continuing playing at intervals in front of the Marsh House Inn till long after midnight, when the people gradually dispersed, many, however, remaining till after one o’clock in the morning. Fearing a repetition of the turbulence on Tuesday night, a large posse of police were stationed in the locality to prevent anything of the kind, but nothing more was attempted.

Athletic Festival

The members of the Huddersfield Athletic Club celebrated their first annual festival on Saturday afternoon, when they had a “field day” in the Rifle Ground, Trinity-street. An out-door spectacle to be successful must be attended with auspicious weather. With the exception of a gentle gale, Saturday was as beautiful and as delightful a day as the lovers and patrons of open air sports could well wish; and in this respect the athletic festival may be accounted a singularly happy and prosperous event. The elete were largely represented ; and there was a goodly coterie of ladies, whose graceful forms and dashing garments imbued the scene with an aspect of gaiety, and splendour.

WALKING MATCH (TWO MILES).

In which, out of eleven who had entered, three members competed, namely, T. Beardsall, W.N. Haigh, and A.J. Loseby. Much excitement was elicited by this feat of pedestrianism, and Beardsall, whose style of walking was deservedly admired, was greatly applauded as he outstepped his opponents. He maintained the lead throughout, and won easily. Haigh kept ahead of Loseby and came in a good second. The time occupied by the contest was 19 minutes 35 seconds. The distance, however, could have been accomplished more speedily but for the uneven condition of the course.

THROWING THE HAMMER.

The 14lbs. hammer was used pretty freely. Ten entered, only seven competed ; but there was some good throwing. The triumph remained between J. Dow and Wm. Crowther, the latter of whom finished by throwing 86 feet, 2 ft. less than the former.

150 YARDS FLAT RACE.

Seven of the nine who had-entered ran. The race which was somewhat exciting, was completed in 17 seconds by C.W. Beardsall, with F.J. Stewart at his heels, and the rest of the pedestrians landing in close proximity to each other.

SINGLE VAULTING.

Five competitors (nine entered) participated in the single vaulting. F.A. Pilling was most successful ; M.H. Bradley being next. Height 6 feet 1 inch.

HURDLE RACE.

This race, over seven hurdles and a water jump 12 feet wide, fronted by a hurdle 18 inches high, distance 200 yards, brought 13 of the 29 who had entered to the post. The contest created the greatest amusement, and the spectators — those who had not quitted the field — were convulsed with laughter as the exhausted competitors were immersed in the water, which was cleared only by H. Jones, who was heartily applauded as he alighted on the opposite embankment. The race was run in heats, the first of which was won by B. Beardsall in 1 minute 20 seconds ; M. Bradley being second. The second heat was accomplished in 1 minute 25 seconds ; and the deciding heat, in the same time, was won by A. Bradley, D.K. Rhodes being the second.

CONSOLATION SCRAMBLE.

The unsuccessful competitors’ “consolation scramble,” 100 yards, was well contested, and ultimately won by C. Atkinson, J. Brooke coming in for the bronze medal.

THROWING THE CRICKET BALL

Throwing the cricket ball was the last act in the athletic performance ; and there were eight entries. Many persons witnessed the throwing, and the successful feat was achieved by J.E. Jones; B. Crowther being entitled to the second prize. The longest distance the ball was thrown was about eighty yards, as stepped by several gentlemen who took an interest in the competition.

The Handsome Pillar Lamp of Netherton

In an earlier blog post, I wondered if the “handsome pillar lamp” on Moor Lane in Netherton was the one which is due to celebrate its 150th birthday this year, and I’m now able to answer my own question — it is!

nethertonlamp

Just to recap, an article in the Huddersfield Chronicle (03/Jun/1865) first mentioned the pillar lamp:

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.

It’s likely the lamp was actually erected a few months later, as the next mention of it appears in the Huddersfield Chronicle on 23 September:

Light! Light!

Netherton will now no longer be kept in total darkness during the long winter nights, especially in the centre of the village. In the middle of the cross, or what would be termed the market place, has been erected a handsome and ornamental pillar lamp-post, surmounted by a large hexagonal-shaped lamp which, when lighted, throws its rays a long distance on three roads, viz.: down the hill towards the Big Valley, up the road to Meltham, and along the road leading to Wrigley Mill. Besides this, there are two lamps on the Wrigley Mill Road, and one at the Rose and Crown Inn. The inhabitants have already experienced much benefit by having light (gas) thrown upon their ways.

The current location of the pillar lamp is away from the main road, but helpfully this photograph taken in June 1945 for the Huddersfield Examiner shows the original location. The gentleman crossing the road is walking towards the Post Office.

NethertonJune1945

The same junction today looks very different, as the buildings (including the Post Office) are long gone and the newer Netherton Surgery is in their place:

According to Images of Huddersfield (1994) by Isobel Schofield, the pillar lamp was moved to its current location after being hit by a lorry and it can now by found on Moor Lane, opposite the junction with Netherton Fold:

In a future blog post, we’ll look at the up and downs of the Netherton Gas Company, who had been lighting the village since the autumn of 1853.

advertisement from the Huddersfield Chronicle (19/Nov/1887)
advertisement from the Huddersfield Chronicle (19/Nov/1887)

The Big Valley Hotel

Standing on Meltham Road at the bottom of the hill running down from Netherton to the former Big Valley Garage is a large property which, until very recently, look rather dishevelled and unloved.

bigvalley

This photograph from the Kirklees Image Archive from around 1910 shows the same building on the far right:

bigvalley3

For over 100 years, this was a public house and an occasional hotel, most commonly known as the Big Valley Hotel.

The earliest newspaper references I could find are from the early 1840s, when two names are given for the building — the “Dean Wood Beer House” and the “Odd Fellows’ Arms”. The names appear in public house auction listings published in the Huddersfield Chronicle (April 1843) and Leeds Mercury (May 1843) respectively, and both name the location as Big Valley, South Crosland. The latter identifies Hannah Wilson as the current occupier and the former links the property to the Lockwood Brewery.

Hannah appears again in August 1848 when local newspapers name her in the Brewster Sessions applying for a new license for “the Big Valley, South Crosland”.1 Hannah, who was born around 1797 in Leeds, is listed in the 1851 Census as a widowed licensed victualler at Big Valley.2

On the 1854 map of the area, the building is marked as the “Odd Fellows’ Arms” public house. An article in the Huddersfield Chronicle (11/Dec/1852) identifies the owner of the property as Mr. James Walker and implies that he was linked to the “Grand Order of the Modern Druids, Honley and Huddersfield District”.3 There is some evidence that the pub was also known as the “Walker’s Arms” during Walker’s tenancy.4

bigvalley1854

A couple of years later, the Chornicle reported that the licence for the Odd Fellows’ Arms was transferred from James Walker to John Crowther of Lindley on 4 October 1856.

By 1857, it had been renamed the “Big Valley Hotel” — presumably a reflection that the pub now offered lodgings — and a magistrates court report in the Chronicle named Crowther as the landlord. The report implied that Crowther was regularly in front of the magistrates and in August 1857, having already been fined five times during the past year, his licence was not renewed.

By late 1859, Jesse Kaye had become the landlord. In late August, Kaye’s licence was initially not renewed as Superintendent Heaton gave evidence before the Brewster Sessions that whenever police officers visited the premises, Kaye “abused them, and heaped all manner of vile names upon [officials and] called them ‘a set of dastard thieves and scamps’.” The following month, the bench debated and, having heard that Kaye “had never been convicted of any offence”, decided to renew the Big Valley Hotel licence.

One noteworthy article from April 1865 (coincidentally the month when President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated) details the finding of “a large horse or cavalry pistol” in a “dilapidated state” whilst workmen were clearing an old hedge near Big Valley. The Chronicle described it as being in a “deeply corroded state, the whole of the stock and other woodwork completely rotted away, the lock and ramrod are rusted partially away, but the brass trigger guard, and the brass casing or socket that held the ramrods are in a perfect state of preservation.” The article ends by stating that the pistol was “now in the possession of Mr. Jesse Kaye, landlord of the [Big Valley Hotel], where large numbers of people have been to inspect it.” It was the opinion of many that this was one of the pistols used by the Luddites to murder mill owner William Horsfall in April 1812.

The pistol is mentioned again in an October 1871 article describing the exhibits on display at the “Fine Art and Industrial Exhibition” held at the Methodist New Connexion School at Paddock. Amongst the many dozens of weird and wonderful items loaned for display were two from Jesse — the sword of a swordfish and “the pistol that shot Mr. Horsfall during the Ludd Riots”.

It seems likely that Jesse remained the landlord at Big Valley for over 30 years until around 1890. He died in 1892. What happened to the pistol next remains a mystery!

bigvalley1892

An inquest held in October 1892 included a witness statement from Sarah Ann Harrison, wife of Thomas Harrison who was named as the landlord of the Big Valley Hotel. Although Sarah Ann died in 1908, Thomas is still listed at the Hotel in the 1911 Census.

The West Yorkshire Alehouse Licences provide details of when licences were granted for the premises:

  • 26.Aug/1879 — Jesse Kaye
  • 24/Aug/1897 — Thomas Harrison
  • 06/Dec/1921 — William Shaw
  • 03/Jun/1924 — Harold Farand
  • 05/Oct/1926 — Ada Wimpenny
  • 14/Feb/1928 — Walter Jackson
  • 07/Jun/1932 — Harry Heap
  • 07/Apr/1936 — Ernest Lockwood Nicholls

A photograph in the Kirklees Image Archive shows the building in the 1960s:

bigvalley4

At some point it became a residential property and local carpenter Joseph Hemingway lived there until recently — locals will surely remember the day in 2007 when a fire in his workshop behind the property led to Meltham Road being closed for 24 hours. Me? I managed to sleep through the sound of the fire engines that night!

The property was put up for auction in 2014 and, after selling for £142,000, has undergone what appears to be a full renovation. Hopefully a new chapter in the life of this local landmark is about to begin and, who knows, maybe the next owners of 221 Meltham Road might find the pistol used to kill William Horsfall over 200 years ago hidden somewhere in their house!

bigvalley2

At the time of posting this, the renovated property is on the market for £299,950 (view PDF).


Newspaper Articles

The following are a selection of newspaper articles mentioning the property or its landlords.

Huddersfield Chronicle (03/Jan/1857):

Magistrates in Petty Sessions

Guildhall, Saturday, December 27, 1856.
On the Bench : G. Armitage and W. Willans, Esqs.

Irregular Houses.

John Crowther, landlord of the Big Valley Inn, South Crosland, pleaded guilty to having his house open during the hours of divine service on the previous Sunday. Superintendent Heaton visited the house on Sunday morning, and found five persons there drinking and smoking — some in working clothes, apparently neighbours. The defendant was fined 5s., and expenses 5s. 6d.

Huddersfield Chronicle (07/February/1857):

Magistrates in Petty Sessions

Guildhall, Saturday, January 31, 1857.
On the Bench : G. Armitage, J. Haigh, and W. Willans, Esqs.

Irregular Houses.

John Crowther, of the Big Valley beerhouse, pleaded guilty to having his house open after twelve o’clock on Saturday night. Sergeant Sedgwick entered the house at a quarter to two o’clock on Sunday morning, and found four young men in the house, all drunk, with a pitcher of beer and a glass on the table before them. The defendant said two of the young men were going to America. He turned them out at the proper time, but they got in again, and induced him to serve them with a pitcher of beer. Superintendent Heaton said it was but a few weeks since the defendant was before the bench for having his house open at improper hours. The bench fined the defendant £2, and expenses 8s.

Huddersfield Chronicle (25/Jul/1857):

Magistrates in Petty Sessions

Guildhall, Saturday, July 18, 1857.
On the Bench : G. Armitage and W. Willans, Esqs.

Contrasted Decisions. — Where Was the Justice?

John Crowther, Big Valley Hotel, Armitage Fold, was charged with having his house open on Sunday morning at Four o’clock. Mr. Learoyd appeared for the defendant. The case was this:—

A man went knocking at the door of the defendant from two till four o’clock, demanding admittance, which was refused. At last Mr. Crowther, who was unwell, sent down his boy to see to the man, and the boy opened the door and served the man with a glass of ate. Whilst the man was drinking the ale, County Police officer No. 205, who had previously been talking to the man, walked into the house, having, in fact, listened to the knocking, and instead of ordering the man away as a disturber, permitted him to go on until he gained admittance. The defendant was fined £1 and expenses.

The Huddersfield Chronicle (22/Aug/1857) noted that publicans licences were renewed with 4 exceptions, including, “John Crowther, Big Valley Hotel, South Crosland, he having been fined five times during the past year.”

Huddersfield Chronicle (02/Oct/1858):

Magistrates in Petty Sessions

Guildhall, Saturday, September 25, 1858.
On the Bench : G. Armitage and T. Mallinson, Esqs.

A Public House Row.

Joseph Kinder was charged with having assaulted John Gibson on the 20th September, at Lockwood. The two men were drinking in the Big Valley Hotel ; and the complainant, after taking as much refreshment as he deemed necessary, had just got outside the house when the defendant went up and gave him a push, but was prevented from doing more violence there by the landlord. The defendant and another man, however, followed the complainant, and when he was about half a mile from the Big Valley Hotel, the defendant pulled off his coat and challenged him to fight. Complainant refused the invitation, and the defendant then attacked him, kicked him, tore his coat, and got him on the ground, when Mr. Bentley Shaw came up with one of his workmen, and pulled the defendant away. The complainant pro-duced the coat, which was torn to rags, and be estimated the damage at the certainly moderate sum of 5s. The bench fined the defendant 5s., allowing 10s. to the complainant, making a total of £1 2s. ; and in default of payment committed him to the House of Correction for one month.

Huddersfield Chronicle (01/Oct/1859):

Magistrates in Petty Sessions

TUESDAY
On the Bench: G. Armitage, J.T. Fisher, T.P. Crosland, W. Willans, and J.T. Armitage.

The Adjourned Brewster Sessions.

[…] The next application for renewal was that of Mr. Jesse Kaye, of the Big Valley Hotel, South Crosland. Superintendent Heaton said this house was necessary for the accommodation of the public. The police could not visit the house without being insulted, but he wished the bench to deal leniently with the case. Mr. Learoyd, who supported the application for the renewal of the license, said that Kaye had never been convicted of any offence, and never complained of until be appeared at the Brewster Sessions to obtain a renewal of the license, when a charge was for the first time made against him, without his having received any summons or intimation, so that he might have been prepared to rebut it. The license was suspended without conviction, without complaint, and without offence. He held that under the circumstances the bench had not the power under the act of parliament to suspend the license ; for the act provided that the magistrates had only the opportunity of doing this when the party applying had been convicted three times in the course of two years. He asked the magistrates to treat their adjournment of the license as a nullity. Mr. Kaye had succeeded a bad tenant, and had kept the house so well that during two years there had been no complaint and no conviction against him. Superintendent Heaton offered to go into evidence as to the conduct of the defendant towards the police, but the magistrates declined to hear it, and retired to consult as to their decision. On their return, G. Armitage, Esq., the presiding magistrate, said:—

[..] “In the case of Jesse Kaye, the bench merely state what they consider to be their opinion of the law of the case. We contend if we license any public-house in a district, and the keeper infringes the law, and is brought two or three times, and convicted within three months of the licensing day, we can take the license away at once without waiting for the Brewster Sessions. After hearing all that has been done in this case, we shall renew Jesse Kaye’s license in this instance. In case of no conviction, we think the magistrates have the power to take away the license at the end of the year, and, in case of two or three convictions, to take away the license at any time.”

T.P. Croslaud, Esq., said : “This is scarcely the unanimous opinion of the bench. Mr. J.T. Armitage and myself think that, in case of complaint, the party should be summoned and convicted before the license can be suspended.”

Mr. J.C. Laycock, the magistrates’ clerk, then remarked, “Anybody who knows this bench know they will commit no act of tyranny.”

Huddersfield Chronicle (19/May/1860):

DISTRICT NEWS.

Subscription Cradle.

To the great credit of the good people at Armitage Bridge, they are a charitable community altogether, as will appear in the sequel. Some time since, a poor woman in that neighbourhood was confined of twin children, which afforded an opportunity for her neighbours to exercise that spirit of charity for which they are noted. A subscription was at once entered into, and a cradle with two heads was purchased, in which the two babes were to be rocked to sleep at the same time. A week or two ago, another woman had the good fortune to be also confined of twins. The good husband then went for the cradle with two heads, but he was told that it was only to be used by those who were subscribers. The poor man was not of the number. Here, then, was another opportunity for the neighbourhood to do good. Another subscription was made, and another cradle with two heads was purchased at a cost of £3. The cradle is on a greatly improved principle, and is a great favourite with the good housewives at a Armitage Bridge. When out of use, the cradle is to be deposited at the Big Valley Inn ; and this cradle with two heads is also only to be used by those who are subscribers. Of course the subscribers to one or other of the cradles with two heads include almost the whole community at Armitage Bridge, and a fear is now beginning to be felt by the good men that their better-halves will be more anxious to have two at a birth than one, in order that they may have the advantage of one or other of the cradles already provided.

Huddersfield Chronicle (27/Sep/1862):

Vegetable Show

On Monday last tbe first of an intended annual show of vegetables was held at the bouse of Mr. Jesse Kaye, tbe Big Valley Hotel, Netherton, where a very craditable display of excellent grown vegetables were placed on tbe tables. For the first prize — a large handsome copper kettle, given by the landlord — for a tray of vegetables there was a spirited competition, — no less than nine trays being exhibited. It waa won by Brook Lockwood, who has obtained three other kettles this season, for vegetable trays. The following other principal prizes were awarded. Second tray, John Senior. Lewis Lunn obtained first prizes in leeks, parsnips, white turnips, red onions, red potatoes, eschalots, cauliflowers, and dahlias. Brook Lockwood, first in celery, white onions, peas, and white round potatoes. George Stringer, first red cabbage, first scarlet runners. Benjamin France, first carrots. John Booth, first white kidney potatoes. The judges were Mr. Joseph Heys of Armitage Bridge House, and the gardener of Bentley Shaw Esq., and their awards gave general satisfaction.

Huddersfield Chronicle (16/Apr/1864):

NETHERTON

The Railway.

The works of the Huddersfield and Meltham line of railway have at this place progressed very favourably for the few days since its commencement. On Wednesday an unusual bustle was occasioned in the village by the removal of the first barrow of earth from the Netherton end of the Butternab tunnel. The line at this place crosses a stream of pure water, reserved to Mr. Tolson, dyer, of Armitage Fold. To prevent the fouling of this water has been a source of great anxiety to Mr. Tolson. The consequence has been that several interviews have taken place between his manager and the contractors for this part of the works, the result being extremely satisfactory. To cement the amicable feeling originated, Mr. John Worth, manager of the dye-works undertook to remove the first soil for the boring of the tunnel. This took place on Wednesday last in presence of a large number of spectators, who had been attracted there by the novelty of the occurrence, as well as the fineness of the day. On the occasion, Mr. Jesse Kaye, of the Big Valley Hotel, presented Mr. Worth with anew spade, with which he removed the soil like one accustomed to such work. This being accomplished, Mr. Worth and a large number of workmen adjourned to the above hotel, where refreshments were plentifully provided, and a merry evening was afterwards enjoyed by all who partook of the same.

Huddersfield Chronicle (23/Apr/1864):

NETHERTON

Large Duck Eggs.

On Sunday last two ducks belonging to Mr. Jesse Kaye, of the Big Valley Hotel, laid eggs of extraordinary size — one weighing 5oz. and the other 4¾oz.

Huddersfield Chronicle (07/May/1864):

Magistrates in Petty Sessions

TUESDAY
On the Bench : Lieut-Col. Crosland, S.W. Haigh, Josh. Hirst, and Joshua Moorhouse, Esqrs.

A Stormy Scene at the Big Valley Hotel.

Jesse Kaye, William Kaye, Lucy Kaye, and Margaret Sugden, the landlord and household of the Big Valley Hotel were charged with an assault upon Joseph Taylor, a coal merchant, residing at Netherton. Mr. Learoyd supported the charge ; Mr. J.I. Freeman defended. The case was cumbered with a great deal of evidence on both sides. On Tuesday night the complainant, Taylor, who appears to be regarded at the Inn in question as a man of quarrelsome disposition, and between whom and the landlord enmity has existed for a length of time past, introduced himself amongst the company at the Big Valley Hotel, and commenced tossing for “glasses round.” In course of time the old enmity between Taylor and the landlord was revived, and he was ordered to leave the house. He declined to do so, and the landlord then resorted to violence in putting out his unwelcome guest. The other defendants were also alleged to have assisted more or less in the unenviable task. Complainant, on the whole, appeared to have been roughly handled, as he presented an extensively discoloured eye, and produced a coat which had been ripped into ribbons. He claimed the value of the coat under a special charge for damages. The magistrates considered that Jesse Kaye, the landlord, had been guilty of a very gross assault, and fined him £2 and expenses, and 2s. 6d. for the damage done to the coat — total £3 16s. They presumed that the other defendants — if they assisted in the assault — were acting under the landlord’s directions, and consequently dismissed the charges against them.

Huddersfield Chronicle (13/Aug/1864):

Local News

Accident to a Boy.

On Wednesday afternoon, an accident occurred to a boy named Kaye, whose parents reside in the Big Valley, Netherton. The lad is an apprentice with Mr. R. Haigh, mechanic, Folly Hall. On Wednesday he was sent in company with a younger boy to the foundry for some castings belonging to a tearing machine. When returning with about 13 cwt. of them in the hand cart, the shaft was jolted out of his hands and he fell to the ground the castings falling on him out of the cart. He was much bruised and shaken, but fortunately no bones were broken.

Huddersfield Chronicle (08/Oct/1864):

NETHERTON

Dastardly Outrage.

On Thursday evening week a brutal outrage was committed upon a woman named Scott, in this neighbourhood. The woman’s husband, Tom Scott, a pie hawker, lives in Huddersfield, and has been ill a long time. On the above day, Mrs. Scott went to her brother-in-law’s, who is a butcher, at Meltham, to obtain some preserves and other niceties for her sick husband. Having obtained them, she returned home. Upon arriving at a lonely part of the road known as Scotcher Dyke, a man suddenly jumped from Allheys Wood, seized her by the throat, and demanded her money. The poor woman had nothing to give, and in sheer brutality he throttled her till she was nearly insensible, such being his grip that he took a piece of flesh from her chin with his nails. Fortunately someone was heard approaching from the direction of Huddersfield, and the cowardly ruffian made off down the wood. The woman walked on as well as she was able till she met Police Constable Yates, who, finding her in an exhausted state, took her to the Big Valley Hotel, where brandy and other restoratives were administered, and she was forwarded to her home at Huddersfield. The ruffian who attacked her has not since been heard of.

Huddersfield Chronicle (29/Apr/1865):

NETHERTON.

A Relic of Luddism.

The murder of Mr. Horsfall during the reign of terror in this district, consequent on the Luddite disturbance in 1811 and 1812, will not soon be forgotten, and many yet living will remember the circumstances related at the time of the murder, and the search then and afterwards made for the weapons used without discovering them. At that time it was positively asserted that the murderous weapon had been buried somewhere in the neighbourhood of Armitage Bridge, or Netherton Wood. A circumstance transpired during the latter part of last week, which tends greatly to clear up this portion of the dark transaction. Mr. G.S. Tolson, manufacturer, of Dalton, has a dyehouse at Armitage, not far from the bottom of the “Big Valley,” and has lately purchased that estate. A number of men were last week engaged in removing an old quickset hedge, in order to supplant it with a strong fence wall, and while thus engaged, they discovered the remains of a large horse or cavalry pistol buried deep under the hedge. From the dilapidated state in which it was found, there is not the least doubt but it has lain there for more than half a century. On its becoming known that such a weapon was discovered, many circumstances were related tending to confirm the supposition that this was the very instrument by which the murder was committed, as it is well known the murderers took that direction from Crosland Moor in their way to Honley. Among these circumstances, the following was recollected. An old Waterloo veteran, now 73 years of age, named Bob Wood, some five years ago, while conversing in the Big Valley Hotel with the landlord and John Worth, foreman for Mr. Tolson, declared he knew for a positive fact that the identical pistol with which Mr. Horsfall was shot was buried under the hedge at Armitage, but he could not point out the exact spot. Since the fatal occurrence — now nearly 53 years — this instrument of death has lain where it was found till last week. It is in a deeply corroded state, the whole of the stock and other woodwork completely rotted away, the lock and ramrod are rusted partially away, but the brass trigger guard, and the brass casing or socket that held the ramrods are in a perfect state of preservation. It is now in the possession of Mr. Jesse Kaye, landlord of the above hotel, where large numbers of people have been to inspect it.

Rejoicing.

For a long time past the inhabitants of the Big Valley have been using their utmost endeavours to obtain gas mains laid from Messrs. John Brooke and Sons’ works at Armitage Bridge to the top of the hill in order to obtain a supply to their houses. This great desideratum has at length been accomplished, mainly by a private subscription to defray the cost of mains, &c., the principal subscribers being Bentley Shaw, Esq., Messrs. Milnes, Jesse Kaye, and others. On Saturday evening last the Netherton Brass Band met at the Big Valley Hotel and gave a concert of instrumental music in honour of the event, which was well attended.

Huddersfield Chronicle (31/Mar/1866)

NETHERTON

EXTRAORDINARY DUCK EGG.

On Tuesday morning a duck of the common breed, belonging to Mr. Jesse Kaye, of the Big Valley Hotel, laid an extraordinary egg, which measures nine inches round the long way, and seven inches in diameter, and weighs over five ounces.

THE “TRIPLED-HEADED CRADLE.”

About two years since a “triple-headed cradle,” purchased by subscription at the Big Valley, was presented to a working man named Alfred Berry, of Meltham, whose wife had been confined of three boys. A few days ago Mr. Jesse Kaye received the following letter from Berry:— “Meltham. Dear Friend, I am very sorry to inform you we have lost our little ones ; they have died in the measles. I shall send the cradle down to your house in a few days, and I thank you and your friends for the sympathy you have shown towards us.” It seems the children lived to the age of two years and five months, the dates of their deaths being January 13th, January 28th, and February 1st of the present year.

In April 1871, the question of the current whereabouts of the “triple-headed cradle” came up in an article about the birth of triplets in Meltham Mills, to John Marshall.

Huddersfield Chronicle (08/Jun/1867):

SOUTH CROSLAND

An Uncouth Customer.

Thomas Patrick Carney, a navvy, was summoned to appear before the magistrates at the Petty Sessions, on Thursday, on a charge of assaulting Mr. Jesse Kaye, proprietor of the Big Valley Hotel, South Crosland. Last Monday afternoon the defendant and three other men called at the hotel, and were served with a quart of beer. They called for another quart, and Carney asked the complainant to give him credit. He replied that he must be paid for the beer, and one of the party threw down some silver in payment. When the complainant was taking it up. the defendant wanted him to return it to the party, and, because he would not do so, kicked him in the abdomen ; and lie had been suffering ever since from the effects of the kick. The defendant, who, Police Constable Yates stated, had absconded, was fined in the of 10s. and expenses — total 23s. ; in default of payment, 14 days in the House of Correction.

Huddersfield Chronicle (04/Jan/1868):

NETHERTON.

Large Pullet Egg.

On Wednesday afternoon a pullet, in the possession of Mr. Kaye, of the Big Valley Hotel — only eight months old — laid an extraordinary egg, which measured seven inches by six inches, and weighed over 3¼ ounces.

Lost, Lost.

At an early hour on Wednesday morning the inhabitants of the Big Valley were alarmed by hearing a man shouting out, “Lost, lost,” in most pitiful accents. On some of them opening their bedroom windows to ascertain the cause, it was found that one of the musicians, who had been at the Lockwood concert, was returning home, when, from the darkness of the night, and the quantity of “Timmy’s best” imbibed, he became bewildered. Being directed in the right way, he went home rejoicing.

Huddersfield Chronicle (29/Aug/1868):

SOUTH CROSLAND

Breaking Windows at the Big Valley Hotel.

On Thursday, at the Huddersfield Police Court, Geo. Hy. Levi Lumb, delver, Black Moor Foot, was charged with breaking windows at the house of Mr. Jesse Kaye, landlord of the Big Valley Hotel. The complainant stated that, on the day mentioned in the precept, the defendant came into his house, and wanted something to drink. The defendant was labouring under the influence of drink, and he refused to supply him with anything. He (complainant) took hold of him, and he went very peaceably out. The defendant, who did not appear, was fined 2s. 6d., damages 2s. 6d., and costs (total 18s.)

Huddersfield Chronicle (24/Oct/1868):

NETHERTON.

Cricketers Supper.

The annual batting-off supper of the Armitage Bridge Cricket Club took place at the house of Mr. Jesse Kaye, the Big Valley Hotel, on Saturday last, when upwards of 40 of the members and their friends partook of a first-rate spread. Mr. Lewis Lunn occupied the chair. The report of the year’s proceedings was read and adopted, and a very pleasant evening was afterwards enjoyed.

Huddersfield Chronicle (30/Jan/1869):

NETHERTON.

Supper of Employees.

The cloth millers to the number of thirty, employed by the firm of Messrs, John Brooke and Sons, Armitage Bridge, partook of supper together on Saturday night, at the house of Jesse Kaye, the Big Valley Hotel. The after proceedings were conducted by Mr. Wm. Scaife, who occupied the chair, and the evening was spent with singing, reciting, and other recreations.

Huddersfield Chronicle (24/Sep/1870):

SOUTH CROSLAND.

Fatality in a Quarry.

Yesterday morning a fatality occurred, in Robinson Wood delf, near the Big Valley, to Joseph Bangham, a delver, residing on Manchester Road, Huddersfield. It seems the deceased was undermining a portion of rock, when, without any warning, a large piece of rock fell, knocked him down, and killed him almost instantly. A fellow workman, named Swallow, ran to his assistance, as did also a teamer, named Fred Todd. As soon as possible after the accident the deceased was extricated, and the body conveyed to the Big Valley Hotel, to await an inquest.

…at the subsequent inquest, it was heard that Bangham had likely been raising his pickaxe above his head when rock fell, causing the pick to be “driven into his head for some inches, entering just below the right eye”. A verdict of accidental death was recorded.

Huddersfield Chronicle (22/Apr/1871):

Huddersfield County Court.

An Alleged Cigar Transaction.

Jesse Kaye, of the Big Valley Hotel, Netherton, was sued by Henry South-worth, tea dealer, &c., of Huddersfield, to recover the sum of £6 4s. 11d., balance of amount for cigars sold. Mr, John Sykes defended. The evidence of the plaintiff went to show that he had had dealings with the defendant in the years from 1862 to 1865, both inclusive. The last transaction was about November of the latter year, alleging that at that time twelve boxes of cigars, amounting to about £5, were supplied to the defendant. — This transaction was utterly denied by the defendant and his wife, both of whom swore that they had never had a dozen boxes of cigars at their house at one time since they had kept the place. — The plaintiff declared he had taken the order himself, and had packed the goods, and that they were sent by the omnibus. The plaintiff not being in a position to prove the delivery of the goods to the defendant, the case was adjourned till the next court day, May 5th, to prove the delivery.

Huddersfield Chronicle (06/May/1871):

Huddersfield County Court.

A Cigar Transaction.

Southworth v. Kaye.

This was an action brought by Hy. Southworth, tea dealer, &c., Cross Church Street, to recover from Jesse Kaye, of the Big Valley Hotel, the sum of £14 8s. 5d., for cigars sold to the defendant. Mr. J.I. Freeman (for Mr. John Sykes) appeared for the defendant. The case had been partially heard on the previous court day, and was adjourned for the purpose of the plaintiff proving the delivery of a dozen boxes of cigars, which the defendant disputed having received. From the above sum certain payments had to be deducted, reducing the claim to £7 18s. 3d. The plaintiff called James M’Gowran, grocers assistant, who swore to having, in November, 1863, delivered a parcel containing twelve boxes of cigars to John Armitage, the driver of the Meltham omnibus, for delivery to the defendant. After the date named the defendant paid to plaintiff £1 on account. The defence was a denial of ever having received the cigars in question. — His Honour believed the goods had been ordered and received by the defendant, and gave a verdict for the plaintiff for the sum of £7 18s. 3d. and costs.

Huddersfield Chronicle (23/Aug/1873):

NETHERTON.

Club Termination at Netherton.

A small bat successful money club that had been held at the house of Mr. Jesse Kaye, the Big Valley Hotel, Netherton, was brought to a close on Friday week. The books and accounts were audited, and everything connected with the club was found satisfactory and certified by the committee. At the close of the audit, over 20 of the officials and friends of the club partook of a splendid supper provided by Mrs. Kaye, Music was afterwards introduced, and a pleasant evening was spent.

Huddersfield Chronicle (01/Jun/1881):

COUNTY POLICE COURT.

A Disorderly Man.

Albert Bates, logwood grinder, Netherton, was summoned for refusing to quit the Big Valley Hotel, Netherton, kept by Jesse Kaye, for assaulting the landlord, and for tearing Miss Kaye’s imitation sealskin jacket, doing damage to the extent of 13s. Mr. W. Arimtage, for the defendant, admitted the charges. The defendant had a friend who, on the day in question, recovered some money which he thought he had lost. After lodging a substantial portion of it in the bank, the two went and spent some of the remainder. The defendant who had been an abstainer for 12 months, was easily overcome, and he now expressed his regret that he should have misbehaved. On the suggestion of the Bench an arrangement was come to between the parties and the summons for damage was withdrawn. Defendant was fined 5s. for each of the other offences.

Huddersfield Chronicle (01/Jul/1885):

COUNTRY POLICE COURT

A Raid on the Big Valley Hotel

John Brook and Fred Brown, moulders, Primrose Hill, Huddersfield ; Willie Shaw, John Jenkinson, Fred Wood, and William Kaye, moulders, Almondbury ; were summoned for being disorderly, and refusing to quit the Big Valley Hotel, South Crosland; and William Kaye was further charged with doing wilful damage to a window of the hotel, and with assaulting Jesse Kaye, the landlord. The Magistrates decided to take the charge of assault first. Mr. J.H. Sykes appeared for the complainant, and Mr. W. Armitage for the defendant. The case opened for the prosecution was that an apprentice at the place where the men worked had come of age on June 22nd. About noon on that day three men went into the Big Valley Hotel and gave an order. They were supplied with drink. Shortly afterwards three or four more men went in, and it was evident that they were friends of the first lot. They were asked to have a drink, and accepted the invitation. Drink continued to be supplied as ordered until one of the men became ill. A shilling was handed to the prosecutor to pay for the beer supplied and for clearing up the mess which had been made. After that two glasses of beer were supplied and two more ordered. Seeing that there was likely to be a row about the sixpence which had bean given him he asked for payment before leaving the beer. This was refused and he took the beer back to the bar. The men followed him in a very threatening manner, and it appeared as if they would wreck the bar. Prosecutor and his wife did their best to get the men out of the bar and pushed them on the passage. Mrs. Kaye got a whip and used it. She was thrown down and ill-used, and the defendants used very bad language to her. The men persisted in pushing forward, and it was with great difficulty that the bar was protected. Defendant Kaye was one of the most violent of the defendants. He had a belt with a steel hackle round his waist, and in response to calls to use the belt the defendant took it off, succeeded in getting past Mrs. Kaye, and, swinging the belt round, broke the fanlight. He then ran at the prosecutor and struck him with the buckle end of the strap a violent blow on the head. The consequence was very serious, the prosecutor bleeding very freely and suffering from the wound till the present time. The men then apparently thought they had done enough and went away Prosecutor, who was 60 years of age, had kept the hotel for 28 years. Prosecutor said he hid a mallet in his hand during the disturbance but he did not use it. Mrs. Kaye and a man named Brooksbank gave corroborative evidence. Mr. Armitage submitted that Mr. and Mrs. Kaye lost their tempers and behaved themselves in a way which was not becoming for people in charge of an hotel. There was no doubt the belt was taken off, and on being swung round the window was broken. He suggested that the falling glass had cut the prosecutor’s head. It was alleged that the disturbance arose in consequence of the conduct of the landlord and his wife, and a number of witnesses were offered to bear this out. The Magistrates were of opinion that the fact that two of the defendants did not pay for their glasses of beer did not make the six defendants disorderly, and they therefore dismissed the case. Mr. Armitage said the defendant William Kaye admitted breaking the window, and was willing to pay for it. The Magistrates then made an order for the payment of 1s. penalty, 3s. damages, and 13s. coats. They were of opinion that the assault had been committed, and that it was a vary aggravated one. They therefore fined the defendants £1 and £1 Is. 11d. costs.

Huddersfield Chronicle (11/Jun/1890)

COUNTY POLICE COURT. TUESDAY.
Before W. Brooke (in the chair), A. Walker, and F. Greenwood, Esqs.

A Costly Refusal.

Ingham Spencer, millhand, of Lockwood, who did not appear, was charged with being drunk and refusing to quit the Big Valley Hotel, South Crosland, shortly before 10 o’clock on the night of Sunday, the 1st inst. Fined 10s. and expenses.

Huddersfield Chronicle (13/Jun/1894)

COUNTY POLICE COURT. TUESDAY.

Before J.F. Brigg (in the chair), E. Armitage, T.J. Hirst, and J. Crowther, Esqs.

Assaulting a Landlord.

Walter Woffenden, dyer’s labourer, South Crosland, who did not appear, was summoned for assaulting Thomas Harrison, landlord of the Big Valley Hotel, Netherton, on the 15th inst. The evidence was that on the night of the date named the complainant refused to supply the defendant with drink because he thought that he had had sufficient, whereupon the defendant hit him in the face, cutting it and causing it to bleed. A fine of £1, with 17s. costs, was imposed, or in default 21 days’ imprisonment.

Huddersfield Chronicle (02/Feb/1898):

COUNTY POLICE.

In the Snug.

John Jagger, hay and straw dealer, Huddersfield, was summoned for having allowed his horse and waggon to stand outside the Big Valley Inn, Netherton, unattended, for 20 minutes on the afternoon of 18th ult. Defendant was found by Police Constable Cooper and Sergeant Lee in the “snug” of the inn, drinking a glass of beer.

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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Scar Top, Netherton

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Netherton Scar Top

There’s an old footpath which provides a scenic walk from Netherton village to Hinchliffe’s Farm Shop on Netherton Moor Road, or though to Magdale, and which takes you past a piece of local folklore.

On this 1892 map of the area, the route is coloured green, with the location of Hinchliffe’s (which didn’t exist back then) shown as the blue dot:

Scar Top, Netherton.
1892 map of the area

Part way along the path, which is named as Scar Top Lane on the above map, you’ll come across the first in a series of gritstone buttresses, which jut out over Spring Wood below. The first of these, marked by the red spot on the map, is Scar Top, or “Devil’s Rock”. As the latter name suggests, old tales are linked to this outcrop.

The oldest legend is that there was once a family of giants dwelling in Magdale to the east of Scar Top. One day, the daughter was found to be missing and her father searched the surrounding area trying to find her. Eventually he heard that she’d been seen on Wolfstones Height, a hill three miles due south and near to Netherthong. The giant took a run up and jumped off Scar Top with such force that he left behind his footprint in the rock. Landing at Wolfstones, he found his daughter apparently asleep on the hill, but he soon realised that she had lain down and had perished in the night. The daughter then turned to stone and the summit of the hill is said to be formed of her body. Apparently the locals used to call the hill, “Child o’th’Edge”.

Such legends are typical and are often attached to rocky outcrops or large stones in the landscape, for example the Cow and Calf on Ilkley Moor.

In the early 1800s, Scar Top became notorious as place local ne’er-do-wells hung out and likely travellers would avoid taking Scar Top Lane. A local preacher, who apparently knew the legend of the giant’s footprint, started a story to link those who loitered there with Satan. The story went that the Devil himself was seen on Scar Top and that he leapt from there to the summit of Castle Hill, some 3 miles distant. And so, the giant’s footprint became the Devil’s hoof print. Supposedly the Devil still wanders the labyrinthine tunnels under Castle Hill!1

Photos of Scar Top

Netherton Scar
Towards the edge of the rock, the surface level drops down, which is presumably the “footprint”.
The gritstone layers.
The gritstone layers.
Perhaps the Devil's work continues here? A curious hand and eye, scratched into the side of Scar Top.
Perhaps the Devil’s work continues here? A curious hand and eye, scratched into the side of Netherton Scar.

Route

To get to Scar Top from the centre of Netherton, go down Moor Lane and take the first right down Netherton Fold. After walking by some houses on the left, take the left hand road to climb up Corn Bank. Pass by Corn Bank House on your left and carry on up the hill. Walk past the row of houses painted white on your right and a spectacular view of the Holme Valley opens up to your right. The road forks into two here — take the rougher path to the left (Scar Top Road) rather than the tarmac narrow road which descends into Spring Wood. Scar Top is the first major outcrop you come to.

You can continue along Scar Top Road, which eventually leads into Spring Wood, to exit through a gate onto the junction of Netherton Moor Road and Sandbeds. From here, turn left and walk along Netherton Moor Road to find Hitchliffe’s Farm Shop.

Newspaper Articles

Given that it seems a local preacher was responsible for dubbing it “Devil’s Rock”, it’s interesting to note that on the afternoon of Monday 5 June 1865, members of the Wesleyan church in Netherton met and walked to Scar Top, where they sang hymns together.2 In fact, it seems to have been a local Methodist and Independent tradition that a large group of around 150 people would walk to Scar Top every Whitsuntide, sometimes having a picnic or playing games there.3

On the morning of Sunday 19 January 1890, Police Constable Burns was walking along Scar Top Road when he spotted a group of men gambling at Scar Top. They ran off but left behind playing cards and money. Quite how they were identified isn’t given in the Chronicle article, but local millhands Abraham Todd, George Sykes, Frederick Robertshaw and Sutcliffe Robertshaw were found guilty at the County Police Court and fined a total of 12 shillings each.4

Photos of the Other Outcrops

Scar Top is just one of several rocky outcrops on Scar Top Lane.

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Other Photos from Scar Top Lane

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Scar Top Lane.
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Scar Top Lane.
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Looking out across the valley.
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Scar Top Lane is popular with dog walkers.
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An old rusty gate and Castle Hill in the distance.
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Bluebells.
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Looking over a dry stone wall towards Castle Hill.

Links

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:

jb03

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:

railway3b

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.

Killed by a Hen

I’ve got a particular interest in events which happened close to where we live and the stretch of Meltham Road from Netherton down to Lockwood has seen more than its fair share of accidents over the years.

One particularly unusual one was reported in the local newspapers in October 1907 and occurred on the hill which drops down from Netherton to Big Valley…

Yorkshire Evening Post (07/Oct/1907):

CYCLIST KILLED BY A FOWL.

MELTHAM MAN THROWN HEAVILY ON TO HIS HEAD.

THE HEN JAMS THE FRONT WHEEL.

A Meltham cyclist met hit death on Saturday under peculiar circumstances.

George Henry Pogson, aged 24 years, of Mill Moor, Meltham, left home about 2 p.m. on Saturday for a cycle ride. When proceeding down Big Valley when by some means got in between the front wheel of the machine, with the result that it became entangled, and caused the man to be pitched heavily on his head. He was rendered unconscious.

Dr. Mackenzie, of Lockwood, was summoned, and was soon in attendance, and after examining the man’s wound said that Pogson was probably suffering from fracture of the skull. He died at the Huddersfield Infirmary at 11 p.m. the same day.

Yorkshire Evening Post (08/Oct/1907):

THE CORONER ON THE LIABILITY OF FOWL OWNERS.

At the Huddersfield Infirmary, this afternoon, Mr. E H. Hill held an inquest on the body of George Henry Pogson (24), cotton operative, of Mill Moor, Meltham, who succumbed on Saturday night to injuries to the skull sustained during the day by being thrown off his bicycle whilst riding down the Big Valley from Netherton.

The accident, as already stated in “The Yorkshire Evening Post,” was caused by a hen which flew across the road into the front wheel of the machine.

The Coroner said no doubt hens were a great danger to cyclists. From a recent decision, it appeared that the owners of hens straying on the highway and causing damage, could not be held responsible in a civil action for damages. He did not think they could be held responsible criminally.

A verdict of “Accidental death” was returned.


George Henry Pogson was born in Meltham in 1883, the son of local weaver George William Henry Lewis Pogson (1845–1913) and his wife Emma (1852–1900). He likely had six brothers and sisters.

The 1891 Census lists 7-year-old George as living with his parents and siblings, and attending school.

George’s mother, Emma, died in 1900, aged 53, and was buried on 4 December 1900 at the Meltham Wesleyan Chapel.

The 1901 Census lists him working as a 16-year-old cotten piecer and living with his widowed father at Mill Moor, Meltham.

1901 Census YRKRG13_4092_4095-0622

Following the accident, George was buried at the Meltham Wesleyan Chapel on 9 October 1907, the day after the inquest was held into his death.

pogson1

After George’s death, it seems his father moved from Meltham to live with his widowed daughter, Selina Ann Woodhouse, in Holmbridge where he died in 1913, aged 68. He was buried alongside his wife and son at the Meltham Wesleyan Chapel on 15 April 1913.

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?