The bachelor has to look out for number one — the married man for number two.
Magistrates in Petty Sessions
HARBOURING DISORDERLY COMPANY. Wm. Hopwood, occupier of the Brown Cow beerhouse, Castlegate, was summoned for having disorderly persons in his house. Police Sergeant Mellor stated that on Monday, about twenty minutes to four o’clock, he went to the above house, and found in one of the rooms six women and 15 or 16 men, under the influence of drink. In the front room there were five men, who had apparently partaken freely of liquor. Mellor spoke to the landlady concerning the conduct of the company, who were indulging in most obscene language, and left the house, but returned with another officer about twenty minutes to five o’clock, when the company were still behaving themselves in a very improper manner. Some of the women were “unfortunates,” and one was a returned convict. Police Constable Sedgwick gave corroborative evidence, after which Mr. J.I. Freeman, on behalf of the defendant, said he was instructed to deny the statement of the officers. The persons in the kitchen were the relatives of Hopwood’s wife, but it was true that one of them had had the misfortune of being convicted. He (Mr. Freeman) had been assured that no bad language was used, and there was no disturbance. Mary Gannon, a washerwoman, substantiated the statement of Mr. Freeman, and afterwards Mr. Superintendent Hannan informed the Bench that the house had been very badly conducted, and that the defendant had recently been convicted at the sessions of harbouring prostitutes. Fined 10s. and expenses ; total 19s.
THE “UMBRELLA” COURTSHIP. Ann Mooney was summoned for assaulting Mary Walters on the 20th inst. Complainant stated that on Tuesday the defendant seized her by the hair of the head and dragged her to the ground. The only motive for the assault was that the complainant had threatened to summon the defendant, who had assaulted her on the Sunday. Defendant asserted that the complainant had annoyed her, and had accused her of “being with a man under an umbrella in the passage.” The case was dismissed.
HOLMFIRTH — Mill Accident.
On Wednesday last, at the mill of Messrs. Joshua Barber and Sons, at Holmbridge, a young woman named Thewlis, met with a serious accident. It appears that she was employed on a condensing machine, and that she had to put a chain on to a pulley connected with the machine. To do this it was her duty to do so on the outside of a slowly revolving wheel also connected with the machine ; but instead of doing so she thoughtlessly put her arm through the spokes of the slow wheel, and before she could withdraw it she was caught and her arm was dreadfully mutilated. Dr. Trotter was sent for, and was soon in attendance, and recommended her to be sent to the Huddersfield Infirmary, where she was at once conveyed. No blame attaches to any one but the young woman herself, who is 30 years old and ought to have been more cautious.
KIRKBURTON — Omnibus Accident.
On Monday evening last an accident occurred to Jenkinson’s omnibus on its way to Kirkburton, which was unattended with the slightest personal injury. The ‘bus had proceeded all right as far as Fenay Bridge, and while ascending the steep hill, near the works of Messrs. Riley Brothers, the off hind wheel came off, but the ‘bus was brought to a stand before the passengers were aware of any danger. Being brought to a stand, the ‘bus fell down for want of support, which caused the breaking of the springs. Another ‘bus was speedily obtained from Burton, and the passengers conveyed to their respective destinations.
MELTHAM — “Disgraceful Conduct of a Band.”
Under this head a letter appeared in the Chronicle of the 10th instant signed a “Lover of order,” complaining of the Holme Mills band playing past the church at Meltham on Whit-Monday, while the Rev. Mr. Ince was preaching, and continuing to do so after they had been requested to desist. In reply to this, we have received a fetter from Mr. Godfrey Wood, leader of the band, stating that the writer of the previous letter had been unnecessarily hard upon the band, who were strangers to what was going on in the church, and were ignorant of the practices of Meltham on this occasion. Mr. Wood also alleges that it is a common practice on holiday occasions for bands to play through the villages, and the Holm Mills band only observed this rule, and had no idea of interrupting any one. He also enquires how the band could give up in the middle of a tune, when they were in marching order, and complains of the “excited manner” in which the person went to the band and demanded them to desist, at which the band were not well-pleased, and refused to answer the enquiry where they came from. The band is not Mr. Crowther’s, but relies on its own resources, and is called the Holm Mills brass band, and while going to play for other Sunday scholars on the above day, they had no intention of disturbing the “kind people at Meltham,” and urges that Whit-Monday not being set apart for religious worship the same as Sunday, they had a perfect right to play and enjoy themselves on the occasion.
Patent Self-acting Fire Extinguisher.
A patent self-acting fire extinguisher has been tested near the Cloth Hall, by Mr. Alfred Wilby, of Hightown, near Cleckheaton. The patentees are Messrs. J.G. Hey and V. Savory, Cleckheaton. The extinguisher, which is a simple invention, consists of a perforated ball, supplied with water by means of a metallic tube, at the end of which is a valve. This valve is held by solder, which is covered by a fusible material. The ball is also charged with the patent combustible material, which will ignite when the temperature of heat has reached 140 degrees. The explosion of one material thus ignites the other combustible compound, the valve is opened, and the water flowing through the perforated ball, is ejected in all directions, the distance being in a measure in proportion to the quantity of water passing through the mains. The extinguisher, which may be attached to steam or water pipes, is useful and comparatively inexpensive.
1870 was a good year for stories about escaped exotic animals!
In May, the Huddersfield Chronicle took great delight in reporting the police’s attempts to capture a snake in the town centre:1
Capture of a Runaway Snake.
On Sunday morning two boys called at the Borough Police Station, and informed Inspector Townend that they had seen a snake crawling down Cross Queen Street — a narrow thoroughfare at the rear of the Gymnasium Hall and the Theatre Royal, and extending, from Bull and Mouth Street, near the Police Station, to Queen Street. Inspector Townend, upon the “information received,” sallied from the office, and, near the Fire Brigade Station, in the narrow street alluded to already, espied the reptile, which would be about one yard long. The Inspector, not knowing whether it was of a venemous or docile order, felt somewhat perplexed, and contemplated the “apprehension” of the monster with bated breath. While the Inspector occupied himself with devising means for the successful capture of the stranger, who was now in jeopardy of being “brought up” under the Vagrant Act, for “wandering abroad without any visible means of subsistence, and not giving a good account of himself,” the snake kept crawling onwards, to the evident amusement and gratification of the bystanders, and the Inspector was loathe to lay hands upon it, or take it into his custody. Mr. C.P. Hobkirk, however, happened to be passing, and went to the assistance of the Inspector, who, with unusual willingness, resigned his charge into other hands. Mr. Hobkirk took possession of the snake, and preserved it in the ordinary way. On Tuesday morning Mr. Withers, head constable, received a note from Mr. W.E. Thomas, stating that, in autumn last, a snake escaped from its box at the Naturalist Society’s exhibition, held in the Gymnasium Hall, and it was never found. If the snake captured on Sunday morning is that which escaped in autumn, it would be difficult to trace the ground over which, with its slow locomotion it has traversed ; and naturalists will be curious to know the kind of food upon which it has subsisted in the meantime.
In October, the Chronicle reported on an escaped monkey in Dungeon Wood, Lockwood:2
Escape and Capture of a Monkey.
On Wednesday morning, as a gentleman from Lockwood was enjoying a stroll through Dungeon Wood, he was somewhat startled by a strange sound and rustling of the bushes. A retriever dog, with which he was accompanied, soon unearthed the cause of the alarm, which proved to be an untamed monkey. Perceiving its enemy (the dog), the monkey began to chatter most energetically, at the same time bounding and climbing from one wall to another, and anon secreting itself among the brushwood. The canine tormentor did not allow it to remain long in its hiding place, and, had it not been for the timely interference of the gentleman, no doubt the monkey would have been severely treated by its pursuer. At length the monkey was captured, and claimed by Mr. Davis, lithographer, whose brother, a seaman, had recently brought it from abroad. The monkey had for the night been fastened under the cellar steps, but had contrived to escape.
Following on the previousblog posts, this is a list of the other accidents and deaths on the Meltham Branch Line from 1890 onwards that I found whilst researching through old newspapers.
Once again, this is primarily based on researching the Huddersfield Chronicle archives.
20/Aug/1892: Vandeleur Earnshaw
The Chronicle reported that a gardener named Vandeleur Earnshaw had attempted to board the 5:50am train at Meltham Station when it was already in motion. Whilst jogging alongside the train, he had managed to open a compartment door and was attempting to get in when he ran off the end of the platform. He tumbled down, fell partly onto the track and the train “passed over the leg just below the ankle”. He was rushed to Huddersfield Infirmary where it was necessary to amputate the limb.1
Vandeleur Earnshaw2 was born around 1857 in Meltham, the son of wood cutter Abraham and Martha Earnshaw. He married Sarah Hannah Duckitt on 23 March 1878 at Meltham Mills and they raised a family in Meltham, where he worked as a domestic gardener.
It seems the accident meant that Vandeleur could no longer work as a gardener and the 1901 Census lists him as a 44-year-old “silk boiler” (most likely working for Jonas Brook & Bros. Ltd.) living with his wife and seven children at 18 Shady Row, Meltham. He died in 1916, aged 60, and was buried on 15 November at Meltham Mills.
Their son, Serjeant Hilton Earnshaw was killed in action on 31 August 1916 and is buried at the St. Amand British Cemetery, Pas-de-Calais, France. He was serving with the 9th Battalion Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding Regiment).
From the Huddersfield Chronicle (10/Mar/1894):
On Thursday afternoon, as the 3:40 train from Huddersfield to Meltham was entering the Meltham Station, the porter, Eastwood, a youth about 16 years of age, was seen to run alongside the train and attempt to catch hold of the carriage handle. He succeeded in getting hold, but lost his footing, the train dragged him a short distance on the platform, when he left his hold, and the train turned him over, and but for the timely assistance of Wright Smith, the head porter, he would in all probability have been killed. His eyes are badly knocked and swollen, and his knees bruised. It is expected that he will be all right again in a few days.
The Huddersfield Daily Examiner (05/Feb/1915) reported on the celebrations for Wright and Ellen Smith’s golden wedding anniversary. The couple, who married on 4 February 1865, were then living at 4 Beaumont Street in Netherton.
After spending fifty years together, the couple continue to live happily in their cottage at Netherton, and although he has passed the allotted span of three score years and ten Mr. Smith may frequently be found working on the land with neighbouring farmers. For over thirty years he was employed by the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Co., first at the Huddersfield goods warehouse, and afterwards at Meltham, where he held the position of foreman porter prior to his retirement about five years ago.
Wright was born around 1840 in Almondbury and most likely died in 1927, aged 87. His wife was Ellen Dunn, also born around 1840, who likely died in 1922, aged 82. They had no children.
06/Mar/1895: Landslip and Derailment
The Huddersfield Daily Chronicle reported extensively on a landslip which occurred around 7pm on Wednesday 6 March 1895 — mostly due to the fact that one of their reporters was greatly inconvenienced by it!3
Following the completion of a district council meeting in Meltham, a number of people waited for the 8:28pm departure to Huddersfield but there was no sign at all of the train and the station staff seemed unsure as to what exactly had happened, other than a rumour of a derailment and an assurance that there would likely be no more trains that evening. The reporter set off walking down the line and arrived at Healey House station around 9pm, where he found the station master in “blissful ignorance of the accident, but wondering much what had become of the missing train”.
Now joined by as gas works employee who had been waiting for the train to Huddersfield at Healey House, the pair set off into the darkness, lighting matches to aid them through Netherton Tunnel and then Butternab Tunnel. Exiting the latter, they found the cause — a landslip had “encumbered the line for some distance” and the train heading towards Huddersfield had ploughed into the debris, causing a slight derailment.
The driver, named Mallinson, was praised by the reporter for keeping a cool head and assisting some dozen passengers — none of whom had sustained any injuries in the accident — to walk down the line to Lockwood station.
A team of workmen had already arrived on a train from Mirfield to the other end of the landslip and the reporter was offered the opportunity to ride on the footplate back to Lockwood. From there, he had to walk in the heavy rain back to Huddersfield, having missed the last tram of the day.
The article ended with a report on the rumours which “prevailed at the various stations on the line as to what had really happened”:
Some would be satisfied with nothing less than a holocaust of the whole of the passengers, and others added the horrors of a fire to the appalling catastrophe which their imagination pictured. The reality fell far short of this.
14/Dec/1895: Thomas Edward Taylor
Meltham wine merchant Thomas Edward Taylor (of Messrs. Taylor Bros.) was lucky not to have been injured when he tried to board the 7:25am train from Meltham Station which was already in motion.4 According to the newspaper report, he pushed a signalman to one side, grabbed hold of the second-class carriage and was dragged down the platform — one foot on the carriage and one still the platform. The train was quickly stopped and a guard took down the merchant’s details.
The Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway (L&YR) company prosecuted Thomas Edward under a railway by-law which penalised anyone attempting to enter or leave a train in motion. In court in mid-January 1896, he pleaded guilty and was fined £1 with a further £1 0s. 6d. costs.5
This was almost certainly the Thomas Edward Taylor born around 1858 in Meltham, the son of woollen weaver Uriah Taylor and his wife Martha (née Sedgwick or Walshaw). The various records name him as a “mineral water manufacturer”, rather than a “wine merchant” and he married an American woman named Bertha (who was born around 1870) sometime around 1893. Court records show that he was found guilty of “working a horse which was in an unfit condition” in July 1899 and fined 5s. and 7s. 6d. expenses.
In August 1900, he was named as one of “Messrs. Taylor Bros.” of Meltham who was attempting to obtain a beer licence for a grocer’s shop on Brow Road, Paddock. However, as Taylor didn’t reside there, it was not granted.
The 1901 Census lists the couple with a 3-year-old daughter, Eva Irene Taylor, and living with his older brother, jeweller Henry Taylor, on Market Place, Meltham. They then spent some time in the United States, where a son named Henry was born around 1907. By the time of the 1911 Census, they were back in Meltham and living at Law Cottage.
04/Mar/1896: John Allen Woodhouse
It was somewhere along the stretch of line between the Netherton and Butternab Tunnels that local man Vincent Senior made a gruesome discovery on the morning of Thursday 5 March 1896.6
Vincent was born around 1862 in Dewsbury and moved to Huddersfield where he married local woman Ellen Hirst in 1890. He lived for a while with his in-laws in Almondbury before moving to Netherton and he worked as a “platelayer“, which meant his job was to inspect the railway line for wear and tear and obstacles. He is recorded as joining the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants union in 1896.
On that March morning, he set off early at around 5:30am from Netherton to walk the line to Lockwood and found the body of a man by the side of the line at Butternab Bank. As no trains had run yet that day, it was assumed the man had been hit by a train the night before and had suffered extensive injuries to the neck and head. Vincent ran to fetch help, finding local Police Constable Ruddick, who ordered the body moved to a nearby log cabin. A Mrs. Crowther also assisted in laying out the body.
The Chronicle (06/Mar/1896) gave the following description of the deceased:7
Height, 5ft. 6in. ; dark brown hair, ginger moustache, and blue eyes ; dressed in blue cloth jacket and vest, fustian trousers greasy on front of legs, black overcoat and cap ; black, white and red check shirt, blue and white scarf, grey stockings and light laced boots. The only articles in the pockets were two clay pipes and two tobacco boxes.
By the following day, the Yorkshire Evening Post reported that the deceased had been identified as 33-year-old John Allen Woodhouse, an unmarried mill hand who lived on Plover Lane in Lindley.8 He had visited his aunt in Netherton on the day of his death and was least seen leaving her house that evening.
John Allen Woodhouse was born 24 November 1863, the son of local weaver James Woodhouse and his wife Mary, and was baptised at All Hallows parish church in Kirkburton on 2 November 1865. By the time of the 1891 Census, aged 28, he was living with his older sister Matilda and two younger brothers at the family home on Plover Road. It appears that their parents were both dead and Matilda was now the head of the family. At the time, John Allen was working as a “cotton piecer”, which meant his role was to mend broken threads.
An inquest was held on Friday 6 March at the Commercial Inn, Netherton, with district coroner Mr. W. Barstow presiding.9 It was reported that John Allen’s body had been identified by his aunt Ann Woodhouse, and that he’d visited her house in Netherton at around 5pm that Wednesday where he ate tea. Ann told the inquest that her nephew had been in low spirits:
He took a long time over his tea, and sighed several times while he was having it. He had not been well for some time and had been under the doctor, and he made a remark to her to the effect that he thought it was nearly all over for him. She told him that she thought he would look up again, and he replied that he did not think he would. He talked very little, but answered her when she spoke to him.
Ann went on to state that John Allen’s father had been twice in an asylum and had died in Wadsley Asylum (Sheffield) about three weeks before. John Allen’s brother then told the inquest that the deceased had not worked for nearly a month due to ill-health and seemed “run down” — presumably he had been deeply affected by his father’s illness and death.
Ann stated that John Allen had left her house at around 7pm and that she supposed he intended to head home to Lindley (about a 4 mile walk northwards of Netherton). Instead, it seems he wandered down either Nether Moor Road or Butternab Road and then onto the railway line where he waited for it to get dark. Given the nature of the injuries, he likely laid with his head on the line and was struck by one of the last trains of the day — none of the drivers had reported seeing anything on the line that night, so the body laid undiscovered until the following morning. The jury returned a verdict that he had probably committed suicide but it was impossible to know the exact state of his mind at the time.
John Allen Woodhouse was laid to rest at Holy Trinity parish church, South Crossland, on 3 July 1896. If I can find his gravestone, I’ll add a photograph to this blog post.
27/Sep/1900: Joe Morehouse
On 9 September at around 8:30am, 24-year-old brass finisher Joe Morehouse was collecting blackberries by the railway side near Beaumont Park with a friend named William Brown. He slipped and fell a short distance — presumably onto the railway line — and claimed he’d hurt himself. It was reported that his health deteriorated and he eventually died at 3:50pm on 27 September. At an inquest, his doctor reported that Morehouse had been in poor health recently and a verdict of “accidental death” was returned.10
My access to the Chronicle‘s archives ends in 1900, but I did find a few later reports in other sources…
21/Sep/1905: Christopher Mallinson
Reported in the Railway Accidents 1876: Return of Accidents and Casualties (July-September 1905) that goods guard Christopher Mallinson had been in charged of the 4:35pm goods train from Meltham to Lockwood. Seven waggons were uncoupled at Lockwood and “allowed to run into the shoot road” at the station. Maillnson claimed he couldn’t then stop the waggons using his brake and “consequently used two sprags, one of which rebounded and struck him, breaking his leg”.
The waggons were then stopped by William R. Bond, who did so purely with the brake, which led to the verdict that “there was no need for Mallinson to use a sprag to stop the waggons, and I attribute the accident to his own want of caution.”
The Huddersfield Daily Examiner (20/Aug/1914) reported on an apparent suicide:
LOCKWOOD RAIL TRAGEDY
A weaver named Sam Gill (55), widower, who lived at 13, Batley Street, Moldgreen, with his two daughters, was found lying dead on the railway near Beaumont Park this afternoon shortly after the train which had left Meltham at 1:38 had passed. His head was completely severed from his body.
Samuel Gill was born around 1859 in Fulstone, New Mill. The 1911 Census lists him as a 52-year-old widower and living with him were his nephew, Ernest (aged 26), and two daughters, Alice (aged 24) and Jane Gill (aged 12). His wife, Janet, had died in 1909, aged 50.
The inquiry into his death heard that “the deceased had been somewhat peculiar of late” and that a witness had seem him climb over a wall near Beaumont Park and lay his head on the railway line as the train approached. A verdict of “suicide whilst of unsound mind” was recorded.
19/May/1921: Headless Body
From the Yorkshire Post (20/May/1921):
Yesterday afternoon the headless body of a man was found on the Meltham branch line of the railway near Beaumont Park, Huddersfield. The man was apparently about 45 years of age.
I could find no further articles about this apparent suicide, but 1921 was a year in which headless bodies were found on railway lines near Buckhurst Hill (March), Euxton (July), Etchingham Station (August), Bath (August), Newton St. Loe (September), Cambridge (December) and Hull (December). In the last case, the inquest heard that Robert Turner was in the habit of removing his shoes and sleeping wherever he was — his boots were stood neatly beside his decapitated body, so it was assumed he had decided to sleep on the railway line!
14/Feb/1952: Wyndham Bradley
The following accident was reported in the Yorkshire Evening Post11 and it occurred nearly 3 years after the last passenger train in May 1949:
MAN HURT AT STATION
Wyndan Bradley (60), Midland Street, Huddersfield, a foreman platelayer, fell from the platform at Netherton railway station, near Huddersfield, today and injured his back. He was detained in the Huddersfield Royal Infirmary.
Likely the Post got the name wrong, and this was Wyndham Bradley, born in the village of Leintwardine, Herefordshire, circa 1891.
By the time of the 1911 Census, 21-year-old Wyndham was living with his married sister, Mary Priestley, at Bottoms Wood in Slaithwaite and working as a dyer’s labourer for a woollen manufacturer. A couple of years later, he married local woman Gertrude Moore in Slaithwaite on 11 October 1913.
Gertrude was born in 1890, the daughter of Fred Moore and his wife Emma (née Bamforth). It seems Gertrude’s father died before she was born, aged only 23, and the 1891 Census finds Emma and daughter living with Emma’s parents, labourer Joseph Bamforth and his wife Charlotte, in Upper Holme, Slaithwaite. At that point, 25-year-old Emma was working as “cotton card room hand” — before cotton could be spun into a thread, it had to be carded to align the fibres and Emma would have operated a carding machine, and this was a low-status job in the cotton factory. Emma’s siblings also mostly worked in the local cotton factories, as “cotton spinners”, “cotton piercers” and “cotton twiners”.
Gertrude continued to live with her grandparents until her marriage. By the time of the 1911 Census, she too was working in the cotton mills as a weaver and perhaps she worked in the same mill as Wyndham?
Wyndham died in 1958, aged 67. There are two likely death registry entries for Gertrude in the Huddersfield area:
Gertrude Bradley: born 09/Feb/1890, died 1969
Gertrude Bradley: born 03/Aug/1890, died 1982
23/Jun/1958: Runaway Carriages
A set of four empty carriages that had been left in a siding on the branch line rolled down towards Lockwood, likely released by vandals.12 A quick-thinking signalman (presumably at Meltham Junction) routed them off into the good yards but they ploughed through the buffers and went over Swan Lane, crashing into the booking office of the station.
Amazingly no-one was injured, although the stationmaster and a booking clerk were trapped in the rubble and had to climb out.
The booking office was later demolished, as can be seen on this Google Street View of the crash site:
This wasn’t the first time an accident like this had happened — 16 empty wagons had rolled free from a siding on the evening of 9 September 1953 and crashed a wooden fence, leaving one blocking Swan Lane and two others teetering above the road.
Prior to that, in October 1913, a train had been shunting truck of coal when a few of them broke free, demolishing the buffers and wrecking part of the signal box. The Manchester Guardian (29/Oct/1913) reported that two trucks full of coal fell 40 feet onto the road below and five more were left hanging down the embankment. The signalman (W.G. Brackenbury of Newsome) had jumped to safety through the window of his signal box, sustaining only minor injuries.
With the closure of the line to passenger services in 1949, it was used purely for transporting goods.
Despite opposition from businesses in Meltham, particular David Brown’s, the branch line officially closed on 5 April 1965 and, following one last train carrying dangerous chemicals which ran to Meltham in January 1966, the line was dismantled in the autumn of 1966. After 100 years, the Meltham Branch Line was consigned to the history books.
Having said that, the next time you find yourself walking along the stretch of Meltham Road between Big Valley and Lockwood, take a moment to look down into the valley towards Woodfield Park Sports and Social Club. A little bit of the Meltham Branch Line still seemingly survives in the hundreds of wooden railway sleepers used to edge the grounds of the club…
…and a little further along, you’ll find some more which were used to fence off the access road down to the sports club:
LOST, on Tuesday, June 6th, by Mr. Matthew Hepworth, of Newcastle, a Bunch of KEYS. Any person finding the same, are requested to take them to the Warehouse of Messrs. Hall Bros., and Middlemost, Westgate, where they will be Rewarded.
Selections of Wit and Humour
A player performing the Ghost in Hamlet very badly, was hissed ; after bearing it a good while, he put the audience in good humour, by stepping forward and saying “Ladies and gentlemen, I am extremely sorry that my humble endeavours to please are unsuccessful ; but if you are not satisfied, I must give up the ghost.”
Miscellaneous News and Home Gossip
A daring “diving feat” was performed at Newcastle on Monday. A young fellow, named Gascoigne, plunged into the Tyne from the middle arch of the High Level Bridge, throwing a somersault in his descent. He was bleeding from the mouth when he emerged from the water, but otherwise he seemed to be none the worse. It however, since transpired that Gascoigne seriously injured himself by his leap. He is now confined to his bed, and is under medical treatment in Newcastle ; but as to the extent of his injuries nothing positive can be learned.
Magistrates in Petty Sessions
SUNDAY SPORTS. Samuel Scott, B. Shaw, Allen Crosland, James Walker, Charles Hall, and John Walker, all of Longwood, were charged with playing at unlawful sports and pastimes on Sunday. Police Constable Batty stated that he was on duty the previous Sunday afternoon, at Clough Bottom, Longwood. Seeing a number of persons collected together, he concealed himself at the back of a number of deal boards in Broadbent’s field, where he had a full opportunity of watching them. After a short time he was enabled to select out the whole of the six defendants, who were “pitching” with pennies. As soon as he made them out he emerged from his concealment and went towards them, when they all ran off as hard as they could. They were each fined 3s. 4d., as prescribed by law, and expenses, or in default 14 days each in prison.
EXTRAORDINARY “MISTAKE” AND ASSAULT. Ellen Dyson, who was attired in the apparel of a widow, was summoned for having assaulted Charlotte Barnes. Mr. J. I. Freeman defended. Complainant stated that she lived about four doors from the defendant. About seven o’clock on Wednesday evening, in consequence of what was said to her by one of her children, she went to the house of the defendant, and, on going upstairs, found her husband in an indecent state in bed. Whilst complainant was trying to get her husband out of bed, Mrs. Dyson, who was absent when she entered the house, came upstairs, kicked her in the side, and would “nearly have killed her” had not her (complainant’s) daughter come to the rescue. On the following day (Thursday) when going up the yard, Mrs. Barnes met the defendant, who was very drunk and reared against some railings. As Mrs. Barnes passed, the defendant called her a gipsy, and exclaimed, “I’ll give it thee.” Complainant turned round, and then the defendant spat in her face several times, pulled her to the ground by the hair of the head, and knelt upon her chest. Since the assault, she had been emitting blood. Cross-examined : Defendant did not tell me she did not want my husband. Never heard her say she would not go in the house until he came out. John Westbury, who is employed near the spot where the alleged assault was committed, said he saw and heard Mrs. Barnes and Mrs. Dyson differing, which resulted in a fight. Dyson had Barnes on the floor by the hair of the head. He pulled Mrs. Dyson off, and told her to go into the house and behave herself. Dyson said she would teach the complainant for beginning of her. Mr. Freeman, in defence, submitted that the defendant was no party to the complainant’s husband going to her dwelling. Having been drinking at a beer house next door to the defendant’s he must have mistaken the house. That circumstance, however, did not transpire on the day of the assault with which the defendant was charged, and he could not conceive why it had been introduced, save for the purpose of lending a stronger colour to the picture. A girl, nine years of age, gave her version of the quarrel on behalf of the defendant. Dyson, she said, cried out “Gipsy.” Barnes turned back and spat in the face of Dyson, who retaliated in the same disgusting style. Barnes struck Dyson, who then pulled the complainant down by the “lugs.”1 The Bench considered that other evidence ought to have been adduced by the defendant, and, believing that an assault had been committed, mulcted her in a penalty of 5s. and expenses ; total 15s.
KIRKBURTON — Prize singing.
On Saturday afternoon last, the first of an intended annual lark singing match was held at the house of Mr. Wm. Lodge, the Spring Grove Tavern, Burton Dean, when a large number of persons attended to hear these beautiful warblers. Six cages were hung, and the birds experienced a fair trial. There were three prizes arranged, the two first being obtained by Mr. Thewlis, and Mr. Copley, of Lascelles Hall, whose birds sang nine minutes each without a broken note. Instead of trying again, they agreed to divide the two prizes equally between themselves. The third prize was awarded to Mr. Thornton, of Newsome. All passed off satisfactorily.
KIRKBURTON — The Branch Railway.
For weeks past the inhabitants of Kirkburton, Shelley, Skelmanthorpe, and Clayton West have evinced the greatest anxiety at the progress made by the passing through committee of the Barnsley and Kirkburton Railway Bill. During the whole of Wednesday last expectation was on tip-toe as to the decision of the committee. The last “bus” from Huddersfield conveyed the welcome and joyful news that the committee had declared the preamble proved. No sooner was it heard than it spread like electricity through the dense thousands that thronged the feast, and instantly a subscription was set on foot, the bells rang, bands paraded the streets, and every possible demonstration of joy was made at the result. Similar rejoicings occurred at Emley, Skelmanthorpe, Clayton, and other places which were continued throughout the whole of Thursday.
CLAYTON WEST — The Nightingale.
The inhabitants have of late been nightly favoured with the song of this delightful warbler. During Thursday night in last week no fewer than four of these songsters were singing at one time, and numbers of people listening to them.
GOLCAR — A Runaway Truck.
On Saturday evening last, Mr. John Iredale, coal merchant, left in his siding, below the Golcar Railway Station, a truck loaded with upwards of seven tons of coals. The truck was some 15 or 20 yards from the junction with the main line, across which was placed the usual “scotcher” block. About a quarter to two o’clock on Sunday morning, parties at Milnsbridge were startled at seeing a loose truck dashing at rapid speed down the line over the Longwood Viaduct. The truck in its descent gathered speed at every revolution of the wheels until it dashed past the Huddersfield Station, at a speed of not less than 40 or 50 miles an hour. There having been no warning of its approach prior to entering the tunnel, nothing could be done to check its speed, and on it dashed down the incline to Bradley, where its velocity was tremendous. Past the junction it rushed on to Mirfield, where, fortunately, the night pointsman observed it, and with admirable presence of mind, turned it up the incline siding of the Bradford line, where its speed was at once checked, and the truck brought to a stand without doing the slightest damage. It is believed that some mischievous persons had pushed the truck from the siding over the “scotcher,” and thus set it going.
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!
Just to recap, an article in the Huddersfield Chronicle (03/Jun/1865) first mentioned the pillar lamp:
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:
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.
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:
To do justice to the full inquest and all the press coverage would fill a small book, so this blog post will just be a (very lengthy!) day-by-day summary of events. However, the original articles are all linked to, so you can delve deeper into the inquest if you want to and a all the articles I found during research can be browsed here.
It’s worth noting that this wasn’t the only tragedy that day which made the newspapers, as the capsizing of the SS Daphne had happened in Glasgow only a few hours before, resulting in the deaths of over 120 people. More locally, 2 children had been trampled to death in Sheffield the day before the tramcar accident and, the day after, near the village of Silkstone, 26 children drowned in the Huskar Pit Disaster.
Tuesday 3 July 1883
The Lindley tramcar crash on Railway Street likely happened around 2:55pm.
By around 3:05pm the engine and car had been moved into St. George’s Square and the injured had been carried into nearby premises whilst they were attended to by Dr. Erson, local chemist Mr. Cuthbert and trained first-aider Duke Fox, amongst others. A steady stream of horse-drawn cabs ferried the majority of the passengers involved in crash to the Huddersfield Infirmary.
Due to the crowd of sightseers who perhaps knew nothing of the crash but were drawn to the spectacle of the shattered tramcar standing outside the railway station, it was driven down Northumberland Street to the tram shed on the junction of Lord Street (roughly where the Post Office is located today). By that evening, the engine was placed under a round-the-clock police guard with strict instructions that no-one was to go near the engine “under any pretence”.
Infant Annie Moore was dead by the time she reached the Huddersfield Infirmary, and probably died at the crash site. Her father, Fred Moore, died around 8pm. David Bertenshaw Taylor died about 20 minutes later. Isabella Woodhouse had died around 5pm, a couple of hours after the accident. Sarah Clegg was partly conscious when admitted to the Infirmary and died at around 7:45pm. According the Infirmary’s House Surgeon, all five had died as a result of the head injuries they received in the crash.
Councillor Armitage Haigh, the Chairman of the Tramways Committee, arrived at the Northumberland tram shed around 3:30pm and the engine was already there, as was the driver, Thomas Roscoe. Apparently briefed that the automatic braking system appeared not to have averted the accident, he questioned Roscoe as to whether or not he had disabled it. Roscoe’s answer would not be revealed publicly until the final day of the inquest and conspiracy theorists might want to ponder if the Tramways Committee initially considered suppressing the information. As we shall see, the behaviour of the Huddersfield Corporation officials, including the Mayor, left a little to be desired under the circumstances.
The Lindley tramcar route was soon running again, as it was Market Day in Huddersfield and a large number of Lindley residents would be heading home, many perhaps oblivious to the accident. Reportedly, a Lookwood tramcar ran the Lindley route that evening.
Throughout the rest of the afternoon and evening, a stream of concerned relatives arrived at the Infirmary, anxious for news of their loved ones.
David Bertenshaw Taylor’s wife, Ellen, arrived sometime around 8:30pm and was told her husband had just died. She collapsed in shock and was conveyed by friends back to her house. The Chronicle speculated that she “could not realise to anything like the full extent the direful news which had been just communicated to her.”
In what was seen by some as highly disrespectful act, the planned concert by the Lindley Brass Band in St. George’s Square, just a stone’s throw the crash site, went ahead that evening. The bandmaster, Joe Kaye, later wrote to the Chronicle to explain that they had no idea of the severity of the accident and would have cancelled the concert out of respect had they been made aware. Almost certainly, the band members would have known some of the injured and dead.
During the evening, Councillor Haigh convened an emergency meeting of the Tramways Committee in private. We can only speculate as to what was discussed at the meeting, but possibly Haigh repeated what driver Roscoe had told him and they then considered what their options would be depending on the various verdicts the jury might reach.
According to the Chronicle, passenger numbers were down on the tramcars that morning, although that simply might reflect that this was a normal day rather than the busy Market Day.
The stream of visitors to the Infirmary continued and included Councillor Haigh, Mr. R.S. Dugdale (Borough Surveyor and Engineer), and the Rev. J.W. Town (Vicar of Lindley). By now, Mr. Wilkinson, a representative of the engine manufacturer was in Huddersfield and also visited the injured.
Over in Salford, the Town Council met that morning and a question was asked if Alderman Harwood (Chairman of the Salford Tramways Committee) was aware of what had happened in Huddersfield. Perhaps Harwood guessed, but he correctly responded that he hoped it would be a warning to all of how important it was to ensure engines had proper brake power at all times.
With five people dead, an inquest was a necessity to establish if the deaths had been accidental or, if not, were any persons directly responsible for the deaths and should therefore face a charge of manslaughter. These days, of course, this would be a role for the police and Crown Prosecution Service, but in the 1880s the decision was left to a jury who considered the facts and reached their verdict.
During the afternoon, the inquest was convened under the District Country Coroner, 52-year-old William Barstow of Halifax. A jury was sworn in and comprised of the following individuals (indicative ages are shown in parentheses):
David Brown (41) of Chapel Street — founder of David Brown Engineering Limited in 1860
John Burnley (45) of King Street — linen draper and former Liberal Party candidate
Thornton Cliffe (38) of Colne Road — mechanical engineer and owner of an engine works
George William Crosland (40) of New North Road — iron merchant of Fixby
John Crowther (54) of Greenhead Road — engineer
James Drake (48) of New North Road — woollen cloth merchants and member of the Huddersfield Chamber of Commerce
Edward Dyson (41) of New Street — linen draper
Fred Eastwood of New North Road — director of the Halifax and Huddersfield Union Banking Company
Allen Jackson (55) of John William Street — painter and gilder, and local councillor in the 1870s
Benjamin Jowett (58) of West Parade — grocer
George Moxon (51) of Trinity Street — coal merchant
Mr. Radcliffe — presumably Joseph Radcliffe (40), stone merchant of South Crosland
Charles Henry Riley (37) of Henry Street — joiner and builder, and member of the Board of Guardians
Battye Royston (58) of East Parade — co-founder of Kenworthy, Royston and Crossley Machine Works
Eli Whitwam (37) of Alfred Street — mechanical and consulting engineer
As well as the members of the jury, a number of individuals with a vested interest in the inquest were present on most (if not all) days, including:
Mr. G.L. Batley, representing the Huddersfield Corporation
John Eddison, vice-chairman of the Leeds Tramway Company
Councillor Armitage Haigh, the Chairman of the Huddersfield Tramways Committee
Mr. Wilkinson of Wigan, owner of the company who manufactured the engine
John Ward, the Chief Constable
The Coroner, Mr. Barstow, began by saying:
Before you proceed to view the bodies, I have in the first place to express my sincere sorrow and regret at the very unfortunate occurrence that has been the means of your being called here this afternoon, and I am sure you also regret this terrible calamity, the like of which, I should think, has never occurred, certainly in Huddersfield, and probably not in any other town in the kingdom. It is a most lamentable calamity, by which no less than five people lost their lives, and more than 20 people are more or less injured. Now, I am sure you wish to devote every attention you can to the cause which may have been the means of bringing about this sad occurrence. Your great attention is necessary for many reasons, and one is that the enquiry will assume a moat important character, not only from the number of persons killed and injured, but also from the fact that tramways are now being so much used in many parts of the kingdom, and I am sorry to say there have been accidents more or less since the institution of such means of locomotion. It is very desirable in the public interest and public safety that accidents of this nature should be thoroughly investigated, so as to prevent, if possible, any similar calamities in the future. All that can be done today is to take evidence of identification, and then have the enquiry adjourned to a future day. Now, I am not bound by law to inform any Government department of this matter, but I felt it my duty to give notice to the Board of Trade in order that the Board may, it they think fit, send down some person to be present at the enquiry. If they do so, no doubt it would be of great assistance to many on the jury.
By alerting the Board of Trade, Barstow was ensuring that, if the crash had been caused due a technical failure, this would be properly examined so that the lessons could be learned. The representative of the Board of Trade would need to decide if his inquest could be merged with Barstow’s, or if it needed to be held separately.
A short discussion then took place as to when the jury should view the engine in the shed on Northumberland Street and what, if anything, they would be able to learn from just looking at it. It was also debated as to whether or not Mr. Wilkinson should be allowed to accompany the jury members, in case he sought to influence them. At this point, Mr. Wilkinson firmly placed his foot in his mouth by stating that:
It is just a question of erroneous statements getting about, and I want to point out technical matters which the jury may not understand. There are scores of things about that engine that the most practical engineers in Huddersfield would not understand.
Mr. Radcliffe firmly rebuked him by reminding him that there were “plenty of good engineers on this jury” including, of course, David Brown! Radcliffe was also of the opinion that, if they didn’t go to view the engine that day, it might result in negative gossip amongst the townsfolk.
The jury then travelled to the Infirmary where they viewed the bodies and took statements from those who had formally identified the five dead passengers. In each case, they tried to ascertain if the deceased had been in good health prior to the accident, in order to be sure the crash had been the primary cause of death.
By now, it had been ascertained that the representative of the Board of Trade was planning to arrive the following Wednesday and the Coroner suggested that they should formally adjourn until then, subject to any of the injured dying before then. This seemed likely, as the House Surgeon had told them that two of the injured were “almost certain” to die.
At around 4pm, the jurors were still waiting for cabs to arrive to take them to view the engine and Barstow was busy signing burial certificates so that the five bodies could be released to relatives. Assistant House Surgeon, Mr. Prentice, came in and informed them that Mary Shaw had died a few minutes previously at around 3:50pm. A decision was then made to take evidence from Mary’s sister, Sarah Ann Pearson, and for her to formally identify the deceased.
Following this, and in the absence of Mr. Wilkinson, a juror said:
I want to know why Huddersfield engineers can’t understand this tram engine. I should like to know what sort of tram engine it is that no one understands it. If it an engine of that sort they had better take it back!
Assured that the Coroner had the power to ensure anyone who tried to interfere with the inquest would be removed, the inquest adjourned and the jury members travelled to the shed to view the engine and car.
At around 6pm, a Lindley tramcar departed St. George’s Square and the engine came off the rails just after the crash site. The driver placed sand on the rails to help with traction and used a crowbar to ease the engine back onto the track. It must have been a sobering few minutes for the passengers.
At around 8pm, Rowland Hall finally passed away. He had been terribly injured after being flung from the upper-deck of the tramcar into an iron lamppost and there had been no hope of recovery.
A journalist from the Chronicle enquired that evening into the condition of the other injured and was told that there had been little change. He was also told that three were still in a critical condition: Alice Brook, Joseph Halstead and Mary Ann Moore (who had lost her husband and infant daughter).
The death the previous evening of Rowland Hall necessitated that the inquest be reconvened and a meeting took place on Thursday afternoon, presumably at the Infirmary. Two jury members, Burnley and Eastwood, were absent due to the short notice.
The only witness called was Hall’s son-in-law, monument sculptor Charles Richard Garner, who stated that he had visited Hall four times at the Infirmary before he died. He reported that Hall had occasionally regained some semblance of consciousness but had not said anything that would be relevant to the inquest.
It was now known that the representative of the Board of Trade, Major General Hutchinson, would now be arriving later on that afternoon1 and a discussion took place as to whether they should meet with him. It was decided to reconvene at the Town Hall in order to find out if Hutchinson intended to order a separate inquest, as that might impact on their own inquiry’s ability to complete their work. They then viewed Rowland Hall’s body.
Later on that afternoon, the jurors met again in the Council Chamber of the Town Hall, where they were eventually joined by others including the Mayor, Alderman Walker (who had assisted at the crash site), Councillor A. Haigh, Dr. Erson (who had been on the fateful tramcar), and Mr. Wilkinson with a solicitor (Mr. Ellis) now representing his firm.
The Coroner then joined them, accompanied by Major General Hutchinson, and announced they had reached a decision that Hutchinson would hold a separate inquest but that he would endeavour to “make his report as speedily as possible” so that the jurors could use it to aid them in their own deliberations. Hutchinson would also provide independent and impartial assistance to the jury members.
Barstow also stated it unlikely that the engine would re-enter service until both inquests had been completed. Rather tactlessly, the Mayor then tried to insist that, if the engine was found to be in working order, it should be allowed to go back into service — “it seems a pity to keep it idle all the time”. Juror Mr. Drake wisely stated that the “public are exceedingly alive to this matter, and for their sakes I think we should almost prefer that the engine did not work until after the termination of this inquiry.”
It was then decided that the engineers on the jury should accompany Major General Hutchinson on his inspection of the engine. The solicitor Ellis insisted that he and Mr. Wilkinson should be allowed to go with them, and this was agreed. Before they adjourned, the Mayor one again raised his desire to have the engine back in service as quickly as possible.
At the tram shed, Hutchinson requested that the engine’s boiler be primed. He then briefly left to begin his own inquiry by interviewing Thomas Laxton (Huddersfield Tramway Superintendent) as well as the driver and conductor of the tramcar. Upon his return to the shed, an attempt to move the engine was made but then abandoned as it was felt there was something mechanically wrong with it.
During all of this, the jury had deliberated with the Coroner and come to the decision to appoint an engineer of their own choice who would assist Hutchinson’s inquiry and write a separate report. This was to be Mr. Middleton Pratt, an engineer residing in Fixby.2
The inquest then adjourned for a week, giving Hutchinson time to make progress on his report.
The formal opening of the Huddersfield Fine Art and Industrial Exhibition took place, with the Duke of Somerset in attendance.
The Chronicle reported:
Although the lamentable catastrophe which occurred here in the early part of the week has thrown quite a gloom over the town, yet hearty efforts were put forth yesterday to make today’s proceedings in connection with the opening of the Exhibition a great success. The small display of bunting, which a few days ago appeared scattered here and there, had much increased, and Westgate, St. George’s Square, the Market Place, and other portions of the town presented quite a gay appearance.
Tuesday 10 July 1883
The two engineers selected by Major General Hutchinson and the inquest jury — Arthur G. Evans of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company and Mr. Middleton Pratt — commenced their testing of the engine. It should be remembered that Hutchinson had previously attempted to run the engine to test it on 5 July but this had been abandoned. Observing their tests were Mr. Wilkinson, of the company who manufactured the engine, and “the superintendent”, who was presumably Thomas Laxton.
Evans and Pratt took the engine out on a test run as far as Fartown. They immediately experienced problems on the incline from the tram shed down onto North Gate — the driver took the corner onto North Gate so quickly that the automatic breaking system engaged itself. It was at Fartown they discovered the right-hand piston was “smashed to bits”. The engine was then returned to the shed on Northumberland Street.
Wednesday 11 July 1883
During the afternoon, Evans and Pratt, accompanied by Pratt’s colleague Joseph Hepworth, dismantled the failed piston and made a more detailed examination of the engine. They found small fragments of the piston in the exhaust box.
With hindsight, they should have done this detailed examination before the run to Fartown the previous day, as it was now impossible to say what state the piston had been in at the time of accident and how much further disintegration had happened during their test run.
Both engineers then wrote up separate reports, which were presented at the final day of the inquest.
A further set of tests, using Engine No.3 and Car No.4 on the Lindley line, were conducted under the supervision of Middleton Pratt early on 21 July. The newspaper reports don’t reveal why these took place or who instigated them, but they involved testing tramcar braking under a number of different scenarios. As Pratt was selected by the inquest jury, perhaps he carried out the tests at their request, or perhaps the Tramways Committee requested them?
Thursday 12 July 1883
The inquest resumed on Thursday morning and took place in the Council Chamber of the Town Hall. By now, Roscoe, the engine driver, had legal representation (Barker, Sons, and Yeoman who where based in the Estate Buildings near where the crash occurred) and other solicitors where in attendance representing the bereaved and injured.
The day was taken up with witness statements and the Coroner announced that it was the jury’s wish for witnesses not to remain in the room, except for when they were giving evidence. This provoked a certain amount of discussion and it was agreed that “the scientific witnesses, the maker of the engine, and the engine driver” could remain throughout.
Margaret Miller testified that she travelled on the tramcar between Marsh and near Greenhead Road and noticed nothing unusual. She claimed that when she alighted, the tram had come to a full stop. She wasn’t able to say if the brakes of the car were applied or not.
George North, a butcher of Lindley, testified that he saw the tramcar go past and that he believed the car’s brakes were applied as the wheels were skidding (“I thought if it had been night there would have been a lot of sparks”). He recognised several of the passengers on the upper-deck, including Rowland Hall and Benjamin Brook. He saw the tramcar slow down near South Street and he thought two people alighted. Curiously, he denied that the tramcar had stopped where Margaret Miller had claimed she had alighted.
Dr. W.R. Erson was called next and he gave a detailed account of the journey from Lindley. He stated that from Marsh onwards, he felt that the tramcar was “going at a speed which I considered unsafe” and that he had said as much to those around him. He stated that he had kept a close eye on the driver and, close to New North Street when the tramcar had noticeably picked up speed, he felt sure that the driver had lost control — he was able to identify now that the lever he’d seen Roscoe pull was to reverse the engine, but it appeared to move without resistance and that this had seemingly surprised the driver.
At this point, he stated that got up and calmly (so as not to “create a panic”) walked to the back of the car where he noticed Alfred Crosland near to the brake handle but could see no sign of the conductor. By now, the tramcar was “going at a very rapid rate” and he took the opportunity to jump off the rear platform and “with difficulty retained my feet”. As the tramcar passed St. George’s Street, which was only a short distance from the corner the tramcar overturned on, he saw Joseph Wilson jump off. However, if didn’t see Alfred Crosland jump off. The tramcar passed out of his sight around the corner onto Railway Street and he heard the crash. Running around the corner, he saw passengers lying on the ground and began assisting the injured.
Although Dr. Erson recalled Margaret Miller alighting, he did not notice anyone getting off near South Street, which implies the men seen by George North jumped off when they realised the driver wasn’t going to slow down for them to get off.
The inquest then adjourned for lunch.
Alfred Crosland then gave evidence. He had boarded in Marsh and remained stood near the back of the lower-deck of the car throughout the journey, near to the brake handle. He stated that the tramcar had sped up alarmingly (“a frightful speed”) as they entered West Parade and that he saw Joseph Wilson, Wright Firth, and Dr. Erson jump off.
Crosland then went on to describe how he had grabbed the brake after the car began to wobble from side to side, causing some of the passengers to scream. He thought he did this as they passed the Crown Hotel — which was situated on the junction with Upper Head Row where West Parade became West Gate. He turned the brake several times to the right, but felt no decrease in speed. It was here that he jumped off himself, grazing his knees and elbows.
It seems there was then some discussion about whether or not Crosland had released the brake, rather than applying it, but Major General Hutchinson stated that “it was impossible for the witness to turn the brake the wrong way […] because there is a catch at the bottom which would prevent [it]”. If the jury were to return a verdict of manslaughter, they would need to be sure that Crosland hadn’t unwittingly contributed to the crash by releasing the car’s brake.
The next witness was John Henry Sterry, a wholesale clothier whose shop was on the corner of Westgate and Railway Street. From his vantage point on the first floor, looking up Westgate, he feared the tramcar might jump the rails and plough into his shop. He saw the tramcar take the corner, the car tip to the right onto its side wheels (“for 15 or 20 yards”) and then tumble over. He ran outside and took part in giving aid to the injured, bringing some of them into his shop.
Sterry estimated he had seen previous tramcars take the corner at six to eight miles an hour (which would be almost twice the speed it had been designed for) and that the fatal tramcar was travelling “not less than 16 miles an hour”. He could not say if the brakes were being applied, but felt that they probably weren’t.
John Rowe testified that he had been walking along Railway Street on the opposite side to Mr. Sterry’s shop when he “heard the bell of the tram-engine ringing very fast”. He witnessed the tramcar take the corner and the car topple, throwing passengers onto the ground. After giving aid, he spoke to the driver and conductor, saying “I thought you would have had break power enough to have stopped [the tramcar] anywhere” and was left with the impression that the car’s brakes had not been applied as when it was moved into St. George’s Square, he could see the car’s wheels rotating and saw no-one release the brake.
Despite the Chief Constable saying that he had four more witnesses, the inquest was adjourned until the following day, when the crucial scientific evidence would be presented.
The fourth day of the inquest began with a witness statement by Joseph Theophilus Green, stationmaster of Huddersfield Railway Station. He had been standing lower down Railway Street, saw the tramcar take the corner and the car topple, and estimated the time of the crash as being 2:56pm. In his opinion — based on 20 years of working on the railways — the tramcar had been travelling at around 11 miles per hour coming around the corner and that neither the engine brakes or the car brake were being applied. Like Mr. Sterry, he too had seen tramcars coming down Westgate at around 8 miles per hour, which he regarded as “too fast”.
When he reached the crash site, he was in time to hear someone ask the driver, “Whatever have you been doing?” Roscoe had pointed to one of the cylinders and said it was “out of order”, which gave Green the impression a piston had failed and so “the engine would be less under the control of the driver”.
The tramcar conductor, Henry Sawyer, then gave his evidence after being cautioned by the coroner — if the jury decided that Sawyer’s actions had contributed in any way to the crash, the evidence could be used in court.
Sawyer’s testimony rambled slightly, and was interrupted by a break for lunch, but it can be distilled down to the following:
He had only recently started in the job of conductor had only been given basic verbal instructions on what to do and “had not [been given] any directions as to where to collect the fares, when to apply the brakes, nor how to perform my duties”. Nor was he told that he should enforce strict limit of 34 passengers on the tramcar (16 on the lower-deck and 18 on the upper-deck), but had been told not to allow anyone to sit on the steps between the decks.
He had seen the driver Roscoe come out of the Fleece Inn in Lindley before they departed.
He was of the habit of applying the car brake on the latter section of the route, likely as they passed Greenhead Park, and stated that he had done so on the day of the accident — this then accounted for George North being of the opinion the wheels were skidding when he saw the tramcar pass by him. He did not touch, or go near, the brakes after that.
As they approached the South Street junction, he rang his bell as he saw passengers wanted to get off (these would be the two men seen alighting by George North) but the driver did not slow the engine. Sawyer was of the opinion the engine had in fact begun to speed up.
Following the accident, he was on the car when it was moved down to the shed on Northumberland Street. He stated that he applied the car brake, “but notwithstanding that I could not stop [the car] at the depot. At [that] time there were only two people in the car — a constable and myself.”
He had previously noticed that the automatic braking system would engage when they were making the trip from Huddersfield up to Lindley, but had never noticed it on the downhill trip back to Huddersfield. This implies that Roscoe was in the habit of disabling it.
The jury then tried to get to the bottom of whether or not tramway crews were issued with formal written rules and instructions for their job. Sawyer stated that he’d been given a set of instructions on the Monday after the accident by Albert Clough (a clerk in the tramways department), which he’d passed on to the solicitor representing the Taylor family. It emerged that these had been issued in October 1881 under the previous Mayor (Alderman Thomas Denham) and had not been previously circulated to tramcar employees as the Committee were currently considering their own set of instructions which were still in draft.
Reading between the lines, one is left with the impression that the Tramways Committee, which met in private on the evening of the day of the accident, were seeking to limit their potential liability. Aware that staff were working without any formal guidelines whatsoever, it would seem that Clough was instructed to give Sawyer the 1881 set, which was the only ones they had which had been signed off by a Mayor. The current Mayor and Mr. Batley, the Town Clerk, seemed to be unaware this had happened, and stated it was a mystery to them both how Sawyer had ended up with them.
The superintendent of the tramways, Thomas Laxton, then gave evidence. He described how the engine had undergone test runs prior to entering service. During these, it was noticed that the piston heads seemed to be thumping against the cylinder covers and he had instructed a fitter from the engine company to make suitable adjustments. He attended a further test run on 8 June and was happy that the issue with the pistons had been resolved. The engine went into service the following day.
Laxton then contradicted some of the earlier evidence by stating that all drivers and conductors were issued with written instructions.
After the accident, he had gone to the tram shed to see the engine and stated that he had caught Roscoe attempting to change the settings of the valves which operated the automatic brakes. He then examined the values and found one was fully closed and the other partially closed. Curiously, Laxton made no mention of Roscoe admitting verbally that he had disabled the automatic brakes. He had, however, suspected some of the drivers of doing so and had previously made attempts to catch them red-handed (or rather, closed-valved).
Laxton then went on to state that he had raised various concerns about the safety of the engines and the Lindley route to both the engine manufacturer and the Borough Surveyor, Mr. Dugdale. In particular, that the engines should be fitted with an independent braking system, separate to the steam-powered one, and that the corner where the crash occurred was unsafe due to the low cant of the rails — in fact Laxton stated that he’d plumbed that corner whilst on a tramcar and found the car leaned outwards, rather than inwards. He claimed that Mr. Dugdale had told him to “mind his own business”.
At this point in the proceedings, Major General Hutchinson had to leave and, as he was not able to return to Huddersfield until the following Friday, the Coroner adjourned the inquest for a full week.
Perhaps, not surprisingly, Laxton’s evidence, which implied that officials (particularly Dugdale) had been warned about the safety of the line, caused a stir in the press.
Prior to final day of the inquest into the deaths of the seven passengers starting, a series of early morning tests were carried out on the Lindley route under Pratt’s supervision (possibly with Evans and others in attendance, but possibly not). These used a different engine (No. 3) and car to the one that crashed and were designed to test how the brakes operated under a variety of scenarios:
The first run was down Trinity Street and the driver attempted to run the engine as fast as possible. The automatic braking system engaged and the driver then attempted to bring the tramcar to a full stop, which he succeeded in doing after about 30 yards.
In the second test run, steam was shut off from the engine (presumably to the steam-powered breaks) and the driver attempted to stop the tramcar by throwing the engine into reverse. This resulted in the tramcar (presumably sliding somewhat down the incline) at around 3 miles an hour.
The third test involved “holding the reversing lever against the automatic action” which resulted in the engine running out of control.3
The fourth was “the automatic action, only without applying any of the breaks”, which brought the tramcar to a slow crawl.
The firth test was carried out at the junction with Greenhead Road and the driver was able to stop the tramcar after 25 yards purely by reversing the engine.
The sixth test, which would likely have alarmed anyone passing by, involved running at full speed down West Parade so that the automatic brakes applied themselves. This was a repeat of the first test, but on a more severe gradient.
As a final test, with the tramcar standing still, Pratt applied the car brake and “asked the driver to put his steam break on the car as forcibly as possible”. This seems to have been done to test if the driver applying his brakes would cause the car brake handle to release — it didn’t.
With these tests completed, the final day of the inquest began. The long list of attendees reported in the Chronicle indicates that the Council Chambers would likely have been full.
Middleton Pratt began by verbally giving his written report, his conclusions and his recommendations:
As requested, with Mr. Evans I inspected the No. 2 engine, at the engine shed, on July l0th, the engine that met with the accident. Joseph Hepworth, a fitter in my employ, attended to do the necessary work. Firstly, the slide valve of the right-hand cylinder was found to have moved on its spindle (when the engine was at top centre the port was about wide open). Secondly, after the adjustment of the slide valve the engine was run to Fartown and back. Its work was such that it was decided to have the cylinder lids up. On this being done the right-hand piston was found smashed to bits and the piston rod bent. Thirdly, the governor and automatic brakes were tried on the run to Fartown three or four times, and found to act fairly well at about 8 1/2 miles per hour. It occurring to me that the valve spindle would probably be required at the enquiry, I attended at the engine shed on the afternoon of the 11th inst., with my man, Joseph Hepworth. We then removed the valve spindle of the right-hand engine, so that it could be produced at the inquest if called for. It also occurred to me to examine the inside of the exhaust box connected with the damaged engine. I there found a considerable number of bits of the broken piston which had been carried out of the cylinder by the exhaust and deposited in the exhaust box. That is my report on the facts. The opinion I formed on the foregoing — It must be borne in mind that the automatic brake can be shut off by the driver by valves on the steam pipes connections, thus rendering the thing useless. I am of opinion that the automatic brake was shut off (or inoperative from other causes, which would amount to the same thing), the driver relying on reversing his engine and the car brakes to control the speed. The piston having smashed, or the slide valve becoming deranged, or both, when the driver found the speed too high and reversed the engine it would be unable to answer him, as one cylinder was quite useless, and the other not sufficient to control the engine by itself, leaving the car out of the question. That one cylinder when reversed cannot control the engine on such an incline as the bottom of Northumberland Street, which is one in 22.8, was proved on the trial run to Fartown on the 10th. Descending Northumberland Street from the depot, the speed accelerated, and the engine went round the curve into Northgate at a speed sufficient to bring the automatic brake on. On landing in Northgate, the driver, on being spoken to by Mr. Evans as to why he came round the curve at that speed, replied, “I could not hold her.” I personally saw him try to do that with his reversing lever. It is evident the engine being in this state when the accident happened that in descending Westgate the car would have to assist in pulling the engine up, and I am very doubtful, in the absence of actual experiment, whether the car brakes if on were powerful enough for the car alone, without having the engine dragging in addition. Suggestions for prevention :— A powerful screw hand brake, to he fitted to each engine; the governor and all connections, and the automatic brake, to be constructed so as to be outside the control of the driver ; the pistons and side valve connections to be constructed in a more substantial and generally approved manner. The slide valve of the steam car brake is attached in the same manner as the engine slide valve. This also ought to be fitted in a more positive manner, and the car hand brake to have a spring to the catch.
In his opinion, it would not normally be possible to break a piston simply by going too fast and that the automatic braking system in itself was sufficient to have reduced the speed of a tramcar so that the accident would not have happened, even if the car brakes had not been applied. He also believed that, had the second piston not failed, the driver would have been able to control the engine purely with the reversing lever.
Mr. Ellis, the solicitor for the engine manufacturer, then questioned Pratt further and the engineer repeated his conviction that the action of the automatic braking system would have been sufficient to have averted the accident. However, he was critical of the choice of materials used for the pistons — to his mind, cast iron should have been used instead of the cheaper phosphor-bronze (an alloy of copper and tin).
Due to the damage, he wasn’t able to give a definite reason as to why the piston failed, but was of the opinion the failure had occurred at the top of piston (which presumably raised the possibility it was damaged during the initial running tests of which Thomas Laxton has spoken of, in which the piston ends were thumping against the cylinder heads).
Finally, he gave his opinion that had the engine been fitted with an independent screw brake, the driver would have been able to bring the engine under control on the day of the accident.
Dr. James Richardson, House Surgeon at the Huddersfield Infirmary, was then called and he described the causes of death for each of the seven victims, which had included a post mortem examination of at least four.
Annie Moore — Was dead on arrival at the Infirmary. Severely bruised on the head and face, but no fractures. Post-mortem revealed a “quantity of effused blood on the inside of the scalp pressing on the brain”.
Isabella Woodhouse — Died at 5pm on 3 July. Was unconscious until her death. Two inch long wound on back of head. No post-mortem examination took place, but likely cause of death of “severe brain injuries”.
Sarah Clegg — Died at 7:45pm on 3 July. Partially conscious when admitted. Post-mortem examination revealed “extensive fracture at the base of skull”, “severe lacerations of the brain”, and “a good deal of effused blood pressing on the brain”.
Fred Moore — Died at 8pm on 3 July. Was unconscious until his death. Post-mortem examination revealed fracture at base of skull, multiple lacerations to the brain and a “quantity of effused blood pressing on the brain”.
David Bertenshaw Taylor — Died at 8:20pm on 3 July. Was unconscious until his death, which was caused by fracture at the base of skull and severe injury to the brain.
Mary Shaw — Died around 4pm on 4 July. Was unconscious until her death. 5 inch long scalp wound. No specific cause of death was given.
Rowland Hall — Died around 7:30pm on 4 July. Partially conscious when admitted. Large wound “on the forehead over right eye” with “depressed fracture of the frontal bone connected with wound” and multiple fractured ribs (sustained when he was thrown against an iron lamppost). Immediate cause of death being “injury to the brain”.
Passenger William Herbert Sykes then gave evidence. He had been travelling on the upper-deck and was able to say that all the seats were occupied and at least 4 passengers were stood up just prior to the accident.
The inquest then broke for luncheon.
In the afternoon, Arthur G. Evans of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company read his report:
I have the honour to report for your information that in accordance with your request I have made a careful investigation into the causes which led to the recent most lamentable tramcar accident at Huddersfield. The circumstances are briefly these :— On July 3rd the 2:30 p.m. car from Lindley to Huddersfield, worked by engine No. 2, seems to have travelled all right and to have been under perfect control until it arrived in the neighbourhood of South Street, some 360 yards from the spot where the accident occurred. At this point, where the line is on a falling gradient of one in 18, the conductor signalled the driver to pull up to allow a passenger to alight, but this the latter failed to do, and the engine and car appear to have run down the street at a constantly accelerating speed, and the efforts of the conductor and driver to arrest its progress had no effect, the consequences being that on the curve turning from Westgate
in Railway Street the car upset with the fatal results reported. The car is provided with a brake which can be worked by the guard by hand or by the driver by means of a steam cylinder on the engine. The engine is provided with automatic governor or speed regulator, the object of which is to check the speed of the engine and to keep it within safe and controllable limits. The governor is brought into play at a speed not greater than 10 miles an hour, and its effect is to reverse the engine and actuate a steam brake on the engine wheels. There is no independent brake on the engine wheels under the control of the driver, the operation of stopping the car and engine being ordinarily effected by means of the brake on the car and the reversing of the engine by the driver. The automatic governor is provided with stopcocks, which in their working and normal position should be open for the passage of steam and secured with a chain and padlock. On Thursday last I made an inspection of the car and found the brake in good working order. The engine was next looked over, and it was subsequently steamed and an attempt made to run it out on the roads for trial, but owing to a defect in the machinery, it was found necessary to put back into the shed and abandon further investigation for the day. As arranged, I met Mr. Mlddleton Pratt yesterday, and a very careful and searching examination of the engine was made. We first directed our attention to the slide valves of the engine, the right hand one of which was found displaced, and after that was made right steam was got up, and we took a run as far as Fartown. The engine was run up to its maximum speed several times to test the governor, and it was found to act perfectly well at a speed of from eight to nine miles an hour, but the retardation when the governor was in action was not at all what it should have been. In consequence of this, and the fact that the engine did not work satisfactorily in other respects, we decided to return to the shed and make a further examination. We next turned our attention to the pistons, the left hand one of which we found in good order, but the right hand one was entirely destroyed, the metal being broken up into small pieces, and the piston rod loose. The result of our investigations was to show that in consequence of the failure of the right hand piston the engine was deprived of one half of its retarding force when reversed, and the amount of other available brake power was not sufficient to stop the engine and car under the circumstances. The slide valve was probably moved out of its proper position subsequently to and in consequence of the failure of the piston, and in my opinion it had no bearing on the accident. The cause of the failure of the piston is difficult to assign in consequence of its being so completely destroyed, but I may state that there is nothing peculiar in its construction or any apparent defect to account for it; but I think it possible that the set screw used for the purpose of holding the two halves of the piston together worked loose and got between the piston and cover, thus causing the former on its upwards stroke to receive a violent blow which fractured it. I should further mention that one of the steam brake cylinders had the small release cock missing, which would somewhat detract from the efficiency of the engine brake. From the above circumstances I am of opinion that in descending the incline in West Parade the right hand piston of the engine broke either at the time the engine and car became unmanageable or at some point higher up the street ; that the speed of the engine was such that, though the car brake was applied and in good working order, and the engine reversed, it could not be controlled, and the engine entered the curve so fast that the car overturned. I think that had the piston not broken the speed would have been reduced to such a point that the curve would have been traversed in safety even if the engine and car had not been stopped altogether, and I am further strongly of opinion that had the automatic governor worked, the speed would not have reached the point it appears to have done, but would have been checked by the steam brake on the engine and the reversing of the machinery, even though crippled to the extent of one-half by the failure of the piston, and the result would have been that the velocity of the car would not have been sufficient to have overturned it. I am not prepared to say why the governor did not act, but the stop cooks do not appear to have been locked up, and from the working of the governor since I should say that that they were closed at the time of the accident and rendered the governor inoperative. I further think that the driver showed a want of resource in not opening the sand box valves with which his engine ia provided, the effect of which would have been most beneficial in helping to retard the car. I think it highly desirable that tramway engines should be fitted with brakes on the engine wheels capable of being applied by the driver independently of reversing the engine ; and also that the governor steam stop valves should be out of the control of all persons except those immediately responsible for their maintenance and good order. Every assistance was afforded me in making the investigations both by the superintendents of the tramways and by Mr. Wilkinson, the maker of the engine.
After some follow-on questions, the Borough Surveyor, Mr. Dugdale, was called to give evidence. Presumably aware of the stir Laxton’s evidence had created the week before, he was quick to point out that, although he had been responsible for the laying out of the track, including the curve where the accident happened, he had inherited the tramway plans from his predecessor.
He then went on to strenuously deny that Mr. Laxton had ever raised concerns to him about the cant of the track on that corner, or that he then told him to “mind his own business” except in relation to a discussion of the curve leading to the tram shed. Mr. Laxton’s solicitor, Mr. D.F.E. Sykes then pressed him on this topic, which seemed to fluster Mr. Dugdale, who gave a series of evasive (and at times slightly surreal) answers as to what was Laxton’s business to report and what wasn’t.
Then it is no part of his [i.e. Laxton’s] business to study the curves?
— Certainly not.
Well, whose business is it if it is not the business of the superintendent of the tramways?
— It is the business of the engineer [i.e. Dugdale] laying down the lines.
Then is the superintendent to know nothing at all about the curves?
— It is no part of his business.
You did not like his mentioning to you about the line in the shed?
— I did not consider it proper.
You did not consider it part of his duty at all to say what he said?
— No, I don’t think so.
But what was he to do?
— Report it to the [Tramways] Committee if he liked.
But why not to you?
— He could report it to me if he liked.
But if he found them out of order?
— I say he might do what he pleased.
But would it be proper to report it to you?
— He could please himself.
But I want to know what he was to do?
— He could please himself.
But was it part of your business to receive such reports?
— That is my business.
Will you please tell us what is your business?
— No, I shall not, because it is my business.
Well, at any rate you considered it no part of his business?
What was he to do, was he to hold to his tongue?
— He could please himself.
Annie Crosland of 30 West Parade was then called to give evidence. She stated that she heard the tramcar approaching and went to her door. As the tramcar passed by, she heard a loud “crack” coming from the engine, after which the tramcar appeared to speed up. The unstated implication was that this was the sound of the piston failing.
At this point in the proceedings it is worth considering the position of Huddersfield Corporation’s Tramways Commission. The town was the first local authority to implement their own tramcar system and it was important that it be seen to be a success. In meetings and on the letters pages of the local newspapers, concerns had been raised that the hilly terrain was unsuitable for powered tramcars — the first major test of the Fartown to Lockwood line in 1882 had come to an embarrassing stop half way up Chapel Hill, although, in fairness, someone had accidentally left the car brake on!
In the private meeting held by the Commission on the evening of the accident, when it was apparently known the engine driver had run the ill-fated service with the emergency brakes disabled, they surely must have discussed what they could do in terms of damage limitation, particularly if the finger of blame was pointed at the Corporation. Would they be blamed for not ensuring the tramway crews were properly trained? Would they be blamed for not ensuring the corner where the crashed happened was built to a safer specification? Where the engines they had spent so much money on not fit for purpose as they didn’t have an independent brake system? Would the public lose confidence in the tramway system that was only a few months old?
Surely also on their minds was the formal opening of the Huddersfield Fine Art and Industrial Exhibition, which took place four days after the accident. It was anticipated that the exhibition would draw thousands of visitors to Huddersfield.
We can only speculate what, if anything, kept the Chairman of the Commission, Councillor Armitage Haigh, awake at night. However, on what was expected to be the final day of the inquest, the finger of blame was now pointing towards a rogue driver who disobeyed strict verbal orders and a mechanical failure which could be blamed on the engine manufacturer. Perhaps this, along with Mr. Dugdale’s earlier poor performance, is what prompted him to approach the foreman of the jury, perhaps during the lunch break, to tell him what Roscoe had said to him on the evening of the accident.
With Annie Crosland’s testimony completed, the jury expressed an “earnest wish” that Councillor Haigh be called as a witness, as they wished to ask him a “very important” question regarding the driver, Roscoe. This appears to have been against procedure, presumably as the Coroner was not aware in advance, and a short deliberation took place with the Town Clerk before the Councillor. According to the Chronicle, Haigh said:
About half an hour after the accident, as soon as we could get down to the shed, I asked Roscoe, the driver, about the valves. Alderman Henry Hirst, Laxton, the superintendent, and Roscoe were present. I asked Roscoe if he had shut the valves which applied steam to the automatic brake, I don’t remember Laxton asking anything. Roscoe evaded the question for a time and then acknowledged that he had closed one valve. Then I asked him again if he had closed the other, and he said he had partially closed it. I asked the question, and Mr. Laxton did not, in my hearing, ask any question relating to the valves, or either of them.
The solicitors present then pushed Haigh with further questions, trying to ascertain the exact wording Roscoe used, although the Councillor seemed to be a little unsure. Haigh also stated that he had previously given this information to Mr. Wilkinson, the representative of the company who manufactured the engine, who was of the opinion that the accident would not have occurred if the automatic brakes were working, even taking into account the failed piston.
If Haigh was telling the truth, it seems odd that Laxton didn’t mention that Roscoe had verbally admitted to disabling the automatic braking system when he gave his testimony and that Haigh seemingly left it until the last possible moment to present this vital information to the jury. The disabling of the braking system seems to have been picked up on very early in the investigation — apparently by Laxton, if no-one else — as a few newspapers reported the engine’s manufacturer claiming that the accident had been caused entirely by the driver and that there were no mechanical problems with the engine.
At the risk of appearing cynical, did Haigh seize a last-minute opportunity to pin the entire blame on Roscoe? Perhaps, after the crash, Haigh had instigated a background check into the engine driver and discovered that Roscoe had already spent time in prison.4
At this point, Major General Hutchinson intimated that he would have to leave. The jury had no questions for Hutchinson and he was thanked for the work he had done on behalf of the Board of Trade.
With no further questions to be asked, the Chronicle summarised the Coroner’s final advice to the jury:
The Coroner, addressing the jury, said they had arrived at last at that point in the enquiry when it would be necessary for them to consider what their verdict should be. Before doing this he should like to draw their attention to one or two special points to which he thought they would have to give their careful consideration in giving their verdict. A great and important question arose, viz., from what cause or circumstance did the tramcar fall over ? and secondly, was it an accidental occurrence or was any person criminally responsible for the deaths of the deceased persons or any of them ? He then detailed the circumstances attending the fatal journey of the tramcar, as detailed by the witnesses, in the course of which he said that much had, no doubt, been said outside that Court of the conduct of Mr. Alfred Crosland on the journey just before the disaster, but he thought they must really come to this conclusion, that whatever Mr. Crosland did to the brake had no effect either in increasing or reducing the speed, and did not in any way contribute to the catastrophe. In their deliberations they would have to consider the cause of the engine becoming out of the control of the driver, as it undoubtedly did somewhere on the journey, and whether the speed exceeded nine miles an hour, and if so why did not the automatic brake come into action. If their opinion was that the speed did exceed that which he had stated, the reason why the automatic brake did not act might be explained by the very important and startling evidence given as to the closing wholly of one of the valves, and partially of the other through which the steam passed to work the brake. The Coroner then said that they should not bring in a verdict of criminal responsibility for a more error of judgement, a slight neglect of duty, or any little mishap that might happen, but they would have to be satisfied that there was a very substantial amount of gross negligence before putting a man on his trial for what would virtually be manslaughter. They would have to return one of three verdicts, either that the disaster was a purely accidental occurrence, without any blame whatever to anybody ; or secondly, that it was an accidental occurrence with blame attaching to someone, but such blame does not amount to criminal negligence ; or thirdly, a verdict of manslaughter against any person or persons they might think responsible. Another thing they might devote their attention to might be whether it was a proper thing that the terminus of an important tram route should be a public-house, and also whether they thought it desirable that an independent brake should be applied to tramway locomotives. He was sure from the attention they had given to the whole of the voluminous evidence that had been adduced that their verdict would not be given without having their most earnest attention and consideration.
The jury then retired for around three hours before returning with their verdict and recommendations:
(1) We find that the deceased persons, Isabella Woodhouse and others, came to their death from the falling over of the tramcar when running at an excessive speed, consequent upon the driver having lost control of his engine through the breaking of one of the pistons, thereby preventing him from effectively applying the reversing motion.
(2) That we severely censure the driver for having, in disobedience to orders, closed one entirely, and the other partly, of the valves, admitting steam into the automatic brake, thereby preventing any chance it might otherwise have had of coming into action.
(3) We recommend that there should be an independent hand screw brake on each engine — and also some means adopted for more securely preventing any tampering with the automatic brake.
(4) Believing that it is both consistent with the public convenience and necessary for the public safety, we recommend that the town terminus of both the Lindley and Edgerton tram-services shall be upon a double line of rails in Temple Street, thus avoiding their converging at a sharp angle and at the foot of steep gradients upon the single line of rails now laid down there — an arrangement in our judgement fraught with certain and serious disaster in the future. By this means the dangers attending both the sharp curve into Railway Street, where the late accident took place, and also the one in the Square would be avoided.
(5) We regard with much satisfaction the proved and manifest increased caution and decreased speed with which the existing tram services have been conducted since the recent catastrophe, and we desire to record our decided conviction that in a town like Huddersfield, where the gradients are severe, the curves sharp, and the streets in many places narrow and often crowded, it will be found impossible to continue a higher maximum rate of speed than that of eight miles an hour with that security which is absolutely necessary, not alone for the safety of the tram service, but for that of the ordinary street traffic itself.
(6) Fully sharing as we do the deep and widespread feeling of regret at this most deplorable calamity, we cannot separate without tendering our sincere sympathy to the relatives of the unfortunate deceased, as also our best wishes for the speedy and satisfactory recovery of the surviving sufferers.
With the verdict given, Roscoe would not stand trial for manslaughter. He continued to work an engine driver or operator for the rest of his life, although presumably not on the tramways of Huddersfield. By 1891, he was a locomotive driver living in Fartown and in 1901, the year he died, he was operating a stationary engine and living in Mirfield.
As for the jury’s recommendations, according to Roy Brook, the only change made by the Tramways Committee was that all Edgerton and Lindley tramcars had to come to a full stop on West Gate in order for all passengers to alight. The empty tramcar would then proceed around the corner onto Railway Street and into St. George’s Square to pick up passengers for the return journey.5
However, contemporary newspaper reports to indicate that the Town Council did approve independent brakes to be fitted to all engines and that resolved that all engines should be adapted so that the automatic brakes would engage at 8 miles per hour. Wilkinsons of Wigan also reportedly offered to “affix to each engine an instrument which would effecutally prevent the driver from tampering with or closing the valves admitting steam to the automatic brakes.”6
In other ways, safety rules were more strictly enforced on the tramways of Huddersfield, as evidenced from a Borough Police Court article from the end of August in which conductor Henry Sawyer remonstrated with a passenger on the upper deck of the car who refused to sit down.
The Town Council also voted to transfer a sum of 50 guineas to the Huddersfield Infirmary “in consideration of the efficient services of the medical and nursing staff on the occasion of the accident”.
It seems the relatives of the seven who died were awarded some compensation, but an 1886 article implies it wasn’t much. Benjamin Clegg, whose wife Sarah died in the accident, seems to have harboured a grudge against a magistrate named Walker, who presumably was the one who decided how much Clegg received. On 8 August 1886, a drunken Clegg was apprehended after he threw stones through the windows of Walker’s house and then threatened to shoot the magistrate.7
The only other fatal steam tramcar incident occurred on 3 June 1891 when the boiler of Engine No.9 exploded whilst it was standing in the Longroyd Bridge passing loop. A young man named John Thomas Hirst, who was training to become a driver, had been accompanying the engine’s driver, Arthur Skyes, and both were found badly injured. Hirst died within minutes.8 The car had separated from the engine and rolled back towards Huddersfield but was brought to a halt by the conductor applying his brake.
The force of the explosion shattered windows in the vicinity and at least one residential property was set alight by a hot piece of shrapnel. Reportedly, a total of 14 peoples were injured. The jury at the inquest recorded a verdict of “accidental death” after being advised that a manslaughter prosecution was unlikely to succeed. Locally, it was felt much of the blame rested with the Corporation but it would be over 100 years before businesses and corporations could be tried for that crime.
Worthy of note is that, once again, Mr. Middleton Pratt was appointed as the independent expert witness by the jury.
The accident and inquest were reported widely and a select of articles can be browsed online.
The Leeds Times (07/Jul/1883) article “Sad Catastrophe at Huddersfield“, though lengthy, contained a number of factual errors. In general, the Huddersfield Chronicle‘s coverage is the most in-depth and likely the most reliable, especially in respect of correctly naming the people involved.
Summary of Coverage by the Huddersfield Chronicle
For reference, here’s a brief description of what was covered by the local newspaper, along with links to scans of the article. Please note that the Saturday edition usually included reprints of articles published during the week.
Tuesday 3 July 1883
The newspaper had already gone to press by the time of the accident, no there as no coverage.
The Fearful Tramcar Accident in Huddersfield: The Adjourned Inquest — repeat of the article published the day before, plus details of the fourth day of the inquest which include a statement by the tramcar conductor (Henry Sawyer) and Thomas Laxton (tramway superintendent), and temporary departure of Major General Hutchinson which forced an adjournment until the following Friday
The Fearful Tramcar Accident at Huddersfield: Conclusion of the Inquest, The Verdict — final day of the inquest into the deaths, statements by the two engineers tasked with examining the engine, statement by surgeon James Richardson into the causes of the seven deaths, further eyewitness statements, contentious statements by the Borough Surveyor (Richard Dugdale), damning testimony by Councillor Armitage Haigh that the engine driver (Thomas Roscoe) admitted to disabling the automatic braking system, departure of Major General Hutchinson, final summing up, jury deliberations and their findings, and formal ending of the inquest
The following list is compiled from the various newspaper reports of the accident and provides details of the passengers and crew of the tramcar, as well as those who involved with aiding the injured at the crash site and those who took part in the subsequent inquest.
The Tramcar Crew
Thomas Roscoe (Engine Driver)
As Roscoe was suspected of being involved with causing the crash, he did not give evidence at the inquest. If the inquest jury returned a verdict of manslaughter against Roscoe, then any evidence he had provided at the inquest could be used against him at the subsequent trial.
He was born Thomas Ruscoe1 around 1844 in Doncaster, possibly in Thorne or Kirk Bramwith. He was an illegitimate child2 possibly born to Hannah Ruscoe.3
He was almost certainly the Thomas Ruscoe (aged 18) who was tried at York Assizes in December 1862 and found guilty of committing an act of bestiality at Womersley, near Doncaster. He was given a sentence of ten year’s penal servitude.
He married widow Ruth Ann Knight (born in Halifax) at St John, Huddersfield, on 14 June 1879, where his name was written as “Thomas Ruscoe”. His occupation was given as “labourer” but by the time of the 1881 Census he was a “traction engine driver”, living on Folly Road in Fartown, so did have some experience prior to becoming a tramcar engine driver.
Intriguingly, the Leeds Times (07/Jul/1883) reported that “the driver is said to have had twenty years’ experience upon locomotives of different makes”. This is patently untrue but it raises the possibility that Roscoe lied about his past when applying for the job.
He appears as “engine driver (locomotive)” living at 19 Folly, Netheroyd Hill, Fartown, in the 1891 Census. By 1901, he was living in Mirfield and working as a 56-year-old “stationary engine man”, meaning he operated a static steam engine, the like of which might be found in a factory or used to operate the life machinery in a coal mine.
He likely died shortly after the 1901 Census was taken, aged 56, and was buried in Mirfield on 4 October 1901. His widow continued to live in Mirfield and died in 1918, aged 69.
Henry Sawyer (Conductor)
Henry Sawyer was born around 1850 in Wakefield. He married Emma Wright in 1872 and they raised a family of at least nine children.
During the 1870s, he worked as a cab driver in Huddersfield.
On Saturday 15 November 1873, Sawyer had been driving a horse-pulled cab which ran over 70-year-old widow Hannah Cartwright. Mrs. Cartwright had been attempting to cross a busy junction on West Parade when, according to witnesses, she stepped out of the way of a butcher’s cart and into the horse pulling Sawyer’s cab. She was knocked to the floor and the front wheel of the cab passed over her body before Sawyer was able to stop the cab. Dr. William Robinson attended her and reported multiple injuries at the inquest, none of which individually were serious enough to kill her. However, he believed a combination of the injuries and the patient’s age led to her dying on the Thursday after the accident. The Jury recorded a verdict of “accidental death” and that no blame could be attributed to Sawyer, as he had been driving at a slow pace.
By the time of the 1881 Census, he was living at 18 Towning Row in Huddersfield.
He became a tramcar conductor in June 1883, around the time of the opening of the Lindley route. He gave evidence at the inquest into the tramcar accident which inferred he’d received little formal training for the role, but the inquest jury attached no blame to his actions on the day of the accident.
Following the inquest, Sawyer continued to work for a while as a conductor on the Lindley route before taking a job as a “railway teamer” (1891 Census), which likely meant he drove a heavy cart pulled by more than one horse, presumably delivering large items which arrived at the railway station.
In June 1896, he was described in a court case as being a “teamer [of] Market Place”. Saywer had been drinking and had lost control of his horse and cart, after the horse had been spooked by a passing tramcar and (according to Sawyer) he had been thrown from his seat — the tramcar driver suspected Sawyer had simply fallen off drunk. Sawyer was fined 5 shillings plus costs.4
He was again in front of the magistrates in September 1896 for failing to ensure one of his children regularly attended school.5
On the evening of Thursday 1 September 1898, Sawyer was making his way home when he suddenly collapsed in the street and died. The Yorkshire Evening Post described him as being “a driver in the employ of the Queen Hotel Carriage Company”.6
For reference, this list is of the people known to have travelled on the ill-fated tramcar and further details are provided in subsequent sections below.
It was initially claimed that the conductor had said there were 42 people on the tramcar, although he later revised that figure downwards. However, a total of at least 47 people can be identified from the various newspaper reports, although a few alighted before the tramcar lost control and a couple are somewhat dubious.
If known, their exact or approximate age is given in parentheses. Those who died are marked † and those whose presence on the tramcar may be doubted are shown in italics. The 11 passengers who are known to have been on the upper-deck are marked ▲ whilst the 13 on the lower-deck are marked ▼
Mrs. Atkinson (?)
Jane Hannah Barlow (25)
Sarah Bates (40)
Emma Beaumont (30), travelling with her son George and her niece, Alice Brook
George Beaumont (8 weeks), son of Emma Beaumont
Alice Brook (17), travelling with her aunt Emma Beaumont and cousin George
Benjamin Brook (?) ▲
Sarah Clegg (42) ▲†
Thomas Clegg (50)
Alfred Crosland (41) ▼
Polly Crowe — very likely Mary Jane Crow (13)
William Henry Dean (31?) ▲
Helena Drayton (30) ▼
Master Drayton (?), unnamed son of Helena Drayton and either John Drayton (6), Ernest Drayton (5) or Percy Drayton (3) ▼
Edwin Dyson (41?) ▼
Mrs. Emmanuel Dyson — probably Ellen Kitchingham (30)
Mr. Joe Dyson (25?)
Mrs. Joe Dyson — probably Eliza Dyson (22)
Dr. William Robert Erson (36) ▼
Elizabeth Firth (41), wife of Wright Firth ▼
Wright Firth (42), husband of Elizabeth Firth ▼
Rowland Hall (60) ▲†
Joseph Halstead (21)
Annie Hanson (12), sister of Harriet
Harriet Hanson (14), sister of Annie
Mrs. Hepworth (?)
Mrs. Dick Hepworth — most likely Betsy Hannah Hepworth (28)
Mrs. Lister Kaye — possibly Hannah Kaye (41)
Emily Liversidge (26) ▼
? Liversidge (9 weeks), unnamed baby of Emily Liversidge ▼
Richard Marsden (50?)
Margaret Miller (?) ▼
Annie Moore (5 months), daughter of Fred and Mary Ann ▲†
Fred Moore (28) ▲†
Mary Ann (“Polly”) Moore (25) ▲
Jane Peckett (44) ▼
Helena Adelaide Peckett (6), daughter of Jane Peckett ▼
James Roberts (34)
John Shaw (46?)
Mary Shaw (52) ▲†
Mrs. Thomas Shaw (53 or 54)
Amos Sykes (17)
William Herbert Sykes (21?) ▲
David Bertenshaw Taylor (45) †
Joseph Wilson (?) ▼
Joseph Wimpenny (36) ▲
Isabella Woodhouse (66) ▲†
Witness testimony from George North implies that Mr. Joe Dyson was also aboard but alighted with another gentleman (possibly Ben Brook) somewhere around the junction of South Street and West Parade. As other witnesses give the name “Mr. Dyson”, it is uncertain if they’re referring to Joe Dyson or Edwin Dyson.
The Passengers: Fatalities
Within a few hours of the accident, five people were dead:
Initially described as being around 30 and from Lindley.
Sarah was actually born around 1841 in Horbury and was aged 42 when she died. She was marred to “horehound beer manufacturer”7 Benjamin Clegg and the 1881 Census list them living at 21 Birchencliffe, Lindley cum Quarmby, with 3 young children: Jane (aged 11), Norman (3) and a baby named John. By 1883, the family was living on Lidgett Lane, Lindley.
At the inquest, Benjamin stated that he’d visited his wife twice in the Infirmary, but that she died after his second visit at 5:30pm on the day of accident. He also stated that his wife was accompanied by Mrs. Bates (listed below) but when they boarded the tramcar, Sarah said that she wanted to sit on the upper-deck and Mrs. Bates decided to remain below — a decision which likely saved her life.
Sarah Clegg was buried on 6 July at the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel in Lindley.8
Following the death of his wife, Benjamin received some compensation, but grew bitter that it was so small. He appears to have blamed a magistrate named Walker for this, and in August 1886 was apprehended drunk whilst near Walker’s house, after having throw stones through the window. During his arrest, he apparently claimed he’d like to shoot Walker dead. Benjamin died in 1913, aged 70.
Named as a rug manufacturer from Outlane, aged 45, he was unconscious with a serious head injury when admitted to the Infirmary and soon died.
David Bertenshaw Taylor was born around 1838 and he married Ellen Worthington (born Luddenden) in Halifax in 1865. At the time of the 1881 Census they were living at Lower Hirst, Longwood, with their 5 children: Lily E. (aged 14), Thomas (11), Albert Edward (9), David Bernard (7) and Charles Henry (6).
It seems likely Ellen was the woman described by the Huddersfield Chronicle as arriving at the Infirmary only to be told her husband had just died. She immediately collapsed in shock and had to be helped home.
At the inquest, she stated that her husband had left the family home at around 2pm to go to Huddersfield Market. As she had not seen her husband’s body, due to her collapse at the Infirmary, she formally identified it during the first day of the inquest.
His probate record notes that he left an estate worth £37 10s. to his widow. Ellen appears to have moved to Oldham where she worked as a grocer on the High Street.
Fred Moore and infant daughter Annie Moore
Fred was named as a 28-year-old cotton spinner of East Street, Lindley, and Annie was his five-month-old daughter.
Fred Moore was born around 1855 in Lindley and he married local woman Mary Ann10, who was badly injured in the accident. At the time of the 1881 Census, they were living at 38 Brian Street, Lindley cum Quarmby, with a 1-year-old son, George.
At the time of the accident, the family was living on East Street in Lindley and Fred was working as a “factory operative”.
At the inquest, his father Ben identified the two bodies as Mary Ann was still recovering in the Infirmary.
It seems very likely he was buried on 4 July, although the church record makes no mention of daughter Annie being buried with him. His probate record records an estate worth £25.
Named as a 65-year-old of Temple Street, Lindley.
Isabella (née Wood) was the wife of cloth worker Abraham Woodhouse and they had married in 1842. At the time of the 1881 Census they were living at 14 Temple Street, Lindley cum Quarmby, with three of their children: William (aged 32), Betsy (30), Annie (24).
At the inquest, Isabella’s daughter Annie identified the body and stated that her mother had been accompanied by Mrs. Atkinson, who was injured in the accident.
Isabella was 66 years old at the time of the accident. Abraham died a year after his wife in 1884, aged 69.
By the following day, two more of the passengers died of their injuries:
A manufacturer from Lindley who was sitting on the top deck. He was reported to be in a very serious condition with a large scalp wound and was unconscious when admitted to the Infirmary, having been thrown off the upper-deck of the tramcar onto an iron lamppost. Initial newspaper reports stated that he was not expected to live long.
Charles Richard Green, of Reinwood Road, Lindley, attended the inquest to formally identify Hall’s body. He had been at the Infirmary and visited Hall four times before he died.
Rowland Hall was born in 1823, the son of Joseph and Mary Hall, and was baptised on 30 March at the Salendine Nook Meeting House in Lindley. He possibly married his wife Ann on 27 July 1845 at Manchester Cathedral (if so, her maiden name was Williamson).
The 1881 Census lists the family as living at “Portlands” on New Hey Road, with Rowland’s occupation given as “mill owner”. Four children were listed: Mary H. (aged 28), Clara Ann (21), Frances E. (15) and Albert Edward (9).
His probate record lists his estate as being worth just over £181 15s.
Resident of Thornhill Street, Lindley, she was admitted with a head wound and lacerated face. Although not reported as being seriously injured, she later died.
She was likely born Mary Hannah Greaves in Lindley around 1830 and she married widower shoe maker Jonathan Shaw of Lindley in late 1871. Jonathan had three sons from a previous marriage.
At the inquest, her sister, Sarah Ann Pearson, stated that she’d been with Mary when she passed away at the Infirmary at around 3:50pm on 4 July and that Mary had not spoken since being admitted.
The Passengers: Injured
The following were involved in the accident and their reported injuries are given:11
Not listed by the Chronicle amongst the injured, but was named as being involved in the accident on the first day of the inquest by Annie Woodhouse. Mrs. Atkinson had accompanied Isabella Woodhouse, who was killed.
No other details are known about her, although we could perhaps assume she was of a similar age to 66-year-old Isabella.
Jane Hannah Barlow
Born around 1858 and a resident of Birkby, she worked as a cotton doffer. Her injuries were not stated.
She likely did not marry and died in 1909, aged 51. She was buried 31 July 1909 at St Thomas in Bradley.
Sarah Bates (née Gledhill)
A resident of Lindley and named as the wife of Solomon Bates. Her injuries were not stated.
At the inquest, it was heard that she was accompanying Sarah Clegg, but decided to remain on the lower-deck rather than sit on the upper-deck with her companion. Sarah Clegg died of her injuries at the Infirmary.
Born Sarah Gledhill in Birchencliffe around 1844, she married John Edwin Hirst in April 1861 but he later died. As a widow, she married widower stonemason Solomon Bates on 3 August 1878 at the parish church in Birchencliffe. She had children from both of her marriages.
She later married publican William Crook sometime around 1906 and died in 1921, aged 77.
Emma Beaumont (née Schofield) and baby son George Beaumont
Named as residents of Holly Bank Road, Lindley, Emma had head injuries. Her eight-week-old son, George, also suffered a head injury.
Emma Schofield was born around 1853, the daughter of John Schofield, and she married weaver John Beaumont on Christmas Eve 1875 at St. Stephen in Lindley. At the time of the 1881 Census, they were living at 17 Holly Bank Road with three children: Edwin (aged 4), Arthur (2) and newly-born daughter Ida. By 1891, they had had three further children.
Emma was the aunt of Alice Brook, listed below, and it is highly likely they were travelling together on the tramcar.
Her son, George, died before his first birthday and was buried at St. Stephen, Lindley, on 8 March 1884. Without knowing further details, it is possible that he never fully recovered from his head injury and died an early death 8 months after the accident.
Emma died a widow in 1921, aged 69. She was buried at All Hallows, Almondbury, on 4 March 1921.
A resident of Lindley, admitted with large wounds on the temple and a fractured right thigh. She was one of three patients that were reported on the first day of the inquest to be the most danger of dying, along with Joseph Halstead and Mary Ann Moore.
She was 17-year-old Alice Brook, daughter of “mill time keeper” Charles Brook of Dearne Fold, Lindley.
The 1881 Census lists Susannah Schofield (aged 31) as a boarder with the family and she was the sister of Emma Beaumont (née Schofield). Their sister Edith (also known as “Ada”) married Charles Brook in September 1863. Their father, John Schofield, died in April 1873. When Emma married in December 1875, Charles is named as her father (he was in fact her brother-in-law!), so presumably it was Charles who gave Emma away.
Therefore, given the family links, we can assume that Alice was travelling with her Aunt Emma (Beaumont) on the tramcar.
Alice married stonemason Albert Rowley in June 1889 at the parish church in Lindley and they then lived with her father, Charles until at least 1901. She likely died in 1942, aged 77.
In giving evidence to the inquest, George North, a butcher of Lindley, testified that he saw several people that he recognised on the upper-deck of the car, including “Ben Brook”. This was corroborated by the testimony of William Herbert Sykes.
It hasn’t been possibly to positively identify who “Ben Brook” was but he appears not to have been a relative of Alice Brook.
Not initially listed amongst the injured, he was included in a list published by the Huddersfield Chronicle on Saturday 7 July. Described as being from Birchencliffe, he was sat next to Rowland Hall. As the car tumbled, he grabbed a tight hold of the handrail which, he believed, saved him from being throw through a shop window. Despite suffering injuries, including back pain, he walked away from the accident and caught a cab home.
He was most likely farmer Thomas Clegg, born around 1833 and residing on Burn Road, Birchencliffe, at the time of the 1891 Census with his wife Ann and five children.
Named as daughter of dyer John Crowe of Lindley. She escaped with cuts and bruises and was able go straight home in a cab.
There are no genealogical records for “Polly Crowe”, so we must assume “Polly” was her nickname and she was in fact Mary Jane Crow, daughter of Lindley wood dyer John Richard Crow and his wife Eliza (née Senior),12 who was born 28 March 1870 and baptised at All Saints, Paddock, on 16 February 1876.
I could find no further information about what happened to Mary Jane after the tramcar accident.
William Henry Dean
Resident of Lindley. Reportedly suffered internal injuries but was able to return home to recover, where he later complained of back pains. He was attended to by Dr. Porritt.
This was wholesale chemist William Henry Dean of Holly Bank Road, Lindley. He was born around 1843 in Lindley and married Ann ?. They had a least four children, some of whom worked with him as chemist assistants.
In a statement printed in the Huddersfield Chronicle (05/Jul/1883), Dean said that he’d been on the upper-deck and had complained to the conductor about the overcrowding on the tramcar and the speed at which they’d been travelling — apparently the conductor swore and told him to “mind his own business”.
Helena Drayton and unnamed son
Named as Mrs. Drayton, resident at the Bay Horse Inn in Lindley. She received cuts on her hands and a bruise on her right shoulder during the accident.
In one newspaper report, it was stated that she had a young son with her, but his name was not given. The 1881 Census lists three sons and their ages at the time of the accident were: John (6), Ernest (5) and Percy (3).
Also known as “Lena”, Helena Rigby was born 29 March 1853 in Huddersfield, the daughter of John and Mary Rigby. She married inn keeper William Drayton at the parish church in Huddersfield on 9 August 1875, and they raised a family of six children.
The couple initially lived at the Bay Horse Inn in Lindley. As some point after the tramcar accident, but before the 1891 Census, they had moved the Boot & Shoe Inn on New Street in central Huddersfield. In later life, they lived on Greenhead Road and Helena died there in December 1918, aged 65.
Mrs. Emmanuel Dyson
Was allowed to return to her home in Lindley Moor.
This was most likely Ellen Kitchingham who was born around 1855, the daughter of cloth miller John Kitchingman and his wife Elizabeth. She was living on Wellington Street, Lindley, around the time of the accident. She married cloth finisher Emmanuel Dyson in December 1883 at the High Street Chapel in Huddersfield, so it was a little premature of the newspapers to name her as being “Mrs. Dyson” at the time of the accident! She probably died in 1924, aged 70.
Mr. and Mrs. Joe Dyson
Mrs. Joe Dyson also allowed to return to her home in Lindley Moor.
The was probably Eliza Dyson, wife of trainee stonemason Joseph Dyson, who were living at 51 Baker Street, Lindley cum Quarmby, at the time of the 1881 Census.
Witness George North, who gave testimony at the inquest, said he thought he saw Joe Dyson alighting the tramcar near to South Street. If so, then it seems Eliza’s husband accompanied her but got off as the tramcar entered West Parade. If this is the case, then it implies he had no concerns at that time over the speed of the tramcar and may not have even have been aware that it crashed shortly afterwards.
Mrs. Wright Firth was named by Dr. Erson as a passenger on the lower deck. Born Elizabeth Coupland around 1842 in Stainland, she had married widower Wright Firth in 1879. Her husband was named as one of those who jumped off the tramcar before the crash.
A resident of Lindley. Injuries were not stated. Alfred Crosland testified that Firth had jumped off the tramcar just before Dr. Erson did. Given that Firth’s wife was also a passenger, his actions seem rather unheroic!
He was born around 1841 and worked as a power loom tuner in Lindley. After his first wife, Jane Bottom, died in 1877, he married Elizabeth Coupland in 1879. He had at least seven children from both marriages and died in 1911, aged 70.
A stonemason from Birchencliffe. Suffered a fractured forearm and a suspected fracture of the skull and was reported to be “very ill”, but was conscious at the Infirmary. He was one of three patients that were reported on the first day of the inquest to be the most danger of dying, along with Alice Brook and Mary Ann Moore. The Leeds Times (07/Jul/1883) went even further and reported his case as being “hopeless”.
He was born around 1862 in Birchencliffe, the son of Mary A. Halstead, who was a widow at the time of the 1881 Census. At that time, they were living at 1 Rock Road, Lindley. It seems likely he died aged 28 and was buried at St. Stephen, Lindley, on 3 January 1890.
Annie Hanson and Harriet Hanson
Sisters aged 12 and 14 respectively, and named as the daughters of Mrs. Hanson of Holly Bank Road, were found unconscious on the pavement in front of Mr. Sterry’s shop but were later allowed home.
The sisters appear in the 1891 Census as visitors at the home of widow Emma Kenworthy (aged 42) of 13 Eleanor Street, Fartown, Huddersfield. Both are listed as “living on their own means”, meaning they were able to live without working.
Suffered facial injuries but was allowed to return to her home in Lindley. Due to the commonality of the surname, no further details could be found.
The Leeds Times (07/Jul/1883) reported that she was carrying a baby who escaped injury, but this may have been a mix-up with Emily Liversidge by the newspaper.
She was listed by the Chronicle as well as the other Mrs. Hepworth, detailed next, but had different injuries. However, there is the possibility that the newspaper made an error and there was only one Mrs. Hepworth on the tramcar.
Mrs. Dick Hepworth
Named as the wife of Dick Hepworth of Lindley. Admitted with a wound on the right side of her head, and slight cuts to her hands.
She was likely Betsy Hannah Hepworth, born around 1855 and the wife of stonemason Richard Hepworth. The 1881 Census gives them living at 49 East Street, Lindley, with a daughter named Edith Annie. After the tramcar accident, they had one more daughter, Marion Eveline. Richard later became a sexton and died in 1906. Betsy Hannah died in 1941, aged 86.
Mrs. Lister Kaye
Was allowed to return to her home on Lidget Street, but was still in shock.
She was possibly Hannah Kaye, wife of worsted weaver Lister Kaye, who were living with their five children at 170 New Hey Road, Lindley, at the time of the 1881 Census.
Emily Liversidge and unknown child
Wife of Milnsbridge plumber Thompson Liversedge, admitted suffering primarily from shock. She was holding a nine-week-old baby in her arms who “miraculously escaped without a scratch”.
The Leeds Times reported that the baby had been “buried under the mass of passengers inside the car, but was afterwards drawn through the window of the car unhurt.”
Emily Gratton was born around 1867 in Sheffield, the daughter of Henry and Allathea Gratton. She married Thompson (possibly Thomson) Liversidge in 1882.
The identity of the baby she was holding is uncertain, as the 1891 Census only lists two daughters who were both born after the tramcar accident, which implies the baby died between 1883 and 1891. Emily herself died aged 31 and was buried at All Hallows, Almondbury, on 25 March 1897.
Named as a resident of Glen View, Edgerton, she boarded the tramcar at Marsh and alighted before the Greenhead Road turnoff on Trinity Street, as she “wished to call upon [surgeon] Mr. Irving.”
She appeared at the inquest and stated that there was no apparent alarm amongst the passengers during the time she was on the tramcar.
A stone merchant from Elland Edge, described as being “dreadfully lacerated about the face”. Drifting in and out of consciousness, his injuries were regarded as being serious.
He was most probably farmer and quarry owner Richard Marsden who was born around 1833, and is listed in the 1881 Census as residing at Upper Edge, Elland, with his wife Sarah and four children.
Mary Ann (“Polly”) Moore
Wife of Fred and mother of Annie, both of whom died, she was admitted with severe head injuries. She was one of three patients that were reported on the first day of the inquest to be the most danger of dying, along with Joseph Halstead and Alice Brook.
She was confined to the Infirmary throughout the inquest, so would not have attended the funeral of her husband which appears to have taken place the day after the accident.
Born Mary Ann Hirst around 1858, she was the daughter of Lindley twine manufacturer Abraham Hirst and his wife Elizabeth.
Mary Ann died on 18 December 1891, aged 34, and was buried alongside her husband. As in indication of the compensation she received after the accident, her husband had left her an estate worth £25 but she died leaving an estate worth a considerable £1,282 18s.13.
In a bizarre footnote, Mary Ann’s probate was administered by her younger brother, rope-maker David Henry Hirst of Lindley. Hirst also acted as a probate to the estate of farmer Samuel Waterhouse of Lindley, who had made out his will in September 1886 in favour of Hirst. When Waterhouse died in May 1892, leaving his property and land to Hirst, one of Waterhouse’s nephews, Glasgow dentist Aquila Waterhouse, later visited Hirst on 18 July and threatened him with gun, demanding a quarter of the Samuel Waterhouse’s property. Perhaps to scare Hirst, he fired towards Hirst’s legs but missed. The two struggled and Hirst managed to take the revolver whilst Waterhouse ran away.
Three days later, at around 6:30am in the morning, David Henry Hirst apparently committed suicide by cutting his own throat. At the subsequent inquest, it was claimed the pressure of running his own business and the issues around his inheritance from Samuel Waterhouse drove him to the act — however, newspaper reports claimed that the police had sensational evidence which provided another motive for the suicide (although this was seemingly never revealed!). Aquila Waterhouse then wrote threatening letters to Hirst’s mother stating that he would not be cheated out of his birthright, which resulted in him being arrested again (he was previously acquitted over the firing of the gun). Some of Samuel Waterhouse’s property was later put up for auction in August 1892 and again in April 1893.
Jane Peckett and daughter Helena Adelaide Peckett
Named as the wife of Frederick Peckett, a local woollen manufacturer, she sustained a head injury and a broken rib but was allowed to return home with her six-year-old daughter. Both were patients of Dr. Erson.
The Leeds Times (07/Jun/1883) managed to get her name wrong, but reported her as saying “she tried to get [off] but there was a crowd of women in the doorway, so that it was impossible to leave the car, and she then tried to protect her girl”.
Jane Gelder was likely born around 1838 and married Frederick Peckett in 1858. She died at some point between the 1891 and 1901 Censuses.
Daughter Helena Adelaide Peckett was born around 1878. She married Walter Charles Mead in 1908 and died on 24 November 1946 in Huddersfield, aged 69.
A tanner from Quarmby, he received fractures to his ribs and right foot.
He was born around 1849, the son of local farmer George Roberts and his wife Harriet. He married Emma Binns in 1878 and they raised five children. He likely died in 1929, aged 80.
A manufacturer from Beaston Hill, Stainland, and residing in Barkisland, he received severe bruising to the head and was reported as “still very ill”.
In a statement given by Alfred Crosland to the Huddersfield Chronicle (04/Jul/1883), he said that John Shaw’s head was “very badly cut” and that Mr. Harrison had helped him to the Temperance Hotel where he “kindly supplied all that was necessary for his comfort until he could be taken to the Infirmary.”
He was likely the John Shaw born around 1837 who is listed in the 1881 Census as being the son of James and Ann Shaw and working as a “woollen manufacturer”.
Mrs. Thomas Shaw
A grocer’s wife of Luck Lane, Marsh. Escaped with minor bruises and was placed under the car of Dr. Porritt.
There were two Thomas Shaw’s living on Luck Lane in the 1881 Census, both with links to the grocery trade, so the passenger was one of the following:
Ann Shaw (aged 53) of 1 & 2 Luck Lane, wife of a grocer and corn dealer.
Abagail Shaw (aged 54) of 16 Luck Lane, wife of a woollen warehouseman & grocer, who died in 1896, aged 68.
Named as a teenage cotton piecer from Lindley, he was reported to have regained conciousness and was doing well. He was called to give evidence on the final day of the enquiry and reported that he’d travelled on the upper-deck.
He was born around 1866, the son of woollen spinner James Sykes and his wife Frances (née Crow). The 1881 Census lists the family living at 127 Acre Street, Lindley cum Quarmby.
Amos married Betsy Wilkinson in 1885 and they had a total of 11 children, 2 of whom had died by the time of the 1911 Census when the family was living at 25 Lowergate, Longwood. He died 22 June 1934, aged 68. Betsy died in 1943.
Mr C. Sykes
The Leeds Times (07/Jul/1883) reported on the accident and named a “Mr. C. Sykes of Marsh” as being one of the passengers who jumped out of the car prior to the crash. This is very likely an error on their part and they meant William Herbert Sykes.
Resident of Cowrakes, Lindley. Not seriously injured, despite being (according to William Henry Dean) on the upper-deck of the tramcar.
Joseph Wimpenny as born around 1847 in Holmfirth and worked as a general contractor. He married Mary Hinchliffe on 23 Jul 1870 and they had at least six children. He died in 1908, aged 60.
The Other Passengers
The following were known to have travelled on the ill-fated tramcar and either alighted (or jumped off) prior to the accident or were not listed as those admitted to the Infirmary, so were able to walk away from the accident:
Alfred Crosland gave evidence at the inquest that he stood at the rear of the car and, when it was apparent the engine was running too fast and the conductor was not to be seen, he attempted to apply the brake of the car but to no avail. He was recorded as being the last person to jump off the tramcar before it crashed.
He was almost certainly stonemason Alfred Crosland, born around 1842 in Lindley. He appears to have worked for a while as a miner in his teenage years before marrying Ann Shaw in 1873.
The 1881 Census listed him living with his wife and father-in-law at 36 Quarmby Road, Lindley. By 1901, he was working as a stone dresser and living at 42 Quarmy Road.
He died aged 63 and was buried in Lindley on 14 January 1905 alongside his wife, who had passed away in September 1901.
The only detail given for Dyson is that he was from “Westfield”, which presumably refers to an area of Skelmanthorpe. Therefore, he was very likely the Edwin Dyson who was born around 1842 in Emley and who married either Mary Firth or Ann Bellamy in 1862. At the time of the 1881 Census, they were living on Dale Hill, Skelmanthorpe, Huddersfield, and he was working as a weaver. They had at least seven children.
By 1901, aged 59, he was specialising in hand weaving mohair. He died in 1907, aged 65.
Dr. William Robert Erson
Born in Ireland around 1847, Dr. Erson was a physician and surgeon based in Lindley. The 1881 Census gives him living unmarried at 36 Albert Street.
He served on the Huddersfield Board of Guardians between 1881 and 1885. He later immigrated to New Zealand aboard the Tainui, which departed London on 12 June 1890, bound for Wellington, New Zealand.
William Herbert Sykes
Named as a farmer of Lindley when he gave evidence at the inquest. Despite being on the upper-deck of the tramcar when it toppled over, he seemingly walked away relatively unscathed.
The Leeds Times (07/Jul/1883) seems of have incorrectly reported him as being “Mr. C. Sykes of Marsh”.
There were at least four people named “William Sykes” linked to the farm or diary trades residing in Lindley at the time of the 1881 Census, but it seems mostly likely this was the William H. Sykes who was a 19-year-old son of farmer William Sykes (born around 1825 in Saddleworth) who owned 12 acres of land. By 1901, he had married a woman named Sarah and was living as a farmer at Cop Riding, Moorside, Stainland, with seven children.
Named in the Huddersfield Chronicle (04/Jul/1883) as a passenger who jumped off the back of the car after Dr. Erson. He stated that the speed was such that he hit the road and tumbled forwards for several yards, ripping his clothes and sustaining bruises.
The First Aiders
The following were named as people who helped in the aftermath of the accident and excludes the passengers already named (such as Dr. Erson) who gave aid. Some of them also appeared as witnesses at the inquest.
Described as a member of the Huddersfield School Board, he gave a vivid description of the accident to the Huddersfield Chronicle (04/Jul/1883). He stated he was stood with woodstapler Mr. Halstead on Railway Street, near the West Gate end, when he saw the tramcar approaching rapidly. He bolted to the right whilst Mr. Halstead ran to his left. His lengthy and detailed description of the injured implies that he gave aid and helped with moving the wounded.
Presumably this was Mr. J.H. Bower who served on the School Board until resigning on 3 May 1884, following a move to London.
According to the Huddersfield Chronicle (05/Jul/1883), a Mr. W.H. Middlemost who saw the crash sent a messenger to Mr. Cuthbert, a nearby “chemist and druggist”. Cuthbert immediately grabbed an armful of “lint, bandages and other requisites for the dressing of wounds” and rushed to the site — “This timely supply of surgical appliances was very valuable.”
Ralph Cuthbert was born in Huddersfield in 1846, the son of James Ralph and Mary Cuthbert. By aged 24, he was a chemist. He had opened his dispensary at on West Parade in the late 1860s14 and was still there at the time of 1911 Census, aged 64. He died in 1917, aged 70.
Ralph Cuthbert Ltd continued to be a familiar sight in Huddersfield until at least the end of the 1960s.
Alderman Thomas Denham
Alderman Denham is perhaps best-known for his tireless campaign to make Greenhead Park a public space from 1869 onwards. A plaque in the park commemorates his efforts, which led to it becoming a public park in 1884.
Born around 1819 in Lindley, he worked as a draper and eventually became the Mayor of Huddersfield from 1880 to 1881. He died on 28 October 1892.
Duke was a trained member of the St. John’s Ambulance Society and provided valuable assistance to Dr. Erson in tending the wounded and dressing their wounds.
He was born around 1850 and worked as a shoddy manufacturer. This process involved the recovery and recycling of waste wool into yarn, and the finished product, whilst cheaper than normal yarn, tended to be of a lower quality. Nowadays, the word “shoddy” has come to mean anything of a lower quality in general.
He married Mary Hodges in 1877 and in later life became a local magistrate.
He died in December 1909, aged 59, leaving a considerable estate worth over £33,00015, including Marlborough House. His wife, Mary, had died in 1907.
This was likely Councillor Benjamin Hanson, who was known for hosting an annual “Treat to the Poor”, usually at the Methodist church in Paddock.
He was born around 1819 and worked as a woollen manufacturer. He married Harriet Milnes in 1857 and had at least 8 children. He died in 1894, aged 75.
Named as the “of the Temperance Hotel” by the Huddersfield Chronicle (04/Jul/1883), he apparently helped some of the injured to the hotel, including John Shaw, where they were treated until they could be taken to the Infirmary.
Described in the Huddersfield Chronicle (05/Jul/1883) as a sculptor of Occupation Road, Moldgreen, he was near the corner of West Gate and Railway Street and witnessed the crash. He ran to give aid and gave a graphic description of the scene — one woman was partially trapped under the overturned car and another “had her legs partly through the windows at the side.” He went on to say, “The scene was a terrible one, the injured groaning and screaming, and pools of blood lying in the road.”
Mr. W. Raynor
Mr. W. Raynor (of South Street) made a statement reported in the Huddersfield Chronicle (05/Jul/1883) that he was walking from the railway station (presumably along St. George’s Street) and got on to West Gate in time to see tramcar approaching. He called out to caution other pedestrians to get out of the way and then ran down to Railway Street in time to see the car topple and Rowland Hall being flung against a lamppost. He was one of the first on the scene and helped pull Fred Moore free “out of the tangled mess” before running to fetch more help.
Named as being retired, he gave testimony at the inquest on 12 July. After helping out, he spoke to both the driver and the conductor, and watched the engine and car being moved down to Northumberland Street.
Rowe was born around 1824, the son of tailor George Rowe. He worked as an iron moulder and married Mary Ann Reed on 22 September 1845 at St John the Baptist, Halifax. At the time of the 1881 Census he was retired and living with his wife at 115 Hebble Terrace, Bradford Road. He died in 1903, aged 80.
John Henry Sterry
A wholesale clothier whose shop was on the corner of West Gate and Railway Street. He saw the tram prior to it taking the corner and then witnessed it topple. He ran out to provide aid and helped bring some of the injured into his shop.
Sterry was born in Gloucester in 1847 and initially worked as an outfitter there before moving to Huddersfield prior to the 1881 Census. He became involved in local politics in the 1890s.
Mr. J.H. Stuttard
Described as a painter and decorator of Ramsden Street, he stood talking to someone outside the Cherry Tree Hotel and witnessed the tramcar speeding down West Gate. He gave aid to Rowland Hall and then fetched water for Hall to drink. Stuttard attempted to hail a cab in order to get Hall to the Infirmary, but the first cab driver “refused to take him and drove away”. He also spoke to a “young man from Lindley” who had been sat next to Hall. After a while, Stuttard began to feel faint and “was compelled to leave the scene”.
John Henry Stuttard was born around 1836 in Huddersfield. He married Lydia Schofield in 1862 and he died 1907, aged 72. He became involved with the Huddersfield Board of Guardians from the 1880s onwards.
This was presumably Alderman Alfred Walker, the former Mayor of Huddersfield (1878-1880). He was born around 1838 and worked as a woollen manufacturer. He died in 1909, aged 71.
Many of the witnesses rushed to provide help and their names are given in the previous section. The following are those who gave statements to the press or at the inquest but weren’t specifically mentioned as providing aid (although they may well have done).
Joseph Theophilus Green
Stationmaster of Huddersfield Railway Station. He gave evidence on Friday 13 July 1883 and was of the belief that the tramcar’s brakes were not applied at the time of the crash.
Born around 1843 in Cheshire, he married Frances Elizabeth Hibbert in 1868 at Huddersfield and they raised a family of 4 children. He died in 1902, aged 60. He was stationmaster at Huddersfield from at least the late 1870s until his death, and was likely the stationmaster at Stocksmoor prior to that.
Reported by the Huddersfield Chronicle (04/Jul/1883) to be a stone merchant of Thurstonland, he was standing on the corner of Westgate and Railway Street and “had a narrow escape of being injured by the falling car”.
Named as a butcher of Lindley, he gave evidence on 12 July 1883. He stated he saw the tramcar go past and that the car’s brakes were applied. He recognised several people on the upper-deck and saw the tramcar slow down near South Street to let two people off, one of whom might have been Eliza Dyson’s husband, Joeseph.
North Sager North was born around 1849 and married Louisa Berry in 1872. They were living at 16 George Street, Lindley, at the time of the 1881 Census with their
The inquest was attended by many people and officials. The following are those primarily involved or who gave evidence and have not been previously listed. Their capacity is given in parentheses.
Councillor Armitage Haigh (Chairman of the Tramways Committee)
Arrived about half an hour after the accident occurred and went to the shed where the engine had been moved to. Together with Laxton and Alderman Henry Hirst, he had questioned the engine driver, Roscoe, about the state of the engine. On the final day of the inquest, he reported that Roscoe had admitted he had closed one of steam valves, and half closed the other, to essentially disable the engine’s automatic braking system.
Mr. W. Barstow (Coroner)
William Barstow was born around 1831 in Halifax, where he appears to have lived most (if not all) of his life. He is listed in the 1881 Census as the “Coroner for the County of York” and was living with his elderly mother, Eliza. He didn’t marry until later in life and died in 1901, aged 70.
Richard Swarbrick Dugdale (Borough Engineer and Surveyor)
Dugdale inherited the plans from the tramway network from his predecessor and oversaw the construction of the network. At the inquest, he admitted lowering the elevation of the outer rail on the corner where the crash occurred from the original specification. His evidence clashed with that of Thomas Laxton, who had claimed he had reported a number of concerns to Dugdale prior to the accident — Dugdale repeatedly told the inquiry that those concerns were none of Laxton’s business.
He was born around 1849 in Blackburn, Lancashire. He later moved to Sculcoates, near Hull, where he died in 1903, aged 54.
Arthur G. Evans (Engineer)
A superintendent of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway. Alongside Middleton Pratt, he took part in the technical examination of the engine and provided a separate report.
Major General Hutchinson (Inspector for the Board of Trade)
Hutchinson led a separate parallel inquiry which investigated the technical reasons for the crash.
Charles Scrope Hutchinson was born in August 1826 and obtained a commission with the Royal Engineers. From 1867 he was the Inspector of Railways for the Board of Trade. Perhaps not his finest moment, he inspected the Tay Bridge in February 1878 and declared that he “regarded as satisfactory” — it collapsed in high winds in December 1879 as a train was crossing it, killing all on board.
He died in 1929.
Thomas Frederic Laxton (Huddersfield Tramway Superintendent)
Laxton gave damning evidence at the inquest (some of which was flatly denied by others) which painted a picture of rule breaking by drivers and the failure of management (particularly Dugdale) to take steps to prevent the accident.
Be was born around 1858 in Peterborough and in later life moved back there, where he worked as a locomotive engineer. He didn’t marry and died in 1930, aged 71.
Middleton Pratt (Engineer)
Pratt, a mechanical engineer from Fixby, was appointed by the jury to be an independent engineer who examined the engine alongside Arthur Evans. He provided an independent report to Evans.
He was born 15 April 1839 and married Antoinette Faigle in 1888. He was declared bankrupt in April 1891 and later retired to Dorset where he died April in 1925, aged 86.
Dr. James Nowell Richardson (Surgeon)
Richardson was the senior house surgeon at the Huddersfield Infirmary. On the first day of the inquest, he correctly predicted that two more of the passengers would die. He attended the final day of the inquest to report on the causes of death for the seven individuals who died.
Richardson was born 8 July 1857 in Leeds and studied at the Durham University. By the time of the 1911 Census, he was a G.P. living in Ilkley.
William Wilkinson (Engineer)
As owner of William Wilkinson & Co., Wgian, and manufacturer of the engine involved in the crash, his reputation was at risk. Wilkinson’s had been chosen to supply the engines as their new vertical boiler design could provide more steam-power, which was seen as a requirement on the hilly streets around Huddersfield. He was accompanied at the inquest by this solicitor, Mr. Ellis.
This otherwise unassuming stretch of Railway Street will be familiar to anyone who lives in Huddersfield but it was the scene of the town’s worst tramcar accident, just over 130 years ago…
Tramcars in Huddersfield
On Thursday 11 January 1883, Huddersfield became the first local authority in England to own and operate its own tramcar service. According to Discovering Old Huddersfield, the first service left “Fartown Bar for the terminus at Lockwood Bar travelling via Bradford Road, Northumberland Street, John William Street, Buxton Road and Chapel Hill.”
According to one newspaper report, the initial service ran from 9am with services from Fartown leaving on the hour, and setting off back from Lockwood on the half hour. The only accident reported on the very first day of operation was when a horse was spooked by tramcar and backed its cart into a lamppost, knocking it over.1
The tramcar network would eventually expand to reach out to many of the outlying districts, including routes to Crosland Moor, Honley, Longwood, Marsden, and even Brighouse and Elland.
In those early days, the services were nearly all steam-powered tramcars, with a small number of horse-driven trams used in the busy town centre, where it was felt the faster steam ones might be more dangerous to pedestrians.
The steam-powered tramcars comprised a single passenger carriage (referred to as the “car”) pulled along the rails by a small steam engine, as evidenced by this photograph a Berry Brow tramcar.
Very occasionally, a single engine would pull two cars, but this tended not to happen on the hilly streets of Huddersfield.
Some of the early cars were open-topped, which can hardly have been pleasant with the soot and smoke blowing into the passenger’s faces! For this reason, the upper-deck fare was initially 1 old pence, compared to the 2 old pence charged for travelling in the enclosed lower-deck.
At the start of the 1900s, steps were made to begin electrifying some of the routes and, by the 1930s, the rails were pulled up and electric trolleybuses started to replace the tramcars.
During the era of the steam tramcars, there were only two fatal accidents and we’ll look in-depth at the first — and most serious — in a three-part blog post.
However, before we look into the full details of the accident itself, it’s probably worth explaining a little more about how the steam tramcars of that era operated:
The engine could be put into forward or reverse and the driver could control the speed.
The braking system for the engine was steam-powered, with two valves that controlled the amount of steam passing through to the brakes. If these values were partially closed, the braking effect would be lessened, and if the valves were fully closed, the brakes would not operate at all.
As well as using the steam-powered brakes, a driver could slow the tramcar by either throwing the engine into reverse or by getting the conductor to apply the brake at the rear of the car. Although there was, at that time, no apparent consensus on the correct way to bring a tramcar to a halt to allow passengers to board and disembark, reportedly the most common method was a combination of putting the engine into reverse and applying the car brake, which required a degree of coordination between the driver and conductor, usually achieved via the ringing of a bell by the driver.
To limit the risk of an engine running out of control, they were fitted with an automatic braking system, approved by the Board of Trade. Should the speed exceed a set limit (about 9 miles per hour), this system would kick in, applying the steam-powered brakes and throwing the engine into reverse. The purpose of this system wasn’t necessarily to bring the tramcar to an immediate halt, but to slow the speed down to well below the limit. However, as noted above, the effect of the steam-powered brakes could be lessened by the closing of the relevant valves, thus making it possible for a driver to effectively disable the automatic braking system.
The conductor’s brake in the car wouldn’t be enough in itself to stop a tramcar going downhill if the engine was pulling forward — the car’s wheels would just skid along the metal rails — but it would likely help to slow the tramcar down.
Some engines were fitted with a separate independent braking system, which didn’t require steam. Unfortunately the engines initially purchased by the Huddersfield Corporation didn’t have this safety feature.
The Tramcar Tragedy of July 1883
The tramcar route from Lindley descended down an incline towards Huddersfield along Trinity Street, passing by the eastern edge of Greenhead Park, then along West Parade and West Gate (where it merged with the line to Edgerton), before turning sharp-left into Railway Street to enter the terminus loop in St. George’s Square, in front of the railway station.
The section running down West Gate and West Parade can be seen in this 1905 postcard and a photograph from the mid-1930s, from the trolleybus era:
The latter section of the route is shown in green on this 1890 map, with the corner into Railway Street shown in red.
Normally on a tight bend, the track would be laid so that the outer rail was raised much higher than the inner rail, to make the tramcar to lean into the corner. This difference in height was known then as the “superelevation” but these days tends to be called the “cant” of the track. In the case of the bend into Railway Street, the outer track was raised slightly, but not very much as there were concerns that a more elevated outer rail would impede other users of the road. According to the testimony of the Borough Surveyor, the cant of the track was calculated to allow for a loaded tramcar to take this particular corner safely at a speed of 4 miles per hour.
Since the line had opened in June 1883, concerns were raised that the tramcars were “in the habit of travelling at a high rate of speed”. It was reported that “the conductor had been spoken to about the danger attending such recklessness”.
On Tuesday 3 July 1883, the 2:30pm tramcar from Lindley departed around 5 minutes late for Huddersfield. The car was an open-top and it was being pulled by the Huddersfield Corporation’s Engine No.2, built by Wilkinson and Sons of Wigan.
The conductor was Henry Sawyer. Sawyer had previously worked for a local omnibus company, but had only recently begun his current job on the Lindley tramcar route in mid-June. He would later state that he had only received basic verbal training for his new job, and was left to figure out for himself when he should be collecting fares and when he should be manning the tramcar brake on the route. As the inquest would later hear, the formal book of rules and regulations for the Huddersfield tramcar operators was still at a draft stage, awaiting further discussion by the relevant Huddersfield Corporation committee.
The driver of the engine was Thomas Roscoe. According to Sawyer, Roscoe had been in the Fleece Inn, Lindley, prior to the start of the journey, although there was no evidence presented that Roscoe was intoxicated or incapable of operating the engine. However, the tramway superintendent, Thomas Frederick Laxton, had been keeping a close eye on the Roscoe as he was strongly of the opinion that some of the drivers were bypassing the automatic brake system by closing the connecting steam valves and Laxton hoped to catch one of them red-handed.
Before the tramcar set off, Roscoe had very likely nearly closed both values to disable the automatic braking system so that he could drive faster than 9 mph without the automatic braking system slowing him down. Perhaps he was concious that the tramcar was setting off late and wished to make up time, but his decision would ultimately cost the lives of seven people.
Tuesday was Market Day in Huddersfield and a large number of people were making their way to and from the town centre. Within a few stops, the tramcar was so full — it was later reported around 40 people were on the tramcar — that some passengers elected to sit on the steps between the upper and lower-decks, whilst others stood on the rear platform and on the upper-deck. The conductor reportedly shouted to the driver, “don’t stop again”, meaning not to pick up any more people until they reached Huddersfield, which drew a remark of “If we don’t [ever] stop again, I wonder where we’ll get to?!” from one passengers.
At the inquest, Sawyer would state that he’d usual applied the tramcar brake once they started descending Trinity Street, knowing that the remainder route was steeper. At least one witness (Lindley butcher George North) would corroborate this, stating that as the tramcar past him on the stretch of road next to Greenhead Park, he could see the wheels locked and skidding — “I thought that if it had been night there would have been a lot of sparks.” Prior to passing this witness, the tramcar had slowed to let off Margaret Miller, although most witnesses stated it did not come to a full stop.
The driver soon picked up speed again. One of the passengers, Lindley surgeon Dr. W.R. Erson, grew concerned that they were going too fast and voiced his fears to fellow passengers that one day there’d be an accident.
As the tramcar approached the bottom of Trinity Street, at least one passenger rang the bell to request the tram to stop. Witnesses differed on whether or not the tramcar actually slowed down but the passengers who wanted to alight apparently chose to jump off whilst the vehicle was still in motion. What everyone agreed on was that the tramcar certainly didn’t stop.
At the junction of Trinity Street and West Parade, the line curved to the left and, according to some witnesses, one side of the speeding tramcar lifted clear of the rails by several inches on the curve before righting itself again. West Parade and West Gate were the steepest part of the line with a gradient of 1 in 17 and it was now imperative that the driver now slowed the engine, especially given the sharp curve ahead onto Railway Street.
Dr. Erson had been keeping a close eye on the driver and noticed that he’d raised a lever and had apparently expected it to slow the engine — at the inquest, this was described as the means by which the driver could throw the engine into reverse. Unbeknown to Roscoe, a crucial piston had failed at some point in their journey and the lever now effectively did nothing. He frantically rang his bell to alert Sawyer to apply the brakes in the car, but the conductor was apparently unable to get to the brake.
At the inquest, it would be contentious as to what state the car brake was in as the tramcar ran down West Parade into West Gate, with Sawyer telling the press that he was of the opinion a passenger must have tampered with it. However, later tests showed that the car brakes alone would not be sufficient to slow the tramcar down, even if fully applied.
On the lower-deck, people were now standing up in alarm at the speed they were going. Dr. Erson, apparently calmly as so not to panic his fellow passengers, had made his way to the rear of the tramcar, as he was convinced the driver had no control whatsoever over the engine.
By now, most of the passengers had realised that their speed was continuing to increase unabated and some took the opportunity to jump off from the rear of the tramcar, including Dr. Erson.
Alfred Crosland of Oakes had got on when the tramcar was nearly full and had stood at the rear by the car brake for most of the journey — he would state that he saw no-one go near the brake. The sight of passengers jumping off behind him, coupled with the frantic ringing of the bell and the lack of a conductor, prompted him to seize the brake himself and he turned it, expecting to hear and feel the application of the brakes. However, he felt nothing. He later claimed that if he had felt anything, he would have valiantly remained at the brake — instead he took his chances and was named as the last person to jump off the rear of the car.
Of those who did jump off, some managed to stay upright, but most lost their footing and tumbled down the road, sustaining minor cuts, grazes and bruises. Dr. Erson had quickly regained his feet and, after checking that some of the others who’d jumped off weren’t badly injured, he ran down West Gate after the tramcar, perhaps fearing his medical skills would be much needed in a few moments.2
In the lower-deck, Emily Liversidge was cradling her nine-week-old baby and cried out, “My child! My child! How must I save my child?”. Mrs. Drayton, who was sat near to her, told her to “wrap it in your shawl”, which Emily did. Mrs. Drayton then took a tight hold of her own son, who was accompanying her.
On the upper deck, the passengers included Sarah Clegg, Mary Shaw, retired mill-owner Roland Hall, farmer William Herbert Sykes, 60-year-old Isabella Woodhouse and a young couple with their five-month-old daughter.
With the left-hand curve onto Railway Street now in sight, panic was gripping the remaining passengers and eyewitnesses claimed that some of those on the upper-deck were stood up. Other stated that the women (and some of the men) on both decks were screaming.
The engine took the corner onto Railway Street at a speed which was estimated to have been somewhere between 10 to 16 miles per hour3 and stayed on the rails due to its weight and low centre of gravity, but the more top-heavy car behind again tipped over to its right at an alarming angle, with the left-hand wheels well clear of the track.
According to witnesses, the car remained at this angle for a few seconds before finally toppling over and snapping the chain between the engine and car.
With the car on its side, the engine finally stopped abruptly after a few feet, coming to rest next to the Estate Building, some 20 or so yards down Railway Street.
Those on the upper-deck were thrown forwards and sideways onto the pavement — in a neat line, according to one bystander. Rowland Hall, a retired manufacturer and mill owner, was flung bodily into an iron lamppost, sustaining injuries that would prove fatal. Young Annie Moore lay dying or dead on the pavement.
Those on the lower-deck were hurled around inside the car and Emily Liversedge’s baby lay buried until a pile of passengers. As the car had hit the ground, the left-hand side windows shattered above the passengers, showering them with shards of glass.
One witness described the crash site as resembling at miniature battlefield, strewn with casualties. Many of the passengers had suffered head injuries, whilst some were lucky to walk away with bruises and cuts.
Within moments of the crash, numerous bystanders had rushed to give their aid. Some helped move the injured away from the crash site and into the Estate Building. Others went to the fallen car, where they saw one woman on the road with her legs trapped underneath, and another woman’s legs sticking out of one of the broken windows. Fearing that there might be others trapped underneath who needed help, a crowd quickly heaved the car upright.
One of the first to reach the scene was Duke Fox, a highly successful shoddy manufacturer of Dewsbury. As a trained member of the St. John’s Ambulance Society, he proved invaluable in assisting Dr. Erson to provide aid to the injured and dying. Word quickly spread and others with medical training arrived on the scene. Local chemists grabbed armfuls of bandages and rushed to give help. The most seriously injured were soon placed in cabs and conveyed to the Huddersfield Infirmary.
Among the others who helped were Aldermen Walker and Denham, Councillor Hanson, and Mr. Harrison of the Temperance Hotel4, who took some of the less badly injured there to await transport to the Infirmary.
Once the car had been cleared of those inside, the driver Roscoe slowly advanced the engine and smashed car into St. George’s Square. Both were then taken down the Corporation’s tramcar shed where orders were eventually given to the police to guard the engine.
A reporter from the Huddersfield Chronicle was soon at the Infirmary and reported:
The scene was, indeed, one of the saddest possible to conceive. The groans of the injured, the ghastly appearance of many of them, and the sight of so much human suffering was enough to unnerve the stoutest hearts.
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
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!
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:
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!
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.
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.
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
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):
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):
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):
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):
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
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):
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):
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):
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.
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)
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):
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):
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.
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):
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):
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):
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):
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):
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):
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.
What architect, with well-matured plans,
Could vie with this attractive symmetry,
And raise so light a structure and so sure,
On slender beams that sway with every breeze ?
So snng and smooth is it within, that one
Inspires from it a deeper love of home,
And longs to share in all its perfectness.
Scarce one insinuating drop of rain
Can scare the simple life that breathes within ;
For overhead a canopy of leaves,
So carelessly disposed, yet each soft blade
Overlapping other, that a compact roof
Of velvet green secures from nature’s frown :
But not from ruthless hand of cruelty.
That with one grasp makes vain the work of days,
Creates a song of woe where bright-eyed joy
Was budding into summer ecstacy.
Learn life’s economy, ye thriftless, here !
No sprig too sightless for an honoured place,
Or woolly fragment for the cushioned bed.
Art thou discouraged oft by adverse fate ?
Through what inclement days the parent bird
Piles up with care the units of its home !
Wilt thou less strong appear, when rest
Eternal interests in Stern Duty’s scale ?
Speckled, or white, or blue as southern skies,
Each egg brings newer grace to all within ;
So even holy thought thou utterest may
Within thy home lure tenderest hearts to bring
Such fresh’ning charms a world cannot supply.
He that is taught to live upon little, owes more to his father’s wisdom that he that has a great deal left him does to his father’s care.
Foreign Miscellany and Gossip
The American papers record the death of Old Hannibal, a travelling show elephant. He was 11ft. 8in. high, weighed 15,000lb, and was 66 years old. He consumed 300lb of hay, three bushels of oats, and 46 gallon of water daily. For 36 years he travelled 3,000 miles every year.
Sales by Private Contract
We understand the Enderby Hall Estate, situate about five miles from Leicester, was on Wednesday last offered for sale by auction, and purchased for the sum of £67,000 by Charles Brook, Jun., Esq., of Meltham Hall. The estate, which is situated in one of the loveliest parts of Leicestershire, comprises about 730 acres, and 45 acres of woods and plantations. The purchase also includes the lordship of the major, with the advowson. Mr. Henry Tinker, of Holmfirth made the purchase on Mr. Brook’s behalf.
Magistrates in Petty Sessions
A DRUNKEN FREAK. Alfred Whiteley, otherwise known by the sobriquet of “Sixes” was brought up on a charge of drunkenness. On Saturday afternoon the defendant was hired to take to a field a horse belonging to Mr. Henry Stocks, brewer, Spring Mill, but, instead of doing so, he mounted the animal, and rode too and fro until five o’clock, when he proceeded to the stable of F.R. Jones, jun., Esq., with a view of obtaining a saddle, to enhance the pleasures of the afternoon. In the stable, however, he found a horse already saddled, and with the coolest impudence he seated himself upon it, and drove away with the two animals up Crosland Hill. He was pursued by a man on horseback in the employ of Mr. Jones, and overtaken at the bar on Crosland Moor. This witness went to Milnsbridge and gave information to the police, and the defendant was eventually escorted to bridewell. — Mr. Laycock : He pleads guilty to being drunk. — Defendant, who urged that he was “partly” intoxicated, admitted that he took the horse from the stable, so that he could have a ride, but argued that there was a “chief p(o)int” about the case. — The court, however, failed to observe the force of the argument, and apparently believed that the “chief pint” (of ale) was that which impelled the defendant to commit the foolish act with which he was charged. — Mr. Superintendent Heaton informed the Bench that “Sixes” had several times received the special attention of the magistrates.— Defendant asserted that he would “sign teetotal,” and promised never to place himself in a similar predicament again if he were discharged. — The Chairman said they could not believe him, and he would be fined 10s. and expenses ; altogether 10s. — Defendant: Or in default ? — The Chairman : One month to Wakefield. (Laughter)
General District Intelligence
CUMBERWORTH — Accident to a Child.
On Tuesday last an accident occurred to a little girl while walking in procession with the school children in Cumberworth. A wedding party was passing along at the same time, when one of the vehicles knocked the child down, the wheel passing over her. She was immediately picked up, and the marriage party were very solicitious as to her injuries which fortunately proved but slight. One of the gentlemen considerately and handsomely gave the child a sovereign to compensate her for the fright sustained.
FARNLEY TYAS — The Feast.
Wednesday last was a pleasant day at Farnley, it being the annual feast. The day was remarkably fine, which caused an immense influx of visitors, and the village presented quite a lively appearance. The usual quantity of nut, gingerbread, and other stalls filled up the principal attractions till the evening, when a grand gala, got up by Lady Dartmouth’s brass band was held in a field belonging Mr. Robert Kaye, where the usual sports were indulged in till dark.
Lockwood v. Manchester.
This match was played at Lockwood, on Whit-Monday, and resulted in favour of the former by 10 runs on the first innings. The game throughout was very closely contested, and the batting, bowling, and fielding were excellent.
On the 5th inst., at the Independent Chapel, Honley, by the Rev. Henry Hustwick, Mr. William Waring, sculptor, of Liverpool, to Ann, youngest daughter of Mr. Thomas Heaton, of Honley. This being the first marriage celebrated in the above chapel since its re-opening, a handsome family Bible was presented to the bride by a few of her friends worshipping there.