Category Archives: Day to day life

Sections telling about the day to day goings on in Netherthong

Old Folk’s Feasts and Senior Citizens Club

Old Folks Treat /Senior Citizens Feast/ Senior Citizens Club

Netherthong, in common with every village, hamlet etc in England, always cared for its senior citizens. Let’s face it , if you’re not in that group yet you are on the way – it’s just a question of time. Over the years the care has taken many guises, there were Old Folk’s Treats, an annual Senior Citizens Feast and a Senior Citizens Club that met regularly, normally fortnightly, with a wide range of activities. Having said that, a public meeting, held in March 1957  to consider the formation of a Good Companions Club for people of pensionable age, made some progress but the attendance was disappointing. It appeared that few people in Netherthong were prepared to work for their elders and Mr.J.Burton of Leas Avenue was hoping to get volunteers. Nothing further was reported but as you read on , there was a Senior Citizens Club set up in 1973.

Old Folks Treat

December 1924 was a red letter day for many residents in the village. A treat for all residents aged 60 years and over was promoted and turned out to be a decided success. Good weather prevailed and almost 100 villagers made their way to the National School where they were welcomed by their host and hostess, Cllr. & Mrs. W.Gledhill.  Motorcars were kindly lent by H.Sanderson, H.Wilson and J.Batley to carry 27 guests to and fro. A good fare of beef,ham and tongue was provided and the local butchers, J.Mallinson and Brook Turner, did the carving. After the food, many of the guests retired to the smoke room where they had the run of a good supply of tobacco. Cllr. W.Gledhill thanked all the people of Netherthong for their generosity towards the event and  added that 157 invitations had been sent , there were 121 guests present, 27 teas had been sent out and 9 aged people had been unable to attend. The combined years of the 157 people were 10,300 which gave an average age of 65 years and 7 months. An interesting fact was that  a mother and her two daughters  with a combined age of 215 years, attended. They were  entertained by music  provided by the ” Magpies ” which was  followed by  supper. On leaving each lady received a gift of a 1/4 lb. of tea and the gentlemen were given a packet of tobacco. 

A general meeting was held in September 1925 to discuss whether to hold another Old Folk’s Treat and it was unanimously agreed. Cllr.W.Gledhill was re-elected president. Mr.J.Woodhead J.P., Cllr. F.Ogden & W.Batley were appointed vice-presidents and a strong committee was formed with Mr.Lewis Heywood as treasurer and Mr.J.Batley as secretary. Once again it was decided that residents aged 60 years and over should be eligible for the treat.

This second annual treat was held on December 5th. and the more aged and infirm residents were conveyed in cars kindly provided by H.Wilson and B.Batley. 160 invitations had been issued, 111 people had sat down and 37 teas had been sent out to those who could not attend. After grace had been sung by the Quartette Party, the old folk were served with beef, ham and tongue carved by the two local butchers, Jas. Mallinson and Brook Turner. Many of the guests retired to the smoke-room where there was a plentiful supply of tobacco. The tea was followed by a most enjoyable entertainment and, at the close, supper was provided and before leaving each guest received a packet of sweets, a gift from Mrs.Gledhill , and a packet of tea for each lady and an ounce of tobacco for the men both courtesy of the Co-op. Since the first treat a year before,  the following 11 old folk had passed away – Mr.R.Mitchell, Mr.R.Russell, Mr.J.Hobson, Mrs.T.Russell, Mrs.Dickenson, Mrs.Sykes, Mrs. Lockwood, Miss Ann Haig, Mrs.Marshall and Mrs.Bainbridge.

There was no record of one being held in 1926 but in 1927, with favourable weather, 93 citizens were present  with a further 30 attended to in their homes. It was held in the National School and a sumptious feast was provided after which the ” smoke room ” was a popular venue to retire to.The total years of the guests were 7,854 giving an average of over 65 years. The oldest lady present was Mrs.Charles Hobson and the oldest man was Mr.Fred Hobson. There were lots of speeches and thankyous and each lady received a packet of tea and the men a packet of tobacco. Entertainment followed and, after the National Anthem, supper was handed round and the guests returned home.

A public meeting was held in October 1928 to consider once more holding an old folks treat and it was unanimously agreed to hold one on November 28.  Mr.W.Gledhill was re-elected president. The treat followed a similar pattern to previous ones with 90 guests sitting down and teas sent out to 31 residents. Having described the food the previous year as scrumptious , the reporter ,wanting to use a different adjective, decided to go one better and he called the food voluptuous. The mind boggles.

The committee decided that the treat for 1929 would be held on November 16. Mr.V.Gledhill was once again re- elected president with Cllrs. Ogden, Batley, Lockwood and Mr.C.Floyd as vice- chairman. A strong committee was appointed with Lewis Heywood as treasurer and J.Batley as secretary.The actual party was little changed from previous years, 80 guests attended at the National School and meals were sent out to 30 residents. The oldest man , George Sanderson ( 82 ) received a walking stick and Mrs. Roebuck ( 78 ), a shawl.

At the 1930 treat, 80 attended with 40 teas sent out. The knife and fork tea was presided over by Mr.W.Batley, Miss Joan Woodhead, Mrs.R.Trotter, Mrs.Porter, Mrs.H.Hobson and Mr.J.Batley  with Mr.W.Gledhill presiding. Mr.J.Batley , the hon.sec., said it was the 7th. annual treat and he presented a walking stick to Joseph Hobson, the oldest man there and a shawl to Mrs.Kenyon. The runners up were Mr.G.Sanderson and Miss Dytch.

 The  1931 treat continued the normal pattern with 91 sitting sitting down for food and 34 teas sent out. The combined ages came to 8,565. The 9th. treat in 1932 had 80 attending the event with 36 treated at home. Prizes were given to the oldest – Ladies Mrs. Ingle of Lower Hagg  and Miss Dytch. Men S.Horner and Mr.Fisher. Gifts were also presented to those guests who had been married for more than 50 years. The 13th. Annual treat was held in the National School in December1936   , attendance was 80 and teas were sent out to a further 40 who could not attend. Mr. V. Gledhill, the president, and his wife were the host and hostess. The prizes for longevity were given to Miss Mallinson of Deanhouse aged 77 years and Mr. Donkersley aged 80 years. In 1937 the Gledhills  were still going strong  organising the event  and  90 attended with a further 38 others who were unable to attend. The number of years represented totalled 8,700.The taxis were provided by J.Middleton. The prizes for longevity went to Mrs. Carter, Thongs Bridge, and Mr.Ingle from Oldfield.

Senior Citizens Club

 It started life in December 1972 at a special meeting held in the Zion Church Schoolroom when 28 pensioners voted to form a Senior Citizens Club in the village. It would meet every alternate Wednesday afternoon. A large group of volunteers had already come  forward to help with the organisation and also to serve refreshments. It was formed under the guidance of County Councillor, the Rev. C.Stott, the resident Meltham Methodist minister, and the Rev.J.Capstick of All Saints. Mr.M.Mallinson was elected chairman and Mrs. S.Kettlewell the secretary. Mr.Raymond Hall, the former village sub-postmaster was appointed as treasurer. Committee members were Mrs. Coldwell, Mrs. Hallas, Mrs. V. Hobson, Mrs. J.Rothwell, Mrs. J. Pell and Mr. Peter Tempest, the Netherthong Scout Leader.

32 members of the Club braved the ice and snow in February 1973 to take part in a whist drive. The winners were Mr.J.O.Sykes and Miss Wimpenny. The next reported  meeting was in April when the speaker was the Yorkshire humorist,Mrs.Elsie Houghton, and it was held in the Zion Chapel with 48 members being rightly entertained.  Four of the senior citizens, Mrs.Hobson, Mrs. Fallas, Mrs. Horn and Miss Sykes, left the village on June 9 at the start of a weeks holiday at Primrose Valley in one of the coastal caravans provided and maintained by the National Trust for the Welfare of the Elderly and Holmfirth Round Table provided money to meet the cost of food and provisions during their stay. In July over 50 members visited Buxton and Bakewell for their annual outing. Next month they were entertained by junior members of the Honley Silver Prize Band and the Netherthong Brownies made cakes for everyone. The November meeting was well attended and members played whist and dominoes. The winners were Mrs. Littlewood, Mrs. Wilkinson and Mrs. E.Preston.

The very first Senior Citizens Feast was held in the Junior School in November 1973 when more than 130 senior citizens were royally entertained. The tea was provided  by Brownies and Guides, Cub Scouts and Scouts  and one child was allocated to each senior citizen and the church choir  supplied the entertainment. The bulk of the money came from an auction held at the Clothiers and the event was organised by Cllr.W.Carter and Mrs.Houghton was the compere. Mr. David Clark the MP for Colne Valley also attended. Their first Christmas Party was held in December in the Zion School and it started with a whist and domino drive and the winners were Mrs. E. Horncastle, Mrs. Heppenstall, Mr.F.Germaine and Miss Rentle. An excellent tea was followed by games and the entertainment was provided by Mr.A.Boothroyd and his young brass instrumentalists. Mrs. Simms sang solos and Mrs. Elsie Houghton, Mr. Vernon Sykes and Mr. Wylbert Wemp entertained in their own style with songs and recitations in the Yorkshire dialect. Supper was served to bring a great party to its end.

At the first meeting in February 1974, Mr.Mallinson presided and paid tribute to the late Mr.J.Pell and Mrs.M.Hobson who had passed away since the last meeting. 51 members attended the meeting in April when J.N.Charlesworth gave a talk on ” My Scrapbook”. He and Mrs. C. Armitage showed old photographs of local views and events through a spectroscope. The next month was the annual outing and 64 members visited Harrogate and Knaresborough and continued to Wetherby where tea was taken at the Riverside Café. The next report wasn’t until September when the entertainment was given by Miss Sarah Whittaker, Miss J.McRiner, Master Jonathan Whittaker, Mrs.R.Shaw with Miss Dorothy Shaw as the compere. The last meeting was in December when the Netherthong Brownies Park, under the direction of Mrs. J.Rothwell and Mrs.J.Hellawell, gave an excellent concert. Solos were sung by Miss S.Whittaker accompanied by Mrs.R.Shaw on piano. Refreshments were provided and served by the Brownies. Mr. M. Mallinson and Mrs. F. Germaine expressed thanks on behalf of the members.

Their 2nd. AGM was held in January 1975 and the following officials were elected. The joint Presidents were Rev.Capstick and Rev. Stott, Mr.R.Hall was the treasurer, Mr.Mallinson the Chairman with Mr.A.Brook as auditor. The committee members were Mrs. V.Hobson, Mrs.J.Caldwell, Mrs.J.Rothwell, Mrs. S.Gledhill, Mrs. M.Robinson, Mrs.N.Hinchliffe, Mr.F.Germaine and Mr.J.Wood. Although the Club still met on a regular basis, most of their meetings were not reported in the local paper unless there was something of particular interest. At the May meeting games of whist and dominoes were played and the winners were Mrs.Sykes, Mrs. Fieldsend and Mrs.Hirst. A donation from the Clothiers was used to purchase food parcels which were presented to each member by Mr. & Mrs. D. Scholfield.

  The next report wasn’t until January 1976 on the occasion of the AGM. Rev.J.Capstick was elected president with Mr. Mallinson as chairman. There was a new secretary, Mrs. M.Robinson, and she was assisted by Mrs.N.Hinchliffe, Mr.R.Hall continued as Treasurer.The committee members were Mr.F.Germaine,Mr.J.T.Wood, Mrs.V.Hobson, Mrs.J.Coldwell, Mrs.J.Rothwell and Mrs.S.Gledhill. A short service was held in the burial grounds at All Saints when the ashes of Mrs.Amy Bailey were interred in the family grave. She died on December 28 aged 75 and had been a member of the Parish Church Choir for over 50 years. The only other reports for the year were in October giving the prize winners  for Whist and Dominoes who were Mr.F.Germaine, Mrs. Woodhouse and Miss H. Buckley. They also planned to have a coffee morning and a bring-and-buy sale at the home of Mrs. & Mrs. McLaren of Giles Street. The Harvest Home at the Clothiers, organised by Mr. & Mrs. Scholfield, raised £105.50 for the Club , the Rev. Capstick conducted the service  and Mrs.Shaw accompanied the harvest hymns. Mr. S. Dickenson was the auctioneer.

The 1977 AGM followed the normal format. The President was Rev. J. Capstick,  chairman M.Mallinson,  Mrs.M.Robinson secretary, R.Hall treasurer and social secretary with Mrs. N.Hinchliffe as assistant secretary. Committee members were F. Germaine, J.Wood, Mrs. V. Hobson, Mrs. J. Caldwell, Mrs. J.Rothwell, Mrs. S.Gledhill, Mrs. M.Sykes and Mrs. D. Horncastle. In the same month the patrons of the Clothiers raised £194.53 which was handed over to the funds of the Club. There were two events in June , the first was a bring-and-buy sale organised by the Club and held in the Zion schoolroom. £51 was raised and handed to the village jubilee fund.  80 members enjoyed  a tour of North Yorkshire  visiting Harrogate, Ripon, Thirsk and York. A brass ensemble played carols and hymns at the Christmas party in December  and the members were R.Swallow, K.Mallin, J.Wood, D.Mallin, R.Hall, A. Boothroyd, J.Whitaker and Mrs. M.Mellor with the conductor Mr.W.Kaye. Whist and dominoes were played in the afternoon and the prizewinners were Mrs.E.Sykes, Mr.N. Hinchliffe and Miss Battye. Tea was served by the committee and the evening entertainment was provided by the Heather Singers. Mr.M.Mallinson thanked all the artistes.The  first report in 1978 was the AGM in January.The following were elected : Rev.J.Capstick, president, M.Mallinson, chairman, Mrs. M.Robinson, secretary, Mrs. N.Hinchliffe, assistant secretary and  Mr.R.Hall, treasurer and social secretary. Committee members Mr.J.Wood, Mr.W.Horton, Mrs.V.Hobson, Mrs. J. Caldwell, Mrs. J.Rothwell, Mrs.S.Gledhill, Mrs.M.Sykes and Mrs. D.Horncastle. Mr.R. Holmes was appointed as auditor. The members stood for Miss Sally Brook and Mrs. N.Charlesworth  who had died recently. The traditional Harvest Home in October at the Clothiers attracted a large crowd. A short service was led by Rev.J.Capstick. The produce was auctioned by Sgt.Peter Tempest assisted by Don Stangroom  and Robert Scholfield and a record £156 was raised of which £16 came from the money turnip. The proceeds were divided between funds for the Senior Citizens Club and the children’ treat. There was no AGM report for 1979 but at their meeting in March the members stood in silence in remembrance of Mr. H. Littlewood who had died the previous month. In April members were given a ” Sankey afternoon ” presented by Mrs. Hinchliffe, Mrs. Morris, Mrs. Ramsden and Mrs. Wilshaw with Mrs. E.Mortimer as accompanist. A vote of thanks was given by Mr.J.Wood.  Memories were recalled at the June meeting when Mr.H.Mann presented a selection of slides of Netherthong and Deanhouse taken many years ago by the late Thomas Dyson .  Dyson  was so well in the area for presenting slide shows on a range of subjects to many of the local organisations that I have given him his own chapter.

 At the AGM  for 1980 the officers and joint presidents were Rev.J.Capstick and Rev. G. Barrowclough, Mr.J.Wood was the chairman with Mr. W.Horton as vice-chairman. Mrs. M.Robinson was the secretary and she was aided by Mrs. E. Hinchliffe with Mrs. J.Rothwell the speakers secretary. Mrs. E.Kaye was the treasurer. The committee members were Mrs.V.Hobson, Mrs. J.Caldwell, Mrs. S.Gledhill, Mrs. M.Sykes and Mrs. D. Horncastle. The auditor was Mr.R.Holmes. The members stood in memory of Mr. R. Hall , a founder member, who was treasurer and speakers secretary since the formation of the Club. At the March meeting the prizewinners for whist and dominoes were Mrs. Roebuck, Mrs. Lowe and Mrs. Battye. Thanks were expressed to Mrs. V. Hobson, a founder member, who was leaving the district. Children from the primary school , prepared by Mr.S.Whittaker, presented Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to a large audience at the April meeting. Further entertainment was given by Misses S. Chappell and S. Whittaker with a selection of songs to the guitar. Mr.J.Wood thanked the artistes.

Reports were few and far between but in December 1985, they held their Annual Christmas Party. The children of the Parish Church choir entertained at the party having stood in at the last moment for a group of dancers who were due to appear. Between 40-50 people sat down to tea in the village school and were served by committee members. Special guests included the chairman of Holme Valley Parish Council,  Rev.John Capstick and Mr.&Mrs.D.Scholfield , licencees of the Clothiers Arms.

Old Folks Xmas Party 1985

Village Feast

In  December 1986  the Village Feast Committee held a tea for 92 old-age pensioners in the junior school room. The photograph showed Miriam Roper and William Halford getting a cuppa served by Desra Horncastle, Sylvia Kettlewell and Christine Hampshire. The Illingworth School of Dance and Theatre presented a programme of dance and mime.

Old folk's tea December 1986.
Old folk’s tea December 1986.


Netherthong Wesleyan Church Part 2 -1921 to closure

The first report in the Examiner for 1921 was in February, when a concert was given in the school on behalf of the Young Leaguers’ Union of the National Childrens Home and Orphanage. It was very well attended and £10 10s was raised. They organised a similar social for the same charity  two years later in February 1923 and called it a ‘hospital social’ with songs, music and recitations and raised £10.

Sadly during the month, the death occurred of Joseph Armitage, aged 77 years. He had been closely associated with the Wesleyan Methodists and had been one of the first Sunday School teachers. He was interested in the WMC and was formerly its caretaker. For over 50 years he was a member of the Gardener’s Friendly Society and in 1897 was one of the founders of the juvenile branch. His trade was as an oat-bread baker

At the end of the month, a concert was held in the school by the Hinchliffe Mill Wesleyan Prize Choir under the leadership of Joe Bottomley with Miss F. Green as accompanist.

A social gathering was held in the Chapel in March 1923 to raise funds for the renovation of the chapel and improvements to the organ. There was a supper and games were played and £3 was raised.

After having been closed for some time for renovation, the Chapel, which had been re-decorated at a total cost of £120,  was re-opened in July when a devotional service was conducted by the circuit ministers, Rev.E.Harland and Rev.J.Crawford, with music on the organ by Mr.Cousens. The organ had been overhauled and two new stops added. A large number of people partook of tea. The following month was time for the annual outing for the choir. They went to Wharfedale and Airedale and travelled in Mr.Middleton’s well-know charabanc ” Holme Valley “. For their outing in 1924 they once again travelled in the ” Holme Valley ” and visited the Dukeries.

The Chapel had all agreed to the adoption of the electric lighting scheme and, in January 1925, held a tea and concert which realised £8 6s 6d  for the fund.

April of that year was the occasion when the men associated with the Chapel promoted a tea and concert in the schoolroom. A goodly number sat down to a capital tea which was provided by the men who not only presided and served at tables but also did the washing-up. An excellent concert concluded with the burlesque ” Ventriloquism or how not to do it ” which was given by J.Green, N.Haigh and T.Littlewood. £7 10s was raised for the electric lighting fund.

In September the Chapel extended a hearty welcome to the Rev.Wm. Salisbury and the Rev.Joseph Birbeck, newly appointed ministers of the Holmfirth circuit of Wesleyan Methodism. The financial statements of the Sunday School were submitted and approved and members were told that electric lighting was shortly to be installed with the supplier being Honley Council. December saw the much awaited Electric Light Installation Ceremony, when the switching on , performed  by one of the oldest scholars, Mr.J.Woodhead, JP., was greated with hearty applause. A public tea followed by a concert was provided.

In January 1926 the death occurred of Mr. John Albert Armitage of Chapel House , Deanhouse. He was well known and highly respected and a close adherent to the Wesleyan Cause. For 20 years he had been chapel-keeper, a trustee, a steward and an active worker for the chapel renovation and for several years he generously provided an annual treat for the primary department children. He had his 59th. birthday on Christmas Day . He worked as a dyer’s labourer for J.Davies & Co. Ribbleden Dyeworks at Holmfirth and had died immediately on reaching the dye-house on his return to work after the holiday. Another workman said the deceased had reached the dye-house about 6.45 and had just put his dinner on a bench when he fell to the ground. The post-mortem showed evidence of chronic bronchitis and Bright’s disease and the coroner ruled the death was due to natural causes.

The same month Mr. Edward Finch, the well-known Huddersfield elocutionist, paid a visit to the chapel and delivered recitals to the well – attended afternoon and evening services.

In June through the kindness of Mr.& Mrs.Walter Wagstaff and friends, the young children of the primary and other junior departments of the school spent an enjoyable time at Rob Roy. The Foreign Missionary anniversary in conjunction with the Chapel was held in November with  morning and afternoon services on the Sunday. A public tea was given on the Tuesday and Mrs.Death of Meltham presided over a meeting which was addressed by Mrs.W.Rhodes on British Guiana.

The first event in 1927 was in January when a concert , promoted by the organist J.W.Green, was held in aid of funds for painting the exterior of the Chapel. The same month the Young Leaguers organised the annual effort by the Sunday School on behalf of the National Children’s Home and Orphanage. It was presided over by J.Green.

 The New Year’s gathering and price distribution took place in the Sunday school. W.Wagstaff presided and Mrs. Salisbury presented the prizes as well as giving a bible to Arthur Shaw in honour of his connection to the Sunday school up to 20 years of age.

Thomas Dyson gave one of his popular lantern lectures in the schoolroom. This one was all about Yorkshire seaside resorts and the lanternists were C.Dutton and W. Boothroyd.

In February the Rev. Joseph West, a former missionary, who had laboured in India, gave a lecture  on missionary life and experiences in Ceylon which he illuminated with slides. One of the last visits of the year was a visit by Friends from Hall Sunday School to the Wesleyan school and they gave a concert. The chair was occupied by Mr.Thomas Littlewood.

The annual choir outing for the Sunday School for 1928 visited Cawthorne and 60 scholars, teachers and friends travelled in three conveyances. The members of the Choir had their annual outing in September when they visited York. In January 1929 the Young Leaguers Union gave a concert in the school room and presented two children’s operettas.

In the late twenties, gramophone recitals were becoming very popular and attracted good attendances  and Mr.Harold Hirst of Holmfirth presented a number of excellent records in the school in February 1929. Later that year in September the quarterly meeting in connection with the Holmfirth Circuit of Wesleyan Methodism was held in the Chapel. Rev.J.Hisbrown, the circuit minister, presided and a unique feature was the presence of representatives from the United Methodist and Primitive Methodist Circuits. The final event of the year was a visit in December by a number of married ladies associated with the Wesleyans at Underbank. They gave a concert full of miscellaneous items in aid of Chapel funds. The young people from the Honley Wesleyan Sunday school paid a visit in January 1930 to the Wesleyan school in connection with the Netherthong branch of the Young Leaguers Union and presented a pleasing programme of glees, songs , dances and sketches. The next event was an Orange Grove Fair at the school in April which was opened by Arthur Fieldhouse , well known in Wesleyan circles. After all the thanks had been made, the fair opened with many stalls. The ladies provided the tea and the entertainment in the evening. £140 was raised before expenses.

A party from Leeds South Circuit United Methodist Church visited at the end of November 1930 to give a concert. There was a good attendance, presided over by T.Dyson, and W.Wagstaff gave the vote of thanks.

A lantern service was held in the schoolroom on a Sunday afternoon in January 1931. “Timothy Crab ” was the subject of a temperance ballad illustrated by views which had been made from life models by Bamforths of Holmfirth. The slides were presented by T.Dyson assisted by lanternists, T.Dufton and B.Coldwell. Mr.W.Wagstaff presided with Miss Ruth Dufton on piano. The Rev. Harry Buckley was the speaker at the special services in the evening. The choir’s annual outing that year was in July when members and friends visited Grassington and Burnsall. The Rev. Walter T.Rose, the newly-appointed circuit minister, was the preacher at the Chapel anniversary in September 1931. The same month J .Hadfield of Huddersfield gave a lantern lecture at the school titled ‘Pictures of North Wales’. There were two events in November, the first was the Annual missionary meeting when the Rev. C.Chapman of Halifax, who had served 15 years in Burma, delivered a powerful appeal. He said that the Chapel had raised £13 during the year. The second event later in the month was a successful tea and concert promoted by the men of the congregation. It was presided over by H.Wagstaff. The first reported event in 1932 was in January when the Rev.J.Bisbrown, the superintendent minister of the Holmfirth Circuit of Wesleyan Methodism, visited the chapel and gave a lantern lecture on ‘Glimpses of the Continent’. In March the Ladies of the Chapel gave their ‘first’ effort consisting of a tea and entertainment. It was a big success and raised £13 1s. At the annual missionary meeting at the Chapel in November 1933, the Rev. H. Bishop, principal of the Training College, Porto Novo, Dahomey who had 30 years missionary experience in South Africa, Portuguese East Africa, Portugal and French West Africa gave the main address. A presentation was made in November 1935  to Mr.& Mrs. Thomas Dyson of Croft House on the occasion of their wedding. Mr. Walter Wagstaff presented them with a barometer from their friends at the Chapel and an alarm clock from the Sunday School children and teachers. At the Sunday school anniversary meeting in May 1936 presentations were made for long and faithful service. Miss Brigg and Miss Cousen were each presented with a cake district and Mr. J. Green , who had been the voluntary organist for 25 years, was presented with a grandmother clock. Mrs. W. Wagstaff presided. The following August, 60 teachers, scholars and friends of the Sunday school went on their annual outing on this occasion to Knaresborough. The same month the Chapel hosted the quarterly meeting of Methodists from all parts of the Holmfirth circuit and all newly appointed ministers were given a very warm welcome.

In March  1938, the Chapel held its re-opening services as it had been closed for the purpose of decorating both the chapel and the school and installing a new heating apparatus. Special services were held. A few months later in May the bi-centenary of John Wesley’s conversion was celebrated throughout Methodism and the Netherthong chapel played an honoured part for it was twice visited by John Wesley and was the 6th. Methodist Chapel to be built in the whole of England. The first chapel was at Bristol followed by Birstall, Newcastle, Hipperholme and Haworth. On his first visit on July 6 1772, he wrote in his diary for that day … ” I went to Halifax. Preached in the Cow Market to a huge multitude. Our house was filled at 5 in the morning. At 10 I preached in the New House at Thong and at 2 in the afternoon in the Market Place in Huddersfield. Such another we had at Dewsbury in the evening and my strength was my duty.” He preached in the village again in 1788 and records in his diary that he visited Honley at 11am on April 30 1788.

The scholars, teachers and friends all enjoyed an outing in June to Buxton and Matlock.

The 1939 annual outing in May for the Chapel consisted of 60 teachers and scholars who traveled in two of Messrs. Castle’s motors. They visited Brimham Rocks and Knaresborough.. May was also the occasion of the Sunday School Anniversary when all involved partook in songs, recitations and hymns.

In February 1940, the annual ladies tea and entertainment took place in the Chapel.  March 16th. was observed as ladies’ day and Miss Mabel Wagstaff of Gateshead was the preacher. The annual outing for the Sunday School saw 60  teachers, scholars and friends go to Knaresborough again as they had done the previous year.

The next newspaper report was  February 1941  when Mr. Norman Powell’s party of the Boy Scouts of Honley and District visited the Sunday School and gave a mixed entertainment which included lessons on first-aid. Mr.T.Dyson visited the Chapel in the November  to give one of his illustrated lantern lectures and  presented views of Yorkshire scenery. There was a good attendance and a collection was taken for overseas mission. The same month it was the turn of the ladies to give their annual entertainment of songs and sketches. The Chapel was crowded with an appreciative audience.

The  Sunbeams Concert Party gave a very successful variety show in the Sunday School in February 1942. To start off the show, all the the girls sang ” Save a little Sunshine ” which was followed by an amusing duet by  Maurice Froggatt and Colin Gledhill. Mary Bowden sang ” Land of Hope and Glory”, Colin Gledhill entertained with his song, ” Nobody loves a fairy when she’s forty”. Eileen Roebuck sang ” Danny Boy “, Relton Bradley performed a monologue. Susie McLean, Mary Bowden and Eileen Roebuck starred in ‘Mr.Brown of London Town’ and Edith Walker gave a dance.  Philip Roebuck and Relton Bradley appeared in many of the sketches and the pianists were Marion Bowden and Maurice Froggatt. The sketches were written by Mr.N.Powell who also acted as compere and ran the show. The proceeds came to £5 15s.

An important name change occured at the start of the 1949s when it stopped being called Deanhouse Wesleyan Methodist Church and became Netherthong Wesley’s Methodist Church.

In December, the overseas missionary anniversary services were held in the Chapel. Rev. Thorpe spoke about missionary work in Ceylon and the Rev. Roberts gave an illustrated lecture on his work in West Africa. Also in December, the combined choirs of the Parish Church, Zion Methodist and Wesley Methodist gave carol services in the Parish Church.

 At the end of 1942 there was a Christmas wedding at the Church on Boxing Day between Bombardier Albert Cartwright of Denegarth, Deanhouse and Miss Phyllis Wagstaff of Rob Roy, Netherthong. The bride was a Sunday school teacher, a member of the choir at the Chapel and a lieutenant in the Netherthong Girl Guide Company.

February 1943 was the occasion of ladies’ Day at the Chapel. Miss H. Battye was the preacher at the services. In December, the combined choirs of the Parish Church, Zion Methodist and Wesley Methodist gave carol services in the Parish Church.

The Rev. J.Almond, newly appointed minister in the Holmfirth Methodist circuit, gave the sermon at the anniversary services in September 1944.

The 1947 annual outing of the scholars and friends involved a group of 70 travelling to Knotts End and Fleetwood. A presentation was made in September to Herbert Fisher who had resigned his post of choirmaster after 40 years. He was a well known vocalist, had been conductor of the Netherthong Music Festival and was a member of the Holme Valley Male Voice Choir. In January 1948, the Chapel had a distinguished visitor, Rev. J.H.Garland the Methodist minister at Mallon, Cumberland. He was the secretary and organiser of the International Centenary Commemoration of the Rev. Henry Francis Lyte, author of Abide with me, and he lectured on the famous hymn and its author.

Memorial Services were held in the Chapel in May 1949 for Walter Wagstaff, a former worker for the chapel, who died in Rhyl on April 26th. He had been president of The Male Voice Choir. On the 22nd. of the same month, Mr.& Mrs. John Edward Smith, who had been caretakers for over 23 years, attained their golden anniversary. Mr.Smith ,who was 78 years, came to Netherthong in 1917 and worked in the local mills before being appointed chapel – keeper. He was an hon. member of The Male Voice Choir. Before her marriage, Mrs.Smith was Miss Edna Roebuck, one of a family of eight sons and four daughters. She was 71 years.

September was the occasion of the Annual Services and the preacher was Rev.A. Vincent Woodhill who was one of the newly appointed ministers on the circuit. Mrs. R.Singleton was the organist. The Holme Valley Guides, Scouts and Cubs paid their 20th. Annual visit to the Chapel in October when Rover leader, W.Allen, presided. The address was given by Scoutmaster, Pat Hellawell and the children’s address by Cubmistress, D.Whitehead. The lesson was read by Scout Lawrence Liles and Cub Mark Lancaster contributed a poem.

The annual outing in May 1950 was to Bridlington when 58 adults and children left in two coaches. The same month, the Sunday School Anniversary services were held with the Rev.Woodhall of Meltham as preacher. He was also the preacher in November when Temperance Film strips were shown at the chapel.  The Rev. J. Christian of Holmfirth was the preacher at the Church anniversary services in August.

1951 started off with the Annual distribution of prizes in January for the Sunday School scholars. Miss S.J.Brigg presided  and Mrs.R.Singleton was the organist.The scholars plus friends of the Sunday School held their annual outing in June. They were conveyed in two of Messr. Bradley Bros. coaches to Southport.

The Rev. James Sollitt, newly appointed superintendent minister of the Holmfirth Methodist circuit, was the preacher at the anniversary services in September 1951. They celebrated the Harvest Festival in October with a parade by the Boy Scouts and Girl Guides. Scoutmaster Stuart Bedford presided and the lessons were read by cub Geoffrey Burley and scout Pat Beardsell.

There was a full chapel to celebrate the Harvest Festival in 1954. The local scouts and guides paraded for the festival and Mr.T.Brooks, scoutmaster, stated that it was the 25th. annual visit by the Guides and Scouts. The Sunday School Anniversary services took place in May 1956 and the organist at both services was Mrs.R.Singleton. The Rev.J.Crawford of Honley was the preacher.

The Rev. F.Garnett of Meltham , one of the newly appointed ministers of the Holmfirth Methodist Circuit, was the preacher at the chapel anniversary services in September 1956. The following month they celebrated the Harvest Festival with the annual parade of the boy scouts and girl guides and the Scout leader, Mr.Sanderson of Meltham, presided. Lessons were read by Scouts Derek Marsh and Gerald Buck and the young peoples address was given by Cub leader Maureen Sykes of Honley. The speaker was Scoutmaster L. Farrar of Halifax.

Owing to the damage sustained  at Wesley’ Chapel in June all their services were held in the Zion Church. A united campaign  for both the  churches was organised by a band of local preachers in the Holmfirth Circuit who had previously held campaigns in Wooldale, Scholes and Crowedge. The opening phase had been an intensive visiting of the whole area, house by house, armed with leaflets. In July the Trustees discussed the question of the condition of the roof and the cost of repairs and decided to make a decision at the quarterly meeting. The main ceiling collapsed in September and the  congregation formally joined the Zion Methodist Church. The following year the Chapel was officially closed and later was converted into a house. The following information has been supplied ( July 2018 ) by a ‘family member’.

The Wesleyan Chapel was bought by my Grandfather George England with a view to converting it into living accommodation but the project was never begun. We were visiting the family soon after he had acquired it and he took us to see it. I can tell you, that  inside the chapel, there was a mahogany chair with arms and a plaque fixed to the back, which said something to the effect that ” John Wesley used this chair when he preached in this chapel in 1772? My grandfather’s intention was to give the chair to a local  Chapel and, so far as I know, that is what he did. It could possibly have been Gatehead. 

With the closing of the Chapel, the Express in July gave a detailed account of the early history of the Chapel. Much of it is similar to the information I have given in this chapter but the paper had access to the original minute book of the records of the Sunday School. They make for very interesting reading and I have  listed them below. 

The very first meeting was held on April 29 1861 and it was resolved to purchase two dozen Bibles, two dozen Testaments and spelling books. On May 14 arrangements were made for the school feast and it was resolved that 2 stones of flour would be used for plain bread and 1.5 stones for currant bread. At a committee meeting on December 16, Messrs. J.Woodhead and J.Rogers were appointed to attend on Saturday evenings in the school to give instructions on writing etc.

On July 15 1862  eight rules for the teachers were adopted and they were as follows. 1. The school shall be opened with singing and prayer and this rule also gave the various attendance times.  2. They shall take such a position in their class as will enable them to observe every child. They shall restrain the children from improper conduct.  3. In case of unavoidable absence they shall provide a proper substitute.  4. They shall be persons of good moral character, approved by the teacher’s meeting.  5. No teacher shall mention the faults of a brother teacher.  6. Every teacher leaving the school is requested to give a month’s notice.   7. A committee shall be chosen annually to manage the affairs of the school.  8. A meeting shall be held quarterly.

There were also eight rules to be enforced by the scholars. 1. They shall be present at the opening of the school and shall be clean in person and dress.  2. If any scholar be absent from school for four successive Sundays without a sufficient excuse he shall be dismissed.  3. No scholar shall attend when affected by any infectious disease.  4. The scholars at the time of singing or prayer shall not gaze about, read or play.  5. No scholar may leave his class without the consent of the teacher. 6 No scholar shall bring anything to play with or eat during school hours.  7 They shall abstain from lying, swearing, sabbath breaking and every other manifest immorality and be submissive, obedient and respectful to their teachers.  8 Scholars not attending to the above rules shall be punished.

At a meeting on October 4 1864, it was decided to join the Sunday School Union about to be formed in the Holmfirth Circuit and on December 5 of the same year it was resolved ” that one dozen of Wesleyan Scripture Lessons be purchased monthly at the expense of the School Funds.” It was resolved on August 13 1869 that the teachers and scholars have a trip to Harden Moss ( it unfortunately didn’t record how this would be achieved ).

And finally a minute of April 1893 regarding the school feast states ” that we walk with the Reformers as usual if they are willing “. The following year ” it was decide not to walk with the Reformers“.

The following pamphlet was published for the Dedication of the Organ, Pulpit and Choir Stalls on May 30th. and 31st. 1959.


May 1959 Dedication programme.
May 1959 Dedication programme.

Deanhouse – a hamlet that shows the changes of time

  In April 1973 the Holmfirth Express printed two articles titled ‘A brief history of Deanhouse – a hamlet that shows the changes of time.’ It  was written by Eileen Williams, who was the secretary of Holmfirth Civic Society. It is superbly researched and, as Deanhouse features throughout the history of Netherthong, it is a valuable addition to this web site. With acknowledgements to Eileen.

” Few hamlets in the West Riding can show the changes of time as clearly as Deanhouse. It now comprises two separate entities, on the one hand are the neat rows of modern dwellings, while barely a stone’s throw away, via a ginnel passing the 18th.C. Wesleyan Chapel, a cluster of 17th. and 18th. cottages still survive – one bearing a date-stone marked 1698 above the door. Deanhouse Mills standing just below give their evidence of the Industrial Revolution.

  Earliest traced record of Deanhouse is given in the Poll-Tax of 1379 in the Haneley ( Honley ) section which included a Johanne Dean whose homestead sited in the modernised section was to become Deanhouse. Little is known about him but he grew his own corn, taking it to Honley Mill to grind. 200 years later in 1569, John Beaumont, a husbandman of Deynhouse, bought land from the Stapletons of Honley and appeared to be thriving. Beaumonts remained at Deanhouse until 1675 when Abraham Beaumont sold to Joseph Armitage. From Armitage the property passed to a Woodhead, a Wilkinson and then Sir John Lister Kaye  spanning the years to 1763 when Godfrey Berry bought ‘ Deanhouse and other lands at Honley for £400.

  In the latter half of the 18th.C , Deanhouse was a very small community of farmers, clothiers and handloom weavers. They were among the first of the followers of John Wesley and Methodism and they built their own chapel in1769. In 1772, John Wesley visited the chapel but had to walk from Hagg. A Mrs. Dinah Bates accompanied him back to Hagg and she was a noted Leech-woman, held in deep respect for the curing of ailments. The panorama of the Deanhouse Valley was then unbroken by the Deanhouse Millwhich was built some years later. The brook into which three streams converged flowed unsullied through woods and pasture land. Above it the bridle path, now known as Haigh Lane, led directly to the Chapel skirting a two-storied double fronted dwelling with a substantial barn, presumably a farmhouse, now the Cricketer’s Arms.The four weavers’ cottages stood at the brow of the bridle path while below them was a drinking trough for the horses. Behind these weavers’ cottages was a fold with smaller cottages, one of which still carries the date stone of 1698 above the door.

  It is recorded that in 1798, Nathaniel Berry of Deanhouse was a Constable and a church warden of Honley. In 1838 the Deanhouse passed to Joseph, Ben and John Eastwood the family then connected with the mill. Joseph Eastwood and Sons being recorded as fulling millers. By 1838 a John Jordan had taken over the scribbling and fulling while Joseph Eastwood and his brothers were then known as woolen merchants.

  At that time there was no record of an inn in Deanhouse but an unnamed beerhouse was listed in 1853. As farmhouses in those days often brewed and sold beer as a sideline, the conversion of farmhouse to inn, first known as ‘The Blazing Rag’ seems to have been a gradual one. While officially the Cricketers today, it is still known locally as ‘The Rag’. May 1860 brought about the most significant change to the old Deanhouse community when the house and grounds carrying the name of the hamlet was conveyed from the Eastwood family to the Guardians of the Huddersfield Union as a site for a new Workhouse.’

The second article dealt with the rise and decline of the dreaded workhouse of Deanhouse. I have a chapter covering the  the Workhouse in detail so I have just pulled a few interesting items from her report.

‘ The first inmates were admitted at the beginning of September 1862. Before the end of the month a boy named Thomas Clough absconded and was found drowned near Huddersfield the same day. No regrets or mention of an inquiry was made in the minutes. The following year, in September 1863, the list of absconders over the boundary wall was proving a worry and included a Sarah Jane Hobson who had escaped taking her three children with her to Honley, one man took his workhouse clothing with him and a young female got over the wall for an immoral purpose. As a result a higher boundary wall was built at a cost of £150.’


A Netherthong Story – A Bit of a Do – by James R. Gregson

  In June 1921, the Express published a “Netherthong Story” in serial form which was spread over a number of weekly issues. It was titled “A Bit of a Do” and written by a James R.Gregson. Christine Verguson contacted me – January 2015- to give me more information about him.  “James R (Dick) Gregson later became a pioneer of radio drama – not only writing and producing plays and other radio features on a freelance basis in the Leeds studio in the inter-war years but, with the resumption of regional broadcasting after WW2, he became the North Region’s first ever Senior Drama Producer. He also served for a time as a councillor in Huddersfield.”

The story is quite entertaining and written in the style of the time and, as it refers to Netherthong, it clearly warrants a chapter of its own. Because of the concern these days about Health and Safety and Political Correctness, I have been  advised to inform  you that the story does contain a lot of Yorkshire dialect words.

1. We get going.

  This story is going to be a teaser to write. You see, it isn’t mine – it’s Simon’s mostly – and what isn’t Simon’s is Drucilla’s and I want to give it to you in such a fashion that you’ll feel you’re in the house with me, listening to them and seeing their homely faces and getting all the flavour of their homely humour. And yet I won’t give it to you exactly as I heard it, for it would become to tedious to read, just like any conversation that was reported verbatim. So I’ve to cut it all over the place and piece the best bits together neatly.

  Simon  and Druscilla live at Nether Thong (or is it Netherthong?). They were  born there and have lived there all their lives, getting schooled, falling in love,courting and getting married there. They’re natives in short – although the ” short ” really applies to Druscilla, who’s 5′, owing as Simon says when he gets cross with her, to ‘them’ at made ‘er  tekkin’ moost  of ‘er length for ‘er tongue. Druscilla is small – all ways. She reminds me of a rather shabby little sparrow, for she has the sharp movements and glances and not a little of its “nowtiness “.

 They say that when Simon courted her he used to seat her on a wall, or stand her on a millstone to kiss her and one can easily understand the necessity for some such means for he is a mountainous man. Of course when he was younger he may have bent down to kiss her – but he can’t do it to-day, perhaps because he got out of practice. Be that as it may, a great contrast in a married couple would be hard to find, she is small and sharp and all a -twitter and a-flutter, he so large and slow and all placidity, and quiet good humour. But they jog along quite comfortably together and although they have no children of their own, the house is never silent for they are “uncle and aunt ” to all the neighbours’ children as well as to their ” blood relations”.

   Netherthong stands on a hill – at least it always does when I go there – it’s a very inconvenient habit for a village to acquire although I must admit that the view when one gets there is ” good enough to be getting on with”. I have heard that there is an ‘Upperthong’ farther on and I am content to take this statement on trust. I have never seen it but I have a shrewd suspicion that it is the lower of the two, their names with our oblique Yorkshire humour have been mis-applied. Simon and Druscilla live, according to Druscilla, in the most uncomfortable house in the village – to me it is the cosiest little house in the world. I do not intend to tell you which it is, you’d be up there before Druscilla knew where she was and she’d spoil the muffins in her ‘frustration’. I was there only the other week-end and the hill seemed stonier than ever. I arrived in the dark, chilled and rather wet by a sharp shower and more than a little anxious about Simon who had been laid low by a dose of rheumatic fever. But on lifting the latch and dropping down the one step into the kitchen I was doubly cheered. The kindliness of the house rushed to greet me, steaming my glasses so that I should not be blinded by the brilliance of the polish ( or elbow grease as Druscilla says ) that makes the furniture and brass shine like mirrors.

   There was something good for supper too or my nose deceived me. And there was Simon, as I perceived when the mist cleared, who smiled broadly and held out a large white paw for me to shake and said ” Ah’m reight fain to see thee lad”. Ah and here is Druscilla – ” ” Ah niver yerd thee cum in. Ah were thrang gettin’ t’bed ready. Weel, hah does to think ahr Simon’s lookin ? Just like a big babby gettin’ his teeth. Big babby. Tha should ha’ seen ‘im a month sin cryin’ becoss t’clock were spittin’ at ‘im. That‘s what he fancied, tha knows. Eh, dear , it’s been a reight do, an’. Ah’m fain ‘e’s on t’ mend for Ah could dee fifty times ovver wi’ less bother than ‘e’s been”.  And all the time she is talking, she hops about from the gas-ring on the sink to the tea- caddy ( with pictures of Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. Spring denoted by a farmer sowing. Summer by a girl swinging . Autumn by a boy stealing apples and Winter by the girl skating and a robin on a twig), from the tea -caddy to the oven and from the oven to the table and presently supper is ready.

” Nah then square rahnd lad, doan’t bother aakin’ for nowt, reich it for thysen.’Ave a bit o’ this chicken – ahr Simon’ll leave awf on it. It’s last o’ t’ cockerels bar one, Ahm savin’ for ahr Maggie”. Suddenly she rises and goes upstairs, returning immediately with one serviette, which she placed by my side and which I don’t use because I’m busy picking that chicken – as busy picking as ever the chicken was.  “So tha thinks ‘e’s looking better? Eh, but ‘e’s a prince to what ‘e wer’. It’s browt ‘im to a shadder.An ‘is een stood aht on ‘is ‘ead like them dresser knobs”. I murmur my sympathy, inarticulate with chicken. ” Ah’ve had some dos wi’ ’em but nowt so bad as this. Nowt”. ” Ah, it’s been a funny affair lad “, confirms Simon slowly, ” Queer things ‘as been appearing to me”. ” ‘E means ‘is ramblin’ ” explained Druscilla, ” ‘E ‘as carried on”. ” Tha can call ’em ramblin’, if tha like lass, but to me – well, they’re moor not that. A lot moor “. ” Well, niver mind ’em nah! Get thi supper. I can’t bide to see thee lookin’ like a rail although tha’s been more like a lath, when tha wer at t’ worst”. ” An’ Ah’m nooan so crack, so lass. Ah wer lookin’ at misen this morning when Ah had a bit of a bath, an’ believe me lad, mi belly’s that slack Ah could wipe mi nooase wi’ it “. ” But these ramblings of yours…..”, I prompted. ” Tha’s what she calls ’em but Ah believe Ah’ve had a glimpse o’ me o’ mi past lives —– moor nor one, to tell t’truth. When tha’s finished eightin’, Ah’ll tell thee abaht ‘e”. ” Tha’ll do nowt o’ th’ sort “, said Druscilla sharply, ” Tha’s stopped up behind the time as it is.”  ” Nah, lass —- “, began Simon pacifically.” Ah’m nooan goin’ to let thi’ throw thisen back into bed—–“. ” But Ah’st be better if Ah get it off me chest  —- “. ” Tha’ll be better if tha gets a bit moor o’ that chicken on to thi chest. Just look what a saucy plate tha’s left “.

Simon , with a twinkling eye, picked a bit more while I started on a huge helping of apple – pie. After a gustatory pause, he resumed as Druscilla left the room.  “They say that no man’s a ‘ero to his valet but Moses’ll allus be an ‘ero to me”.  “Moses which ? “, I queried. ” Ah’m in t’bible. Ah were his valet, tha knows”.   “Sethee! “, it was Druscilla with her ‘ paddy ‘ out. ” Sethee, off t’bed this minute. If tha’ goes on to that tale o’ thine, tha’ll talk all t’neet. Pike off”.  And so he ‘piked’. And so did I  — to a bedroom where windows were tapped and swept all night by trees restless in the wind.

2. We start again.

   Sunday morning in Netherthong is composed one- half of church bells and one- half bacon and tomatoes.I don’t know whether the noise or the smell wakened me, but I opened my eyes on a low beamed ceiling that was a riot of changing green and golden sunshine. And so downstairs to the sink and Druscilla, who negotiated the tomatoes and bacon, whilst I performed feats with a safety-razor that made her shudder. Breakfast was ready by the time I was dressed and Druscilla said,  “Simon’s down t’garden, if tha’ll fetch ‘im in”.  The garden was long and Simon was at the far end. Everything looked ‘ like t’ back end ‘ — raspberry canes in need of pruning, cabbages bursting, the trees rusting and the poultry looking queer in their partly – cast plumage — there was one old bird strutting about with a solitary feather where its tail should be. But everything was clean, sparkling and the view over the valley was rain-washed and clear. And Simon said, as I opened my lungs appreciatively , ” Ay, it’s a rare morning “. Last night’s chicken must have been a hungry bird and must have passed its hungry qualities on for I felt I could ‘ eat a hunter off his horse’. That particular fare not being available I did quite well with the bacon and tomatoes. ” What are yer goin’ to do this morning ? “, asked Druscilla, as we slowed up. ” Simon can’t walk far yet”. I trotted out an old gag ” I’m going to peel the potatoes for you, and see that you don’t burn the beef “. ” Oh, arta? Tha’rt nooan stoppin’ in this kitchen — nawther on yer — Ah’m bahn to tidy up a bit – it looks fair offald”.

    So presently I filled my pipe and Simon commenced a long and involved process with a jack-knife and a plug of twist and we sat in the sunshining garden and browsed. Simon’s first pipe after breakfast is no light matter and I know better than to spoil it with talk but presently it came onto rain and we were forced back into the kitchen with Druscilla and the smell of roasting meat. And there at the first opportunity, I broached the matter of Simon’s ‘ramblin’s’. Simon began between puffs ” It’s noa joke bein’ poorly “. ” Not to them ‘at’s been nursin’ thee “, piped in Druscilla. ” Nor to me, nawther, lass. Ah used to get fair tied up wi’ it. Ah were allus wishin’ Ah were somewheer else fro wheer Ah wer. Ah, but it made me sweeat, Ah can tell thi Ah thowt Ah should nivver get mi limbs straight ageean. Ah fair roared wi’ it “. ” Tha did that! Mrs . Mossop across t’ passage, had to change bedrooms becoss tha wakkened t’ babby wi thi’ racket “.

   ” Ah can weel believe it, lass. Ah couldn’t sleep misen for t’noise Ah used to mak. Ah used to wish scores o’ time Ah wer aht on it. An’ one time Ah were ——-“. A tentative suck on the unlit pipe brought a gurgle from the stem.  ” Ay ……. reight aht on it  …… but Ah didn’t tumble to it all at once, than knows …. There were one pain that went across mi’ shoulder blades — nobbut, it wer’ underneath ’em, if tha’ follows me  — an’ Ah used to think it wer’ like someone floggin’ me ……Well suddenly when it gate very bad, I thowt dang it’s somedy is floggin’ me. An’ thet wer’. Two on ’em “. ” Two? What ?”, be sure I was quick with the required prompting. ” Infidels “. ” Fiddlesticks ” from Druscilla,  ” No, lass, but thet wer’ nearly as thin “. ” Do you mean Egyptian ? “, I asked.  ” Ay. But we allus thowt on ’em as infidels “.  “We? “. ” Ay, us “.  ” Who were you ?”. ” Hebrews. Ah wer a Hebrew, and ahr Druscilla wer’ a Shebrew or a Hebrewess “. ” Nah, dooan’t try to drag mi into thi’ daft tale”. ” Theer’s no need, lass, tha wer theer but tha dooant really come into it until later on “. Druscilla banged the oven door with such emphasis that the damper fell down.

Undisturbed by this little display, Simon resumed. ” It wer very funny passin’ ovver like that. Although to tell t’truth Ah didn’t pass ovver for Ah nevver forgate  Ah wer’ poorly at whooan — tha might say that Ah’d a fooit i’ another shop – mind thee, Ah wer’ in booath places at once an’ altogether an’ Ah missed nowt o’ what was goin’ on in booath at whooam an’ abroad … Ah’ve nevver struck nowt so funny i’ all mi life. fancy seein’ two Druscillas at once! Not a double Druscilla like a druffen chap but two different ‘uns an’ yet boath th’same”. ” For heaven’s sake, shut up “, cried Druscilla, ” tha’ll drive me potty wi’ thi gassin'”. “Another queer thing “,  went on Simon imperturbedly, ” wer’ t’ question i’ mi mind as to which wer hurtin’  me t’mooast – t’ rheumatic fever at whooam ot them cruel devils ovver yonder. They laid it onto me to some thickness. Ah can tell thi, an’ at first Ah wer fair bothered thinkin’ that they’d surely cut ahr Druscilla’s red flannel bran bags to ribbons on mi back.Ah wer fair terrified when she came to change ’em, forfear she’d get a swipe wi’ t’whips an’ Ah yelled aht like a stuck pig to ‘er to get aht o’ t’rooad.”  ” Ay “, chimed in Druscilla, “Ah remember that verry well but there wer nowt theer though. Ah must say that t’way tha screamed fair crilled me. Anyway, it wer nobbut thi fancy.” ” That’s what tha thinks lass, an’ we’ll let thee ha’ thi own way… Queer, weren’t it ?”, he asked, turning to me. I agreed. ” But it gate queerer still. Tha’ soes, Ah could understand their tak an’ all, an’ it weren’t even English, let alone our own language. An’ Ah knew all abaht misen, an’ everybody ovver theer, an’ what it wer all abaht together. But at first, what wi’ bein’ i’ two sheps at once, Ah could nawther mek ‘ase nor cowk on it …. Ah DID get used to  an’ it didn’t cap me a bit when Ah saw that Ah wer nobbut a nipper. Ay, a Hebrew nipper, just turnin’ into mi teens. An’ two big infidels lashin’ into me like fiends. Ah don’t remember hah monny swipes Ah gate, but mi’ back wer in ribbins when they finished. Ah went fan sick wi’ it but Ah just managed to keep conscious long enough to gasp aht – when it was ovver  – ‘let my Lord Pharoah live for ever’, and then under mi’ breath, ‘ in Hell’. “But what had you done to bring the punishment upon you ?”.  ” Ah’d been larkin’ wi’ one o’ Pharoah’s dowter’s children — Moses “.  ” Well of all the daft …..” began Druscilla, but an amazing sniff from me towards the oven, cut her off short and saved the story. ” Eh, ‘t WERE a rip, wer Moses. An although he wer one o’ Pharoahs household — an we, all on us hated Pharoah an’ all ‘is belongin’s, like slaves allus hate their miserable maisters  — Ah worshipped t’verry grahnd Moses walked on. Eh ‘e wer a bonny striplin’, an’ we’d some rare pranks together, for ‘e took to me same as Ah took to ‘im. But us Hebrews weren’t supposed to do onny laikin’ tha knows. We wer slaves — an’ Ah confess it to mi sorrer — we deserved to be for we wer a spineless lot. We did nowt else all our lives but build an’ dig, an’ pull us guts aht, an’ get lashed wi’ whips — whips like bit cats an’ nine tails — we hated us maisters an’ we hated misens. T’ mooast o’ mi’ short life we wer building monuments — what does tha call ’em — them things like four triangles all leanin’ together an’ proppin’ one another up … ?”  ” Pyramids “.  ” Ay, pyramids. It wer t’fashion just then among t’Egyptians to be buried in ’em. An’ we built scores o’ ’em in mi time. Big ugly things they wer, an’ all. Ah’m buried in one o’ ’em , nah Ah come to think on it”.   ” Simon! Simon !. Wheer evver doesta expect to go to when tha does? ”  Druscilla’s voice was almost a wail. ” Ah’m waitin’ for thee to mek THY mind up lass an’ Ah’m bahn wi’ thee”. Druscilla’s only reply was to crack an egg- viciously – into the pudding basin. I took this opportunity of asking, ” But isn’t there a story?”. ” There is an’ Ah’m bahn to tell it thee lad. Ah’m bahn to show thee hah Moses an’ mi, in us young silly fashion, made history. But to tell it reight, Ah’ll begin at t’ beginnin’ — wi’ Joseph”. ” Joseph , eh “.  ” ay, Ah nevver met ‘im but Ah know all abaht ‘im, an’ ‘e began all t’bother. So we’ll start off wi’ i’m”. 

3. The Story of Joseph.

Simon cleared his throat and began to clear and refill his pipe as he resumed —–  “Ay, Joseph began t’bother — ‘E wer too eager to pleese t’ Pharoah o’ ‘is time — not that ‘e weren’t brainy — far from it! — but like t’mooast on us, ‘e didn’t look far enuff i’ t’ front ….”. A pause whilst he rubbed up a dose of twist, then———.”Ah don’t know whether tha remembers owt abaht Joseph, but if tha does tha’ll remember that ‘is father made a bit o’ a favourite on ‘im and that led to rows i’ t’house, an’ finished up wi’ Joseph bein’ selled as a slave to Potiphar. Tha sees over then , Hebrews weren’t liked by th’Egyptians. They’d cause for it to my thinkin’, for even in mi time we wer an ignorant lot, an’ Ah reckon Joseph knew nowt much when Potiphar bowt ‘im. Whereas the Egyptians wer far more civilised —  they lived i’ buildings — not skin tents  — they could weave after a fashion an’ make glass an’ they ‘ad a written language, an’ worst of all they ‘ad a church and clergy. Ah’ll bet Potiphar looked on Joseph as we used to look at niggers. Anyway t’lad had good brains an’ good looks an’ t’latter gate ‘im into trouble an’ landed ‘im i’ jail, wheer ‘e stopped for a bit …. ‘E gate aht o’ jail by explainin’ some dream ‘at Pharoah ‘ad ‘ad —- seven fat bulls met seven thin uns —–“. ” Ay, Ah thowt tha’d trip thisen up, ” exclaimed Druscilla, with what would have been glee had it not been so much temper”. ” Hah does ta meean?”. ” They weren’t bulls at all.” ” Who says they wer ?”. ” T’Bible doesn’t say they were bulls”. ” What does it say then ?”. ” It says they wer kine “. ” Well, what’s kine ?”. ” Cows”. ” Well , aren’t cows bulls ?”. Druscilla laughed heartily at this and Simon enjoyed such a huge grin at his own expense, that good humour restored instantly. ” Anyway “, resumed Simon earnestly, ” these kine wer bulls — Ah’ve seen scoores o’ picters on ’em – the Egyptians wer determined nivver to forget what they reminded ’em on an’ they drew ’em on their plates an’ house-sides an’ all ovver. Well t’Pharoah dream t’ seven thin bulls ate t’seven fat uns and didn’t shoe for their feedin’ – like thee lass – and Pharoah wanted to know as we all should what it wer abaht. An’ Joseph telled ’em that there wer goin’ to be seven good harvests an’ then seven bad ‘uns – an’ he also gave ‘im an idea as to how to deal wi’ it —– So, promptly Joseph became Prime Minister, an’ wi’ Pharoah’s name to back ‘im, ‘e made a corner i’ wheat. ”  ” Made a what ?”, I gasped. ” Collared all t’corn an’ t’wheat.” ” Yes, but it was the only thing to do to save the country from starvation and famine.”  ” Happen so lad — but what a way to do it.”  ” What do you mean, he bought the corn when it was plentiful and sold it again when it was scarce and by doing so saved the life of Egypt.” ” Oh, ay, Egypt saved its life but it lost its soul — liberty!. Nay lad, listen — let me tell thee — tha doesn’t know owt abaht it. An’ Ah do, for Ah’ve suffered through it .”  ” Eh dear, eh dear,” wailed Druscilla. ” ‘E thinks it’s true!” 

” Think woman – ah KNOW! Ah’ve been stung bi’ t’whips, an’ toiled an’ moiled like a nigger. Ah’ve been driven an’ driven till Ah couldn’t be driven onny farther bi’ t’ fowk that remembered hah their forerunners wer treated by Joseph, an’ that used insults wi’ every stroke — insults that their father’s fathers ‘ad nobbut dared t’think: that theer fathers ‘ad whispered an’ that they, livin’ under a Pharoah, they knew not Joseph could bawl aht an’ spit after — to clear ther mouths.” Simon’s warmth and sincerity was amazing and silenced us all. After a somewhat shamefaced pause he resumed doggedly. ” There wer seven years when t’harvest wer better no anybody remembered — an’ in them seven years Pharoah, or Joseph actin’ for ‘im, bowt  every grain that fowk would sell. An’ ‘e bowt it chep  — there wer moor sellers nor buyers.”  ” But why did they sell when they knew what was to follow the seven good years. ”  “Dosta think they would have selled if they’d know or believed what ‘ud foller.” ” Were they told what was expected?”.  ” They allus said they weren’t. But whether they wer telled or not, they selled chep. An’ when they ‘ad to buy back, they bowt dear —- DEAR —-. There came a time when t’brass wer done – Ah mean t’ ready brass tha knows. An’ there wer plenty o’ corn in Egypt an’ plenty of empty bellies wantin’ it. An’ fowk began to try an’ sell whatever they could to keep theirsens alive. But t’trouble wer that what they wanted to sell, other fowk wanted to sell an’ all and there wer nobbut one place wheer they could buy corn — Ay Joseph — So they came to ‘im to put their case, and their case, puttin’ aside all the ‘ Let my Lord Joseph live fro evvers ‘ and ‘ May my Lord’s seed be as the sand o’ t’desert for number ‘,  wer they wanted summat to eit. An’ they ast ‘im to buy their cattle, an’ after thinkin’ it over , ‘e did…. An’ in a bit they wer as bad off as evver, an’ they selled their land and their bits o’ property for corn — an’ finally they selled their own worthless selves to keep theirsens alive. They became slaves o’ purpose to live. But they did worse not that — they selled their unborn children into slavery — Eh lad, Eh lad. Man liveth not by bread alone.”

Simon fell into a brooding silence. ” Well,” I prompted. ” Even in mi’ time , one-fifth o’ t’harvest belonged to Pharoah becoss o’ what their forfathers ‘ad done. They do say though that towards t’end o’ t’famine, it gate so bad that it looked like bloodshed an’ revolution, but Joseph gate to know — ‘is spies wer everywheer — an’ so ‘e made ’em move abaht, shiftin’ them into districts wheer they wer strangers an’ didn’t know t’others. Families wer split up an’ t’husband separated from ‘is wife and t’children from booath — i’ my time, they’d onny amount o’ songs abaht it – an’ wailin’ things that make yer cringe – they’d sing ’em at neet, wi’ t’darkness listenin’ an’ tryin’ to sing back …. Anyway Joseph smashed up onny attempt at combination by ‘is craftiness. Ah dooant know owt that ‘ud beat his trick o’ makin’ ’em exiles ‘n their own land. If tha can imagine t’time ‘n Yorkshire when t’ hill fowk used to be at feud wi’ t’dalesmen — or when a North – country chap couldn’t speak civil to a Norfolk ‘ yaller – belly’, tha’ll have some idea o’ ‘is craftiness. But craftiness isn’t statecraft.” ” what else could he have done?”  “The country had to be saved.” I began. ” Well, ‘e could have lent it to ’em for one thing, an’ let ’em pay him back when t’harvests gate better  … ‘E drove a hard bargain and t’result wer that everybody wer a lot worse off, booath them that starved an’ ’em that didn’t. Joseph didn’t starve, nor Pharoah, nor t’priests that ‘ad their portion fro’ Pharoah. T’priests hadn’t to sell their land — becos they’d selled their sowls t’first happen ….”. I confess, frankly, I was nonplussed. I think it was Simon’s intensely belief in his story that made it difficult for me to reason. Druscilla, however, had no compunction.  ” Just a pack o’ nonsensical notions, ” she declared, ” gooin’ agooan t’Bible an’ all. Ah’m capt tha’s cheek to say it, if tha’s so little sense as to think it.”  “Ah dooant know whether Ah’m gooin’ ageeant t’Bible or not,” Simon began, but I interupted him. ” Let us see if you are, ” I suggested. So Druscilla brought the Bible from under the plant pot and fancy cover on the sewing machine and we hunted and found the story of Joseph. I read aloud : … and there was no bread in all the land – and Joseph gathered up all the money that was found in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan for the corn which they bought. And Joseph said, give me your cattle — and Joseph gave them bread in exchange for the horses and for the flocks and for the herds — they came unto him the second year and they said unto him – our money is all spent: and the herds of cattle are my lords , there is nought left in the sight of my lord but our bodies and our lands … buy us and our lands for bread, and we and our land will be servants to Pharoah … and the land became Pharoah’s. And as for the people, he removed them to the cities from one end of the border of Egypt, even to the other end thereof. Only the land of the priests bought he not…..”

” Only the land of the priests bought he not “, repeated Simon. ” Tha sees Joseph not only bowt th’Egyptians, but ‘e selled ‘is own kindred. Th’Egyptians weren’t th’ only ones who paid for that corner i’ wheat for they remembered fro’ one generation to another, an’ when they gate t’chance they made us pay an’ all, wi’ interest on t’top.”

4. Pharoah’s House.

  It is unnecessary to detail the long and weary argument that followed Simon’s recital of the facts concerning Joseph. Simon was voluble, good humoured but stubborn. Druscilla was equally voluble, exceedingly angry and no less obstinate. I was voluble I fear; polite I hope ; reasonable I am certain. Simon brought it to a sudden termination with the ultimatum, ” Nah , look ‘ere, if yo two’s bahn to argy abaht it , Ah’m gooin’ to leave it to yer. Awther Ah tell this tale or else Ah leave it alone.”  I apologised and Druscilla commenced washing pots making a rare clatter at the sink. Had it been any other day but Sunday I’m sure she would have polished all the brass in the house – she was so mad.  ” Nah, let’s leeave Joseph alone,” began Simon. ” Ah’ll go back to what Ah wer sayin’ abaht me own life amang t’Egyptians, Ah’ve tried to gie thee one or two ideas abaht t’life we lived. Ah’ll get right on to mi tale nah. T’first thing Ah knew, as Ah telled thee, wer that Ah wer bein’ leathered an’ to some tune. When t’leathering wer ovver, Ah fainted. Ahr Druscilla browt mi to wi’ givin’ me summat to sup – i’ this life Ah meean — but at t’same time as Ah saw her leanin’ ovver t’pillar, Ah saw another Druscilla, younger but no prattier for ‘er age, leanin’ ovver me i’ t’other life as Ah lay on t’sand wi’ a bleedin’ back, raw an’ tingley, wi’ flies botherin’ me an’ all. When they booath left me, Ah lay quiet a long time an’ t’Simon i’ t’haase ‘ere disappeared, an’ Ah forgate all abaht ‘im, an’ wer just that lad tryin’ not to whimper moor nor Ah could ‘elp…. “

   As Ah lay theer mi mind went back to the very first thing Ah could remember. Ah wer nobbut a little toddler, full o’ nowt nor innocent mischief, when Ah happened to get i’ t’road o’ some Egyptian big-pot, an’ gate kicked aht o’ the road ageean, sharp …. We wer muck – just muck. Another thing I remember is mi father deein’. Ah dooan’t know what ‘e’d done. Nowt, mooast likely. But ‘e wer bein’ punished. An’ when ‘e’d been flogged silly, they jammed ‘is face in an ants’ nest – an’ they ‘eld ‘im theer. Nowt happened for a minute, but as soon as t’fresh torture browt ‘im rahnd ‘e screamed…. God! .. That scream!… ‘is face wer covered … wi’ little squirmin’ ants — thousands on ’em.  It didn’t seem to me that we wer buryin’ mi father .. it’s ‘ard to think o’ a thing without a face as thi father, lad ….”  ” Simon,” begged Druscilla earnestly, with real concern, ” let be. Ah’msure it isn’t good for thee to recap it all up like this.”  He turned to me, quickly for him, with , ” If Ah’d telled thee that bein’ a slave then ‘as made me a soft-hearted chap to-day — does tha understand? Ay, Ah thowt tha would. Eh, well we buried mi father. Ah shouldn’t be aboon ten year owd then. An’ after that mi life seeme to ha’ been filled with mi playmate, for we hadn’t much chance to do much taikin’. ”  ” Ah, dooant remember when Ah first come across ‘im  — Moses, Ah meean. ‘E seems to have been i’ mi life all t’time. ‘E certainly filled it. Nowt else, nobody else, mattered to me but ‘im. An’ scarcely a day passed but we managed some road or another to get a minute or two together. T’neets wer t’best time, for then we could rooam moor freely an’ talk, ay, an’ laik … As Ah gate to know ‘im better, an’ saw t’differences there wer between us, Ah badly wanted to see what Moses haase wer like, an’ one neet some time after that floggin’, instead o’ gettin’ aht into t’open, we sneaked an’ dodged like a couple o’ shadders reight up t’gates … Pharoah’s haase wer like a village – a lot o’haases, big uns an’ little uns, scattered up an’ dahn a big yard, an’ a wall all rahnd, an’ gates ‘ere an’ theer for t’bairns to peep through as  Ah thowt when Ah first saw ’em. There wer a soldier at this gate an’ Ah had to press missen into a corner o’ t’wall that t’moon filled with shadder, while Moses crept on’is belly to see if ‘e wer asleep.’E wer. An’ it weern’t two ticks afoor wi wer inside that yard, an’ snakin’ up t’wall side. It seemed to me that we crept rahnd three sides of it afoor wi come to t’place we wanted … It wer a grand place. Tha went in through a little door an’ into a room that oppened aht on on a bit o’garden, an’ t’haase wer sort o’ built rahnd it. Well we roamed all ovver that place, an’ Ah fingered fine cloths an’ rare glasswork an’ rolled on rugs of all sorts o’ wild beasts. Tha couldn’t help feelin’ that Moses ‘ad ‘ad a gooid bringin’ up becos everythin’ wer so fine-off. We didn’t seem to have been in that place monny minutes afoor it wer time for me to be off. So we started – after arrangin’ to go on wi’ t’same programme the followin’ neet. Ah started to get away back to mi own bit of a ‘oil but that wer easier thowt abaht nor done. There seemed to be sowjers everywheer an’ to mek matters worse, it wer nearly dayleet. Ah can tell thee, we looked fair flummoxed at one another – but suddenly Moses face lit up wi’ an’ idea, an’ ‘e pulled me back into t’haase, hurried to ‘is own chamber an’ pullin’ some rags to one side showed me a square stone or flag.”

” Thou shall ‘ide i’ theer, ” he said ” until tha night, ” “An’ i’ less nor no timr, that stone wer up an’ Ah wer squeezin’ misen through t’ ‘oil  — it wer a tight fit but Ah gate in, an’ fun misenin a varry shaller place under  t’floor that stank shockin’. T’flag was put back for the time bein’, while Moses could come to see hah Ah wer gettin’ on, an’ theer Ah wer left.”

4. Pharoah’s House.

” Ah dooan’t know hah long Ah stopped i’ that ‘oil, but Ah know this, that Ah weren’t theer varry long afore Ah fun aht Ah weren’t by misen. For one thing , theer wer a rare collection o’stinks, noisy enough for a political meeting. Ah could have sworn they wer ‘avin’ a conference. Still, Ah felt ther wer nobbut one thing to do an’ that wer to bide ’em an’ Ah think Ah should ha’ managed that, if it ‘adn’t been for abaht a hundred different sooarts o’vermin that started tekkin’ notice on me. Ah gate so excited killin’ ’em that Ah sweat like a bull.”  ” Ah’d wish tha’d remember, lad ,” interrupted Druscilla, addressing herself to me in a most pointed manner, ” that nearly all ‘e’s tellin’ thee wer only ‘is ‘ramblin’s’. Them insects for instance. All one neet – me an’ ahr Sar’ Emma saw ‘im – ‘e kept standin’ up ‘n bed an’ crackin’ insects on t’wall – Ah wer fair worried at first, for it looked as if Ah din’t keep t’haase clean – but it wer nobbut ‘is fancy. Ay, an’ Ahm’t t’only one that knows what Ah’m talkin’ abaht. Dooesto remember hah monny tha fancied tha killed? ”  ” No.”  ” Well, Ah do.Tha gate up to eight hundred an’ three, an’ fell fast asleep grinnin’ an’ sayin’ ‘ Eight hundred and three, not aht!’  ” It’s funny.”  ” Nowt o’t’ sooart. Th’art nooan t’only one that’s ‘ad t’rheumatic fever. ”  ” No, but Ah’m th’ only one that’s been back an’ looked at ‘issen as ‘e wer thahsands o’ year sin.” ” Ah, tha art ‘opeless.” And Druscilla gave up in despair. Quite unmoved, except for a twinkle in the eye nearest me, Simon resumed.

Eh, but it did get ‘ot  i’ that ‘oil. An’ Ah began to wonder whether Ah should be smothered afoor Moses came back. Thinkin’ on ‘im made me think o’ t’flag i’ t’floor. Ah put up mi hand to touch it, but it weren’t theer. Nowt wer theer. Nowt Ah could feel. Ah gate up to mi feet an’ reached aht ageean but couldn’t touch nowt. Ah can tell thee Ah forgate all abaht beein’ ‘ot. Ah wer still in a sweat but it wer a cowd un. Well Ah groped abaht for years, as it seemed to me, but Ah couldn’t tell whether Ah wer goin’ or comin’. An’ then all on a sudden Ah copped missen a bank on t’nooas that made me hie watter. Ah come up ageean a soort of wall, an’ Ah began to foller it never lettin’ loose on it, tha can bet, till Ah walked on to summat that weren’t theer  an’ Ah dropped down till Ah come to it. Tha talks abaht havin’ thi bones rattled, Ah felt as if Ah’d abaht seventeen funny-bones and they’d all been banged at once. Of course bi this time, Ah’d no moor idea as to wheer we wer nor that puddin’ tin. But while Ah wer tryin’ to study t’thing aht an’ wonderin’ whatever wer comin’ to me next, Ah yerd someone talkin’ verry quiet and cautious like. In that darkness Ah couldn’t tell wheer they wer – t’noise seemed to come from all rahnd at once but Ah listened an’ said nowt. It’s a queer thing tumblin’ into a conversation like that an’ it teks a gooid while to pick up what’s been said afoor. An’ Ah couldn’t get everything nawther but Ah soon recognised one voice – hate made it certain – one voice wer Akhet’s , one o’ their top-nobs, an’ a priest into t’bargain. T’other voice wer a woman’s, an’ a freetened woman’s an all “.

  ” My Lord Pharoah knoweth all,” she ses, all tremblin’ as Ah could yer. ” More than all, having heard it from your enemies, ” he rasped aht. ” She gave a bit o’ a scream but awther ‘e or ‘er ‘ersen smothered it. An’ then ‘e began talkin’ i’ a sharp low way, an’ all Ah could catch wer ‘fool’ and things like that an’ ‘e kept sayin’ ovver an’ ovver ageean , No! No! No! ” ” Then ”  ” Have done with fear ”  ‘e ses. ” Is not this thing sure?” ” Too sure ,” she whimpers. ” What meeanst thou?”. ” Is he not my fathet? How can I do this thing, Akhet.” “An’ she trailed off into sobs ageean. Ah can tell thee but Akhet did some mutterin’ after that. Ah’d nobbut mi ears to help me but Ah could see ‘im bendin’ ovver ‘er, like ‘e bent ovver us helpless ‘Ebrews – ‘is een jus’ blazin’ wi’ crulety, an’ ‘is thin lips stretched tight an’ ‘is quick tongue lickin’ ’em. Ah can’t say Ah wer reight concerned abaht what Ah could yer. Ah guessed of course that sum ‘arm wer intended to t’Pharoah, an’ that Akhet wanted it – whatever it wer – to ‘appen. An’ Ah guessed an’ all that yon villian wer lyin’ to that woman for ‘is own end. But when all wer said an’ done, Pharoah wer nowt t’ me to be sure, Ah hated Akhet moor nor Pharoah only becos Ah’d seen moor o’ ‘im, an’ if Ah could Ah might have upset ‘is ideas jus’ for t’pleasure on it but Ah think tha’ll agree wi’ me that mi own affairs wer enough for a nipper like me to ‘ave to digest.”

   ” Hahiver, Ah stretched mi ears till they twitched to catch what wer bein’ said, but beyond a word or two heer an’ theer, Ah gate nowt worth while from ’em. But all at once it struck me that ther wer summat else in that ‘oil – if it wer a ‘oil – beside me. An’ whatever that summat wer, it wer comin’ towards me. Every drop o’ sweat that had dried on me melted in a twinkling, but, although Ah wer freetened, Ah couldn’t move a limb. Ah tried ‘ard to stand up but Ah couldn’t manage it except mi hair, an’ that stood up so sharp, it’s a wonder it stayed on mi’ yead … That thing came steadily nearer an’ nearer an’ just when Ah wer fit t’drop supposin’ Ah hadn’t been on t’floor to begin wi’, a voice Ah knew whispered mi name … Ah wer that relievedthat Ah simply yelled wi’ delight but Moses clapped ‘is ‘and ovver mi mouth.It wer too late hahivver, there wer a bonny scuffle up ahoon an’ Moses just ‘ad time to whisper, ” ‘Fight … struggle… fight’ afoor that ‘oil were flooded wi’ daylight, an’ then lookin’ in wonderment an’ suspicion from aboon on us two feightin’ loike cats, wer Akhet an’ one of the bonniest women Ah’ve seen. T’woman spoke first, ‘ Moses’ she called. Moses kept a grip on me , an’ ‘e answered, ‘ Yes, Mother.’ Ah wer that takken aback at this that it wer a bit afoor Ah took much notice what Moses wer sayin’. What ‘ad Moses’ mother to do wi’ that villain Akhet? What ‘ad she been cryin’ for? What was intended for Pharoah? A thahsand questions an’ ideas that gate wilder an’ wilder flashed through mi’ mind. Ah wer fair mazed. But ah wer pulled up sharp by ‘earin’ Moses speak about this dirty ‘Ebrew. Does ‘e mean me ? Ah thowt, an’ wer bahn to give all t’game away by smackin’ ‘im across t’maath for it , when a warnin’ squeeze on mi arm shut mi up, an’ Ah ‘ad to listen to t’smartest an’ untruthfullest tale Ah ever yerd .”

  ” Moses talked like a lord …. ‘ This mean slave ‘ad actually dared to let ‘is degraded shadder fall across my Lord Moses’ path, an’ so mi Lord Moses ‘ad chased ‘im wi’ a view of teachin’ ‘im ‘ow to behave to one of us masters, an’ t’rascally slave ‘ad taken refuge among the foundations of the haase.’ ‘E went on at a rare pace like this for a bit, an’ Ah did all Ah could ‘elp it on , wi’ whimperin’ an’ callin’ ‘im mi Lord an’ misen ‘is miserable slave. It wer plain to both Moses an’ me that Akhet didn’t believe us , an’ we both cringed when ‘e said, ‘ Let t’Hebrew be beaten to death. Call t’guard.’ ” 

   Simon sat back and chuckled, ” Eh, lad , it wer a terrible minnit – but it nobbut wer a minnit. Although for all t’thowts an’ ideas that flashed through mi mind, it might ha’ been an ahr or two. Ah doesn’t know hah it is but Ah seemed to think a lot sharper ‘n yon long-past life nor Ah do ‘n this, an’ that awful minnit wer long enough for mi to come to t’conclusion that it wer all ovver wi’ me, an’ to remember a lot o’ things that Ah wished Ah ‘adn’t done an’ see picters o’ a lot o’ bonny things Ah might nivver see ageean. An’ all t’time Ah wer seein’ an’ rememberin’ , Ah wer wishin’ like mad that Ah could kill that wolfish villain wi’ ‘is tight lips an’ grinnin’ teeth. Eh, it did seem a long time an’ yet it wer no time at all, becos nobody livin’ could ‘ave counted to ten between Akhet sayin’ ‘ Call t’guard ‘ an’ me turnin’ and boltin’ into t’dark – like a rabbit, mi tail last, but nobbut just behind mi nose. Moses, Ah could ‘ear, wer close behind me – so close that when Ah stumbled ovver summat ‘ard, ‘e stumbled ovver me, an’ as Ah gate to know when Ah came rahnd – ‘e gave me such a knock on the head that Ah lost mi senses for awhile. Ah came rahnd all at once, as tha might say, wi’ a jump an’ a shiver but a warnin’ squeeze rahnd mi neck kept mi quiet. When Ah could get mi breath, Ah whispered, ; Moses.’ ‘Simon’, he whispered back, an’ we gave one another a good hug. ‘Wheer are we? ‘, Ah asked next, and ‘e said, ‘Safe’. ‘For how long?’ ‘ Until the neet comes.’ ‘ What , is it not neet – Night – yet?’, Ah asked, fair flummoxed for ages, an’ Ah could scarcely believe ‘im when ‘e telled me it wer nobbut but abaht nooin then. When Ah’d got used to t’idea, Ah gate another shock for all of a sudden Ah felt shockingly ‘ungry. Ah’d had nowt to eit, tha knows, sin’ t’neet afore, but as Moses said there wer no help for it – we should ‘ave to bide it while neet – an to distract mi thowts, ‘e asked me what Ah’d been roaming abaht for. Ah couldn’t tell ‘im much abaht that but t’question browt back to mi mind what Ah’d yerd between ‘is mother an’ Akhet, an’ then it wer ‘is turn to sweat …. “

”  E didn’t say much, hahevver, just a few sharp questions after Ah’d told ‘im mi tale an’ then he sat varry still a long time an’ said nowt. ‘E sat so long like that, that at t’finish Ah nudged ‘im an’ asked ‘im what ‘e wer bahn to do. ‘We can do nothing until Ah have seen mi mother ‘, he muttered ‘an’ Ah can’t risk seein’ ‘er until t’household is in bed.’ An’ so we sat an’ waited through t’longest an’ t’darkest day i’ mi life, nobbut movin’ to straighten an’ rest our limbs. It wer verry wearisome Ah can tell thee lad, so much so that i’ spite of an empty belly Ah must ‘ave dropped off to sleep. Ah remember bein’ awakened bi Moses some time after. ‘E verry  quietly shook me an’ whispered,’ Foller me.’ So Ah gate up an’ guided by ‘is ‘and crept off i’ t’darkness. ‘Wheer are we gooin’? ‘ Ah whispered. ‘To prison ‘ ‘e answered, an’ as Ah stopped short at that, ‘e added, ‘ There’s food and safety theer.’ Well, Ah reckoned it couldn’t be war nor wheer we wer, so Ah let ‘im pull me forward till presently Ah could see summat o’ t’tunnel we wer in becos o’ that leet that came from a lantern carried by one of t’ugliest chaps Ah’ve evver seen. ‘E wer long an’ lanky an’ ‘is nose ‘ad a big nick across it that ‘ad been made by a spear in ‘is young days when ‘e ‘ad been a sowjer. ‘E wer waitin’ at t’bottom o’ some steps, an’ we went up those an’ through a hoile in t’floor and so gate into t’prison.”

  ” Ah can tell thee lad, it felt fair grand to ha’ some solid earth beneath mi feet instead o’ on t’top o’ me. An’ t’air wer a few coats sweeter an’ all. An’ to cap it all, there wer summat to eit. Ah made no bones abaht it but set into it straight away. Ah could ha’ eaten owt that ‘adn’t eaten me t’first. But Moses made to go off. ‘ Will not my Lord refresh himself?’, asked t’jailer. But my Lord wouldn’t. ‘E nobbut stopped long enough to tell t’jailer to look after me, an’ to tell me to be quiet till ‘e came back, an’ then ‘e wer off. Hah long he wer away, Ah’ve no way o’ tellin’ for Ah fell asleep ageean after eitin’ mi fill, an’ dreamed Ah wer bein’  chased through sludge up to mi waist bi a pack o’ wild dogs, an’ on ’em wer faces like that villain Akhet. But Ah wer sooin wide awake for Moses ‘ad a tale that oppened mi een, an’ a plot to foller it that made mi ‘air stand on end. Tha sees a lot on t’pictures especially American pictures abaht what they call ‘frame – ups’. Well , Moses’s plan against Akhet wer a frame – up. Of course , not altogether, for there’s no doubt ‘e ‘ad some games on fooit – what Ah’d yerd proved that – but not knowin’ enough o’ t’truth to go on wi’, Moses invented t’details to suit ‘issen. An’ o’ coorse, it suited ‘im to shield ‘is mother for one thing, so ‘is mother gate off scot free, innocent or guilty. Ah nawther know nor care. She gate off an’ some chap or another – one of Pharoah’s men servants wer accused in her place.” ” Do you mean he was falsely accused and convicted ?”, I broke in amazed. ” Ay an’ moor nor that ‘e wer executed for it. ‘E was convicted on mi evidence an’ Ah’d do t’same ageean if it came to the push. It wer t’only way we ‘ad a’ getting at Akhet, an’ after all, what wer one Egyptian moor or less to me. Of course t’whole plan wer Moses’s. Ah lacked t’brains for that sort o’ thing. An’ Ah varry near lacked t’courage to carry it through – but Ah knew it wer awther Akhet or me, so Ah decided i’ favour o’ missen. We spent all that neet inventin’ mi part, an’ gettin’ it word perfect an’, as Ah learnt later, Moses’s mother spent very near all t’neet gettin’ bits o’rumours gooin’ abaht t’whole ‘ousehold o’Pharoah.

  Nah there’s no place i’ t’world like kings’ palaces for gossip an’ tittle-tattle. It beats a barber’s shop, a sewin’- meetin’ an’ a newspaper office all put together. An’ i’ t’mornin’, between wakkenin’ an’ gettin’ ‘is breakfast, Pharoah heard o’ a dozen plots ageean ‘is life. T’only thing ‘e weren’t telled wer news of ‘is own death, although ‘e wer in a funk big enough to make ‘im believe that. The funk ‘e wer in wer nowt to t’funk Ah wer in when a guard o’ big hefty chaps fetched me out o’prison and yanked me afoor Pharoah. When Ah gate into t’big ‘all , mi knees let me down o’ theer own accord, an’ Ah fair dithered ….. anyway t’frame-up came off all reight. Easier nor onny o’ us expected as a matter o’fact. Ah stuck to t’tale Ah got off bi heart. Hah Ah’d ‘idden under t’floor becos Ah darsent be seen leavin’ t’Palace i’ dayleet an’ hah Ah’d yerd two voices plannin’ mi Lord Pharoah’s death, an’ hah mi Lord Moses ‘ad collared me an’ hah mi Lord Akhet ‘ad copt us beneath. Eh, Ah went through it like a play-actor stoppin’ to whimper an’ snivel, when Ah stuck for mi next words. An’ they believed me – all but ’em ‘at really know t’truth o’ coorse – but t’others swallowed it – theer’s nowt harder to believe nor t’truth. What made it more believable wer that Ah wouldn’t tell who it wer that Ah’d yerd plottin’ Pharoah’s death. Ah let on to be too freetened – an’ Akhet, at a word from Pharoah, stepped up to me an’ said ‘Slave’. ‘ Have mercy mi Lord’ Ah screamed, ‘ thy slave ‘ad no thowt o’ betrayin’ thee’.

  Nowt could ‘ave saved ‘im  after that. Theer wer a deadly silence for a second, then Pharoah nodded an’ a dozen sowjers leapt at Akhet, but ‘e wer too sharp for ’em. ‘E drew ‘is own sword an’ with a scornful grin that stretched ‘is tight lips till they should ha’ cracked, ‘e sheathed it in ‘is own miserable carcuss. Moses allus let on to mi that Pharoah felt varry grateful to me but Ah nivver believed him. But theer wer one result to this affair that made things more bearable. Ah gate promoted from a common or garden slave, toilin’ an’ starvin’ i’ t’oppen air, to a court – flunkey slave, waiting on Moses, an’ wearin’ fine linen, an’ livin’ delicately – ay, an’ treadin’ very delicately an’ all. Ah think on the whole, it wer an improvement – anyway. Ah stuck it for at least ten years, happen more, before a silly bit o’ fun caused mi deeath”.

  ” Eh ,” I queried, scarce believing my ears. ” Ah said Ah lived i’ Pharoah’s haase as a sort o’ super-slave till Ah gate killed in a silly bit o’ bother over a lass”. ” You were killed?” ” Ay, stone dead, an’ buried t’boot”. I must confess that at this point I exchanged glances with Druscilla. I began to feel a little sorry for her. Simon saw something of this and burst out, “Aah, it’s no use lookin’ at mi i’ that pityin’ way.Ah didn’t ask thee to listen to me ——–“. ” I’m sorry Simon but you will agree with me — your tale is a bit thick”, ” Thick or thin, it’s true. An’ Ah’m nooan so particular abaht finishin’ it, if tha aren’t”.  I hastened to smooth him and before long he resumed his story. ” There’s good points abaht bein’ a slave tha knows. That is, if tha gets t’reight master. It’s a poor look-out for those if tha doesn’t, but if tha does – there’s monny a worse life. Ah’m sure that Ah wer happier as Moses’s slave nor Pharoah wer mi master. We both gate our meals regular, we both ‘ad soft beds to lie on, we both could ‘ave a bit o’ fun on t’quiet but — an’ here’s t’difference — ‘e’d more to be fleyed on nor me. It wer nobody’s interest to kill me, becos nobody wanted mi job – but it wer everyone’s interest to kill Pharoah. Ah talked it ovver wi’ Moses monny a time. Ah need to try an’ point t’moral on it to ‘im. Ah felt it wer necessary for as ‘e grew up towards manhood ‘e gate verry ambitious. Tha sees, there wer so monny princes – all o’them wi as gooid – or as bad – a reight to t’throne as t’other – an’ they wer all as touchy as six-month old cockerels. Moses wer no exception. ‘Ed do owt, varry near, to keep ‘is end up. Ah’d rare times gettin’ ‘im donned up to go aht to some big feast or other. An’ Ah’d some rare jobs carryin’ letters to this lass or t’other. An’ all this wer carried on underneath like. Ah doan’t say ‘at Pharoah didn’t know abaht it, but nobody let on to know abaht it. Well this sort o’ thing went on for years. Moses an’ me livin’ an idle extravagant, useless life at court — like everybody theer, thinkin’ o’ nowt nobbut number one. An’ while Ah wer gusslin’, mi own fowk wer bein’ lashed an’ ill – treated, an’ lettin’ fowk ill-treat ’em – an’ they an’ all, thowt o’nowt nobbut number one. It wer a sad condition for things to be in, nearly as bad as to-day”. ” Worse, I should say “, I commented. ” Nay, a bit better if only becos it wer moor naked an’ plainer to be seen. We saw it but didn’t care. We weren’t sufferin’ and didn’t feel inclined to trouble abaht other fowks … Mind thee, Ah allus felt that there wer big things i’ Moses. An’ Ah reckon that mi devotion to ‘im wer a credit both to ‘im an’ me. Ah’d ha’ deed for ‘im becos Ah felt ‘e’d ha’ done t’same for me.

    One day we wer comin’ back from a funeral – Ah think it wer Pharoah’s wife’s father’s cousin they wer buryin’ – we left t’procession to have a look at t’tomb ‘at Moses wer ‘avin’ built for ‘issen. We went all rahnd it, inside an’ out, an’ Moses expressed ‘issen as quite satisfied wi’ t’way things were gooin’. As ‘e wer givin’ a few instructions to t’chap in charge, Ah felt a big tug at mi dress an’ ‘eard a voice, varry low, whisperin’ to me ‘ My Lord’. Ah turned rahnd rather sharp – it wer summat fresh for me t’be called My Lord – an’ felt a bit mad when Ah saw it wer nobbut but an old ‘Ebrew slave. Ah wer just gooin’ to shake ‘im off, ay an’ order ‘im a whippin’ Ah fear, when ‘e whispers ageean ‘ Brother’. Brother. That name fair stuffened me. If Ah could nobbut tell thee one half o’ what Ah felt. For we really wer brothers – Egyptian whips ‘ad made us blood – brothers, an’ Pharoah’s haase all of a sudden became a very vile thing, an’ made me ashamed o’ missen. Ah hadn’t a word to say – Ah dooan’t know what Ah could ha’ said just then. But t’old man knew Ah wer listenin’, an’ ‘e made a pretence o’ gooin’ on wi’ ‘is work for a bit. Ah ‘ung abaht till ‘e passed me ageean an’ this time ‘e whispered, ‘ Here to-night’. Ah whispered ‘Ay’ an’ then followed mi Lord Moses. Of course Ah telled ‘im, an’ nowt else would ‘e do but came wi’ me when it gate dark”.

  “T’old man wer a bit tekken aback when ‘e saw who wer wi’ me an’ didn’t seem at all anxious to speik at first, but after a while he said, ‘It concerns my Lord Moses’, ‘Me , laughs Moses.’Ay , my Lord. I would have spoken first wi’ thy servant here, but truth may go astray in the passing from mouth to mouth. Maybe it is better that I tell you with my own lips’. ‘ Indeed it were better, therefore speak ‘ says Moses.  ‘My Lord believeth himself an Egyptian of the family of Pharoah?’ ‘ That is my mother’s belief’ answers Moses, varry ‘aughty. ‘ Thou hast never known thy mother’ says t’old man, varry quiet. Moses ‘ad a varry ‘ot temper, an’ a hasty movement towards ‘is dagger made me jump but t’old man without a wink went on. ‘ Thy mother is not of the accursed house of Pharoah. Nor art thou. Thou art Hebrew’. It took a bit o’ gettin’ used to, but there wer no disbelievin’ t’old man. ‘E ‘ad all t’tale off chapter an’ verse – an’ Moses wer too thunderstruck to talk a lot. ‘E listened to all ‘at t’old chap ‘ad to say, thowt a bit an’ then said. ‘I will be here at this hour to-morrow. Bring thou the elders of thy people’. — ‘OUR people ‘ , murmurs t’old man. ‘OUR people’ says Moses. ‘ Bring some one or two of whose integrity thou art sure that we may talk of this thing’.

  An’ t’old man went an’ we went back to Pharoah’s haase. Bur never a word fell from Moses’s lips until we gate within t’shadder o’ t’wall an’ then ‘e nobbut openned ‘is mouth to tell me to keep mine shut. We went to that tomb o’Moses next neet an’ t’ next neet, an’ for many a neet after that. As Ah said afoor, Moses wer ambitious, ‘is trainin’ an’ education made ‘im absolutely t’best man the ‘Ebrews could ha’ picked. Neet after neet they met an’ discussed things, slowly perfectin’ plans for a general uprising. Spears an’ swords wer slowly collected. Everybody wer numbered an’ to put it in a nutshell, a good beginnin’ wer made at what everybody knew would be a terribly long job. It turned out to be a varry tedious one an’ Ah soon gate sick o’ t’slow progress we seemed to be makin’. Ah wanted to get on wi’ t’feightin’.

   An’ it wer just at that awkward moment when Ah wer ripe for mischief that Pharoah put a lass reight in mi road”. ” All your plans came to nothing then?”, I enquired. ” All to nowt”, Simon acquiesced. ” An’ all through my folly. Of course, it isn’t certain that ahr schemes would ha’ come off even if Ah ‘adn’t wrecked ’em. Ah’m inclined to think that they wer not only a bit too ambitious but they wer a bit too selfish. Tha sees, Moses wer aht for personal glory, an’ so wer all on us i’ different ways ; mine, for instance, wer mixed up wi’ a likin’ for excitement an’ a bit o’ fun. An Ah’ve noticed this monny a time, that if a thing is done for personal ends, that thing doesn’t last long even if it comes off at all. Anyway, ahr’s didn’t come off – my silliness put an end to it, an’ sent Moses off into another country to escape punishment, an’ as Ah believe, to learn hah to do t’job of freein’ t’Ebrews in a better way nor the first.  There’s a bit of poetry somewheer – Ah yerd a Local preacher spaht it at t’Chapel once abaht hah God works through men – usin’ their passions as His tool. My passions at that time ran pretty strong on lasses an’ there wer one lass – t’splittin’ image of ahr Druscilla when we wer courtin’, nobbut darker in colour, tha knows – eh!. She wer a grand lass, a bit saucy happen, both wi ‘er een an’ ‘er tongue, but varry fetchin’. Ah’d been runnin’ after ‘er for a fair while without gettin’ a bit nearer, for she wer as cute as she wer bonny, an’ she knew what ‘er price wer – an’ Ah couldn’t spring it. She wer nobbut a slave like me, but wi’ a face an’ figure she aimed varry high – she’d all her cheeks at whooum, an’ mi only ‘ope wer that she’d gie me, for pleasure, what she’d sell to others aboon me …. That may call me a fooil if tha wants, but Ah really thowt she liked me, an’ Ah weren’t a bit capped when she began to be kinder to me. Mi vanity led me straight into t’trap. Eh, lad, wheer’s a man when it comes to t’women. She ‘ad me on a string reight fro’ t’beginnin’, an’ Ah danced ‘ere an’ theer like a doll, just as she wished. Of course, Ah let ‘er into things a bit – tha sees Ah ‘inted that Ah shouldn’t allus be a slave – that Ah should sooin be as gooid as some that reckoned to be ahr betters – not that she gate to know a lot , but just enough to make ‘er a varry awk’ard customer. As is allus t’case, t’crash coom just when things looked absolutely easy. Everthin’ wer gooin’ on swimmingly both as regards love an’ war, as tha might say, when suddenly everythin’ came to a sudden end. It wer one dark neet after moonrise when it ‘appened. Moses an’ ‘is ‘Ebrew leaders wer ‘avin’ a long confab i’ that tomb that ‘e wer ‘avin’ built for ‘issen, an’ Ah wer on guard at t’only way in. All wer varry still an’ dark – there weren’t even a glimmer on the skyline, an tryin’ to see owt wer like tryin’ to find a blackcock in a coil-hoil baht leet. An’ listenin’ wer just as bad for t’neet wer full o’ t’still noises that we call quietness.

   A dooan’t just know what Ah wer thinkin’ on – an’ it doesn’t matter – but Ah suddenly began to wonder if Ah could ‘ear summat different – an’ Ah listened that ‘ard that Ah could ‘ear nowt at all nobbut mi own breath. Ah seemed to be makin’ enough noise for two fowk’s breathing, an’ so Ah stopped mi lungs for a second. Ther wer somebody else there beside me. But wheer? An’ who? Mi mind went rahnd an’ rahnd as fast as a rat in a cage, till it sooart o’ tripped an’ fell ovver an idea. Ah cowered quiet a minute, an’ then let owt a howl similar to t’call of a wild animal that sometime strayed in fro’ t’desert. T’Egyptians, Ah believe, ‘ad bred their cats fro’ it. Ah let out this ‘owl an’ listened an’ Ah yerd a gasp, smothered in a minute. It came fro’ mi right ‘and. Quick as a shot mi ‘and went out an’ collared a woman’s arms. Afoor Ah could see who it wer, a man’s arm wer rahnd mi throat fro’ behind, squeezin’ t’wind aht o’ me. Ah doubled an’ twisted, an’ wriggled an’ kicked till Ah sweated – but Ah couldn’t shift that grip. Ah knew it wer nobbut a question of a minute or two afoor Ah wer deead, but believe me lad, them toathri minutes wer like ages for me. Leets danced afoor mi een, mi ‘ead felt like bustin’, an’ that arm wer like a vice rahnd mi throat. Ah tried to scream but couldn’t. An’ then , sharper not it teks to tale, all mi strength left me, that arm jerked mi ‘ead back an’ brake me neck wi’ a shock that ran through mi body like electricity an’ exploded at t’back o’ mi een an’ blinded me. When Ah came to, Ah wer deead.”

 ” How could you come to if you were dead?” I began. ” Ah dooan’t know hah , but Ah did. Ah know that Ah wer dead. Ah could see mi own corpse i’ that tomb of Moses. An’ a queer feelin’ it is. Ah can tell thee, seein’ thissen fro’ t’ahtside for t’first time i’ thi life. An’ laid aht beside me wer a strappin’ Egyptian wi’ a gapin’ cut through ‘is ribs, an’ all rahnd us wer t’Ebrews busy gettin’ me ready for burial. An’ in a corner – ‘eartbroken – wer Moses cryin’ for me, ‘is slave, ‘is brother, ‘is comrade. Eh, all of us wer in a reight upset. T’ Ebrews freetened to death an’ lookin’ as sharp as they could ovver buryin’ us. Moses cryin’ ovver me, an’ me tryin’ to talk to ‘im what a sorry fooil Ah wer, an’ nobody seein’ or ‘earin’ me.’ Fly my Lord’, says one ‘Ebrew to Moses. ‘ For Pharoah’s wrath will be hot at t’death o’ ‘is kinsman.’ ‘ I will go when my brother is buried ‘ says Moses. An’ ‘e wouldn’t budge till ‘e saw me laid away decent. An’ Ah wer theer an’ all watchin’ mi own funeral. An’ Ah suppose some day somebody will be explorin’ , an’ they’ll find mi home, an’ they’ll  nivver guess that t’same chap is livin’ i’ Netherthong to-day. T’same chap that is mentioned in t’Scriptures.” What! “, I exclaimed aghast, thanking heaven that Druscilla was out of the room. Without a word Simon opened the bible again and pointing to a passage, bade me to read it.  Here it is. ‘ And it came to pass  in those days when Moses was grown up that he went out unto his brethren and looked on their burdens, an he saw an Egyptian smiting an Hebrew, one of his brethren and he looked this way and that way and when he saw that there was no man, he smote the Egyptian and hid him in the dust…’ ” Tha haven’t gotten it altogether reight”, said Simon, ” but it’s near enough. Tha knows hah tales get altered i’ tellin’. Ah know Ah’m reight abaht it for Ah went ovver mi ‘Ebrew  while Ah wer what ahr Druscilla calls ramblin’. Ah dooan’t know what ‘appened after Ah wer buried but Ah’ll swear to what Ah’ve telled thee. It’s no dream. An’ it’s nooan ramblin’ becos Ah’d other experiences o’ other lives. An’ Ah’ll tell thee abaht ’em after dinner.” ” This is quite enough for the present”, I said with a grin.


 If you have reached the end of this story, may I offer you my congratulations and possibly my commiserations. It is 10,801 words long and if I’d known that when I started I probably wouldn’t have continued. Anyway it’s up there in the ether for all time.

The family history of the Roebucks of Moor Lane

The family name of Roebuck appears throughout this history in many of the chapters. Recently ( October 2013 ), Brenda Quarmby ( nee Roebuck ) contacted me with lots of photographs and information about her side of the family name. She said that there were two families of Roebucks in the district and her family history search shows that her side came from Wood Nook/ Moor Lane area with 1755 the earliest date she has accessed and that they were all farmers. As the family name is well over 200 years old and members of the family are still living in the village, I’m hoping that this chapter will give a portrayal of  the life and times of a ” Netherthong ” family. Brenda has been working on her family history and has agreed to share much of the information with me so that it can be included in this chapter.( Wood Nook was a very small area on the left hand side of Knowle Road going down to Honley). A very detailed family tree has been given its own chapter.

This potted history  starts with William and Ann Roebuck 1808-1871.

“William was born in 1809 and as he grew up he worked on his father’s farm at Moorgate and, at the age of 21, he met Ann who was born in 1808. They married in 1831 and their first child was a son, Joseph, born in 1831. He was baptised at the Parish Church which had only been completed in 1830 thus making him one of the very first in the area to receive the sacrament.. The journey by a horse and trap took one and a half hours and as a measure of their religious strength they tried to attend morning service every Sunday. Ann gave birth to a daughter every two years although sadly one died at childbirth. It wasn’t until April 1844 that they had another son and called him Jospeh and two years later, in 1846 ,their last son was born and they named him William Edward. William snr. inherited a farm, further down the moor, called Woodnock which had a grand stone farm house. By that time all his children, apart from Joseph and young William were married and William snr. decided to sell Moorgate and set his sons up at Woodnock. Joseph had become a vetinary surgeon and was well respected and very busy in the district and often received art items in lieu of payment. William snr. died on July 13 1871 aged 61 years.”

The next  information I have comes from the very first National Census in 1841.  That census gave the christian names, ages,occupation and location of all Roebucks resident on the day of the Census.. The birthplace for all was given as Yorkshire. Their locations were given as Greave and Thongs Bridge. ( Both these locations were counted as being in Netherthong ).

Abraham – 6 yrs- Greave.    Andrew – 11months – Greave.     David – 40 years – shopkeeper – Thongs Bridge.    Elizabeth – 35 – Greave.    George – 31 years – Labourer – Greave.     Grace – 35 years – Thongs Bridge.   Henry – 15 years – Thongs Bridge.     John – 7 years – Greave.    Jonas – 3 years – Greave.    Judith – 13 years – Thongs Bridge .    Martha – 2 months- Thongs Bridge.   Susannah – 4 years – Thongs Bridge .   William – 9 years – Thongs Bridge.

In the 1851 census, the birthplace had become more specific and in the following list everyone had given Netherthong as their birthplace except for Grace and Susannah who listed it as Almondbury.  They all gave their residence as Thongs Bridge.  

Benjamin – 10months.     David – 3 years.    Eliza – 14 years – House Servant Outlane .    Grace – 49 years – grocer.    Henry – 25 years – spinner.    Judith – 23 years – Grocer.    Martha Ann – 9 years – scholar.    Mary – 26 years.    Mary Mellor – 7 years – scholar.     Susannah – 14 years – scholar.

Woodnook Farm – more memories

 Joseph stretched his back and wiped the sweat off his forehead onto the rolled up sleeves of his shirt and heaved a big sigh of relief as he looked around.  The cow, Daisy, was busy licking the new born calf from head to toe and it was already trying to suckle.  She was a good mother, had reared two previous calves, and now his work was completed.  Joseph went into the corner of the mistle where a bucket of water stood, the water was cold now, but the smell of carbolic and disinfectant was still strong.  He immersed his hands and arms as far as he could and scrubbed his nails with a very hard brush.  It had been an easy birth  but a long one, and he was tired and wanted a hot drink and his bed.

William, his younger brother, had gone to his bed two hours ago as he had only four hours sleep left to milking time. Joseph could snatch a little longer,unless there was a call from a neighbouring farm. He was a Veterinary Surgeon, but was expected to use his skill on their own farm. With a last look at Daisy and the calf, he blew out the candles and went into the farm kitchen. The fire was still warm and glowing, it very seldom went out and provided the only means of hot water, and the big black kettle was always swinging from its hook in the chimney breast.  He made himself a pot of strong tea and sat in a pensive mood.  He missed his father very much and wished that he could have lived to see their achievements.  William was working so hard with the help of a farm hand of sturdy build to help with the horses and a young lad to assist with the milking and cleaning the cowsheds.  The farm seemed to be running well and the new stables were nearly ready.

Earlier in the week, Joseph had been over Manchester way to a farm. Mr.Glover had bought a new herd of cows at the market. They were good stock, had cost him a tidy sum and he wanted the vet to inspect them and make double sure they were all healthy. Joseph had stayed overnight and the sight of Mrs.Glover in her pinafore, dishing up home baked meat and potato pie for dinner, followed by a creamy rice pudding and not strong tea, made him realize how much he wanted a wife. There was a young girl in the village called Rachel Spencer, he liked her very much and would call on her tomorrow.His brother never looked at a girl as he was rather shy.  Joseph and Rachel had a very short courtship and were married in 1872. Rachel set about making the big farm house comfortable for the brothers. She realised how close Joseph and William were and was amazed that when problems developed, how they discussed them together and more often than not ended up in agreement.  It was quite a large kitchen with a big fireplace and side oven, all to black lead, which was a days work to clean in itself.  There were two long settles at each side of the fireplace with hard padded seats.  The dresser took nearly one whole side of the room, with a full dinner and tea service in blue willow pattern, which Rachel had never seen the like, but loved it from the start.  A large kitchen table ,with a snow white wooden top, had visible signs of regular scrubbing.  Two wooden forms at either side of the table with a carver chair at each end, which the brothers avoided.  The first thing Rachel did was to make cushions for the carvers which encouraged Joseph and William to take their proper seats.  The good sized pantry with the huge stone slabs at either side was ideal for keeping milk, butter and cheese cool, the latter sold to more wealthy customers.

 The best parlour was beautifully furnished in Spanish Mahogany, Rachel was overcome with this, never realised the standard she would have to maintain.  A very large polished table stood in the centre of the room which Joseph said divided into three separate tables. It had long slim legs, carved at the top.  Eight dining chairs, four on each side and two carvers at the ends, all with black shiny horse hair seats, nice to look at but not too comfortable to sit on for long periods, the hair was very prickly and gradually worked through the clothing.  A desk with a glass cabinet on the top, filled with stemmed glasses and five elegant cut decanters, the glasses ranged from all sizes, sherry glasses to large goblets.  Rachel thought they must be very valuable, but the delicate china tea service with twelve cups saucers and three different sizes of plates, cream jug, sugar basin and matching teapot, left Rachel staring with her mouth wide open. She promised Joseph she would take great care of all these treasures and Joseph laughed and said, “they are only to be used on special occasions love, don’t fret”, and Rachel said “thank goodness” under her breath.  She had a rare sense of humour, her blue eyes would twinkle and Joseph loved her very much.

 Two large oil paintings of woodland scenes in gold plaster frames  and six much smaller ones decorated the walls.  A square carpet with a linoleum surround and the proverbial coloured plant pot in one corner with a healthy aspidistra in all its glory.

 The master bedroom was quite large, with a double bed with a thick feather mattress and a carved commode at the side.  Across the corner was a wash stand with a marble top, on which stood a china bowl and jug, soap on the matching soap dish and a thick towel with crocheting around the bottom, hanging from the rail.  Overpowering all, an enormous wardrobe in light ash, which was nicknamed “the cathedral”.  This had railed compartments at either end in which a six foot tall man could stand inside to hang the long and heavy clothes, as were worn in those days.  In the centre were two very large doors which when opened, revealed five deep trays which slid in and out very easily, and these were for smaller items of clothing.  Beneath the bottom tray, there was a shallow secret compartment, which was used to store private papers and documents.  Four drawers at the bottom all with white china knobs, and across the top a cathedral like pelmet completed this monstrosity, hence its name.

 William’s room was sparsely furnished, shelves filled with farming books, Rachel could see that Joseph had brought all his veterinary books in here too, and on the table under the window, the account books for the farm were open ready to enter the days events.  A candle stick with a tick, home made candle and a tinder box at its side, told its own story.  Joseph kept his books and accounts for his surgery in the desk in the parlour.  His pills and potions were also kept in there, only the brothers had a key, it was always kept locked. There were four attic rooms which could quite easily be made into bedrooms, but Rachel shut them up for the time being. William was content with all the arrangements and later he would suggest that Joe, his farm hand could sleep in one of the attic rooms.  The smell of frost was in the air and he knew only too well the roads would soon be blocked with snow and ice

 Rachel added her own bits and pieces to the farm, her bottom drawer had accumulated, she was twenty one, born August 23rd 1851.  Patch work quilts, antimacassars on the chair backs, cushions for the settles, pegged rugs and mats.  She loved the evenings with Joseph and William by the fireside, busy knitting socks and mittens, or darning their socks.

 Chapter II  —The Children

 Rachel bore her first child on the 8th of November, 1873, a boy, strong and healthy, fair hair and skin, blue eyes, “a true Roebuck”.  Joseph was delighted and William worshipped the baby from the start.  The child was baptised at Netherthong Parish Church and named Hirst, William was proud to be godfather.  Joseph’s mother, Ann, had been a tower of strength to Rachel during the first weeks of the baby’s birth.  She had stayed on the farm to look after Joseph and William’s meals.  Hirst was not her first grandchild by any means but she was very happy to stay and help Rachel get on her feet.

 The farm was doing quite well, the stable were finished and occupied. All the work on the farm depended on the horses.  Joseph had his own trap now, to help transport his instruments and bits and pieces.  He was well known and much respected, travelled far and wide, Bolton, Meltham, Penistone and Shepley and had to stay overnight many times in the winter, the roads were still very rough in the dark.  Rachel was thankful these nights to have the company of William and Joe, who was now lodging at the farm. Woodnook was very isolated and it was a comfort to Joseph also to know that Rachel wasn’t alone. Their second child was born in 1875, January 17th, a girl, Emma, fair skin and hair, blue eyes, greeted by Joseph again as being “a true Roebuck” and she was baptised at Netherthong Parish Church. Rachel was pregnant again in 1876 and a baby boy was born on December 10.  Arrangements were made to have the baby, Arthur, baptised at Wilshaw Church, the new christening font had been donated by the mill manufacturer, Joseph Hirst in 1876.  The roads to Netherthong were blocked with snow drifts, Joseph and William had a hard task getting the trap to Wilshaw.  Arthur was found dead in his cot at only six weeks old, death unknown (today it is called cot death).  He was sorely missed, Joseph had been so pleased it was a boy, Rachel was working hard to ease her pain, it’s a long time to bear a child, to have it snatched away so cruelly. Rachel was blessed with a strong boy on November 18th 1878, they hardly dare rejoice after the tragedy of Arthur, but gradually as the months went by and Benjamin grew stronger and stronger they could relax. William was now taking Hirst, who was now six to Wilshaw school every morning in the horse and cart, Emma was three and would soon be joining them.

 Rachel’s family rapidly grew, she bore five girls every alternate year :

            Mary Anne (Polly) was born 29th October 1880

            Lily 27th January 1883

            Ada 10th July 1885

            Lydia 23rd May 1887

            Alice 4th August 1889

Joseph and William’s mother Ann, died December 11th aged 78 years of age, 1886.

 The children all attended Wilshaw school, driven by William more often than not.  Joseph was a very proud father, Hirst, Emma, Polly and Benjamin had a wonderful photograph taken at school, Joseph bought one and had it framed and hung it in the parlour. During the summer holidays the girls picked fruit from the moors, bilberries, blackberries and took the younger children with them on picnics.  These were happy days which were remembered and talked about all their lives.  Making the preserves to last the following winter, jams and jellies, pickles, elderberries and rhubarb made into wine, black and redcurrant into syrup for coughs and colds.  All the surplus eggs were pickled in water glass in a big brown earthenware pot and placed under the pantry stone shelf.  Hams and sides of bacon were cured and salted, hung, wrapped in muslin, from the big hooks in the cellar below the pantry.  There were jars of goose grease from the goose which was always had at Christmas.  This was essential for rubbing on their chests in the bad months.  The Roebucks went short of nothing, everybody pulled together even the smaller children had chores.

Joseph found out, of all of his children, the one who could help him with his work, was Lydia.  She trailed after him as fast as her little legs could carry her.  The sight of blood never affected her and she could calm any type of animal whilst Joseph attended to its needs, Lydia knew from a very early age she wanted to be a nurse, to help cure grown ups she often said. Hirst and Benjamin were a big help on the farm, feeding the poultry, helping with the vegetables everything was home grown.  Rachel had a fresh supply of vegetables on the kitchen every day, with all those mouths to feed.

 Harvest time was the only time business was mixed with pleasure.  This was the one time in the year, everyone helped one another.  The big horse drawn threshing machine went round to the farms in turn and everybody helped.  The women folk had to bake extra bread and pies, pastries and big pieces of sweet cake.  They made lots of sandwiches, all of which were taken in large baskets into the fields where the men were working.  Milk cans filled with cider and bottles of home brewed beer were very welcome indeed.  It was hard work but they all put their backs into it and when the harvest was completed every farm had a lovely barn dance in turn.  Again the farmers wives provided the suppers, showing off their homemade wines and beers, meat pies and pasties.  Many a lad and lass were betrothed on those nights.  Sundays always being spent at either Netherthong or Wilshaw Church for the harvest festival, giving thanks for the crops and fruit gathered in.

 Chapter III —Growing Up.

 William had given his bedroom to the girls, Emma, Polly, Lily and Ada and he had moved to the attic with Hirst, Benjamin and Joe.  Lydia and Alice were sharing Rachel’s room. The biggest problem was keeping the chamber pots clean.  Joseph made them a very weak solution of disinfectant in a large bottle and made sure the older girls in their turn, cleaned them out daily. Emma took on the job of keeping the bed linen clean, the beds were draped to the floor with white starched linen valances, with a border of crotchet, these hid the chamber pots that were kept under the beds.  The pillow cases, table cloths and the pinafores were all heavily starched, also the men’s loose collars.  Joseph never went to work without a clean collar, Rachel had trained Emma how to iron these collars to perfection.  All the water for wash day was boiled in a huge pan and the pot hanging over the fire and this had to be carried outside to the wash house.  Here were kept the wooden peggy tubs, rubbing boards and a mangle machine with large wooden rollers, turned by a heavy metal cog wheel.  It was a day’s job to wash and all the following day to iron.  The ironing was done on the big kitchen table, covered with old blankets and a piece of old white linen sheet on the top.  The heavy irons, of different sizes, were heated near the fire, then spitted on to test the heat, rubbed with a cloth before pressing the clean garments. Polly and Ada took pride in helping Rachel with the cooking.  Lily was very easily tired and had to rest a lot, Alice was still only young and allowed to play with her home made toys.

 It was very seldom they were all in the kitchen at the same time. The meals were all staggered during the day, but there was a good hot meal at six o’clock for everybody.  Only on Sunday did they have their midday meal in the parlour, this naturally consisted of Yorkshire puddings, roast beef (Joseph always brought this joint back with him on Saturday), vegetables and a lovely creamy rice pudding which had been cooked very slowly over night in the side oven.  Those who were able, attended Church service, but Rachel really had too much to do and supervise during this period of her life.

 Emma, Polly and Ada contracted scarlet fever and were admitted to the fever hospital – Moorview, Meltham and this was a terrible time for Rachel.  She was worried that Lily and Alice would be struck down also, but somehow they were lucky.  She and Joseph would go to the hospital to visit the girls.  They were only allowed to see them through the window.  Rachel was too small to reach the glass and Joseph would build her some stones to stand on, so she could peer through.  Emma had suffered the worst, the doctor had put leeches in a small glass on her neck to draw out the poison. She had been very brave so the doctor had rewarded her by giving her the glass.  It was a very fine one with a curved rim and Emma kept it all her life.

 Everything was back to normal now at Woodnook.  Joseph had insisted the farm be spring cleaned from top to bottom.  He brought two widows from the village every morning before he went to work, made out his usual disinfectant solution for Rachel.  William and Joe helped with the carpets, which were beat on the clothes line with sticks. Lydia was taken in the trap with Joseph to a sheep which had been caught on the fence, in spite of her young age, she calmed the ewe, as Joseph stitched the wound.

 Chapter IV Changes

 On November 5th 1891, Joseph was struck down with a massive heart attack, at the age of forty seven years.  He died before the doctor arrived.  William and Rachel were devastated with this shock, poor Rachel held Joseph in her arms and rocked him gently until the doctor eased the body out of her arms, and William took her downstairs.  They made plans together.  William knew that Joseph wished to be buried at Netherthong and Rachel picked a plot for his grave, near the front of the Church.  Later she had a monumental grave stone erected with a bed of marble chippings.

 It was very quiet on the farm, but the work had to go on as usual.  William missed his brother very much.  Hirst was growing up, now eighteen, but somehow he wasn’t interested in the books and the accounts, so he started to show Benjamin, who by this time was thirteen years old, William also knew he had been left with a great responsibility – looking after this large family and the farm. When the will was read after the funeral, Joseph had left the farm and its contents to William providing he cared for Rachel and his family.  Rachel had inherited his money and each of his children were also left a small dowry for when they became of age. William continued to take the younger children to Wilshaw school. Polly, Lily, Ada.  Lydia and Alice and always made sure either he or Joe collected them. Emma was sixteen and a big help to Rachel.  No mention of her looking for a job yet, too much to do at home.

 Hirst had met a young lady and was courting strong.  Rachel and William knew they would have to consider his future.  Hirst had his eye on a smallholding, about four miles away, Ox Lane Farm, Moorlane, near Netherthong.  He and William saw it had possibilities and with his own money secured the farm.  Rachel saw he had live stock to ensure a good start and William helped with implements and food stock, a little money and his best wishes.  Hirst married Ann and started out on his own. He made frequent visits to see his mother and always went home with money in his pocket.

 Twelve months had passed since Joseph’s death and as Rachel was sitting by the fire she was thinking what was to become of them, the children were all in bed fast asleep.  Six girls and one boy to bring up, would the farm keep them all?  She gazed around the big kitchen where they had spent such happy hours, a tender smile came to her lips as she remembered Joseph’s words – the parlour is only used for special occasions – the last time when his body had been laid out on trestles under the window.  She burst out crying.  Rachel didn’t hear William come into the room.  He hurried over and took her gently into his arms and told her how very much he loved her.  He went into her bedroom later that night. It seemed the only natural thing to do. Rachel was very coy about her new love affair and hid it from the children.  William begged her to marry him but she was against this.  It came as quite a shock when she realised she was expecting his child as she was now forty two years old. William was absolutely thrilled to hear he was to be a father, but Rachel was adamant.  She would bring his child up with her family, but would not marry again.  She told the older children quietly about the baby and the subject was never mentioned again until the baby was born.  That was Rachel Roebuck, very purposeful, she knew exactly what she was going to do.

 Rachel gave birth to a lovely baby boy on October 22 1893, fair hair, fair skin and bright blue eyes.  Another “true Roebuck”.  William was so proud of him, cradled him in his arms to let the children have a peep.  They all loved William.  He had given them all the attention he could after their father had died and they looked upon him as their second father.  The baby was baptised at Netherthong Parish Church and named Harry.  Needless to say he was spoiled very much from birth, his sisters were all eager to nurse him and William was a devoted father. Hirst was continually asking for loans.  Rachel would go to the desk and write out I.O.U.s on slips of paper and keep them in the deed box, she knew there would not be a penny returned, but somehow she knew she had to help him.

 When Harry was two years old, a grand healthy boy, William suffered the same tragedy as his brother, a heart attack, and died on February 10th 1895 at the age of forty nine.  Rachel was heartbroken.  Benjamin was a tower of strength.  He and Emma made all the arrangements for the funeral.  Once again the best parlour was used and William was buried at Netherthong with Joseph, leaving room for one more – Rachel.

 For the first time in her life Rachel was alone.  She contacted her solicitors, Heap, Marshall and Healey from Holmfirth.  Old Mr. Heap had managed their affairs for a long number of years.  The last will and testament was read in the presence of all the children.  Rachel was left the sole owner of Woodnook Farm, contents, land and quite a substantial amount of money.  The children were provided for, kept in trust by Rachel until they became of age.  Harry, being the only child of William, had a special bank account which was put in trust as well.  Rachel to draw interest until he was twenty one.  Mr. Heap advised Rachel to sell the farm and move nearer to a village, for the benefit of the children.  It seemed good advice and she gave it much thought, wanting more than anything to live in Netherthong, nearer to Joseph and William.

 Emma was making plans to marry Fred Charlesworth.  He stood six feet tall with golden curly hair and fashionable moustache.  Fred was a master painter and decorator by trade and had recently passed his City and Guilds and had started his own business.  Fred had knowledge of premises for sale at Netherthong which he thought would be of interest to Rachel.  Emma and Fred were married very quietly and lived with Rachel.  Fred continued with his work, with the use of the pony and trap.  Rachel was grateful for their help and later went with Fred to see the property for sale at Netherthong.  It was an inn, the Queens Head, in the centre of the village, opposite the church and Rachel knew she had found what she was looking for. The farm and its stock were sold, Ben found good homes for the horses and Rachel moved to Netherthong.

Chapter V – The Queens Head

 Rachel had no knowledge of keeping a public house, but Fred said she would soon learn.  He attended to the cellar work for the first two days then found a man willing to work the bar and help.Emma and Rachel were busy arranging the beds and the furniture, some had been too large to fit, so needed to be stored, the “cathedral” was amongst the latter.  It was a case of sleeping four to a bedroom, Rachel had to make it work, she was determined, her one comfort was looking through her window, straight at the grave and that gave her strength.

 Ben wasn’t interested with this change of life style, he had met a young lad his own age, nineteen, who was going sheep farming in Australia, he begged Ben to go with him.  Rachel was sad, but didn’t want to stand in her son’s way, the family all gave him their blessings, and each a little gift and with his money in a home made money belt, left home for his new adventure. Polly went in the textiles, and she was now seventeen and knew her mother was having a job to make ends meet.  She started work at Learoyds fine worsted mill in Huddersfield, which meant she had to find lodgings near her work.

 Emma and Fred were expecting their first baby, Rachel was delighted, her first grandchild, a play mate for Harry, who had just had his fourth birthday.  It was a boy, a big baby of nine pounds in weight, with dark curly hair.  Fred had been a great asset to the Queens Head, he played the piano every night, he could not read music, but could play any tune by ear.  He did however come from a musical family, his brother Jimmy was a solo bass singer and conducted the Netherthong male voice choir.   Jimmy had three sons who played musical instruments, violin, cello and double bass, many a musical evening took place at their house. Emma loved to listen to them.  Trade at the pub was licking up very well, Emma was helping with the meals at lunchtime, pies and sandwiches and hot pots.

 Lily was still delicate, but tried a light job at Deanhouse mills.  She was fourteen and wanted desperately to help her mother.  Ada, Alice and Harry were very happy at school.  Alice had bought a few hens and a cockerel from Woodnook, they had a hen hut in the back yard and it was her job to care for them, Harry was now a keen helper and loved the chickens.  Emma’s family was growing. She had given birth to a boy, who was to be called Ben after her brother and a little girl Helen.  Rachel had heard   from Benjamin in Australia and he sent a photograph of himself sitting in front of a tent, his home, she cried to think he was so far from home with only a tent in which to live.

  Rachel was looking for a plot of land in Netherthong, she was going to build a new house.  Mr. John Batley  joiners and undertakers in the village found her a suitable plot, very near the school and the building started in the year of 1904. Emma and Fred had found a cottage, nearby in School Lane, she had four children now and both Fred and herself thought it was too much for Rachel to cope with. Rachel had adapted to her new life remarkably well and could associate with the different types of customers, in fact she was happy and at ease in male company.  She was still very good looking, her hair was naturally wavy and her slim body and waistline added to a youth like figure, in spite of all those children.  She was apparently “well off” as the rumour spread that she was about to build a new house and she was not without suitors.  But never in a million years would she re-marry and kept her family’s memory alive by constantly talking of them and keeping the grave well kept with flowers. The house was built of new, finely dressed stone and in many ways resembled Woodnook with added up to date facilities.  The two large bedrooms for instance and the cellar kitchens and keeping cellar were practically identical.  Harry was never away from the building site, watching the joiners with Mr. Batley, he knew at a very early age he was going to be a joiner.  Rachel was well aware of this, the money William had left was going to be a tremendous help.  Mr. Batley promised him a job in  his workshop when he left school.  The new hot and cold water system was the talk of the neighbourhood, this was installed in only two other houses in the village, one was the Manor House and Mr Batley’s own home.  The bath was large and deep, in white porcelain, this in particular caused quite a stir amongst Rachel’s customers. Fred was hired to do the decorating, this was a challenge and he intended showing off all his skills.  The woodwork was all painted medium oak and grained.  The edges of the staircase were painted black and white marble effect as the carpets never covered the whole of the tread in those days.  The sitting room ceiling was papered in anaglyptic with a moulded centre rose.  The cellar kitchen was supplied with hot and cold water too, with a good size stone sink, a good washing place.  The back door opened onto a hanging ground of rare size.  The earth closet was enclosed by a green trellis surround, very posh in those days.  The keeping cellar was a replica of Woodnook, with stone slabs, hooks from the ceilings, an added difference being the wooden meat storer with mesh  frames.  The old stone jar for pickled eggs found its home under the stone shelf.  The cellars were all white washed and looked and smelled very clean, and would be a great asset to the house.

 Lily, Alice and Ada could hardly wait to move into their new home.  Harry had made good friends with the joiners and they made him a new hen hut, so Rachel rented half a field adjacent to her house so that Harry and Alice could keep and hopefully increase their stock of poultry. The house had wonderful views on all sides, at the front it looked out over the cliffs so Rachel named the house “Cliffe View”. Before Fred papered the room he signed his name and date on the plaster walls with a great flourish he was proud and satisfied he had done a good job.

 Rachel sold the inn and moved with pleasure to “Cliffe View” in the year 1905.  Polly came home to help, Emma and Fred of course, Ada had started work as a maid in a large house, but she helped too.  There was quite a family gathering and Rachel received a letter from Benjamin, he was doing better and living on a sheep farm at last.  Hirst was busy on his farm and was not expected to help, the only time he saw his mother was when he had money trouble. Rachel lived a life of ease for the first time.  Lily was still very delicate , off work more and more often, Alice helped such a lot and was very fond of Harry in fact she was the tom boy of the family.  Their poultry had multiplied rapidly and supplied Rachel with eggs and the occasional chicken, to roast for dinner.

Polly had met a young man at work.  He was a warehouse foreman, Arthur Chambers, who lived with his mother and sister at Dog Kennel Bank, Almondbury.  In 1907 they were married and lived in a house on Leeds Road, opposite the mill at which they both worked, a visit from them was a welcome change for Rachel.  Lydia had kept to her wish of long ago and was nursing at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary.

Tragedy struck Rachel once more. Lily at the age of twenty seven had a massive heart attack, like her father before her, and died.  She was buried at Netherthong Church in a new grave, there was only room for one more with Joseph and William and that was reserved for Rachel.  It was great shock to the family, Lily had never been strong, but she had always been willing to help with anything, a lovely natured girl and Alice, more than the others missed her greatly.

 As time passed, Alice developed a keen interest in bicycles.  She was often seen through the village peddling away, in her long black skirt, short coat and straw boater hat, fastened on with a long hat pin, the latest fashion.  She was cycling along one day and had and accident, crashed into a big wall not far from home.  Two workmen on a job nearby saw it happen and ran to help her.  They carried her home, as they knew who she was and Rachel sent for the doctor.  Alice was unconscious, but there was no sign of blood on her anywhere.  The doctor came and examined her and tried to remove her hat, found the hat pin had stuck into her head, he removed it gently, but when Alice came round her eyes were absolutely vacant, she didn’t recognise any one, not even her own mother, the doctor said the pin had pierced into her brain. Alice had lots of tests and examinations but Rachel was forced to have her admitted into Storthes Hall Hospital, Kirkburton on January 8th 1913.  She was twenty four years old.  Every month, driven in a landau by Arthur Russel, the carrier, Rachel visited the hospital, but Alice’s condition never altered.

 Rachel was now sixty three years old, the shock of losing Lily and the plight of Alice  had weakened her very much.  She had a large oil painting, copied from a photograph of Lily, framed and hung on the wall at Cliffe View.  Alice would never sit still long enough for a portrait and this had distressed her.

 1914, That dreadful year when war broke out between Germany and England.  Harry was called up to join the National Service, he entered the RAF and Rachel had a letter from Australia to say Ben had signed on in the Army, this was shattering news and Rachel was devastated.  What was happening to the world. Polly lost her husband Arthur in early 1915 fighting in France, she had one little girl, Elsie, just four years old and Rachel begged her to come home to Cliffe View.  Arthur had been a very good husband to Polly, very well spoken and good mannered, their marriage had lasted only eight years.  Polly came home and started work at Bridge Mills, weaving, to support herself and Elsie.  It was hard work, not the type of weaving that she had been used to, khaki and air force blue and blankets for the troops, very heavy work and she was shattered when she arrived home at night after starting work at six thirty and finishing at five thirty in the evening – Saturday mornings too.

 Emma was having a struggle to survive, she had suffered one loss after another and she too had lost her husband Fred.  Polly pleaded with Rachel to have them all come and live at Cliffe View, and Rachel agreed.


 The first photograph is of Amy Roebuck born in 1903


Amy Roebuck b.1903
Amy Roebuck b.1903

The next photograph shows Mary Roebuck b. 1896 on the left and Hilda b.1920

Mary Emma b.1896 & Hilda b. 1920
Mary Emma b.1896 & Hilda b. 1920

Lydia Roebuck

A number of the younger Roebuck children went to school in Wilshaw and the two photographs below are dated 1913-14. In the top photo Amy Roebuck is in the centre of the front trow, Herbert is first right in the middle row and Arthur is 2nd. from the left in the middle row. In the lower photo Arthur is on the extreme left of the middle row and Amy is directly in front of Mrs. Bennion, the teacher.

Wilshaw School 1913-14
Wilshaw School 1913-14



school children
school children

Joe Roebuck and Frank Lyles are shown outside the farm in Ox lane in 1928.

John Roebuck & Frank Lyles outside Ox Lane farm 1928
John Roebuck & Frank Lyles outside Ox Lane farm 1928

The next photograph, taken outside Sands Farm, is of the wedding between the Roebucks and the Rotherys of Sands Farm in 1925/26. The back row from L to R was : John Roebuck, Herbert Roebuck, Arthur Roebuck, Edith Rothery and Mr.Rothery. The front row from L to R was : Ann Roebuck, Lydia Roebuck, bridesmaid ?  and Mrs .Rothery.

Wedding photo of Arthur Roebuck and Edith Rothery at Sands farm.
Wedding photo of Arthur Roebuck and Edith Rothery at Sands farm.

Rachel Roebuck, 1851-1931, was once the owner/landlady of the Queen’s Arms. The photo shows her in the front garden of Cliffe View at the top of Thong Lane with a view of Deanhouse behind her.

Rachel Roebuck, owner and landlady of the Queens Arms
Rachel Roebuck, owner and landlady of the Queens Arms

The following are four more photographs of family members.

Benjamin Roebuck in Australia
Benjamin Roebuck in Australia

Joseph, William and mother Ann


Ben Roebuck in army uniform 1914
Ben Roebuck in army uniform 1914


Photo of William and Joseph Roebuck taken by Bamforths
Photo of William and Joseph Roebuck taken by Bamforths


Memories. These were told to me by Keith Roebuck who was born in 1944 and owns Brownhill Farm at the end of Ox Lane. The original village reservoir is near to his farm and he said that the Water Board built an underground reservoir at the Ford Inn on the Greenfield Road and ,in addition, there was another open reservoir and the  pipes ,which fed the Brownhill reservoir,  went right past his property. The water was then gravity fed to a pump house in the lane below and from there pumped to the village and the original concrete base and protruding pipe are still visible . The reservoir  was very popular for swimming and some enterprising soul had stocked it with trout but, once it was no longer the source of water for the village, the Board became very concerned over the safety because of the risks to people using it for  swimming and filled it in. Part of the embankment is still there  and the ” tower ”  with its level marks up the side can be clearly seen. Keith said that in the early fifties he would help his dad drive his cows down through the fields to Moor Lane and then along to the crossroads at Knoll Lane to graze. He can remember seeing Bamforth’s van regularly but traffic was generally scarce. In the village there were two fish and chip shops, one was in Giles Street on the left hand corner just before the junction with Outlane ( it later became the scout hut ) and the frier would have to light his coal -fire to warm the stove. It was very busy and opened all day Friday and always had orders from Deanhouse Institution and from Deanhouse Mill. It closed at 7pm in the evenings. The other fish shop was in a house just before Broomy Lea that was run by a Mrs.Hoyle and her husband was a driving instructor and taught Keith to drive.

 A family death  occured in September 1952 that shocked the whole village. A six year old boy, James Edward Roebuck, son of Mr. & Mrs. John Roebuck of Ox Lane Farm was drowned in New Dam. An unsuccessful attempt to save him was made by Norman Hobson of Holmroyd Nook Farm who dived into the water several times without being able to locate him.

Along with his brother, John Keith, they had been playing near the dam and when he fell into the water John ran home across the fields to tell his mother. Mrs.Roebuck and a neighbour, Mrs.Eveline Kaye, of Moor Lane who ran to the dam but could not see the boy. Mr.Gerard Hobson and Mr. Norman Hobson had also run to the dam and with Mr.Albert Briggs of Sands Farm tried to find the boy using a hay rake and a farm drag. Mr. Norman Hobson stripped off and dived into the water several times but as the water was very dirty he could not find the boy. In the meantime Mrs.Kaye had run to the village to ring for the police. When they arrived they eventually recovered the boy after dragging for two hours.

At the inquest the District Coroner, Mr.B.Little, recorded a verdict of ” Death by misadventure “.  Sergeant I. Williamson said that he was present when the body was recovered and that the New Dam was on the property of Messrs. Thomas Dyson and Sons, Deanhouse Mills and was private property with no public right of way. He estimated that the depth of water where James fell in was about 20ft. The Coroner concluded that Mr.Hobson had made a very commendable effort to rescue the child and that it would be quite improper for him ( the Coroner ) to make any suggestion for added safety precautions as the dam was on private property.