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 awhist 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.
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.
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.
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.’
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 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 theParish 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 mediumoak 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 helpedtoo. 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
The next photograph shows Mary Roebuck b. 1896 on the left and Hilda b.1920
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.
Joe Roebuck and Frank Lyles are shown outside the farm in Ox lane in 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.
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.
The following are four more photographs of family members.
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 alwayshad 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.
This is the second section of All Saints Church and covers the period from 1918 to date.
In February 1918, the Choir held their annual whist drive and dance in the church school. It was organized by the choirmaster, C.Wood, and there was a large gathering with 20 tables and £4 was sent to the Holmfirth Auxiliary hospital. For their annual outing that year the choir visited Wakefield and Leeds. They left Thongbridge station for Dewhurst and took the train to Wakefield and after dinner travelled by car to Leeds and returned by train in the evening.
The annual vestry meeting in April , with the Rev. Hind presiding , was attended by only two parishioners, Mr. Turner and Mr. Mellor. Mr.Turner who had been the vicar’s warden for many years resigned his office. The Rev. Hind said he would have to call another meeting and hopefully get a better attendance.
A meeting of the Mothers’ Union, presided over by Mrs. Floyd, was held in September in the Church school. The Rev. Hind gave a short service followed by a powerful address on the troubled times given by Miss Norton. The meeting was followed by tea in aid of funds for the Red Cross Society. The accounts were presented and 3 guineas was sent to the Prisoners of War Fund.
In January 1919 the Annual parochial tea and entertainment which, owing to the war, had been in abeyance for 2 years was held in the school with a large attendance. A superb tea was presided over by Mrs. Jackson, Mrs.Wilson, Mrs. Batley, Mrs. Hirst ,Mrs. Wimpenny and Mrs. Woodhead. Entertainment was provided by the choir and was followed by a speech by the Rev. Cavey, vicar of Huddersfield. The finale was an excellent performance of the humourous sketch, ” Ferrill’s Fix “.
The annual vestry meeting was held in April with only a dozen parishioners present. The vicar, Rev. Hind, re-appointed Mr. H.Wilson as his warden and Mr.J.Woodhead was re-appointed people’s warden. T.Turner, C.S.Floyd, W.Batley, J.Harker, J.Mallinson, E.Butterworth, H.Roberts and A.Dixon were elected as sidesmen.
The year 1920 saw many activities, the first of which was in April when the Church Sunday School presented a Grand Comic Operetta titled Cupid and the Ogre. There were two performances and the admission was 2/- and 1/6. In June the Church held its Annual Festival when the procession, headed by Holme Brass Band ,followed the still beautiful banner that had been in service for 25 years. They went up Town Gate, past the Church and down Outlane to the Deanhouse Institution where they sang hymns. Tea for the children and the villagers was supplied in the school yard by a large band of helpers and the day finished with dancing and games.
The first annual meeting of qualified electors of the Parochial Church Council was held in April in the National school with the Rev. H.Hind presiding. In addition to the vicar and the churchwardens, who were ex-officio members, the following were elected members of the Council for the ensuing year Mr.S.Butterworth ( lay representative ), Mrs. J.Hirst, Mrs.A.Dixon ( secretary ) and Messrs. B.Gill, C.S.Floyd, W.Horncastle, T.Turner, J.Hirst and C.Wood.
In November a Movement was set up by the Rev. Hind and the church wardens, J.Woodhead JP and H.Wilson, to raise funds by various activities for the purpose of cleaning, painting and decoration of the Church both inside and outside and also to improve the state of the churchyard. The first event was a Christmas Party held in the schoolroom. It was an entertainment given by the children of the infant classes of the day school under the charge of Miss Fanny Wilson and was very successful.
The first event in April 1923 was three performances of ” The Black Swan ” , a comic opera, which was held in the Church Sunday School to large audiences. The Express report enthused on the whole performance and listed the entire cast with Mr. T.Wood as the Black Squire. The other performers were Mr.C.Wood, Mr.H.Horncastle, Mr.W.Horncastle, Mr.Evelyn Barron, Mr.G.A.Wood, Mr.D.Hughes, Mr.B.Lockwood, Mr.E.Rusby, Mr.G.Charlesworth, Miss A. Mallinson, Miss E. Beaumont, MIss R.Dickinson and Miss M.Woodhead. They were supported by a tuneful chorus representing schoolgirls, schoolboys,sailors,smugglers etc. all gaily dressed. The orchestra comprised Messrs. P.Dixon, L.Ramsden, J.Hobblethwaite, T.Carter and F.Walker and Misses Beatrice Buckley and S.A.Brook.
The second event was the vestry meeting with the Rev.H.Hind presiding. Mr.J.Woodhead was elected as people’s warden & H.Wilson as the vicar’s warden. The elected sidesmen were W.Batley, C.S.Floyd, A.Dixon, S.Butterworth, J.Mallinson, G.Charlesworth, J.Goddard, H.Wimpenny, A.W.Wimpenny and G.Bailey, August was the time for the annual outing of the church choir who visited Beverley, conveyed in two charabancs supplied by Kilner & Brook.
The 44th. annual outing of the Church choir was in August 1924 and members visited Nottingham travelling in a 32 and 11 seater charabanc. For all of November the Sunday services had not been held owing to the church being closed due to cleaning, painting and redecoration of the sacred fabric and the overhauling and improvement of the organ by the addition of two new stops. During the closure the divine service had been conducted by the vicar in the Mission Room. It was re-opened early in December.
Mr.Arthur Pearson, Mus.Bac.( Oxon ) F.R.C.O., the Huddersfield Borough organist ,gave an organ recital in the Church in March 1925 to a large attendance. The following month the Sunday School teachers organised a concert in the National School with music by many well-known artistes.
I’ve given below details of the changes, repairs and improvements in the church from 1924 right through to 2003 in one complete section rather than to spread them out through this chapter by date.
In 1924, electric lights replaced the gas mantles on the standards and extensive alterations were made to the organ. In 1967 the church was designated as a building of special architectural and historic interest. The dry rot at the west end and in the gallery floor was eradicated in November 1970, and a side effect of the treatment was the creation of more light in the Baptistry alcove. The church was re-wired in March 1973. While the interior was being re-plastered in October 1974, they shared the Zion Chapel. After the re-decoration in January 1975, the Bishop of Pontefract held a service of Thanksgiving and Re-dedication in March. The original organ suffered from severe water damage and was replaced by a new free-standing organ designed by Mr.P.Wood . The pulpit was moved to the opposite side to preserve the symmetry of the interior. In December 1977 the choir pews were replaced by those from Castleford. In 1987 the original Georgian Font , which was installed with the building and replaced in the 1920’s , was found buried in the church yard : it was dug up and kept safe.
In March 2000, due to the demise of the choir and to create more space and light, the choir pews were removed and the chancel left as free space. The pulpit was also disposed off. The original Georgian font was brought back into use at Christening Services and the 1920’s font put into the church grounds. A freestanding Nave Altar and Credence Table were purchased at a cost of £5,500 in October 2000.
In January 2003 the church’s clock winding mechanism was electrified by the clock’s maker, “ Smiths of Derby“. On 7th. April 2003, a contract was signed to completely refurbish the West End by removing the west gallery and provide meeting rooms, storerooms, toilets and disabled facilities for the community. The cost of the alteration was in excess of £100,000. The church was re-dedicated on Sunday 27th. July 2003 by the Bishop of Wakefield, the Right Rev. Stephen Platten.
The 1928 parochial tea and entertainment took place in the National school and after tea the entertainment took the form of the ‘latest craze’ – a gramophone recital arranged and directed by Rushworth’s Ltd., Huddersfield. You will find reports of recitals and gramophone contests in a number of the chapters.
The following year the annual parochial tea and entertainment for the Church and day school was held on February and those attending were treated to a capital ham tea served by the ladies of the congregation. The evening’s entertainment was given by the scholars of both the day and Sunday schools.
In common with the other two churches in the village, the switch over to electricity in the church was a major event,To inaugurate the installation of electric light in the Parish Church School, an ” at home ” was held in the classroom in September 1929 with Mr.& Mrs. Gledhill as hosts. The opening ceremony of switching on the lights was performed by Mrs. J.P.Floyd of Roseleigh. Games, songs, a concert and supper were followed by dancing to the strains of the latest dance hall successes played by the Revellers Dance Band.
At the annual vestry meeting in 1926 there was no change of wardens. Rev. Hind re-appointed H.Wilson as his warden and J.Woodhead was re-elected as the people’s warden – the two of them had held these positions since 1919 and would still be carrying out the jobs in 1931.
In July 1927 the Church Choir held their annual outing and visited Cleethorpes in a charabanc and taxi provided by William Haigh. Quoting directly from the Express ‘ Netherthong was reached at 11.45 and lo and behold the friends who saw them off ‘were there to see them back’
The annual vestry meeting and parochial church council was held in 1928 with the Rev. Hind presiding. He re-appointed Mr.H.Wilson as his warden and the vestry re-appointed Mr.J.Woodhead J.P. as the people’ warden. The following sidesmen were appointed – Messrs. C.Floyd, W.Bailey, S.Butterworth, J.Mallinson, G.Charlesworths , H.Wimpenny, G.Bailey,J.Wilde, J.Woodhead and A.Moorhouse. The three ladies on the Church Council were Mrs.J.Hirst, Mrs.J.Jackson and Miss F.Wilson. In October, Mr.Harold Deaton was appointed verger in succession to Mr.T.Wood who was seriously ill. The Annual Sunday School party was held on New Year’s Eve when teachers, scholars and friends spent a pleasant time.
The Church Sunday School and in particular Miss Hallas were very busy in February/March 1930. First of all they organised a whist drive, supper and dance which attracted a large attendance. All the latest “hits ” were played by a band under the leadership of Miss Hallas. The next event was a carnival dance and , note the wording in the newspaper report, ” an efficient orchestra under the conductorship of Miss Hallas provided the music .”
The All Saint’s Centenary was celebrated in November with a very special gathering to mark the event. A public tea was provided which was followed by lots of entertainment, the highlight being a concert given by the Church School Amateur Operatic Society and the Netherthong Male Voice Choir. Services continued over several days when the Lord Bishop of Wakefield, Dr.Seaton, was the preacher in the morning with the Rev.A.Sephton, the vicar of Holmfirth, doing the honours in the evening. Subscriptions and donations totalled £371.
The Centenary Fund was swelled by profits from a series of events in December 1930. They were organised by Mrs.J.P.Floyd and Miss H.Floyd of Roseleigh along with members of the Mothers’ Union and included a Bridge party and afternoon tea, and a whist drive with supper and dancing.
The Parish Church Operatic Society organised a whist drive, supper and dance in January 1931 in aid of funds and the following month promoted their annual dance in the school with music by Miss Hallas, piano, and Mr.Knapton, violin. At the annual vestry meeting in April , the Rev.Hind appointed H.H.Wilson as warden and the vestry appointed Mr.J. Woodhead as parishioners’ warden. The following sidesmen were appointed. C.S.Floyd, W.Batley, S.Butterworth, G.Charlesworth, H.Wimpenny, G.Bailey, J.Wilde, J.Woodhead, A.Moorhouse, L.Mallinson, W.Denton and R.Ricketts. The same year the annual choir outing was to Blackpool.
The photo below ,dated 1932, shows a tableau of the Sunday school children.
The Annual Parochial tea and entertainment was revived in March 1935 after a lapse of eight years. An excellent meat tea wasprovided and the evening’sentertainment consisted of songs and one-act plays.
A photograph of the Parish Church Choir posing in front of their bus before their trip to Southport on July 26 1937. Some of the members were Doris Wood, Margaret Sykes, Marion Montgomery, Mary Dyson, Wilkie Horncastle and Harold Sykes
Church choir trip to Southport June 1937
In October 1938 a presentation was made to Albert Wimpenny who had been a member of the Church Choir for 50 years having first joined when he was 20. The Spring Fair was held in April 1939 and the opening ceremony, presided over by Mrs.Bradley, was performed by Mrs.Vernon Gledhill. The concert involved the Netherthong Male Voice Choir, conducted by Mr.A.Sanderson, dancing by the pupils of Mrs.Hirst and harmonica duets by Inspector Cooper and Mr.Hughes.
The annual Parochial Meeting was held in March 1940 with the Rev.S.Black in the chair. H.Wilson was re-elected as the Vicar’s Warden and Mr.C.Floyd was elected as people’s Warden. The following sidemen were elected. W.Batley,H.Wimpenny, G.Bailey, L.Mallinson, H.Wilson, H.McQue, F.Lockwood, J.Woodhead, B.Batley, H.Hoyle, R.Ricketts, J.Black, J.Scott and J.Rothery. Mr.Floyd was re-elected secretary of the Parochial Church Choir and J.Rothery confirmed as auditor. The elected members of the Church Council were W.Batley, H.Wimpenny, W.Horncastle, A.Wimpenny, B.Batley, H.Denton, H.McQue, G.Bailey, J.Wilde, A.Sanderson, J.Mallinson, W.Gledhill plus Mrs.Black, Mrs.Lockwood, Mrs. McQue, Mrs. Floyd, Mrs. Fallas and Misses S.Brook, S.Beaumont, H.Floyd, F.Wilson, M.Wimpenny and E.Dickinson.
The photograph below is of the Church choir outing to Buxton and Castleton on July 19 1941.
Church choir outing to Buxton on July 1941
Dated sometime in the 1940s the photograph of the Church choir with everybody in their ” Sunday best ” has the Rev. Black in the centre and the conductor, Arthur Sanderson, tucked away in the top right hand corner.
Church choir with the Rev. Black . 1940s ?
The Annual Vestry and Parochial Church meeting was held in April 1947. Winston Wood and Brook Batley were elected churchwardens, Mr. C.S.Floyd , secretary, and B.Batley, treasurer, were re-elected.The following were elected to serve on the committee. Messrs. W.Batley,B.Batley,G.Bailey,A.Dyson,C.S.Floyd,W.Gledhill, W.Horncastle, B.Lockwood,J.Rothery, J.Wilde, A.Wimpenny, H.Wilson, J.Woodhead, Eric Wood and Winston Wood. Mrs.Black,Miss Brook, Miss Dickinson,Mrs. Floyd, Mrs. Fallas, Mrs. W.Gledhill, Mrs. Horncastle, Miss R.Lockwood, Mrs.F.Lockwood,Mrs. Torr, Miss M. Wimpenny, Miss Wilson and Mrs. Winston Wood.
At the end of the year a Winter Fayre was held in the church in aid of the re-decoration fund. A snowstorm was raging as the Fayre opened. The photo below shows the heavy snowfall outside the church.
The Parochial tea and concert in February 1948 was of outstanding merit and among the artistes was the C.V.H. Quartet winners of the Blackpool Music Festival 1946-7.
In January 1949, the Festival of nine lessons and carols was held in the Church with the carols being sung by scholars of the Sunday school and Fred Lockwood as organist. The lessons were read by Rev.S.Black, Mr.J.Wilde, Masters William Wood and R.Brown and Misses M.Brierley, J.Walker and M.Hanwell. The collection in aid of St.Dunstan’s Hostel for the Blind raised £6.
A service was held in April for the declaration of the new Mothers’ Union banner with the service being taken by Rev.S.Black. He said that the Netherthong branch of the Mothers’ Union was founded on July 6 1912 by the late Mrs. J.Peel Floyd. 40 members were enrolled at the first meeting and six were still living – Mrs.Hoyle, Mrs.Taylor, Mrs.Albert Wimpenny, Mrs.Arthur Wimpenny, Mrs. Knutton and Mrs. Tom Wood. The first of the four ladies were still attached to the branch.
At the Annual party and prizegiving held in January 1950, there were three Sunday School teachers whose joint association with the school amounted to over 150 years – they were Mrs. Alice Fallas, Miss Mildred Wimpenny and Miss S.Brook. Miss Brook presented prizes for regular attendance and good conduct to Jean Walker, Ann Watson, Pamela Watson, Netta Watson, Margaret Hanwell, Margaret Brierley, Judith Stephenson, Frank Hanwell and Stanley Hanwell. Infant prizes were given to Leslie Bailey, Joyce Bailey and Susan Jones. The Parish Church Social Committee promoted the Children’s Fancy Dress dance in the day School later in the same month with music by The Music Makers Orchestra. The prizewinners were Margaret Hanwell, Anne Watson, Eileen James, Tony Littlewood, Peter Watson and Peter Mallinson. In November Mr. & Mrs. Vernon Gledhill organised a Whist drive, supper and dance in aid of church funds with music by Harry Beaver and his band. A fancy dress party in December took place in the Day School and the winners were Netta Watson, Joyce Bailey, Jean Shaw, Tony Littlewood, Alan Jones and Peter Preston. Incidentally 1950 was the first white Christmas for twelve years.
Master Robert Clough was appointed organist at the Church and began his duties on April 1st.in April 1951. Although he was only 14 years of age, he had been deputy organist at St.David’s Church in Holmbridge for the past year.
A Fancy-dress Party, connected with the Church, was held in the Day School and a large number of children attended in fancy dress. Prizes for best costumes were given in various age categories. Girls under 8 – Pat Kelly,Betty Power and Therese Napthine. Boys under 8 – Glynne Hoyle, Tony Rose and Christopher Wood. Girls over 8 – Jaqueline Hobson, Margot Swain, Pauline Littlewood and Mavis Addy. Boys over 8 – Bruce Dyson,Alan Jones and Tony Littlewood.
The last event of 1952 was a service of 9 lessons and carols held on December 28 and given by the Sunday School scholars. The lessons were read by Misses Joyce Addy, Mary Brierley, Anne Watson, Judith Stephenson and Masters Peter Brown and Thomas Scholfield.
The Annual Parochial tea in February 1953 attracted a large attendance and ” The Netherthongsters” presented an entirely new show.There was another large audience in July when the Male Voice Choir and Arthur Sanderson gave a concert. A Fancy Dress Party for the Sunday School was held in December and prizes for the under-8s were won by George Preece, Avril Kaye, Christopher Wood, Joyce Bailey and David Eggleton. The winners in the over-8 group were Pamela Watson, Carol Pell and Leslie Bailey. Other prizes were presented to Richard Storey, Susan Hinchliffe and Michael Taylor.
60 parishioners sat down for tea in the Day School in March 1954 to celebrate the Annual Parochial tea.In the evening the Sunday School Drama Group presented 3 one-act plays – ” Money makes a Difference “, ” I made you possible ” and ” A flat and a sharp “.They were presented by Mrs.C.Brown and the performers were Margaret Brierley, Maureen Ellis, Barbara Mallinson, Pat Preston, Judith Stephenson, Marie Turner, Anne Watson, Peter Brown, Peter Mallinson, Peter preston, Barry Lee, Thomas Scholfield and Peter Stangroom.
A few months later the church held its special Sunday School festival. Rev.S.Black was the preacher in the morning service and the Rev.P.Frost of New Mill preached at evensong. The organist for both services was Mr.R.Clough.
In July, before the start of the meeting of the Parochial Church Choir, a presentation was made to Mrs.H.Horncastle on behalf of the Church Council and parishioners. Rev.S.Black referred to the long service rendered to the church by Mrs. Horncastle as a member of the choir for over 44 years and he presented her with an inscribed onyx clock. The same month the choir went on their annual outing and visited Blackpool.
The Male Voice Choir paid their annual visit in November and rendered a much appreciated programme under the conductorship of Arthur Sanderson. The choir sang unaccompanied , with part songs and solos by Ronald Daniels ( tenor ) and Erin Garner ( bass ) accompanied on the organ by Mrs.E.Mortimer.
In February 1955, for the first time since before the war, it was possible for the church to provide a knife and fork tea for the parochial gathering and the attendance was much larger than had been expected. There was a full house for the concert in the evening – songs were provided by the Male Voice Choir under Arthur Sanderson and Mrs. J.Howarth and Mrs.F.Mellor contributed songs and duets. Mr.Stanley Wood gave trombone solos.
November 1955 was the occasion of the 125th. Anniversary of Consecration and the event was attended by a large number of former parishioners. The preacher at the morning service was the lay reader of the parish, Mr.H.Middlemist , and the Bishop of Pontefract preached at the evening service. Fred Lockwood was the organist. On the second day, the Lord Bishop of Wakefield was the preacher and the Rev.S.Black conducted the evening service with Mr.H.Robinson as organist.
In connection with the anniversary a bazaar was held in the Day School and gross takings amounted to £447. Rev.S.Black took the chair at the opening ceremony and he said that part of any proceeds would go to meet the heavy charges for dilapidation. The stalls were run by the men ( general goods ), Mothers’ Union ( plain and fancy needlework ), the Choir ( bottles ), Sunday School (cakes ), Oakland ( sweets and stationery ), Miss Parkman ( lucky stall ) and Mr.Preece ( bran tub ). Tea was provided by Miss A.Wilde and Mrs.J.Wilde.
At a meeting of the Parish Church Mother’s Union In June 1956 the enrolling member, Miss H.T.Floyd, was presented with a standard lamp and fire screen to mark the occasion of her marriage to the vicar, Rev.S.Black. The ceremony was held in Ripon Cathedral.
The Sunday School anniversary services were held in the same month. A large congregation was present for the Daisy Day service and the children took a leading role. Songs were sung by Netta Watson, Joyce Bailey, Brenda Roebuck, Ruth Wibberley, Pamela Watson, Anne Watson, Barbara Mallinson, George Preece, Robert Haigh, Glyn Haigh, Stuart Haigh and Stuart Lawson. Poems were recited by Susan Hinchliffe, Stephanie Hoyle, Joan Robinson, Anne Clarke, Janet Watson, Patsy Robinson, Ian Hoyle and Derek Longley.
In December there was a service of nine lessons and carols given by the Sunday School scholars and the choir. The lessons were read by the Rev.S.Black, Mr.R.Middlemist ( lay preacher ), Messrs. S.Horncastle and C.Dulling, Misses Barbara Mallinson, Patsy Robinson, Pamela Watson and Ann Watson interspersed with carols. A duet was sung by Brenda Roebuck and Ruth Wibberley and a trio by Stanley Haigh, Lynn Hoyle and Stephanie Hoyle. The organist was Mrs.W.Wood.
At the Annual Parochial Church meeting in April 1957, the retiring churchwardens, Mr.Winston Wood and Mr.Brook Batley, were re-elected. All the members of the church council were also re-elected en bloc. Mr.B.Batley and W.Gledhill were re-elected as treasurer and secretary respectively. The vicar in his report praised everybody for the loyal service and said ” I have never been more hopeful for the life of the church here than I have recently felt.”
The 1958 annual vestry and parochial church meeting was held in April. Winston W.Wood was appointed vicar’s warden and Mr.Brook Batley as people’s warden.The Church Council was re-elected with the substitution of Mrs. A.Fallas for Mrs. Watson. Mr.V.Gledhill resigned as secretary due to ill health. Rev.S.Black gave his report on the year.
In August 1958 the Rev. Sydney Black announced that he was to retire on October 31st. He had been ordained in 1929, serving his title at St.Mary’s, Rushden, Northants, and was instituted Vicar on January 23 1937. He was also Chaplain to St.Mary’s Hospital and acted in a similar capacity at Oaklands Home for the Blind. In his retirement he would continue to live in the parish and move to Mrs.Black’s former home at Roseleigh, Sands.
The Harvest & Thanksgiving services were held in October and the produce was distributed to the sick and aged patients at St.Mary’s Hospital and Oaklands Home for the Blind. December was the annual occasion of the nine lessons and carols service. There was a large congregation and the lessons were read by Miss Ann Swallow, Miss Pat Robinson, Mr.J.Preece, Mr.F.Ahl, Mr.M.Taylor, Mr.C.Dulling, Mr.W.Jones, Mr.W.Wood and Mr.H.Middlemist with Fred Lockwood as organist.
The Express reported in January 1959 that the Benefice of Netherthong which was made vacant by the resignation of the Rev.S.Black was to be filled by the Rev.Eric Lees Asquith, Curate of Hanging Heaton, Batley. He was 34 years old and married with a 16 month old daughter. He presided over the Annual vestry and parochial church meetings in April and he nominated W.Wood as his warden and Brook Bailey was re-elected people’s warden. A few days later a welcome was given to him and his wife in the Day School. Mr.W.Wood presided and introduced him to those attending. Other speakers were R.Middlemist, the lay reader, and W.Horncastle, senior member of the choir. During the evening the Male Voice Choir gave a selection of songs and refreshments were served by the ladies of the church.
The Rev.L.Asquith presided at the annual parochial meeting in February 1960 . Mr.V.Lawton was nominated the vicar’s warden and Mr.B.Batley continued as the people’s warden. The following sidesmen were elected – Messrs. G.Bailey, A.Stangroom,P.Stangroom,A Taylor, M.Taylor, K.Lockwood, E.Lockwood, W.Gledhill and W.Lax.
The parochial tea in October was followed by a concert given by members of the Bible Class and Sunday School. The performers were : Joyce Bailey, Susan Hinchliffe, Judith Swallow, Stephanie Hoyle, Jennifer Charlesworth, Anne Clarke, Eileen Charlesworth, Lynn Mallinson, Sharon Simmons, Maria Buck, Lilian Buck, Angela Sykes, Dorcas Tinker, Carolyn Jepson, George Preece, Harold Preece, Michael Parker, Richard Parker, Michael Tinker, James Dulling, Peter Dulling and John Jenson. The compere was Mrs.A. Fallas and the pianist was Mrs.B. Dakin.
In 1962 there was a split between the vicar and his parishioners, which had originated in his refusal to join with the Zion Church in the Annual United Schools Festival held in June, and which by September had shown no sign of being healed. Because Mr.Fred Lockwood, the voluntary organist, had not agreed to the vicar’s request to have nothing to do with the school festival he was suspended by the vicar who also suspended Mr.William Horncastle, a member of the choir for 50 years. Some time later Mr.Lockwood had been asked by the family of the late Mr. W. Batley to play the organ at the funeral of Mr.Batley, a life-long friend with whom he had served for many years on the Holmfirth UDC. The vicar refused to allow him to play.
In the Parish Magazine for September, the vicar gave notice of the Harvest Festival to be held in October and said that gifts of fruit and vegetables but not flowers would be most welcome. He had imposed the same ban in 1961 but some parishioners had ignored it and had sent flowers to decorate the church. This year he was determined to enforce the ban and this would mean that there would be no flowers to distribute to the sick and aged of the Parish, a custom that had been carried out for over a century. Reports of these problems had appeared in the national newspapers. Instead of the usual large congregation at the Harvest Thanksgiving service, there was just a handful of people present and no music was played. No one sent flowers and only a few sent fruit and vegetables. When the vicar left the church after the Eucharist he locked the church door and, at the gate, passed a number of parishioners waiting to board the bus to Wilshaw to attend their church festival. Mr.Lockwood had also driven past taking parishioners to Wilshaw. Perhaps not suprisingly the Zion Harvest festival attracted a much larger than normal congregation and their church was decorated with an abundance of flowers, fruit and vegetables. Since Mr.Lockwood had been suspended in June there had been no music at any of the services and few parishioners had attended. On one occasion there was only one other person than the vicar present. The Express gave no further reports on the church that year.
In the February 1963 issue of the Parish magazine, the Reverend Eric Asquith wrote ” I have some very serious words to say this month. I know fully well that there are people in this parish whose dearest wish is that I should cease to be its vicar. There is a real possibility that their wish will be granted and that I shall be unable to administer the parish for very much longer because of lack of support …… if I should be compelled to move, the parish will not be given another priest in my place. It is only being kept in existence by my continued presence and by the support of a faithful few ….. if I leave Netherthong it will be to find a more rewarding sphere in which to exercise my priesthood …. what can be done to save the life of this parish …. the first is increased attendance and the second is increased financial support …. now I have placed the challenge before you and I will only add that if you are going to respond you must do it quickly. ” For whatever reasons the Express did not report on any activities relating to the Church for the remainder of 1963.
It wasn’t until September 1964 that the first mention of the vicar’s name occured in the paper and it concerned a wedding in the Church of Miss Christine Parson, oldest daughter of Mr.& Mrs. Cecil Parsons of Leas Avenue. The Rev. Asquith officiated and Mr.Leo Grant was the organist. The only other report for the year was at the Service of Remembrance and Wreath Laying on November 8th. when he conducted the Memorial Service. As all the information from the Express for the whole of 1966 was not put onto microfilm, one has no way of knowing what developments relating to the Church occured during that year.
In July 1968 the Church was full to capacity for the institution and induction of the new vicar, Rev. Frank Lord. He was a married man with one son and had been vicar of Holy Rood, Swinton, for the previous 18 years. Mrs.Lord was unable to be present as she had fallen in the vicarage earlier that day and had dislocated her shoulder. The congregation included about 100 parishioners from Swinton, neighbouring clergy and representatives from various organisations and local bodies as well as parishioners from many adjoining areas. The institution was by the Bishop of Wakefield, Rt. Rev.Eric Treacy and the induction was by the Archbishop of Halifax, the Ven.John Field Lister. The organist was Mr.Jarvis. During the serving of refreshments, after his induction, the new Vicar entered the schoolroom with a bucket and said ” There is not a hole in my bucket but there is a hole in my gallery ” recounting that dry rot was affecting the gallery of the church and which would cost £350 to eradicate. His appeal realised £15. He officiated at his first wedding the following month when Miss Pamela Mary Hirst of Leas Avenue was married to Mr.Robinson of Paddock.
In May 1969 the Parish Youth Club invited all the pensioners of the parish to tea in the day room and 50 sat down to a beef and ham tea served by members of the Club. The evening entertainment was given by the Male Voice Choir,
The photograph below is from the 1970s and is of the opening of the Parish Church autumn fair. It shows from l to r : Bridget Taylor, Mrs. Marlene Capstick ( Vicar’s wife ), Mrs. Emily Sykes who opened the fair, Lucy Burns and Mr. John Wilson, warden.
Opening of the Parish Church autumn fair 1970s
At the church’s annual meeting in April 1972, the Rev. Capstick announced that the second stage of the church renovation was due to begin and that a £500 bequest from Miss M.Eastwood, a former inhabitant of the village, would be used to repair several windows. Mr.V.Lawton and Mr.K.Kettlewell were re-elected churchwardens. Mr. Kettlewell was also elected treasurer and Mr.J.Wilkinson secretary. Mrs. M.Ellis, Miss R.Lockwood and Mr.J.Wilson were re-elected to serve on the parochial church council and new members elected were Mrs. S.Gledhill, Mrs.S.Kettlewell and Mr.C.Bradbury. The vicar reported that there had been nine baptisms and 10 weddings at the church during 1971. The electoral roll was made up of 75 names.
The photograph below is dated 30 September 1972 and shows members of the re-formed choir wearing their new robes. This new choir was reformed in March 1971 after a period of several years when there had been no church choir in the village, and numbered 20 members although the choirmaster Mr.C.Bradbury was continually on the look-out for more male choristers. The junior members wore scarlet cassocks with white surplices, the women wore black with white jabots and the men black cassocks with white surplices. Their musical accompaniment was supplied by Mr.E.Mosley, Mr.L.Robinson, Mrs.W.Greeves, Mrs.J.Hiles and Mrs. R.Shaw.
At the end of the year past and present members of the choir joined together at the evensong service to celebrate the church’s patronal festival. They sang the church’s own hymn ” For all the Saints.”Two children , Paul Anthony Senior and Sally Elizabeth Hobson were baptised. At the annual meeting in 1971, Mr.V.Lawton and Mr. K.Kettlewell were re-elected Churchwardens. Mrs.E.Hinchliffe and Mrs.E.Lawton were re-elected to serve on the Parochial Church council along withMrs.M.Sykes, a new member. A key item from the Rev. J.Capsticks’s report was that dry rot had been eradicated from the gallery.
In January 1973 the Bishop of Wakefield, the Right Rev. Eric Treacy was the Celebrant and preacher at the Family Communion Service. Some 50 people heard him speak, and received communion. Sally Horne was baptised at the Baptism service. The August Garden Party at the Vicarage attracted a large crowd and teas were served on the lawn. The fancy dress awards were won by Peter Kettlewell and Ann Capstick and £57 was raised for funds.
An augmented choir, conducted by R.Daniel, gave a sensitive rendering of Steiner’s ‘Crucifixion’ in the Church in April 1974. The soloists were Mr.B.Daniel, Mr.J.Daniel and Mr.L.Armitage and the organist was Mr.K.Jarvis. The previous month, the church treasurer had a bright idea for raising money which was to buy an animal to replace one of the thousands that had died during the recent drought in North Africa. He discussed the idea with Mr.Derek Hudson, who was a reporter on the recent Christian Aid Relief Expedition to the Sahara region. The price of a camel was fixed at £20 and Christine Kettlewell drew the outline of a camel and pinned it up in the church. It was divided into 200 sections and people were invited to give 10p or more. For every 10p a section was shaded in until the camel was complete and the purchasing price was raised. The Express reported that thanks to the publicity and enthusiastic support round the village the money was raised in under a month.
The Annual Christmas Social for 1975 was held in the Day school. There was whist for the older members, disco for the young folk , dancing for everyone and a pea and pie supper. The winners for the whist were Mrs. German, Miss Wimpenny, Mrs. Sykes, Mrs. Fallas, Mrs. Robson, Mrs. Gledhill, Mrs. Laycock and Gary Searby.
The installation of a new organ was a great moment for the church and in January 1976 the Express published a detailed report and attached a photo of the Rev.J.Capstick with the new organ in place in the church. The old instrument was built by the Huddersfield firm of Peter Conacher and Co. in 1871 and for many years had been in bad repair. Right up to the end it was a pleasing organ to listen to but the cost of renovating its mechanism was too great. It was replaced by a small neo-classical organ, freestanding in the church’s nave. Although the whole of the electrical mechanisms were new, use was made of a variety of second-hand non-mechanical parts. The organ builder was a local man, Philip Wood and he scored high creating an organ of individuality.The new organ was actually played for the first time on December 27 1975. It was used in the evening service of nine lessons and carols and the service was recorded on tape for a hospital broadcast in the New Year. The soloists were Josephine Taylor, Andrew Gill, Mandy Wickham, Mandy Bower, Francis Wilson, Nigel Dearnley, Simon Anderson, Christopher Capstick and Peter Kettlewell. Miss Anne Wilson provided guitar accompaniment. The lessons were read by Andrew Gill, Mandy Wickham, Peter Kettlewell, Charles Bradbury ( choirmaster ), Mandy Tinker, Nigel Dearnley, Josephine Taylor, Christine Kettlewell and the vicar, the Rev. J.Capstick. The organist was Keith Jarvis.
A new youth group was formed in April 1976 and would be known as the Netherthong Parish Church Choir Youth Group. Mr.Charles Bradbury, choirmaster at the church, started the club and said that for the time being, until they get established, meetings would be held on the last Friday in every month.A young people’s committee was formed under the chairmanship of Mrs.M.Sykes and the members were – Miss J.Taylor ( treasurer ), Miss S.Whitaker ( secretary ), Miss S.Wilson, Master P.Kettlewell, Master N.Dearnley and Master A.Gail. At the first meeting they played badminton, table-tennis and other games.
The 1976 AGM was held on April 16. Mr.V.Lawton and Mr.K.Kettlewell were re-elected as church wardens. Mrs. J. Rothwell and Mr.H.Laycock were re-elected to the Church Council and Mr. T.Beaumont was nominated to fill the position vacated by Mr.K.Jarvis who had asked to stand down. The Deanery Synod representatives were Mrs.E.Lawton and Mr.K.Kettlewell.The treasurer reported on a reasonably successful financial year with a balance of £300 to carry over but this would be absorbed by the higher Diocesan Quota. The Rev. J.Capstick mentioned the development of the Mothers’ Union, a new Server’s Group and the Church Youth Fellowship.
The amusing story below appeared in the parish magazine in 1976 and the two young girls referred to, Nicola and Rebecca, were members of the Church.
1976 Rebecca Helliwell & Nicola
item put in Parish Magazine
A musical evening was held in the Church in June when a group of children sang a selection of songs. Peter Kettlewell sang a solo and Mr. Alf Boothroyd and his youthful ensemble of Helen Wood, Claire Charlesworth, Denise Edinbore and JonathanWhitaker played favourite hymn tunes. Nigel Dearnley and Nicola Stables played guitars, Helen Charlesworth and Sarah Whitaker played clarinet with Jean McRina on piano. The programme also included verse reading and Deborah Peebles, Susan Mullinger, Emma Blackburn and Denise Edinboro played recorders. Martin Hirst played on the new church organ and the programme was introduced by Mrs. Whitaker.
Later that year in November 1976, members and friends of Huddersfield Organists’ Association were entertained at the Church. Keith Jarvis, lecturer in organ at Huddersfield School of Music, had been a member of the church since he came to the Huddersfield area about ten years ago and was largely responsible for the ideas behind the new organ. The instrument built by Philip Wood was ably demonstrated by Mr. Jarvis who chose to play extracts from a variety of pieces – rather than whole works – in order to show off the striking variety of such a small instrument. Afterwards members were invited to try the organ for themselves. The church held its annual flower service in July 1977 when the Flower Queen, Michelle Hutson, was attended by Caroline Day and Donna Heppenstall. Lessons were read by Michelle and choir members, Alan Sykes, Richard Bywater and Josephine Taylor. Four months later the school hall was full for the Parish Bazaar which was opened by Mrs. Lax and raised £374 . The raffle prizes were won by Mr.Blackburn, Matthew Day and Mr. Thewks and among the helpers were Mrs. Minnie Taylo, Mrs. Agnes Campbell, Mrs. Alice Fallas, Mrs. Alice Wilkenson and Mrs. Irene Jones. And for something different a face lift was given to the church grounds in April 1978 thank to three workers from the Job Creation Scheme who cleared the approach to the church and tidied and cleaned the land to the side and back. A sunny day in June with clear blue skies helped to make the Vicarage garden party a great success. Many villagers turned out and the stalls and sideshows did a brisk trade. The entertainment was given by pupils of Brockholes Junior School who performed a gymnastic display.The winners of the Fancy Dress competition were Stephen Wilkinson, Sally Hobson, Mark Shuttleworth, Caroline Day, Richard Bywater and Anne Capstick with the raffle winners being Charlotte Mitchell and Mrs. J.Hellawell.
Singers from the church entertained members of the Holmfirth Branch of OAP Federation in September 1978. The group included Mrs. Kettlewell, Christine & Peter Kettlewell, Mrs. Wilson and Frances Wilson and they were accompanied by three other church members playing guitar.
The Vicarage Party held in July 1979 was enjoyed by a large crowd and around £40 was raised. As usual, fancy dress featured and the winners were Helen Wilkinson, Michelle Hutson and Andrew Hutson and the Netherthong Junior school brass ensemble played selections of songs. Later in November the Autumn Fayre was a great success and about £330 was raised for Church funds. One of the popular attractions was the cake stall as Mrs. Kathleen Woffenden’s cakes were much sought after. She is in the centre of the photograph below, on her left is Caroline Verity, of Almondbury, who opened the Fayre and on her right is Mrs. Edith Hincliffe.
The programme of the time-table of events for the 150th. Anniversary Celebrations is shown below.
The celebrations for the 150th. Anniversary were spread over September, October and November with many events planned. One feature was the production of souvenir plates – these plates were 8″ and gold-rimmed and depicted the church in the centre with the words” All Saints,Netherthong, 1830-1980 ” round the edge. The original order of 100 sold out very quickly and a second batch was ordered. The photo below shows Mrs. Sheila Gledhill displaying one of the plates.
Mrs.Sheila Gledhill also appears in the following photograph with Mrs.Joyce Rothwell admiring one of the flower arrangements by Meltham Flower Club which was used to decorate the Parish Church over the weekend for the beginning of the celebrations.
The photo below shows Helen and Stephen Wilkinson looking at the flower arrangements for the celebrations.
A choirboy made his own special contribution to the celebrations when he wrote to the Queen. Twelve-year old Richard Bywater wrote telling Her Majesty about the church’s 150 year old celebrations and received a reply from Balmoral. A copy of the reply was put on display in the church.
Past and present members of All Saints Church Choir got together for a reunion as part of the anniversary celebrations – see photo below. Thanks to Juliet Hendrick for supplying me with the following information in April 2016. Her grandparents, Vernon and Elsie Lawton , are in the centre of the photo either side of the lady with the black jacket. Their daughter, Cynthia, is the mother of Juliet.
At the Netherthong mothers’ union 70th. birthday party in October 1983, the special guest of honour was Mrs. Emily Sykes, 92, who had been a member for 50 years, Celebrations began with a thanksgiving by the Rev.J.Capstick and the organist was Mr.K.Jarvis. Afterwards a party was held in the Zion chapel when Mrs. Sykes was presented with a special cerificate and a pot plant by enrolling member Mrs. Joyce Rothwell. A birthday cake baked by Mrs.Kathleen Woffenden and iced by Hazel Hird was cut and distributed. The photo below shows Mrs.Sykes and other mothers’ union members.
The possible creation for a parish room had been first discussed in the late 1970s and in September 1982 members of the parochial church council met the diocesan surveyor Mr.Gerald Wood to discuss options. It was hoped to provide a meeting room with toilets and a kitchen as in the past the church had held functions in the village school. The vicar, the Rev. John Capstick said that they had used the day school for so long but expenses were going up all the time and it would be nice to have their own little room.
In March 1983 the Agbrigg Area Development sub- committee ruled that a house in the village could be turned into a church meeting room even though it was in a Conservation Area. The councillors did specify some restrictions, one of which was that it could only be used up to 10p.m. and people using it must not be too noisy. The house selected was No.2 Outlane which had been owned by Mr.& Mrs.Pell and it was bought for £6,000. The church council launched a £10,000 appeal fund. Two memorial gifts help boost the funds and numerous organisations ran events and many people gave furniture and equipment to the cottage. The two photographs show the new parish centre before the conversion and a group of helpers at a bric-a-brac and book sale in September which raised £100.
Work on the conversion was mainly carried out by voluntary labour and the photograph below shows Mr.& Mrs. Martin Woodhead with their two- month-old daughter, Susannah, the Rev. John Capstick and Mrs.D.Horncastle taking a break from work.
On October 1984 the conversion had been completed with the building consisting of a downstairs room suitable for small groups, a kitchen and a first floor room capable of seating at least 50. The Bishop of Wakefield, the Rt.Rev. Colin James with the Rev. J.Capstick dedicated the parish centre. The three photographs show them standing outside the centre surrounded by parishioners. The centre was in immediate use with a local playgroup meeting four times a week and a mother and toddler group on one afternoon.The Senior Citizens Club, the Mother’s Union, the Sunday School were other regular users.
A successful year was reported at the annual meeting in April 1983.The Rev. J.Capstick said there had been a slight increase in congregations and baptisms and paid a special tribute to Kenneth Kettlewell who had died during the year. Last year the church had met all its financial obligations but this year expenses had increased dramatically. Elected were : V.Lawton and J.Wilson, wardens : J.Wilkinson, secretary :J.Taylor, treasurer : F.Ainley, D.Green and N.Taylor, sidesmen and S.Kettlewell,T.Beaumont, D.Green and D.Horncastle, PCC members.
Gillian Salter, senior choir girl, won the Bishop’s Chorister award in October 1985. She was 14, a pupil at Holmfirth High School and daughter of Mr. & Mrs. John Salter of Wells Green Gardens – see photo.
And now for something completely different. In June 1987 six couples competed in a Mr.& Mrs. Contest at the Junior School. Each couple was presented with a Royal Wedding commemorative dish. The Rev.and Mrs.J.Capstick were the winners and they were presented with Royal Wedding goblets. Mrs. Sandra Gledhill won a bottle of sherry in the raffle. In the photograph pictured from the left were : scorer Mrs.Y.Hutson, hostess Mrs.R.Muff, quiz master Mr.David Hutson, Mr.& Mrs. Scholfield, Mr. & Mrs.Priestley, Mr.& Mrs. Lawton, Mr.& Mrs.Hird, the Rev. and Mrs. Capstick and Mr.& Mrs. Battye.
The photograph below shows the Rev.J.Capstick receiving a R.I.B.I. Community Service Award.
I have not got a date for the photograph below that shows members of the choir in the church. I’m guessing circa 1990s.
Another superb photograph from the 1990s? showing the Rev.John Capstick seated on the floor surrounded by some of his parishioners. Standing at the back from L to R. Bob Whitehead, Mr.Rostron, John Taylor, Jennifer Wilkinson, Margaret Rattigan. Seated from L to R. Anon, Sheila Gledhill, Mrs.Lawton, Joyce Rothwell, Yvonne Hutson, Margaret Sykes.
The Rev. John Capstick told me that the item he was holding was a “gift tray “. Surrounding him from L to R were Joyce Rothwell, anon, John Taylor, Bob Whitehead, Edith Lawton, anon, Christine Whitehead.
I’ve shown below the covers of three brochures issued by the Church. The first one is titled ” 150 years of History “. It has a green cover, the pages are typed and it was written by John Capstick, the Vicar in 1979. The second one, celebrating 175 years, has been professionaly printed with a high gloss cover featuring the main door to the Church. It uses much of the information in the earlier issue and was organised by Geoff Banks , Vicar. The final item is in the form of a triptych and is called ” A Vision for the Future 2011/2012 ” by the Rev. Nick Heaton, Vicar.
150 years of History of All Saints.
175 years of History
A Vision for the Future 2011/2012
Although church attendances continue to drop there will always be a number of committed churchgoers with strong attachment to the Parish Church. The following article appeared in 2016 in the free local community news and I quote it as printed : ” A group of Holme Valley residents are doing everything in their power to raise funds for their local church. The committee of All Saints Church has come together to provide a solution to paying for the church’s repairs. Committee member Roseanne Meakin said ‘ we’ve been trying to raise money for years, and had a special meeting earlier this year so we could think of ways to raise money, There’s lots of repairs that need doing, it was built in the 1830’s and it’s a really old church. There’s plaster that’s crumbling off the walls, the drains need doing, there’s so much.”
The group has decided on providing locals with an afternoon of cream teas, and is aiming to promote the place of worship, getting more people through the church doors. Roseanne said ” We are Christians and it would be nice if people felt that the church was the focal point of the village, people will make you welcome here. We even have a hall that’s available to hire for a very small fee.” The event will take place on Saturday , July 9 at 3pm., a raffle is on offer to guests with a chance to win an abundance of prizes from local businesses. Roseanne added ‘ We’re doing a raffle as well, and we’ve had some really nice prizes donated from businesses in Holmfirth . Bengal Spice has given us a gift voucher, people have really been generous, not one person has said no.”
The original chapter of ‘odds and bods’ just kept on growing so, to make it more manageable, I have split it into two sections.
The July 7 1917 edition of the Express had a leader headed ” The War and the future of the Express “. It reported that staff numbers had been reduced by 75% and the number of pages by 400%. It added that the paper was determined to continue. Fortunately it did.
In this modern high-tech world we take continual rapid scientific changes in our stride without batting an eyelid, but history shows that this was not always the case with the Luddites being the most well known example of resistance to change. The introduction of electricity to the village did not proceed without difficulties. There was a strong resistance from many of the inhabitants with a number of public meetings being held and It needed a lot of persuasion and publicity from the local electricity department to demonstrate the benefits. In October 1923, a Series of Electrical Exhibitions and Demonstrations were held , under the auspices of the Electricity Department of the Holmfirth UDC, at the United Methodist Church Schoolroom. One exhibition showed examples of electrical equipment and the benefits of electricity in the home. Among the appliances shown was the Thor electric washer and wringer, an electric iron, cookers and radiant fires. The Cadillac electric vacuum cleaner attracted lots of interest.
When the three churches in the village were eventually connected , the switching- on was made into a grand occasion – see the reports for the individual churches.
At the 48th. Annual Holmfirth Agricultural and Horticultural Show held in August 1924, H.Roebuck won two prizes for his chickens. In the Utility Class- Wyandotte, any variety hen or pullet, he came 2nd. and in the any variety cock or cockerel class he came third. At the Brighouse Agricultural Show in September 1928, Mr.J.Mallinson took four firsts and specials for dahlias, violas, gladiolas and bunches of annuals. He followed this up in the same month when he received the highest award at the Honley vegetable and flower show.
The Express in July 1926 printed the following Public Notice.
West Riding County Council
Holmfirth Education Sub- Committee
Evening Schools – Session 1926/1927
1. Industrial Classes for Boys at Netherthong National school.
2. Housecraft Classes for Girls at Netherthong National school.
I had been trying for a long time to discover when the first buses started to run through Netherthong and then, whilst reading through the 1926 issues of the Express, I came to April 24 and saw that it had printed a copy of the Bus Service Time Table from Holmfirth to Meltham. The buses were run by Haigh’s Garage, Holmfirth and the service started at the bottom of Victoria Street and finished at the Swan Inn Meltham before turning round and returning. There was a morning service only on Tuesdays at 9.00am and 10.00.am and for the rest of the week the service was only in the afternoon/evening with start times at 1.00, 3.00, 5.00, 6.00, 7.00, 8.00 with the last bus leaving Holmfirth at 10.00. There were 5 stages –Holmfirth,Netherthong, Wilshaw, Meltham Golf Links and Meltham and the fares were 2d per stage or 6d for a through trip. It took 7 minutes for the bus to get to Netherthong and a further 18 minutes to arrive at Meltham. I’m still no wiser when the service first started.
There was a bus service from Holmfirth that went to Slaithwate and on to Marsden which would have gone through Netherthong but I have no other details. However on October 13th. 1948,a Huddersfield Corporation bus en route to Holmfirth from Meltham skidded in New Road after leaving Towngate. The vehicle swung round and became wedged with both the front and rear ends crashing into the walls at opposite sides of the road but fortunately only one passenger was slightly injured.
The January 31st. 1925 issue of the Express was the first time it had included a Crossword Puzzle.
In 1926 the Holmfirth District Council, ( which included Netherthong), discussed the question of adopting measures to make Holmfirth safer and lessen accidents due to the crowded streets. Fast forward 90 years and I wonder what the members of the Council would have made about the current traffic levels!
The area had an unexpected visitant in June 1927 and much interest was taken in the flight of an aeroplane over the Wolfstone’s area. The ‘plane flew over Knowle and landed in a field in Honley Moor and, after staying a while, took off and disappeared into the elements. A large number of locals went to view the aeroplane but it was reported that the cattle and poultry did not appear to have taken kindly to the visitor.
Mr.J.Woodhead,JP, the chairman of the Holmfirth Memorial Hospital committee, gave a report in July on the progress of the Hospital scheme paying tribute to the generous support given by the public. He presented the following statistics since the hospital had opened in 1920. 1861 patients treated, 250 maternity cases, 1,161 operations, 711 X-ray examinations, 9,125 massage treatments to 369 patients, 7,934 visits by district nurse to 1501 patients, 7,634 visits by maternity nurse to 612 patients. 862 babies had been born either in the maternity house or under supervision at home.
The big event of that year was the Royal Visit by HRH Princess Mary and Viscount Lascelles on Friday August 5th. The Right Hon. Viscount Lascelles K.G. D.S.O. opened the British Legion Fete and Forget-Me- Not Bazaar which was held in fields off Netherthong New Road. The grounds and woodlands comprising an area of 55 acres had been placed at the disposal of the committee by Mr.F.Brown of Somerfield. The bazaar was also held on the Saturday and admission was 1/- on the Friday and 6d on the Saturday. In November of the same year , a change was made in the day for the issue of books from the circulating library at Netherthong. Mr. Butterworth, the hon. librarian, said the library would open from 6-7 pm on Mondays.
In April 1928 the Express carried the following advert which may bring back some memories for those of a certain age.
is safe and easy with our
Water – Glass
Just mix the Water-Glass in water and you have a
compound that will keep eggs in perfect condition
for many months.
1lb. for 70 eggs – 4d
Gledhill & Brook Ltd. Holmfirth
April 1929 saw the start of serious water supply problems. The Holmfirth UDC said that, due to the state of the reservoirs, the continuous supply of water could not be maintained. Notice was given that from April 26, water was only to be used for domestic purposes and any consumers found using water otherwise would be prosecuted. In July, industrial users were cut off but rains in August managed to prevent a complete stoppage of water supply. At the beginning of September, the supply of water had met the demands on the reservoirs and, with continued effort by all concerned, the Council was able to maintain a supply. However by the end of the month there had been no further rain, so the Council issued a warning that the supply could be exhausted at any time. They did however list a number of public wells of which the water had been recently tested and certified fit for drinking ( the one in Netherthong was at Wells Green ). They made arrangements with Batley Corporation for a supply of water but continued to encourage people to use water from public wells but in all cases to boil the water for drinking purposes.That was the last report for the year so presumably autumn rains were plentiful.
I’ve included the following report taken from the Express in August 1930 because firstly, although it refers to Holmfirth, the villagers would have availed themselves of the facility and secondly because of the wording which if used today would cause more than a little concern. It read ” The new swimming baths at Newfold, Holmfirth, are aptly renamed Holmfirth’s Lido and there were gay scenes at the opening with the Youth and Middle-aged joining in the fun.” It’s appropriate to report here that the “new ” £120,000 swimming pool , which had been the subject of much discussion and debate from 1973, finally opened on September 21, 1975
The Ministry of Agriculture & Fisheries designated 1930’s Rat Week to commence on Monday, November 3rd.The Ministry urged all local authorities to enforce the Rat & Mice ( Destruction ) Act 1919 for a special effort. A year later on Saturday, November 7 1931, another Rat Week was held with all occupiers of land and premises obliged by law to destroy rats. An earthquake which occurred in June 1931 was felt from Aberdeen to Jersey with tremors lasting several minutes. According to the experts the shock was the greatest that had occurred in England since records began. Three months later on September 4, giant floods descended on the Holme Valley. The first few months of 1933 saw two ‘major’ disasters. The first was in January when a flu epidemic swept through the Holme Valley District – shops, the Mills, schools and sports were all seriously affected and two months later the area experienced its worst snowstorm for 60 years and the Holme Valley was virtually isolated. The residents of Netherthong were marooned for almost a week.
At the Worsley Open Show in August 1935, Mr. F. Ellis, Harroyd Farm, was rewarded three first prizes and also a special for the bestof sex in breed with a red setter in the canine classes. The same month there was a major drought in the Holme Valley and vicinity as well as affecting the rest of the country and was made worse by the current heat wave. Water warning notices were distributed in all the villages but it continued to worsen and became critical and required Batley Corporation having to supply bulk amounts. The Express in July 1935 reported on a small note that had appeared in a recent edition of the Yorkshire Post. It referred to a Netherthong man’s candidature in a General Election that took place one hundred years ago ( 1837 ). It stated ” A 100 years ago a General Election was held following the accession of Queen Victoria. In the West Riding the election for two members gave the following results. Lord Morpeth 12,576 : Sir George Strickland 11,892 : Hon – John Stewart – Wortley 11.480. Samuel Wood ( Slaithwaite ) 1 vote : Eliha Hobson 1 vote. The last two got their 15 minutes of fame.
June 1939 was a joyous occasion. Mr. & Mrs. Alfred Mallinson, who celebrated their Golden Wedding, were both born 74 years earlier at Netherthong. They attended the village school together and were in the same class. Both worked at Deanhouse Mills and were married at the Parish church. Alfred retired at 71 years after completing 57 years at the mill. They had a son and two daughters.
In October that year the blackout restrictions came into force. A man was summoned for being drunk and disorderly in Holmfirth. It was stated that when he was spoken to , he replied “ Where am I ? Who has turned the lights out ? “ He was fined £1.
The Express carried a report headed “Britain’s Oldest Woman Organist “. It said that Mrs. Sarah W. Jackson of St.Annes Square, who was 89 years old ,was perhaps the oldest woman organist in Britain and possibly in the world. Since the age of 17 she had been the “ voluntary “ organist at Netherthong Parish Church. ‘She refuses to admit she is old, eats what she likes, dresses carefully and enjoys company and, up until a few years ago, she was a regular on the Choir’s annual trips.’
The following report is also included in the chapter on the history of the Roebuck family of Moor Lane.
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 family name goes back to the 17th. century and is mentioned numerous times in various chapters in this history. 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 alwayshad 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 had taught Keith to drive.
At the November 1936 show of the Holmfirth Pigeon Fanciers Society, Mr.H.Wilson, of the village, was very successful when he obtained a 2nd. for a Racing homer pigeon adult cock, a 2nd. and 3rd. for an adult hen and 1st. prize for any pigeon bred by an exhibitor.
Following the beagles was a very popular pastime and the Holme Valley Beagles were well supported by the inhabitants of all the surrounding villages and hamlets. One Sunday in March 1939 the Beagles started from Deanhouse. The hounds found the ‘ puss ‘ near the Institution, ran towards Holmroyd and on to Lower Oldfield. ‘Puss ‘ doubled back to Howards, Miry Lane and Holmroyd Wood then onto Larch Wood, Banks Wood, Holmroyd, the Institution, Lower Oldfield and down to Gift wood before finally ending at Honley Cricket field. The Huntsman made a sporting move and called the hounds off. I have included more details in the chapter on Sport.
Whilst there is no record of her ever coming up to Netherthong, the big talking point in September 1941 was Fenella the tigress who could often be seen “ going walkabout “ in Holmfirth. A number of books about her have been published.
One of the popular attractions atThe Hope Bank Amusement Park was a Zoo and in July 1949 a baboon escaped from its enclosure in the morning and remained at large almost all day before being captured in the evening. There was another incident in February 1951 when a 2 year old Russian Bear called Tasha escaped from its cage. She had made a hole at the back of it which allowed her to squeeze through but it was fortunately too small to let the larger 4 year old male bear, Bruno, escape. An appeal for aid was answered by the local police and the RSPCA but attempts to get Tasha back into her cage were unsuccessful and she wandered round the zoo causing the other bears in captivity to become very agitated. As the afternoon drew on , it was decided that she must be destroyed before it got too dark. Seemingly aware that her fate was drawing near she scaled a tree and went right to the top. Two RSPCA inspectors took aim with their rifles and she fell to the ground. With further rifle shots and humane killers her death was made sure. Bruno also had to be destroyed for it was feared that without his mate he could get out of control.
As an example of what earnings were in 1942 the Express published the Cost of Living Wages for bleaching, dying, printing, finishing etc for the ensuing next 3 months.
Age Rates per week of 48hrs for males females
14 20/- 16/-
16 26/- 21/-
18 44/- 40/-
In August 1942 about 60 women, mainly from Netherthong, attended a demonstration of outdoor cooking held in a field in the village under the auspices of the Housewives scheme of the WVS. The demonstration was by Mrs. Burth with Mrs. Veronica Gledhill as her chief assistant. In January 1943 the Netherthong WVS held their 3rd. series of lectures and classes – a government “ blitz cooker “ was erected and Mrs. Brook of Honley demonstrated blitz cookery and the Netherthong Girl Guides collected herbs for use.
In September there were 150 entries , including three from Netherthong, at the first ever members – only show for the Holmfirth Rabbit Club.
At the end of the year there was a Christmas wedding at the Wesleyan Methodist 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.
The whole area was agog with excitement in January 1943 when the famous Yorkshire and England cricketer, Len Hutton visited Holmfirth. He played with a Honley X1 against a Holmfirth team and scored 63 not out.The game attracted large crowds and the proceeds went to the Holme Valley Red Cross Comforts Fund.
The Ministry of Food had been encouraging people to rear rabbits to augment their meat supplies. This in turn had prompted townsfolk to breed rabbits as pets and also to exhibit them. In October 1943, Holmfirth Rabbit Club held their second open exhibition. A Netherthong youth, Clifford Leake, was the most successful exhibitor and, with an ermine rex , he won three first prizes and his exhibit also won the “ Fur and Feather “ special prize for the best rabbit in the show..
On May 29 1944, a cloudburst in the Holme Valley caused havoc and widespread damage which resulted in three deaths. At 6pm, a little to the west of Bilberry reservoir, a cloudburst caused mighty torrents to swell the River Holme which rose to 18 feet. It poured through Holmfirth and Mrs. Milligan, a resident of Netherthong, says she can remember as a young girl returning home with her mother from the theatre in Holmfirth and seeing the waters flooding down the roads but they were fortunate to be near New Road and could escape up the hill. At a public meeting held in the Council School a target of£200 was fixed for the village’s effort for the Holmfirth Flood Relief Fund and it was agreed that the Annual Field Day, planned for August , which normally gave its proceeds to the Comforts Fund would instead be given to the Relief Fund.
One of the worst snowstorms ever known in the district led to Britains big ” freeze- up “. Thomas Dyson & Sons Deanhouse Mills closed down with the exception of about 20-25 people on essential work. Mr.C.S.Floyd said that the company had sufficient fuel to keep the mill going but only 10t had been delivered in the last week and if there were no more deliveries the mill would have to shut down. German POWs and Polish soldiers were brought in to clear Greenfield Tunnel. A wedding in March 1949 was the very first marriage of two displaced persons to take place in a local place of worship. 50-60 Estonians were employed in various mills in Holmfirth and several ladies were employed at Deanhouse hospital ( see details). The bridegroom, Mr.Lambit Raitare, called for his bride at Deanhouse Hospital , where she had been employed as a ward orderly, a few minutes before the ceremony as per the Estonian custom. The couple were married in All Saints Church according to the rites of the Church of England by the Rev.S.Black, the vicar, and Dean J. Taul, of the Estonian Legation in London, performed an Estonian marriage service. Mr. Harold Pearson was the organist. The bride was attended by Miss Mai Penter, one of her fellow workers at the Hospital. Ten of the bride’s colleagues from the hospital and three from Holme Valley Memorial Hospital were also present. The wedding was celebrated in traditional Estonian style in the evening when about 30 Estonian guests attended a reception at Washpit Mills canteen where the groom was employed. After the wedding the Estonian pastor visited the home of another Estonian couple at Deanhouse and baptised the month-old daughter of Mr. Kalje Sadem and Mrs. Silvia Sadem. Before her marriage she was employed at Deanhouse hospital and her husband worked at Washpit Mills.
January 1945 saw the newspaper change its name to the Holmfirth Express & District Reporter and there was a further change on September 9th. 1967 when the Holmfirth Express incorporated the Honley & Meltham Express. The issue of the Express for March 29 1947 carried the following notice from the HUDC. that allotments were vacant at Netherthong ( I’m still trying to find out where they were located and when they ceased ).
An Estonian celebration was heldin the Parish Church in July 1949. More than 300 Estonians took part in a festival to commemorate the founding of the Estonian Republic in 1919 with a special gathering in All Saints’ Church.The exiles came from many towns and cities in the North of England and the services were conducted by an Estonian minister, Pastor Reinaru, from Selby. After the service, tea was served in the day school and this was followed by a social evening and dance. National songs were rendered by a mixed choir, a male voice choir and soloists.
The same month saw drought conditions return.
Occasionally the Express gave the report from the County Librarian of the details of the reading habits of the inhabitants of the village based on the number of books borrowed from the library and the number of borrowers. For the quarter ending 30 June 1948, 598 books and 52 borrowers, For the quarter ending December 1949, the number of books were much lower at 278 but the number of borrowers stayed constant at 51. The next report was for the quarter ending 31 March 1951 and the figures showed a remarkable consistency, 290 books for 51 readers.
A prizewinning rabbit made the local news in November/December 1949. A Havana Rex rabbit called ” Myronne Rex “, owned by W.Fieldsend of Netherthong won 21 1st. prizes and two 2nd. prizes in various under – five classes. Competing in the adult classes it won four 1st. prizes at Histon , Cambridgeshire and at a Huddersfield competition it won five 1sts., a best-of-show, a challenge certificate and a best fur diploma.
In April1950, a Holmfirth & District Fox Club had been formed with the objective of eliminating as many foxes as possible. The meeting in June reported the death of 20 foxes and cubs. Every person, who had proved the killing of a fox by producing its body and having the brush removed by a club ‘ teller ‘, was paid the stipulated £1 reward. The Government made a contribution for each fox killed and various local farmers, especially poultry farmers, made donations. There was another report on the Fox Club in June 1951 and it said great service had been given by ridding the area of 60 foxes in the first year of operations. A further 47 had been killed since April 1.
All over the country in February 1953, surplus clothing was being collected for the relief of the victims of the the flooding on the East Coast. A depot was set up at the Day School ( up to 4pm ) and afterwards at Holmleigh, the house of Mrs.Swallows.
For the quarter ending December 1953 the number of borrowers at the village library were 104 and between them they borrowed 429 books. The mathematics would indicate that they were not very fast readers.
Nine different local organisations met in the School in October 1965 and there was unanimous agreement that there was a need for a Village Hall. A steering committee of Alan Dobson,Tim Beaumont and Peter Ball was elected. The organisations represented were : Netherthong Civic Action group, Scouts, School Feast Committee, Cubs, Netherthong Sports Club, Parish Church, Parochial Church Council, Senior Citizens and Young Wives group.
Later that month the Civic Action Group Committee met to discuss the general tidying up of the village. The main targets were the surrounds to the well at Wells Green and the footpath from Deanbrook Road to Deanhouse Chapel. They also planned to find out information about setting a weight limit restriction on vehicles going through the village. The next report of this Group was in April 1975 when they approached Kirklees to help them provide a football field in the village as the team were currently having to play their home games at Thongsbridge. Action was taken at a meeting when three councillors sitting on the Kirklees joined the other 40 people present. The club after promotion in the last two successive seasons were hoping to make it a triple success for the current season and aid their quest for a football field.The District football league had asked the club to improve the facilities to provide changing rooms and showers or risk being expelled from the league. To the best of my knowledge no field was ever provided. Fast forward to July 1985, when the Express reported that the villagers were planning a public meeting to discuss the formation of a community association. It was to be held in the parish rooms with representative s of various groups. Martin Brentham was one of the organisers and he said there was no question that a multi-purpose center was needed desperately but this had been totally overlooked by Kirklees Council. There was no follow up reports and as usual Netherthong was ignored.
The Meals on Wheels Service started up in the Holmfirth Area in 1958 but it wasn’t until 1981 that a fifth rota was set up in Netherthong with Mrs. Liz Kerchar as leader. Some new drivers joined the rota and those from other ” rounds ” did extra duties until more volunteers were recruited.
In December 1954 some of the worst gales ever experienced in the village and the Holme Valley, were prevalent for a whole week and considerable damage was reported. A tree in the plantation at Fairfields, New Road, crashed across the road blocking it and the Holmfirth – Marsden bus had to make a detour via Thongsbridge.
Damage estimated at about £100 was caused by a fire at the Fish & Chip Shop in Giles street in April 1955. The outbreak was caused by fat which boiled over and ignited. The Holmfirth Unit of the County Fire Services put out the fire with foam extinguishers. A year later they were called out to another fire in the village , this time to St.Anne’s Square where a fire had broken out in a barn belonging to T.Wilson. Hay protruding under the door to the barn had become ignited and flames spread to about 3t of hay inside the barn causing damage estimated at £20.
Mrs. A.Littlewood of Netherfields was a very successful breeder of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and the Express regularly reported on her success at dog shows. The first report was in 1957 and, at the Bolton New Year’s Day Dog Show, ” April Folley of Ttiweh ” won the Novice Dog or Bitch class. Later that year in June at the Blackpool Championship Show, ” Vairire Isolde ” gained 2nd. prize in both puppy dog or bitch ( 6 to 18 months ) and novice dog or bitch classes. The same dog won 1st. prize in the Cocker Spaniel class and also an award for best of breed at the Lancashire Agricultural Show in August . Also in August at the Halifax Dog Show it gained two reserves in any variety toy novice and any variety toy open classes. Competitions were coming fast and furious and at the Birmingham Championship Show in September it gained 3rd. prize. The same month they went to the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club open show at Hampstead Baths in London. ” Vairire isolde ” gained 1st. prize and the Freedman Silver Trophy for best special beginner’s dog or bitch and 3rd. prize in the novice bitch class. The next report was in March 1958 at the Scottish Kennel Club Championships held in Glasgow and the bitch gained 1st. prize in both the limit and open bitch classes and was awarded the Kennel Club Challenge Certificate. Nearer home in the same month she won 1st. prize in any variety toy at Brighouse Canine Society’s Show. Continuing her winning ways, she won 1st. prize in the Cavalier King Charles open dog/bitch class at the Royal Lancashire Show.
In August 1961 Mr.Bruce Roebuck of Green Cottage won the Huddersfield Scooter Club Auto-cycle Union safety badge tests. His total score was 281 made up of 53/60 for the Highway Code, 60/60 for the practical test and 168/170 for the condition of his machine. The very first colour TV set in the Holme Valley was installed in the home of Mr. R.Platt of Netherlea, New Road at a cost of 315 guineas.
At 8.30 on Wednesday June 14 1967, the manual telephone exchange, which had served Holmfirth ( and Netherthong ) for nearly 40 years, was closed down and replaced by the new automatic exchange on Wood lane.
The paper gave a short report in October 1968 on the paintings of Duncan Haughey of Leas Avenue. Duncan is a quadriplegic with use only in his lower arms and wrists and he would be having an exhibition in the private art gallery of Ashley Jackson in Barnsley.
A truly cosmopolitan wedding was held in March 1969 at the Parish Church when no less than six nationalities were represented. The bride was Miss Lillian Buck of Leas Avenue and the bridegroom was Mr.Vincent Brammal of Choppards. The bride’s father and godfather were Polish and the bridegroom’s mother and two sisters were French. The uncle of the bridegroom was Belgian and the bride’s godmother was Yugoslavian. The bride’s mother was Scottish and finally the bridegroom’s father was English. The ceremony was conducted by the Rev. Frank Lord and the organist was Mr.Keith Jarvis. (They must have had a lot of very interesting toasts.)
Yorkshire TV station was successfully launched on July 29, 1968.
In 1974 the Express started a weekly article titled ‘ Miss Express of the Week ‘ and printed a large photograph of a ‘local beauty’ with her name, interests and vital statistics. Miss Karen Taylor of Netherthong was selected for the January 31 1975 edition. She was aged 16 and her ambition was to make a free-fall parachute jump. Her hobbies included horse riding and cooking. Her vital statistics were given as 36-24-36. (If you happen to read this History Karen, I would love to know if you made that jump). The village had a Mobile Library Service and, in May 1974, after the take over of responsibility by Kirklees from the West Riding, the schedules were revised and the new weekly service was on Mondays from 4.35 to 5.05 pm and 5.10 to 6.00pm. I’m guessing the first period was for the main village and the second for Deanhouse.
In April 1975, Tony Blackburn , the well- known Radio 1 DJ, opened Lodges new superstore. He has lasted a lot longer than Lodges,
Rosewood Farm was located just after the junction of Wolfstones Road and Moor Lane on the way to Meltham and some of the outbuildings could still be seen in 2010. The following advert appeared in the Express in March 1976.
Rosewood Farms Ltd. Netherthong. Try a Rosewood game Type Chicken or Turkey. Frozen or fresh. Guaranteed not to have been injected or soaked in water. Enquire at your local butcher.
The following photograph shows two children from the village, Rebecca Helliwell and her friend Lindsay enjoying the swings in what was the recreational ground in 1976.It appeared in the local paper with the following report …” at the time this open space was part of a battle between Kirklees and the residents. The Council wanted the site for an extended County and Junior and Infants School against the objections of local people. They promised to provide a new recreational ground with swings at the back of the school.
There seemed no end to the diversity of talent in our little village and the following three articles illustrate the point. In July 1976, Rachel Pearce of New Road competed at the 1st. West Yorkshire Highland Gathering at Cleckheaton. She won 3rd. place and received a bronze medal for Beginners Sword Dance for 8 years and under, Cadet sergeant, Glyn Taylor represented the 1466 ( Holmfirth ) Squadron Air Training Corps in the inter- squadron sports held at Cleckheaton in May 1977 and won the discus and came second in the shot putt, Pottery work of candelabra and chandeliers , made by Julia Beaumont of Westfield House , were featured at Trevor Stubbs’ Studios in Greenfield Road in December 1977.
A ‘case of the disappearing water supply’ featured in the Express in January 1977 and it created headaches for the Yorkshire Water Authority and hardships for the residents of Broomy Lea Lane. The mystery began three months before and coincided with the end of the long drought. The taps started to run dry without warning and simply disappeared at frequent intervals during the week. The Water Authority admitted that they were baffled but concluded that it was probably a hidden burst pipe causing all the trouble but by the end of the month had not been able to trace it.
In March 1977, the Express reported that Mrs.Joan Greenwood, of the Manor House, said that recent happenings in the house had convinced her that stories about a ghost in the house were true. She had lived in the house for almost two years but had not been aware of the stories about it being haunted when she first moved to the village. Mrs.Greenwood said that one night about eight o’clock she came into the living room and distinctively remember seeing that the door to the dining room was closed. She moved across the living room and heard the scraping of the living room door over the carpet. She thought there was an intruder in the house and went out across the yard and called on a neighbour for help but , after a thorough search, they found nothing. A week later, at exactly eight o’clock, she went into the dining room to answer the phone and sat down on a nearby chair. To her amazement the chair was warm but all the other chairs were cold. She said a week later a similar incident occurred when she went to answer the phone and again found the chair warm. Mrs. Greenwood said she was not bothered now but at times felt another presence in the house. She said that people had teased her with the idea that the house was haunted and some said that in their younger days they always walked on the opposite side of the street to the Manor House because they believed it to be haunted. The photo below shows Mrs. Greenwood on the phone and….. all together… who was she going to ring ? – Ghost Busters.
On Sunday morning in January 1978, motorists were bemused to find some of the streets were temporarily closed to allow a boat, or to be more exact a large part of a boat, to proceed under ‘ manual steam ‘ on an epic journey. It was a 25’ boat hull which was the product of twelve months hard work for local builders, Malcolm Hobson and Derek Adams. They were moving it, not to water but to a village barn. The villagers turned out in force to see the ‘Ark’ transported to roomier accommodation. About fifteen able-bodied helpers assisted Malcolm and Derek to move the 15cwt hull on its 100 yard journey through the narrow village streets. The two men were planning to add a 2-berth cabin, bunks and an engine. As I continue to go through back copies of The Express from 1978, I might be lucky to come across another article with further details – if not then we might have to assume it could have sunk without trace. Maybe someone reading this might know the outcome.
Cosy Netherthong cottages were featured on the latest collector’s plate from Holmfirth artist, Jenny Hinchliffe in April 1982. The limited edition of 500 decorative plates went on sale at £5.
A Doctor, who resigned from the council of the Zion Methodist Church in protest of its proposed closure, planned to open one of his own. In November 1984 the Express reported on his ideas and printed a photo of Dr. Fursdon outside the chapel he planned to open as a Baptist Church. He had dismissed claims that the Zion Church would cost £10,000 to repair and he also denied that the building was riddled with dry rot and said that about £2,000 would bring it back to scratch. He was planning to open Deanhouse Chapel near the Zion Church which he bought 11 years ago principally to preserve it. He said he would try to open it as a Baptist church and estimated that it would cost him £10,000 at the most to put his scheme into operation. The next report was in April 1988 when the Holme Valley Parish Council general purposes committee agreed that something had to be done about the Chapel which was reputedly the 5th. oldest chapel of Methodism in the world. They discounted Dr. Fursdon’s ideas about restoring it as a combined community centre and place of worship because of its position and lack of support.
The Express reported in December 1984 that a group of youngsters who were doing conservation work for their Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme had unearthed a piece of Netherthong history. They had discovered an elaborate structure of wells by the side of Miry Lane. When they began work the area was covered in weeds, grass and dirt. Mrs.Meg Parker who organised the scheme for the Honley area said they had been told that there was a well there but had not realised it was so special . It was a mess when we started but then the steps and wells appeared. There had been various reports about whose needs the wells served, ranging from cattle to humans but they were unable to find when, how and why they were built. The photo shows the youngsters in the well.
Netherthong made the front page of the Holmfirth Express issue for December 6 1985 with the banner headlines – ” Hounds Run Riot- Claim “. Residents of St.Mary’s Estate claim they were abused and jeered at by huntsmen when a pack of hounds ‘ran riot’ through their gardens. Sunday morning peace and quiet was shattered when the pack followed by a posse of Land Rovers and other vehicles invaded the area in pursuit of a fox. Angry residents claimed that members of the Penine Foxhounds had allowed their hounds to run out of control across gardens, damaging flower beds and chasing pets. They had raced their vehicles up and down the estate’s roads in a dangerous manner, using foul and abusive language to people who complained about their behaviour. The Netherthong postmistress, Mrs.Julia Scholfield, said she had told the huntsmen to get their hounds out of her garden. ‘They just laughed at me.’ The police were on the scene within a few minutes after sge rang them but all they could do was to give her a name and address to write to to complain. Eventually the hunt was called off.
May 2013 saw the opening of the Cider Press Cafe and Shop – see the advertisement shown below. It was the brainchild of Alison Pollard and Robert North with Robert being the cider maker.
It became very successful, expanded its premises and increased its menu. As 2013 produced a bumper apple harvest , Bob North said that it would prove to be a vintage year. They celebrated National English Apple Week in November with a day of celebration which included apple dunking, an apple quiz, a hog roast and plenty of Pure North cider and apple juice. The White Horse Morris Men were present to add to the entertainment. The first photo is of Bob North with Morris man Gordon. The second photo is their latest advertisement.
Shades of Robin Hood and Sherwood Forest. In June 1971, 55 archers from all parts of the country gathered at Fartown cricket field to challenge Mr. Benjamin ( Arthur ) Lockwood and test their skills in an attempt to win what was believed to be the oldest sporting trophy in the world. The trophy was a silver arrow, known as the Scorton Arrow, which for the previous year had been held by Mr. Lockwood of 45, New Road, Netherthong. A group of archers first competed for the arrow, cast in silver, as far back as 1672 but it had been presented by Queen Elizabeth 1 nearly 100 years earlier. By tradition the winner of the previous year’s shoot had the privilege of choosing the site and Benjamin chose Fartown in Huddersfield. He narrowly failed to regain the trophy which was won by Mr.M.Seeber of Leeds.
The Lodges new superstore in Holmfirth was officially opened in April 1975 by Tony Blackburn, the radio 1 DJ. In September of the same year, the £120,000 swimming pool which had been the subject of much discussion and debate for the previous two years opened on the 21st.
Netherthong childminder Mrs. Delya Bull was one of the stars of an educational documentary. TV crews spent two days at her home in St.Mary’s Crescent filming typical events in a childminders day and the programme was screened on Sunday May 8 1977.
Sunday, July 6 , 2014, was a red letter day or, to be more accurate, a yellow letter day for Netherthong ( and thousands of other people ) when the second stage of the famous Tour de France passed by on the Huddersfield road at the bottom of New Road on its way to Holme Moss.From early morning groups of people from the village had meandered down New Road with their folding chairs, picnic food and flags to camp out on the pavements. The tour caravan of over 200 promotional vehicles arrived at Holmfirth about 1.00 pm along with police motor cycles – all to the accompaniment of loud cheering. The riders followed at about 2.40 pm and 198 cyclists whooshed by at speed. After waiting for a few stragglers to pass it was a case of packing up and trudging back up the hill.
It was a unique day, the sun shone, everyone was happy and at peace with each other. It was a ‘ feel – good ‘ day.
The following photograph is printed by the kind permission of Ian Entwisle of Upperthong.
Ian told me that he took the photograph as he was driving back from London on the evening of 13 September 2016. It had been a beautiful day in London and for most of his return journey but as he was approaching Sheffield he noticed ominous clouds building ahead over Holme Moss and plenty of lightning. It was an amazing spectacle and as he was driving above Hade Edge he noticed clouds forming on the horizon in what looked like a Tornado. It didn’t last longer than a minute or two but he had time to pull in at the side of the road and take the photograph on his mobile phone and it appeared to be situated above Netherthong. It looked pretty threatening at the time but dispersed soon after he took the picture, Although it looked like a tornado it was in fact a funnel cloud which is a rotating column of air not in contact with the ground.
The Express occasionally gave reports of the results of sales/auctions of property and land in the village. Invariably these were conducted by William Sykes, who still have a major presence in Holmfirth, and were normally held in public houses .
The first report I have was in the Huddersfield Examiner and West Riding Reporter for August 1879, when it detailed the sale of the late Sarah Woodhouse’s Estate at Netherthong. It took place in the Victoria Hotel in Holmfirth and was conducted by Mr.Henry Tinker of Huddersfield. There was a large attendance of adjoining landowners and the competition for the lots was very good and they were quickly disposed of. The main property consisting of a mansion – house and grounds, farm buildings and land, messuages, dwelling houses, outbuildings, cottages and woodlands with the timber thereon said to comprise 41 square acres, was divided into seven lots every one of which was sold realising a total of £4,723. After this sale was concluded a freehold farm called Moor Lane Farm was put up for sale in two lots and was quickly sold for £1,245. The property consisted of 13 acres of land with houses and farm buildings.
The next report I have is of a public auction held at the Victoria Hotel, Holmfirth in July 1897 for a number of lots of freehold cottage property in Netherthong. Lot 1 was a cottage at Outlane , formerly occupied by the Liberal Club . Lot 2 was 2 cottages situated behind Lot 1 andoccupied by Mrs. Sykes. Both were sold together for £175.Lot 3 of 2 cottages at Dockhill sold for £60. Lot 4 of a cottage and outbuildings plus a plot of land at Dockhill sold for £32 10s.
In November 1901 a property sale, held at the Queen’s Arms Inn, saw a freehold dwelling house situated at the top of New Road and owned by Ben Shore sell for £137.
An auction conducted by Wm.Sykes was held in the Queen’s Arms in November 1917. Four lots of property in Moor Lane were offered. Two pieces of land fetched £110, another sold for £60 and an untenanted cottage went for £38.
At the Rose & Crown Inn in Holmfirth in May 1924, two cottages situated in Dockhill and tenanted by Miss Mallinson and Miss Shore were sold at auction for £256. Carr farm and several pieces of adjoining land of 10 acres were sold for £440 subject to tenant right.
In June 1927, Messrs. Sykes & Son held a property sale at the Waggon and Horses Inn in Holmfirth and auctioned 4 lots of property at Deanhouse. A freehold farm comprising a farmhouse and other farm buildings and land of area of 11 acres and 32 perches, in occupation of Netherthong Co-operative Society sold for £850. An adjoining dwelling house, in the occupation of Mrs. Kenyon, with an annual rental of £14 changed ownership at £350. Another dwelling house, No.28 Deanhouse, in occupation of Mr.J.Wilkinson, with annual rental of £8 8s, sold for £200. A further lot was withdrawn.
The Waggon and Horses was again the venue for another sale by public auction in August 1929. Homeleigh, lately in occupation by Harry Mellor, sold for £830. A barn, stable,mistal and three acres of land adjoining Holmleigh fetched £375. Two cottages nearly opposite the Clothier’s Arms, one in occupation of Miss Gill and the other, now vacant but previously occupied by Mrs. Mallinson, realised £105. Two dwelling houses with barn, mistal, large open shed and out-convenience together with the two closes of land at Croddingley, Thongs bridge, went for £750. One undivided third share in a dwelling house at Outlane in occupation of Oswald Sykes reached the pricely sum of £12 10s. A half share of 8 dwelling houses in Outlane in respective occupation of A.Preston, B.Scholfield, J.Walker, T.Hart and others sold for £200.The last item was a half share of a close of land called Dam Field at Deanbrook consisting of an area of 2 acres, 1 rood and 36 perches in the occupation of Fred Shore and it achieved £25.
Carr Farm, containing 10 acres, 31 perches and in occupation of Mr.H.Firth was offered for sale in April 1931. ( note that it had previously been sold in 1924 for £440 ). It changed hands at £445.
In 1949, the freehold farm, Wells Green, with dwelling house adjoining and a close of land at Wolfstones Height was sold at auction for £4,000. Later in the same year the farm known as Lydgett or Bastille realised £1740. In addition to the buildings the farm had about 16 acres of land.
At a property sale held by Wm. Sykes in January 1950 at the Clothiers, two dwelling houses 54 & 55 Haigh Lane , Deanhouse, were sold for £1,225.
William Sykes held a property sale in the Clothiers in July 1953. Lydgate Farm, which had previously been sold in 1949, was sold for £1,500 with vacant possession. Four dwelling houses, 13 – 19, with vacant possession on no.15, an old bakehouse and blacksmiths shop sold for £150. Two closes of land on Moor Lane reached £150 and a close of land at New Road also went for £150. Allotments and a poultry run at New Road fetched £107. A close at Moor Lane went for £125. A small parcel of land next to the Clothier’s Arms only realised £18. A dwelling house and 2 cottages numbers 62,63 and 64 Miry Lane went for what one would consider a bargain price of £350. A fish and chip shop in Giles Street and a garage at Outlane were withdrawn having been sold privately. At another property sale held in the Clothiers in November, a freehold dwelling house sold for £352 10s.
The next property sale was in June 1954 for Hillcrest Poultry Farm , a freehold smallholding of 10 acres, which fetched £2,000.
In March 1973, 7 acres of freehold residential building land fronting onto Moor Lane were sold for £95,000 at an auction in Holmfirth Civic Hall. The land was big enough for 70 properties. Two years later in September the Express reported that the tiles on the roof of a brand new house on the estate had to be stripped off and replaced with tiles of another type and colour at an additional estimated cost of £1200. In total 5,000 had to be removed. The Chief Planning Officer of Kirklees said that the wrong colour tiles contravened their planning permission and did not match the two other houses on the site. He said the wrong tiles would stand out in a rural area. A detached bungalow at 16, New Road sold for £12,200 in September.
One of the houses that was a prominent feature of the Deanhouse Workhouse and was , I think, the only property not to be demolished when the new St.Mary’s Estate was built, was up for sale early in 2014.
The former Oaklands Home for the Blind which is mentioned several times in the History was purchased in May 1975 by Kirklees Council for just over £10,000.
If you are interested in the sale of properties in the village since 1995, you should type ‘Rightmove – House Prices in Netherthong,Holmfirth,West Yorkshire’ into Google and be prepared to be amazed. It lists 291 properties that have been sold right up to the date you click on. It gives the address, the type of property, the date of sale, the final price and, in the majority of cases, a photograph. What makes it even more interesting is that if a particular property had been sold more than once during the period covered, it allows you to see how the price has changed over the years.
Among the addresses , in no particular order, are :Moor Lane, Dean Brook Road, Deanhouse, Netherlea Drive, Church Street, The Oval, Outlane, New Road, St.Mary’s Crescent, Thong Lane, Wesley Avenue, Giles Street, West End, Miry Green, Croft House ( Dock Hill), Hebble Drive,Holmdale Crescent, Leas Avenue, Denham Drive, Dean Avenue, Nether Cottage ( West End ), St.Mary’s Rise, Moor Lane, School Street, Broomy Lea Lane, Arley Close, Wells Green Gardens.
The information is provided by the Land Registry and the site quotes that, as of June 2 2014, the average price was £176,073, which made Netherthong more expensive than Huddersfield but cheaper than Holmfirth and Honley.
Some of the older properties on the list are mentioned in this history and I have included some of them below.
St. Anne’s Square is on the left hand side at the top of Outlane leading from Towngate. The Working Men’s Club was located in this Square. The photographs are of No.4 and No. 6.
114 Church Street is adjacent to the war memorial and the rear of the old Queen’s Arms pub would have backed into it.
West End is on the right as you leave Towngate for Meltham. Number 152 was better known as Nether Cottage.
The first half of 2014, saw a number of houses, that have also been mentioned in this history, up for sale.
The first was the Manor House in Towngate. It is a grade 11 listed 4 bedroom property with a total area of approximately 2337 sq. feet.
The next house is Knowl Bridge Farm on the corner of Knoll Lane. The photograph shows the ‘pond ‘ which was added about 10 years ago.
Outlane is probably the most well known street in the village and it stretches from Towngate, with Londis on the right hand side, down to what was the original Zion Methodist Church which is now a private residence. There are many cottages on either side and the following photo is of No. 6 .
Women’s Institutes are British, community – based organisations for women. They were formed in 1915 with two clear aims : to revitalise rural communities and to encourage women to become more involved in producing food during WW1. The aims were then broadened and it is now the largest women’s voluntary organisation in the UK. It celebrated its 95th. aniversary in 2010 and at that time had approximately 208,000 members in 700 Women’s Institutes. Re-reading this chapter in September 2016, I realise that it has just had its 100th. anniversary.
The WI movement originally began in Stoney Creek, Ontario, Canada in 1897 when Adelaide Hoodless addressed a meeting of the wives of members of the Farmer’s Institute. WIs rapidly spread throughout Canada and the first WI meeting in England & Wales took place on 11 September 1915 at Llanfairpwll on Anglesey.
In August 1962, at a meeting in the Day School, a Women’s Institute for the village was formally inaugurated by two voluntary County Organisers for the Yorkshire Federation of Women’s Institutes. It was in fact the 624th. to be formed in Yorkshire. Miss J.Grainger of Wilshaw was in the chair and 83 members were enrolled and the following officers were elected by ballot. Mrs. A.Stangroom – President. Vice-presidents – Mrs.R.Stephenson and Mrs.E.Mosley. The secretary was Mrs.W.Wood with Mrs.W.Lax as treasurer. Committee members were Mrs.D.Binstead,Miss S.Brook, Miss E.Dickenson, Mrs.A.Fallas, Mrs.A.Swallow and Mrs.R.Whittaker.
The monthly meeting for March 1963 was held in the Day School with Mrs. W. Stangroom in the chair. 65 members were present and they listened to a talk and film on different types of nursing. After light refreshments, Mrs. Hartley of Holmfirth judged a display of bulbs grown by members. At the next meeting 66 members listened to a talk on “The part played by the Secondary Modern School”. Mrs.Turner gave a report of a Tupperware party and supper held in the home of Mrs.Swallow which raised £3.
There was an excellent attendance for the June meeting when final arrangements were made for the trip to York. Mrs.Pike gave an account of her visit to Russia and the subject by the guest speaker, Mrs.G.Houghton of Holmfirth, was “Yorkshire Humour”.
At the July meeting, Mrs.W.Stangroom said that members of other local WIs had been invited to the meeting in order to hear the report on the Annual Conference by Mrs.Mosley who spoke very highly of David Attenborough’s address on ” The Preservation of Wild Life “. The final item was a talk by Mrs.Mason of Ilkley on cheese making and cheese tasting.
Members at the August meeting stood in silence in memory of Mrs.T.Wyke and Mrs.B.Rodgers who had passed away during the year. Knowing that many members were interested in forming a drama group, Mrs.Elsworth of Wilshaw gave a talk titled ” Producing a Play “. After tea and biscuits three members spoke briefly on their holiday experiences – Mrs.N.Swallow on Germany, Mrs.Allan on Scotland and Mrs.E.Turner on Southern Ireland.
At their first AGM in 1963, Mrs. Creig who had helped in the inauguration of the branch was the guest. There were 67 members present and Mrs. Stangroom, the President, demonstrated the use of a brass bell which Mrs.A.Wood, the secretary, had presented before she left the district. In the Annual Report, membership had risen from 93 to 117 with four on the waiting list and the average monthly attendance was 70. They had formed a choir, were running a Keep Fit Class and there was an active Produce Guild. The following officers were elected : President – Mrs.Stangroom . Vice-presidents – Mrs.N.Swallow and Mrs. A.Fallas. Treasurer – Mrs.N.Lax. Secretary- Mrs.J.Mosley with assistant secretaries Mrs.A.Alan and Mrs. N.Stephenson. Committee members were Mrs.G.Bailey, Mrs. J.Falkingham, Mrs.Whittaker and Miss B.Brook.
The October meeting was held in their new headquarters at the Zion Methodist School. The November meeting focused on demonstrations of Christmas cookery. Mrs.S.Gledhill and Mrs.H.Lockwood agreed to form a social sub-committee to work in conjunction with the elected committee.
The first meeting in January 1964 saw 70 members listen to a talk by several Yorkshire Electricity personnel titled ” Winter warmth the unit way.” The second Annual party was held in February and took the form of a whist drive, a tasty supper and a fancy dress parade and, if that wasn’t enough, they rounded up the evening with party games and competitions.
The “normal” February meeting occured a few weeks later when 69 members listened to an amusing talk on visits to London by Mrs.R.Mason, the president of Brockholes WI. Prior to the talk, there had been a short business meeting at which Mrs.H.Hobson was elected to attend the County meeting in York. After tea and biscuits members voted for the best exhibit in the bulb display which was won by Mrs.B.Whittaker. Mrs.P.Bray won the competition for the oldest English coin with a half-penny dated 1700 and Miss Hirst, with a coin dated 1745, was the winner for the oldest foreign coin. They held a very successful coffee evening in March which they combined with a “shilling parcel ” store and a cuttings store which realised a profit of £6 15s 6d. Four members, Mesdames. E.Hobson, A.Fallas, D.Horncastle and Maud Turner delighted the rest of the members with a reading of a one-act play ” A Dish of Tea “.
Not suprisingly there was a good attendance at the April meeting when a Mr.Pickard gave a talk on wine-making with particular emphasis on Port, Sherry and Madeira. His samples were much appreciated!
60 members attended the June meeting and stood in memory of Mrs.Agnes Smith, a member who had died since the last meeting. Details of the fete to be held in July were discussed. Mr.E.Cole, the drama teacher at Holmfirth Secondary School, spoke on the Gondoliers and brought a party of past and present pupils who had taked principal parts in the opera when it had been staged in March and musical numbers from the opera were given. Mrs.E.Fox read her prize winning essay ” My Society ” and the choir sang items that they had given at the Grimethorpe Rally.
They were very unlucky with the appalling weather conditions on the day of their first fete in July and had to transfer everything to the Zion School classrooms. Mrs.Jan Mackensie of Oldfield opened the fete and various stalls were very quickly sold out. There was also a fortune teller and a “pennies in the bucket” competition. Teas were served to 160 people after which members of the Thongsbridge Keep Fit Class gave a display. The first part of the evening was a film show of the British Isles by Mr.& Mrs. Allan. Hot dogs met with a steady sale and to round off the evening there was miming to “pop music ” and George Preece gained the prize for his miming of ” You were made for me “. The day’s efforts raised £50 towards the funds.
At the July meeting, members stood in memory of Mrs.E.Lockwood and Mrs.K.Gledhill who had died in a road accident since the last meeting. A demonstration was given by Miss Smith, a representative of a margarine company and members were able to sample various sandwiches.
A team of ambulance men from Huddersfield were the main attraction at the August meeting when they gave a lecture on mouth-to-mouth resuscitation more commonly known as the “kiss of life “. Miss Janet Lax judged the entries for the plain and fancy buns made by the members and awarded the prize for the plain buns to Mrs.Susan Turner and for fancy buns to Mrs.J.Mosley and was herself presented with a spray of roses by Mrs. Stangroom. There was no information available for the whole of 1965 as the issues of the Express were not put on microfilm.
The first meeting in 1966 was a Whist & Beetle Drive which raised £5 for the ‘Meals on Wheels ‘ services. The MC for the whist was Mrs.E.Hobson and the prizewinners were Miss E.Brammall, Miss M.Wimpenny, Mrs.E.Horncastle, Mrs.L.Woodcock and Mrs.M.Parker. For the beetle drive the MC was Miss E.Parker and the prizewinners were Mrs.P.Bray, Miss Sandra Day, Mrs.M.Robinson, Miss B.Trueman, Mrs.J.Hellawell and Mrs.E.Hart. Prizes were presented by the president, Mrs.N.Lax. February was the occasion of the Annual bulb and handicraft show and Mrs. N.Lax welcomed members from neighbouring WIs. Mr.Smith of Huddersfield Parks Department judged the entries in the flora and plant classes and Mr.Eastwood of Thongsbridge judged the cookery and handicrafts. At the March meeting a film show was given by Mr.Stead of a tour of Norway which was followed by the story of the making of Hovis bread and Robertson’s preserves. All the members present received a free sample of marmalade. The following were elected at the Annual meeting in October 1966. President – Mrs.N.Lax. Vice – presidents – Mrs.Speake and Mrs. Mosley. Seretary – Mrs.A.Allan. Treasurer – Mrs.J.Hoyle. The committee members were mesdames, P.Bray,A.Fallas, S.Gledhill, E.Hobson, D.Horncastle and Miss Robinson.
At the AGM in November 1967 the following members were elected – President – Mrs.J.Mosely. Vice – Presidents – Mrs.H.Stangroom and Mrs.J.Swallow. Secretary – Mrs.M.Speak, Treasurer – Mrs.J.Hoyle. Committee members were Mrs. Bailey,Horncastle,Hobson, Helliwell, Stephenson and Fallas. Their Christmas Fayre in December gave a profit of £167. Not many of the WI meetings in the late 1960s and 1970s were reported in the Express. At the March 1968 meeting , Mr.G.Grimwood gave a talk on beautiful gardens of Britain and the winners of the ‘miniature gardens on a dinner plate ‘ competition were Mrs.Zatarski, Mrs. Mosley, Mrs. Bailey and Mrs. Mudd. Mrs. Kenyon of Denby Dale was the speaker at the June meeting and her subject was ‘Playing, Speaking and Acting’ and to demonstrate she was accompanied by four members of her drama group. The president informed the meeting that the subscriptions for 1969 would be raised to 10/- and that during the month members had visited a nursery garden at Highburton and the Group Rally at Emley.
The 1971 Christmas Party took the form of a whist drive and social evening. 65 members attended and the games were organised by Mrs.Helliwell and Mrs.Hardy. Mrs.Hobson ran the whist drive and Mr.Jackson was responsible for the quiz. The evening closed with carols led by Miss Dorothy Shaw accompanied by Mrs.Shaw. A session of crazy whist was arranged by Mrs.J.Allen at the start of their Christmas party in 1978. Winners were Mrs.Caldwell, Mrs.Hobson, Mrs.Hollis and Mrs.Mosley and after a buffet supper the Second Harmony Group for Netherthong entertained with songs and led the carol singing. Mrs.Joan Henderson presided, Mrs.Hardy won the prize for the best cracker and the yearly prize went to Mrs.Sandford.
Short reports of most of the meetings of the W.I. appeared in the Express during the 70s. They gave the topic/talk of the meetings but little more. I have only included those meetings which were a bit more informative. At the 1972 January meeting Miss Nita Valerie told a large group of members about her life in the theatre and thanks were given by Mrs. Allan. The competition for the oldest programme was won by Mrs. Sykes with an entry dated 1902. 31 members visited Hope in Debyshire in July to see the traditional well dressings- there were three dressings all depicting Biblical scenes and they were made of flowers, petals, leaves, lichen and dried material set in clay. The Group’s monthly meeting was in the form of a flower demonstration by Mrs. Thornton of Honley. A competition for an all-green arrangement was won by Mrs. Hardy. The Autumn Show in October was held in the Day School and there were 142 entries spread over 19 classes. These were Handicrafts ( 3 classes ), Knitting ( 2 classes ), Crochet ( 2 classes ), Plants ( 2 classes ), Floral Art ( 4 classes ), Cookery( 4 classes ), and Preserves ( 2 classes ). Over 60 members and friends were served with afternoon tea. The winners included Mrs.King, Mrs.Wilkinson, Mrs. Sandford, Mrs. Lawton, Mrs. Kaye, Mrs. Speak, Mrs. Allan, Mrs. Wilson, Miss Wimpenny, Mrs. Hobson, Mrs. Lockwood, Mrs. Sykes, Mrs. Shaw, Mrs. Hardy, Mrs. Lax, Mrs. Parker, Mrs. Mosely and Mrs. Robinson. The last report for 1972 was for the AGM when highlights of the past year were recalled. Mrs. M.Peak was elected President, Mrs. J.Mosely as Secretary and Mrs. M.Sykes as Treasurer. Entertainment was provided by Mr. & Mrs. D.Ball who played zither music.
The guest speaker at the February 1973 meeting was the chief sub-editor of the Huddersfield Examiner who said that 150 staff were employed to produce 50,000 copies of the paper six days a week. In December 1974, 50 members attended their Christmas Party. Nine young music pupils of Alfred Boothroyd brought their instruments and played some carols and old favourite songs. After a traditional supper, card-bingo was played. Mrs. Dearnley won a competition for a Christmas cracker.
At the AGM in October 1975, Mrs.Hardy was elected president for a further year along with the secretary, Mrs.Parker and treasurer,Mrs.Speak. The elected committee members were Mrs.McKenney, Mrs.Stangroom, Mrs.Mosely, Mrs.Sandford, Mrs.Lyle, Mrs.Hobson and Mrs. Dickinson. All the members were given a report of the autumn Council Meeting at York and afterwards Mrs. Hellawell organised games. Mrs. Parker was elected President at the 1977 AGM. Mrs. McKenna was elected secretary and Mrs.Speak the treasurer. At the 1978 AGM, Mrs.Margaret Parker , the retiring president, was replaced by Mrs. Jean Hemderson and Mrs. Audrey Allan replaced Mrs. Rita McKenna as the secretary. Mrs.Mary Speak was re-elected as treasurer. The committee members were Mesdames Farrell,Gething,McKenna,Mosley,Pitcher, Sandford and Stangroom.
There was a well attended meeting in March 1979 when members listened to a talk by a Bailiff Bridge Chemist on Pills and Potions. No free samples !! Afterwards there was an exhibition of unusual bottles. The following week a party of memberstravelled to Barnsley by coach to see the Town’s amateur operatic society’s production of The New Moon.
After the conclusion of normal business at their meeting in March 1980, Mr.Biltcliffe of Pennine Nurseries gave a long and very interesting demonstration on the making of a bottle garden. The competition for the healthiest plant was won by Mrs. R. Jones with Mrs. J.Henderson and Mrs. Pitcher 2nd. and 3rd. In July Mrs. J.Henderson, president, reported that she had attended the funeral of Mrs. Alice Wilkinson, who had been one of the founding members and the meeting stood for one minute’s silence. Mrs. Lyth, cake, and Mrs.Speak, hanging basket, both took their items to display at the WI stand at the Yorkshire Show, In September, in celebration of the Diamond Jubilee of the inauguration of the Yorkshire Federation of WIs, the members decided to hold a dinner party on September 18 at the Travellers Rest , Brockholes.
The Women’s Institute held their Spring Show in May 1991 in the J and I School and cooking, flower arranging, handicrafts and photography were all displayed and judged. The photograph shows from left : Audrey Allan, Netherthong WI president, Lynne Clark, secretary Marianne Wilson, Sheila Gledhill and Joyce Rothwell.
The first reported death in 1930 was of Benjamin Dyson, 79 years, who passed away at his residence, Moorgate Farm. Although he was a native of Meltham Mills, he had resided at Moorgate Farm for 70 years and for 60 of those years he had run a milk business supplying to Netherthong and district. He was also a trustee of the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel. The Express later reported that he had left an estate of £13,065.
March saw the death of the oldest resident, Mr. Fred Hobson, aged 85 years. He was born on November 5th. 1844 at Moor Lane and lived there for 20 years, afterwards residing at Oldfield and Deanbrook. He became a hand loom weaver and his last place of employment was Vickermans at Thongs Bridge. At one time he was one of the best swimmers in the district. With his death he was succeeded by Benjamin Eastwood as the oldest resident.
Later that month, Henry Wilkinson of Deanhouse, who was out walking on the outskirts of Honley with a young woman, became ill and died before medical assistance could be secured. His sister, Miss Lily Morley, said that about 10 years ago her brother had had an accident at work when he fell off a ladder. He had served in the war and had not had any serious illnesses. On the Tuesday he worked to 5.30 pm and after having tea went out. Miss Evelyn Hoyle of Deanhouse said they went out for a walk about 7 in the evening. As they walked along he complained about feeling unwell but, as they were going up Bradshaw Road, he suddenly fell forward to the ground. She could get no response so she went for assistance. Dr. Smailes said he saw the departed and, in his opinion, death was due to atheroma. The Coroner recorded a verdict that death was due to natural causes viz. atheroma. Harry had worked at T.Dyson & Sons Deanhouse Mills and was very well known in the area as a football player and sportsman and was involved with the WMC and the Gardeners’ Society.
The early death of Edna Smith, aged 19 years, occured in June after she had suffered with a serious illness for several months. She was the daughter of Mr. & Mrs.John Smith of Chapel House and had been employed at Messrs. T. & J. Tinker, Bottoms Mill, Holmfirth. She had been a scholar at the Wesleyan Sunday School and a member of the Deanhouse ladies cricket team.
Mrs. Charles Hobson of Wood Street was one of the oldest ladies in the village when she died in March 1931 aged 86 years. She was a native of Netherthong and had lived there practically all her life being closely involved with the United Methodist cause.
In the same month, Mr.Frederick Lewis, who had been the Master of the Deanhouse Institute for some time, passed away at the Institute. He was 42 years old and had been ill for a fortnight.
One of the characters of the village, Ben Eastwood, died in his residence, Westfield House, in July at the age of 86 years. He was known far and wide for his physical appearance and happy genial temperament. By trade he was a brush maker and up to a few months before his death he was one of the oldest commercial travellers on the road. He was a staunch churchman at the Parish Church and had an active role in most village events such as Peace Rejoicing, the Coronation festivities, old folk’s treat and the Netherthong sing.
Edwin Broadbent of Honley, but formerly of Deanhouse, died in February 1932 aged 79 years. For many years he had been employed at Messrs. Thomas Dyson and Sons, Deanhouse Mills and was a director of the Netherthong Gas Light Company.
There were no recorded deaths in 1933 but in February 1934, Mrs. J.P.Floyd died at her residence, Rose Leigh, on the anniversary of her birthday, aged 83 years. Her husband had been a leading member on the local scene and she was active in many local activities. She was leader of the Netherthong branch of the Mothers’ Union, Vice- president of the local branch of the Women’s Unionist Association and a regular worshipper at the Parish Church. During the war she was president of the Holmfirth Military Hospital . ” Fairfield” New Road , which belonged to the family, was often placed at the disposal of the public.
Mr. C.A.Hoyle died in March at his residence in Giles Street, aged 62 years. He was one of the oldest employees of Messrs. Dyson & Sons, Deanhouse Mills having worked there for 52 years since the age of 11. He was a cricketing enthusiast, played for Netherthong Cricket Club and later became an umpire. Like so many in the village he was involved in the Gardeners’ Friendly Society.
The same month, Miss Elsie Chambers, 22 years, of Cliffe View died after a short illness. She was involved in the many of the village activities namely Church Sunday School, Parish Church choir, Girl Guides, Lawn Tennis Club and the Junior Imperial League.
1934 was proving to be a bad year because in May, Miss Emma Beaumont, 38, of Lidget House, died. She was well known as a contralto vocalist and, besides being a member of both the Parish Church and Holmfirth Church choirs, she was a leading member of local operatic societies.
The next month Harry Horncastle, 46 years, died at his home , Beech House and his death came as a big suprise to everyone. He worked as a joiner for Ed.Holdroyd & Sons of Honley, having learnt his trade at J.Batley & Sons in Netherthong. He was a committee member on both the Co- Operative Society and the Gardeners’ Friendly Society and an active worker for the Old Folk’s annual treat and the Holme Valley Memorial Hospital.
The first month of 1935 saw the death of Mr. Thomas Turner who passed away at his residence, South View, at the age of 71 years. He devoted his attention to shooting and fishing and was a familiar sight walking through the district with his fishing tackle over his arm and dogs at his heels. He was a former churchwarden at the Parish Church and President of their Operatic Society, a vice-president of the Tennis Club and vice- president of the Male Voice Choir.. For many years he was the secretary of the Batley Angling Club.
Mrs. Joseph Woodhead of Croft House, a native of Netherthong, died at 84 years in April. She married Joseph Woodhead who had been a grocer and provisions merchant in the village and lived in Green Cottage. When her husband died in 1925 she moved to Croft House.
Although not a resident of the village, Mrs. Mary Anne Jagger of Honley died in October aged 86 years. She was the most widely known resident of Honley and famous for her writings , particularly her ” History of Honley ” published in 1914. I readily admit to using some of her details of the recorded life of people in the early 1800s in Honley which would have applied equally to life in Netherthong.
The last death of the year was of Miss Hilda Woodhead at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary following on from an operation. She was 44 years old and employed at Albert MIlls. Her leisure time was occupied in sick nursing and she was a V.A.D. nurse at Meltham.
Mr.Tom Sykes of Giles Street died in May 1936 at the age of 48 years. In his youth he attended the Church School and was a member of the Gardeners Society. He had been a soldier in WW1 and was a member of the British Legion. For many years he worked in the scribbling department at Deanhouse Mills. In the same month the death occured of Joseph Hobson aged 80 years who at the time was the oldest resident. He was born at Mossley and moved to Netherthong 45 years ago where he farmed.
In 1937 there was a report on the death of Mr. J.Goddard under tragically sudden circumstances on July 28th. He was a leading Holme Valley musician and lived at Holly Bank. He had been a guest at the residence of Mr. Albert Robinson of Honley along with 30 other guests among whom were members of the Holme Valley Male Choir. Dinner had been served in the marquee and Mr.Goddard had stood up to make a speech but, just after he had started, he collapsed and fell. A doctor was summoned but by the time he arrived, Goddard was dead. He had not been very well for about 18 months. He was an accomplished organist and one of the founders of the Holme Valley Male Voice Choir. He was a freemason and had married Hilda Whipp, a well known vocalist.
The first death in 1938 was of Miss Sarah Renshaw in February at the age of 80 years. For many years she had been a Sunday School teacher at the Wesley Chapel as well as a member of the choir, class leader and missionary secretary. She was a dressmaker of her own account and afterwards became the lead dressmaker for Hinchliffe, Whiteley & Knott of Holmfirth.
The next month saw the death of Fred Whitfield, who was a well known and respected figure in the district, at the age of 79 years. He was by trade a Tailor and initially carried out his business in Netherthong but later on moved to Holmfirth. He was a member of the WMC and active in the Holme Valley Beagles.
The same month and very much in contrast to Woodhead’s death, a young lad, Albert Edward Farmer, at the tender age of 1 year 9 months died at the Huddersfield Royal Infirmary whilst undergoing an operation. He was the son of Mr.& Mrs. Brook Turner of Dock Hill. At the inquest, conducted by Mr. E.Norris the coroner, Dr. Copeland, who carried out the post-mortem, said death was due to heart failure from the anaesthetic with status lymphaticus a contributory cause. The Coroner recorded a verdicy in accordance with the medical evidence.
Two more deaths occured in March. The first was of one of the oldest ladies in the district, Miss Emma Dytch of Deanhouse who died at the age of 87. She had always been involved with the Zion Methodist cause. The next death was of Arthur Fielding Sykes of Towngate aged 76. Up to his retirement 12 years earlier he had been employed as a designer by Messrs. Dyson & Sons, Deanhouse Mills. He had been a member of the Zion Methodist Choir, served on the committee of the Co-operative Society and was an overseer of the poor for the township.
The next month, April, saw the death of Sampson Horner of St. Anne’s Square aged 80 years. He was a native of Clayton West and when he was 50 years old had moved to Hinchliffe and became the landlord of the Miller’s Arms. He next moved to Holmfirth before finishing up in Netherthong. Until the age of 72 he was a familiar sight on his bicycle cycling from the village to Holmfirth and back and he was involved with the Old Folk’s treat and a member of the Wesleyan Chapel.
Mr.Edward Dyson of West End, aged 75 years, died in July. Up to his retirement a few years previously, he had been employed as a scribbling engineer for Messrs. Dyson & Sons Ltd. of Deanhouse Mills, his uncle being founder of the firm. He was a member of the WMC, the Gardeners’ Society and Holme Valley Beagles. As a young man he was a cricketer and footballer and a member of Netherthong Rugby Club.
November saw the death of Mrs. Benjamin Gill, aged 63 years. The family had emigrated to the Antipodes several years previously and her husband , Benjamin, had been a local builder and just before he emigrated he was engaged in the erection of new premises in New Road.
The final death of the year was of John Hobson of Outlane aged 84 years who had been blind and deaf for several years. His parents had been living in Thongs Bridge when the Holmfirth Flood occured and damaged their home which caused them to move to Netherthong. At the early age of 8 years he began working in the mill as a half-timer and at the age of 25 years he joined the staff of Prudential Assurance Co. as a district agent. He had a lifelong connection with Zion Methodism and was involved even before the church was built. For 24 years he was the honorary choirmaster and retired on January 17 1904. He had moved to Meltham in 1888 and in all sorts of weather could be seen wending his way from Meltham to the Zion Church. He was the honorary secretary of the Victoria Jubilee Celebrations. A few years before his death he moved back to Netherthong
A death with strong cricketing connections occured in January 1939. Mr. William Lancaster, a former well known cricketer, died at the age of 65 years after a long illness. he was a native of Thongs Bridge and began playing cricket there before League cricket came into being. His ability improved and he played 10 innings for Yorkshire. The Rev. S. Black conducted the service at All Saints. Three former England and Yorkshire cricketers, Wilfred Rhodes, Percy Holmes and George Hirst were among the pall bearers.
As a break from recording deaths, June saw the Golden Anniversary of Mr. & Mrs. Alfred Mallinson. They were both born 74 years ago in the village, they attended the village school together and were in the same class. They were both employed at Deanhouse Mills and were married in All Saint’s Church. Alfred retired at the age of 71 years after having completed 57 years service. They had a married son and two daughters.
The end of the year saw the death of Mr. Charles Ricketts of West End at the age of 69 years. He was an old volunteer and served both in the South African War and WW1. He was a member of the Holmfirth branch of the British Legion and of the South African Veteran’s Association in Huddersfield.
The first death in 1940 was of Mr.Tom Booth, aged 75 years. He was a native of New Mill but became a well known resident in Deanhouse where he carried out a greengrocery business. He had a long association with the Wesleyan church and was a trustee of the Chapel. Although he moved to Brighouse 15 years previously, his funeral was held at the Netherthong Wesleyan Chapel.
Mr. John Donkersley of School Street died at the age of 83 years in April. He had been a very keen follower of the Holme Valley Beagles Hunt for 60 years. A cortege was led from his house to the church by Mr.Barnes, the Beagles present Huntsman, in his red coat and a whipper-in, Thomas Dutton, who wore green hunting dress. They each had charge of a pair of beagles.
The final death of the year was of Miss Ellen Elizabeth Mitchell who died on November 12 aged 74 years. She was the daughter of the late Mr. & Mrs. Richard Mitchell, residents of Netherthong. For 29 years she was in business as a confectioner, which in layman’s terms meant she ran the sweetshop in Towngate and she retired in 1926.
No deaths were reported for 1941 and 1942 but in December 1943 Mr. John Mallinson whose family had been in the butchering trade in the village for several generations died aged 76 years.
February 1944 saw another Silver Wedding celebrated. 60 guests attended a social function held in the Zion Church Sunday School to honour the silver wedding of Mr. & Mrs. H.Hobson both of whom were devoted workers for the Methodist cause.
In the same month Mr. N.Smith the headmaster of the Netherthong Council School died. There was no further information. His death was followed in March by that of Mrs.Sarah Wilson Jackson aged 92 at her home, Manor House. She had been the voluntary organist at All Saint’s Church for 75 years and was reputed to be the oldest official church organist in England. When she was in her eighties she became so deaf that she couldn’t hear what she was playing but insisted on continuing in office saying she knew the psalms backwards. She was the widow of Mr. J.Jackson who for many years had been headmaster at the Church School.
Dr.Hugh Steinberg, the Resident Medical Officer of Health at Deanhouse Hospital died of natural causes. He came to England from Vienna and a few months before his death he married Sister Edna Bentley, a member of staff at the hospital.
History of Netherthong, village in West Yorkshire UK