Crime & Punishment , Accidents & Incidents Part 3 – 1940 to 1953

   In January 1940, Maud Sykes, 28 years old, of Dock Hill was found dead in her home. The Coroner at the inquest recorded a verdict that death was due to shock and air embolus resulting from the use of an instrument for the purpose of procuring abortion, there not being sufficient evidence to show whether the act was performed by the deceased or another. Lawrence Sykes, a coal dealer’s teamer, said he was separated from his wife and had not seen her for nine months.

 During the year the Holmfirth Police Court were very busy dealing with instances of people showing lights during the  blackout periods with  the penalty always being a fine. There were very few mentions of Netherthong residents breaking the regulations.

 At the end of the year at the Borough Police Court, George Bamforth of Rosewood Poultry Farm Netherthong was summoned for leaving a motor car not immobilized in Longwood Street, Huddersfield and for failing to show lights on the vehicle. He was fined 20/- on the first case and 10/- on the second. Six months later in May 1941 at County Police Court Huddersfield. he was once again in trouble. He was summoned for driving a motor car without due care and attention in Wilshaw Road, Meltham. It was alleged that whilst driving the car he swerved across the road and hit another car. He admitted it was his fault and was fined £3 with 17s costs.

 In March 1942 an inquest was held on James Mallinson ( 64 years ) a butcher of Church Street in Netherthong, who was found hanged in a bedroom in his brother’s house at 3.30am on the Wednesday morning. He had been looking after the house whilst his brother was away. He was well known in the district as his butchering business was old- established and had been carried on by his father before him. The inquest was conducted by the District Coroner , Mr. E. Norris, and was held in the Zion Methodist School with Mr. T.Dyson as the foreman of the jury. John Batley, of Miry Terrace, said that when he turned up at the house he found  the bedroom  door was locked with the key on the inside. He had to force the door and found the body. The deceased had removed the cover of the trap door leading to the false roof, put a stout piece of wood across it and was hanging from a piece of rope suspended from the wood. Near his foot was a box about one foot high and his feet were about five inches from the ground. The jury returned a verdict that  “ the deceased hung himself while of unsound mind, resulting from an accidental fall “.

 Later in the year in May, at the Huddersfield Borough Police Court, a sentence of three months imprisonment was imposed on Alice Hepworth, a married woman of South View, Netherthong. She pleaded guilty of taking a woolen jumper, value 8/6, from the Huddersfield store of Marks and Spensers. Mrs. Hepworth, who had three stepchildren, including a boy in the forces and a girl away in a war factory, sobbed bitterly in the dock as the sentence was pronounced.

 In February 1943 at Holmfirth Police Court, Sheila Inman, housewife of Sunnyside Farm at Netherthong, was summoned for showing a light from her home during the blackout period. Section leader R. Sandford of the Special Constabulary and special constable Woodhead, having received information, went to the farm and saw the light from an upstairs window. In a letter to the Court, the defendant stated that the offence had occurred through oversight and also complained that the officers had entered her house without knocking. She was fined £3.

Later that year, in November in the Holmfirth Police Court, allegations were heard that a Netherthong couple obtained free milk illegally under the National Milk Scheme.  Rose Lee, housewife of 31 Deanhouse, pleaded guilty of making a false statement in order to obtain free milk. Thomas Lee, her husband, also pleaded guilty. Mr. Hutchinson, prosecuting for the Ministry of Food, said that if a family had an income of more than £2 18s a week they would not be entitled to free milk. Mrs. Lee had signed a form stating that her husband’s income was £1 14s 6d a week. She had been allowed two pints of milk daily in respect of the youngest of her six children. There had been lots of witnesses including the clerks at Holmfirth Food Office and Henry Moorhouse who delivered milk. She was found guilty and fined £2 for false declarations, £1 for each case of obtaining free milk and the advocates fee of £1 1s. The charges against her husband were dropped. The magistrates agreed to allow the defendant to pay the fine at 5/- a week.

 In September 1945, John Roebuck of Ox Lane farm pleaded guilty of a charge of not keeping a dangerous dog under control. The incident happened on August 18 when Enid Wibberley, a 12 year old girl, was walking along Ox Lane to her home when a sheep dog ran out into the road and bit her leg. She recognized the dog. She carried on home and had the injury attended to by her mother. They made a complaint. The defendant didn’t know about the incident, as he was away from home , and he said his dog was not dangerous and had never bitten anyone else, other than the Wibberleys. He said that when he had tied the dog up, the Wibberley children had thrown stones at it and, when he complained to Mrs. Wibberley, she said that she had told her children to throw stones at it. Mrs. Wibberly denied the accusation.  An order was made for the dog to be kept under proper control and the defendant  to pay costs of 12/6.

  On Christmas Eve of the same year , James Henry Horncastle, a joiner of Beech House Netherthong, attended a dance at Thongsbridge and then “ borrowed “ his uncle’s lorry to take a girl home. As he drove the lorry from the barn, where it was kept, he crashed into a wall in Outlane. At Holmfirth Magistrates Court he appeared to answer a summons for taking away a vehicle without the owner’s consent and was charged for using the motor vehicle on a road without any insurance or third party risks. Inspector H.Lowe prosecuted and said that the vehicle was a lorry belonging to Arthur Russell, a haulage contractor from Outlane. He said that a man named Eric Jones of Outlane was awakened at 12.55 by  a crash outside his house and he went outside and saw the lorry and the defendant.  Sergeant Gruber interviewed the defendant who denied everything at first but then did admit the offence saying he was under the influence of drink. Horncastle told the magistrates that he had held a driving licence for three years and asked them not to disqualify him.  The magistrates found him guilty on both counts and imposed a fine of £2 for taking the lorry, £5 for using it without insurance cover and also had to pay £1 14s 4d for witness costs. He was also disqualified from holding a licence for 12 months.

The peacefulness of the service at the Wesleyan Chapel was disturbed in March 1946 when one of the windows was wilfully cracked whilst Mr.Wagstaff was giving an address. Two members of the congregation ran out but were too late to recognise the offenders.

It was not quite headline news in May 1946 but the Express titled it as Night Raid on Poultry Farm. At Holmfirth Magistrates Court , four persons ( all from Oldham ) were charged with stealing 74 hens, five cock birds and two sacks to the total value of £200 2s 9d being the property of George Bamforth of Rosewood Poultry Farm, Netherthong. All the accused had been charged at Huddersfield West Riding Court and remanded in Holmfirth. A further remand was asked for, and bail was allowed for each defendant in the sum of £50 with a surety of £50.  When the case was heard, Lawrence Haigh of Wolfstones Heights said about 1500 head were kept at the farm. There were about 30 units in the field, which he locked up after seeing the poultry were inside. The lock on one of the huts was broken but the others were secure. In the morning at 8.30 he saw that the doors of four huts were open and the poultry gone. He said that in the afternoon he accompanied the police to Oldham and was shown some poultry which he recognized as some of them coming from the farm. Jack Chadderton, who was the leader of the group and who had previous convictions , was committed to prison for three months. Amos Buckley, also with previous convictions, received four months. The case against Mrs. F. Harrop and a youth of 16 was dropped.

   Later that year in July, Albert Boyes, fettler, and his son Ronald Byes, piecener, both of Towngate were jointly summoned for stealing 110 lbs.  of coal, the property of R.Robinson Ltd.  Sergeant F. Lambert, who prosecuted, said that at 11.30 pm on Friday, June 7, Sergeant Gruber and PC Winder were on duty in Thongsbridge and saw the accused each carrying a kit bag on his shoulder. The bags were examined and found to contain coal. Albert Boyle said “ We haven’t got any coal and have been to fetch a bit from my mother at Wooldale”. They were allowed to go home, but the officers were suspicious and visited a coal dump on Miry Lane and found pieces of coal scattered in the roadway. The accused were seen at their home the following day and Boyes admitted he took the coal. He told the Court that he would not have committed the offence if his coal ration had been delivered. He had seven children and his wife had nothing to cook with.  The Chairman remarked that it was a very serious offence and that they could have been sent to prison. He imposed a fine of £3 on both Albert and Ronald.

  Harry Bottomley of Holmfirth was fined £3 for stealing a watch from Mrs. Sarah Blumberg , a nurse- companion, of Wells Green Farm. She had left a gold wristlet watch in her bedroom and later that afternoon found it was missing. She noticed that the bedroom window, which she had left open, was closed. The accused had been cleaning windows in the house and he pleaded guilty to the theft.

The first report for 1947 was in May when Annie Armitage sent a letter to the Holmfirth Police Court enclosing £1. She was the daily help at Moyra Cottage and there were two summonses against her for keeping dogs without a licence. She said she hoped the amount would be enough but, if not, she promised to send more. P.C.Williamson stated that when he saw the defendant she said that she had not had much work lately but had managed to take out a licence.

A mother of eight children was fined £15 at Holmfirth Magistrates Court in September  when she was found guilty of receiving four sheets, two bath towels, two hand towels, two pillow cases and two table cloths stolen from Deanhouse Hospital. The woman, Mrs. Annie Jackson, 53, of Crusbrough, pleaded not guilty and said she had been assured the items were not stolen. Two former maids at Deanhouse Hospital, Sheila Yates, 18, and Rose Ann Day, 17, pleaded not guilty of stealing the articles valued at £8 and of giving them to Mrs. Jackson. They were both fined £2 each.

Only one passenger was slightly hurt when a Huddersfield Corporation single-decker skidded in New Road on Monday , October 14th. Mrs.Edith Moorhouse of 1 Giles Street, who was seated at the rear of the bus, was taken in an ambulance to a doctor’s surgery and, after receiving treatment, was allowed to go home. The bus which had left Meltham at 5.30 pm was driven by Harold Wadsworth Parson. After leaving Towngate and proceeding down New Road the vehicle skidded, swung round and the rear end crashed into the wall on one side of the road whilst the front end hit the wall on the opposite side. The walls were demolished for distances of about 12 feet and the bus became wedged. The bus was damaged but the driver was unhurt and most of the passengers continued their journey on foot. The road was blocked for about 30 minutes.

At Holmfirth Police Court in June 1948, Mrs.Marion Hoyle, a housewife of 42a Deanhouse, was fined 10s for keeping a dog, aged over six months, without having a licence. P.C.Williamson said he visited the home of the defendant and saw the dog and Mrs. Hoyle told him said she had a licence but could not produce it. He said he called again after a few days and the defendant produced a licence issued at Holmfirth the day after his first visit. In a letter to the court the defendant said she was certain she had taken out a licence but must have burnt it along with some other rubbish when she cleaned out a drawer.

There were two minor incidents early in 1949. The first was in January when a large tree in the churchyard was blown down by a gale and blocked New Road until it could be cut up and removed. In March the Holmfirth Fire Brigade were called out to deal with a chimney fire at the home of Mr.E.Jones of 13, Outlane. It was extinguished in a few minutes with no damage done.

At the Magistrates Court in August , a 20-year old joiner, James Henry Horncastle of Beech House, was summoned for stealing a Ford motor-car engine and a set of brake-shoes, total value £16 10s, the property of Samuel Haigh Bamforth between January  1948 and July 1949. The accused had worked as a casual labourer and it wasn’t until the early part of 1949 that the articles were missed. The defendant, when questioned, admitted the thefts and was sorry he stole them. The Magistrates imposed a penalty of £20 and made order for the restitution of the value of the items stolen of £15. Horncastle offered to pay £5 and the balance within the month. Having regard to the seriousness of the offence, the Chairman, Col.Keith Sykes, said that we fix a term of imprisonment of two months in default of payment and let that be a warning to you.

New Road was the location of the next four incidents. A 8h.p. Standard black saloon car belonging to Mr.A.Parker was stolen from his garage at his home in New Road in December 1949. It was later found abandoned in Huddersfield. About 10.30 in the evening of May 25 1950, Mr. D.Ewart of Holmfirth was found unconscious near his car in New Road. It was believed the car had collided with the wall on the near side, the door was ripped off and the car crossed the road and struck the off-side wall causing him to be thrown out. He was taken by ambulance to Huddersfield Royal Infirmary and was later stated ” to be comfortable “.

In November a motor-cyclist, Leslie Burrowclough of Crodingley, was involved in a collision with a lorry at the junction of New Road and Thong Lane. The driver of the lorry was unhurt, but Barrowclough was admitted to Holme Valley Memorial Hospital suffering from a fracture of the left leg and head injuries. During the heavy snowfall on December 14, a single-decker bus of the Huddersfield Corporation Service skidded in New Road and struck a telegraph pole. A passenger sitting near the door was thrown out but was not hurt. The road was blocked for about two hours.

Relton Bradley, Dean Brook, and Clifford Leake, Moor Lane, were jointly summoned to the Huddersfield Borough Court  in November 1950 for using a motor-car with braking systems that had not been maintained in a good and efficient working order. After hearing evidence the stipendary dismissed the summons.

John Roebuck of Ox Lane farm was fined 40/-  in May 1951 at Huddersfield’s West Riding Court for driving a tractor and trailer during the hours of darkness without lights. He was also fined another 40/- for driving the tractor without a road fund licence. 

The following  month at Bradford Divorce Court,  Eveline Swann of 41, Deanhouse was granted a decree nisi against her husband, George Swain, of 23 Deanhouse for adultery.

There was an incident the same month in Greenhead Park, Huddersfield when Miss Eileen Boyes alleged that she had been slapped in the face. Douglas Mellor, 28, of Huddersfield was fined £2 at the Borough Court. It was stated that Miss Boyes and her girl friend were sitting on a bench in the park when they heard Mellor using bad language as he passed by. Miss Boyes said ” who’s he swearing at ?” whereon Mellor turned round and slapped her face saying ” if you want a slap you can have one.” Mellor pleaded guilty.

At Huddersfield Borough Court in October, John Bamford of New Road pleaded guilty to driving without due care and attention at Chapel Hill as a result of colliding with a motor cyclist. He was fined £2 with licence endorsement and £1 0s 8d costs.

None of  the issues of the Express for 1952 were  put onto microfilm for whatever reason so I have missed out on a full years news. I am therefore indebted to Brenda Quarmby for sending me a newspaper cutting of a death that occurred in September 1952 which 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, 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.

Mr. Perry Greenwood, 63, of Knowle Bridge Farm was found dead in a barn at his farm in February 1953. He was partially disabled through an accident a number of years previously. The District Coroner, Mr.H.Little, decided an inquest was unnecessary.

  Frank Silverwood Hampshaw,the licensee of the Clothier’s Arms, pleaded guilty at Holmfirth Magistrates Court in August 1953 to three summonses for supplying beer during other than permitted hours. Ronald Stephenson (49 ), a scribbling engineer of 119 Wood Street, and Clarence Sykes ( 30 ), a machine packer from number 8, Outlane were summoned for consuming beer and James Horncastle ( 28), a farmer at Beech House, was summoned for consuming stout. None of them  appeared but sent their  apologies via their representative. Hampshaw said he had been the licensee since June 1943 and this was his first conviction – he pleaded guilty and was fined £3 on each of the three summons. The three drinkers were fined £2 each for consuming.

The Holmfirth Accident Prevention Council, as part of the National Road Safety Week, organised for two planes to fly over the Holme Valley on Saturday October 17 and they would give prizes for guessing the correct heights and speeds.

During the gales in November a large ash tree was blown down and crashed across New Road above Bridge Mills  and struck a passing motor car. The driver was very lucky and escaped with just a cut finger. The road was blocked for some time and buses between Holmfirth and Meltham had to be diverted.

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