Crime and Punishment, Accidents & Incidents- Part 4 1954 to date

The Express regularly reported on the happenings at the Holmfirth Magistrates Court and many of the offences heard would be considered fairly innocuous 50 years later. The frequency of the reporting changed from 1964 onwards, either because there was less crime  or the incidents were now deemed to be of little interest to the readers.

At Holmfirth Magistrates Court in August 1954, Edward Lockwood, 19, a farmer of Wells Green Farm was summoned for driving without due care and attention, failing to stop after an accident and failing to report an accident to the police within 24 hours. He was fined £5 for the first offence and £2 and £1 for the other two offences.

 At the same Court John Brook, 42, a farmer of 2 Giles Street, was summoned for failing to keep three pigs separate from all other swine after movement under a licence, and also for failing to keep a record of the movement of the same three pigs. P.C. Campbell said he visited the defendants farm at Sunnyside and asked the defendant if he had bought the pigs at Huddersfield market and he pointed out the three  pigs in a nearby field running with seven other pigs. The constable said  that the animals should have been isolated and the defendant replied that the boar must have opened the gate and let them through into the other field. For failing to keep the pigs separate he was fined £3 and £1 for failing to keep a record of their movement.

In October James Horncastle, 30, a farm manager at Lydgate farm was fined 10/- for keeping a dog without a licence. He was advised to apply for an exemption.

At Huddersfield Police Court in December, Geoffrey Boyes of 134 Towngate was summoned for driving a motor vehicle without due care and attention in Salendine Nook . Det.Chief Inspector D.Bradley , prosecuting, said Boyes had reversed into a trolley bus and had ripped off some panels. No one had been hurt. Mr.O.Somerville- Jones said his client had misjudged the space whilst making a manoeuvre. He was fined £3 and had his licence endorsed.

In May 1955 Mr. Stephen Pitcher ( 28) of Nether Ings, New Road, was found dead in his garden by his next door neighbour, J.Heslop.The facts were reported to the District Coroner but  he deemed an inquest was not necessary. At Holmfirth Magistrates Court the same month, Walter Lowndes-Bollitt, 42, a manager of 137, Leas Lane, Netherfield was fined £5 with licence endorsement and witness costs of 6d, when he was found guilty of driving a car without due care and attention. He had pleaded not guilty.

The following month in the same court, Eugene Reilly ( 25 ) , a public service vehicle driver of Fartown was found guilty of driving without due care and attention in New Road. He was fined £3, had his licence endorsed and was ordered to pay witness fees of £2 11s. About 4.55 hrs on May 16, Dr.Davy had parked his car in New Road facing towards Holmfirth. A van, driven by Leslie Hirst, a garage proprietor of New Road,  approached towards Netherthong and the defendant was driving a bus down from Towngate at about 25mph. The driver of the van expected the bus to wait until he had passed the stationary car but it continued to pull out and overtake. The van driver applied his brakes and pulled in as near as possible to the side but the bus collided with the stationary car.

At the monthly meeting of the Holmfirth Accident Prevention Council in October, the Secretary reported that County Councillor, Mrs. H.Denton, had visiited the West Riding Surveyor in connection with the provision of  a footpath in New Road. It was stated that the matter had been under consideration since 1950 but, as the scheme would be a major operation, the County Council considered it could not be given priority in view of more urgent matters and the limited funds available. The Council resolved that the scheme be pressed on all possible occasions. They say that everything comes to those who wait and 55 years later the villagers finally got their ” footpath ” in the form of a white painted line on the left hand side of the road going up to the village. If one was cynical, one might ask why the line wasn’t painted 55 years earlier.  The same month Walter John De Court of Windrush, New Road, was fined £3 with licence endorsement at Huddersfield Borough Court for speeding. Police officers in a car followed his motor cycle for half a mile and it was alleged that his speed was between 40 and 50 mph.

At Holmfirth Police Court in December, Mrs. Winifred Laycock of 3, Broomy Lea Lane was summoned for keeping a dog without a licence. PC G. Campbell said he called at her home and saw a dog about seven years old and asked defendant for its licence. She was unable to provide a current one but produced five others for previous years. When he told her she would be reported, she said that she had never missed taking one out before. She took out a licence the following day but pleaded guilty in court and was fined 10/-..

Dogs featured regularly at the Magistrates Court and, in January 1956, the owners of two dogs, which were alleged to have worried poultry at Netherthong, were each fined £1. The owners were Howard Crow ( 31), an assembler  of 38 Leas Avenue who pleaded guilty and Godfrey Beaumont (30), ambulance driver of 76, Leas Avenue who did not appear. P.W.D. Bell said she received a complaint from Mr.W. Batley of The Meadows that some of his poultry had been worried by dogs. With P.S.L. Williamson she made enquiries and interviewed Crow at his house and saw a dog answering the description of one of the dogs that had been worrying poultry. When told he would be reported he said that if that was the case he would have the dog destroyed which he later did. Beaumont’s comments were very similar but he did not destroy his dog.

In an interesting sequel  later that month on January 22  at  the home of Mr.W.Batley of The Meadows, an intruder gained entry, whilst the house was unoccupied, by breaking a window. There was no report on what, if anything, was stolen.

To finish of the month, Lawrence Brook (40 ) of 102 Leas Avenue was summoned for causing a motor car to be on a road without lights during the hours of darkness and was fined 10/-.

A 17 year old schoolboy, Peter Mallinson of 21, Deanhouse, pleaded guilty at the Magistrates Court in March  for firing off a gun within 50 feet of the centre of a carriageway to the danger of persons. Superintendent S.Foster said that at 11am on Sunday 15 January, Mr.Brian Napthine was walking down Deanhouse Hill when he saw the defendant and two other youths in Haigh Lane and each was in possession of an air rifle. Each of the boys discharged their rifles in his direction. The boys were chased away except for Mallinson. In court Mallinson  said they did not shoot at Napthine but were shooting at a target. He was fined £1.

George Bamforth ( 34 ) a farmer of Rosewood Farm was fined £1 with 2/- witness costs in July 1956 for hindering the free passage of another vehicle.  PC D. Hickey was on duty in Towngate on May 19 when he heard a grinding noise coming from the direction of Victoria Street and saw a single-deck public bus stopped at the bottom of Dunford Road. There were scrape marks along its side and the mudguard had pulled from its fittings. The defendant was sitting in his van in Victoria Street and causing unnecessary obstruction to other carriages using the highway. Mr.Ernest Thornton the bus driver said that after taking about 20 fares he turned into the middle of the road and went forward. He felt a bump and saw the damage. He went to the defendant who said ” I don’t know what you have done to your bus but look what you have done to my car “.

The first case in 1957 was at Huddersfield Borough Court in May when Duncan Harrison, Insurance Agent of Knowle Bridge farm, was fined £20 with licence endorsement for driving at a dangerous speed. He was alleged to have driven at a speed between 60mph and 72 mph at Outlane and his speed was checked over a distance of more than a mile by a police car.

At Holmfirth Magistrates Court in June, James Dearnley ( 29 ) an engineer of 33 Deanhouse pleaded guilty to stealing  a quantity of scrap value £2 10s at Honley and was fined £5. At the same court the following month, Gordan Jebson, driver of the Oval, Netherfields, was summoned as the owner of a dog which was not kept under control. A 14 year old schoolboy of Leas Avenue said he delivered newspapers before going to school. He went down the path to Jebson’s house and the dog got hold of his trouser leg and drew blood and then ran off. He reported the matter to P.C. Houlgate who was in his front garden and saw the offence and said he knew the dog. The defendant sent a letter to the Court and pleaded guilty and was charged 11s costs. In August Keith Knutton ( 23 ) a textile worker of Leas Avenue was fined 10/- for killing a pigeon, the property of some person unknown. He had reported the incident to Holmfirth Police Station and said that, whilst he was cleaning a 12-bore shot gun upstairs in his house, he decided to check the sights and took aim at a pigeon. The gun went off and the bird fell to the ground. P.C.Herbert went to Netherfield to investigate but all he could find were a few feathers.

The last incident was in December when  an order to keep a dog under control was made against Ernest Wibbeley (31), a farm foreman of Foxhouse Farm who said he was not the owner of the dog but was in charge of it. David Ward said the he and his friends were kicking a ball to each other when a dog came up and bit him on the left leg. He later went with a policeman to Mr.Tinker’s farm and identified the dog. The foreman said the dog had got excited seeing the boys kicking the ball and he accepted full responsibility for its actions.

A very sad case was heard at Huddersfield West Riding Court in April 1958 when Marion Platt ( 20) was charged with attempting to commit suicide by strangling herself with her scarf. She was a local girl, a domestic cleaner, who lived with her mother at the Council Houses in Thong Lane, and had been a source of problems to the police for numerous reasons. Mr.Colin Beardsell was driving along Moor Lane when he saw a  girl leaning against a wall by the stream. He thought she was ill so he stopped and went to talk to her and then saw that she had a scarf round her neck and was pulling it tight. The girl told him that she was going to jump into a dam in a field near-by. He took her home and called the police to whom she said ” I have nothing to live for because nobody cares for me “. The Court remanded her in custody for three weeks for a medical report, The following year in August she appeared at Holmfirth Magistates Court and was charged on remand with attempting to commit suicide by trying to choke herself with two belts.  The attempt was described as ” a silly petulant act “. The Court was told she was already on probation for a previous suicide attempt in 1958 and was placed on probation for a further two years. She told the Magistrates that she intended to pull herself together and get a job.

Because his children were ill, a Deanhouse man, on two occasions, re-connected his electricity supply after it had been cut off for non-payment. At Holmfirth Magistrates Court in February 1958, Mr.Booth (25) of 19, Deanbrook pleaded guilty on two summonses of maliciously consuming electricity – 35 units value 10/- and 4 units value 1/1. In his statement he said he had been unable to pay the electric bill because of illness and other domestic troubles and had managed to do without it for 4/5 months but, when his children became ill, he got some fuse wire, opened the meter in the passage and re-connected the house supply. ” It flashed a bit at first but I was wearing rubber boots and was quite safe “. He was fined £3 and £2 with costs of £1 3s 6d and ordered to refund 17s 1d for the electricity stolen. 

At Leeds Assizes in April £400 damages was awarded to a Netherthong housewife who broke her elbow. Mrs.L.Walker (29) of Leas Avenue sued Percy Wagstaff & Co., Builders. The accident happened on April 2. She was carrying a basket of washing along a path outside her house and, whilst stepping over the slope alongside the path she fell over the  protruding end of a flagstone which it was alleged had not been properly laid and she broke her right elbow. The judge said that the house was one of two the defendants were building for police officers of the West Riding County Council. The defendants admitted negligence.

At Huddersfield Borough Court in September 1958, Edward Lloyd Lockwood of Wells Green farm pleaded guilty to a summons for careless driving. Inspector Heath said that the defendant drove out of Birchencliffe Hill Road, in which there was a crossroad sign, and went straight across Halifax Road at about 30-35mph colliding with a car that was turned round and overturned on its side. He was fined £10 with licence endorsement and £2 19s costs.

The only report in 1960 was in September when Mrs. Daphne Parker of 53, New Road was summoned for failing to confirm to the indication given by a traffic sign. She had driven a car from the direction of Huddersfield to Holmfirth and crossed the traffic lights at Honley Bridge when they were red. She pleaded guilty by letter and was fined £2.

The first few months of 1961 saw a number of motor accidents and motor car infringements. The first two were in January and held at Holmfirth Magistrates Court. Cedric Hartley,31, a bit passer of 29 Deanhouse, was summoned for driving a car without due care and attention. On November 1960 a Mr.Jack Dyson was working at the top of a ladder fitting glass into a window at Deanhouse Mills. The defendant was driving a car along Deanbrook and apparently saw the ladder and swerved but the back end of his car struck the ladder and brought Mr.Dyson down. He was fined £3 and his licence endorsed. At the same Court George Platt ( 45 ) , cafe proprietor, of New Laithes Farm, Deanhouse, was summoned for failing to conform to a traffic sign at Brockholes. He pleaded not guilty and, as there was some doubt whether he did or did not halt, the summons was dismissed.

In April two people died as a result of a collision at Knowle crossroads between Wilshaw and Netherthong. The victims were a motor cyclist driving to Netherthong from Wilshaw and a passenger in a car travelling from Honley to Upperthong. The cyclist was Anthony Silver of Leas Avenue and the passenger a Mr. Harrison from Lindley and both died in Huddersfield Royal Infirmary. An Inquest was opened and adjourned and when it was resumed a verdict of ” Misadventure ” was returned by the jury in each case.

On Easter Monday, Mr.Frank Hanwell of Giles Street was seriously injured and his pillion passenger killed in a collision near Northwich, Cheshire. They were on their way to a race meeting at Oulton Park.

In a further incident, Mr.Hubert Marshall of Leas Avenue was treated in hospital but not detained after his lorry had been in a collision with another lorry near Derby.

At Huddersfield West Riding Court in August 1961, Benjamin Beanland of Leas Avenue was fined £5 for using a car in Denby Dale when not covered by insurance. He was fined £2 for quitting the car without first stopping the engine and a further £1 for failing to produce his licence. The following month Alfred Cecil Roebuck ( 60) , shop proprietor of Green Cottage, was fined £1 for causing a motorcar to stop in the prohibited area of a pedestrian crossing. He pleaded guilty by letter.

 As an example from 1962 of how strict parking rules were ,  Leslie Thewliss ( 40 ) a grinder of Leas Avenue was a fined £1 for causing a car to stand on a road at night otherwise on its nearside. Wording as reported in the paper

At Huddersfield Borough Court in September , Ben Woodhead, textile finisher of Leas Avenue , pleaded guilty to driving a motor cycle combination in Kirkgate, Huddersfield, without due care and attention. He was fined £6 with licence endorsement, £1 2s costs and a further 10s for driving a vehicle for which a test certificate had not been issued. At Bradford Divorce Court in August 1963, the Commissioners granted a decree nisi to Jean Ashton, Thong Lane, against G.Ashton on the grounds of desertion.

At the Holmfirth Magistrates Court in September , three youths who committed wilful damage to a number of gardens in the district were fined and ordered to make restitution. One of them was Peter Alexander Lowndes ( 17 ) a painter of Leas Avenue – all three were very apologetic.

A resident of Leas Avenue featured in a case held in March at the Magistrates Court. George Frazer  pleaded guilty to assaulting a bus conductor and occasioning him bodily harm. On November 16 1963 he had caught the last bus from Huddersfield to Parkhead and went upstairs but there were no vacant seats. The conductor, Mr.J.Arundel, followed him upstairs and asked him to go downstairs. Frazer refused to do so and the conductor fetched his driver and an inspector but the three of them were unable to get him to go downstairs. He became very abusive but, when two policemen arrived, he went downstairs quietly. When the bus reached Honley a passenger got off and Frazer went upstairs and took the vacant seat. On his way he told the conductor what he would do him when the bus reached Holmfirth. At Holmfirth he butted the conductor in the face three times and fractured his nose. At court Frazer had nothing to say and was fined £6 for assault and £2 for disorderly conduct.

The following month, Derek Batty ( 18 ) of Haigh Lane, Deanhouse pleaded not guilty to driving without due care and attention, and not guilty to failing to stop after an accident. He was a butcher’s apprentice and had been permitted the use of a van by his employer. The van driven by the defendant cut in front of another van and partially ripped off the front bumper and the defendant made no attempt to stop. After hearing from witnesses, the Magistrates found the case proved and imposed a fine of £8 for driving without care, £2 for failing to stop and issued licence endorsements for each offence. At the end of the year at the Magistrates Court a 20 year old Netherfield youth, after attending a bachelor party,  drove a mini-van down New Road and collided with a car at the junction with Huddersfield Road. Richard Michael Coxhead, a weaver of Leas avenue, was fined a total of £27 and disqualified from holding a licence for 12 months.

The first case in 1964 involving a local resident was in January when Mrs.V.Barkham of Leas Avenue pleaded guilty to being the person in charge of a dog which worried poultry on agricultural land. She was fined £1. The same month Mr.Charles Neilson of Brockholes was knocked down by a motor van whilst working in New Road and he was taken to Huddersfield Infirmary but  later released. The van was being driven by Mr.G.Boyes of Leas Avenue. There were two cases at the Magistrates Court in November. The first concerned Eric Hallaghan ( 41 ), an engineer of Brownhill Farm ,who was fined £5 and disqualified from keeping a dog for six months. He pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to a dog and also keeping a dog without a licence. He was also ordered to pay costs of £1 and advocate’s fee of £3 3s. In the second case Derek Battye ( 19), a labourer of Haigh Lane, was fined £2 for being drunk and disorderly in a public place.

The first case in 1966 involved Robert Gale ( 20 ) a textile worker and Alan Ellis ( 20 ) an apprentice plasterer both of Dean Brook who were fined £16 and £23 respectively for a number of motor cycle offences. They both pleaded guilty. The same month Jack Spring ( 46 ), a dyer’s labourer of Leas Avenue, pleaded not guilty to stealing 27 pieces of timber value £1 7s, the property of the Yorkshire Electricity Board. The Magistrates found the case proved and imposed a fine of £10. In July Francis Halton (33 ), a miner living in the Oval, Netherfield, pleaded guilty at the Court to furnishing false particulars in an application for a motor car licence and was fined £5. He also pleaded guilty for using a car without a Road Fund Licence and was fined a further £12. In December a fine of £10 with licence endorsement was imposed on Kevin Stead ( 18), apprentice sheet metal worker, of Leas Avenue who pleaded guilty to driving a motor cycle without due care and attention.

The villagers were devastated in January 1977 when Mrs. Ruth Shaw, aged 62, of Wood Street was killed outright when she was struck whilst walking along Huddersfield Road on her way to Holmfirth  by a Ford Escort driven by a Holmfirth policewoman.

Four youngsters from the village were hurt in a vehicle collision at Lindley, Huddersfield, in January 1978. Julie Cooper, 18,  of Outlane suffered eye and facial injuries. Andrew Graves,17, and Tracey Heppenstall,  both of the Oval, were allowed home and Ian Earnshaw, 18, of Harley Close was treated and then discharged. In August of that year the licensee of the Cricketers was found dead in the cellar of the public house a few weeks after being told of an ‘ out of the world tax demand’. The Kirklees coroner heard that Mr.Kenneth Sykes, aged 52, a a father of three children , was also a dyehouse colour mixer and was worried about the demand. His wife, Vera Sykes, told the inquest about her husband’s concern and she said that she had wanted him to give up the dyehouse job. Apart from the problems with the tax matters, there was really nothing to worry about at all. She described how, on the morning of August 10, she could not find her husband when she got up after realising he must not have gone to work. There was a smell of gas coming from the cellar and she called a neighbour. P.C.Keith Garlick said that he had found Mr.Sykes in the cellar with a plastic bag over his head and a flexible gas pipe inserted into the bag. Dr. Barlow , the pathologist, said death was due to asphyxia. 

Arsonists were believed responsible for a £70,000 blaze at Century Steels, Dean Brook Road on the 5th. June 1983. The owners of the firm – the Moss family of Holmfirth – could only watch helplessly. The firemen managed to save machinery earmarked for export but office equipment and important records were destroyed.

Damage to Century Steels, Dean Brook Road
Damage to Century Steels, Dean Brook Road

The accompanying photo shows fireman tackling a blaze at Dean Brook Mill in October 1989. It took hold of timbers and beams left inside the shell, already gutted by workmen prior to demolition. No one was hurt in the fire.

Fire at Dean Brook Mill October 1989
Fire at Dean Brook Mill October 1989

The papers reported that on August 4 2014 at around 4pm. a man armed with a long barrelled shotgun robbed a shop in the village. The incident saw the man demand that cash from the till be placed in a white drawstring JD sports bag along with a stash of cigarettes, Acting Detective Sergeant Pete Usher of Kirklees CID said : ” This was clearly a terrifying experience for the female shop assistant. Thankfully no one was injured during the incident, however the fact that the man was carrying a firearm underlines the level of threat.” The suspect was described as white , around 16-19 years old, around 6’4″ tall, of slim build with fair blonde hair and was wearing a black and white face covering and a black jacket with white writing across it. Three arrests had been made in connection to the incident.



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