Interesting odds and bods – Part 2 -1917 to date

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 were 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 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 five 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 then on to Marsden which would have passed 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 95 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. The following two photographs were lent to me by Anne and Pamela Watson. The first one taken at the war memorial  at Holme Valley Memorial  Hospital on 5 August 1927,  shows Louie(Watson) Charlesworth on the extreme left behind the flag – she was selected as an escort to Lillian Ogden ( Mrs.Frank Platt.)

Royal Visit
5, August 1927.

The second  photograph was taken on 7 April 1928 when Princess Mary had come to open Holme Valley Memorial Hospital, ” Elm Wood”.

Opening of Holme Valley Memorial Hospital
7 April 1928

 In November 1927 , 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.

Egg Preserving

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 whose 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  although it refers to Holmfirth, many of the villagers would have availed themselves of the facility. 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 proved to be a magnet for thousands of “pleasure seekers ” . It was the idea of Joseph Bailey who had a joinery business based in New Fold Joinery Works. The former woolen mill had a small dam/mill pond where local people used to paddle. Old age footage has revived memories of those by-gone days and was committed to film by Trevor Spenser and David Whitworth. The Holme Valley Review in its June 2020 issue gave a detailed report along with several photographs which I have shown below. The Lido operated during the war years but after Joseph’s death in August 1948, his family ran it for another season before it was closed in 1949. The pool was drained in 1952 and the fixtures dismantled.  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.

New Lido 1930
New Lido – Joseph Bailey and crowds enjoying themselves
Midnight Bathing
Advert for opening of Lido, Monday August 11


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 and, 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 best of 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 for Mr. & Mrs. Alfred Mallinson, who celebrated their Golden Wedding. They were both born 74 years earlier at Netherthong, 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 always had orders from Deanhouse Institution and from Deanhouse Mill. It closed at 7pm in the evenings. The other fish shop was in a house just before Broomy Lea that was run by a Mrs.Hoyle : 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 at The 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 two 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 four 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/-

21                       64/

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  give them 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 vicar, the Rev.S.Black,  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 have never been able to find out where they were located and when they ceased ). 

An Estonian celebration was held in 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 April 1950, 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  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.  The club  after promotion in the last two successive seasons   were hoping to make it a triple success for the current season which 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 centre 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 Haughe,y 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 ever 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 and in 2019/2020 is a regular DJ on Radio 2 playing lots of music from the ’60s – Rock and Roll will never die.

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.


Rebecca Helliwell & Lindsay in Netherthong recreation ground 1976

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 , was 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 water 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 call ? – Ghost Busters.

Joan Greenwood in the haunted Manor House
Joan Greenwood in the haunted Manor House

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.

Netherthong Collector's plate 1982
Netherthong Collector’s plate 1982


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.

Doctor Fursdon plans to open a new church
Doctor Fursdon plans to open a new church

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.


Youngsters at historic wells
Youngsters at historic wells 

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 she 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.

In April 1986 a competition to win a cuddly giant Honey Monster attracted more than 500 entries from local youngsters. It was jointly run by Lodges supermarket and Quaker. Karl Kiska from the village was the winner.  Unfortunately the quality of the picture below is poor.

Karl Kriska winning the prize of a Honey Monster April 1986

In early November 1986, Netherthong made the front page of the Express, when a 40 yard sheet of water flooded Miry Lane ,blocking access to St. Mary’s estate. After a flash flood, the stream beside Brook House Lane burst its banks- see photo. Two weeks later , the paper reported that the muddy overgrown lake, which used to be New Dam, could have been the cause of the flood – see photo. The following week torrential rain caused flooding in Miry Lane for the second time in the month. A blocked culvert passing under Miry Lane was making the stream overflow into the road and blocking the entrance to St.Mary’s estate. The local postmaster, Jeff Scholfield, believed the problem was partly a result of recent work by Valley Improvement Programme on clearing and widening the stream which had in turn increased the water flow.

Miry Lane flood
November 1986


New Dam 1986

In October 1986, Carolyn Day of St.Mary’s Close passed the  Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Award – see photo.

Carolyn Day with D of E Award


The Holmfirth Express  celebrated 100 years with its issue  on December 12, 1986.  I can only express ( no pun intended ), how big a contribution the paper has played in helping me compile this History. I’m sure I’m not alone. Below is the header for that first ever issue.

Header for the first edition of the Holmfirth Express.

In the same issue, the Express included a photograph of the old Holmfirth Station. On October 31,1959 the last train pulled out of the town for Leeds at 4.52, bringing to an end over a century of railways in the valley. The Goods services struggled on for another few years until the last empty wagons were hauled away on April 28, 1965. The line was dismantled the following year. One can picture the scene  in the early 1900s of Netherthong villagers coming down New Road and Deanhouse Lane to the station in the morning and trudging back up in the evening.

Early photograph of Holmfirth Railway Station.

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.

Bob North enjoying a pint of his cider
Bob North enjoying a pint of his cider


Cider Press advert Nov.2013
Cider Press advert Nov.2013

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..

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 with 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 a photograph on his mobile phone and it appeared to be situated above Netherthong. It appeared 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 Community News Magazine is a free magazine ,which is published monthly covering all of the Holme Valley area.  Beside adverts for local businesses, it includes many  items of interest. Claire, the secretary, has recently ( 2019) included  an update of my history web site- see below.

Community News
Magazine 2019

In February 2019, the  Phone Box in Giles Street became the Netherthong Red Box Book Library – see photo below.

Red Phone Box
Book Library

In 2019 I spoke to Anne and Pamela Watson about their memories of their family and early life in Netherthong. ( for more details see chapter titled the Watson Family). One of those memories was using an Earth Closet that belonged to the Mallinsons and was located in St.Anne’s Square. Some time later I was told  that there had been an Earth Closet in the centre of the Square , sheltered by trees, for the use of the residents. As we all know, everything happens in threes and  the third  was  coming across a book titled Yorkshire Privies – A Nostalgic Trip down the Garden Path by Len Markham. It was first published in 1996 by Countryside Books in Newbury- ISBN 1 85306 443 2 – and such was its popularity that there were two reprints. It has 11 chapters including Privy Pongs and  Privy Poetry and is a super book, very informative and with many amusing anecdotes.  All this toilet talk  jogged my memory that in my Chapter on the Local Board and the early days in the village, there were numerous references to privies, midden privies and water closets and it seems appropriate for me to repeat some of them  for this paragraph.

In 1887 the Local Board resolved to purchase three dozen pound tins of Calvert’s carbolic acid powder for free distribution to the ratepayers……. in 1890, three people were given notice to stop throwing sewage into the highway at Dock Hill  …… in 1892 , seven new privies were erected……. in 1902, except for a few houses, the whole village drained to the public sewer system. There had been a big improvement in the removal of the night soil and the system was that anyone requiring a closet to be emptied, sent a notice to the surveyor who had a list of farmers who were willing to supply a horse and cart for the work. The Council men would clear the closet and the farmer would take the night soil onto his land…… in 1907  the Annual Medical report recorded that nearly all the closets were midden privies but there were 12 water closets.  It went on to say that two houses were entirely without a closet of any kind, in another case 11 closets were used by 12 people living in three houses . The worst case was of one closet that was used by 90 people, 18 of whom were adults, living in five houses.


The Huddersfield Examiner carried the following report. On 19th. February 2020, armed robbers fled empty handed when a brave shopkeeper chased them out of his shop. The attempted robbery took place at Londis in Town Square on Sunday about 6.35. two masked suspects, believed to be a man and a woman, entered the shop and threatened the shopkeeper with bladed weapons. They pushed him to the floor but he got up and chased them out of his shop. A 38 year old man was arrested and released pending further inquiries.

In June 2020, Anita Fenna contacted me about her project researching Meltham Convalescent Home and collecting details of the lives of the people who worked there and the patients. She had come across an article on a Henry T. Coleman who was an evacuee from Lowestoft and, whilst at the home in 1940 , made a model of Netherthong Parish Church using 5,541 matches. Incredible and it still continues to amaze me as to what gems of history of our village are still out there to find. Anita sent me a very short newspaper clipping titled ” Match Stick Model of Church.” A model of Netherthong Parish Church made from 5,541 match stick has been presented to the church by Mr.H.T.Coleman, an evacuee from Lowestoft, now staying at Meltham Convalescent Home. 80 years on – I wonder where it might be.!

Anita’s project when complete will concentrate on the Brookes family as an introduction , the building and opening of the Home and move to the histories of the people who worked there and were nursed there. If you have any information about the Home , you can contact Anita on ( I have included this item in the chapter titled All Saints 1918 to date.)

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