The family history of the Roebucks of Moor Lane

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Woodnook Farm – more memories

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Chapter II  —The Children

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

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

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

            Mary Anne (Polly) was born 29th October 1880

            Lily 27th January 1883

            Ada 10th July 1885

            Lydia 23rd May 1887

            Alice 4th August 1889

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

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

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

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

 Chapter III —Growing Up.

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

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

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

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

 Chapter IV Changes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chapter V – The Queens Head

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 The first photograph is of Amy Roebuck born in 1903


Amy Roebuck b.1903
Amy Roebuck b.1903

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

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

Lydia Roebuck

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

Wilshaw School 1913-14
Wilshaw School 1913-14



school children
school children


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

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


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

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


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

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


The following are four more photographs of family members.

Benjamin Roebuck in Australia
Benjamin Roebuck in Australia

Joseph, William and mother Ann


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


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


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

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

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

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


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