Harry Beaumont was born in 1897 in Upper Hagg and died in 1996. At that time Upper Hagg was part of the Parish of Netherthong ( see chapter of Maps ) and he lived there until his wedding in 1928 before spending the rest of his life in Brockholes, His father died in 1912 and his mother brought the family up on her own. The rest of the family moved to Brockholes in 1919/30. He and his family could claim to have connections to the whole of the Holme Valley. His older brother, Lewis, fought and died in WW1 and is commemorated on the memorial in the centre of Netherthong. Harry also fought in the war and survived.
I have been fortunate to receive photographs and letters about Harry from his niece and have included details of his war record in my chapter on the WW1 survivors. I have decided that the rest of the information about this man and his life justifies giving him a chapter of his own as he was such a well-known person in the area.
Harry was born in Upper Hagg and his parents were Annie and Tom Battye Beaumont. The family photograph, taken circa 1905 at Upper Hagg, shows Annie his mother, eldest daughter Emma b. 1890 and Tom his father. Lower left is Nellie b.1899, Amy b.1903, Ethel b.1901, Harry b.1897 and Lewis b.1The next photograph is of Adam Sykes Beaumont b.1833 to John and ? of Helm. He married Emma Battye, the daughter of Thomas and Betty of Nab Close, Cartworth He was the father of Tom Battye Beaumont which meant he was Harry’s Grandfather. He died in 1882.
Harry attended Brockholes School and was a member of St.George’s Church choir in the village. He started work at the age of 13 as a reacher-in at Rock Mills, Thongsbridge, for half-a-crown a week and, until he enlisted in 1916 at the age of 19, he had a wide range of interests. These included repairing clocks and watches, cycling, gardening and billiards and yet he still found time to be a member of Brockholes Bowling Club.
He joined the Yorks. and Lancs. Regiment as Private No.82910 and trained as a Machine Gunner. In the photograph below of him in uniform he looks so young and innocent and much younger than his 19 years. The second photograph, posing with some of his comrades, shows him , front row 2nd. from the right, still retaining that early youth.
Whilst serving in France, because he had experience with farm horses, he was selected to deliver ammunition by horse and cart to the front lines at night. Unfortunately he became ill with rheumatic fever and returned to England, where he was placed at Holly Park Auxiliary Hospital, Hornsey, North London. ( the hospital was demolished in the 1950s and later became a housing estate ).His mother must have written to the Matron thanking her for the care shown to her son, because the Matron replied on October 3, 1918.
As you might have trouble reading the handwriting, I’ve copied the details below.
“Thank you for your very kind letter. I’m so glad your son was happy at my little hospital. He was a very good patient. I was only too pleased to be able to help him in any way as I am to help any of the splendid men that are doing so much for us. I should like to hear how your son gets on , we all wish him the best of luck. It will be a happy day when I know that I am getting my boys better to go home ( underlined ) not back to France.”
M.Bassett-Popkin , Matron Commandant.
After the war, Harry worked in the textile industry for 45 years. He moved from weaver to pattern weaver and was in charge of a textile warehouse when he retired. In 1928 he married Mena Nicholson and they settled in Brockholes living at 32, Rock Terrace in the centre of the village. He gave much of his spare time to supporting village organisations and was elected to Holmfirth Council in 1941 and served for many years, acting as Chairman in 1950-51. The photograph shows him wearing the mayoral chain of office.He had been chairman of all the committees on the Council and a governor of both the old and new C of E Schools.
An article in the Huddersfield Examiner of Friday 16 May, 1977 was titled ” The village historian.” The first sentence started- ask anyone in Brockholes for the name of the local historian and they will be likely to refer you to Harry Beaumont. His earliest recollection is of attending Brockholes Church School at the age of three ( more likely to have been four ). I have queried with his niece why he would have attended school in Brockholes rather than in Netherthong or Thongsbridge. The most likely reason is that his mother was brought up in Smithy Place , Brockholes and attended the village school there and his father worked at Rock Mills which meant he could take his son to school and collect him later in the day.
In winter – and they were real winters then- we used to go to school on sledges, from the top of the hill down on to the main road. Of course there was no danger then because it was all horse traffic. One of his anecdotes was about a visit by the Duke of Kent to Rock Mills many years ago. The Duke asked about the processes, and, to demonstrate this, he was given a suit length which had been made specially for him from fleece to finished object within four days. When asked about the main changes in the village during his lifetime, he spoke of the change from horse traffic to motor vehicles, housing development on the hills where people once went skiing, the closing of mills and the transfer of labour from textiles to the engineering industry. The final photograph shows Harry and Mena in May 1993 on the occasion of their 65th. Wedding Anniversary when Harry was 96. The two items of ephemera are his election pamphlets for May 1955 and April 1964.