The origins of Netherthong


   Present day Netherthong is a small attractive Pennine village which lies in the Holme Valley in the Metropolitan Borough of Kirklees. It is located on the B 6107 and is about one mile from Holmfirth, two miles from Honley and two miles from Meltham. On one side of Town Square is All Saints Church, now 179 years old, and facing it is a Londis store. Elsewhere in the village there is a Post Office ( now closed -2014 ), two public houses, the Clothiers and the Cricketers, and a very highly rated Junior Infants School.

The latest available  population figure ( mid-year 2006 ) is 1,720 made up of 850 males and 870 females. The total number of properties ( based on council tax for September 2008 ) is 762 with the area of Netherthong being 270.9 hectares. One very interesting statistic is that  the gross household income ( mean ) – for Netherthong it is £41, 400, which compares with Kirklees at £32,300, and for Great Britain as a whole at £34,400.

Complete details of all the statistics are available at the following web sites. 

When I first started  my research, I  assumed that  Deanhouse was an integral part of  Netherthong as there seemed nothing  significant  to delineate the two places. It is situated in a deep valley and took its name from an ancient homestead which once stood at the head of a beautiful valley or dean. The rivulet which runs down the valley is named dean-brook or “ th’ Deynebrook “. A local saying was “ Owfield at th’top and Deynhouse at th’botham “.

 However  maps and  boundaries showed that legally it belonged to Honley,  and on April 1 1912, an order from the West Riding County Council transferred 260 acres at Deanhouse and Mytholm Bridge to the Holmfirth Urban District Council.

But in 1830, when the Netherthong Parish church was erected, Deanhouse was then included in the new Ecclesiastical parish and people stopped attending the Honley church. To confirm this,  there is a statement in one of the early Directories that says : “ Netherthong is a township and, along with parts of the township of Honley namely the hamlets of Deanhouse, Holmroyd Nook, Hagg and a portion of Thongsbridge, was formed into the parish of Netherthong.

The two are inextricably linked.

 The earliest date that I have found information relating to Netherthong was 1323.

In the 690 years since then, Netherthong has gone through and seen many changes and in this history I have tried to recall as many of those as possible.

The following list, in no particular order or importance , might  whet your appetite. 

Three churches/chapels

Four public houses plus  beer houses

 Schools and Sunday schools

 Local Board/ District Council

Deanhouse Workhouse, Institution ,Sanitarium & Hospital

Scouts,Guides,Cubs, Brownies

Deanhouse Mill

Conservatives, Liberals, Working Men’s Club

Gardeners Friendly Society

Transport and roads

Butcher, Baker , Candlestick Maker,

Quarries, Dams and Reservoirs

Ghosts and Wolves

Gas, Electricity, Lamp lighters

Tennis, Cricket , Football, Tennis, Billiards and Darts 

Male Voice Choir,  Operatic Society, Gilbert & Sullivan Society

Brass Band, Philharmonic Band

Good Companions Club, Senior Citizens, Civic Society, Womens Institute

Sculptor, Potters, Brush Makers

Fish & Chip Shops

Scribblers & Slubbers

Tenters, Kersies & Shalloons

Co-op store and Post office /general store

Jubilees, Feasts, Coronations

Professor Waldo and the Inimitable Carbonized Minstrels

Temperance Meetings,

Patriotic Society

Crime and Punishment

And more……. much more


photos, photos, photos



 Historic Background.

 The origin of the settlement reputedly dates back to the time of the Danish invasion and  it was thought  to have been the site of a military gathering.  The oldest original charter connected with “ Twong “ sometimes spelt “Thung “ but now designated Nether Thong, is dated at “ Deuwesbyre “ 16 Edw 2 ( 1323 ) on the feast of St Barnabas the Apostle wherein, Johanna daughter of Simon Robuk granted :

  “ Dno. Ricardo Gates de Deuwesbyre, Capellano “ etc all her messuages, lands and tenements “ infra divisas de Twongs “ after her decease from Adam Robuk etc.

 The next piece of  evidence is from a copy of an ancient charter .  Date 38 Edw 3 ( 1365 ).

There was no further charter evidence until the reign of Elizabeth. In 13 Elizabeth , Thomas Wentworth alienated the whole of his estate in Netherthong which seems to have been purchased by the tenants in occupation, Anthony Wilson , John Beaumont, Thomas Woodhead et alia.

 The earliest inhabitants included:

  1. 1.     Beaumonts – 13 Eliz ( 1562 )
  2. 2.     Woodhead – 1550
  3. 3.      Kaye
  4. 4.     Berry of Netherthong and Deanhouse.
  5. 5.     Newton of Moor Gate.

 Netherthong from the 1650s

 Specific reliable  information about Netherthong and its inhabitants in the  1500s,1600s and 1700s was virtually impossible to find, but  I was able to  draw on reports and records  of life and conditions in the surrounding townships and the West Riding in general, and have assumed  that much of that detail would  have applied to Netherthong.

   Owning land was the main form of wealth in the 18th. C so the power was in the hands of rich landowners. At the top were the nobility and below them were the gentry – a class of nearly rich landowners. There was another class of landowners called yeomen and they were the bridge between the rich and poor. As the century progressed this class became less and less numerous and was replaced by a middle class of merchants and professional men who became richer and more numerous especially in the towns. Below them was the great mass of population, craftsmen and labourers, and statistics show that probably half the population lived on a subsistence or bare survival level.

 It is therefore no wonder that England suffered from gin drinking. It was cheap and sold everywhere as it didn’t require a licence.  However the seriousness of the situation was recognized, and in 1751 a tax was imposed on gin and conditions improved.

Until 1701, seed was sown by hand but in that year Jethro Tull invented a seed drill and a horse-drawn hoe and, as the century progressed , agricultural was gradually transformed by the agricultural revolution. Most livestock was slaughtered at the beginning of winter because the farmers could not grow enough food to feed the animals through the winter months.

 No official census was ever made until 1801 so the  population before this time can only be  a rough guess. However some numbers for adjacent villages  were based  on evidence from various tax assessments which have survived and are now stored in the Public Record Office. The Poll Tax of 1379 was another source. Population was assumed on the basis that each household would have on average three children. Based on these figures , the guesses for  1523 gave a population of 64 for Meltham, 108 for Honley and for Holmfirth and District 382. 20 hardy souls would not seem an unreasonable guess for Netherthong.

In the reign of Charles II , it was decided that a new tax would be levied upon all the hearths in the kingdom.  In the 1664 return, the number of hearths for each house was recorded and it was usually accepted that the poor would have one hearth, a craftsman would have two and only those with more than two hearths could be described as comfortably off. This information was used to give rough population figures of Honley 575, Meltham 410 and Holmfirth & villages 2185.  Based on the rate of how the population of these villages had increased over the 140 years we could now reasonably expect that the population of Netherthong could have reached 100.

 At the beginning of the 1700s. Netherthong would have been a hamlet with most of the inhabitants  living in small cottages, that  were lit by tallow lamps, with a wood fired range  and an “outdoor privvy “. Potable water would have been collected from the rivers and pools  and enterprising householders may have sunk  rudimentary wells.  There would have been one or two small landed proprietors who might have employed some of the inhabitants to work either inside or outside the house. As the climate was bleak and the land unproductive it was by necessity that the clothing trade started.

The inhabitants worked under their roofs from early dawn to sunset and their dwellings were grouped together in lanes and tards. Just imagine the scene of spinning –wheels whirring, looms clacking overhead – the long rows of windows ( still to be seen  in many of the houses in the village ) ran the whole length of the building to utilize as much light as possible. The Hearth Tax , which had been abolished in 1664, was replaced by a Window-Tax.

Until the 18th. century, most land was divided into three fields so that each year, two fields were used for crops and one was left fallow, until Robert ” Turnip ” Townsend ( 1674-1741 ) showed that turnips could be grown in the fallow field and they restored the soil’s fertility. Under the three-field system, all the land round the village was divided into three huge fields. Each farmer owned some strips of land in each field. During the 18th. century, the land was enclosed which meant that it was divided up so that each farmer had all his land in one place instead of being scattered. This enclosure allowed the farmer to use his land more efficiently.

For more details on Enclosure see the chapter on Maps.


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