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.


Netherthong football history : Part 1 from 1887 to 1923


  The earliest records show that the Netherthong men first played rugby football at a time when the scoring system was in a state of flux. As you carry on reading, you will see that they were able to  score goals, tries and minors. The results and other information were entirely down to whether the weekly local paper , the Express, included them as I have been unable to find any other sources of information.. The majority of matches attracted large attendances and betting on games was not unknown.

  The earliest rugby was as played at Rugby School. The only scores came from goals and there were no points value associated with scoring. In 1871 the first Rugby Football Union stated that “ a match shall be decided by a majority of goals only “. Proposals continued to be made and rejected and, prior to 1886, various clubs assigned their own points system. The practice of touching down the ball behind your own goal ?? was awarded a Point, sometimes referred to as the “ Minor Point “ or “ Rouge “.

 In the 1889s and 1890s matches were decided by a majority of points which were given for goals and tries.

Although no clear records exist, there was a period of time when both rugby and football were being played in the village and there are reports that rugby was being played at an irregular frequency right up to 1905 . After that date the men in the village stopped playing rugby and changed completely over to association football. However there does seem to be some confusion over the dates.

        The very first report  in the paper was on Jan 29 1887, although there would have been a league in place  prior to this date.

Netherthong 2nd. v Holmfirth 2nd. Netherthong won by 4 goals, 2 tries and 8 minors to 1 try. The scorers  were  Ben Shore, A. Wimpenny, J.Woodhead, J .Buckley, T.Woodhouse and it was reported that Ben Shore’s try was the result of a splendid run the whole length of the field. He also dropped a goal.

Mar 12. v Thurstonland.  The team was : Back – H. Beaumont : Three- quarters – S.Wimpenny, B.Shore, R.Buckley ; Half-backs –H.Battye,A.Ricketts. Forwards – E.Dyson ( capt ) , J.Hoyle, J.Sykes, E.Jagger, T.Woodhouse, J. Chappell, W. Woodhead, W.Sykes, H.Hellawell. Netherthong were the winners by 2 goals,4 tries and 11 minor points to nil.

May 14.  Mr.G.F.Dearnley’s team ( comprising all the players from Netherthong ) played Cumberworth & District. The match was for the benefit of a Cumberworth player who had broken his arm some time previously.  Netherthong lost.

September 17. The Express published  the list of Netherthong  football club fixtures for the forthcoming season.  Netherthong  would play in blue/white.  First team captain – G.F.Dearnley, Second team captain – Tom Beaumont.  Matches would be played home and away and the other teams were : Milnsbridge, Honley, Huddersfield Trinity , Shelley, Longwood, Cumberworth, Netherton, Milton Church, Huddersfield St. Josephs, Deighton Rangers and Armitage Bridge.

Oct 21.  v Huddersfield Trinity. Played at home and Netherthong won by 2 tries and 5 minors to 1 minor.

Nov 26.  v Cumberworth. The captains, after consultation, decided to dispense with tackling owing to the slippery state of the ground. Later on the Netherthong captain realized that Cumberworth were playing 16 men to their 13. Time was called after 20 minutes e/w. with Netherthong the winners. 

Dec 31. Netherthong Rangers v Holmfirth Juniors. The junior clubs played at Netherthong and Netherthong won the toss and the game.  The junior team were : H.Swallow, J.Hoyle, C.Hoyle ( capt ) , H.Hoyle, Beaumont, Reckitts, H.Wood, Gill, Beaumont, Hobson, F.Gill, H.Gill, Mallinson, Sykes & Buckley

Jan 7 1888.  v Golcar . The ground was as hard as flint, the captains consulted and, as there was a large crowd, it was decided to play a short exhibition of 20 minutes e/w with no tackling and to consider the game a draw regardless of the result.

Jan 21.  Many of the local players attended the Holmfirth Football Club Ball with Mr. Fitton’s band from Netherthong supplying the music.

 A game between a team of under 21s and a team of those over 21 from the village resulted in a hollow victory for the juniors.

Jan 28. Win for Netherthong v Thurstonland. Feb 4.  v Lockwood Rangers. As both clubs had the same colours , Netherthong had to tie a broad strip of red round their jerseys. It was a very eventful game with a dubious second try for Lockwood causing a lot of rancour. The Express reported that it was obvious that a lot of money had been staked on the game which Lockwood won.

Feb 11.  v Crosland Moor. A measure of the popularity of local football  was that a large crowd numbering about 1,000 turned up to watch. It was noted that the referee turned up late.  In the evening the team were entertained to supper at the Queen’s Arms and Joe Sykes brought the house down with the Netherthong Football Song which was his own composition. N.B. I have been unable to find a copy of this song.

Mar 10. Netherthong  Rangers v Scholes was a win for Netherthong.

Mar 17.  The village was still playing the occasional  rugby game and Netherthong played Netherton away in front of 500 spectators. Netherton  won by 2 goals, 2 tries and 4 minors to 3 tries and 2 minors. Netherthong Rangers v New Mill – a big crowd saw Netherthong win.

May 12 1888. The Annual supper and general meeting was held in the headquarters of the club, the Queen’s Arms. An excellent supper was supplied by Mrs. Senior.

Netherthong played in the new season 1888-89 and on the first game of the season on September 15 they lost away to Netherton.

Sep 22. They beat Hall Bower in the 2nd. round of the Holliday Charity Cup Competition. Oct 13. Netherthong were away to Deighton Rangers  and won and the Express Newspaper reported that everyone travelled by waggonette,

Oct 27.  played Deighton at home and won. Nov 3. The second teams of Netherthong  and Netherton played at Netherton and the result was a draw.

Dec 1. The Local Rugby Derby v Honley. There was a big crowd but as there was a strong breeze it was agreed that 2 x 15min. play should take place each way. Result was Netherthong 1 try and 6 minors to Honley’s 7 minors.

Dec 8.  More rugby. Netherthong – 1 goal and 3 minors played Longwood – 1 dropped goal and 3 minors.

Dec 15. Netherthong v Netherton. The newspaper reporter got carried away with his own rhetoric and reported . “ Harry Hellawell was brilliant. By Jove Pickering is a champion at the handling –off game. What think you Battye? Did you enjoy it when he tippled you over once?” He was so excited he omitted to give the score.

In the December 24 issue of the Holmfirth Express there was the following large advert .


Grand Football Match To-day

At Netherthong

Lockwood v Netherthong

Kick off at 3 prompt.

 There was no match report or score and there was no more reference to a Netherthong football team from 1888 until 1903. They  were playing in the 1903-4 season but there was very little information in the Express. It did report that, in March 1904, Netherthong  were  5th but omitted to give the final table. However Netherthong entered the league again for the 1904- 5 season and the first report in December said that in the No.2 competition  Netherthong were 12th. out of 14. Their record was :

P 11 W 1 L 8 D 1 Points 5. Goals for 24, against 77 and  by January 1905 they  had climbed up the table to 8th.position with 10 points.

The following are four photographs of various football teams – I’ve been able to date them but haven’t been able to identify the players and officials.


Netherthong A.F.C. 1900s


Netherthong A.F.C. 1911
Netherthong AFC

Netherthon A.F.C.1930s ?

As I mentioned earlier it would appear that in 1905 Netherthong were still playing both football and rugby but reports were few and far between.

In March they played Lightcliffe Road Juniors in the 1st. round of  the Huddersfield & District Cup. There was a very good attendance, the game was reported in detail and Netherthong  scored 26 points made up of 4 goals and 6 tries, Lightcliffe could only respond with 1 goal and 1 try for 5 points.  The  team was : Back – N.Haigh. 3/4s – S.Haworth,W.Marshall, J.Turton, F.Dawson. 1/2s – L.Green and W.Bray. Forwards – J.Eastwood, T.Child, S.Hobson, J. Russell, J.Ashton, A.Battye, W.Brook and C.French. The referee was W.Grange.

 In May 1906 the Netherthong Association Football Club held a well attended AGM in the Working Men’s Clubhouse. The business was to discuss prospects for the next season,  the possibility of securing a more convenient ground and a review of the past season. It was decided to apply for admission to one of the Huddersfield District Leagues. The club had had a successful season both financially and otherwise and had a small balance in hand. They had had three more wins than losses and the prospects looked good. At the AGM of the Huddersfield & District Football League, Netherthong were confirmed as being in Group 2 of the second division along with Holmfirth, Hepworth, New Mill, Brockholes, Parish Church, Scholes Old Boys, Lockwood, Thornton Lodge, Emley and Crossland Hill.

 They had been admitted to the 3rd. Division and by October were in 2nd. place after 6 games with only one loss.

In 1907 Netherthong  had been promoted to the  Huddersfield & District League First Division A group  and the season kicked off in October.. By the end of November, Netherthong  were firmly anchored at the bottom of the league of 12 teams as they had played 9 and lost them all. In December there was a match report of the game against Underbank, played at home , which Netherthong won 4-2. By April 1908 Netherthong were still bottom of the league having played 22 games, winning 3, drawing 1 and losing the rest.

 Presumably, as a result of the previous  season’s results, Netherthong  did not re-join the Huddersfield League but instead opted to join  the Holmfirth & District League Association of 14 local teams. The Association resolved that all clubs must be within a radius of 5 miles from Holmfirth : that all players must reside or work within a 6 mile radius and that no players were allowed to receive any moneys above their travelling expenses. 

 In one of the first games against Underbank, the referee, J.Rowsell, after allowing a goal, stopped the game and refused to restart until an “ undesirable “ Netherthong spectator, who had used some fluent language to him, was removed from the field. By October they were 9th. and had won 2 games out of 7 played but  moved up to 7th. in November. By January 1909 they had played 17 and won 9 and with 20 points were laying 6th. In the same month the West Yorks Commission for reported players, suspended D.Sykes for fighting. The next month they were still 6th. after 22 games and in the report of a game against Scholes which Netherthong  won 3-1  it said that W. Haigh, C.Ramsden, Farrar, Hobson and Child all played well but the best man was H.Cartwright at centre-half. The teams in the league were New Mill Reserves, Hepworth Reserves, Underbank, Hade Edge, Holmbridge, Crow Edge United, Dunford Bridge, Honley Reserves, Holmfirth Wesleyans, Brockhole Reserves, Scholes Reserves, Holmfirth SJ, Thurstonland and Netherthong.

The Football Club held a very successful garden party in September and 240 sat down for an excellent tea served in the United Methodist Church School. Afterwards a gala was held in Mr. Lockwood’s field at Deanhouse. Games were played and the Philharmonic Band  provided the music for dancing.

The league re-started the same month with 14 teams and some new faces including Wooldale United and Holmfirth Territorials..   Early results were : Netherthong 0 v Crow Edge 3  : Wooldale 2 v Netherthong 4 ; Hepworth United 3 Netherthong 0.  After 8 games they  were 6th.  with 4 wins and by February 1910  had moved to 5th. but suffered a major defeat against Dunford Bridge by 7goals to nil. Unfortunately once again there were no further football reports for the season and no final table.

If you are interested in a detailed football history of a local village team , you should try to get hold of a book titled ” Bonnie Oodle “. It celebrated 75 years of Wooldale Wanderers A.F.C. from 1919 to 1994 and for many years the team played in the same leagues as Netherthong. It was researched, compiled and written by Simon Paul Berry and is a magnificent piece of work. It includes lots of team photographs, league tables, sketches and other ephemera. I have taken details of some final league tables from it which were not reported by the Express.

 The season restarted again in September 1910  and the fixture lists for the season 1910-1911 were given in the paper. Their  first game gave the village  a 1-0 win against Wooldale United and by the middle of November Netherthong had played 9, won 5 and had 10 points. At the end of the year they had climbed to the dizzy heights of  3rd. with 20 points and by the end of January had moved into second place  with 13 wins out of 17 games played. They drew with Honley 0-0 and beat Upper Cumberworth 3-0 with two goals for J.Harrison and one for J.Batley. At the end of February a large crowd watched  the much awaited top of the table clash between Netherthong  and New Mill . The result was a draw but the game was spoilt by strong winds. The top of the table was very close , Netherthong were on 31 points just 1 point behind New Mill but level with Honley and Hepworth Wesleyans. Unfortunately once again for reasons only known to the editor, the Express did not carry any further reports so the final results were  not published  but at the club presentation, see later, it was announced that Netherthong had come second to New Mill. The Wooldale book confirmed that Netherthong had come 2nd. to New Mill having played 26 games, winning 17, losing 5 and drawing 4.

 The Express did however report that Netherthong  AFC had won medals in the Meltham AFC medal competition and that the team had received a big reception in the village when they returned.

 The presentation of medals for the 1910/11 season was held in the National School in May. Mr.G. Ricketts presided and the medals were presented by Cllr. J.Jackson who had been the president of the club since it was formed 9 years ago. Jackson said that he thought it the first time that any Netherthong team, football or cricket, had covered themselves with glory. Along with their gold medals at Meltham  they had also been runners – up in the Holmfirth League Championships. Medals were presented to : A. Heeley ; L. Haigh ; W. Haigh ; A. Bray ; H. Taylor ; S. Scholfield ; W. Charlesworth ; J. Batley ; J. Harrison ; P. Hobson ; A. Wrathall;  H. Sykes ; T. Eastwood  and N.Moorhouse. The evening continued with music and dancing.

September 9 1911 saw the start of the new football season. The first game was at home to Holmfirth Territorials and Netherthong drew 1-1  but they lost their next game 0-4 to Hepworth United. In the third game against Shepley Corinthians the match was not finished due to a dispute with the Shepley players which resulted in them leaving the field before the end of the game.

Other results were New Mill 3 – Netherthong 2 : Netherthong 3 – Hinchliffe Mill Territorials 1:They drew 0-0 with Honley, beat Victoria United 3-2 and also beat Hepworth Wesleyans  by 3-1 and by the end of November they  were 4th. in the league.

In the Cup game they beat Lockwood Wesleyans by 3 to 1. However in the league they lost again to New Mill, the League leaders, by 2 goals to 1. Unfortunately due to space pressure in the local paper, it did not always carry the weekly results.

In December they played in the 1st. round of the Medal Competition and drew with Hepworth 1-1. In January 1912, they  were still 4th. in the league having played 11 games, won 5, lost 3 and drawn 5. Their goal difference was 18-17. The results from the next few matches were a 2-0 win against Holmfirth Territorials. a good 5-0 win over Upper Cumberworth . a loss by  0-2 to Shepley Corinthians before rebounding to beat Hinchliffe Mill 2-1.

Once again  there were no more match reports or the final league table.

As there were no reports in the Express  at the start of the new season it  appeared that the league had been disbanded and this was somewhat confirmed in June 1913. The Holmfirth & District Association Football league held a meeting with Mr.W. Haigh in the chair to discuss re-organising and it was decided that the League be re-constructed and that the Secretary advertise for clubs ( within a radius of 6 miles ) and players ( within a radius of 7 miles ) to join. However I cannot find any report that this league actually started up.

In March 1918 there was a large attendance at a dance in the Church schoolrooms promoted by the football club. During the interval a portrait of the 1917-18 team was presented to the WMC  and Mr. Jackson accepted the portrait and congratulated the club on its record for the season  to date of 11 wins and 2 draws out of 21 matches played. It was reported that over £6 had been given to the Patriotic Fund and credit to the club’s success was given to Harold Wimpenny, the secretary. What is most puzzling about this report is that the Express did not carry any reports on any of the local football matches.!

  It was not until September 1919 that the Express reported that , after its suspension because of the war, the League would re-start on October 4 and gave the complete fixture list right through to March 27 1920. The teams were Scholes, Hepworth United, Hade Edge, Wooldale, Brockholes, Hepworth Wesleyans, St. John’s Inst. , New Mill, Holme Bridge and Holmfirth Sec. Schools OBs and Netherthong.

 In the first game of the season Netherthong  beat Wooldale 3-0 with Norman Bailey and C.Gill prominent. To celebrate the return to league football, the club held a dance in the National School. A large number attended and C.R.Wood and W. Marsden were MCs. The music was provided by C.A.Wood ( piano ) and F.Walker ( violin ).

More results were : A loss to Brockholes by 1-2, followed by another loss this time to St. Johns by 2-3 with S.Bailey and F.Beardsell scoring for Netherthong.

Netherthong   ( N.Bailey, Sykes, Turner and Harrison scoring ) beat Holmfirth SB 1 but lost a closely fought game against Scholes by 3 – 4 with Sykes 2 and Bailey scoring. The next game they were thrashed 7-0 by Hade Edge and at the start of 1920 Netherthong  were 8th. having played 10 and won 3.

Their first game of 1920 was a win 4-1 against Wooldale and they followed this with a good 5-2 defeat of Hepworth Wesleyans with C.Wood 2, E.Sykes,F.Beardsell and W.Shore scoring the goals. 

The next game was  a very thrilling Cup game against Honley in January and at full time the teams were drawn 4-4. Unfortuntely Honley scored in extra time. F.Beardsell, V. Messenger, E.Sykes and J.Messenger scored.

Netherthong  1 Brockholes 0 was the last game reported by the Express and the  final table showed Netherthong came 10th out of 12 teams, winning 5 but losing 12.

A very successful whist drive and dance promoted by members of the club was held in the Church schoolroom in November 1920. There were 26 tables and Norman Bayley, captain of the club, presented the prizes to the winning players. At the dance a programme of twenty dances, all up to -date, were rendered by C.A.Wood on piano and F.Walker on violin.

 In August 1921 the Holmfirth & District Association Football League agreed to 16 teams for the new season and the season kicked off on September 4 with  six new clubs having  joined. The sports writer said that Netherthong seemed to be relying on their own players for the season and that the loss of Rollinson , between the sticks, would be a great loss

 Early results were :  A win against  Scholes by 4-3 was followed by a loss to Burnlee by 1-3 ( C.Gill scorer )  . Netherthong lost again to Burnlee by 1-2 ( H.Wade scored) but they got back to their winning ways by defeating Hepworth Wesleyans 2-0.

 The Express started to give more coverage to local  football and there was a five line report on each of the Saturday games of all the teams in the league. The style of  writing was rather archaic – “ Netherthong have made a decent show lately. Lets hope they keep it up.”

 The fixtures had been arranged that in general the same teams would meet  each other home and away on consecutive weeks.  Netherthong drew away to Victoria United 1-1 ( scorer J.Harker ) and won the return at home  by 5-1. The match report went ” Football is on fete at Netherthong just now and is just the ticket for encouraging their supporters “

Netherthong  beat Millhouse 3-2 at home  ( J.Healey, N.Kaye, W.Shore ) but got thrashed 6-0 away to the same team.

 The rules of the league were explicit about the maximum distance players had to live from their club and was normally about 6 miles. However transfers between clubs were permitted and two  that were approved  were G. Renshaw from Brockholes to Netherthong  and J.Rollinson from Wooldale to Netherthong.

Netherthong beat New Mill at home by 1-0 ( scorer G.Harrison ) but lost the return by 2-4 with J.Shore scoring both goals. C.P.Gill was transferred to New Mill.

Netherthong beat  Wooldale 3-1  but the next match at home to Brockholes was a very significant result as they lost 0-2 making it  Netherthong’s first home defeat of the season.

By the end of 1921 Netherthong were in 9th. position having played 15, winning 7 and drawing 1 for a total of 15 points. The first game of the new year was a 2-2 draw at Hade Edge. The return  fixture at Netherthong  saw another home loss   by 2-1. Netherthong did the double over St. Johns Institute winning 1-0 away and 2-0 at home.

8 of the team’s  players were also members of Netherthong  WMC and they were : J.Hobson, H.Swallow, L.Scholfield, A.Preston, F.Harper, J.Shore, W.Mallinson and C.Gill.

 A loss to Hepworth United away by 3-0 was followed by a 2-2 draw at home ( R.Wood and N.Kaye scorers ). Netherthong 2 ( R.Hoyle) drew with HolmeBridge but lost the return at Holme bridge by 0-3. They put 6 away against Farnley Tyas with  J.Harrison, G.Henshaw, A.Wimpenny  and A. Charlesworth scoring..

 Netherthong 3 ( N.Bailey, G.Harrison, W.Harker ) beat Dunford Bridge who only played with 8 men as the rest didn’t turn up. In the return match with Dunford fielding a full team they avenged their defeat winning 3-1.

The last two games of the season were against Birdsedge. Netherthong drew the first game at home 2-2 with N.Kaye and G.Renshaw scoring but lost the return at Birdsedge by 2-1 , L.Harrison being the scorer.

In the final table Netherthong finished 11th. out of 16 teams  having played 30 games, winning 11, losing 13 and drawing 6 for a total of 28 points. 

In August 1922, the Holmfirth & District AFC confirmed that there would be 15 teams in the league with each club playing 28 games and the season would start on September 3rd. and finish on March 4th. 1923. The general format was that the teams would play each other twice home and away on consecutive weeks. The Express had many column inches devoted to the start of the football season and its reporter gave his forecasts on the results of the opening games. He had Netherthong to beat Dunford Bridge which they duly did by winning 3 goals to 1, Goldthorpe, Kaye and Mills were the scorers. They drew the return at Dunford 2-2 with N.Kaye and A.Mills again scoring.

Netherthong 4 ( Hinchliffe, F.Hunter, N.Kaye and A.Mills ) beat Birdsedge YMCA and also won the return game 2-1 with Hunter and Kaye scoring. In the two games against Farnley Tyas, Netherthong did the double  by winning the first 2-0 with N.Kaye and A.Mills scoring and the return 3-0 with J.Renshaw ( 2) and F.Hinchliffe making their mark.

   At this stage of the season after 6 games, Netherthong were unbeaten and in 2nd. place unfortunately this run did not continue as they lost both their games against New Mill by 3-2 and 2-0.

 In October the Netherthong  AFC held a successful whist drive and dance in the National School. The prizes for the whist were presented by C.S.Floyd, the president of the Club. Supper followed and then dancing until 11.30pm.

 At the meeting of the Holmfirth & District League of club representatives, many of the items on the agenda concerned the quality etc of the referees. The  Netherthong club wrote complaining about the inefficiency of a referee in a recent game but as the official concerned was not present, the committee agreed it was not fair to deal with the matter. The punishment  of players who had committed various offenses  in the  field was dealt with at the monthly meetings of the West Riding Reported Players’ Commission. M.Kaye of Netherthong was suspended for 4 weeks and fined 2s 6d for kicking.

 Scholes beat Netherthong 1 – 0 and  also won the away game 3-2 with R.Hodgson and J.Coldwell scoring. J.Hinchliffe was transferred  to Meltham United. 

Netherthong 3 ( F.Hunter, N. Bailey , A.Mills) Burnlee 0 . Next was a 2-2 draw against Hade Edge ( F.Hunter, A.Wimpenny )  followed by a 3-0 victory over St.Johns Institute .

The intrepid reporter commented “ Netherthong are showing fine form just now. Others beware”

Much to the concern of the Holmfirth League, the local clubs had little option but to be in the Huddersfield Groom Cup which played havoc with the fixtures. In the first round  of this cup, Netherthong beat SSOB by 3-0 with Hunter, Kayes and Mills scoring and also beat Buxton Road 4-0 in another cup match.

Back in the league Netherthong had a goal less draw with Holme Bridge. W.Green transferred  from Wooldale Wanderers.


Sporting activities in the village.


   From the middle of the 1800s,  the inhabitants of Netherthong were involved in many sporting activities and its teams played in various local leagues.  They played cricket, rugby football , association football, darts, billiards, tennis and hunted with the hounds. Individuals would have taken part in road running and fell racing. Fishing would have been an obvious pastime.

The main and often the only source of information was the local newspaper and it had the annoying habit of reporting on a sporting activity for part of the season and then stopping. This meant that at times it omitted to include  the final league tables.

What I have decided to do is to give each of the sports/activities its own chapter to make it easier for anyone wanting to access a specific sport.

In August 1973,  people representing all sections of life in the village were among the 35 residents who attended the 1st. annual general meeting of the Netherthong Sports Club. Mr. P. Tempest welcomed them all and emphasised that the sports club enterprise was designed as a genuine community project.  The following were elected – Chairman – Mr.Irvin Wood. Vice- chairman – Mr. Stan Dickenson, Secretary – Mr. Stefan Zatorski, Club captain – Derek Scholfield,  Team captain – Alan Dobson. Ashley Jackson, Raymond Earnshaw, Peter Ball, Cllr. Walter Carter and the Rev. J. Capstick accepted nominations as club patrons


Crime & Punishment, Accidents & Incidents Part 1 – up to 1922

Crime & Punishment, Misdemeanours,Incidents and Accidents  


   In this chapter I have included items that were reported in the local newspapers involving infringements of the law, accidents, incidents and deaths arising from accidents. “Normal ” deaths are recorded in  other chapters. Because there was a lot of information I have  had to split this chapter into a number of sections.

What you will very soon realize, as you read on, is that  however mundane and petty many of the incidents ( crimes ) seem  to be, all the various courts and authorities generally adopted a very strict approach which is in marked contrast to how matters appear to be dealt with now.

There were several courts that sat to judge the offences. These included  the Huddersfield County Police Court, the Holmfirth Magistrates Court and the County Court of Yorkshire. In the very early days, the Netherthong Town Council had the authority to deal with petty offences within the village.The Coroner dealt with inquiries into local deaths, when deemed necessary, and the proceedings were generally held in Netherthong.


 What better way to start off than with the trial of John Scholfield Junior of Netherthong. A large Reward Poster , see attached , relates to the shooting of John Hinchcliffe on the 22 July 1812.

John Hinchcliffe, a clothier of Upperthong, was shot in the eye by someone who knocked on his door late at night. Hinchcliffe said that there were two people with pistols and hats on. A man came trotting up on a horse, Scholfield ran away and the other man shot Hinchcliffe. At his trial, John Scholfield the Younger of Netherthong, a cloth-dresser, was charged with willfully shooting at, or counseling, aiding and abetting some person to shoot at, with intent to murder John Hinchcliffe. Scholfield pleaded not guilty and at the completion of the lengthy trial no one was ever convicted of the crime.

The next item from 1841 is very interesting. Jonas Sykes was the landlord of the Rose and Crown public house in Towngate.

PARDON ASKED – I, Jonas Sykes of Deanhouse, having slandered, and injured the Character of Moses Sykes, of Netherthong, by circulating a false Report respecting a crime he was not guilty of; I hereby declare that there is no truth in the Statement that I made. I beg his Pardon for so doing and he has kindly consented to foregoe all proceeedings by my publicly acknowleging myself in error, and paying all expense of advertising the same.
Jonas Sykes.
Witnesses: George Sykes, John Mallinson.
Netherthong, Sept 8th 1841.

On June 17 1850 at the County Court , James Stansfield, Esq., the Judge  presided over a case  the Huddersfield Chronicle called ” The Great Pig Case “. This was the designation popularly accorded by the inhabitants of Netherthong to a trial, in which they seemed greatly interested, and to hear which they flocked in large numbers, touching the worrying to death, by a dog, of a valuable sow ; the incident occurring in the village of Netherthong. The plaintiff in this case was Mr. Henry Dearnley, manufacturer of Netherthong, for whom Mr.Floyd, solicitor, appeared ; and the defendant , Mr.Dalton Hobson, shopkeeper and farmer, of the same place, who was defended by Mr.Harry Booth. It appeared that, on a certain Friday in the later part of May last, a fine and much prized sow, having a litter of eight pigs under her, had rumbled out of her stye and found her way into Hobson’s fold. Now Hobson possesses an intelligent cur dog, who is wont to  do his master’s bidding in driving away unwelcome visitors, whether in the form of human bipeds, quadrupeds, the feathered tribe or other intruders. And defendant seeing the sow invading his own yard, put up his hand to the dog, as a signal for him to expel the swine. This was affected, but with such injuries, arising from the dog’s fangs and teeth, as to produce the death of the sow on the following Tuesday. Deplorable as was the accident, and great as was the loss to Dearnley, he called upon Hobson, and, expressing a hope that he would do something towards making up the breach, offered to exonerate him from further claim on payment of a sovereign. This very reasonable offer the defendant slighted. One Jonas Allen, a neighbour, being present observed that ‘ there was no law for pigs’, and Hobson echoed this strange motion , by remarking , that he believed ‘ there was no law for pigs’; and, therefore, he should  contribute nothing. The present suit, then, was instituted to convince defendant, and ‘all whom it may concern,’ that there is a ‘ law for pigs.’ Damages were laid at £4. Many witnesses had been sworn, pro and con ; legal eloquence threatened to be long and tedious and, indeed, the case seemed likely to occupy many consecutive hours , when his Honour cut the matter short by recommending a compromise. The suggestion , being repeated, was, at length, acted upon, and thus happily a wire-drawn business was summarily concluded by Dearnley and Hobson, dividing equally betwixt them the £4 claimed as well as the expenses incurred.

The December 14 issue of the Huddersfield Chronicle for 1850 carried an article titled ‘A Begging – Letter Impostor’ . ” For several days past a man has been calling upon the respectable inhabitants of Holmfirth, Netherthong, Honley and the vicinity, representing and setting himself forth, in a petition as George Barber, a common carrier, and as renting a farm of fourteen milch cows, twelve of which had died within the past two months of epidemic, by which he had sustained a loss of over £120. This statement purports to have been authenticated by Mr.N.Dyson, churchwarden, of Netherthong, who , with some forty other gentlemen in the neighbourhood, is represented to have given a handsome donation towards repairing the petitioner’s loss. Several of the names are genuine, though there are a number of signatures which are purely fictitious. The said Mr. Barber called the other day on a gentleman, who, suspecting the affair was one of imposition, kept possession of the petition- sheet, and requested the man to call again, which he promised to do, but it is presumed that he feared his imposition would be discovered, and has consequently not yet made his appearance. Subsequent enquiries have proved that the calamity referred to has no existence in fact, and that where money had been paid to that fellow a gross practical deception has been practised. We would caution our readers against giving too much credence to the representations of this class of impostors, which are latterly in the ascendant.”

On Friday January 9th. 1852 a young girl named Elizabeth Rickets, aged 12, very narrowly escaped drowning in a well at Netherthong known by the name of ‘Gills Well. It appeared that she was taking water out of the well and the wind, which started  blowing very strongly,  forced her into the well which was nine yards deep and nearly full of water. She fell to the bottom and, on rising, managed to catch hold of the top and kept herself there until rescued without much injury apart from her cold bath. The report continued by saying it had long been a matter of complaint that it was exceedingly dangerous to draw water from this well.

In the next month at Holmfirth Court, John Beardsall and Richard Bretton from Netherthong, appeared to answer to a charge brought against them by Mr.T.Boothroyd, landlord of the Rose & Crown Holmfirth, of disturbing the public.They both pleaded guilty and the Bench fined them expenses only –  4s 6d for Beardsall and 6s 6d for Bretton along with a warning.

In June 1854 four young men from the village , Jonas Littlewood, James Eastwood, Benjamin Batty and Booth Woodhead, were summoned to the New Court-house having on 28 May disturbed the public peace and also committed an assault upon Constable Earnshaw damaging his hat  to the  amount of 5s. The defendants acknowledged the charge and alleged they were not sober at the time and promised not to repeat the offence. Batty was liberated on payment of 8s, Woodhead 15s and Littlewood and Benjamin on 25s each.  The same year a serious incident occurred in November  at the residence of Jonas Eastwood of Miry Lane. An auction sale was being held in the chamber of the house and a large number of people were present when suddenly the beam underneath broke and the whole family were precipitated to the bottom. Fortunately no lives were lost but broken heads and bloody noses were numerous and one lad had his hand seriously injured. The following month a very cruel act was perpetrated on a pony belonging to Mr. Joseph Hobson, a resident of the village. The pony was in a stable into which a number of young men ( one a married man ) entered and amused themselves by forcing the prongs of a hayfork into its hind parts. Mr.Cudworth, vetinary surgeon of Honley, was sent for and fortunately succeeded in preventing serious injuries from the wounds. We trust that the parties will be brought to justice for the cruel unmanly act. The reporter’s wish came true in December when he reported that Jonas Woodhead and Henry James Hoyland were charged at the Guildhall, Huddersfield, for cruelly torturing the pony. The Bench discharged Woodhead and fined Hoyland 10s and costs.

The photograph below shows a form used for a Court Hearing. It is dated November 10 1855 and was to be heard in the County Court of Yorkshire holden at Holmfirth.The plaintiff was Woodhead against the Defendant Allen ?. I have no information over the outcome.

Plaintiff's Note - 10 Nov 1855
Plaintiff’s Note – 10 Nov 1855

Whilst reading through the issues of the Holmfirth Express for the year 1955 there was an article in July about the Holmfirth Prosecution Society which was established in 1804 for the prosecution of persons guilty of felony or any other misdemeanours within a distance of seven miles from Holmfirth. It was an organisation of citizens who paid dues to cover one another’s costs of privately prosecuting offenders should a crime be committed against them. The Society still holds its AGM on Ascension Day but has had no further activities for years. The Express gave extracts from the Society’s minute book and I list below three that specifically apply to Netherthong inhabitants.( capital letters etc are as they appear in the actual minutes).

The Minute of 12 July 1847 records ” That James Perkin of Netherthong having been apprehended for stealing a Quantity of Herbs from a Garden at Thongsbridge, the property of Mr.Joseph Mellor, the said Mr.Mellor is hereby authorised to take such measure as he deem necessary for the prosecution of the said James Perkins and that any expenses that he may incur in doing so be defrayed out of the funds of this Association. On July 10 1848 it was resolved ” That John Wood having been charged with stealing a Book and a Waistcoat Piece from Mr. Benjamin Eastwood’s house at Deanhouse is committed to York Castle to take his trial for the offence, the said Benjamin Eastwood be idemnified in any reasonable expenses he may incur in the prosecution of the said John Wood. That the said John Wood having absconded from Mr.Dransfield, the Constable, whilst he was taking him to York, the Constables are hereby authorised to use their utmost diligence to recapture him at the expenses of the Association and should he not be taken before Saturday Evening next that this Committee shall be called together on that Evening to consider what further steps should be taken. The Constable reported that they had been unable to apprehend him whereby they had incurred an expense of £1 1s 0d. At a Committee meeting on May 9 1850 it was reported that John Wood had been recaptured.

The final report said that the Committee was convened on 14 July 1855 to consider a case brought before it by Mr.William Haigh a Trustee of Messrs. B & J Eastwood of Deanhouse, which case is that a number of young persons make a practice of Bathing in New Dam at Holm Royd Nook and thereby damage, trespass and annoy the people residing in that locality and being desirous of putting a stop to such proceedings the Committee resolved that, as Mr.Haigh found several persons bathing on Wednesday July 4, he is hereby autorised to bring six of the parties before the Magistrates at Huddersfield and any expenses which he may incur shall be defrayed out of the Funds of this Association.

The Huddersfield and Holmfirth Examiner was issued as a weekly from September 6 1851 to 1857. It was what one  would classify as a ‘serious’ newspaper. It had narrow columns with small printing and dealt   with international news, particularly the on-going war in Russia, international news, the events in parliament and national news. It had news about Huddersfield and a much smaller section for ‘local’ news from Holmfirth and the surrounding villages. Occasionally Netherthong was mentioned  – a total of 37 times in those first seven years. Instead of them  being interesting and significant items , quite a few were ‘trivial’ reports of mis-doings. In June William Dearnsley was charged with killing a pigeon, value 1s, belonging to John Hobson. The complainant stated that Dearnsley had got a gun and gone up and down the fields shooting pigeons. On the day in question he had shot one of his pigeons on the roof of a neighbour’s house. A witness said he saw the defendant with a gun. The defendant admitted having shot the pigeon but denied it belonged to the complainant. He called several witnesses and one of them, Daniel Woodhead, stated that the pigeon was his and that the defendant had paid him 1s for killing it. The Bench, amid this conflicting evidence, believed the complainant and ordered the defendant to pay 1s damages and 11s 6d costs. The next occasion was in November when the case of the ‘muck- fork ‘ with two owners deserved front page headlines. Before the Huddersfield bench of magistrates, Benjamin Woodhead was charged by John Hobson, whose name also appeared in the previous case, with stealing his muck-fork worth 2s. There was the usual confusion with witness reports varying so much that the bench dismissed the case. Maybe John Hobson was a serial complainer.!!

Reading through the first seven month’s issues of the paper in 1857, there were just two reports concerning Netherthong and they were both of trivial misdemeanours . The first was in February at the Huddersfield Guildhall  where Daniel Woodhead and Jonas Hobson pleaded guilty to the charge of fighting in a field on the 18th. inst. The charge was preferred against them by a parochial constable who stated that he and another parochial saw the defendants in the midst of a crowd of people in a field ‘fighting for love.’ Mr.Heaton explained that the men had had some differences at a public house and went to the field to settle it in the usual way. They were bound over to the sum of £10 to keep the peace for twelve months. The second report was in May , again at the Huddersfield Guildhall, when Mrs. Ann Woodhead charged William Henry Joseph and John Wimpenny with having assaulted her on May 4th. at 9a.m. in the morning. The evidence was of a very intricate character related entirely to a neighbouring quibble about the placing of some carpentry work against an outhouse . Mrs. and Miss Woodhead on one side and the three defendants on the other side had a regular fight and the young men, after achieving a victory, caught hold of the senior lady turning her rapidly round whilst singing. The dancing did not promote the harmony of the neighbours on this occasion and the summons was issued. For the defence a letter was put in from the incumbent church wardens of Netherthong which spoke in the strongest terms of the turbulent character of the complainant and her family. The magistrates decided on discharging the case.

In July 1865 the Coroner held an inquest at the Crown Inn ( presumably an alternative name for the Rose & Crown ) on the death of Mr.John Cheetham aged 64. Two boys were bathing in the new dam, a little above Deanhouse, on a Saturday night when the deceased made an appearance on the dam bank. He  stripped off his clothes and dived into the deepest part of the dam where he sank to rise no more. An alarm was given but his body was not discovered until Sunday morning. It was reported that the deceased could not swim. The jury brought in a verdict of ‘Drowned himself while in a state of temporary insanity.’ The following month at the Petty Sessions in Holmfirth a number of young men from the village named W.Hinchliffe, Jonas Hobson, Alfred Hobson, Eli Charlesworth and Alfred Woodhead were summoned. They were charged with breaking the windows and doing damage to the door of Joseph Carter of Upperthong. After contradictory statements from the complainant, the Chairman said the evidence was very unsatisfactory and he would discharge the case.

In the introduction to this chapter, I commented how severe some of the punishments appeared to be relative to the level of the “crime ” and this one from January 1869 illustrates the point. A pauper, named Samuel Haigh, was charged at the Huddersfield Police Court with leaving the Deanhouse Workhouse to go to Meltham and never returning. He pleaded guilty to the charge and was sent to gaol for a month.

Gaming was very much frowned upon as the following articles show. In April 1871 the Huddersfield Chronicle reported that George Henry Beaver, the landlord of the Clothiers, had been charged at the County Police Court in Huddersfield with permitting gaming in his house. P.C. Ramsden said that he had visited the defendant’s house by the tap room door and after he had been there a little time, some one came out and seized him at the same time making a sign to several persons in the room to desist playing at some game. He went into the room and saw a portion of a pack of cards in the landlord’s hand. The defendant made the comment that unless something was going on nobody would stay in the house. The defendant denied he had participated in the gaming.  The Examiner also reported on the same incident but with slight variations in the details. On 11 April. PC Ramsden said that at 6.30,  he went to the house kept by the defendant and, going in the tap-room door, a maid said ‘hush’ to the company in the room. The PC rushed forward and saw a table at one end of the room at which was seated 5 or 6 persons of which the landlord was one, he having in his hands some cards. As soon as the landlord saw him he put his hand in his pocket but he, the PC, also put his hands in and pulled out 35 cards. Some of the men who were in the room rushed out. PC Ramsden left the house but visited it again after 15 minutes when the landlord said to him ” You know as well as I know , that unless there is something going on, nobody will stay”. A penalty of 5s and costs was imposed.

Not to be outdone in November of the same year , Alan Woodcock, landlord of the Cricketer’s Arms, was charged at the County Police Court in Huddersfield with permitting gaming in his house and premises. Sergeant Lucas with two policemen, Ramsden and Yates, went to the house of the defendant and found some company there. They looked through  a hole in the blind and  saw the landlord with cards in his hand. On entering , the officers found some men seated at a table.The landlord had a number of cards in his hand which he put into his pocket. Mr.Booth ,who defended, said that no offence was committed unless they were playing for money and there was no proof of this. The Magistrates dismissed the case.

At about 5.20am on April 20 1872, a fire broke out in the premises occupied by Nathan Charlesworth, a shoddy dealer, and damage was done to the extent of about £20. Mr.Charlesworth’s son first noticed the smoke coming into his bedroom from the direction of the workshop which adjoined the house. He raised the alarm and his father rushed out of the house in a state of undress and broke open the workshop door and gained access , but unfortunately the doors closed on him when he was inside. In the confusion he could not find the door and his cries drew his son’s attention and he was released not however before he had been burnt about the head and other parts of his body. A dog, which had been in the workshop, was burnt to death. In the meantime the alarm had been raised and the neighbours brought out cans of water obtained from a dam on the premises of D.&A Hobson and the fire was subdued in about one hour. The water engine of Messrs. Joseph Mellor arrived but its services were not required.The cause of the fire was suspected to be spontaneous combustion and the damage was not covered bu insurance. The same month at Holmfirth Police Office before C.Stephenson, a mechanic from Netherthong, called George Booth, was brought up on being drunk and causing a disturbance near Upperthong at about half past ten on a Sunday. The PC who found him said he was too drunk to stand or walk but with assistance he got him to the police station. He pleaded guilty and was fined 5s and costs.

 A few months later at Huddersfield Police Court, Charles Wood, an inmate at Deanhouse Workhouse, who was partially deaf was charged with absenteeism. It appeared that instead of attending to his work in the garden, he was discovered laying down among the beans. As it was his first offence and he promised better conduct, the case was withdrawn. In October 1872, David Hinchliffe, a weaver, was charged at the County Police Court with damaging a fence and some herbs, the property of Joe Sykes. The complainant said that the defendant came into his garden, damaged the herbs and the fence, cut down part of the hedge and was going to damage a tree when he went to him and got him to stop. Mr.Mellor, who appeared for the defendant, cross-examined as to the position of the hedge and elected that it had not been cut for a couple of years and was partly in front of the defendant’s windows. The hedge divided  Henry Hudson’s property and his – it was said that the defendant had had power given to him to cut the hedge if it blocked his light. Abraham Woodhead, who owned part of the property, said that he and Mr.Tinker had given the defendant permission to cut the hedge.  Mr.Mellor said that the defendant, having had that authority, considered he had a right to act as he did and the question of that right being raised it ousted the jurisdiction of the Bench.  On that objection the case was discharged.

An unusual accident happened to Mr. Henry Brackenberry, keeper of the toll-bar at Thongsbridge, in February 1873. A horse which was yoked to a spring-cart laded with pigs and belonging to Mr. Henry Haigh, pork butcher of Holmfirth, which had been standing for some time in front of the Royal Oak Inn, took fright and began to plunge and rear. On seeing this Mr.Brackenberry ran to the horse to assist and in his struggle with the animal his leg got broken. The horse proceeded at a furious rate towards Holmfirth but no further incident occurred. A few months later the magistrate was faced with a very ‘sticky’ case. Mr.Charles Woodhead, a grocer in the village, sought to recover from the Lancs. & Yorks. Railway Co. the sum of £16 10s 6d, the value of the loss of profit on a puncheon of treacle consigned to him by the defendant’s line but which they never delivered. The question in dispute was merely the amount of damages as the defendants had offered to pay the invoiced price but not the loss of profit. His Honour , after consideration, gave his verdict that only £13 4s would be refunded.

In September 1875, Abel Hobson, a farmer of Netherthong, appeared before the County Magistrates at Huddersfield  on an Offence under the Contagious ( Animals ) Act. He was charged of having neglected to report to the police the fact that he had two cows which were suffering from foot and mouth disease. A constable , in consequence of information received, visited the farm and found two cows suffering from the disease. They sent a vetinary surgeon, Mr.Kirk, to examine the cows and he said that he thought they had been suffering for a week to ten days. The defendant said that he had called in a local surgeon from Shepley who said they were not affected. The Bench in consideration of the defendant having done what he could by having a surgeon only fined him 1s and costs of £1 2s.

At the Holmfirth Police Office in July 1876, James Stott, a labourer of Deanhouse, was charged with neglecting to maintain his wife and family and thereby leaving them chargeable to the Parish. Mr.Mellor, the relieving officer, proved the case stating that he had paid £3 9s to them. The defendant promised to pay if  time were  allowed him to do so.  The Bench ordered him to pay the amount plus 10/- costs or go to Wakefield gaol for one month. At the same court in October James Dyson, farmer, was charged with leaving his horse and cart on the public highway without any person being in charge. He was given a warning. John Gill, a labourer, was summoned in September 1885 to the County Police Court, Huddersfield, to answer a charge of being drunk and refusing to leave the Clothiers Arms on 21 August. Thomas Walker, landlord, and PC Dolby proved the case. The Court fined the defendant 10s and 12s 6d costs.

 In August 1877 a man named Joe Ricketts discovered a fire in the shoddy warehouse belonging to Mr.James Jagger, a shoddy merchant. An alarm was raised and the Thongsbridge and Bridge Mills fire engines arrived without delay but there was a scarcity of water which prevented the brigades from using a sufficiently strong force of water. Their efforts however prevented the whole of the house being burnt down and the neighbours assisted in removing the furniture. The part of the house in which the fire occurred was a complete wreck and the damage was considerable.

James Brook, a carter, appeared before the County Magistrates at Huddersfield in October 1885 to answer a charge of cruelly beating a horse. Sgt. Miller said on September 22 he was on duty in Thong Lane and saw three horses yoked to a wagon loaded with two tons of hay. The horses could not pull the load up the hill and Brok struck the shaft horse 7 or 8 times with all his might. Brook said the chain horses were pulling all they could and the shaft horse was not, so he simply touched at it with the whip. The Board found him guilty and fined him 10/- and costs. William Bretton, a millhand of Netherthong, was charged  at the County Police Court with being drunk and disorderly in the village on October 16 1886 as well as doing wilful damage, to the amount of 15s, the windows of  the home of PC Dalby on October 23. On the 13th. whilst drunk he had complained to Dalby about some complaint made against him by another man in a public house and Dalby had to take him away. On the 23rd. whilst Dalby was out on duty, he went to his house  and broke 12 panes of glass and the cellar grating with a large stone. He was later taken into custody and, on his way to Honley police station, he said he would break the windows again. The Board fined him 10s and 8s costs for being drunk and also ordered him to pay 15s for the damages and 10s 3d. costs or go to prison for two months. The following year at the County Police Court, Huddersfield William Smith, tramp, of no fixed residence, was charged with begging in the village on the 31 January. He pleaded guilty and PC Dalby proved the case and said he found a halfpenny and some bread on him. The Board allowed the prisoner to go on promising to leave the district.

 1887.   September 3 at Huddersfield County  Police Court. James Harrison , a teamster of Netherthong, was fined 10/- with 6/6 expenses for having no control over three horses attached to a wagon of which he was in charge. 

1888.    Harry Turner , butcher of Farnley Tyas, was summoned at Huddersfield County Police Court for not having control of a horse and cart in Netherthong. P.C. Dolby and the defendant both gave evidence and the case was dismissed.

 The County Justice had before them the second case in which Joshua Garside was charged with having been guilty of disorderly conduct and obscene language at Deanhouse Workhouse. The first time the case had been adjoined as Garside, an elderly man, had promised to behave himself. The second instance was not so bad and an overnight stay in a cell had done him some good. The case was dismissed and he was warned to continue good behaviour.

 At the County Police Court, Huddersfield, Henry Bradley and William Bradley, farmers of Netherthong, were charged with having assaulted Samuel Briggs, farmer of Holme Royd Nook. Briggs was charged with assaulting the Bradleys. There was a very detailed and contradictory newspaper report on who did what to whom. The Bench commented that they could not agree on who was at fault and the summonses would be dismissed.

The Local Board had been on the look-out for hawkers of various foods – two were caught, one with plums and one with apples but were let off after they destroyed the fruit.

At County Police Court in Huddersfield, Henry Roberts, the surveyor of Netherthong, was charged with obstructing the highway by leaving stones on it. He said they were there to build a wall. He was fined 20s and expenses.

In June the Clerk  wrote to H.Swallow, G.Buckley , C.Ricketts, A.Wimpenny and J.Wimpenny to to attend the next meeting of the Local Board to discuss their trespassing and loitering in the Board’s pump house and annoying people , who fetch water from the pump, by their rough and noisy behaviour. They attended the meeting and apologized and were reprimanded by the Chairman.

 A woman named Ellen Walkdon, 63 years, who was returning to the Deanhouse Workhouse after 4 days leave of absence, dropped down on the highway and died five minutes later. Mr. W. Barstow JP, the District Coroner, presided over an inquest held at the Clothier’s Arms. The verdict was death from natural causes,

 In August a little child, Mabel, who was only 23 months old, met with a shocking death. Her mother, from Outlane, had left 5 children in bed whilst she went to fetch some milk. In her brief absence , the attention of her neighbours was drawn to the house on hearing screams and on entering the house it was discovered that the child had set its clothes on fire and in spite of assistance she died a little later. When the mother returned  she found Lucifer matches strewn on the floor but none had been struck or had been alight. The inquest at the Clothier’s Arms gave a verdict of Accidentaly Burned.

 Fred Wimpenny ( shoemaker ), Albert Brook ( weaver ) and Joe Whitehead ( millhand ) all of Netherthong were summoned for trespassing in search of conies ( rabbits ) on land rented by J.Batley. There was a lot of confusion over the ownership of the land and the case was dismissed.

 In December at the County Court in Huddersfield, John Hughes a labourer was charged with begging in Netherthong. P.C.Dolby said the prisoner came to his house begging and had been at another house where he was very saucy. The prisoner said he was from Pontefract and was making his way there. The Bench allowed him to go.

1890.  John Bottomley, a farmer, was charged with failing to report sheep scab ( four sheep affected ). He was fined 1s with costs of 24s.

Fred Woodhead, a tailor of Netherthong, was fined 2s 6d and costs for a breach of a dog muzzling order.

1891.  William Mosely, an elderly man, was charged at Huddersfield Police Court for unlawfully deserting from Deanhouse Workhouse and carrying away certain clothes, which he was wearing, to the value of £1 belonging to the Guardians of the Huddersfield Union. The bench sentenced him to one month’s hard labour.

At the County Justices at Huddersfield, Alfred Bye ( wood turner ) and Charles Booth ( weaver ) were charged with riding bikes without their lamps being lit at Netherthong. The defendants pleaded guilty but said their lights went out just before the policeman stopped them. They were fined 5s and 10/6 costs.

1893.  Hugh Stratton, millhand of Netherthong, was summoned for obstructing the footpath by sliding on it. P.C. Satchwell reported that he saw him sliding on the footpath from the Town Hall to the bottom of Wood Lane. Dependant said that the footpath was very slippery and he fell twice. The Chairman said the policeman was right to bring the case but, as it was the first of type, he would dismiss it.

On Christmas Day, P.C.Farr , stationed at Netherthong, was informed that a man had been found in the reservoir at the rear of Wellhouse and the body was identified as William Chaplin, a groom. The inquest decided that the deceased had probably drowned himself.

1895.  In May, John Hinchliffe , a schoolboy, found Trevor Hobson, a joiner, dead in a field at Well Green.

At Huddersfield County Police Court, John Scott, a millhand from Honley, was charged with being drunk and disorderly and refusing to leave the Queen’s Arms when ordered by Ann Senior, the landlady. He was fined 10s and 10s costs.

 The sad death of the lamplighter, Benjamin Hirst, occured in November. He died from injuries he had received from doing his duties. He was carrying a ladder and lighting the lamps along the footpath but as he turned into the road he was knocked down by a horse and trap.

1896.  In September, Ben Eastwood, a brush manufacturer , was summoned by James Jackson, schoolmaster, for having assaulted him at the Queen’s Arms.

An inquest was held in the Conservative Club in Netherthong under Mr.Barstow J.P. into the death of Alice Buckley 2y 5m , daughter of Mr. Rockley Buckley, weaver. She had been badly burned and later died. The verdict was accidental death.

1898.  Harry Gill, a sculptor, of Netherthong was summoned under the Council Rabies order because his little poodle dog was running around without a muzzle. He was fined the nominal penalty of 5/-.

1899 At Huddersfield County Police Court, Henry Wilson, grocer’s assistant, and Joseph Whitehead , grocer of Netherthong, were summoned for having worked a horse in an unfit state. The bench fined Woodhead 10s and 7/6 costs and Wilson 5/- and 7/6 costs.

1903. There was a major tragedy in Netherthong lane resulting in the sad end of Sam Laycock , a labourer of Scholes Moor. He was employed to assist in the work of the threshing machine. As the traction machine was drawing the machine down the lane he was attempting to jump on the draw bar between the engine and machine and fell under one of the wheels. An inquest was held and the jury returned a verdict of accidental death.

1905. In January at the Holmfirth Police Court, Hirst Roebuck, a farmer in the village who did not respond to his name, was summoned for leaving two horses and waggons in the highway without anyone in charge. P.C.Butler said that he was on duty at 8.50 at Towngate and saw Roebuck’s waggons and two horses unattended. He watched them until 9.30 and then went to the defendant who was in the tap room of the Queen’s Arms. When spoken to the defendant  said he would leave them there either for witness or anyone else . He was fined 2/6 and 4/- costs were imposed.

In April at the same court, Mr.John Penny applied for a vaccination exemption certificate on the ground that he had a conscientious belief it would injure his child’s health.  His request was granted.

1906. In February at the Holmfirth Police Court , it was alleged that there was no proper accommodation for “ baiting” horses at Netherthong . Joseph Roebuck and Richard Fretwell, both teamers of Denby Dale, were summoned for obstructing the roadway. P.C.Butler said that on Tuesday, the 1st. February at 1pm he was on duty at Towngate when he saw horses and wagons left unattended outside the Queen’s Arms Inn. At 1.10 one of the horses got across the road. After hearing the witnesses and defendants , the Chairman said that he would treat them leniently and fined them 1/- each with costs.

  At the same Court in April, Thomas Bartley a farmer of Netherthong, pleaded not guilty to the charge of being asleep while in charge of a horse and wagon. P.C.Butler said he was on duty at 12.30 midnight on the highway at Thongs Bridge when he saw Bartley’s wagon and 2 horses in the road. He was found wrapped up in a rug and laid out in the base of the wagon. Sergeant Hudson woke him up. Bartley said that he had only got into the wagon at the top of Hagg Wood and was studying a bit when he saw the two policemen. He protested that he was not asleep. The bench decided that he had been asleep and fined him 1/- with 4/- costs.

1907.  P.C.Butler said that on April 12 he was on duty in Elmwood, Netherthong, and he saw the defendant , Newton Buckley a teamer who was in charge of two horses and a cart , riding on the cart shaft with no reins attached to the horses. He was fined 2s 6d with 4s costs.

In September a Netherthong stonemason, Benjamin Gill, was complimented by the Barnsley Bench on his share of bringing about the arrest of a tramping cooper, William Bailey, who attempted to assault a young girl near Penistone. It was reported that on Saturday a waggonette party was proceeding towards Noblethorpe to the Unionist demonstration. It would appear that near Ingbirchworth, a girl, 15 year old Mary Ann Woodward, and her mother were on their way to Penistone with some eggs. The mother turned back home for something and Bailey at once set on the girl. She was badly used in the struggle and the eggs smashed. Fortunately the Netherthong Conservatives came on the scene. Bailey ran away and, on the girl telling her tale, Benjamin Gill ( one time the champion bowler in the local junior clubs ) set off in pursuit along with some of his companions. It was a stern chase but in the end Bailey was captured. When he attended court he was found guilty and sentenced to six months hard labour.

 Later that year at Holmfirth Police Court Albert Seddon, a farmer from Netherthong, was summoned for having failed to cause sheep to be dipped in the manner prescribed by the Sheep Dipping Order of 1907. The Chairman let the defendant off with a fine of 1/- per sheep and costs of 6s 8d.

In September 1909, the following letter which was addressed to the Editor of the Express was published under the heading ” A dangerous place at Netherthong “. …..Sir. You will perhaps excuse me asking you to insert in your next Saturday’s weekly popular issue, the following paragraph, which has reference to a very dangerous place the children have to pass when going to and from the school at Netherthong. When leaving the school they make this their playground. It is a very dangerous place indeed to which I can bear testimony for, in passing one day, I saw that one of our scholars might have had a leg broken as there are lots of large stones which ought to be removed before something serious should happen to the children. I think something should be done before this takes place. Hoping the parents of the children will take this matter up for their own welfare. Yours etc. ONE IN SYMPATHY WITH THE CHILDREN,

For whatever reason, there were no reported crimes or misdemeanours in the Express for the years 1910, 1911,1912 and 1913. The only piece of news was that in March 1913, P.C.Barker of Netherthong, retired from the West Riding Police Force after 25 years service 20 of which had been served in the Holmfirth District.

 1914. In March, there was a burglary at Joseph Woodhead & Co. grocers. In the morning it was found that someone had broken through a window and it appeared that only about 3/- had been left in the till and the burglar also took a few small articles and a pair of cufflinks. No culprit was found.

At Holmfirth Police Court , William Sewell, innkeeper at Deanhouse, was summoned for contravention of the swine flu regulations by failing to deliver up a licence on the completion of the removal of live swine from Lancashire. The defendant said that he had forgotten to get the licence. He was fined 10/- with 6/6 cost.

Joseph Dyson, a drover of Huddersfield, was summoned for using obscene language in Netherthong but he failed to appear. P.C. Denton gave evidence and said the defendant was driving beasts at the time. He gave a false name and address. He was fined 10/- and 7/6 costs in his absence.

1915. Holmfirth Police Court. John Wordsworth of Netherthong, a retired mechanic, was fined 10/- for keeping a dog without a licence.

 James Watkinson, manufacturer of Netherthong, was summoned for keeping a dog without a licence. Inspector Foster said the defendant had only had the dog for one month and had forgotten to register it. The chairman said the offence was obviously due to an oversight but the penalty must still be 10/-.

1916. In February Hirst Roebuck was summoned to Holmfirth Police Court for causing cruelty to a horse. He pleaded guilty and was fined 20/-. 

 In June at the same Court , proceedings were taken against Joseph Rusby , labourer , and Fred Moorhouse, willeyer, both of Netherthong, for neglecting to obtain signed statements from lodgers. This was taken under section 20 of the Alien Registration Consolidation Order 1916 which required that the occupier had to get a signed statement of identity from each person staying in a property. Although the magistrates considered  it was a serious offence they agreed that failing to fill up the register had been done in ignorance with no intention to break the law. They were fined a nominal 10/-.

  One feature of the reports of incidents in the local paper was a growing number of those associated with the motor car which was only just starting to appear on the roads.  The first recorded one in Netherthong did not result in any injury  but was unusual in that it attracted lots of interest , had many witnesses and an equal number of conflicting reports. Hubert Thorp, a manufacturer from Cumberworth, was summoned for driving a motor car to the danger of the public in Netherthong. Inspector Foster saw the defendant driving a motor car in the village and he was evidently trying to turn round and in doing so bumped into the wall and after  crossing the road he just “ shaved “ the kerbstone. After pulling up he walked very unsteadily into the Clothier’s Arms. The inspector followed him and found him to be very much under the influence of drink and told him that he was not in a fit condition to drive his car. On coming out of the pub , the defendant made an effort to get into his car. The inspector would not let him and arranged for him to be driven home.  In court the defendant said he was not drunk which several witnesses confirmed. After a long trial the Chairman said the bench had decided that due to all the contradictory evidence  they would dismiss the case.

 In December George Porter, a millhand of Netherthong, was summoned for not shading lights in his dwelling house. P.C.Dent reported that on Nov. 27 he saw 2 bedroom lights burning. The case was dismissed on payment of costs.

 1917. In January, Harry Hobson of Netherthong. who was engaged at Vickerman & Son, was inspecting the motor car of which he was in charge when the battery ignited and he was severely burnt about the face. Dr. Matthews rendered assistance and said Hobson was making recovery. The same month, Howard Denton, the 17 year old son of P.C. Denton, the village constable,met with a serious accident at the manufacturer’s premises of B. Vickerman & Sons. He was caught by a string hanging from the revolving shafting and his thumb was sheared from his left hand. Two months later in March a serious accident occurred at Haywood & Sons Marsh Mills in Huddersfield to Esta Mabel Mosley, 15 years old, a weaver who had formerly resided in Netherthong. It was found that she had sustained a fracture to the side of the skull. The Inquest was given evidence that the girl in examining a loom had put her head between the breast beam and the going part of the loom. It was set in motion by a young girl who was unaware that Esta was in a position of danger. The verdict was Accidental Death. Because Esta had been formerly connected with the Wesleyan Chapel, her funeral was held there.

Later that year, in September, some boys were bathing in the New Dam when one of them became exhausted and was in danger of drowning. Mr.H.Mellor, who was in the vicinity, became aware of the boy’s problem and hurried to the dam, threw his coat off and jumped in the water to affect a timely rescue.

1918. In August at Holmfirth Police Court, Hirst Roebuck , a farmer of Netherthong, was summoned, at the instance of the Holmfirth Education Committee, for illegally employing his son , Arthur, a boy of school age. The defendant did not appear. The Clerk said that anyone taking into his employ a child under the age of 14 was liable to penalty. Mr.Morton, the attendance officer, said he had seen the boy in charge of his father’s horse and cart and this had been going on for 6-8 weeks at least. It was not an emergency and the boy was being employed nine months before he was eligible. A fine of 10/- was imposed.

  At the same court a month later, Raymond Stokes, a carter of Netherthong, was summoned for not sending his son to school regularly. The boy who was 12 years old had been absent 40 times in 3 months. The father was fined 5/-

   1919.  The first report of the year from the Holmfirth Police Court concerned a 13 year old schoolboy from the village who was charged with breaking and entering the National School and stealing 6d. He was also accused of stealing keys and a ring from an outhouse in the village but he pleaded not guily to that offence.

  In May there was a lot of local interest in a case of assault on a nurse of Deanhouse Institution.  The case was held at Holmfirth Police Court and the defendant was a well-built man, named Frank Kaye, of Farnley Tyas and the complainant was Miss H.Lambert a nurse. He was charged with having committed an assault on Miss Lambert and he pleaded not guilty.  It appeared that Miss Lambert had leave on the Saturday and went to see her parents in Wakefield. She returned in the evening and arrived at Honley about 9.30. To reach Deanhouse she walked along the road near Hagg House and when she got to Dean Brook she met the defendant who, without a single word, closed on her, put his arms round her and pinned her against the wall. She screamed and he had to let go of one arm to put his hand over her mouth.  She was them able to strike him with her umbrella. He pinned her against the wall again and tried to kiss her but she bit him on the cheek, struggled violently and screamed. A young man named Rollinson , who was a bit further up the road heard her screaming and ran to the place to find the defendant struggling with Miss Lambert. The defendant ran away but Rollinson, much to his credit, ran after him and caught him. A man called Hobson, who was in an adjoining field, joined in. The defendant refused to give his name. The complainant was very distressed but reached the Institution and contacted the police. It appeared that the defendant had been in Netherthong during the day on a drinking expedition and had left about 9pm.

 When he was questioned by police in Farnley Tyas the following day, the defendant said he knew nothing about a woman but he did have marks on  his face and the back of his hand. It was a long court case with witnesses being called and cross-examined. After deliberating in private for a few minutes, the Chairman announced that the committee considered the defendant guilty of a serious offence and he was fined £10 with 18/6 costs.

     May at the Holmfirth Police Court saw the return of Raymond Stokes, a farmer at Netherthong, who was once again accused of employing his son, Eric, contrary to the provisions of the Education Act. The Clerk said there had been a previous order and penalty with respect to this boy and it seemed to be a question with the father as to whether it was more profitable for him to pay the fine and have the lad working with him rather than send him to school. The bench imposed a fine of £1.

At the Police Court in Holmfirth in June 1920, Albert Edward Turner, a pig dealer at Netherthong, was summoned for failing to keep a register with respect to pigs. He did not appear but sent a letter pleading guilty but innocently so. He was fined 20/-

Tom Wilkinson, a motor driver from the village, was summoned by the Holmfirth Police Court in April 1921 for driving a motor vehicle without a rear red light. P.C.Gillespie said that at 8.30pm on March 13 he saw the defendant driving a car in Huddersfield Road, Holmfirth and, as there was no red light on the vehicle, he whistled for him to stop but he took no notice. He saw the defendant the following day who admitted he knew the light was out. He was fined 20s.

Interesting odds and bods, memories etc. Part 1

The purpose of this chapter is to use it for all the odd bits and pieces of information that I keep coming across that don’t really fit into the other chapters but are interesting, entertaining or relevant to the times that Netherthong went through and is going through.

What I have done  to list them in the order that I found them rather than chronologically.

Joseph Woodhead, who was a Holmfirth woolen manufacturer, founded the Huddersfield and Holmfirth Examiner with the help of a group of like-minded local liberals and became its editor. Its first edition was on Saturday , September 6th. 1851 and it remained a weekly for 20 years when it was re-branded as the Huddersfield Examiner and became a daily paper.  Phonography in the 1850s started to become very popular and the dictionary definition is : a writing system that represents sounds by individual symbols and the Examiner called’ it a new and popular method of writing.’ A meeting was held at the Mechanics Institute, Netherthong, in October 1851 with Mr.John Woodhead, the schoolmaster, in the chair. The meeting was well attended and Mr.Hornsby, the lecturer, showed it as an art system of shorthand. At the end of the lecture it was announced that a class would be formed and about 20 gentlemen gave in their names. Lectures  were also given in many of the local villages and at the Holmfirth meeting two of the pupils from Netherthong, Charles Boothroyd and Joshua Littlewood were said to have achieved great proficiency in the art after having had six lessons.

In May 1852, the paper reported that Mr.George Woodhead, a small farmer , residing at Netherthong lost a fine cow. On entering the mistral he found the cow lying down in the stall and on examination it appeared that it had been strangled by the chain with which she was fastened to the mistral. He was very distraught as it was a prize specimen.

During February 1854 much excitement had been caused among the inhabitants on account of a dirty act of a farmer in befouling a well of water but ‘ we shall withhold his name as it is well known in the  village .’ There was a well on a farmer’s field which supplied the inhabitants at the lower end of the village and which he wanted to prevent them going to. He filled the well with stones and the contents of a privy and also besmeared the approaches with same. However this did not avail him for the women rose en masse and cleaned the well. They then approached the trustees of the estate who ordered that they should have free access to the water.  

In July of that year a procession of the members, connected to the Honourable Order of the Golden Fleece, took place from the Rose and Crown Inn at Thongbridge to all Saints’ Church and about 130 were present at the occasion. The sermon was preached by the Rev.T.James and at the conclusion he announced that the treasurer of the Order had handed over the very handsome sum of £6 10s towards the erection of the intended Sunday school about to be built in the village. In April 1857 a new prison was erected in Holmfirth not far from the Railway Station – it is more than likely that the occasional miscreant from Netherthong became acquainted with it.

At the moment ( June 2015 ) I am reading through the weekly issues of the Huddersfield Examiner and West Riding reporter for 1865 onwards. It’s rather hard going as, in a typical year, I generally only manage to find 10-12 items relating to Netherthong but sometimes they are gems and worth the searching. One such gem was in January 1868 when the paper had a report on the Dean Brook Literary Society. Members of this useful society celebrated their third annual festival by dining together at the home of Mr. G.Hobson and the chair was occupied by Mr.G.Castle and readings were given by Messrs. R. Mallinson, W.Eastwood and J.Sykes. Several songs and recitations were given at intervals by members. No further reports were ever written.

 The paper often seemed keen on reporting items of trivia and the following one appeared in the edition for August 16 1873 –  ‘ an extraordinary mushroom was gathered at Wolfstones in a field belonging to the Rev.T. Bensted, rector of Lockwood, by John Bottomley of Wilshaw Alms Houses and a tenant of the field. It weighed 23.5 ounces and measured 26.5 inches in circumference with a diameter of 9.5 inches. The stem was 6.5 inches long.’  Temperance Societies were very strong across the Holme Valley and in October 1866 a meeting was held in the School which was well attended with  Mr.F.Haigh presiding. Addresses recommending the adoption of teetotal principles were delivered by Messrs. Thorp, Longbottom, Ferguson, Bentley and Lawson. At the end a cordial vote of thanks was accorded to the speakers.

The following report was published in November 1869 and I have included as it was written – ” There is living in Netherthong a weaver, named Joseph Mallinson, who is in his 92nd. year. He was a witness at the County Court in Holmfirth last Monday. He is in full possession of his faculties and has a remarkably good memory. On the Morning afternoon he sang several hunting and other songs and recited several amusing anecdote of earlier days.”

There were a number of Fire Brigades in the Holmfirth District  which were normally set up and organised by local mills. Among these were Messrs. Barbers, Holmbridge — Holmfirths ‘Unity’  —Messrs. Turner, Bridge Mill —- Mellor’s , Thongbridge — Robinsons, Smithy Place plus one connected to Shaw’s factory, Honley. In June 1879 the brigades met at the Elephant & Castle Inn, Holmfirth and the paper reported ‘all the men were dressed in uniform and presented a gay appearance.’ The procession went round the district before returning to the Inn when a capital dinner was provided by Mr.Hobson, the host.

The First Edition of the Holmfirth Express was on Saturday, December 11th.1888  as a weekly and priced 1d.  Its style was to balance news, both local, national and international, along with sport and detailed reports of social activities. In those early days it was the custom that  the reports of concerts, fetes, fund raising etc went into great detail listing  the names of the performers, the providers of food as well as what food had been supplied etc etc. This was  done to maintain the newspaper’s circulation as presumably most people  bought the paper for local news and also to see their names in print and what other names were in the same issue.

Local advertising was obviously a key factor to the paper’s profitability and there was always a number of adverts extolling what we now would call quack medicines and miracle cures. They were very cleverly inserted between local reports so that you  couldn’t  avoid them as you read down the page and many referred to  “ real  people” who had been “miraculously cured “ by their potions/unguents/medicines. There was one such advert in the issue of July 26 1913 that specifically mentioned a Netherthong resident and I quote it verbatim –

“Over 2 years ago, Mrs.E.Brook of 22 Dean Brook said “ although I have enjoyed good health practically all my life, I began to suffer from backache. I was almost doubled up with acute pains near my kidneys and I could hardly straighten myself. My water was out of order and I knew my kidneys were the source of the trouble. But DOAN’s backache kidney pills have made a wonderful difference. Before long my backache was gone, my water was right and I was back to good health. I can well recommend Doan’s pills because they made such a splendid cure. Signed ( Mrs ) E.Brooke “.

Priced 2/9 a box from dealers or from Foster-McClellan Co.,Oxford Street,London. Doan’s were still advertising in the paper in the 1940s so perhaps they were effective.

A two – liner advert from 1905 stated – “ To cure a cold in 1 day. Take Laxative Bromo-Quinine Tablets. All outlets refund the money if it fails. E.W.Grove’s name on each box. 1/1 ½ d.”  The name of the tablets might  lead one to assume they might have been more effective for something other than a cold..

Netherthong  featured several times in episodes of The Last of the Summer Wine but the most well known instance occurred in the fore- runner series called the First of the Summer Wine. The filming took place in the grocers shop / post office in Giles Street which had been converted  into  a Co-op as  filming at the real Co-op in Towngate would have caused serious traffic problems. To maximize the authenticity they needed to cobble the road in front of the shop and the cobbles, which were made of rubber and  had been cast from real cobbles , were unrolled on the street for the shooting. They were dressed with dirt and horse manure but when the actors walked on them they squeaked ( the cobbles not the actors ) and the sound of footsteps had to be added later. All went well but they neglected to inform the milkman who turned up with his cart to make deliveries and couldn’t believe his eyes. I was lent 4 super photographs of this particular episode and have included them below. What I hadn’t realised was that they had also set up a ” rubber brick wall ” with water trough to cover – up the building to the left of the large arch. – see last photograph.


Actors passing by shop



Showing rubber wall,water trough and rubber cobblesCrew setting up rubber wall


Shop front modified for the filming








Crew setting up rubber wall



The above photograph  of the shop is very early and probably dates from around the 1910s

In WW2 a bomb was dropped at Oldfield. The explosion was heard and felt in the village and in the house that Nancy Millican lived. She told me  “ it blew the door open and knocked my mother onto her back “. Her father, who was the air raid warden , picked up shrapnel in the school yard the following day. The explosion was confirmed by other  residents.

 On the right hand side of Moor Gate as you travel towards Meltham there is a house referred to in the old maps as Knoll Cottage. It is better known as the three half – penny cottage as the sign on the gate shows. There are several theories as to how it got its name. The favourite is that a choir from Meltham walked out to the cottage at Christmas time to sing carols for the owner and all they received was three half-penny pieces. The current owner says that there are two further options – that three half-pence was the price of the bus fare from the house either to Meltham or Holmfirth  or that the house was originally a toll house and the road came down past it and the toll was, surprisingly, three half-pence.

Cobbler James , a giant of a man with a flowing beard, lived in Upperthong and used to stride over Wolfstone Heights of an evening with a kitbag on his shoulder booming greetings to all he met. He repaired boots and would have called in at the various houses on Moor Lane, Moor Gate and Wilshaw.

Wolfstone’s Heights is a well know landmark ( over 1000 ft. ) and features in the earliest map of the area. The white pillar at the peak was reputedly erected where the last wolf in the area was killed. Unfortunately there are no details of who killed it and when.

No self respecting village/ hamlet could be without its ghost and Netherthong is no exception. A white ghostly horse is supposed to make an appearance at full moon  and travel from Hagg Wood up to Netherthong and back to the wood. Unfortunately I was unable to find any witness who had seen it and lived to tell the tale.

On April 29th. 1905 an earthquake was felt in the area. It was called the Doncaster earthquake and the epicenter was a little to the SE of Doncaster. The felt area extended from Scarborough in the N to Spilsby in the E, Bolton in the W and Kettering in the S but there was very little damage other than to the roof of Doncaster station.

The Express reported that the population on June 30 1887 was 936 and the area of the district was 795 acres.

A branch line from Huddersfield brought the railway to Thongs Bridge and Holmfirth in 1850 but the collapse of the wooden bridge at Mytholmbridge in 1865  halted trains for several years. When the new stone viaduct was completed in1867 the services were resumed. The last passenger train was in 1959 and goods and services finished in 1965. The Express in February 1894 published correspondence from many of its readers with reference to a proposed railway line through Hepworth, New Mill and Netherthong but obviously nothing ever materialised. Another means of transport was the tramways run by the Huddersfield Corporation – unfortunately they only ever ran as far as Honley although extending the line to Holmfirth would have been discussed. The first steam tram was on June 5th. 1902 followed by  the first electric tram on June 17th and the electric trams ran for almost 37 years until February 19th. 1939.

Very few of the inhabitants could afford a timepiece and the only way that they could get an idea of the correct time was to stand on the top of New Road and watch and listen for the trains starting from Holmfirth Station. In January 1888 a turret clock was placed in the spire of the church by a Mr.Pitts of Leeds – it cost £75 and was described as a ” pin-wheel striking clock” 2′ 9″ in diameter. The clock struck the hours on the bell and could be heard in Berry Banks, Wooldale and Oldfield.

The disposal of all sorts of household rubbish was a major problem and fly-tipping was prevalent. One popular place was the large  dam at Dockhill and the Local Board debated that it should be fully drained and prohibition signs erected. However it wasn’t until March 1890 that this was done and notices erected ordering all ratepayers to deposit their solid house refuse in the Board’s tipping place and no other place.

In January 1892 Thomas Dyson & Sons, owners of Deanhouse Mills, gave 200 of their employees their annual treat. This mill employed a large number of the villagers many having started there as apprentices.

There were two local customs that were recorded in the History of the Honley Feasts and would have been known to the inhabitants of Netherthong and possibly practised  in the village .

Collop Monday.   Sides of home-cured bacon and hams were hung from house beams and Collop Monday was set apart to test their quality. It was accepted practice for boys and girls to go round the village calling at houses where hams were hung with a smiling request of “ Pray dame a collop “. A large slice of ham was generally given to each caller.

The other custom was “ wiggin trees “. It involved cutting sticks from mountain ash-trees, locally known as wiggin trees and these sticks were then stripped, coloured and carried during the Honley feasts. As  Mountain ash was formerly carried as  a protection against witchcraft, this custom was a remnant of the old superstition.

June 1911 was the occasion of the Coronation of King George V and one local event was known as the Holmfirth Coronation Ox . The Holmfirth Bowling Club purchased an ox to treat the aged people of Holmfirth, Holme and Netherthong on Coronation Day, the 22nd. It was an Angus Shorthorn, weighed 60 stones, and was trimmed with red, white and blue ribbons. It was not roasted whole but instead cut into joints and cooked at various places in the town. A small army of carvers and guests arrived from all parts of the District to help issue the food to those who had received a special invitation card from the Bowling Club .

I have often found inconsistencies over the years in the numbers given by various authorities as to the population of Netherthong. In February 1912, the Town Clerk reported  that the population of Deanhouse ( including the Workhouse ) was 276 and the combined population of Netherthong and Deanhouse was 1,138 – this compared to 9,248 for Holmfirth. I have devoted a chapter to the details of the population taken from numerous sources.

In 1917 if the villagers wanted a night out they could walk down into Holmfirth and go to the Picturedrome in Dunford Road and, for example, in January the programme was Just Kitty and The Passing of Pete which ran continuously from 7 to 10.30. The prices with tax were  2 1/2d , 4d, 5d and 7d. The Valley Theatre also showed films.

 In April 1917, the Express reported that “ .. Messr. Mallinson Bros., butchers of Netherthong have bred a heifer, which at the age of 18 months turned the scales at 42 stones. “ It added that this was a good record. Could also be a lot of ….

Also in September of the same year, the Express reported that some boys were bathing in the New Dam ( source of Netherthong’s water ) when one of them became exhausted and was in danger of drowning. A Mr. H.Mellor, who was in the vicinity, became aware of the boy’s problem and hurried to the dam. He threw his coat off and jumped into the water to affect a timely rescue.

In this day and age, with the opprobrium attached to all matters tobacco, it is interesting to look back and remind ourselves of just how important a role tobacco, cigarettes and snuff played in those early days.. Every year at the Deanhouse Workhouse Christmas party, the inmates would receive a gift of tobacco or snuff. In an edition of the Holmfirth Express there was a report on the Mayor of Huddersfield’s Cigarette Fund. It stated that the fund had sent out over 10 million cigarettes to “ keep our boys happy “. All the parcels sent during the wars to the Netherthong lads serving in the forces always contained cigarettes and tobacco.

During the First World War the local paper, mindful of the very strong anti-German feelings throughout the country, was always ready to print any propaganda matter. This exhortation from  1918 is a good example.


Millions of mice and rats throughout the country are

Robbing us of food. Every mouse and every rat must

be regarded as a menace to the nation’s larder.

A mouse in your cupboard nibbling your bread and cheese

and a rat in the stack stealing your corn

are both of them helping the Germans.

 The local paper in a Christmas edition in 1923  had an article on ” Wesselling “. This old term had gone  out of use in the village some years previously. The young girls who went from door to door have since learned to sing our beautiful carols.

On January 31st. 1919 the Express printed its very first Cross Word Puzzle along with a detailed explanation.

Throughout the  history of Netherthong, music and entertainment played  a major role in the village and has warranted a separate  chapter. One unusual event was the first recorded  “gramophone march” contest  held in the Queen’s Arms in November 1925. It attracted much attention and there were 64 entries. 1st. and 3rd. prizes went to S.Ward with 2nd. place going to J.Taylor. Such was its popularity that many clubs and organisations started to run their own contests.

 The arrival of the motor combustion engine gave rise to the beautifully named char-a-banc and as the 1920s advanced the Express ran advertisements for holiday trips and tours.


Ribbleden Garage Holmfirth

Holiday Week Tours

It then gave a list of all the destinations and prices e.g. Blackpool 10/-. To reassure everyone it finished with the following line.


 In April 1926, the paper reported on a runaway Motor Waggon and the miraculous escape by a Deanhouse woman. There was great alarm in Goodwin Street, Bradford when a motor wagon ran backwards down the incline and crashed into the window of a large store  injuring a woman. She was Mrs. Hugh Swallow (50) of the Cricketers Arms, Deanhouse who suffered concussion and was detained. Witnesses said she was very lucky as she could have been crushed to death.

 I have been trying , without much success, 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 5 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.

 There was a bus service from Holmfirth that went to Slaithwate and on to Marsden which would have gone 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 Netherthong 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.

Also 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.

In June 1927 the area had an unexpected visitant. 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 take kindly to the visitor.

 In 1927, the will of Mr.James Tunstall Jackson, the former headmaster of Netherthong. National School , who died on May 5th. left an estate of £2,514 16s 7d.

The big event of 1927 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.

In November of the same year , 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.

Electricity was still viewed in apprehension by many householders in the Holmfirth area. The electricity department of the Holmfirth District Council  held an exhibition to show examples of electrical equipment and the benefits of electricity in the home. Among the appliances shown was the Thor electric washer and wringer, an electric iron, cookers and radiant fires. The Cadillac electric vacuum cleaner attracted lots of interest.

In July 1934, Hospital Day in Holmfirth was celebrated on a gigantic scale. A mammoth procession, the biggest the town had ever seen, had over a 1000 participants and Netherthong National School had a float. The procession was followed by a student rag and a huge carnival. June 20/21 was one of the most eventful weekends in Netherthong’s history as the village held at least five separate functions – a United Sunday Schools festival, an ‘early morning sing ‘, a Sunday School anniversary, a Music Festival and a Sacred Concert.

June 1939 was a joyous occasion. Mr. & Mrs. Alfred Mallinson, who celebrated their Golden Wedding, were both born 74 years earlier at Netherthong. They 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 has 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.

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.

 Mr.John Donkersley of School Street, who had been a very keen follower of the Beagles for 60 years ,died at the age of 83 years.  A cortege was led from the house to the Parish Church by Mr.Barnes ( Beagles’ current huntsman ) in his red coat and Thomas Dutton , a whipper – in, who wore his green hunting dress. They each had charge of a pair of beagles.

 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 2 year old Russian Bear called Tasha escaped from its cage. She had made a hole at the back of the cage which allowed her to squeeze through but was fortunately too small to let the larger 4 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 3 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 3 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 3 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 was 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. It was agreed that the Annual Field day, planned for August , which normally gave its proceeds to the Comforts Fund would instead be given 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.

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.

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.

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.

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. The next property sale was in June 1954 for Hillcrest Poultry Farm ,a freehold smallholding of 10 acres, which fetched £2,000.

9 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 Meals on Wheels Service started up in the Holmfirth Area in 1958 but it wasn’t until 1981 that a 5th. 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 was battered 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 way 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.

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.



Welcome to the History of Netherthong

Towngate over the years
3 views of Towngate spanning a century


Welcome to the History of Netherthong. It is just the place to come if you want to trace family names or church, music , pubs or sporting activities, Just type the key word in the top right hand corner and press search. You should then get a list of any of the chapters where that name etc appears. You will need to scroll through the chapter to find the details.


There are at present over 80 chapters  and they include , in no particular order;  Origins of Netherthong  : Local Board and District Council : All Saint’s Church  : Deanhouse Workhouse 1861-1968  : Schooling  : Maps  : Boer War and WW1  : WW2  : Music & Entertainment  : Co-operative Society : Gardeners Friendly Society  : Public Houses and Inns  : Football  : Sporting Activities  : Crime and Punishment  :  Shops and Stores  :  Wesleyan Church  : Deaths of local inhabitants  :  Mr. T. Dyson – lantern slide entertainer  : Working Men’s Club  : National census 1841, 1861,1871,1891 : and also “Odds and Bods” where anything that doen’t fit into the other chapters ends up. More and more  of the chapters have increased considerably in length as additional  information became available and, to prevent them from becoming too long and unwieldy, I have split many of them into sub- chapters. Examples of these are Crime and Punishment, Deanhouse Hospital., Deaths, Odds and Sods.  As 2018 was the centenary of the end of WW1 , the chapters detailing the soldiers  who gave their lives and those who fought and survived are very special.


  If you are reading this and have any  information , photographs, ephemera or  comments please contact me.  Also feel free to link to us (please use “History of Netherthong” in the link title), and we are happy to link to other sites carrying content that would be relevant to our visitors.  Just drop us a note in the comments section.

The History of Netherthong team- this web site would never have come about by my own  efforts and great credit must be given to one of my sons for its design and maintenance ..

This is also the appropriate place to thank all the people, many from the village, who have so kindly assisted me with information, photographs, ephemera and advice and most importantly  encouraged me in my efforts.

 I have included a number of photographs which did not appear to be ” home produced ” and have excercised due diligence in trying to trace their owners without any success.

Netherthong Co-operative Society

The Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers, founded in 1844, was an early consumer co-operative and the first to pay a patronage dividend forming the basis for the modern co-operative movement. Although other co-operatives preceded them, the Rochdale Pioneers became the prototype and are most famous for designing the Rochdale principles.

Some of the first co-operatives were set up in the Holmfirth area well before the Rochdale Pioneers. In 1827 spinners, twisters, weavers, bleachers and farmers at Meltham Mills sold goods at the same prices as other shops and shared the profits out proportionately. Others were set up at Underbank,1832, New Mill, 1833, Holmfirth, 1833, Honley,1839, and Hepworth, 1840.

On January 14th. 1881, the first public meeting to discuss setting up a Co-op for Netherthong and district was held in the Free Church school. Mr.Wimpenny was elected to the chair, and after lots of discussion and feedback from the Honley Co-op, Mr.Eastwood moved the following resolution ” that it is desirable that we establish a co-op store in Netherthong “. The motion was put to the meeting and approved. Over 30 people requested to join and, after the meeting of these members,  Benjamin Sykes was elected secretary pro-tem. It was  proposed that a Co-op store be established in Netherthong and that it should be called the Netherthong Industrial & Provident Co-operative Society Ltd. It was further proposed that they should lease the premises, formerly known as the Rose and Crown public house, from Reuben & James Senior, brewers of Shepley, at a rent of £10pa. Full handwritten minutes of each committee meeting from the start right through to the last meeting on January 27 1968 are kept in the Archives Section at Huddersfield library.

The initial meetings were involved with extending and modifying the premises. The minutes identify that John Batley and Harry Eastwood were the joiners and Henry and Hiram Gill did the stone mason jobs. The first general meeting was held on February 11. Mr. G. A. Senior from Berry Brow was accepted as shop manager at a wage of 26/- a week provided he entered into a bond of 40/-. Beryl Sykes would be secretary on a salary of £2 for the first half year. The treasurer was elected by ballot  and David Dutch, 10 votes, beat John Beaumont, 5 votes, and George Platt, 8 votes. His salary would be £1 for the first half year. The committee, under the chairman, G. Fitton, were Jonas Hobson, George Platt, John Beaumont, Joe Wimpenny, Joseph Ricketts, James Eastwood, George Fitton, Alfred Sykes and Ben Hoyle. A sign for the shop was made, painted and erected so that all entering the village could see it. Also in the Archives is a ledger which gives a list of all candidates with profession, residence,name of proposer and seconder, date of proposal, entrance fee, signature, date of signing declaration and witness of signature. ‘We the undersigned declare our willingness to be bound by rules and to take out at least 5 shares of £1 each to be paid by installments of not less than 3d. per week in the Netherthong Industrial & Equitable Co-operative Society.’ The first few names on the list were: Joe Hayle – publican: Joe Buckley – size boilers: Jonas Hobson – fitter up: Alfa Sykes – twister: Ben Sisson – dyer: James Eastwood – gentleman. On Easter Tuesday a public sandwich tea was provided in the United Methodist Church schoolroom to celebrate  the society which had commenced business on the Monday. After tea an entertainment took place, presided over by Mr.John Beaumont. Selections of music were performed by the Philharmonic Band under their conductor, Mr.G.H.Wood. A glee party composed of local vocalists sang glees and Miss Phoebe Beaumont and Jonathan Hirst sang songs in very good style.

The Express reported the results of the half yearly meetings with details of profits, membership and the dividend (divi) to be paid. Various items of interest during the life of the Co-op are given below. In March 1882 – they held an Easter tea party and the entertainers included the Netherthong Glee Party and the Philharmonic Band. At the 4th. half-yearly meeting in March 1883 the chair was occupied by Mr.G.Fitton, the president. Sales were £1,436 which had given a profit of £219 and the Directors approved a divi of 3s 6d on groceries and 1s 3d on corn.  It was reported at the 5th. meeting that the past half year had been the most successful since the formation, sales had climbed to £1,629 with a profit of £235. J.Newell and F.M.Sykes were elected to serve in place of J.Wimpenny and S.Ricketts who had retired.  At the September meeting in 1886, Ben Hoyle was in the chair. The three  retiring members of the committee, J.E. Eastwood, M.Sykes and W.Hobson were re-elected. At the next meeting in March 1887, George Senior and Arthur Sykes were re-elected. In 1889  Benjamin Sykes who had been the secretary since the formation of the Co-op in 1881 died. In March 1890 the committee made a very interesting decision,  considering how important a role tobacco and snuff played in members’ lives, by proposing  that the dividend would no longer  be paid on purchases of these two items. The following year,1892,  a resolution to purchase a horse and cart for delivering goods to members was defeated by 3 votes.

 In March 1893 plans were approved to alter and enlarge the shop premises. The manager applied for a reduction in the working hours of the employees and this was granted. The store would be closed at 7pm.instead of 8pm on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and at 8pm instead of 9pm on Sundays.

In September of the same year the Chairman reported on the alterations. A cottage next door had been annexed and fitted up as a drapery department, the  grocery department had been improved by widening it, raising the ceiling and putting in new fixtures. The partition walls dividing the rooms on the 1st. and 2nd. floors were pulled out. The cellars had been enlarged and improved and a hoist had been fitted at the back for winding up corn etc. Finally hot water apparatus had been laid down and the whole place painted and renovated.

As they continued to grow the business,  they started up a clothing club in September 1894 and  in September 1898 arrangements were made for the early formation of a penny savings bank.  The Initial membership was 190. 

Cllr. Alsop – President and Mr.Senior- manager explained in May 1900 to the members the details relating to the recent robberies at the stores and it was decided to replace the money from the reserve fund. The officials were exonerated from blame.

There was a demand for affordable footwear and it was decided to open the Holmfirth & District Co-op Boot and Shoe Society Ltd. which included the Co-op societies from Hinchcliffe Mill, Wooldale, Netherthong and Hepworth. The directors from Netherthong were J.Settle and W.Dufton and in the first year the total receipts were £796 17s 10d and the Netherthong  share was £116 14s 6d.

The Holmfirth & District Co-op Boot and Shoe Co. celebrated its 22nd. half year of existence in March 1906.  Total receipts were £898 and this was made up by Hepworth £94, Hinchliffe Mill £370, Netherthong £154 and Wooldale £266. The manager was David Oliver.

The 37th. half-yearly meeting of the Boot and Shoe Society was held in September 1913. The turnover was £1212 giving a profit of £82 – Netherthong’s share of the turnover was £194.

In July 1902 it was finally agreed, after many meetings, to set up a butchery in one of the outbuildings. 

The 53rd. half-yearly meeting was held in September 1907. Total income was £4,221 with the butchery department contributing £599. Membership was 203. Two months later a tea party and concert was held under the auspices of the Society to celebrate the opening of a new slaughter – house in connection with the butchery department and over 200 members had a sandwich tea. The chairman, Mr. B. Skinner, said the purpose of the event was two-fold, firstly to celebrate the slaughter-house and secondly to try to get more enlightenment and education on the subject of co-operation.

A general meeting of the Society was held in the United Methodist school in September 1909 and Mr.B.Senior reported on the continuing prosperity. The divi was 2s 11d on groceries etc and 1/- on corn and our members had spent £197 10s 9d in the Holmfirth & District Boot and Shoe shop. The Society had recently opened a branch at Thongsbridge.

In a “blue book” issued in mid-year 1911, the Chief Registrar of Friendly Societies gave abstracts  of the annual returns from the Co-Op Societies. There were 252 in Yorkshire and members of local Societies were : Netherthong 242  : Meltham Mills 189  : Wooldale 543  : Hinchliffe Mill 858  : Meltham 1158 and Shepley 411.

In August 1913, membership was 272. The profit  was £486 but the report showed a loss of £7 from the butchering section. Thongsbridge Co-op had a profit of £145.

The Holmfirth Express reported in its edition of January 20,1915 on the death of Fred Mallinson Sykes, the former secretary of the Society, who died at his residence , Bridge Mills, at the age of 66 years. he had held several semi-public positions, most notable being his long connection with the Co-op movement in Netherthong. He was a member of the committee from March 1882 to March 1889  when he was elected secretary and retained that position until he retired in July 1914 due to his state of health. He was also a prominent member of the Free Gardeners and was engaged in the manufacture of woolen goods. He left a widow and a grown -up family of two sons and three daughters.

1916. At the half yearly general meeting in February , Nathan Sandford, vice-president, reported that sales and profits had risen to the highest in the history of the society.

Selected items from the minutes Book.

1916 – a reference to a branch shop at Thongs Bridge ( a report in the Express would indicate that it had opened in 1909.)

The first photograph below is a Sugar Registration Card from the Ministry of Food circa December 1917  for Arthur Sanderson and 6 persons at the Co-operative Society. The second photograph shows both sides of the Retailer’s Sugar Ticket  stamped Netherthong L&E, Co-operative Society, Ltd. Towngate.

Ministry of Food Sugar Registration Card Dec 1917
Ministry of Food Sugar Registration Card Dec 1917


Retailer's Sugar Ticket
Retailer’s Sugar Ticket

1917. The Annual meeting agreed that the Committee members to be paid 6d. for each meeting they attended and the  Check Clerk’s wages would be increased from £3 to  £4 per half-year.

1919. It was agreed to further increase the Committee members’ attendance money to 1/- per meeting.  It was also agreed that the Union had the right to negotiate for members.

The half-yearly sales for 1923 were £9,889 15s 5d and the dividend was 2/- for goods and 1/- for corn & coal. The half-yearly meeting for 1924 was held in the Methodist School with Mr.G.Ricketts presiding. Total sales were £10,356 with dividends of 2s 2d and 1s. with membership at 411. N.Sandford and C.Gartery were re-elected as members of the committee and J.Heywood and H.Hobson were appointed as members. At the second half-yearly meeting in 1924  sales had increased to £10,478 and the standard divident was increased to 2s 6d. In 1925 sales continued a steady growth to £10,511 and the dividend was unchanged. The second half-yearly meeting in 1925 showed a similar pattern with membership reaching 425. Sales were slightly down at the half-yearly report in 1926 but the dividend was increased to 2s 8d. Mr.Ricketts, the president, said that in addition to the divi each purchasing member would be given a free parcel containing CWS productions to the value of 3s 4d.

1927. A special meeting was held in May in the Methodist Church to consider whether to let, sell or carry on the farm owned by them in Deanhouse and also to consider selling all the Society’s cottages in the district. A moderate attendance was presided over by G.Ricketts and after discussion, it was decided to sell the properties. In the half-yearly report membership had increased to 455 and by 1928 membership had climbed further to 488 and although sales were little changed at £10,862 the normal divi was increased to 3/-. In 1929 sales broke through the £11,000 barrier for the first time and 4 more new members brought the total to 492.

1929. The new butcher’s shop was completed.


Co-op with manager and staff
Combined Sunday schools feast group outside Co-op 1920s

The half yearly report in January 1926 showed receipts of £10,668 giving £1.270 to share with a divi of 2s 8d and 1s on corn. Membership stood at 429. The 1928 half yearly meeting was held in the United Methodist Church with G.Ricketts presiding. The sales for the half year were £10,525  with the divi at 3/- and 1/- for corn & coal. It was agreed to place £50 in the Reserve Fund and £10 9s 3d to the 1931 Jubilee Fund. H.Pickering was elected as a member of the committee in succession to T.Wood. Sales in August 1930 for the half-year were £10,600 with the membership standing at 519.

February 1931 was the  occasion of the 100th. half-yearly report. Sales were £9,939 and membership 524. The following month,March, was an auspicious date when the Co-op celebrated its 50 year Jubilee with a tea and concert. The tea was held in both the National School  and  the United Methodist School and the concert took place in the Drill Hall in Holmfirth. Over 500 members sat down for the tea and conveyances were run from Woodlands,Thongs Bridge and Fearnought to the schools. The concert was presided over by Mr.G.Ricketts and there were lots of speeches and reminders of the history of those past 50 years. The Holme Valley Male Voice Choir gave a superb concert. In July, in honour of the recent Jubilee , the children of the members were entertained to an outing to Belle Vue, Manchester and a party of 230 traveled in seven motor omnibuses.

At the meeting in February 1932, Mr.Ricketts was re-elected as president and L.Haigh, W.Walker and H.Hobson were re-elected to the committee. Sales were £9,989 with membership at 527. At the September meeting sales had dropped by just over £1,000. At the election of officers, H.Pickering, H.Preston and A.Wimpenny were elected onto the committee and Mr.H.Denton was appointed the savings bank manager.

1933.  There was a large drop in Sales by just over £1,500 although membership had remained steady. Mr.Ricketts was re-elected president and J.Taylor, C.Gartery and L.Haywood were elected to the committee. There were frequent references made at the monthly meetings by the Chairman for members to be “loyal “.

In March 1934 at their half-yearly meeting, Mr.H.Hobson was elected as  President succeeding Mr.G.Ricketts who had been involved with the Society for upwards of 30 years. He  reported that total sales were down to £8,467  but  550 members enjoyed a dividend of 3/- on groceries etc and 1/- on corn.

1937. They purchased the Queen’s Arms public house ( see details in chapter on inns ) and after renovations and alterations rented it out as a private dwelling.

A party of about 60 members visited the C.W.S. Biscuit Works at Manchester in July 1938 and they travelled in ” special buses “.

The half-yearly meeting in February 1939 was held in the stores with H.Hobson presiding. Total sales for the period were £9480  and membership was 570. H.Hobson was re-elected as President and J.Taylor, H.Dawson and P.Dixon elected to the committee.

In 1940 sales were £9,970 with a profit of £1,239 and a membership of 575.  Once again H.Hobson was re-elected as president , H.Preston was re-elected to the committee and P.Dixon and W.Mallinson were appointed members. As a contrast in 1960 , membership was 709 and sales £26,999.

1941. The Express of April 5 reported that Mr.Jabez Hoyle, J.P., was retiring after 55 years as an official of Wooldale Ind.& Equitable Co-operative Society Ltd. He was born in Newsome in 1860 but moved soon afterwards to Netherthong where he grew up and lived until his marriage. He went to the National School and at the age of 14 he was employed as the only assistant to the manager at the Netherthong Co-op. After 3 years service he was appointed the shop manager at Wooldale at the age of 17. 

At the half-yearly meeting in August 1941, H.Hobson, the president, reported an increase in sales and dividend. Total sales were £10,403 with the standard divi at 2/10 in the £ and 1/- for coal & corn. The next half-yearly meeting in February 1942 showed a slight drop in sales but the dividends were maintained. membership stood at 583.  The 123rd. half-yearly meeting in August 1942 once again showed little change.

The first half yearly report for 1947 with Harold Preston, president, in the chair had sales of £12,902 and a surplus of £1,194 with a membership of 633. In May the members of the committee and staff enjoyed an outing to Morecambe.

The Directors and Staff  annual outing in June 1948 was to Skegness. The following month Miss Sylvia Jones won 3rd. prize in a talent-spotting competition held at the annual Co-operators’ day of the Slaithwaite & District Co-op Society. She sang ‘The second minuet’.

The first half-yearly report for 1949 showed sales at £15,467, membership of 640 and dividends at 2/3 and 6d. respectively. H.Hobson was re-elected president and John Pell, William Leake and H.Pickering appointed to the committee. The second report for the year ( the 137th. half yearly ) had the sales little changed but membership had crept up to 663. Three retiring members of the committee were re-elected – M.Mallinson, F.Germain and W.Boothroyd. By September sales had reached £16,826 with membership steady at 656. H.Pickering, J.Pell and W.Leake were re-elected to the committee.

After 54 years with the Co-op movement, Mr.Ernest Buckley (67) of Thongsbridge retired on March 4 1950. In 1916 he went to Netherthong Co-op Society as secretary- manager, a position he held for 34 years. Prior to going to Netherthong, he had been employed at Brockholes Co-op. When he joined in 1916 membership was 300 and this number had increased to 650 by 1950. Harold Wimpenny, who was the present manager of the Thongsbridge branch, would take over his position. Prior to moving to Thongsbridge, Harold had been with the Netherthong branch since he left school in 1916. Mr.Fred Hinchliffe, who had been manager of the butchery department for 25 years, also retired.

March 1955 was the 143rd. half- yearly report. Sales were £23,296 with the divis being 1/- and 6d.Membership stood at 671.  Mr.M.Mallinson was elected president for 12 months and J.Pell, J.Dixon, B.Pickering and C.Hobson were re-elected to the committee.

Ernest Buckley who retired in March 1950 ( see details in above paragraph ) died on February 6 1957 . The half-yearly report for March 1957 gave sales of £25,026. a divi of 1/- and membership of 698. At the September meeting, sales and membership levels had not changed. W.Kaye resigned from the committee and H.Preston was re-elected.  The 154th. half- yearly report for March 1958 with sales of £25,102 and membership 696. September of that year showed sales at £26,731 and membership 691. The next report was in August 1959 which was the 157th. half-yearly meeting. Sales were £22,485 with the divis at 1/2 and 4d respectively. Membership had climbed to 711. Three retiring members, J.Pell, T.Dixon and C.Hobson were re-elected. The first report for March 1960 gave record sales of £26,999 with membership staying above 700 at 709. By September, the 159th. half-yearly report showed that membership had rocketed to 727 with sales static at £26,907. The 160th. half-yearly report in March 1961 had membership and sales unchanged which was repeated at the September meeting. However at the meeting in March 1962 membership had risen to a new record of 743 but with sales static at £23,766 it was clear each member was spending less. Mr.Mallinson was re-elected as President. By September membership had eased slightly to 736.The meeting in March 1963 was held in the General Stores and presided over by M.Mallinson. The total sales for the half year were £23,701 with divis of 8d and 3d. Membership was 744. It is interesting to note that the population for 1961 was 1,567 so that almost half of that number were members. Not quite correct because non – residents could also have been members. The 165th. half-yearly report in September showed that the membership was 730 and that during the half year, 9 new members were admitted, 18 withdrew and 5 were written off. The 166th. half-yearly meeting in March1964 reported that M.Mallinson, J.Pell, J.Dixon and C.Hobson were all re-elected without opposition. Unfortunately the Express did not publish any reports on the two half yearly meetings and , for technical reasons none of the weekly issues for the whole of 1966 were transferred to film for the archives.

The last entry in the minutes was for September 19 1967. Two Special General Meetings were held on the 3rd. and 18th. January 1968 and by a majority vote of 48-2  members accepted the recommendation  of a resolution adopted to transfer the engagements of the Society to the Co-op retail Services Ltd. The Committee held their last meeting on 27th. January 1968. Membership at that time was 700.



Netherthong Wesleyan Church Part 1 – 1750 to 1920


 Wesleyan Church

  The Methodist Church is the fourth largest Christian Church in Britain, after the Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches and the Church of Scotland. It has more than six thousand churches and a total membership of approximately 330, 000 people. There are Methodist Churches in nearly every country in the world and global membership numbers some 70 million people. It is traditionally known as non-conformist because it does not conform to the rules and authority of the established Church of England.

  A group of tutors and students meeting at Oxford University  in the late 1720s became known as the Oxford Methodists and the group included John Wesley, Charles Wesley and George Whitefield. In 1735 these three men became evangelical missionaries in America. After three years with the English settlers in Georgia, John Wesley and George Whitefield returned to England and in 1739 built their first Methodist Chapel in Bristol. Wesley and Whitefield also gave sermons in the open-air and travelled the country where they mainly visited poor neighbourhoods. Wesley, who had emerged as the leader of the Methodists, told the people who attended his meetings that if they loved God in return, they would “be saved from sin and made holy”. Wesley also had a lot to say about personal morality and in his sermons he encouraged people to work hard and to save for the future. He also warned against the dangers of gambling and drinking.

 By the time John Wesley died in 1791, the Methodist movement had over 76,000 members and, after his death, the Methodists formally separated from the Anglican Church. Membership continued to grow and by 1801 reached 87,000 but the movement was weakened in 1808 when followers of Hugh Bourne were expelled. His followers became known as Primitive Methodists whereas those who remained were called Wesleyan Methodists. 

At its heart, the theology of John Wesley stressed the life of Christian holiness: to love God with all one’s heart, mind, soul and strength and to love one’s neighbour as oneself.  Wesley’s teaching also stressed experiential religion and moral responsibility.

Methodist Preachers in the  Birstal Methodist Circuit  visited Huddersfield and the surrounding villages and began holding services in the Netherthong area as early as 1750. They were held in the open air or in any available cottage and the house owned by John Hardy was licensed for worship in 1766.

The chapel was built in Haigh Lane at Deanhouse in 1769 on a piece of waste land belonging to the Earl of Dartmouth and a small nominal charge was made for the rent by way of acknowledgement. It was approached in front by 40 steps which remain to this day. In the old records it is styled a Methodist Meeting House or Preaching House and the word chapel occurred for the first time in 1772. It originally had four rows of pews in the gallery which provided for 81 sittings, and men and women occupied separate sides as was the custom among the Society of Friends.

View of the rear of the Wesleyan Chapel 1910 showing steps

The Methodists shared the use of the chapel with the Independents for a period in the early 1770s with each party preaching on alternate Sundays but this arrangement proved unsatisfactory and the Independents moved out and held their services in a cottage until they built Holmfirth Lane Independent Church in 1778.

The first time John Wesley visited the chapel was on July 6 1772 and he wrote in his diary “…at 10, I preached in the new house at Thong “. At this time there was no highway between Huddersfield and Holmfirth and the main road led from Honley Bridge by way of the old Turnpike, Banks and Hagg. At Hagg , he dismounted from his carriage and walked to Deanhouse. After the service , Mrs.Dinah Bates and most of the congregation accompanied him back to Hagg and at Hagg Wood they all gathered round John Wesley and sang –

Ye hills and ye dales

In praises abound

Ye mountains and vales

Continue the sound

Break forth into singing

Ye trees of the wood

For Jesus is bringing

Lost sinners to God.


There are some references that he visited again in 1773 and one rumour is that he had stayed overnight at the farm at Holmroyd Nook and had given two signed bibles to the farmer as thanks. One of the bibles is in the Tolsom museum in Huddersfield but the location of a second bible has never been established. The current owner of the house at Holmroyd  has been to the Wesleyan museum in London and has a letter from them stating that there is no evidence that Wesley stayed at the farm.

Some of the old books belonging to Wesley’s chapel gave an insight into the early days of Methodism in the district and one of those books is inscribed “ Register Book left at Black Swan Smithyes Door” and from this it would appear that the first baptism at the Chapel took place on May 29th. 1784 when “ Titus  Dinsdale of Honley in the parish of Almondbury was Baptiz’d “ In those days only a small proportion of people could read and write and it is not suprising that the local dialect had its influence on the spelling. Throughout the book the word daughter is spelled “ doughter “, Dean Brook was spelled “ Deign Brook “ and Deanhouse was “ Deignhouse “.  Mary was often spelled “ Marey “ and other peculiarities were “ Ellin “ and “ Harriot “. Biblical names such as Ishmael, Phineas, Job, Elijah, Luke, Paul, Eli, Joshua, Abraham, Abel, Cornelius, Dan, Matthew, Hannah and Ruth were common.. Easter was a popular name for girls. The influence of John Wesley was apparent, for one of the earliest entries is of a boy christened “ Wesley “.

The chapel attracted adherents from a wide area and there were entries from Hillhouse ( in Huddersfield), Sudehill , “ Thirstyland “ and “ Foolstone “ in the parish of Kirkburton.

 Account books of the Chapel were very revealing and in the earliest register of baptisms there is the following entry ; “ 1787 Decr. 4 – Pd. To Mr. Brook of Huddfd. Duty for corps burying & 6 baptisms at 3d. pr. Piece “

At a meeting held on October 31st. 1821, it was agreed that “ for the future the Charges for Grave Making should be as following ; all persons under 10 years of age 1s. 6d., for ages from 10 years to 20 years 2s.0d.. For all other persons above 20 years 2s. 6d. These charges appear to have continued for sixteen years, for the next entry states : “ It is Agreed at the Seats Day October 25th. 1837, that an advance of 6d. pr. Grave be allowed for Digging on the above statement.”

  In 1814-1815 , 222 sittings yielded £27 13s. per year and the prices of sittings varied, some being 2s.0d. per year, some 2s.6d. and others 3s.0d.

Other snippets of information from the account books are : Consumption of candles for lighting the Chapel were regular entries and during the winter months of 1836 there appeared to be about 2lb. of candles , costing 1s.0d., every couple of weeks.

In April 1837, Godfry Woodhead was paid “ 1s.8d for strings “, and later that year in May he was paid a further 6s.3d. for bass mending and strings.

In June 1839, the price of candles increased to 1s.1d. for two pounds. One of the more interesting entries in 1839 was : “ To Thos.Gledel, 4 ½ Quarts of ale at 1s. 8d. ; 2 quarts of ale Wm.and J. Gill 8d. Also in December of the same year  James Sykes was paid 1s.3d. for taking down and putting up the clock. In 1840, Jonas Eastwood was paid 3s.6d. for bass mending  and later 2s.0d. was paid to Abm. Fitton for clock mending.

In June 1852 the Treat of the children connected with the School was held and the teachers and children ‘walked out’ to the residence of Mr.Beardsall and sang hymns. The Huddersfield & Holmfirth Examiner in June 1854 reported that the Sabbath school celebrated their annual festival with the children marching in procession through the village and were later regaled with tea and buns.

Unfortunately the account book was confined to pew rents and the last amount recorded was £3. 1s. 3d. for pew rents on October 25th. 1854.

A new book for pew rents was started in 1855, when £2 13s. 0d. was received together with £1 12s. 3d. in arrears. From 1861 the same book was used for accounts and contained no more individual pew rents after 1860. The Chapel was altered to  form 2 stories in 1860-1861 and the Sunday School used the lower floor from 1861.

Some additional form of lighting was introduced in 1861 as there is an entry on September 10th. 1861 for Candles, Naptha etc 2s. 7 ½ d. and on October, Naptha 3s. 0d. and candles 7 ½ d. In the same year the anniversary collection was £4 10d. and the proceeds of tea £3 2s. Gas lighting appears to have been introduced in the latter part of 1861, for on December 31st. there is an entry “ Gas Bill 5s 1d.” In April , 1862, there was an entry  “ Property Tax 2s. 10d. “

The Chapel, which had been closed for several weeks in 1861 for the purpose of making certain necessary improvements and alterations, re-opened on Good Friday  with two sermons preached to a crowded congregation. Mr.J.Woodcock of Didsbury College preached in the afternoon and Rev.M.Johnson of Holmfirth in the evening. In the interval between the services a tea meeting was held and nearly 200 persons sat down.  Collections were made in aid of funds and the old debt on the chapel of £310 was completely paid off with several persons in the Holmfirth area having subscribed liberally. 

Entries in 1864 included “ Candles for Preaching 2d. “ : 4s. 6d. was paid to John Fox for stones for bridge. In December 1865, 3s. 6d. was paid to “Workhouse Men for road repairing.” After repairs to the gable end in 1866, the collection at the chapel re-opening amounted to £12 8s. 0d.  Meeting rooms were added to the Chapel during 1873-75.

After having served as a bass player for several years, Mr.John Scholfield died in 1867 and it was suggested that an organ be purchased to accommodate the singing. An organ committee was appointed on January 4 1869 and a second – hand organ was obtained and installed and the opening services were held on February 14 1869. The cost of the organ was £17 plus £2 15s. for setting up . The money was raised by public collections.  Geo. Hinchliffe was paid 13 s. 0d. per quarter as the organist until September 30 th. 1872 when he stopped playing. In March 1874 an entertainment was given in the Sunday school by a couple of amateurs from Holmfirth in the form of a magic lantern show. The views included the travels of Dr. Livingstone in Africa, scenes from the Tichborne Trial , views from the neighbourhood and concluded with a number of comic slides. The organ recently purchased  for the Chapel was ” inaugurated ” in mid-February 1869 and on the Sunday two excellent services were preached by the Rev. W.Sugden of Holmfirth. The sermon on the following Wednesday was preached by Rev. T. Champness and a tea meeting was held afterwards. The collection in aid of the organ fund raised £17.

The committee and teachers associated with the Sunday School held a tea meeting in May 1870 in connection with the departure of Mr.George Harber Woodhead to Australia. After the tea, Mr.John Woodhead of Deanhouse presided and presented a neatly-bound copy of the Holy Bible and a hymn book to G.H.Woodhead as a token of esteem and appreciation for his very valuable services as teacher and secretary.

The Annual Meeting of the branch for 1871 was held in September in the Chapel. The following ministers and gentlemen took part. Rev.J.Bate, A.Level, recently appointed the circuit minister, Messrs. H.Butterworth, J.Woodcock, James Jagger, James Hobson, John Haigh and W.Wilson. Charles Woodhead was in the chair. A party and lecture was given in the Wesleyan school in April 1873 in connection with the ladies sewing machine for the purposes of raising funds for re-building the chapel-keepers house and making other necessary alterations to the chapel premises. About 170 ladies enjoyed the tea after which the company adjourned to the chapel when the Rev.George Kenyon of Linthwaite gave his popular lecture on Yorkshire and Yorkshireman. At the end of the lecture a collection was made after which the proceedings were terminated by the singing of the doxology and prayer. The Annual feast was held in June and the procession was headed by the village Brass Band. The school statistics was that there were 151 scholars, 77 boys and 74 girls,  with an average attendance of 94 and these were helped by 15 male and 14 female teachers. There were 55 books in the library and the Superintendent was Mr. John Woodhouse.

At the beginning of 1875 the Wesleyans made an effort to clear off the debts incurred in altering and enlarging their premises by exhibiting a Christmas tree and fancy articles in the schoolroom. The sale was opened by Mr. David  Woodhead and when the receipts were added up over £60 had been taken. A museum of curiosities was very attractive and well supported. May of that year was very important as the Chapel, which had been closed for the past few months for making alterations and additions, was opened for Divine Worship. Three sermons were preached to good congregations- in the morning by Mr. Moore Sykes of Huddersfield and in the afternoon and evening by the Rev. J. Jagger of Cardiff who had left the village several years ago to enter the Wesleyan Ministry. Over £21 was raised .The annual missionary meeting was held in September 1876 with John Woodhead presiding. The Rev.V.Tyas read part of the report of the society and addresses followed by the chairman, the Rev.C.Foster and Messrs. Dinsdale, Jagger, Woodhead, H.Butterworth and W.Wilson.A collection on behalf of the society was made at the end of the evening. The teachers and friends of the Sunday School held their annual tea on New Years Day 1877. A large number partook of the food and James Jagger occupied the chair. Addresses were given by the Rev.John Jagger ( Bolton ), C.Foster and VTyas , both of Holmfirth, Messrs. Dinsdale Roberts ( Hinchliffe Mill ), Harpin ( Thurstonland ) , Butterworth and J.Brown. Two months later a tea party was held with a good number partaking of the repast. The meal was followed by a lecture given by T.Dinsdale of Holmfirth ; Mr.A.Boothroyd presided. £5 was raised for funds.

In May of the same year, to coincide with the Whitsuntide Festivities,  the Huddersfield Examiner and West Riding Reporter devoted a whole page to give details of all the local ‘independent’ churches which included the names of the Superintendents and the number of scholars and teachers  and a report on their processions.  For Netherthong Wesleyan SS, the Superintendents were John Woodhead and Robert Cousen and there were 69 scholars, 30 male and 39 female. The teachers totalled 23 with 9 males and 14 females. There were 113 books in the library. The teachers and scholars met at the schoolroom  and preceded to the  Deanhouse Workhouse headed by the  Netherthong Brass band. They carried on to Thongsbridge, Hagg and Deanhouse  before returning to the school for tea after which  they went to the Deanhouse cricket field for games. 

April 1879 was a very special occasion as it was the month of the annual tea and prize giving for the Sunday school. 240 people sat down for the tea and afterwards a crowded meeting was held in the chapel presided over by E.Jacobs of Garston, Liverpool. B.Oldfield, the secretary, gave his report and said that the school had  29 teachers and 244 scholars. The great event of the evening was the distribution of prizes of new books and were based on attendance. 31 scholars who had attended 90 times were awarded 3rd. prizes. 2nd. prizes went to those with an attendance of 100 times. The 19 scholars who had attended punctually twice every Sunday during the whole year received 1st. prizes. In addition there were special prizes for those who had attended for not less than five years. Ada Broadhead, M.Roberts, Mary Roberts, Sarah Seymour and Richard Seymour achieved five years. J.Broadhead, J.S.Dyson, F.W.Dyson and Ada Smith attained six years. Giles Parkin, S.Smith and Marian Taylor excelled with seven years each. But they were all eclipsed by the  remarkable record achieved by Lydia Taylor who, during the previous eight years, had never been absent , morning or afternoon, and had only been late once but that was only for a few seconds. A few months later on Whit Monday teachers and scholars met at school and marched round the district accompanied by the Netherthong Brass Band. On returning they were provided with refreshments before adjoining to a field for games with the band playing at intervals. The superintendents were Messrs. John Woodhead and Robert Cousen and there were 29 male and 29 female scholars and 8 male and 14 female teachers. The average attendance was 37 and there were 120 books in the library.( the figures for the number of scholars and teachers are  considerably at variance from those given in the previous paragraph ?? ). In a break from tradition the annual festival for 1883 was held on Whit Saturday instead of Whit Monday and, for the first as far as I can find out, the procession was led by the Wooldale Brass Band. The format was as previous. The Superintendents were Charles Woodhead and Robert Cousen. There were 53 scholars, 19 male and 34 female and 19 teachers, 7 male and 12 female. The average attendance was 32 and the number of books in the library was 176.

Miss Martha Woodhead became voluntary organist and, on her death in December 1885, it was suggested that it would be a graceful act to erect an organ in the chapel to her memory. As signs of dry rot had appeared in some of the pews, it was decided to have the interior entirely reconstructed and modernized and the new organ was erected in the north-west corner. It cost £165 3s. 6d. and the overall cost for all the work came to £432 7s. 9d..

 At Whitsun 1869, teachers, scholars and friends assembled and met with the teachers and scholars of the Wesleyan Free Church and walked in procession to the Workhouse where they sang songs and hymns for the inmates. As the weather was wet, the march round the village was cancelled and the schools separated and went to their own schoolrooms for tea, buns and oranges. The Shelley Brass Band were engaged and gave a few selections of music in each school.

The first record of a choir trip is on August 31st.1886 when the following entry was made “ Chapel Choir ( Picnic ) £3 0s.0d.. The next year they went to Wentworth for £2 7s. 0d . By 1906 the choir trip expenses had increased to £5 but in the following year their trip  to Chester  cost only £2 8s. 0d.  On November 4th. 1890 was the entry ” John Hinchliffe organist £5 5s 0d “.  Coke was apparently very cheap in 1892 for an entry on February 4th.  that year states ” 5 Load Cinders & leading for Oct. to Dec. 3s 9d “.

The account book ended on January 23rd. 1915 with the entry  “ At this date Mr.B.J.Littlewood resigned after discharging the duties of treasurer to the Trustees for a period of sixty years. The trustees gratefully acknowledge his services and the balance of £14 0s. 5d. was handed over by Mr. Littlewood to the new treasurer . Signed, Walter Wagstaff. “

The very first edition of the Huddersfield and Holmfirth Examiner was issued as a weekly on Saturday, September 6 1851 , price four and a half pence. In the September 27 issue it reported that a Missionary meeting had been held with the chair occupied by James Jaggar. The meeting was addressed by Revs. T.Garbutt and B.Firth and Messrs. J.Woodcock, G.Woodhead and J.Taylor with the collection was in aid of the Mission Society. The same month there was a meeting in the Chapel of  stewards, local preachers and leaders in connection with the Reform Wesleyans. Joseph Cuttell was voted into the chair and the financial statement was very good with a balance of £6. During the meeting a very important resolution was passed, not without considerable opposition, that local preachers should administer baptism and the Lord’s supper. The meeting was adjoined for tea provided by friends of the cause and afterwards was opened to the public. January  1852 was their Tea Party with 80 of the teachers present. John Woodhead was in the chair and Messrs. Sykes, Dearnally, Cuttell, C.Hobson and J.Jaggar addressed the meeting, The next reported annual meeting of the Missionary Society was in September1857 under the presidency of James Jagger. Addresses showing the progress of missionary labours in foreign lands were given by Rev. H.Davison and A.Learoyd as well as Messrs. Woodcock, Taylor, Wilson and other friends.

In 1891 several Temperance meetings were held in the Wesleyan school and the lecturer was Fred Sykes.The following year in February Mr. Ottwell Binns “ Joyful News “ an evangelist who was stationed at Netherthong Wesleyan Chapel gave the first of a series of services for men. The subject was “ some problems of today – nature, life and the future “. A second service was “ Does an unprincipled man succeed ?”

In April 1902 there was a 2 day sale of work in the Chapel. There was a large attendance and £150 was raised.

 In April 1905 the older scholars from the Sunday school provided a Drawing Room concert. Mr. & Mrs. Singleton were host and hostesses. There was a full programme and, during the interval, Mr. Walter Shore gave a recital of gramophone selections and Mr. Charles Briggs was in charge of the galvanic battery. There was a good attendance and £5 was raised.

 January 1907 saw the Sunday school annual tea and meeting at which Mr.T.Mosley, the school secretary, presented the annual report. There were 80 students on the books plus 19 teachers and officers. The following month there was a drawing-room concert in the schoolroom which had become an annual event. The Rev. Clement Reader and Mrs. Reader were the hosts. The choir provided all the entertainment and gave a large varied programme.

In June the school feasts of the Wesleyans and the Methodist Free Church were combined. The scholars met at 2 pm and headed by the Holme Prize Band walked in procession. The route taken went first to the Workhouse where they sang for the inmates and Mr. Heastie , the Master, thanked them and said it was now 23 years since they had first started visiting. The procession continued onto Deanhouse, Hagg , Thongsbridge and back to Netherthong. They had a good tea and each scholar was presented with a cake and an orange and the rest of the evening was spent playing games in a field at Deanhouse, kindly lent by Roger Shaw.

The Sunday school anniversary services were held in August 1908. F.Mellor was on the organ and the conductor was Mr. H.Fisher.  On the Bank Holiday Monday the choir had their annual trip and went to Southport and enjoyed themselves on the sands, the fun fair and the Botanical Gardens.

The Annual joint festival with the United Methodists was once again held in May 1910 and the procession was led by the Hepworth Silver Prize Band.  60-70 members went on the annual choir outing to Lincoln in July.

Earlier in this chapter I said that the land for the Chapel had been rented from the Earl of Dartmouth in 1769 for a nominal sum and the receipt below dated 16 December 1912  is for four shillings from the Wesleyan Chapel Trustees Netherthong for one years rent due to The Earl of Dartmouth at 1st. November 1912.

Receipt for one years rent dated 16 December 1912.

In January 1913, the annual New Year’s Party for the Wesleyan school was held and there was a good tea and lots of speakers.  In March the married men connected with the Chapel embarked on a new venture by providing a public tea and a variety concert with Mr.J.Woodhead presiding. It was a great success and a profit of £18 10s was made. May saw the Annual School Festival of the combined Wesleyan and United Methodist Sunday Schools. The procession headed by Honley Prize band visited the Workhouse, Deanhouse village, Hagg, Thongbridge and returned back to Netherthong. The workers and scholars were entertained at their own schools before all going to a gala held in the old cricket field at Deanhouse. In August all the teachers and pupils had an enjoyable trip to Gunthwaite Hall. They travelled in 4 waggonettes  supplied by Herbert Booth of New Mill.

A large company of teachers and congregation assembled to mark the impending marriage of Luke Roebuck and Miss A.Hellawell.

The Wesleyan Choir outing by train to Bridlington took place in August 1914. The Foreign missionary anniversary connected to the Chapel took place in November with a meeting on the Sunday and Tuesday giving a detailed report  on the missionary activities in China.

 The New Years School Gathering was held in January 1915 and Wm.Froggatt presided and delivered an admirable address. Cllr. Thomas Brook and Mr. W.Wagstaff also made speeches and Miss Couson presented prizes to the children. The following month  Mr.B.Littlewood relinquished his post as chapel steward on reaching 85 years after holding the office for 65 years. In May the children of the Primary Department of the Sunday School presented a gift of 36 eggs, a cake and 1s 7d in cash plus a card to Holmfirth Military Cottage Hospital. The Foreign missionary anniversary was held in November with the Rev.Taylor, who had spent 8 years in North Ceylon, giving a talk on his time with the Tamil people. Rev.Doughty, as the secretary of the foreign mission, presented the annual report and said that in spite of the war , the year had been one of great blessing in the foreign field. The total proceeds of the evening were £20 1s 5d.

In May the children of the primary department of the Sunday school made gifts to present to the Holmfirth Military Hospital. They consisted of 36 eggs, a cake and 1s 7d in cash with a card inscribed ” A gift of love to our brave soldiers. from little primary children, some of whose fathers are soldiers too.”

January 1916 saw the Wesleyan New Year Gathering in conjunction with the Sunday school. The foreign missionary anniversary in November had a talk on missionary work in India.

 A tea and concert was held in March 1917 at the Sunday school in aid of the school renovation fund. There was a large attendance and £7 5s 1d was raised. May was the anniversary of the Chapel and the afternoon service was conducted by  Rev.W.Doughty and by Rev.J.Keddie in the evening. Mr.J.Green was the organist for the singing.

 The New Year’s gathering in 1917 of the Wesleyan Sunday School was a great success. After the tea and speeches, the scholars gave a pleasing programme with recitations by some of the adults and at the grand finale prizes were presented to the successful scholars.

 August 1917 saw the annual services for the Sunday School with the Rev. E. Johnson of Holmfirth delivering two powerful sermons. The choir, with Mr. J.Green at the organ, were a great success and they achieved a record collection of £10 7s.

In September in conjunction with the Wesleyan Chapel a garden party took place in a field in New Road kindly lent by Mr. Woodhead. The attractions included a cricket match between the ladies and gents. After the game and the tea, everyone played games including running races, obstacle races, egg and spoon, threading the needle and slow racing. The profits were £3 15s which went to the organ improvements fund.

In January 1918 the Chapel organized a social and an American Fair and Café were some of its features. The receipts of £5 were given to the Patriotic Society.

March saw the anniversary of the Chapel and there were sermons in the afternoon and evening by Dr. Brown of Dewsbury. Music was provided by the choir and the collection raised £ 16s.

The next report  about the Chapel in the Express for 1918 was about the Harvest festival in October. There was a good attendance and £5 6s 8d was raised in aid of the trust fund. In November a memorial service was held at the Wesleyan Chapel in memory of Private Harold Brackenbury who had died on October 1st. from wounds received in action in France

The start of 1919 saw the New Year annual gathering. It was very enjoyable  and after tea the prizes were presented to the successful scholars. In recognition of having been connected with the school for 20 years, bibles were presented to Florence Shore and Private Henry Swallow who had just returned from being a POW.

In March there was a concert at the Sunday School under the presidency of Mr. Wagstaff which realized £5 for trust funds The following month there was a special musical service with selections of music rendered by the Holmfirth Wesleyan Choir.

 In May the young people associated with the Wesleyan and United Methodist Sunday schools once again took part in their annual festival. A procession, headed by the Honley Brass Band, went first to the Deanhouse Institution and then Upper and Lower Oldfield, Deanhouse and Netherthong  stopping at various points to sing hymns. Tea was provided in the respective schools followed by a gala held in beautiful weather. Several of the returned soldiers took part.

The Annual church choir outing was held in July and 18 members visited Liverpool and New Brighton. The Sunday School anniversary took place in August  and there was a very large congregation at all three services which were conducted by J.Roberts J.P. with Mr. J. Green on the organ. £12 was collected for funds


Members of the Wesleyan Church Choir. 1920s/30s?

September saw the mission anniversary in conjunction with the Chapel. On the Sunday morning there was a temperance sermon and in the afternoon a report on missionary work in West Africa. On the Tuesday the missionary spoke of his experiences in Mysore, India. The proceeds of £20 went to missionary relief.

1920 started with the Sunday School holding its New Years Gathering.  Mr. W.Wagstaff presided at the meeting and Mr. Joe Settle presented the annual report. A public tea was provided, after which there were songs and the presentation of prizes to the children  At the end of the month the Young Leaders Union connected with the Sunday School promoted an enjoyable social gathering in the schoolroom with Miss Cousen presiding.

In June the Annual Sunday School Festival in connection with the United Methodists was held to the normal format but after the procession and teas the gala had to be cancelled due to bad weather.

July was an important month as the Sunday School opened after renovation, the expenses amounted to £70. A large group had tea with the trays presided over by old scholars with young ladies acting as waitressesMr. James Hoyle, a former teacher at the  day school, told stories of the early days of the Chapel and the school. He was one of the original 10 scholars who attended when the present school was opened in May 5 1861 and he said the number of scholars had increased over the years to its present level of 140.

As I have just mentioned Mr. James Hoyle in the above paragraph, it’s appropriate here to include an article, reprinted from the Holmfirth Express of February 25 1939, received by them from Mr.J.H.Hoyle dealing with some of his memories of the chapel and school as a lad from three years of age to being twenty years old. He said he had had the privilege of attending service in the chapel as it stood when Wesley preached in it , and was also one of the ten scholars present at the opening of the Sunday School. I have copied it exactly as printed and some of the punctuation might seem rather archaic.

In his own words “ It was one of Wesley’s chapels, and as a young lad I was taken there regularly to the services. At that time the building remained structurally the same as it was when Wesley preached in it soon after it was built. There it has stood for close on a century, a striking and not uncomely structure of grey gritstone sturdily perched on the steep edge of a narrow glen and looking across towards the village crowning the nearby hill, the foreground of the view being formed by the trees of a little plantation, at the bottom of which murmured the clear waters of the brook, as, fresh from their labours on a neighbouring waterwheel, they sought rest and quiet in the pond just below. How many thousands of Methodist worshippers belonging to the ” Old Body ” have descended the almost precipitous slope of that hill from the village, down the gentler slope beneath the trees, across the large stone flags that spanned the brook, and then ,by an arduous climb up the long flight of ” catseps “, have reached the body of the chapel ( now the Sunday School ). What fun and valuable exercise for lung and limb those steps gave us boys! The older people did not seem to regard them with half our friendliness : but what could they expect? They never ran races down them, or even up !

Once inside the chapel, however, and we were on our best behaviour : and even this came at no very great hardship during some parts of the service, as for example, when the old ” Bass player ” who could make his cello talk, was leading the choir, and even after he had left us, to join the orchestra of heaven, when the new organ was on its best behaviour ,too. Some of those hymns and anthems echo and re-echo even yet. Anniversaries and other special occasions usually went with a swing, but it might be somewhat different at times. Ordinary services were not always as attractive.  In those days it was customary for the preacher to read out the whole of the first verse of the hymn to be sung , and when the opening hymn began ” Come on my partners in distress ” and the world was repeatedly referred to as ” This vale of tears ” or “This waste  howling wilderness “, little roomwas left for enthusiasm. In the course of the year there were three special occasions connected with the Sunday School.

  On New Year’s Day was held the annual meeting, which began with a tea, bountifully served in true West Riding style. This was followed by a meeting, enlivened by speeches from teachers and others, of whom some at best were not born orators, but the breakdown of a speaker did not damp, but rather intensified the enjoyment of the audience. Whitsuntide was certainly the crown of the year for the scholars. To watch them assemble for morning school on Whit Sunday was a fine opportunity for studying the effect of dress on an individual, and possibly on the adult mind. The girls, in all the glory of new summer finery, their faces beaming with pride and satisfaction, tripped gaily to their places, giving no evidence of any desire to avoid observation. The boys, on the other hand, just sneaked in , looking half -ashamed and wholly uncomfortable. In the evening, instead of a sermon, the scholars gave recitations, in which they had recieved careful training. These were fully appreciated by admiring parents and friends, and were not to be despised as an introduction to poetry and correct expression.

Whit Monday was the day of the schoolfeast. Led by a brass band, teachers and scholars walked in procession round the neighbourhood, stopping at various points to sing their special hymns, and occasionally they received an orange or some sweets. Tea and buns were served in the schoolroom, and each scholar was presented with a specially large and rich bun – the ” School Feast Cake ” – to take home. Then, whilst the room was being cleared and re-arranged, there was a short interval for games, but little room in which to play. After this a meeting was held with speeches and selections by the brass band that easily filled the comparitively small room chock full of music, the whole ending loyally with ” God save the Queen “. Later in the summer the anniversary, almost a second Whit Sunday as far as the dresses of the girls were concerned was held. The music was carefully rehearsed for weeks beforehand, and not unfrequently included new tunes by local musicians, and it would be difficult to say which aroused most interest, the music or the amount of the collection, but some of these new tunes could have been heard years after the last penny of the collection had been spent.

Some of Methodism’s finest men visited us at times. Thomas Champness was no stranger and to hear him at his best speaking from the text, ” The people had a mind to work “, was a privilege long to be treasured. Frequently the pulpit was occupied by a young man, then in his teens,who afterwards became President of the Conference, and few, if any , finer sermons were ever heard in the chapel than one of his on the text, ” He shall save His peoplefrom their sins “. A service of a kind rarely witnessed in a  Methodist chapel was held one Sunday morning. After the usual hymns, prayers and lessons the announcement was made, ” The Sacrament of Baptism will now be administered.” The good superintendent minister, the Rev. Joseph Entwistle, began to descend the pulpit steps,but nowhere could be seen any sign of a beautifully embroidered christening robe, nor could we hear the faintest squeak of protest from some little mite that had not been duly consulted. How could there be a christening without a baby? But we were not left long to solve that problem. The answer was at hand. Slowly down one of the aisles and across to the communion rail came one of the leaders of that little society, closely followed by his wife. who took her place at his side as she had done on many trying occasions before. He was a man to whom all the rights and privileges of Christian worship and Christian fellowship were precious, and it had troubled him much that after diligent searches no record of his baptism could be found, and he had resolved that this omission should be remedied. So the strong man became as a little child, and was baptised in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost in the presence of that congregation, among whom were some of his own children.  And though it is now more than seventy years since I witnessed this event  I have never seen a similar ceremony. Not that it could be expected as it was my own father who I saw baptised “.

Mr. James Henry Hoyle is the son of the late Mr.Amos Hoyle of Thong Bridge and is best remembered as a day school teacher at Holmfirth Wesleyan School.

The receipt below , dated December 16th. 1912,  was  to the Wesleyan Chapel Trustees Netherthong for the sum of Four Shillings. This was the rent for one year due to the Earl of Dartmouth and signed by J.Wilson for Thynne & Thynne- Land Agents of Westminster.


Receipt for one years rent.


Netherthong and the Wars – Part 4 – WW2


Netherthong and its part in World War 11

   From the middle of 1938, as the threat of war increased, the Express was the conduit for informing all the residents about the introduction of new rules and restrictions such as black-out times and ration cards. It also included public notices from various Ministries on a large range of subjects which had a common aim – SAVE.

The first notice in October by the Urban District Council of Holmfirth was titled Air Raid precautions and fitting of Civilian Respirators – ” Whatever the state of the International situation the Census and Fitting of Civilian Respirators will be completed. Please remain at home as much as possible this week-end until you have been fitted with your Civilian Respirator.” It the listed the names of the wardens.

Netherthong 1 – New Road, East side of West End to Moor Lane – Mr.Gilbert Bailey ( West End )  & Mr.A.C.Roebuck.( Ox lane Farm ).

Netherthong 2 – Giles Street, Miry Lane, Outlane, Dock Hill, Towngate and Netherthong central – Mr. Wilfred Denton( West End ) and Cllr. Littlewood Hoyle ( Melrose Cottage ).

Netherthong 3- Top houses of Thong lane, Deanhouse, Dean Brook, Har Royd, Thongs Bridge – Mr. Albert Alsop ( 13 Dean Brook ) and Mr.David Birch ( Myra House ).

  In July, there was a notice of Air Raid precautions on the night of July13/14 and there had to be a full blackout between midnight and 4a.m. The following month there was a public notice concerning Civilian Respirators . It said that, as far as is known, the distribution of civilian respirators has been completed ( except for babies ) throughout the Urban District of Holmfirth.

 Also in  August there was a notice on the Discontinuance of Street Lighting. In the event of war breaking out, all Public Street Lighting throughout the district would be discontinued.   In September the police published a large half-page notice  about Air Raid Warnings. It stated that Warnings of impending Air Raids will be given by a fluctuating or “ warbling “ signal. If Poison Gas has been used , warnings will be given by hand rattles. The ringing of hand bells will announce that the damage from gas has passed.

War was officially declared on September 3. 1939


 A further notice issued in September is shown below  



Volunteers are

Urgently required

To supply motor cars and drivers

For First-Aid work

And to act as Stretcher Bearers

( men over military age )

The Express also printed the details of the Emergency Instructions Pamphlet which was issued to all households throughout the country. These included :

a)    carrying of identity labels

b)    air raid warnings

c)     lighting restrictions

d)    fire precautions

e)     closing of places of entertainment – all cinemas , theatres, dance halls and places of public entertainment will be closed until further notice

f)      instructions to drivers of vehicles and cyclists

g)    traveling by road and rail

h)    telephones and telegrammes – do not use the ‘phone except for very urgent messages

i)       food supplies

j)      payment of pensions

k)    National Health Insurance

l)       General instructions – always carry your gas mask, avoid waste.

 The pamphlet ended with the exhortation “ Keep a good heart. We are going to win through.  

National Registration Day was also in September. 

 At the start of 1940 the Netherthong War Service Association Comfort Fund organized Whist Drives, Supper and Dance evenings once a month.  Throughout the year other organizations also held events to raise money for this fund and other worthy causes. In March a Whist drive and Carnival dance,  promoted by Mr.& Mrs.Hart of the Clothier’s Arms, was held at the Council School and raised £16. Other events included a concert by the Netherthong Male Voice Choir in April and in June  the Holme Silver Band, under the conductorship of F. Chantry, gave a concert in the National School. Also in June an early-morning-sing was held in a field near Oldfield Road kindly lent by H.Pennington and it brought together many people and the singing was led by the Netherthong Male Voice Choir. 25/- was raised for the Holme Valley Hospital.

 Thomas Dyson whose Lantern Lectures were a regular feature of the Netherthong scene gave one in December titled “ Beauty Spots in Derbyshire “ in aid of the Comfort’s Fund. 

 On March 9, 1940 all men who had reached the age of 24 in 1939 were required to register for service in the armed forces. Also that month  there was the first  notice in the paper about the saving of waste paper and collections would start on March 27. 

Rations were cut and, on 27 May 1940, sugar was reduced from 12oz to 8oz and this was followed on June 3 when butter dropped from 8oz to 4oz.

 In May the War Emergency Committee for the Holmfirth area ( which  included Netherthong ) was formed.

 Sphagnum moss ( bog moss ) was in demand as it could be dried and used as dressing for wounds. Both the Boy Scouts and Girl Guide Associations  asked their members to collect it when they went hiking on the moors.

 The Express in October ran the following large  notices about the evacuation of civilians to the District.

Holmfirth Urban District Council

Civilian Evacuation.

400 mothers and children are being sent to the district

from London under the Civilian Evacuation Scheme.

Mothers and children have to be housed……….. but overcrowding of houses cannot be permitted.

 The Government allowance payable to the householder for lodging only is 5/- for the mother and 3/- for each child.


Clerk to the Council

 In November the new Ration Book was issued and residents had to apply for it.

As the war continued to impact on people’s lives, the Ministry of Labour said that there would be no Bank Holiday on Boxing Day – War workers were asked to take one day off only.

 Inhabitants were continually being exhorted to help the war effort and in January 1941 it was decided that Holmfirth UDC would have a War Weapons Week ( January 25 to February 1 ). The Express had a ½ page notice with a map showing the boundary of the Urban District with all the villages marked. 

Aim to raise the cost of 6 tanks £150,000

Invest all you can in :

3% Savings Bonds ( 1955-1965 )

2 ½ % National War Bonds ( 1946-48 )

3% Defence Bonds

Savings Certificates

Make your money fight = Hit back at Hitler

There was a full programme of events with a big parade and an opening ceremony. Up to February 1, £242,000 had been raised for the War Weapons and the Express printed a list of the donors.

 Fundraising for the Comforts Fund continued and regularly included  whist drives and dances and in April 1941 the committee reported that the total amount raised for the Fund during the winter amounted to £63 8s 2d.  In May, Madame M. Hirst’s concert party “ The Will – do- Wells “ gave a high speed variety entertainment at the Zion Methodist school and the proceeds of £3 14s 3d went to the fund. The 21st. Annual Music festival , held in the Parish Church in June raised £9 for local charities and the Comfort Fund. In August the Comfort Fund committee organized a Grand Field Day and tea. It opened at 3pm and tea was at 4pm with the Hepworth Prize Band in attendance.  The numerous attractions included various sports and the day finished with a Grand Concert held in the school at 8pm. The artistes were ; Mrs. Norman Ellis – soprano ; Mrs. Walker – contralto . Fred Dickinson – bass. Clifford Garner – entertainer and Mrs. Hedley Brookes as accompanist. The admission was 1/3 for the field and tea and 6d for the concert. Almost £90 was raised and the Express carried a long report.  In December the Fund’s progress for the  year was given and it detailed the receipts from all the fund raising activities. These , including a balance of £123, totaled £348  and payments were made of £218 16s 4d

In May the Holmfirth UDC’s campaign to enroll 1000 blood donors exceeded  the target and they ended up at 1,258. 

 Whilst the war was raging unabated , many aspects of life continued unchanged. The theatres in Huddersfield were very busy with big stars, such as Elsie and Doris Waters, appearing regularly. The Valley Theatre, Holmfirth and the Palladium at Honley showed films.

 The cricket season resumed on April 19th.  and each week the Express devoted a full page to the results. The Rugby and Football leagues started up in August. There was a thriving local darts league with 12 teams including two from the Clothiers’ Arms.

In July the Ministry of Food placed a notice about the New Ration Books telling people that they must register between July 7 – 19 . “Failure to do so will mean that you may not get your rations when your new ration Books and your new registrations start on July 26.”

Blackout times were very important and the penalties for showing lights were severe. The Express always gave details of the times for the forthcoming week.  In August it said that blackout time would be 10.35 p.m. but, owing to the end of Double Summer Time and the abolition of the extra ¼ hour concession ,which had been made in April, the blackout time would now be 9.18 p.m.

There was no let-up as the public continued to be exhorted to help the war effort and in August the Holmfirth Urban District Council decided to have a two week salvage drive.

Holmfirth UDC

Salvage Drive 1941

September 6 – September 20


Your Front is the HOME Front




Your Country need them

You can supply

Your Council will collect

 Netherthong people and organizations were among those contributing to the “Help for Russia “ fund organized by the Holmfirth Trades and Labour Council. The Netherthong Co-Op gave £2 2s 0d and the Parish Church £5 2s 6d.

 In December there was a public notice from the Ministry of Information. They were giving free film shows and all the films had to do with the war including “ From the 4 corners “, “ Salute to the Soviet “, “ Sinews of War – about the S.A. War Effort “ and “Beaverbrooks Battle Cry”. They were shown on Wednesday, December 18 at the National School.

The start of 1942 saw a National Paper Salvage Contest throughout January to increase collections.

Also in January the Holmfirth UDC issued a Public Notice about snow clearing. It said that as the Council had little labour for clearing snow it was requesting inhabitants ( men, women, children ) to help on clearing snow from footpaths and adjoining water channels.

 Following on from the successful War Weapons Week in January 1941 that had raised money for 6 tanks , it was decided to organize another one in February to try to raise £210,000 towards the cost of a destroyer. The Express ran a half-page notice. 

Warship Week

February 7 – February 14 1942

Invest all you can in :

3% Savings Bonds ( 1955 – 1965 )

2 ½ % National War Bonds ( 1949 – 1951 )

3% Defense Bonds

Savings Certifcates

Post Office Savings Banks 

Our Objective : A destroyer

Our Aim ; £210,000

Many social events such as Whist Drives and Dances continued to be  held throughout the district to raise monies for the Fund.

On February 14 the Express reported that £190,000 had been invested for Warship Week and listed many of the contributors including Netherthong Co-op for £500 and the Netherthong Comforts Fund with £467. On February 21 the paper proudly announced that a grand total of £231,754 had been raised. I  received,  ( May 2015 ), the following additional information. To celebrate the achievement, Holmfirth was presented with a ship’s plaque – this plaque still exists and will be the central exhibit at a war weekend in September 2015. The destroyer, named HMS HERO, was credited with sinking four U-boats and is mentioned as being the 1st. ship on the scene when a Sunderland flying-boat found U 559 in the Mediterranean in 1942. The code books from that submarine were sent to Bletchley and were instrumental in Alan Turing’s work.

 The Express published a notice from the Ministry of Food about Soap Rationing.

  From Monday, February 9, soap may only be bought against a coupon or buying permit. You will have 4 coupons in each 4 – weekly period and each coupon will entitle you to ;

14 oz. hand soap

or 3 oz. toilet soap

or 3 oz. soap flakes

or 6 oz. soap powder No. 1

or 12 oz. soap powder No.2

or 6 oz. soft soap.

In March the size of the Express was reduced by 10% to comply with the order issued by the Ministry of Supply.

 The Holmfirth UDC placed a notice in the paper requesting the services of 800 Salvage stewards to help the Council do some real work “ in your immediate neighbourhood “  It organized a series of meetings and the one for Netherthong was held in the National school at 7.30 on the 28th. April. The paper reported that the meetings had been poorly attended.

 Another new issue of Ration Books was issued in May and Netherthong residents had to go to the Holmfirth Food Office to obtain them. 

Many members of the Forces from the Netherthong area had written expressing their deep thanks for the parcels from the Comforts Fund. Once again names were not given and instead the Express printed – an RAF man wrote …….     Another RAF man states …….. A girl in the Forces writes ………     a second lieutenant writes ……. A driver writes …….

The tone in each one was similar and can be summed up by the words from one of them … “ just a few lines to thank you for your lovely Christmas parcel which I received yesterday. I feel very proud to receive such a nice gift and I am sure that all the other lads who got similar presents will feel the same.”

Entertainment  continued to be plentiful and, as an example, in the issue of the Express for January 24 1942, there were notices for 25 Dances, Whist Drives and Concerts many of them being for fund raising. The cinemas in Holmfirth and Honley showed the latest films and the theatres in Huddersfield were able to attract  the big stars . 

As they had done so successfully during the First World war, the local inhabitants set up a number of associations and organized  fund raising activities for them. They were often competing for funds.

 These included the Christmas Parcel Fund, the Netherthong War Service Association, the Netherthong War Memorial Association and  the Holme Valley Comforts Fund . Netherthong was part of this last fund which posted items to local men serving in the forces. The Express listed the contributions to the Fund from all the local villages.

Weekly sewing meetings were held weekly in aid of the Netherthong War Service Association. In November a whist drive was held in the home of Mr. Sykes of Towngate and £1 3s 6d was raised in aid of the Christmas Parcel Fund for the servicemen of the Netherthong Parish.  Mr. Thomas Dyson gave a lantern lecture on Shakespeare’s County – Warwickshire in the National School and the proceeds of £2 1s 6d went to the Christmas Parcel Fund.

Miss Wilson, the secretary of the Fund, stated that the following items had been sent to the servicemen. 21 pairs of socks, 34 scarves, 25 pairs of mittens, 16 bandages, 13 night shirts, 13 vests, 4 pairs of pants and 105 Dorothy bags.

Money was also being raised for the Netherthong War Memorial Fund and an American Tea given by Mrs. Bevan and Miss Floyd raised the princely sum of £25 3s 6d.

Mrs.L.Hoyle’s Melrose Cottage was the nerve centre of the Netherthong War Service Association and forwarded 22 parcels to the men of the district. Each parcel contained the following – shirt, socks, wool helmet, scarf, mittens, biscuits, chocolates, sweets, chewing gum, cigarettes, Christmas  cake, mending outfits, handkerchiefs and stationery. It also included letters from Miss Floyd ( President of the Association ) and the Rev. Black.

It was reported that a number of letters from local men in the forces had been received expressing their deep appreciation of the Christmas parcels sent to them.

 At Easter 1940, the War Service Association sent 35 2/6 postal orders and greetings messages to the Netherthong servicemen. Many of the recipients acknowledged their receipt.

In May, a War Emergency Committee for the Holmfirth Area was formed.

Later that year in August a Field day was held by the Netherthong War Service Association in a field opposite the Council School. The proceedings began with a procession led by Hade Edge Silver Prize Band. There were songs, sports, competitions, bring – and – buy stalls, donkey rides etc. Tea was served to 400 people in the school. The day finished with a concert by the Male Voice Choir plus friends and over £100 was raised.

 The Association organized a whist drive, supper and dance at the Council school in October. Ken Bailey’s Band provided the music for dancing and £31 11s 3d was raised. It also sent Christmas parcels to  57 of the men from the Parish serving in the forces. Each parcel contained a 5/- postal order, postage stamps, cigarettes, sweets, comforts etc. Letters of thanks were received from many of the servicemen  but, as I mentioned earlier, names were never included, instead the paper said .. a bombardier writes … a driver writes … a cadet pilot writes …. A Netherthong lad … etc etc.   Compare this with  the First World War when the paper always printed names and details of the soldiers. 

In this 21st. Century,  cigarettes and smoking are  generally frowned on ( since I wrote this chapter six years ago, frowned would now seem to be rather tame expression), but  it is worth remembering that in those early days of the 20th. century,  cigarettes were very much a way of life and an essential  ingredient in the well-being  of servicemen. A large advertisement on the front page of the May 18 1940 issue told its own message.


For the Forces

Let us send “ smokes “ to the lads for you

Wherever they may be. We have special

Facilities for dispatching to the B.E.F. and

Other units who are entitled to receive their

Cigarettes and tobacco duty free.


The Stationers

Victoria St.   Holmfirth


On the same theme, in 1944 the Express ran a number of Public Notices entitled “ Salute the Soldier “ which were in verse form, generally from the various theatres of war. One was slightly different and titled “The Fag “ .

T’was as black as your hand when we landed,

We silenced those posts to a man.

Then a dog started barking – the rockets went up

And that’s when the party began. 

We busted his radio station

The Major’s lot smashed his HQ,

Then his ammo went up – oh boy, what a roar!

Then I stopped one – and then we withdraw 

I was done for if Bill hadn’t found me

And poulticed me up with this rag.

I wouldn’t have missed it for thousands !

And now – well , thank God for a fag.”


The Express reported in their June issue that the first local man to lose his life in action of the present war was thought to be 21 years old Aircraftsman 1st. Class Henry Robinson of Shaley Wood, Thongsbridge. He was killed in a plane crash in Egypt.

In the same month , the paper published the following  Public Notice by the Urban District Council .

Auxiliary Fire Pump

Two-man manual pump.

Training . Netherthong  Wednesday 7.30p.m.

A Deanhouse man, Gunner Arthur Bontoft of the Royal Artillery, writing from “somewhere in England “ sent the Express the following verse under the title of “ The Rout of the Nazi “.

“ The bombers came droning out of the sun

They peppered the harbour with bomb and with gun,

And then, in the cowardly way that is theirs,

They treated the town to the rest of their wares.

But out of the cloud-banks our Spitfires came

( Whose pilots have won them such glorious fame ),

Undaunted, courageous they hurtled right in

Relentless the battles as fiercely they spin.

In sheer desperation the Nazi dog runs —-

He flies from the Spitfire’s invincible guns

And some of the enemy, eager to flee

Are brought crashing down to be drowned in the sea. 

So people of England, be all of good cheer,

The Spitfires are sweeping our native skies clear

No feelings of panic or tremulous woe

And we, all united, shall conquer our foe. “


Also in February Mrs. Willis of Journey’s End, New Road , received news that her husband, Sergeant-Pilot Lionel Richard Willis, who was reported missing in January, had been interned in occupied France after making a forced landing with his plane. The Willis’s had only moved to Netherthong a few months before. However Lionel returned back to England in June and, after being given sick leave for three weeks, was sent back to flying duties.

  Early in 1942, ACI Benjamin Wilson ( 22 years ) had not been heard of since the fall of Singapore. The Air Ministry said that some RAF officers had got out of Singapore and reached Java or Sumatra  but there was a report that he might have been in a ship that was attacked by the enemy although they had no further news.  Benjamin attended Netherthong  C of E School and was connected to the Parish Church where his father had been sidesman and vicar’s warden for about 45 years.

 In October 1943 it was reported that among the casualties from the crew of the Charybdis, a light cruiser, that exploded and sank after being torpedoed in a Channel fog was Ord/Tel Maurice Ramsey Froggatt ( 19 ) son of Mrs.Froggatt of St. Anne’s square. She had initially received a telegram to say that he had been killed on active service but then received a further telegram saying he was missing as it was known that some survivors had been taken prisoner but will no other details. Maurice had only joined the Navy 12 months previously  and before he joined up he was known as an amateur stage artist and excelled as a humorist and a pianist. He appeared in many concerts for the Comforts Fund. He was a staunch worker for the Netherthong Wesley Chapel and after being educated at the Council School was employed at Deanhouse Mills.

At the end of the year Private Frank Moorhouse ( 26 ) of 26 Outlane sent his parents a postcard to say that he had been transferred as a prisoner- of – war from Italy to Germany. On September 2014 I received  the following letter from Phil Knott that adds  more information about Frank Moorhouse and other P.O.W.s.

I am very interested in the entry on your website for POW F. Moorhouse in WW2. My father was a POW and was captured on 21 June 1942 at Tobruk, Libya.  He spent a short time at Benghazi before moving to another camp at Tarhuna.  He was transferred to PG85 at Tuturano and then PG70 at Monteurano – both in Italy.  When Italy surrendered he was moved to Stalag 4B at Mühlberg, Germany for several weeks and then to Stalag 4F, actually to a lead mine in Freiberg to the west of Dresden.  My dad’s POW number was 253068 and F Moorhouses’ was 252900.

My dad kept a diary of his experiences which can be seen at
go to POW stories then Trooper G Knott.

There were only around 250 POWs at the mine and from what I have found their POW numbers were only from 252800 to 253200 so as far as I’m concerned that places F Moorhouse in the same work camp!  Also there is a photograph on the above website of my dad making his way home with a Cyril Randall who is mentioned in his diary, his POW number was 252899 and he was in the East Yorkshire Regiment.  Consecutive number with F Moorhouse means they were next to each other in the queue when registered at Mühlberg and had probably been good friends in Italy.
I am very interested if any relatives are still living.


A further missive from Phil is given below.

Diaries were banned and it is the only one I have come across written by someone in a work camp.
I have done many years research and have many documents.  My dad named the mine in some documents written later and it still exists today.  I actually visited the mine in 2008.
If you are interested please contact me on my email address and I will show you some of what I have.
If there are any relatives of F Moorhouse alive, I would be VERY interested.  
Regards Phil

Phil Knott

  In September 1944, Trooper Hubert Jackson, Reconnaisance Corp of the RAC, from Dock Hill was wounded whilst fighting in France and was sent to hospital in Ormskirk. His younger brother, Harold Jackson,was taken prisoner in Libya.

  The Salvage Scheme was still very much in force and in September 1942 the Express listed the various collecting points in Netherthong. All salvage was to be collected on Friday afternoons from the Mistal ( Mr.Sykes ) , the shed on the tip near to Mrs. Gledhill’s house  , Deanhouse Dam hut and Deanhouse Ins Building.

  There had been considerable discussion at the Holmfirth UDC meetings about providing meals and on November 27 there was the official opening of two British Restaurants , one in Holmfirth Wesley Methodist School and the other in Honley Co-op Hall, by Mr. Raft, MP for Colne Valley Division. They were both decorated in blue and cream and could accommodate 100 people. A 3-course meal would cost 1/- and the meals were brought from Denby Dale cooking centre in special containers. Not surprisingly the restaurants and the food  provoked a number of letters to the Express both for and against. There was however no denying they were a success and the statistics for the first 14 weeks from 27 Nov to 26 Feb 1943 were :

Holmfirth ; 11,695 main courses  ; 12,803 sweets  ; 6,274 soups and 6005 teas.

Honley  ; 12,583 main courses ; 14,848 sweets ; 5,891 soups and 5,016 teas.

Main courses cost 5d, sweets were 1 ½ d and soup was ½ d.

Residents in Netherthong, being located half-way between the two restaurants,  had their choice of which one to visit. In June 1943 it was reported that the restaurants were not doing as well as hoped and near the end of the year the Holmfirth UDC acknowledged  that they were running at a small loss. In February they were still losing money as  for the nine months to December 1943 Holmfirth had lost £141 and Honley £93. As a result the HUDC decided to change the supervision of the restaurants, However by March the situation had still not improved and the HUDC said that unless the Ministry of Food objected, the Holmfirth restaurant would be closed on April 1st. and Honley could also follow suit. At Holmfirth the average number of customers had dropped from 200 to 44.  However the Ministry intervened and HUDC had to reverse its decision to close them. An official said that instead of obtaining food from the Denby Dale Cooking Centre it would cook the food on the emergency cooking apparatus already installed at Holmfirth Retaurant. Honley would continue to be supplied from Denby.

 Finally on September 22nd. they were closed after  the HUDC received a letter from the Ministry stating that they were no longer serving any useful function.

 Each week the Express carried a range of public notices , more often than not from the Ministry of Food. These gave advice to farmers to improve milk yield, rearing rabbits, growing vegetables and in January 1943 they requested people to cut down on bread and use potato as a substitute.  Their notice said :

Flour costs ships

Use home-grown potatoes instead

 They gave recipes and advice on how to cook them and one of their favourites was Sponge Pudding made with potato.

April saw the start of another major fund raising activity which ran from 10th. to 17th. This time it was to raise £200,000 for 40 Spitfires by investing as much as possible in all the various Savings Bonds. In addition there were lots of fund raising events. At the end of the week a total of £215,000 was raised which was the equivalent of £12 per head of population. The savings details were broken down as follows

Nat. Savings Certs = £40,797

Deposits in Post Office = £3,298

Defence Bonds = £26,345

Savings Stamps = £1,197

21/2 % War Bonds = £103,500

3% Savings Bonds = £38,200

Free Gifts = £263

 Scrap recovery of almost everything continued to be an important part of the war effort and in August 1943 it was the turn of books.

Book Recovery and Salvage Drive

21st. August – 4th. September

Our Target – 30,000 books

Each 8,000 bomb needs 4lb. of paper

How many bombs can you equip? 

At the autumn of 1943 as the war reached new heights the Ministry of Fuel and Power placed some hard hitting notices about saving fuel. This was the first :

Save Fuel for Battle

A warning by Fuel Watcher

“ We are using too much gas in the home”

Don’t save coal in one form to squander it in another.

Remember Electricity is Coal too.


And in December the pressure was stepped up.

5lb. of coal saved will produce

100 bullets for a bren gun. 

How many bullets a day will you produce

Save Fuel for Battle 

In January 1944 it changed to :

5lbs. of coal saved in one day by

Each household will provide enough

Coal to make 13 bombers. 

How much will YOU save to make bombers?

Save Fuel for Battle

Yet another notice at the beginning of 1944 was :

5lb. of coal saved in one day by

10,000 homes will provide enough

Fuel to build a Churchill Tank

Save Fuel for Battle


And at the end of January it changed once again to :

The Coal, Gas & Electricity you save

Help to build Merchant Ships


There was a continual insatiable demand for salvage and in March 1944  at the request of the Government, the HUDC with the aid of the WVS held a salvage drive for waste paper, bones, metal, rags and rubber during the period Mar 16 – Apr 1. The HUDC notice stated that “ your salvage steward will call upon you but, according to a shortage of stewards, it will not be possible to visit every household and your co-operation is required. In addition , the Salvage Van will be in your neighbourhood  as follows.

   Netherthong, Thongsbridge, Woodland and Wooldale – Wednesday Mar 22 for paper and Mar 29 for rags. “

 The Express printed the HUDC war time record for the collection of salvaged material. For the 3 years to 31 Mar 1943 :

Newspaper: 170t ; other paper 478t  ; textiles 33t  ; metals 167t ; bottles 4t  ; bones 12t ; black scrap 58t.

There was a total of 922t collected which made a profit of £1091


May 1944 saw yet another  issue of new Ration Books and in the same month the Holmfirth UDC had decided to have yet another major fund raising campaign as detailed below.

Salute the Soldier Week

June 3 – 10 1944

Our Target £150,000 to clothe and equip

3 Parachute Battalions.

He stands between YOU and NAZI TYRANNY

 On June 2nd. the Express reported that it had been cancelled ( no reason given ) but the UDC hoped that £50,000 could be raised in small savings by the end of July. Eventually £60,729 was raised. 

Also in June the UDC published a notice saying that the Collection of Household Refuse and Kitchen Waste was to be suspended due to the men and vehicles being required for other work. 

Reading through the Express in its coverage of both the major wars putting thoughts etc into poetry seemed to be very popular. Many of the poems would have caused classical poets some anguish but they came from the heart and got their message across. I have printed some in this history but have to include this very long one for reasons that will become clear as you read.

   It was written by Frank Roebuck of Ludgate House early in 1944. Frank had formerly worked at Albion Mills and was closely connected to the Netherthong Wesley Chapel. He had written it from the Middle East and prefaced it by saying that ‘ he had written many times and was now at a loss for words and to prevent his thanks from getting stale. I have now put my thoughts into rhyme but do not profess to being a poet’.

I’ve written many times before

Maybe a dozen – maybe a score

Of letters to convey my thanks

For gifts you’ve sent us – all ranks

And so I find it hard to pen

My thanks sincere yet once again

So now I’m sending you this time

Acknowledgements in verse and rhyme.

To all of you who have a part –

Miss Floyd I’ll mention for a start

She’s president and together

Keeps the folks in village Nether 

Miss Wilson is the local sec.

All arrangements she has to make

She taught to me my ABC

And therefore capable, you’ll agree. 

Mrs. Roebuck tends the money

And you’ll find her just on t’Broomy

So if you have a bob to spare

Just kindly place it in her care. 

To Thomas Dyson falls the lot

To sending gifts to Smith or Stott

There’s many more names on that list

Thanks to efforts, the likes of whist.

No little task is this, his job

Of packing parcels for the mob

Of soldiers, sailors, airmen too

Who’ve gone away, a job to do.

He sends them near, he sends them far

To wherever the Thong lads are

And he’s given many a lecture

Scenes of new and varied texture.

These few officials, you will agree

Are quite well known to you and me

Still t’is a noble part they play

In helping bring that glorious day

They may not be in battledress

And yet they’re fighting none the less

By sending comforts by the ton

To help us beat the dirty hun 

But also helping in the fight

Are Thongites who, with all their might

Are giving, working round yon spire

Thus they raise our morale higher.

At Mrs. Hoyle the ladies meet

To knit us socks for marching feet

Helmets, stocking and mittens too

I’ll bet they’ve done a tidy few.

The men you’ll find too,do their bit

With true and noble grit

For when it’s a gala day

You’ll find them right there in the fray

And so to all of you at Thong

My thanks sincere to you belong

For scrap and paper – all the lot

But chiefly ‘cos we’re not forgot.”

The balance sheet for the Comforts Fund  in October 1944 for the last 12 months showed that they had spent £164 11s, £126 of which was sent to servicemen, but they still retained a balance of £276 5s 7d. Receipts had been £440 16s 7d with £76 from the Field day and £100 from the Garden Fete. In November a successful entertainment was sponsored by the Clothiers Arms in aid of the Comforts Fund. The artistes were the Coronation Concert Party.

At the start of 1944 and carrying through into 1945 the Express was printing an increasing number of public notices from various Ministries exhorting people to save even more money, save even more waste materials, use even less, grow their own  vegetables etc. In addition there was  also a series of notices, normally in poetic style with pictures of  soldiers, sailors , airmen etc all designed to focus peoples minds on the need for solidarity during these critical months.

 This is one example from early 1945.

Solomon Grundy

Rich on Monday

Spent some on Tuesday

More on Wednesday

Poor on Thursday

Worse on Friday

Broke on Saturday

Borrowed on Sunday

Where will he end?

Old Solomon Grundy

BUY National Savings Certificates

May 8th. 1945 was VE day – Victory in Europe . A United Service was held in the Parish Church and the Rev. S. Black praised God for their wonderful deliverance and said that the profound fact of peace was difficult to realise.

Later that month a new ration book was issued which served as a reminder that the hardships and shortages were still to be faced.

Private F. Moorhouse ( aged 27 ) ,who was a native of Netherthong and attended the National School, joined up in January 1940  was taken prisoner in North Africa on June 28th. 1942 and was kept in a camp in Benghazi for a while before being transferred to Italy. When Italy capitulated he and other prisoners took to the hills to try to get freedom but the Germans found them and took them to Germany.First stop was Stalag 4B and then onto Stalag 4F where they were forced to work in a lead mine. Later they were marched to Czechoslovakia and then to Dresden where they met German soldiers going in the opposite direction and ended up by turning round and marching back to where they had started. That was when they decided to do a “bunk ” and when they arrived at Launstein they saw white flags flying and were told the war was finally over. They carried on walking until they found a point manned by Americans and eventually arrived back in England.

Although the war was over there was still a big demand to help  the peoples displaced in Europe and a national appeal called ” Save Europe Now ” was well supported. Miss Floyd, in conjunction with the Netherthong Parish Church, the Wesleyan Chapel and the Zion chapel had organised a collection of clothing in the village, Deanhouse and Oldfield district and over 600 articles were obtained.

In September 1945 plans were being made for the homecoming of the Netherthong members of the Forces. The issue of the Express for September carried the following full page exhortation.

‘War Weapons’


‘Wings for Victory’

‘Salute the Soldier’

— and now

the greatest

of them all —


Support your local Thanksgiving Week.

They also printed the following 1/2 page notice in the same month..

Thanksgiving Week

Holmfirth Urban District Council

October 6-13   Target £100,000

Give thanks by Saving

A large range of activities were organised in all the villages. By the beginning of October nearly half of the target was subscribed before the opening ceremony. In the five major savings campaigns, the Holmfirth District raised £1 M  (actual was £1,025,834). The long list of contributors included the Netherthong Co-op with £1,000. In the same September month a meeting was held to wind-up the Comforts Fund. It was decided to share out at Christmas the total money in hand of £430 to those qualified to receive grants. Mr.W.Gledhill and Mr.W.Hinchliffe were elected to serve with the ladies committee to work out the final details. Tributes were paid to Miss H.Floyd for her untiring efforts.

In May 1953, Bombadier Ernest Richards was the senior member of a group of four men chosen to represent the 578 Heavy A.A. 5th. Duke of Wellington’s Regiment ( TA ) in the Coronation procession. He  had 15 years service in the Regular Army and 3 years in the TA.He was 33 years old and lived in Queen Anne’s Square and was employed as a centre lathe turner. In November 1949, the Holmfirth war Memorial to the fallen of the Second World War was unveiled. It took the form of two tablets added to the memorial to the men who died in the 1914-18 war. It contained exactly 100 names covering the whole of the Holmfirth Urban District and was unveiled by Colonel Keith Sykes OBE,MC,TD,JP of Honley.

Read more about Netherthong and the wars…