Gee! Lost plots and wet blankets

This one’s either attrocious reporting, bad typesetting or both.

Leeds Times
Saturday 1 May 1841

AN INCORRIGIBLE ROGUE

On Monday last, Gee was committed take his trial for stealing a blanket, belonging to Mr Hill, of Wrenthorpe, near Wakefield. Last week, Gee’s period of confinement in Wakefield House of Correction for offence, expired, and on his road to Bradford, he contrived strip a hedge of the blanket in question. He was seen to come into Bradford with something suspicious tied up bundle, and was seized Charles Ingham, police officer, and the bundle searched, when it was found to contain a wet blanket, and after some inquiries the owner was found, and identified it by several marks.

18410501IncorrigibleRogue

Cyclists introduce Labour Party to Wrenthorpe

A seemingly odd piece from 1910, explaining how the Wrenthorpe branch of the Labour Party came about.

Labour Leader
Friday 8 April 1910

OUR CYCLE SCOUTS

An encouraging letter, full of fire and swing, has been sent by A E Stubbs, Secretary of the Scouts in Yorkshire. He opens thus:

I am glad to learn from the Labour Leader this week that we are to have a National Army of I.L.P. [Independent Labour Party] Cycling Scouts to convey the gospel of Socialism to our toiling brothers in the country, and I write these few lines to welcome its inception. The agricultural labourer is ignorant of Socialism and what it means to him, and the Scouts can do a great work. They have done some good work already in Yorkshire. Organised last May, we have had forty runs, held twelve meetings, established one new branch of the I.L.P., and there are two more in the making. Leaflets, Labour Leaders, and Pamphlets were distributed in the homes of the people, and some of the seed fell on good ground. The Yorkshire Scouts have commenced work already for the season, and are about to form a new branch at Wrenthorpe, near Wakefield. Several other places on the Yorkshire Coalfield are down to receive attention from the Scouts.

Stubbs concludes his letter as follows:

I am an old racer, but I never raced in such a hurry nor enjoyed any race so much as the race I am now engaged in, namely, the race to win converts to Socialism.

The idea of teams of cyclists spreading a political message has got lost in time. Before the First World War, ILP cycle scouts took socialism to English villages, distributing literature to households.* Local MP Frederick Hall (Normanton), had stood as a Labour candidate for the first time at the January 1910 general election, following the MFGB’s (miners’ union) political affiliation with the Labour Party the previous year.

* Griffiths, Clare V J, Labour and the Countryside: The Politics of Rural Britain 1918-1939, Oxford University Press, 2007, pp.110-111.

Church plans double tax for township

Ambiguities about boundaries again, in this intriguing paragraph from a London paper on the Vicar of Stanley’s attempt to impose a church rate on the inhabitants of Stanley-cum-Wrenthorpe township. Although the ancient township spread as far west as Foster Ford Beck/Balne Beck, Wrenthorpe was well outside of his parish.

London Sun
Monday 27 December 1841

INIQUITOUS CHURCH-RATE

Three persons recently met in the vestry of Stanley Church for the purpose of levying a church-rate, in addition to the one now attempting to be collected, for the Wakefield district, thus making a double close for the poor Stanley-cum-Wrenthorpe rate-payers. The three individuals present were the Churchwardens and the parson; and these three officials had the audacity and cold-heartedness to impose a rate on their starving neighbours, many of whom are now existing for days together on nothing but common Swede turnips. We know instances of some families who have been fed and life sustained by nothing but this beasts’ food. Shame upon the men who thus attempt to wring money from these poor wretches, to support the overfed and overgrown State Church; and who threaten all who do not, on a certain day, by them appointed, pay this iniquitous demand with the terrors of the Church ecclesiastic. Is there none in this large district to protect the poor from such a disgraceful imposition.

It’d be interesting to follow this story up using primary source material such as surviving churchwardens’ books and township records, to find out if the malicious scheme came about.

110 blog posts later…

The ghost story from a 1937 edition of the Yorkshire Evening Post was the last ‘Wrenthorpe in the news’ for now.

After 110 blog posts, 40,000 words, and 37 different newspaper titles, we’ve exhausted the more interesting Wrenthorpe-related material currently available online via the British Newspaper Archive. We’ll now have to wait until more newspaper titles, particularly the Wakefield-based ones are uploaded.

In the meantime this blog will be back in the autumn with more information behind some of the stories featured, as well as looking at Wrenthorpe-related documents to be found at other archives such as the National Archives at Kew.

 

A Wrenthorpe ghost story

Yorkshire Evening Post
Saturday 11 September 1937

DIARY OF A YORKSHIREMAN
THE LITTLE OLD WOMAN

I am informed that the truth of the following story is vouched for by a miner’s widow living in Wrenthorpe.

Seven years ago her husband died after a pit accident, and went live an old stone house Wrenthorpe village to be near her father, whose health was failing. Often the early days of her bereavement she would sit the firelight when her days’ work was done, staring into the fire, and whenever she looked across to the armchair on the other side the hearth she could see a figure sitting in it. It was figure of an old woman, with white and rosy cheeks. On her head was white cap with heliotrope bow in the front. A white frill edged the neck of her bodice, and white trills showed at her wrists. She wore a little black satin apron edged with lace, and her hands were folded on her lap.

Every time the widow sat alone in the firelight the little old woman would appear in the armchair opposite. It naturally made her nervous, and she would get up and light the gas. When she told her father about the apparition, he only laughed, and set it down to her Imagination: but he was forced to admit that her description of the old woman exactly fitted the appearance his mother. It was just in that way she had been used to drees when her wort for the day was done.

Nine months after the death of the women’s husband her father died: and from that time the apparition of the old woman did not again appear.

The demise of the Outwood Grandstand

A short piece from just before the First World War on the theft of lead off a roof. Not just any old roof though, this was the former Grandstand building for the Wakefield-Outwood racecourse at Lawns, Carr Gate. Dating from the mid-18th century, the building was reputedly designed by architect John Carr.

Leeds Mercury
Saturday 13 December 1913

YORKSHIRE NEWS IN BRIEF

Wakefield, yesterday, John Winter, teamer, Outwood, was sent to prison for four months for having stolen a quantity of lead, value £6 10s. from the roof the old grand-stand at Outwood.

The theft left the old building open to the elements, leading to its demolition a decade later.

Fracas at Kirkhamgate pub

Leeds Times
Saturday 21 May 1881

TURNING A LANDLORD OUT OF HIS OWN HOUSE AND TAKING POSSESSION

Yesterday, at the Wakefield Court House, nine Lofthouse colliers were charged with damaging the property of William Smith, landlord of the Gardeners’ Arms [Lindale Lane], Kirkhamgate. It appeared from the statement of Mr Lodge and the evidence of the witnesses, that on Saturday, the 7th instant, a pigeon match took place near complainant’s house, between two men named Pickersgill and Steele. Some dispute occurred, and afterwards a crowd of men came into Smith’s house. After they had been there some time, a disturbance took place, Littlewood, it was alleged, being the ringleader, and almost immediately afterwards glasses and pots were thrown about the place The landlord tried to quell the disturbance, on which two men took hold of him by the shoulder and actually pushed him out of his own house by the back door. They ran him up the garden, and his wife went for the police, on which the mob took possession of the premises. While the landlord was in the garden stones were thrown at him, and when he got back, after the crowed had gone away, he found the place in utter confusion, and eighteen glasses and ten pint pots were broken. Three or four holes were cut in the back door and the furniture was more or less broken. Mr Lodge added that when he was first consulted it was a question whether the prisoners ought not to be indicted for a riot, but it was decided to go on with the case of wilful damage – the complainant estimating the damage at the sum of 21s. 6d. – Two of the accused were discharged, and the others fined 5s. and costs.