A lucky escape

Wakefield and West Riding Herald
Saturday 23 May 1891

THE LIGHTNING AT POTOVENS

Yesterday afternoon week, during the thunderstorm which then prevailed, the chimney of a house (in a block of buildings) occupied by a person named Haines, at the bottom of Silcoates Hill, was struck by the electric fluid and partly demolished, the bricks falling, some down the chimney and others upon the roof, and from thence sliding on to the floor, with a loud report. It was evident that the lightning had passed into the home, as not a vestige of soot could be found in the chimney, whilst the house floor was covered as with a “black carpet,” and the pictures had been ruthlessly torn from the walls and most of them smashed. Fortunately, Mrs. Haines had just gone across the road into a relative’s house with a few loaves of bread, and thus escaped what might have been a most serious injury.

As the 1891 census had only taken place six weeks earlier, it’s possible to find more details on Haines, including where he lived. His address is given in the Alverthorpe-with-Thornes census returns as at ‘Potovens Bridge’, so he must have lived in Pearson’s Buildings at the junction of Jerry Clay Lane and Wrenthorpe Lane (then called Potovens Road). James Haines was 49, married, and his recorded occupation ‘foreman/platelayer railway’. He was born in Macclesfield. His wife, Mary Anne (42) was born in Wrenthorpe. Their 19-year-old daughter was born in Ossett and worked as a ‘mill hand woollen weaver’, probably at the nearby Silcoates Mill.

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