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.

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.

Manslaughter charge for lighting candle in local coal pit

Yorkshire Gazette
Tuesday 30 August 1836

FATAL EXPLOSION OF FIRE DAMP AT A COLLIERY NEAR WAKEFIELD

On Saturday last an explosion of inflammable air took place in Bull Pit, at Kirkhamgate, about two miles to the west of Wakefield, which occasioned a serious loss of life and other damage. Although the accident was serious enough, in point of fact, the accounts, as they reached Wakefield were much exaggerated, and excited intense interest. It was recently reported that ten men had been killed, and twice as many scorched, many of whom were not expected to recover. On inquiry, it was found that, at the moment the explosion took place, there were about twenty men and boys in the pit, three of whom were killed, and the remainder, with the exception of two, more or less scorched. Up to Monday night no other death had occurred, but several of the unfortunate creatures were reported to be in a very precarious state.

John Pickford, aged 17, William Brooke, aged 10, and William Broadhead, aged 9, were the persons who lost their lives. Amongst the other sufferers the following were seriously hurt – David Broadhead, Thomas Brooke, George Lumb, Charles Hartley, David Hartley, Thomas Becher, Benjamin Scott, James Bedford, George Broadhead, and Edward Throit.

The Bull Pit belongs to Messrs Smithson and Co. On Sunday, Thomas Lee, jun. Esq, empanelled a jury, in order to inquire into the cause of the death of John Pickford. The jury came, to the conclusion that the poor fellow lost his life in consequence of the incautious use of a candle at one of the “banks” by a pitman. On Monday evening at six o’clock, a second inquest was held the house of Mr Percival Brooke, innkeeper, of Kirkhamgate, before Mr Lee and a very respectable and attentive jury, on view of the bodies of the two boys, when additional evidence was adduced, and the inquiry was adjourned till Thursday, at Potovens, when after a protracted and minute investigation and the examination of Mr Walsh[?] surgeon, and particularly Benjamin Scott, a lad who was working at the same time in the same place with Benjamin [sic] Bedford, the man who took the candle which caused the explosion and after hearing Bedford’s voluntary statement, the Jury returned a verdict of “Manslaughter against James Bedford”. Two of the sufferers are expected not to recover.

James Bedford was found not guilty at the York Spring Assizes in March of the following year.

Miners scrap at Silcoates

Yorkshire Evening Post
Friday 1 July 1892

PUGILISTS BOUND OVER AT WAKEFIELD

To-day, at the West Riding Court, Wakefield, James Jackson, miner, Bragg Lane End, and Joseph Farrer, miner, Brandicarr, were bound over their own recognisances of £5 to keep the for six months, and ordered to pay 18s costs each, on charge of committing breach the peace by fighting. The offence took place at Silcoates on the 18th ult., and describing the fight, the Rev W Field, headmaster Silcoates Hall, said the two men were stripped to the waist, and were very furious indeed, being half covered with blood. They were surrounded by a ring of people.

Suspected arson over 150 years ago

What with all the problems Daniel Milton caused Prophet Wroe in 1861 – claiming ownership of Melbourne House, preaching to thousands on Bradford Road, covering the walls of Wroe’s property with posters, and attempting to blow up one of the lodges it’s surprising the authorities didn’t try to pin these cases of arson on him.

Bradford Observer
Thursday 6 June 1861

SUPPOSED INCENDIARISM

About midnight yesterday week, a stack of wheat, situated at Bragg Lane End, about two-and-a-half miles from Wakefield, was discovered to be on fire, and there being but little water, it had to burn itself out. The damage done was about £35, which will fall on the owner, Mr Thomas Button. Again at midnight on Friday, another fire was discovered not far from the same place. This time the site was the stackyard of Mr James Henry Carr, farmer, the land belonging to “Prophet” Wroe, who is the leader of the Southcotian [sic] sect, and whose mansion (the centre of the earth) is in the neighbourhood. There were in the stackyard two wheat stacks, one straw stack, and one oat stack and in the adjoining shed, a large quantity of implements, besides forty loads of wheat. Again there was no water (except what could be got from a well in the yard), and so the best use was made of buckets, it being deemed useless to send for the engines from Wakefield. The result was the fire burnt on practically unchecked; on Saturday, at a late hour in the morning, it was not extinguished. The shed and its contents were destroyed, and nearly all the produce in the stacks. Mr Carr estimates his loss at £500, but he is insured (whether to the full extent or not we could not gather) in the Yorkshire Office. The most deplorable circumstance connected with both these fires is that they must have been the work of incendiaries.

Silcoates School reopens after fire

Sheffield Daily Telegraph
Friday 2 October 1908

NEW SCHOOL AT SILCOATES

The Right Hon Walter Runciman, President of the Board of Education, formally opened Silcoates School, near Wakefield, yesterday, and the occasion gave not only the principal functionary but other speakers opportunities alluding to views of the Government with regard to national education. The seminary declared open yesterday – though as a matter of fact it was already tenanted – has been erected to replace the buildings destroyed by fire some years ago. Behind it lies an interesting history. Originated in 1831, it was founded as an institution for the education of the sons of Independent ministers, and was called the Congregational School for the counties of Yorkshire end Lancashire. Subsequently, however, the title was changed to the Northern Congregational School. The sons of laymen were admitted, and the territorial limitation was abandoned. From time to time the finances of the undertaking suffered embarrassment. In 1871 the Silcoates estate was purchased for £15,000, and two years later were erected the buildings which were destroyed by fire. The Trustees own part of the coal rights of the estate, and the revenues derived therefrom are to be applied in the reduction of the mortgage. Roundly the scheme just completed involved an expenditure of £15,000, of which fully £7,000 has been either subscribed or promised. The ceremony was performed in glorious weather, and in presence of a gathering which included many of the elite of Congregationalism, to which body school belongs.

Time finally called on Royal Oak pub

Standing on a site later occupied by Wrenthorpe Health Centre, the Royal Oak pub was at the heart of Potovens village life throughout the 1800s. Clubs and associations held their dinners and formal events there, and it was also the venue for most coroner’s inquest proceedings.

Despite its popularity, the pub’s owners couldn’t counter the force of the early 20th century Temperance Movement, nor was it deemed necessary to have so many pubs following the opening of Wrenthorpe Working Men’s Club in 1901. There were three pubs in the village centre in close proximity – The Malt Shovel, New Wheel and Royal Oak – one of them had to go.

Leeds Mercury
Tuesday 5 February 1907

PROSPECTIVE REDUCTIONS IN LOWER AGBRIGG
CHAIRMAN AND THE GROWTH OF CLUBS

The annual licensing meeting for the Lower Agbrigg Division of the West Riding was held at Wakefield yesterday, Mr Percy Tew presiding over a large attendance of members.

The Chairman observed that they had about an average number of public houses in the division, compared with other parts of the West Riding, but there were districts in the division where there were far too many public houses in proportion to the population.

The Justices were sorry to notice that whilst they were intrusted with very much larger powers of reducing the number of public houses there was a marked increase in the number of clubs, and there was not much encouragement to try to reduce facilities for drinking by a reduction of licences when they found the number of clubs increasing.

Apart from that question, however, they were of opinion there was a good number of public houses in the division which could be spared, and which were not required for the needs of the district. They were not in a position to deal with the question that day, but there were fourteen public houses, chiefly beerhouses, concerning which they had decided to consider at the adjourned Sessions a month hence whether or not they should be referred to the compensation authority.

The houses be considered at the adjourned Sessions are –Floating Light, Flockton Moor; Little Bull, Flockton; Farmer’s Boy, Flockton; Moulders’ Arms, Middlestown; Foresters’ Arms, Stocksmoor; Travellers’ Rest, Lofthouse Gate; Royal Oak, Potovens; Lord Nelson Inn, Carlton; Prince of Wales Inn, Carlton; Miners’ Arms, Ouchthorpe Lane, Stanley; Garden Gate, Stanley Lane End; Commercial Inn, Horbury; Ring o’Bells Inn, Horbury; Spotted Cow Tavern, Horbury Junction.

At the adjourned licensing meeting on 18 March, the Royal Oak was one of four pubs magistrates decided to refer to the Compensation Authority.

By early June the pub was among those publicised as having their licences refused and seeking compensation claims. Its landlord at the time was Thomas Walker, its owner The Tadcaster Tower Brewery.

The Sheffield Daily Telegraph of 10 July 1907 briefly reports the conclusions of the Compensation Committee, which was to pay the hefty sum of £1,608 for the loss of the Royal Oak’s licence. I wonder how the compensation was shared out between the brewery and the landlord.