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.


Ratepayers’ election descends into brawl

Manchester Evening News
Saturday 7 April 1894


Last night the annual meeting of the ratepayers of the hamlet of Wrenthorpe, near Wakefield, was held for the purpose of electing highway surveyors for the forthcoming year. The large schoolroom was so packed that many could not gain admittance, and there must have been close upon 600 men present, mostly miners. There seemed to be two parties – one consisting of the supporters of Messrs Charles Holden and Elijah Farrer, who were declared duly elected as surveyors, and the other of Mr William Morris, the defeated candidate. When the result of the voting was announced a poll was demanded on behalf of Mr Morris, but the necessary deposit not being forthcoming, this was refused. Thereupon a free fight ensued. One of the supporters of the defeated candidate picked a chair and struck another man with it, and this was the signal for a free fight in one corner of the room. All the miners rushed to this one corner, and things presented serious aspect for a minute or so, but through the timely arrival of the local police, what might have proved quite riot was prevented.

Sudden death at Melbourne House lodge

Grantham Journal
Saturday 9 September 1871


On Saturday night, shortly before eight o’clock, Mr John Buckley, who occupies the farm buildings connected with Melbourne House, better known as “Prophet Wroe’s Temple”, situate at Wrenthorpe, near Wakefield, sent his son with a newspaper to one of the lodges in the Temple grounds, the sole occupant of which was an old Scotchwoman, named Jane Foreman Campbell. The young man returned, saying he could not make the old woman (who always kept the door locked) hear. Mr Buckley then went to the lodge, and on effecting an entrance perceived a strong smell of burning. On making an examination of the premises he found the old woman lying on the floor near her armchair. Her clothes were all destroyed, her body charred and adhering to the floor, and the seat of her chair was burnt out. It is supposed that whilst mending her stockings on the Thursday evening (which was the last time she was seen alive) her clothes caught fire, and she was burnt to death. She was seventy-nine years of age, was the widow of Mr Cotes Campbell, assistant-keeper at the Register House, Edinburgh, and mother of Mr W Campbell, C.E., Newcastle-on-Tyne, to whom she frequently wrote up to about a fortnight ago. An inquest has been held before Mr T Taylor, and a verdict of “Accidentally burnt” returned.

Sad death at Broom Hall

Leicester Guardian
Wednesday 6 November 1872


On Wednesday an inquest was held before T Taylor Esq, at Snow Hill, near Wakefield, on the body of Sophia Thompson, wife of Mr George Thompson, farmer, Broom Hall, Wrenthorpe, near Wakefield, who had died from the effects of a large dose of arsenic taken by her in a gloss of brandy, whilst under the influence of drink. The deceased, who was forty-seven years of age, was addicted to drinking, and although she had generally drank at home, she had often returned from Wakefield the worse for liquor. She began drinking on Wednesday night week, and continued to do so for the next three days. Last Saturday morning the servant girl heard someone downstairs, about four o’clock, and, on going into the cellar, she found her mistress, who had been in the habit of getting up at nights and sometimes sleeping in the kitchen, talking to herself. The girl returned to bed, and some time afterwards she heard the deceased, who was tipsy, talking to herself in her room. The deceased went downstairs and stood before the kitchen fire a few minutes, and then returned upstairs. Mr Thompson had bought a pound of arsenic on the 18th instant to use in dressing wheat, and the deceased seems to have got some of it and drank it along with some brandy, for between eight and nine o’clock on Saturday morning the servant found her seated on a box upstairs with a glass of brandy before her. It was subsequently discovered, and she admitted that she had taken a large dose of arsenic in the brandy. Mr W Statter, of Wakefield, and his son were called in during the evening, and administered the usual antidotes for arsenic, but with little hope of success, and the woman died on Monday. – The jury returned a verdict to the effect that the deceased had poisoned herself when drunk.

Application for new railway

Leeds Times
Saturday 20 November 1858


The Bradford, Wakefield and Leeds railway is applying for authority to make a railway from and by a double junction with the main line in Stanley-cum-Wrenthorpe, in the parish of Wakefield; one of such junctions at or near an occupation road, called Fox Lane, in the said township; and the other at or near the point where an occupation bridge, called Robert’s Bridge, passes under the same railway, in the said township, thence to pass in, through, or into the several parishes, townships, or places of Stanley, Wrenthorpe, Stanley-cum-Wrenthorpe, Alverthorpe, Thornes, Alverthorpe-cum-Thornes, Wakefield, Ossett, Gawthorpe, Ossett-cum-Gawthorpe, and Dewsbury, and to terminate in a field belonging to Joshua Whitaker, and in the occupation of Joshua Wilson, and adjoining a certain road called or known by the name or Intake Lane, in the township of Ossett and parish of Dewsbury. The same company is also applying for power to make a railway from the main line of the Bradford, Wakefield, and Leeds railway, in the township of Stanley-cum-Wrenthorpe, at a point about 440 yards north of the Lofthouse and Wrenthorpe Station, and also at a point about fifty yards south of the said station, in the same township; thence to pass in, through, or into the several parishes, townships, or places of Stanley, Wrenthorpe, Stanley-cum-Wrenthorpe, Lofthouse, Carlton, Lofthouse-cum-Carlton, Oulton Woodlesford Oulton-with-Woodlesford, Wakefield, Rothwell, and Methley and to terminate by a junction with the North-Eastern Railway at and on the north-west end of the bridge called Stephenson’s Bridge where the last mentioned railway crosses the River Calder in the township of Methley.

The InterKitty express

Apropos of very little, this story was carried by papers as far away as Hartlepool and Portsmouth, always written in the first person.

Yorkshire Evening Post
Friday 13 December 1935

Preference for Dining Car Journeys

Albert is probably the only cat in the world who carries a railway season ticket wherever he goes. True it is not an ordinary season ticket. Round his neck is fastened an official disc bearing the words “I’m Albert of Wrenthorpe”.

That disc will admit Albert to any station or train on the London North-Eastern Railway.

“Once upon time when a very young kitten.” Albert told a reporter today, “they told all about Felix the cat. You will remember that Felix kept walking. But at early age that struck me as mug’s game, if you’ll pardon my slang. Why walk I said to myself, when trains run practically past the door? So, seven years ago, I climbed into goods wagon Shipley – for I’m a Yorkshire cat sir, and I maintain that no mice are as nourishing as Yorkshire mice – and the train took me to Wrenthorpe goods marshalling yard, near Wakefield.

“It looked a nice spot and Mr R A Daws, station master Westgate (Wakefield) Joint Station a great friend of mine. I have made it my headquarters ever since.

Nine lives needed

“Mind you, a cat wants all his nine lives at Wrenthorpe, because it is surrounded by scores of lines, and trucks are being shunted in all directions day and night.

“With my season ticket I have had many prolonged and pleasurable visits to West Riding stations and depots. About three years ago I spent a week at Manchester. Then in August, 1933, I had a little trip to Doncaster and liked it so much that I stayed there for a year and made many friends. Another little run I had was a sixteen month tour f Yorkshire.

“People often wonder how I manage to distinguish between an express and a slow goods train – and choose the express. The answer is that I always look out for the train with a dining car. Even a cat must eat…”

A once popular Yorkshire sport

Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer
Tuesday 5 December 1911


There was fairly large attendance at the City Grounds, Wakefield, yesterday, when a knur and spell (long knock) match between J Sidebottom, of Hoyland and A Andrews, of Potovens, 20 rises each, with ½oz pot knur, for £50, was decided. Betting was in favour of Sidebottom, who proved the better man, his longest knock measuring 9 scores 6 yards, made in his sixth knock. Andrews scoring in his highest knock 8 scores. A Cropper, of Dodworth, acted as referee.

Transportation for horse theft

The case of the men wrongly sentenced to transportation for burglary at Prophet Wroe’s home, Brandy Carr House in 1842 is well known. Here’s another transportation case from Broom Hall at the other side of Wrenthorpe which predates the Wroe story by ten years.

It starts with a rather run of the mill theft piece in the Leeds Intelligencer.

Leeds Intelligencer
Thursday 1 November 1831


In the course of Friday night last, grey mare, five years old, was stolen from a field at Potovens, near Wakefield, the property of Mr George Thompson. A reward of five guineas has been offered for the apprehension and conviction of the offender.

A couple of days later the Leeds Mercury provides more information about the theft in its Public Notices section. By now the reward had increased to seven guineas.

Leeds Mercury
Saturday 3 November 1832


STOLEN or STRAYED out of a field at Potovens, near Wakefield, on Friday Night, the 26th of October, or early on Saturday Morning the 27th, a Dark Grey MARE. Five Years Old, about Fifteen and Half Hands High. A large White Star on the Forehead, which rather inclines to the far side: at little White on the near Hind Foot, and White Hoof. Had a long Switch Tail, (has been docked), there has been Two small Warts on the far side, one near her [?]: she is very clean in her Legs, very broad in the Chest, and supposed to be in Foal.

If Strayed, whoever will deliver her to Mr George Thompson, Potovens, the Owner, shall be handsomely Rewarded for their trouble, or if Stolen, whoever will give such information as will lead to the Apprehension of the Offenders or Offenders, shall, upon Conviction, receive the above Reward, on Application to Mr George Thompson, Potovens: or to Mr Joshua Ellis, Police Officer, Wakefield.

Wakefield, October 27th 1832.

With such a vivid description of the horse, it wasn’t long before the miscreants were apprehended. Two labourers from Halifax – Yeoman Morton (34) and William Smith (39) – were arrested and brought to trial on 6 March, the following year at the Yorkshire Spring Assizes, York.

Leeds Mercury
Saturday 9 March 1833


YEOMAN MORTON, who pleaded guilty, and WM SMITH were charged with having stolen a Horse on the 26th October last, the property of George Thompson, of Potovens near Wakefield. Mr Dundas stated the case on the part of the prosecution and Mr Cottingham appeared for the prisoner. It appeared that the horse was left safe on the 25th Oct. and that on the following morning it was gone. The prisoners sold the horse under the pretence of its belonging to the sister of Yeoman Morton, to a person at Holmfirth, from whom it was afterwards taken to Glossop Hall, in Lancashire, where it was owned by the prosecutor. The Jury returned a verdict of guilty. Transported for Life.

The men were transported to Australia on the ship Heroine, arriving at New South Wales in September 1833. A harsh sentence perhaps, but the case reported in the newspaper column above Morton and Smith’s is even more severe. William Moorhouse of Bradford is sentenced to death for stealing a gold watch and snuff box.


Why this blog?

Hi, I started this blog to make best use of my British Newspaper Archive subscription and to encourage people to do more local and family history research using primary source material.

Although there are, as yet no Wakefield-specific newspaper titles in the online Archive, there’s nevertheless plenty of material relating to Wrenthorpe.

All articles featured will have been published more than 70 years ago. Most articles will include an introduction and some commentary fitting them into the wider picture of Wrenthorpe’s past. Any minor clarifications within the articles themselves will be written in square brackets.

The aim is to upload 100 blog posts.