The Potovens philanthropist

Bristol Mirror
Saturday 19 October 1811

FANATICISM

At the Quarter Sessions at York, John Burnley, weaver, of Beeston, was brought before the Court on a charge of deserting his family, and leaving them chargeable to the township. When he was placed at the bar, he was interrogated in the following terms.

Court: What reason have you to assign for deserting your family?
Prisoner: I was called by the word God so to do.

Court: Where have you lived since, and what have you done?
Prisoner: I have lived at Potovens, near Wakefield, and have worked at my business as a weaver.

Court: What can you earn a week upon an average?
Prisoner: From 18 to 20 shillings per week.

Court: And how do you dispose of it?
Prisoner: After supplying my own necessities, I distribute the rest among my poor neighbours.

Court: But should not your wife and children be the first objects of your care and bounty?
Prisoner: No; unless they are in greater distress, than all others.

Court: The Scripture, which you profess to follow, says, speaking of the relation of man and wife, that they shall be one flesh; of course, you are under as great an obligation to maintain her as yourself.
Prisoner: The Scripture saith, Whom God hath joined together let man put asunder; but God never joined and my wife together.

Court: Who then did?
Prisoner: l have told you who did not, you may easily judge who did.

Court: We suppose you are as much joined together any other married people are? Prisoner: My family are now no more to me than any other persons.

Court: The laws of your country require, that should maintain your family, and if you neglect or refuse to do so, you become liable to a serious punishment.
Prisoner: I am willing to suffer all you think proper to inflict; I expect to suffer persecution for the Scripture says, that those who live godly in Christ Jesus must endure persecution. I regard the laws of God only and do not regard any other laws.

Court: You seem to have read the Scriptures to very little profit, or you would not have failed in so plain a duty as that in providing for your own household.
Prisoner: The Scripture commands me love my neighbour as myself, and I cannot do that if I suffer him to want when I have the power to relieve him. My wife and children have all changes of raiment but I see others that are half naked. Should I not, therefore, clothe these rather than expend my money on my family?

Court: But you family cannot live upon their raiment; they require also victuals.
Prisoner: They are able to provide for their own maintenance, and the Gospel requires me to forsake father and mother, wife and children. Indeed it was contrary to the Gospel for me to take a wife, and I sinned in so doing.

Court: Have you any friends here?
Prisoner: I have only one friend, who is above.

Court: Is there any person here who knows you?
Prisoner: Mr Banks knows me.

Banks stated, that he should suppose, from the recent conduct of the Prisoner, that his mind was not in a sane state. Formerly he was an industrious man; of late he had understood that he had read the Bible with uncommon assiduity and fervency. He would absent himself whole days together, and retire into woods and fields for the purpose of reading it. After some time spent in this manner, he went away from his family, and refused to contribute to their support. His family contrived to carry on the business, and he I bought of them what pieces they made. He understood that what the prisoner had said of giving away his earnings to objects of distress was correct. After some consultation with the Bench, the Recorder addressed him to the following effect:-

“John Burnley – the Court are disposed to deal leniently with you, in hopes that better consideration will remove the delusion you labour under. For this purpose I would advise you to read your Bible with still greater attention, and ask the advice of some intelligent Friends, particularly the Minister you attend upon. I would also beg of you seriously to consider, that all the rest of the world think it their duty to provide, in the first place, for their families; and you, surely, cannot suppose that they are all neglecting the care of their souls, and in the road to eternal destruction. This consideration should induce you distrust your own judgment, and if you have any humility, and humility is a Christian virtue, you will conclude that it is more probable that you should be mistaken than that all the rest of mankind should be wrong. Your wife has strongly expressed her wish that no severity should be used towards you. influenced by these considerations, the Court has ordered that you should be discharged.”

Prisoner: The Scripture saith, that darkness covers the earth, and gross darkness the people. And again, in another place, that the whole world lieth in wickedness. I know that the way of duty is in the path of suffering; but it is this path in which our Leader trod, and we must follow his steps.

Wrenthorpe Colliery 10: false hopes in desperate times

Within six months of closure of Wrenthorpe Colliery – and two months after it had failed to sell at auction as a going concern – hopes were raised that the pit might be reopened. The horrors of the dole was so awful that miners were prepared to forego a proportion of  their wages until the pit was self-supporting.

Ironically, the article even states the colliery would be capable of producing coal well beyond the year 2000.

Leeds Mercury
Monday 22 October 1928

WRENTHORPE PIT MAY RE-OPEN
WAKEFIELD DISTRESS
COLLIERS GUARANTEE FUNDS FROM THEIR WAGES

(From Our Own Correspondent)
WAKEFIELD, Sunday.

The closing of the Wrenthorpe Colliery at Wakefield has caused much distress in the district, but there are hopes that it will be re-opened soon.

A sub-committee, which was appointed to inquire into the possibility re-opening the colliery, report that they can see no reason whatever why the colliery should not be able to carry on, and produce from 5,000 to 8,000 tons of good quality coal per week, at economic rates, for at least a further fifty to eighty years. The conditions at the moment are such that in two or three weeks’ time from 1,000 to 12,000 tons per shift could be wound on the second or third day.

Workmen’s Guarantee

Providing the necessary working capital can be found, the sub-committee have a unanimous resolution from the general body of workmen, guaranteeing contributions from their wages until the pit becomes self-supporting.

The sub-committee state that they are fully aware of the fact that much of this coal could at some future time be got by neighbouring collieries, but they state that this would not help the 1,000 Wrenthorpe workers and their dependants, many of whom are now becoming destitute.

Sadly, any such recommendations came to nothing and by January 1929, colliery equipment is being dismantled for auction.

Sheffield Daily Telegraph
Wednesday 23 January 1929

DISMANTLING WRENTHORPE, GAWTHORPE. and SOOTHILL WOOD COLLIERIES and COKE OVENS

The unique opportunity occurs to purchase first class, up-to-date Colliery Plant, Electrical Plant, and general Power Plant, from the above pits astonishingly low prices. Several Brand New Items, including steam-driven Winding Engine, 34in. r 66in., and electric-driven Compressor, 2.500 cu. ft. Ask for Catalogue.
GEO. COHEN, SONS, and CO., LTD.,
11, INDEPENDENT BUILDINGS, FARGATE, SHEFFIELD.

The pub in the middle of nowhere

Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer
Wednesday 31 May 1911

WEST RIDING LICENCES
TEN RENEWALS REFUSED

The principal meeting of the West Riding Licensing Justices was commenced at the Court House, Wakefield, yesterday to consider the advisability or otherwise of the renewal of licences to which objection has been taken on the ground of non-necessity…

There was no objection to the refusal of the renewal of the licence of the Gardeners’ Arms, Lindale Lane, Kirkhamgate, an ante-1869 beerhouse [a partially licensed pub]. Mr Cooke said there were three public houses at Kirkhamgate, which was equal to one licensed house for every 213 of the population. The two fully licenced houses were on the main road, but the Gardeners’ Arms was situated in an old by-road which at certain times of year was almost impassable. On one side of the house it was 900 yards to the nearest dwelling, and on the other side 120 yards.

What became of Daley?

One of those news in brief stories which leaves the 21st century reader wondering what happened next. There’s nothing further in the 1860s papers.

Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer
Saturday 5 October 1867

A SUSPECTED FENIAN

Two tramps were passing through Potovens on Thursday, and O’Neil, the police officer, seeing them put their hands over a wall and take a few onions, apprehended them. On one, named Thomas Daley, he found several Manchester pawn tickets, and suspecting that he was a Fenian, he asked the magistrates yesterday to remand the prisoner, in order to afford the opportunity of making inquiries. The court acceded to this request.

Wrenthorpe Colliery 9: pit and farm up for sale

Little more than six weeks after the Colliery closed, it’s advertised in the Yorkshire Post as up for sale by auction but failed to sell as a going concern.

Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer
Saturday 11 August 1928

SALES BY AUCTION

By Order of the Joint Receivers for the Debenture Holders.
Re: LOW LAITHES COLLIERY CO, LTD, WAKEFIELD,
Re: SOOTHILL WOOD COLLIERY CO, LTD, BATLEY.
To SOLD BY AUCTION at the EXCHANGE AUCTION MART, LAND’S LANE, LEEDS, on TUESDAY, AUGUST 28th, 1928, 2.30 p.m., as a GOING CONCERN, OR FOR DISMANTLING,
unless previously disposed of privately.

LOT 1. — THE WELL EQUIPPED COLLIERY,
known LOW LAITHES COLLIERY,
comprising
THE GAWTHORPE AND WRENTHORPE PITS, THE MODERN COLLIERY PLANT AND EQUIPMENT, AND A LARGE AREA OF FREEHOLD LAND, containing the SILKSTONE AND BEESTON SEAMS.
This property will be first offered in one Lot, and if not disposed of, the GAWTHORPE and WRENTHORPE PITS will be offered separately.
This Colliery has been worked until quite recently, and can be started immediately, everything being in first-rate condition.
The average weekly output is estimated at 3,000 tons and 10,000 tons respectively.

Belfast News-Letter
Wednesday 29 August 1928

NO OFFER FOR COLLIERY.
Pits Sold tor Dismantling.

As a going concern, the Low Laithes Colliery, Yorkshire, failed to attract bid when offered for sale at Leeds yesterday, and the auctioneers submitted the separate pits – Wrenthorpe, Gawthorpe and Soothill – for dismantling, together with Wrenthorpe Brickworks. This way a total of £25,630 was realised by the sale. The properties were offered on the instructions of receivers acting for the debenture holders.

Later in that year, equipment at Wrenthorpe Farm (site of Southfield Close) was put up for sale too.

Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer
Tuesday 23 October 1928

TO FARMERS, CARTING AGENTS and Others.
WRENTHORPE FARM, POTOVENS LANE, WRENTHOHPE, WAKEFIELD
(The omnibuses from Wood Street pass the Farm.)

Messrs ALBERT HUDSON and SON (instructed by F Leather Esq, owing to the closing of the Wrenthorpe Colliery), will Sell by Auction on the Premises, as above, on MONDAY, OCTOBER 29th, 1928, the
HORSES, CARTS, WAGONS, TRAPS,
and GEARS,
Including 10 Cart Horses, 21 3 inch and 4 and 4 inch Carts, Rhubarb and other Carts (some new and some lately done up);
3 Wagons and 12 Sets of Cart Gears.
Safe to commence at 11 a.m.
ON VIEW MORNING OF SALE.
Auctioneers’ Offices, Crown Court, Wood Street, Wakefield.

Building and opening of St Anne’s Church

Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer
Thursday 24 April 1873

WAKEFIELD – NEW CHURCH FOR WRENTHORPE

Yesterday the Mayor of Wakefield laid the cornerstone of a new church about to be erected at Wrenthorpe, near Wakefield. The inhabitants of this rapidly-growing village have heretofore worshipped at the old church at Alverthorpe, and at a school which stands in their midst. About two years ago a clergyman was appointed to the village, under the vicar of Alverthorpe, and the combined efforts of these two gentlemen, with the co-operation of numerous friends, have resulted in £700 being raised towards a new church for Wrenthorpe. A vicarage has already been built, and the ground secured for the church is in convenient proximity. The sacred edifice is to seat 300 worshippers, and it will cost about £1,200. The architect is Mr T W Micklethwaite, of Westminster; and the contractors Messrs Thickett, of Horbury.

Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer
Thursday 24 April 1873

CONSECRATION OF A CHURCH AT WRENTHORPE

Yesterday the Bishop of Ripon consecrated small church which has been erected in the village of Wrenthorpe, Wakefield. Hitherto there has been no church there, but services have been held regularly for some time past in the National Schoolroom [in School Lane], the Pariah Church being situated at a considerable distance. The population of the hamlet, consisting chiefly of the working class, is not large, nor is there an immediate prospect of it increasing to any great degree. The new church is therefore not of large dimensions. It is a plain brick building, with stone dressings, and the interior is quite keeping with its external appearance. A central aisle divides two rows of seats of white pine, and a rather heavy timber screen separates the nave from the chancel. Yesterday, however, the furnishing and decoration had not been completed, nor had the east window received all its stained glass, and therefore the interior was not what will ere long appear. The aim which the architect (Mr J T Micklethwaite, of London) had in view was to design a church of substantial proportions and convenient at a small cost, and with the co-operation of the builders (Messrs G & W Thickett, of Horbury), his efforts have gained the satisfaction of the building committee and all concerned. The east and west windows are mullioned and large; the side windows are small. The total cost, including the sum paid for the site, will not be more than £5 per sitting, and the accommodation will be sufficient for 200 worshippers. The stained glass of the east window will be symbolical of the Incarnation, and form beautiful work of art, by Mr W C Kempe, of London. This fine feature is the gift of George Austerfield of Burnley. The elaborate silk vestments which adorn the altar have been wrought and contributed by Mrs Naters the wife of the Incumbent, the Rev C J Naters. The wooden cross and candlesticks upon the altar are also gifts, and Mr J Aldam Heaton, of Bingley, the committee are indebted for the sanctuary hangings.

The consecration service commenced two o’clock. The congregation was large. It consisted almost exclusively those whose spiritual requirements it is desired to meet, and judging from the interest they manifested in the event, the erection of the sacred edifice has their grateful appreciation. Amongst the clergy present were the following :– The Rev Canon Camidge, Vicar of Wakefield; Rev J W Chadwick, St Michael’s, Wakefield; Rev John Sharp, Horbury; Rev J S Gammell, Outwood; Rev J Walton, Alverthorpe; Rev J Gatrill, curate of Horbury; and the Rev J Harrison, curate of Alverthorpe. The Bishop reached a sermon on the occasion from 1st Corinthians, chapter 6, and verse 14 – “God hath both raised the law, and will also raise up us by his own power.” At the commencement of his simple, yet eloquent, address referred the object of the occasion. He said they had been engaged in a very solemn and deeply interesting service. They had been dedicating that church, which had been recently erected for the public worship of God, and by the solemn form of consecration which had been used, the building was now separated from all common and profane purposes and dedicated entirely to the ministrations of religion. The object view building the church had been to provide additional accommodation for who lived its immediate neighbourhood. They were at an inconvenient distance from the ancient church of the parish, and because of that many might have been hindered from attending, otherwise they would have attended, the house of God and the ministrations of religion therein performed; and therefore it had been hoped that by providing a building close at hand, in which they might have all the ordinances and means of grace freely supplied, many might be encouraged to go and wait on those ordinances, who perhaps hitherto had only occasionally used them altogether neglected them. He earnestly prayed God that that object might be fully attained, that numbers might be found ready to avail themselves of the ordinances of grace, and that in the faithful use of those ordinances many might grow in grace and in the knowledge of their Lord and Saviour.

Mining accident deaths: lockjaw

Accidents down the pit resulting in deaths from lockjaw (tetanus) were not uncommon. Here are two from the mid-19th century, relating to miners from Potovens.

Leeds Intelligencer
Saturday 19 August 1848

DEATH FROM LOCKJAW

On Monday last, Mr Lee, coroner, held inquest at the Royal Oak Inn, Potovens, near Wakefield, on the body of Benjamin Scott. Deceased was a coal miner employed at Messrs Burnley’s pits in Wakefield, and the 14th ult. he was filling his corf when a quantity of coal fell upon him from the roof, and broke his leg. He was attended by Mr Statter, but lock-jaw took place on the following Wednesday, and he died on the ensuing Sunday. Verdict, “Accidentally killed”.

Leeds Times
Saturday 26 January 1856

FATAL COAL-PIT ACCIDENT

An accident befel a boy named Henry Nottingham, on Thursday, the 3rd inst. He was a hurrier in the Haigh Moor Pit, Stanley. On the day in question, when getting off the “rolley”, which he was driving along the road to the pit shaft, a portion of the wheel caught his clothes and threw him under the “rolley”, breaking his thigh, and otherwise injuring him. He has since died of lock-jaw. An inquest was held on the body on Tuesday, at the Royal Oak Inn, Potovens, before T Taylor, Esq, when a verdict in accordance with the facts stated was returned.

Building the Carr Gate Fever Hospital

Leeds Mercury
Thursday 31 May 1888

NEW ISOLATION HOSPITAL FOR THE WAKEFIELD RURAL SANITARY AUTHORITY’S DISTRICT

Yesterday afternoon Mr G W Young, of East Ardsley the chairman of the Rural Sanitary Authority for the Wakefield Union, laid the corner-stone of an isolation hospital, which is being erected for that authority. An excellent site of four acres of land has been purchased near “Prophet” Wroe’s Mansion at Carr Gate, and a short distance from the Bradford and Wakefield road. The contract for the brick and stone work has been let to Messrs Flower Bros, of Wakefield, who have already made considerable progress in the work. Alderman Flower, one of the contractors, presented Mr Young with a silver trowel and mahogany mallet, with which he laid the stone. Brief addresses were delivered by Mr Young, Mr J H Cookson of Stanley (vice-chairman of the authority), and Mr Herbert Beaumont, the clerk. After a vote of thanks had been accorded to Mr Young, and a cheer had been given for Mrs Young, the party drove back to Wakefield, and took tea together at the Strafford Arms Hotel.

The hospital’s official name was the Cardigan Sanatorium, but it was more commonly known as Carr Gate Fever Hospital, or simply Carr Gate Hospital.

Wrenthorpe Colliery pollutes Balne Beck again

Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer
Wednesday 25 January 1922

RIVER POLLUTION FROM COALWASHING PLANT: £150 FINES

Before his Honour Judge Randolph, at the Wakefield County Court yesterday, Mr H F Atter, on behalf the West Riding Rivers Board, applied under the Rivers Pollution Prevention Act, 1876, for an order directing payment by the Low Laithes Colliery Company (Limited), Wakefield, of penalties for default in complying with an order dated November 4, 1913, requiring the colliery company to abstain from allowing the flow of polluted water from the coal-washing plant at the Wrenthorpe Pit.

Mr Atter stated that on March 17, 1914, an application was made for penalties for breach of the order of 1913, and an order was made for the payment of £50 per day for offences on two days, but execution was stayed until proof should be given of further pollution.

Mr James P Hutchinson, an inspector of the Rivers Board, said that on several occasions in the past three months he had found the effluent at the Wrenthorpe Pit unsatisfactory, chiefly owing to neglect of the settling tanks and the non-working of the pump. Cross-examined by Mr R Watson (for the colliery company), witness admitted the pollution was not offensive. It consisted of small particles of coal deposited as black sludge in the course of stream, which flowed into the Balne Beck.

Mr Watson said they did not dispute the fact that there had been pollution, but they had done their best under difficulties, and the company had now entered into contracts at a sum of considerably more than £10,000 with a view of making their coal-washing plant ahead of anything of its kind in the country.

His Lordship ordered payment of penalties of £25 in each of six cases and costs.

Toads in the hole at Kirkhamgate

London Globe
Thursday 20 August 1903

YEARS AGO. BEING EXRACTS FROM “THE GLOBE” OF AUGUST 20TH

1807 – In July, 1805, two toads were shut up in small empty box, and the box deposited about two feet below the surface of the earth, where it was closely covered up; in July, 1806, the toads were taken up, examined, and exhibited all the appearance good health; they were then returned to their subterraneous abode, enclosed in the box as before. In July, 1807, they were again taken up and examined, and looked as healthy and well as they did when first enclosed in their dark dwelling, having lived two years apparently without either food or air. Kirkhamgate, near Wakefield, is the place where these animals are deposited.