Anglicans unlikely success in Potovens exasperates Nonconformists

As with setting up the first school for locals in Wrenthorpe (Potovens National School) in School Lane in 1844, a few years later the Church of England is beating its Wesleyan (Methodist) rivals when it comes to Sunday School attendance. This despite there only being a Wesleyan Chapel in Potovens at the time (St Anne’s Church didn’t open until 1874).

Was mid-19th century Potovens more of an ‘established’ community than previously thought? Or were local children being ‘encouraged’ to attend the Anglican school?

Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser
Wednesday 29 December 1847

SUNDAY SCHOOL DISTURBANCE

Lately, at Alverthorpe, the spirit of Dissent [Methodists/Wesleyans] and the principles of the Established Church have been fairly pitted against each other. The dissenters, having proved successful in maintaining their predominancy at the Town’s school at Alverthorpe, feel great chagrined at the success of the Church Sunday School at Potovens, which on Sunday last had 130 scholars, whilst the dissenters’ school of the same place had only about 40, being about 70 less than attended the school short time age.

On the above day, we understand, a row took place at the dissenters’ school, in consequence of a gentleman from Silcoates coming to the school to ask the teachers to give up, if they could, the name of the individual who had reported that he would turn off such of his factory children as did not go to the Church school! All the people of the village were astir, and much amusement was caused by the gentleman hastily closing the shutters of one of the windows in the face of a person on the outside who was making an harangue, with his head stuck through one the squares. A constable was then sent for, who, on his arrival, good humouredly patted the enquiring gentleman on the shoulder, shook hands with him, and wisely wished him to retire. The misunderstanding seems to have arisen from the circumstance of one of the girls who works at a certain mill in Silcoates, having stated, without foundation, that if she did not attend the Church school she would very likely lose her work.

Wrenthorpe, Potovens, Alverthorpe or Kirkhamgate?

If it’s bewildering today to say exactly where Wrenthorpe starts and Kirkhamgate, Alverthorpe, Newton Hill or Outwood ends, it’s no easier for people tracing their family history and finding ancestors living in Alverthorpe-with-Thornes or Stanley-cum-Wrenthorpe.

The dividing line of those two ancient townships was the Foster Ford/Balne Beck – right in the middle of modern day Wrenthorpe. The area’s informal but widely used name ‘Potovens’ referred to the densely populated area in the village centre. Under the old boundaries, Silcoates, Jerry Clay Lane, Brandy Carr and Kirkhamgate were all part of Alverthorpe-with-Thornes.

When the Stanley Urban District Council was created in 1899 its western boundary stuck to the old township divide. During the following year Wakefield City Council incorporated much of Alverthorpe, leaving Silcoates, Jerry Clay Lane, Brandy Carr and Kirkhamgate as something of a backwater in the Wakefield Rural District Council. The area wasn’t absorbed into Stanley UDC until 1935.

Here’s a couple of confusing articles about Alverthorpe and Kirkhamgate from the WW1 era.

Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer
Tuesday 13 July 1915

ALVERTHORPE PARISH COUNCIL AND ITS NAME

The announcement that the Parish Council Alverthorpe, near Wakefield have applied for the name the township to be changed to Kirkhamgate does not mean that there is a prospect of the name of the village of Alverthorpe itself being altered. In 1900 the parish of Alverthorpe had an area of 2,481 acres, and a population (according to the 1891 Census) of 4,811, and included Alverthorpe village and several small hamlets, all coming within the area of the Wakefield Rural District Council. The borough of Wakefield then sought to extend its boundaries by the inclusion of the district of the Alverthorpe Pariah Council, and terms were arranged between the two bodies.

The Local Government Board, however, only consented to the addition part of the area, comprising 573 acres and a population 3,631 and including the village Alverthorpe, the added area becoming the Alverthorpe Ward in the borough of Wakefield. At one end of the old district was left an area of 999 acres, with a population of 164 and this became Lupset. At the other end the Alverthorpe Parish Council were left with an area of 909 acres and a population of 1,116 made up of the hamlets of Kirkhamgate, Brandy Carr, Silcoates and Beck Bottom, the first named being the largest. Officially, this small area continued to be known as that of the Alverthorpe Parish Council. As already pointed out, Alverthorpe itself is now part of Wakefield, and it is with the object of getting rid of the confusion of names that the Parish Council have decided to rename themselves the Kirkhamgate Parish Council. Though rather long delayed, the action is considered locally to be a logical outcome of the absorption of Alverthorpe into the Wakefield borough boundary, and it is not thought likely that there will any opposition to the proposal when the Subcommittee of the West Riding County Council inquires into the matter.

Leeds Mercury
Tuesday 27 July 1915

ALVERTHORPE NO LONGER
CHANGE OF NAME DESIRED TO KIRKHAMGATE

Alderman P H Booth and Councillor W Ormerod, representing the County Council, held am inquiry at Kirkhamgate, yesterday, relative to the application of the Alverthorpe Parish Council to change the name to Kirkhamgate Parish Council.

Mr W J Skinner, clerk to the Parish Council, pointed out that in 1900 the Alverthorpe township became part of Wakefield, but the name of Alverthorpe Parish Council remained. The part which was not in the jurisdiction of Wakefield was Brandy Carr, Silcoates, and Beck Bottom. The change of name would be a great advantage, particularly with regard to postal arrangements.

At present when letters were addressed Kirkhamgate, Alverthorpe, they were sent out with the Alverthorpe letters, and were returned to Wakefield to be re-directed Kirkhamgate with the result that sometimes there was a delay of twenty-four hours.

There was no opposition.

Inquests into two very different deaths

As strange as this now sounds, during the 19th and early 20th century inquests into sudden deaths were usually carried out in pubs. In Potovens in the 1800s, this was almost always at the Royal Oak. The following report relates to an inquest at the Malt Shovel – a suicide and a death demonstrating the dangers of working in the textile industry.

Leeds Mercury
Monday 6 June 1881

FATAL OCCURRENCES NEAR WAKEFIELD

On Saturday Captain Taylor, of Wakefield, held an inquiry at Mr Wild’s, the Malt Shovel Inn, Potovens, near Wakefield, on the bodies of two persons who had come to their death under sad and extraordinary circumstances.

One of the parties was a widow 57 years of age, named Mary Ann Garside. Sometime ago the deceased lived with Mr John Hawley, colliery agent, The Haugh [later called Sunny Hill House], Silcoates, who married her daughter about two and a half years ago. The mother and daughter did not appear to agree very well, and in January last the deceased left her son-in-law’s residence, and had lately been living in lodgings in Park Street, Wakefield. On Thursday night she went and sat under a pear tree near Mr Hawley’s house, and it is supposed that she then took a quantity of laudanum, and laid down air to die, having frequently told a commercial traveller who lived near her daughter that she would commit suicide, and afterwards wrote a letter to that effect. Next morning she was found under the pear tree in a stupefied and is dying state, and was carried by her son-in-law and another gentleman into Mr Hawley’s stable, where she died shortly afterwards, apparently from the effects of poison.

The other sufferer was a man named James Hudson, a labourer at Messrs Colbeck’s Mills, at Alverthorpe. On Friday night a fire took place in a dust hole at the mills and whilst it was being extinguished Hudson was found quite dead and much burnt. It is supposed that the man upset his lamp among some woollen waste and set it on fire, and that the dense smoke suffocated him, and then he was roasted by the flames. The poor fellow leaves a wife and seven little children.