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 ‘Wrenthorpe-ification’ of Potovens

Here’s a strange filler piece from the Yorkshire Evening Post a few weeks before the outbreak of World War II.

Yorkshire Evening Post
Friday 30 June 1939

DIARY OF A YORKSHIREMAN
HOUSE OF MANY ADDRESSES

Several years ago two brothers at Wakefield Grammar School used to delight in puzzling their masters by giving their address differently. One put Sunny Hill, Silcoates; the other, City View, Wrenthorpe. Letters addressed in either fashion would arrive in equal safety and expectation.

The house had no number. Sunny Hill was part of an interminable road called Potovens Lane. Wrenthorpe was the village that sprawled at the bottom of the hill, and Silcoates was the general name for the district. City View was a fancy name the builder had put on the block of houses at the top of the hill. On a clear day they commanded a clear view of Wakefield Town Hall and Cathedral, two miles distant.

Two or three years ago the district was absorbed into the Stanley area, and the correct address became Sunny Hill, Kirkhamgate.

Then the Stanley Urban District Council was petitioned to alter the name of this part of Potovens Lane, and it became Wrenthorpe Lane. Now, at long last, the houses have been numbered, and the correct address of the old house is 74 Wrenthorpe Lane.

The changes had come about when Kirkhamgate, Silcoates and Jerry Clay Lane were transferred from Wakefield Rural District Council to Stanley Urban District in 1935. The ‘Potovens’ street names were changed a couple of years later. But the Evening Post still manages to get things mixed up. Wrenthorpe Lane was formerly called Potovens Road (not Lane). Wrenthorpe Road was called Potovens Lane. The brothers in question were Calverts. Either the house has since been renumbered or it’s another error, as City View is number 66-68 Wrenthorpe Lane.

The wrong side of the beck

A small piece in the Leeds Mercury about a fire at Calvert Brothers rope factory in Jerry Clay Lane in the autumn of 1901, all but predicts a local disaster. And, had the burning building been the other side of the Foster Ford Beck, it would have been within the Stanley Urban District, not Wakefield Rural and had a much better chance of being saved.

Leeds Mercury
Saturday 16 November 1901

WAKEFIELD RURAL COUNCIL & FIRES
AWKWARD PREDICAMENT AT POTOVENS

Early yesterday morning a large shed at Potovens, near Wakefield, belonging Messrs Calvert Bros, rope and twine manufacturers, was found to be on fire.

A message was at once despatched for the Wakefield City Fire Brigade, but it could not turn out owing to the Corporation having declined to enter into arrangements with the Rural Council to serve the district in case of fire.

The result was that the fire was allowed to burn itself out, and damage to the extent of £800 was done, including the destruction of about £500 of stock.

Two-and-a-half years later, Wakefield Rural District Council still hadn’t sorted out adequate fire fighting provision when Silcoates School burnt down in April 1904.

 

Silcoates School fire

The Leeds Mercury’s take on Silcoates fire, 1904. Interesting that the paper starts its news coverage with a paragraph on the famous Silcoates alumni.

The article also sheds lights on the problems in dealing with the fire. Not only the Wakefield Fire Brigade’s refusal to attend a fire outside its boundaries, but also the inadequate water supply in the vicinity of the School. The ‘Stanley main’ referred to was Stanley Urban District Council’s mains water supply which ended in what’s now Wrenthorpe Lane, at the bridge over Foster Ford Beck, the boundary between Stanley UDC and Wakefield Rural District Council.

Leeds Mercury
Friday 15 April 1904

THE DESTRUCTIVE FIRE AT SILCOATES SCHOOL
SOME DISTINGUISHED FORMER PUPILS

The Northern Congregational School, which situate at the top of the hill at Silcoates, near Wakefield, and which was destroyed by fire early yesterday morning, was established on 24th August, 1831; and is well-known for the education many men who have made their mark in the world.

Amongst them we may mention names of Mr Godkin, editor of the “New York Evening Post”; Mr W T Stead, of “The Review of Reviews”; Mr T C Taylor MP, Sir George Newnes MP; Mr John Stubley, Batley; Mr Gerard Ford, Manchester; Mr John Ely, FRIBA, Manchester; and a number of well-known Congregational ministers. Since the school was established, about eight hundred sons of Congregational ministers have been educated there.

During the Easter vacation the school was thoroughly renovated, and the buildings would have presented a most attractive appearance when the pupils, numbering about eighty, returned from their holidays.

The fire was first discovered near what is known as the Juvenile Dormitory, and it had then got a firm hold. The appliances at hand were not sufficient to cope with the flames, which spread with great rapidity; and notwithstanding the efforts of many willing workers, the school building was soon doomed.

About one o’clock the Dewsbury Fire Brigade was sent for, but when they arrived they found they had not sufficient piping enable them to pump the water from the mill dam [Silcoates Mill] and the Stanley [water] main, a couple of fields away, their impression being that the building was situate near the main road. The only supply they were able to obtain was from a 3-inch main near the school, and the force was not strong enough to reach the topmost part of the building.

Before the Dewsbury men arrived, however, it was obvious that all chances of saving any portion of the school building had gone, and the efforts of the workers were concentrated on saving the house of the headmaster (Mr J A Yonge), who was spending his holidays in Switzerland. Sergeant Barraclough, of Dewsbury, handled his men splendidly, and he himself worked like a Trojan, with the result that they bad their efforts rewarded in seeing Mr Young’s house and furniture probably saved.

Soon after the fire was discovered, the Wakefield Fire Brigade were requested to attend, but the request was not complied with owing the fact that a couple of years ago a resolution was passed by the Wakefield Corporation to the effect that the brigade should not attend any more fires outside the city, as the rural authority declined to enter into an agreement to contribute towards the maintenance of a second engine and increased staff.

Painters and decorators have been busily at work since the school “broke up”, renovating the interior of the school building; and at first it was thought the fire was due the carelessness of the workmen. From the position of the fire, however, first discovered, the supposition is that it was caused through the overheating of a flue.

The damage, which roughly estimated at about £12,000, is only partly covered by insurance.

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.