20-30 tons of sewage dumped in Trough Well Lane

Wakefield and West Riding Herald
Saturday 8 September 1877

HIGHWAY OFFENCE AT WRENTHORPE

William Pearson, market gardener, Potovens, was summoned for allowing night soil to remain in a highroad in the hamlet of Wrenthorpe. Mr. Wainwright prosecuted, and Mr. Burton defended. Mr. W. R. Hall, the surveyor, stated that a short time ago the defendant obtained between 20 and 30 tons of night soil from Bradford, and shot it into Trough Well Lane, leading from Bragg Lane to Potovens. The road – 30ft. wide – was, in consequence, reduced to a width of only 6ft. But this was not the only evil. During the late heavy ruins, the offensive matter from the night soil had percolated into two wells, one of them 50ft., and the other only 6ft. from the heap of manure; and altogether the case was of so glaring a nature that be was determined to bring the matter before the Court. In the first place, Mr. Burton objected that this lane is not a highway within the meaning of the Act of Parliament, but simply leads to the land. ln cross-examination, he next elicited from the surveyor that, in accordance with notice served upon him, defendant was removing the night soil when he (the Surveyor) was coming to Wakefield to take out the summons; but the Surveyor added that, although the bulk of the manure had been removed, there was a considerable quantity of refuse left, and this was still finding its way into the wells. The Bench having over-ruled his first objection, Mr. Burton then contended that, seeing night soil had been placed on the road with impunity by others for at least a hundred years past, defendant had in this case acted under a supposition of right. Mr. Hall served him with a notice on the 29th of August, out then took out the summons on the 31st, which, he contended showed malice on the part of the Surveyor. In defence, Mr. Bryan H. Ramsden stated that the road in question had never been repaired by the Surveyors during the last 60 years, to his knowledge. The Bench considered Mr. Pearson had no right to put his manure where he did; but, believing that he had acted under a misapprehension, they would impose only a nominal fine of 1s. and costs.

The disabled market gardener at Bragg Lane End

A long item from page one of the Wakefield Express about a severely-disabled man still working in his mid-80s. Although a poignant piece, not least because it’s written during the First World War, the idea of making substitute tobacco out of rhubarb leaves does at least raise a smile, but why does the article end so abruptly?

Wakefield Express
Saturday 17 August 1918

THE OLDEST TRADER IN WAKEFIELD MARKET.
HIS GALLANT STRUGGLE AGAINST POVERTY.
HAS WORKED SINCE HE WAS FOUR.
EXPERT GARDENING UNDER DIFFICULTIES.

Curiosity as to how a man of 85 with a crippled hand and with both legs cut off above the knee managed to look after a fairly large market garden led an “Express” representative to go in search of Mark Frost, of Bragg Lane End. He found him busily engaged “cleaning up” one portion of his garden, and quite in the mood for a chat and a smoke. Mark in very proud of the fact that though he is “86 come next January 2nd” he is still able to do something toward earning his own living, in spite of the handicap of having no legs.

In telling his own story, Mark says that he started work “twining band at t’top o’Langley,” when only four years old and in petticoats, and he appears to have been working ever since. Really, he is to-day as much up against poverty an ever his own parents were in the days that forced a child of the tender ago of four to go out to help to earn the family’s daily bread. For nearly seventy years after that – though he served an apprenticeship to the rope trade – he has worked in the pits, his last journey underground being to fetch a forgotten syphon pipe from workings under Lindle Hill. It was after he left the mine that he contracted the disease which resulted in the eventual loss, about four years ago, of both legs and one finger. Now, however, he seems pretty healthy, and is putting up a gallant struggle against both old age and infirmity. Though the difficulties must be enormous, we must say we have never seen a better-kept kitchen garden. Kind friends have provided him with specially shortened gardening tools, and, with the aid of a board and two wooden hand-grips, he is able to propel himself about the garden. As he says, he is bound to do something, seeing that the army has taken his son and 7s. 6d. “Lloyd George” is all he has to live on.

Before he happened his misfortune, Mark was a familiar figure in Wakefield, especially at the week-end, for he has attended the market two days a week ever since he was a child, and says that with his “owd grey galloway” he had “taen peys inter Wakefield Market for ower fifty year.” To-day he still attends the market, but he has to go in a wheel chair, which means that someone must push both him and the produce. His present stand is just inside the Clarence Hotel Yard, where he is to be found any Friday or Saturday. Perhaps a kindly reader will remember Mark when seeking vegetables, salad, or flowers in the market.

It was with much pride that he showed the writer his little bit of garden land, with its neat rows of healthy potatoes, celery, etc., and the remnants of what was once a particularly good flower garden – for flowers seem to have been his ruling passion – and it was only when gardeners were called upon to produce more food that he reluctantly sacrificed some of his beloved flower beds for the more prosaic growing of food-stuffs. He still, however, has a few yards of flower-producing land, and any reader who is requiring sound and healthy wallflowers guaranteed to be the much sought-after dark stock, could not do better than pay a visit to Bragg Lane End, as there are at least fifty to sixty score plants for disposal. These are not mere seedlings, but all were properly transplanted and “fit for any gentleman living, and I don’t care who gets ’em.”

It was then that he brought out his home-made tobacco, which certainly, smoked very well indeed, and to an inveterate smoker must represent a big saving in these days. It was made, he explained, of rhubarb leaves and twist scalded, rolled, dried, etc., just as tobacco leaves are treated, the twist being just sufficient to give it a “genuine” flavour.

Mark lives by himself, and he has one big trouble, and that is – he is dependent upon others when he wants to go into Wakefield or elsewhere to dispose of his produce; and he is very anxious to get a self-propelling chair so that he can get about by himself. He has already got about £6 banked towards the cost of such a contrivance, but he says the other “takes a lot of getting,” so that if there are any kindly-disposed people who would like to help a really deserving case, they could not find a more worthy thing to do than to assist poor old Mark to keep his independence, and, possibly, to set aside a little money for the dreaded winter months when he can earn nothing.

Old Mark’s is a worthy case, and a few extra orders for greenstuff at the week-ends, or orders for wallflower plants, will help to make life easier for one who has struggled through life and has worked for over 80 years. It is a long time for a man to keep going, and especially when brought to such an apparently helpless position as he was at eighty years of age. Certainly such pluck and independence are worthy of recognition.

We understand that Mr. Lewis Twigge [Wakefield florist and leading tradesperson] has taken a great interest in Mark’s gardening work, especially since he happened his misfortune. It was through Mr Twigge’s kindness three years ago that he was supplied with the special tools to enable him “carry on” with his gardening work in spite of his severe handicap. He had been able to do his work with only the first leg off – he lost this some eleven years ago – but it is the loss of the second which seemed the greatest blow of all, and the way he faced it all is very commendable. Mark has long been a most successful exhibitor at local shows.

Mark’s grandson (another Mark) private, Royal Scots Regiment, died of wounds in France on 4 June 1918, aged 19.*

* Wakefield Express, 22 June 1918, pp. 6, 8.

Sad death at Broom Hall

Leicester Guardian
Wednesday 6 November 1872

A FARMER’S WIFE POISONING HERSELF WHEN DRUNK

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.

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.

Crop fire at Broom Hall Farm

Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer
Friday 7 August 1868

WAKEFIELD – FIELDS ON FIRE

On Tuesday night sparks from a passing railway engine ignited the highly-dried grass on the farm of Mr Thompson, Broom Hall, Potovens, near Wakefield. Although seen at once, before they could be subdued, the flames overran nearly three acres of meadow and stubble land. In two closes to which the fire penetrated were sheaves of corn awaiting removal to the barn, and had not vigorous efforts been made by the villagers, a portion of these at all events would have been burnt. About the time barley field, at Thornes, was set fire through the same cause, but fortunately some platelayers saw the smoke, and digging a trench, they managed to confine the conflagration within its limits.