The short-lived Potovens Concertina Band

There’s no evidence in the old newspapers to show that Wrenthorpe ever had a brass band, not even in the late 19th century/turn of the 20th century when the popularity of village brass bands was at its height. It did however, briefly have a concertina band in the late 1880s.

Wakefield and West Riding Herald
Saturday 4 February 1888


On Monday night a concert was held in the Church School Room [in School Lane] towards raising a fund to provide the Wrenthorpe Concertina and Quadrille Band with uniforms. The great success of this young and promising Band, as shown by the manner in which the public support them, is matter for congratulation, and the fact that it is the wish of the people of Wrenthorpe to see the Band in a position to provide themselves with uniforms, was shown by the enthusiasm of the villagers on Monday night, and by the fact that the concert room was packed to excess, and that scores had to go home unable to get in. The first item of the programme was an address by the President of the Band, Mr William Pearson, who occupied the chair. He pointed out the advantages derived by the village in having a good band of their own, and said he was proud of the position in which they had placed him… The concert was brought to a close by the Band playing “God save the Queen.”

Wakefield and West Riding Herald
Saturday 22 August 1891

The Potovens Concertina Band made a good beginning, but a disappointing speculation brought it to grief a year or two ago. There is the uniform and the instruments all for want of a plucky leader, and a few subscriptions. Some of the old members, we are informed, are anxious to revive the combination.

The long lost Potovens Flower Show

The current Wrenthorpe Show was established in 1980. But almost a century before, the village also boasted its own annual show – the Potovens Flower Show – which ran for over 20 years from 1881. The event took place in the long rope-making sheds of the Calverts’ Rope Works in Jerry Clay Lane.

The earliest found newspaper report of the Show dates from 1884. The sports events included ‘potato gathering’, which surely deserves reviving, it’d be great at the next Olympics.

Wakefield and West Riding Herald
Saturday 23 August 1884


On Saturday afternoon, notwithstanding the Thornes Park absorption, there was a very fair attendance at this third annual show of plants, flowers, fruit, and vegetables, which held in the New Ropery, Potovens [site of Jerry Clay Drive], (kindly lent for the occasion by Mr. John Calvert). At two o’clock the show was declared open by Alderman F. Milthorp. The bouquets of wild and hardy flowers formed a principal feature, and excited considerable interest. The officers having the management of the affair were Alderman Milthorp (president), Councillor Lupton, and Messrs. B. H. Ramsden, Joseph Glover, and John Calvert (vice-presidents), and Messrs. W. Calvert, J. Beacher, T. Gill, J. Fletcher, J. Hebden, W. Shaw, G. Cuthbert, C. Render, J. Pickles, T. Arnold, W. Wild, J. Smith, J. Calvert, G. Brook, C. Land, B. Simms, F. Wild, G. Robertshaw, G. Freeman, J. Parkin, P. Firth, F. Wilkinson, W. Bedford, Joe Parkin, and H. Ivenson, who formed the committee; Mr. Alfred Hardy acted as treasurer, Messrs. Charles Calvert and George Hebden officiated as secretaries.

The programme for the event was full of variety, containing prizes for the best cultivated cottage gardens, best groomed draught-horses, for ponies, foot-races, potato gathering, also dancing, &c. There were six competitors who considered their cottage gardens eligible, and no less than ten proud owners of draught horses in their interesting competition. The judges in the floral department were Messrs. George Brown, (Hatfield Hall), Linton, (Wakefield and West Riding Asylum), Duffield, (gardener to Mr. T. K. Sanderson), whilst Mr. Samuel Jackson, of East Ardsley and Mr. T. Spurr, of Lofthouse Gate, determined the winners amongst the horses and ponies. £l0 4s. was in the hands of the treasurers to the credit of the show prior to this exhibition. As regards the sports they commenced with a 100 yards Handicap, open to all comers, in which Charles Parkin and Joe Roberts were the first and second respectively. Parkin won by this accomplishment a guinea tine-piece, and Roberts a copper-kettle, valued at 10s. The gathering of 40 potatoes, one yard apart, was the of cause of much excitement, Albert Moorby eventually proving himself to be the most active competitor, whilst Wright Whiteley, of Westgate Common was second. The prizes were a 12lb leg of mutton, and three stones of best flour. Eight lads entered for the youths of the district race, 100 yards, which was run in two heats, and a final. H. Smith, of Kirkhamgate, and H. Pickersgill, of Alverthorpe, won the heats and Smith came first in the final, receiving a 10s. time-piece as an acknowledgment of his prowess. Pickersgill became the possessor of a tea-pot, valued at 5s. [The article finishes with a long list of show classes and prize winners].

Ten years on, the Show has become an established fixture…

Wakefield and West Riding Herald
Saturday 25 August 1894


Favoured with fine weather, the above annual fixture, which came off last Saturday, was a decided success, the attendance being larger than any precious occasion in the Society’s existence. Thirteen years ago, Potovens Show had a small beginning, and for a time, so to speak, hovered between life and death. The committee, however, struggled hard against big odds, with the result that they finally overcame their difficulties, and succeeded in placing the Society on a sound and satisfactory basis. One important feature contributing to the success of the show has been the almost entire absence of rainfall on the day chosen for the annual exhibition, a matter wherein many similar, but less fortunate societies have great losses, and in some instances disaster. This year was no exception to the rule; people “streamed” into the village from all directions, and the Wakefield ‘Bus Company and other owners of vehicles did brisk business during the afternoon. The large sum of £80 given in prizes – large, of course, in comparison with the size of the place – testifies in an unmistakable manner to the zeal and energy thrown into the movement by the officers as a whole, most being men of the right calibre – men in possession of plots of ground and greenhouses, and full enthusiasm in regard to gardening and the cultivation of flowers and vegetables. Messrs. Charles Calvert and J. W. Moore again acted as joint secretaries, and they carried out the arrangements for the event under the instructions of the large and influential committee, consisting of no fewer than thirty-four gentlemen, in a most complete and business-like way. Through the kindness of Messrs. Calvert Bros. the exhibition was held in the new ropery and the athletic sports, which were a great source of attraction during the afternoon, took place in a field adjoining, The various events were witnessed with the greatest interest by a large throng of spectators. Mr. J. H. Fallas acted as handicapper and referee, and Mr. Parkin was starter, and the duties of judges were discharged by Messrs. H. Crutchley, H. Jones and W. Crawshaw.

[Long list of athletics results]

The large bulk of visitors spent most of the afternoon in witnessing the sports, so that those at all anxious to inspect the beauties of nature in the shape of flowers and plants, as well as the vegetables and fruit were able to do so with comparative ease and comfort. In former years, without the sports, the crush of people under the covered band walk, where the exhibits are made, rendered it very difficult to get about. We noticed several improvements in the arrangements, not the least important as a source of income to the Society being the enclosure, with a charge of 6d. extra for admission, for to those wishful of having a seat during the races. The strains of the Belle Vue Brass Band, under the leadership of Mr. W. H. Dykes, seemed to inspire life into the visitors, especially at night when the gala was held, for there were plenty of trippers, of both sexes, to indulge in the pleasure of a dance. Refreshments were provided in the grounds, and there were other things to engage the attention of the large throng of visitors. A display of fireworks at night by Messrs. M. Riley and Son, Ossett – a new feature in the proceedings – closed a most successful event, the receipts from which totalled half as much again as the takings amounted to last year. The judges of the exhibits were Mr. Hudson, Mr. Vere, and Mr. Thomas, of Woolley, Milnthorpe, and Bishopgarth respectively.

[Long list of show results]

…and 20 years after its foundation, the Show’s drawing an attendance of 2,000.

Wakefield and West Riding Herald
Saturday 24 August 1901


In spite of the showery weather on Saturday afternoon, this event, which enjoys an enviable degree of popularity, was largely attended, and passed off successfully. The general arrangements, thanks once more to the tact and energy exercised by the officials, were excellently carried out, the exhibition of fruit, flowers, farm produce, etc., being held, as usual in Messrs. Calvert’s new ropery, while the athletic sports took place in the adjacent field, which had undergone due preparation and was in good condition.

The show of fruit, flowers, etc, was, as formerly, divided into four departments, viz, open class, cottagers’ class, farm produce section, and plain and fancy bread competition; and while the entries, numerically speaking, showed an increase on those of last year (they totalled 60), there was also noted a commendable improvement in the quality of the exhibits generally. Competent judges expressed surprise at the all-round excellence of the exhibits staged throughout the show; in not a few instances a much higher degree of quality was met with than had been anticipated, and more than once the judges themselves encountered considerable difficulty in making the awards. There is not the least doubt that at the show on Saturday agriculturalists and horticulturists alike of Potovens and district fully maintained the reputation they have won of being able to grow flowers, fruit, vegetables, etc., of the choicest and best description; most of which they invariably stage most attractively. The competition in plain and fancy bread was extremely lively, and the greatest interest was demonstrated in this department by the lady visitors to the show. The judges, whose decisions appeared to give universal satisfaction, were Messrs. A. Smith (gardener as Chevet Park), Jonathan Hebdon (gardener at Chapelthorpe Hall), Hazel (gardener to Miss Mackie, St. John’s, Wakefield). Hirst (head gardener at the Wakefield Asylum), F Greaves (Topcliff Colliery), Greaves (Kirkhamgate), and Atkinson (West Ardsley), the three last being the adjudicators in respect to the farm produce.

[Long list of prize winners]

The sports

The main source of attraction was undoubtedly the athletic sports, fully two thousand persons witnessing the various contests. Class was only moderately well represented, but some excellent racing was provided in both the cycle and foot races. In the cycle races several wheelmen came to grief at the slippery, wet corners, though not one of them was hurt. The following are the officials, and they are to be congratulated on the precise and satisfactory manner in which they did their duties:- Handicapper, Mr W Helliwell, N.C.A.A. and N.C.U.; referees, Mr J H Fallas; starter, Mr Holland; timekeeper, Mr H E Horridge; judges, Mr H Whiteley and Mr Horridge.

The prizes, supplied by Fred Land, were of a substantial and well varied character, and were distributed at the close of the sports.

At frequent intervals during the proceedings the Lee Moor Brass Band, under the conductorship of Mr James Turner, discoursed an admirable selection of music, including excerpts from Handel, Donizetti, Bellini, etc., which the gathering greatly enjoyed. Refreshments were also provide on the ground – the eatables by Mr T Swales, Alverthorpe and Wakefield, and the liquids by Mr Gold, Malt Shovel Inn, Wakefield.

[Long list of winners].

But then it seems just to fade away. The last press coverage of the event seems to be in 1903. By 1908 the Flower Show was no more. A piece in the Wakefield Advertiser & Gazette of 16 June of that year, talking about the Paxton Society’s idea of reviving the Wakefield Flower Show at Lofthouse Park, tells us: ‘Thornes and Potovens Flower shows have become things of the past, therefore the scheme we suggest will not in any way clash with the other Show in this.’

A ‘useful and highly ornamental institution’: the origin of Wrenthorpe Cricket Club

Wrenthorpe or Potovens has had a village cricket team for over 150 years. Early local press coverage is scant, the first reference to a Wrenthorpe cricket club tracked down so far, is the result of a New Scarborough [Alverthorpe] v Potovens match, in the Wakefield Express of 6 August 1870. The first full score (Wrenthorpe v Eastmoor) is covered in the 3 September edition of the Wakefield Free Press. Later that decade, there was even a second XI.

The current cricket club appears to have been founded in 1889, as mentioned in this article about a fund-raising event from the following year.

Wakefield and West Riding Herald
Saturday 26 April 1890


What was described as a “grand concert” took place in the Church school-room [School Lane] of the above rural village on Monday evening, and it was largely patronised, the room proving almost inadequate in its accommodating capacity. The Rev. T. J. Puckle, the vicar, who presided, after the proceedings had been opened by the playing of a solo on the pianoforte by Mr. George Hepworth, narrated the objects of the gathering. He said the concert had been got up by the members of the local cricket club, which organisation, he hoped, would prove a useful and highly ornamental institution in the village. The club was quite in its infancy, and the progress it made last year – the first year of its existence – fully justified them in hoping that it would live and grow and prosper, and he trusted that that if the large audience was only a forecast of the large audiences that would come and witness the cricket matches when played at home.

A picture of life in 1880s Potovens

Although this article is primarily concerned with services at St Anne’s Church, its introduction contains a fascinating description of mid-1880s Wrenthorpe.

Wakefield & West Riding Herald
Saturday 1 August 1885


The annual dedication services in connection with the Church built for Wrenthorpe about ten years ago calls public attention to the labours of an indefatigable young vicar who works under great difficulties to promote the religious benefit of a poor population. It is not an extensive parish, reaching only from Carr Gate to Snow Hill and from Bradford Road to Alverthorpe Beck, but it embraces an area chiefly agricultural, and a village known by the not attractive title of Potovens. It is, however, a village that might well interest the curious, for it has features that are unique if not picturesque. Wrenthorpe is said to be a modification of Earl Warren’s Thorpe or village, and Potovens tells of a time that the historian has failed to chronicle, when the staple industry here was the making of pots and pans. All trace of the ovens has disappeared, but sometimes broken earthenware is dug up indicating the proximity of an oven, just as Roman urns sometimes lead to the discovery of a pottery bakery of the time of Julius Caesar; and just as the plough has turned up gold rings and sovereigns in the field where sixty years ago the Wakefield races were run [Lawns, Carr Gate]. To find an address at Potovens (which is literally in a hole) a guide is needed, for every ‘street’ seems to end in a piggery or garden. The stone-built cottages are not in the best repair, and, indeed, a stranger might think not a few of the little freeholds were in Chancery. The houses have been built at every angle to each other, and a journey, with the aid of a guide, will reveal some singularities in the habits of the villagers. If the collier section is badly off, the market gardeners would appear to be having a good time of it, for they live in a wealth of flowers; and their grounds are covered with fruitfulness.

The lengthy piece continues in great (too much) detail about church-related events. But it does give a striking impression of the poverty in the district and how a Church of England clergyman had been pragmatic in improving the lives of local people.

The object of the Church anniversary is to raise funds to meet the current expenses owing to the inability of the parishioners to make the offertories sufficient. The services commenced on Sunday, and will be continued on the 2nd of August. There was early Communion on Sunday, and a choral Communion service with sermon at the regular morning hour, the Rev. T. J. Puckle, the Vicar, officiating. At the floral service in the afternoon the Rev. J. H. D. Hill, vicar of East Ardsley, was the preacher. The children and their friends brought bouquets which were handed to the clergyman in the chancel, and will be sent to the Clayton Hospital and the Workhouse. The chancel screen, altar, and font were ornamented with flowers for the occasion, and altogether the services were most interesting, and attracted large congregations. In the evening the Rev. H. E. Alderson, assistant curate of Mirfield, was the preacher, and delivered an appropriate sermon before a full congregation. The number attending Communion and the amount of the offertories were an improvement upon last year. On Tuesday afternoon there was the annual sale of work at the school-room – a stone building out of repair, in a bad position – formerly the day school of the village, and now for the Sunday School [later Wrenthorpe Mission]. When the funds admit of a new school being built near the Church it will tend much to promote better order and decorum. But few persons attended the sale, and when the soiree followed in evening the pretty articles of needlework did not tempt the poor people to invest in them. About 100 persons sat down to a substantial tea, in charge of Miss Thomas, Miss Scott (Wakefield), Mrs. Parkin, Miss Jaques, and Mrs. Bland.

At the soiree the Rev. T. J. Puckle presided, when the, room was crowded. Before the entertainment commented he made a few remarks. He said they had rather a long programme, and therefore he would be brief. He wanted to say a little bit about the year and what they hoped to do in the coming year. They might remember that last year he spoke of their proposal to have one or two improvements. Among other things he mentioned a savings and a parish magazine. They had gained those objects. Mr. Joseph Marsland had had the chief work and merit in opening a branch of the Yorkshire Penny Savings Bank in November last, and up to Christmas, when the accounts closed, they had £92 9s. 7d. in the bank. Since then there had been paid in £158 4s. 9d, and altogether 186 accounts had been opened, of which 81 had been closed by people drawing out their money. They retained their books and could re-open the accounts whenever they chose. They had 107 accounts and £177 5s. 6d. in the bank. Considering that the times were so very bad he did not think that anything to be ashamed of; but he hoped that £177 would get much larger instead of smaller; if they went on at the rate of the last month they would he soon cleared out. When the pits were working longer hours they would no doubt have more money paid in. This year he should like to see that £177 doubled, and trebled next year… They had started the parish magazine, and no far they had 100 subscribers, which did not pay; if they had 150 they would just make the magazine pay the expenses, and leave a little at the end of the year…

He had been talking to some friends about whether they should not start a branch of the Church of England Temperance Society. He would mention it and leave it in their hands… Miss Scott had also spoken to him about beginning a clothing club. She had one at Westgate Common, with about 450 members, at one time. They might manage to get 200 persons to put in their pennies or shillings weekly in order to take out a useful sum at the year’s end for warm clothing. All depositors would get a bonus. They must not pay in for half the year and think to get a large bonus. The bonus was not so much per cent, but a certain sum to encourage regular savings. He wished them to continue collecting money for foreign missions because they believed that in giving to others they would be paid back, and if they wanted to raise money for the pariah purposes they must show a disposition to raise money for the Church outside the parish.

Fracas at Kirkhamgate pub

Leeds Times
Saturday 21 May 1881


Yesterday, at the Wakefield Court House, nine Lofthouse colliers were charged with damaging the property of William Smith, landlord of the Gardeners’ Arms [Lindale Lane], Kirkhamgate. It appeared from the statement of Mr Lodge and the evidence of the witnesses, that on Saturday, the 7th instant, a pigeon match took place near complainant’s house, between two men named Pickersgill and Steele. Some dispute occurred, and afterwards a crowd of men came into Smith’s house. After they had been there some time, a disturbance took place, Littlewood, it was alleged, being the ringleader, and almost immediately afterwards glasses and pots were thrown about the place The landlord tried to quell the disturbance, on which two men took hold of him by the shoulder and actually pushed him out of his own house by the back door. They ran him up the garden, and his wife went for the police, on which the mob took possession of the premises. While the landlord was in the garden stones were thrown at him, and when he got back, after the crowed had gone away, he found the place in utter confusion, and eighteen glasses and ten pint pots were broken. Three or four holes were cut in the back door and the furniture was more or less broken. Mr Lodge added that when he was first consulted it was a question whether the prisoners ought not to be indicted for a riot, but it was decided to go on with the case of wilful damage – the complainant estimating the damage at the sum of 21s. 6d. – Two of the accused were discharged, and the others fined 5s. and costs.

Miners scrap at Silcoates

Yorkshire Evening Post
Friday 1 July 1892


To-day, at the West Riding Court, Wakefield, James Jackson, miner, Bragg Lane End, and Joseph Farrer, miner, Brandicarr, were bound over their own recognisances of £5 to keep the for six months, and ordered to pay 18s costs each, on charge of committing breach the peace by fighting. The offence took place at Silcoates on the 18th ult., and describing the fight, the Rev W Field, headmaster Silcoates Hall, said the two men were stripped to the waist, and were very furious indeed, being half covered with blood. They were surrounded by a ring of people.

Time finally called on Royal Oak pub

Standing on a site later occupied by Wrenthorpe Health Centre, the Royal Oak pub was at the heart of Potovens village life throughout the 1800s. Clubs and associations held their dinners and formal events there, and it was also the venue for most coroner’s inquest proceedings.

Despite its popularity, the pub’s owners couldn’t counter the force of the early 20th century Temperance Movement, nor was it deemed necessary to have so many pubs following the opening of Wrenthorpe Working Men’s Club in 1901. There were three pubs in the village centre in close proximity – The Malt Shovel, New Wheel and Royal Oak – one of them had to go.

Leeds Mercury
Tuesday 5 February 1907


The annual licensing meeting for the Lower Agbrigg Division of the West Riding was held at Wakefield yesterday, Mr Percy Tew presiding over a large attendance of members.

The Chairman observed that they had about an average number of public houses in the division, compared with other parts of the West Riding, but there were districts in the division where there were far too many public houses in proportion to the population.

The Justices were sorry to notice that whilst they were intrusted with very much larger powers of reducing the number of public houses there was a marked increase in the number of clubs, and there was not much encouragement to try to reduce facilities for drinking by a reduction of licences when they found the number of clubs increasing.

Apart from that question, however, they were of opinion there was a good number of public houses in the division which could be spared, and which were not required for the needs of the district. They were not in a position to deal with the question that day, but there were fourteen public houses, chiefly beerhouses, concerning which they had decided to consider at the adjourned Sessions a month hence whether or not they should be referred to the compensation authority.

The houses be considered at the adjourned Sessions are –Floating Light, Flockton Moor; Little Bull, Flockton; Farmer’s Boy, Flockton; Moulders’ Arms, Middlestown; Foresters’ Arms, Stocksmoor; Travellers’ Rest, Lofthouse Gate; Royal Oak, Potovens; Lord Nelson Inn, Carlton; Prince of Wales Inn, Carlton; Miners’ Arms, Ouchthorpe Lane, Stanley; Garden Gate, Stanley Lane End; Commercial Inn, Horbury; Ring o’Bells Inn, Horbury; Spotted Cow Tavern, Horbury Junction.

At the adjourned licensing meeting on 18 March, the Royal Oak was one of four pubs magistrates decided to refer to the Compensation Authority.

By early June the pub was among those publicised as having their licences refused and seeking compensation claims. Its landlord at the time was Thomas Walker, its owner The Tadcaster Tower Brewery.

The Sheffield Daily Telegraph of 10 July 1907 briefly reports the conclusions of the Compensation Committee, which was to pay the hefty sum of £1,608 for the loss of the Royal Oak’s licence. I wonder how the compensation was shared out between the brewery and the landlord.

Lindale Hill and the Mayfair society wedding

It’s 6 November 1923, and crowds have gathered on Lindale Hill for a massive bonfire and fireworks display. No, they’re not a day late for Guy Fawkes night, it’s to celebrate the wedding of landowner George Lionel Thomas Brudenell-Bruce to Maria Julia Schilizzi. The wedding took place in Central London at a church in Mayfair. Could we imagine such oddly-placed deference today?

Leeds Mercury
Tuesday 6 November 1923


The Brudenell-Schilizzi wedding which takes place at St Mark’s Church, North Audley Street, London, to-day, has a special interest for Yorkshire people for Mr Brudenell is the present owner of the Cardigan Estates which include large tracts of land between Ossett, Ardsley and Morley, and Wakefield and Leeds.

He is the first Brudenell owner of the estate to be married since the late Earl Cardigan who achieved fame at Balaclava, and to mark the happy event a huge bonfire is to be lighted on Lindale Hill, Kirkhamgate, two miles out from Wakefield, the highest point on the estate. A fireworks display is also to the place and there will be similar fires on the estates in Leicestershire and Northamptonshire.

The pub in the middle of nowhere

Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer
Wednesday 31 May 1911


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.

Toads in the hole at Kirkhamgate

London Globe
Thursday 20 August 1903


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.