Fracas at Kirkhamgate pub

Leeds Times
Saturday 21 May 1881

TURNING A LANDLORD OUT OF HIS OWN HOUSE AND TAKING POSSESSION

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.

The Brooklyn bill sticker

The words ‘Stick no bills on these premises’ are carved in stone on the boundary wall of Melbourne House, near the lodge at the corner of Bradford Road/Brandy Carr Road. The inscription dates from the early 1860s when ‘Judge’ Daniel Milton was daubing the walls with posters, attempting to assert his claim to the Mansion.

Leeds Mercury
Tuesday 15 December 1863

THE “PROMISED SHILOH” IN THE WAKEFIELD COURT HOUSE

Yesterday, at the Wakefield Court House, before Colonel Smyth, MP, Mr H W Stansfeld, and Mr G H Westerman, an American named Daniel Milton, who is connected with the Southcottian sect and who appears to call himself “the Promised Shiloh”, was charged with, on the 7th December, wilfully and maliciously committing damage, injury, and spoil to and upon the property of the executors of John Wroe, deceased. Mr Barratt appeared in support of the complaint. It appeared that notwithstanding a notice to the contrary which is cut in stone on the boundary walls of Melbourne House, the residence of the late John Wroe, at Wrenthorpe, near Wakefield, the defendant, on the day in question, posted certain bills on the property. It may perhaps be remembered that about two years ago the defendant was in this neighbourhood, and that then he made some kind of claim with regard to Melbourne House.

The defendant did not deny that he had posted bills, but said that when he was in the court before, he told the bench that the property in question was joint-stock; and for proof he produced the records of the church, which, however, were not received. It had cost him expense in going across the Atlantic, and two years of privation, and having now sufficient proof he had posted the following circular:-

“Important notice! – Christian Israelite Church, Wakefield, 7th of 12th month, 1863. – All believers In the Divine visitation of Joanna Southcott, and the visitations of George Turner, William Show, John Wroe, and the ‘coming of Shiloh’, throughout the island of Great Britain and the British provinces, who have subscribed towards the building of ‘Israel’s Mansion’, in Wrenthorpe, and who have not signed over the said subscription to either John Wroe, John Laden Bishop, or Benjamin Eddowes, are requested to send their names and addresses, with the amount of their subscriptions, with immediate dispatch to Wakefield, in Yorkshire, England. Direct to ‘Premised Shiloh’, or ‘Perfect Gospel Advocate’. By order of the President of Church. J.A.J.”

If he were called on for his defence, it was “the munition of rocks”, “the law of Moses”, and he wanted his accusers to be brought, that he might question them as to their right to distress him further.

Colonel Smyth said that the defendant had committed an offence against the statute law of this country, and they had nothing to do with the law of Moses. The defendant: “I am president of the Christian Israelite Church.” The Bench inflicted a fine of 10s., with 21s. expenses additional, or, in default, fourteen days’ imprisonment. Defendant: “I have been used to be[ing] in prison for defending my rights; I can go again.”

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.

Carr Gate toll bar keeper taken to court

Barnsley Chronicle
Saturday 15 December 1860

ALLEGED ILLEGAL TAKING OF TOLL

Samuel Marshall, the keeper the Carr Gate toll-gate, was charged with illegally taking toll from James Pawson. Mr Gill defended. The complainant said that the 26th of November he engaged a thrashing machine; and in coming to do the work, the machine had to pass through the Carr Gate toll-bar. There was a little straw upon the machine; and when the gate was reached, the defendant claimed the toll. He was asked: “What, for the machine[?]”, and the answer was “no, for the straw.” As they could not thrash without having the straw placed under the sheet, the toll was paid, though the demand was illegal. No exemption was claimed.

Mr Gill, in reply, said: On the part of my client I say that he had a perfect right demand the toll. Prima facie every person passing through a toll-gate is called upon to pay toll, though there are certain exceptions provided by 3rd and 4th Geo. IV., cap. 126. These exceptions are manures for improving land conveyed in carts, and agricultural implements, when running on their own wheels. My objection to the summons, therefore, is, that as this machine did not run upon its own wheels, the cart which conveyed it was liable to the toll. In fact, I contend that the cart is only exempt when taking manures, and it is not intended that a cart shall be loaded with ploughs, barrows, and such things.

Mr Holdsworth (who, during the temporary absence of Mr Barff, presided) said: I am not clear on the point. I do not think agree with you.

Mr Gill: I think it is as I have said. I further object, however, that though hay and straw or other produce, when not sold or going to be carried for sale, and when only being removed from one part of a farmer’s premises to the other, is exempt, yet not otherwise, and further, I object that, as no exemption was claimed at the time, the case cannot now be hard.

Mr Holdsworth decided against the defendant; but, the same time, as he did not believe that he had acted wrongly wilfully, be only inflicted fine of 1s, with 18s expenses.

More ‘Pet’ty crime

Yorkshire Evening Post
Monday 20 October 1902

LOOKING AFTER THE PIGEONS

To-day, Wakefield, a miner, of Potovens, Absolom Heald, was charged with having stolen two pigeons value 3s., the property of James Teague, insurance agent, Bunker’s Hill. Hill [sic] admitted that he had been looking after the birds in the absence of Teague and his wife, and feeding them. Teague, however, stated that the defendant had right on his premises, and that the birds had enough to eat.

Defendant was ordered to pay 13s., or seven days.

Putting the ‘petty’ in petty sessions

Ossett Observer
Saturday 1 April 1876

A CAUTION TO DANDELION GATHERERS

[At the West Riding Court, Wakefield, on 27th March before W H Leatham Esq, R B Mackie Esq, and Dr Holdsworth], Charles Haigh was charged with committing damage to grass to the value of 10s., the property of Edward Barrett, at Stanley on the 21st ult. Complainant is the owner of a close of land at Potovens, and on the previous Monday he found the defendant who is an elderly man and a seller of watercress and dandelion roots, sitting there. He was cutting the leaves from dandelion roots, and had a spade with him. On looking round, Mr Barrett found he had cut the swaithe in about a hundred places in getting roots, of which he had about a quarter of a sack-full by his side. When spoken to he said he had only taken two or three roots from a pit hill in the field, which Mr Barrett said was nonsense, as there were none get. He also became abusive. Defendant said in defence that he felt in pain and went into the field to sit down a little while, and that he had been unable to do a day’s work for fifteen years, having both hands crippled. The complainant said if defendant had expressed his regret he should not have summoned him, he only wanted to warn others, and did not wish to press the case. Defendant was fined 1s. and 9s. costs, the fine to be remitted if the costs were paid within a fortnight.

The Wroes’ windfall

When ‘Prophet’ John Wroe’s bachelor nephew Peter died in 1893, a dispute over his will ensued. The retired farmer was the son of Wroe’s younger brother Joseph. Much light was made in the press about how Peter Wroe supposedly began his working life ‘hauling coals’. Far from the truth of course, as his father had farming and mining business interests and he was favoured over his elder notorious brother. In the late 19th century Peter was living off his investments at a farm in Methley with his spinster sister who died a couple of years before him.

Norwich Mercury
Saturday 6 July 1895

MR PETER WROE

Deceased, was a good example of the cobbler who sticks to his last. He began life by hauling coals. He saved money at this invested it in coal-mines, and his colliery shares are now worth £20,000. But there are relatives who declare that Mr Peter Wroe was of unsound testamentary capacity, whilst others who were “remembered” attest his perfect soundness. Thus some of the money made by hauling coals is on its way to the gentlemen who practise the Probate Division.

The Sheffield evening paper gets straight to the point, explaining how the estate is to be shared out.

Sheffield Evening Telegraph
Saturday 6 July 1895

THE METHLEY WILL CASE
LIST OF LEGATEES

The agreement come to in the High Court of Chancery to the wills of the late Mr Peter Wroe, of Methley, was that the claimant under the first will should withdraw his opposition on payment of £1,400, and that the second or last will of the deceased should hold good. The result of this will be that the sum of about £20,000 will be divided into four shares, as follows:- One-fourth to Mrs Sarai Teale widow, daughter of the late Prophet Wroe, formerly of the Carr Gate Mansion; one-fourth to the executors the late Susanna Wilson, of Ash Villa, St John’s, Wakefield: one-fourth to the three children of Mr Benjamin Wroe, namely, Mr James Wroe (Carr Gate), Mrs Brine (formerly of Brighton, now of St John’s, Wakefield), and Mr Joseph Wroe (Manchester); and the last fourth to the three children of Maria Tempest, of Low Moor. We understand, however, it will be necessary to take the opinion the Court as to whether the second will, worded, will include the children of Benjamin Wroe and Maria Tempest, and if the Court decides the negative the whole estate will then divided between Mrs Teale and the representatives of Mrs Wilson in equal shares, as they are the only two children of the testator’s brothers and sisters now living. The beneficiaries under the will are all people in humble circumstances, and regard the legacies as windfalls.

One thing’s for sure, most of these people were not ‘in humble circumstances’.

 

Before the rec’ in Silcoates Lane

The site of the recreation ground at the bottom of Silcoates Lane was, for over a century, a mill complex consisting of factory buildings, a chimney, workers’ cottages, and small reservoirs filled with water from Balne Back. The mill opened in 1794. Much of its history can be traced using the British Newspaper Archive.

The first reference to Silcoates Mill dates from November 1828. Its owner, Joseph Rhodes has placed public notices in newspapers in the north and Midlands – including Derby, Leeds and Liverpool – trying to cash in on an innovative manufacturing process he’d recently patented and was demonstrating at the mill.

Leeds Intelligencer
Thursday 6 November 1828

TO SPINNERS OF WORSTED COTTON FLAX &c. His Majesty having granted his Royal Letters Patent to JOSEPH RHODES, the Younger, of Alverthorp, near Wakefield, Worsted Spinner, for an improved Plan of Spinning and Doubling the above Materials, he takes this Opportunity of stating some of the Advantages which his newly-invented Spindle and Spinning Frame has over the Frame now in general Use. – After a Trial several Months, he finds that owing to the Formation and Lightness of the Spindle, it will admit of much greater Speed, is less liable to wear itself untrue, makes a smoother Thread, will Spin with less Twine, to smaller Numbers and with less of Waste. The Operation of Doffing is also performed in less than One-Half of the usual Time.

J R solicits the Notice of Machine Makers and Spinners to this Invention, and is ready to exhibit a Frame, working on the above Principles, Silcoats Mill, near Wakefield, and any Application by Letter (Post-paid) will be duly attended to, and every Explanation given.

Drawing of his Frame may be inspected Application to Mr J A RHODES, Solicitor, No. 5, Upper Bean-Street, Liverpool.

Alverthorp, near Wakefield, 5th Nov, 1828.

Move forward 20 years, and the mill’s up for sale. This advert in the Intelligencer provides an inventory of its rooms and equipment.

Leeds Intelligencer
Saturday 7 September 1850

IMPORTANT SALE OF WORSTED MACHINERY, DYE WARES, and EFFECTS,at Silcoates Mill near Wakefield. – Mr Becket begs to announce that he has received positive Instructions from the Assignees of Messrs John Robinson & Co to SELL by AUCTION, on Wednesday the 18th Day of September, 1850, and Following Day, on the Premises at Silcoates Mil, near Wakefield, all the valuable MACHINERY as fitted with the most recent improvements, comprising, in the

PREPARING ROOM – Four 4-Spindled Finishing Boxes, with Creels and Frames complete; Four 2-Spindled Stubbing Boxes and Creels, One Sliver Box and Board, Two Open Gill Boxes, Two Gill Boxes with 2 Spindles each, Three Carding Engines, Seven 6-Spindled Roving Boxes with Creels, One 30 Inch Tenter Hook Willey, One Inch Do., Turning Laithe, &c., &c..
WILLEY ROOM – One Shake Willey, with Fittings complete; Skeining Machine, and other Effects.
SPINNING ROOM – Nine Spinning Frames with 96 Spindles each, Six Do. with 84 Spindles each, One Twisting Frame with 72 Spindles, Two 6-Splndled Roving Boxes with 6 Inch Traverse, One 2-Spindled Finishing Box with 11½ Inch Traverse, Two 2-Spindled Drawing Boxes, 14 Inch Traverse, One 1-Spindled Silvering Box, 14 Inch Traverse, One 15 Feet Reel with 40 Spindles.
DOUBLING ROOM – Three Twisting Frames with 64 Spindles, Two Do. with 72 Do., One Do. with 96 Do., One Reeling Frame with 56 Do., One Single Do. with 34 Do., One Do. 48 Do.
MILL ROOM – Two Pairs Mules, 800 Spindles each, Slubbing Skips, Skeining Machines, &c., &c.
SLUBBING ROOM – One 60-Spindled Billey, Carding Machine, (32 Inches), with 2 Swifts, One Scribbler, Swifts, and Breast 48 Inches.
Also, Nine 60-Spindled Jennies, Washing Machines, Soap Pans with Steam Pipes, Iron Vats and Dyeing Material, Copper Pans, Oil, Soap, and Dye Wares, Anvil, Bellows and Smiths’ Tools, Large Cisterns, Weighing Machines, Lead Water Pumps, Shafting and Steam Pipes, Sorting Boards, Hanking Machines, Bobbins, Cans, Wool Sheets, Combs, Canvass and Paper, Counting House Furniture.
Also, a Valuable GASOMETER, 12 Feet Diameter, with Three Iron Pillars, Retorts, Pipes and Fittings to the whole Premises, Two Strong Carts with Patent Arms, One useful Draft Horse, Gearing, and various other Articles
Descriptive Catalogues will ready in a few Days, and may be bad at the Intelligencer and Mercury Offices, Leeds, the Observer office, Bradford, the Auctioneer, Wakefield, and at the Place of Sale. May be Viewed Monday and Tuesday previous to the Days of Sale.
Sale to commence at Eleven am precisely.
N.B. The Owner of the Mill and Trade Premises at Silcoates, is ready to treat with the Purchaser of the Machinery, or any respectable Person desirous of becoming Tenant.

Wakefield, 6th September, 1850.

Between this sale and the mill’s closure, there are many references in the press to new ownership, dissolved partnerships and sales notices. An unexpected find however, was a short piece relating to working conditions at the mill, a prosecution under the Factories Act for employing women on a 12-hour night shift.

Huddersfield Chronicle
Saturday 22 November 1856

INFORMATIONS FOR INFRINGEMENT OF FACTORY ACT

At the Wakefield Court House, before the bench of magistrates, on Monday last, J Bates, Esq, factory inspector of this district, laid the following informations, to which the parties pleaded guilty: George Conyers, of Silcoates Mill, Wakefield, 13 cases, only four of which were pressed, for keeping women at work from six o’clock at night till six o’clock in the morning. A fine of £15 was inflicted, with expenses, which amounted to £3 7s.

The Mill is advertised for sale in 1886, 1887 and 1894. Here’s the advert from October 1887.

Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer
Saturday 8 October 1887

TO LET, SILCOATES MILL, near Wakefield, with good House, Garden, and Orchard, Stabling, Mistal [cow shed], large Barn, Nine Cottages, and 17 acres of Land. Machinery, which is in good working order, consists of two sets scribbling and carding engines, with condensers to follow: 1 pair mules and little mules (in all 1,090 spindles), 19 dandy looms and 12 box looms, milling machines, &c., &c., which will be sold at a valuation. Water, coals, and hands plentiful. Rates low. Full rental £300 per annum, £l50 of which can re-let. For further particulars apply to Haigh & Haigh, 8 Park Place, Leeds.

By the turn of the 20th century, Silcoates Mill was trading as Lister and Glover. By now it was described as ‘rag merchants and mungo manufacturers’ (the the production of recovered wool cloth made from rags, known as mungo), a far cry from the days of Joseph Rhodes and his cutting edge machinery in the 1820s.

Lister and Glover’s partnership was dissolved on 31 December 1902 and the mill seems to have closed down shortly afterwards. As a last throw of the dice, the mill was put up for sale in May 1906. The sales particulars even tell us the surnames of the tenants in the mill cottages. Unfortunately some of the words in the advert are obliterated.

Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer
Thursday 17 May 1906

SILCOATES MILLS, POTOVENS, NEAR WAKEFIELD.
VALUABLE FREEHOLD MANUFACTURING PREMISES AND DWELLING HOUSES.

Messrs BEAUMONT and GLOVER will Sell by Auction, at their Sale Rooms, King Street, Wakefield, on Friday, 18th May, 1906, at Seven o’clock in the Evening, subject to the general conditions of Sale of the Wakefield Incorporated Law Society, and to such special conditions as will be then read, and which may be inspected at the office of the Vendor’s solicitor seven days prior to the sale.

Lot 1
The Valuable FREEHOLD MANUFACTURING PREMISES, formerly used as a cloth mill, but recently as a rag mill, known as SILCOATES MILL, situate on the south side of Silcoates Road, at Potovens, near Wakefield, consisting of a substantial stone-built three-storeyed building, 84ft long and 31ft wide; a small store room adjoining, 36ft by 12[?]ft; engine and boiler house; drying place [?] by [?]; blacksmith’s shop, 17ft by 12ft; shaking place, 23ft by 25ft; grinding place 19[?]ft by 24ft; and shed 3ft by 7ft. Also a two-storeyed building formerly used as a storeroom, sample room and offices; and also a two-storeyed building 48ft by 30ft; the ground floor formerly used as stores and stables, and the upper floor as stores and offices; and also all that MESSUAGE or COTTAGE, situate in the mill yard.

All which said premises, including the sites of the said building and reservoirs, contain 1a. 2r. 38p., or thereabouts, and are surrounded (except one reservoir) by a substantial stone wall. The engine, boiler, pumps, and shafting are included in the sale. A supply of water can be obtained from Balne Beck. The buildings are conveniently arranged, and vacant possession may be had at once.

Lot 2

All those five FREEHOLD MESSUAGES or COTTAGES, with the yards or gardens in front, on the south side of Silcoates Road, in Potovens, aforesaid, adjoining Lot 1, on the east side [?], in the occupations of Messrs Carr, Cole, Asquith, Newby and Cottam. The gross rental is £32 10s.

The Minerals under all the above Properties are reserved.

For further particulars application may be made to the Auctioneers, King Street, Wakefield: to Messrs Claude Leatham and Co, Solicitors, Wakefield or to Basil S Briggs, Solicitor, King Street Chambers.

The mill remained disused for 30 years not being demolished until 1936. Its site was left as wasteland until the mid-1950s when the National Playing Fields Association offered a grant of £210 to Stanley Urban District Council, as part of the Association’s campaign to address the lack of playing fields across the Yorkshire coalfield.

Atrocious road conditions at Carr Gate go back a long way

Leeds Intelligencer
Saturday 17 March 1860

YORKSHIRE ASSIZES

NISI PRIUS COURT – Monday
(Before Mr Justice Hill)

THE QUEEN v THE INHABITANTS OF WRENTHORPE

This case was resumed this morning, when a number of witnesses were called to prove that the Lawns Road had always been considered a public highway, and had been repaired by inhabitants of the hamlet of Wrenthorpe. Mr Overend, defence submitted that the road question was set out under the Act of Parliament and the commissioners’ award as a private road, and had never been dedicated to the public by the lord of the manor, the Duke of Leeds. The allottees and inhabitants of various townships in the neighbourhood ought to keep the road in repair by a rate; but instead of this, an endeavour was made by bringing this action, to throw the whole expense of the repairs upon the hamlet of Wrenthorpe, which was a place where poor colliers resided, and it would be a great hardship upon them. The learned counsel denied that any public user had been proved. The road had only been used privately by persons on horseback and foot passengers, and for the conveyance of coal and lime, and its wretched state was strong evidence that it never had been a public highway. Verdict for the defendants.

1890s health and safety litigation

Accident compensation claims against local authorities are nothing new.

Bradford Daily Telegraph
Wednesday 20 July 1898

DAMAGES AGAINST THE WAKEFIELD RURAL DISTRICT COUNCIL

At the Wakefield County Court yesterday Mr Charles Poole sued the Wakefield Rural District Council for £50 damages for injuries sustained in falling off a footpath upon some dross at Potovens, near Wakefield. The plaintiff alleged that the absence light and a projecting kerbstone was the cause of his downfall. The defence was that although the repairs were incomplete the footpath was really in a better state than had previously been. His Honour held that the Council were liable, and awarded the plaintiff £25 damages.