Saturday, 14 May 2016

The Featherstone Chronicle 1885

A History of Featherstone, Purston and Ackton
Compiled by Irvin Saxton

  The three new Board Schools were opened in April and Tinley Simpson was appointed headmaster over all three (Regent Street infants and girls, and George Street boys) after the School Board considered 27 applications for the post. The Featherstone Local Board made bye-laws compelling the attendance of all children of school age and sent them to the Education Department for approval.
  The Pontefract and Castleford Express commented: All three schools are fitted up replete with every requisite in the shape of books, maps and all the modern aids to teaching. The inhabitants of Featherstone are to be congratulated upon for having for their children schools of a first class order, where they will be well taught, without the sacrifice of health (by sending them out to work) and at a small cost to their parents.
  Those who have to pay the School Board rates may feel it somewhat of a burden on them, but they as well as the whole community must indirectly derive benefit from the excellent schools, knowing that the child is father of the man, and that the education of the children must make them when they grow up, better men and better women, and more useful in their respective spheres of life. The Board have no doubt had an arduous duty to perform, but their labours have certainly been crowned with success, and this fact must be their reward.
  The photo from the Tony Lumb Collection shows the Girls' School in Regent Street and the headmaster's house. The one underneath of George Street School is from an old postcard.

  At the August meeting of the Local Board only two members turned up so an informal chat on a water supply took place. Dr Buncle said it would cost £1,000 a mile to lay water mains. David Denton said whatever it cost, the Board would sooner or later have to provide a water supply for the inhabitants.
  At the October meeting it was said there was enough water running away from Mr Bradley's pit, and water running to waste in Purston, to supply all needs. Samples were sent to Mr Allen, a Sheffield analyst, who reported he could not recommend for public use the water from Bradley's pit or Spink's well. A sample from Featherstone Main Colliery was found to be salty but drinkable. The Board agreed to put down a 50 yards deep borehole to see if water could be found. If so it would be pumped to a large cistern at North Featherstone to serve that area.

  The Representation of the Peoples Act of 1884 gave the vote to all who had land of a rental value of £10 or who paid rent of £10 a year. This meant the election in December 1885 was the first in which the miners of Featherstone could vote; even so the local electorate only totalled 761. Polling stations were set up at Regent Street and George Street Schools, and the majority of miners who supported the Liberal candidate and wore yellow rosettes picketed them.
  The Pontefract Advertiser reported: Anyone wearing blue was soon shown the error of his ways. As the day wore on and the sun went down, the chaff and bandying, at first good humoured, if somewhat coarse, gradually developed into hostile activities. Bold indeed was the man who ventured within sight of the crowd with a tag of blue in his buttonhole.
  A commercial traveller driving through the village happened to have a blue handkerchief in his breast pocket. He was attacked with sticks and stones and was glad to make his escape. Another man, innocently wearing the badge of the Blue Ribbon Army (nothing to do with politics) was attacked and had to seek shelter in the station booking office. George Senior, manager of Ackton Hall Colliery, was knocked to the ground and had his shoulder broken.
  A brass band appeared at 6pm and toured the streets followed by a mob. All the street lamps were knocked out, and the houses of those known to be Conservative supporters were attacked. The band marched to Purston playing "See the conquering hero comes" and on arriving at the Junction Inn more than 100 window panes were broken. Butcher Charles Hemmingway had all his windows smashed and a large quantity of beef was completely spoiled.
   After breaking the windows of all the other tradesmen, a move was made back up Station Lane to do a similar job on the Railway Hotel. More than 100 stones were picked up in the hotel after the mob had left. They went up and down Station Lane three times up to 8pm doing fresh damage each time. Some residents protected their property by firing a double-barrel shot gun over the head of the crowd, which quickly took themselves to less dangerous quarters.
  Perhaps the worst incident was at a house in Fearnley's Buildings where the drawn blinds told of a death within. "Bang through the window went showers of stones, pitilessly alighting upon a bed where a dead woman lay". 
  Police were brought from Wakefield and by 8pm were in charge of the situation but they remained all night just in case. Seven men were charged with throwing stone and were fined £1 or one month in jail. David Wadsworth was was jailed for one month for assaulting PC Strickland.
  Featherstone and Purston tradesmen applied to court to find out what they should do regarding compensation for damage done to stock and premises. Supt Whincup said he had visited the premises and it was really serious. Shopkeepers and innkeepers had had to board up their premises. The applicants were told to send in their claims to the Chief Constable of the Riding.

JANUARY  Thomas Fewkes, a travelling photographer, was sent to prison for three months with hard labour for stealing items from William Crispin, a chemist, and George Freeman, a miner of South Featherstone.

FEBRUARY  Two Featherstone Main Colliery pit lads were sent to prison for a month for cruelly ill treating a pit pony. They had thrown stones at it and knocked an eye out. Earnest Andrew the manager said there were about 200 ponies in the mine and seven of them had had an eye knocked out in similar circumstances.

  The Local Board agreed to a request by the National Telephone Company to erect telephone poles in order to provide telephonic communication between Wakefield, Pontefract and Castleford. The Leeds Postmaster also wanted permission to erect poles to provide a telegraph between Featherstone Station and Purston Post office.

  Ernest Andrew asked the Local Board to take up the matter of a postal service for Purston Common. Although the houses built there were within 200 yards of the post office there was no delivery whatsoever. A Purston man happened to go to the post office and found a letter had been waiting there for him for a week. The GPO later agreed to deliver to Purston Common.

  The South and West Yorkshire Coal owners said because of the depression in the coal trade the 10% increase awarded in November 1882 would have to be taken off. If the men did not agree then the pits would close on March 31.
  The Yorkshire Miners' Federation decided to resist the cut by every legal means, and they asked every colliery to send representatives to a meeting at Rotherham. Featherstone Main Colliery (500 workers) and Snydale Colliery (400) both sent representatives to the meeting, but apparently Ackton Hall  Colliery (then much smaller) did not.

MARCH Featherstone Local Board received a letter from Supt Whincup stating if the Board did not repair 300 yards of Park Road from North Featherstone, which was in a disgraceful condition, he would have the Board indicted. The chairman said he considered the road belonged to Mr Bradley and had never been repaired by the Board, although the public used it. The clerk was asked to look into the matter.
  All the streets had now been named and the Local Board was considering having the houses numbered, but it was difficult because of the amount of building going on.
  Messrs Denton (Streethouse), Cowling (Purston) and Earle (Whitwood) were all re-elected to the Board.

  The attendance list for the Guardians showed George Bradley (Ackton) had not attended any meeting while Richard Cowling (Featherstone) and John Waller (Purston) had turned up 21 times each.

APRIL  Joseph Fearnley was re-elected chairman of the Local Board. They were informed there were problems at the sewage works because of the large volume of water from Snydale Colliery which flooded the system and caused a great nuisance. Mr Rhodes (the owner) had been refused permission by Mr Winn to run the salty water into the Went Beck so he connected it to the drains. The Board agreed Mr Rhodes was to be told to disconnect his water from the drains.
  Dr Buncle reported nuisances were being caused throughout the district by heaps of pig manure.

  Harry Tonkin Glew age two of Duke Street was standing at the table eating an egg when he upset a cup of boiling tea onto his shoulder and breast. His mother and aunt applied flour, sweet oil and lime water to the scold and the child did not seem too badly hurt. However, he died five days later and an inquest was held. No medical evidence was given and the jury's verdict was "The deceased died from a disease, the nature of which was not ascertained".

  An Ackton Hall collier named Oliver sued George Bradley for £3 6s as a fortnight's wages in lieu of notice. He claimed he was employed to construct a double-yard packing wall, but the new manager, George Senior, refused to pay except as a single-yard wall. On Oliver pressing his case he was told there would be no more work for him. He went to the pit for a few days and was told there was nothing for him to do, so he considered himself dismissed. Mr Senior said Oliver was entitled to wait a few days until another job turned up. Mr Bradley said the plaintiff was never discharged.  
  The judge gave a verdict for the plaintiff and said if ever a case justified the existence and interference of a union such a one as this did, and he marked his sense of the disgraceful way in which he believed Oliver had been discharged by giving costs on the higher rate. 

  The mine owners wanted a 10% reduction in wages. The Yorkshire Miners' Federation offered 5% which was rejected so some miners were called out on strike. The three local collieries continued working and, apart from a two shillings a week levy to the union, the men agreed to collect money for non-union men who did not received the strike pay of nine shillings a week plus one shilling for each child under thirteen. The union caved in after a few weeks and the miners who had carried on working had to accept the 10% reduction along with the rest.

  Alexander Buncle had been medical officer of health for Pontefract for nine months when he was due for re-appointment.  Some members of the Town Council were against him because he lived in South Featherstone, but he was re-appointed by 11 votes to 10.

  In the first quarter of the year there were 22 deaths in Featherstone and 17 of them were infants under five years old.

  Robert John Turner was fined 20 shillings and costs for taking a pipe, tobacco and matches down Featherstone Main Colliery. Ernest Andrew, the manager, said Turner had only worked there for four months but he had a perfect knowledge of the rules.

MAY  At the Local Board meeting the clerk reported Mr Bradley had done nothing about the well at Old Featherstone. The well was polluted but would be alright when cleaned out. It was agreed to clean it out and puddle it and put it in a proper state of repair.
  The surveyor later reported the work on the well was still proceeding. There were about another six feet to clean out and 60 gallons of water a day had to be removed. The water was as black as ink but was expected to be satisfactory when the work was finished.

JUNE  The Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company announced they were to widen the north platform of the station and build a porters' room and toilets. It was not intended to erect a shelter for passengers.

  At the Local Board meeting it was said there were further problems at the sewage works. The man in charge had killed dozens of moles, but leaks caused by their digging were allowing sewage to pass into the beck.

   Michael James Luckman, a 14 years old pony driver at Snydale, was driving three tubs to the pit bottom. He tried to get on the first tub to ride behind his pony but he fell off and was run over. He died before he was got to the pit top.

   Mr J Kaberry, a Pontefract Solicitor and clerk to Featherstone Local Board, was appointed to the School Board. He succeeded Mr F W Bradley who had resigned.

  There was an outbreak of swine fever in the district. There were ten places infected in Featherstone and Purston. Supt Whincup and a veterinary surgeon had visited them all and all the infected animals had been slaughtered.

JULY  Two special trains conveyed 999 people connected with Featherstone Main Colliery to Scarborough. Mrs Hall of Purston Hall arranged for Purston Church choir to be part of the trip.

AUGUST  The Local Board wrote to Mr Hodgson of Loughborough (who built the sewage works) pointing out the defects in the system. He replied it would only take a few pounds to put matters right, and it was only to be expected after seven years working. He would come and inspect the works. The Board chairman said the sewage works had only been in operation for four years.
  The Board was told the well at North Featherstone was found to be 53 feet deep and it was deepened by another ten feet. It was now in use and the water had risen a foot in the last eight days. The Board agreed to to provide a pump at a cost of £9 5s.

  The Board Schools headmaster's report said there was a steady increase in the number of children attending the schools, and it would have been better still had not the measles outbreak prevented many children from attending.
  Annie Cook, age 19 and an orphan had been living with a Mrs Brown in Featherstone. She obtained a job at the Lock Inn, Allerton Bywater, but ten days later she was sent home ill by cab. She went to the Union (Workhouse) Hospital in Pontefract and was found to be suffering from smallpox, following which no one else was allowed to approach the building. The chairman of the Board of Guardians said it was a very serious matter, and inquiries ought to be held as to how it came to be a person suffering from smallpox was allowed to walk through the streets of a town.

  A combined Purston and South Featherstone feast was held. A maypole was erected in a field near the Purston Toll Bar and a display was given by the Kirk Smeaton Band of Hope maypole dancers.

  Police Sergeant Coutts left Purston for Wilsden near Keighley after three years at the Purston Police Station. He was replaced by PS Shortcliff from Wilsden.

  Rowland Hill, a horse dealer, was charged with assaulting Charles Hewett, a Featherstone farmer, with a horse whip. Hill had gone to Hewett's house and accused him of taking water from one of his fields. Hewett denied it but was whipped by Hill. The Bench fined Hill 20 shillings.

SEPTEMBER  The Local Board re-appointed Dr Buncle as medical officer at a salary of £40. The clerk read out an anonymous letter saying stalls blocked the streets on Saturdays so horses and carts could not pass, and some land should be set aside as a market place.

  There were 50 new pupils at the Board Schools for the new school year taking the total up to 291.

  James Fozzard, landlord of the Bradley Arms, was charged with refusing to admit a police constable on duty. PC Stickland said it was after midnight, and seeing lights and hearing noises in the house he knocked on the door. The landlord asked who was there and he replied the policeman, but it was several minutes before the door was opened. John Button came out and was charged with being on the premises during prohibited hours. After considering the evidence the Bench dismissed the cases against both Fozzard and Button on payment of costs.
  This photo of the Bradley Arms is from the Featherstone Heritage Group..

  The voting for a new School Board was Ernest Andrew (529 votes), W Hepworth (253), Joseph Battye (171), A Alexander (170) and Joseph Chambers (145) all elected. The only other candidate was Thomas Phipps who received 111 votes.

OCTOBER  The Local Board received a deputation asking for the street lamps to be lit all night instead of being put out at 11pm, or alternately be relit from 4am to 6am for the benefit of miners going to work. At its next meeting the Board agreed to have the lamps relit from 4.30am to 6am except when there was moonlight.

  A political meeting was held in George Street School for the Liberal Party. The chairman, Mr R F Andrews of Ackworth, congratulated the assembly on having for the first time the right to vote for members of Parliament.

NOVEMBER  An inquest was held at the Railway Hotel on Mark Westmoreland aged 19 of Castleford. He was being lowered down a shaft being sunk at Ackton Hall Colliery when he was hit on the head by a brick. He was taken to a house in Station Lane where he died soon after.

  The West Riding Permanent Relief Fund Friendly Society held a meeting in Featherstone at which 115 people turned up. The society was formed for the protection of widows and orphans of miners, and those prevented from working as a result of an accident.

  The 761 voters in Featherstone and Purston, most of them voting for the first time, helped the Liberals to win Osgoldcross - Ramsden receiving 5,153 votes against his Conservative opponent Hardy who only managed 3,053.                    

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

The Featherstone Chronicle 1884

A History of Featherstone, Purston and Ackton
Compiled by Irvin Saxton

  An inquest was held at the Sun Inn in January on Violet Edith Frobisher age 14, a servant with the Ottleys at Headingley, Leeds. Grace Frobisher, a widow, had received a letter from her daughter saying she was ill. A few days later she was brought home by Miss Mary Ottley by rail and cab. She told Mrs Frobisher Violet's illness had begun with sickness and suggested this had been brought on by drinking six gallons of beer which had gone from a cask in the house.
  Dr Buncle attended Violet and recommended brandy and milk for the pains in her stomach. She died that night. Dr Buncle did a post mortem but was unable to determine the cause of death, although there was an obstruction in the upper bowel. The inquest was adjourned for Mrs and Miss Ottley to attend.
  When it resumed Mrs Jane Ottley said Violet had been in her employ for 11 weeks. She had been well until a few days before her death when she had vomited on the kitchen floor after being out to see her sister, also a servant in Leeds. She was dismissed for drinking the beer and was taken home. They walked to the station but she became worse on the journey so a cab was called at Featherstone Station.
  The coroner said the master of a servant was not obliged to provide medical treatment for her unless she asked for a doctor, and no doctor had attended her in Leeds. A very lamentable error of judgement had been committed in the girl being removed to Featherstone, but unless this had been taken against her wishes, or a doctor's orders, they were not criminally responsible.
  The jury decided death was caused by obstruction and congestion of the bowel, and it had been accelerated by her injudicious removal when in an unfit state.
  In 1884 there were no safe explosives for use in coal mines and gunpowder was the one most frequently used. It produced a lot of flame and was very dangerous. Many ignitions of gas (firedamp or methane) were caused and the Government considered banning it, but the owners claimed it was necessary to provide the increasing quantity of coal required for Britain's growing industries.
  A compromise was reached allowing gunpowder to be used in a place where no gas had been found for three months and when only the shotfirer was in the pit.
  In February the Pontefract Advertiser reported: George Senior, manager of Featherstone Manor and Ackton Hall Collieries, was charged with allowing shotfiring when men were working in the mine and within three months of gas being found there. The prosecution was brought by the Home Office and Mr Gill of Wakefield represented it.
  He said the offence was one of very great and paramount importance, and the offence which was to be proved against the defendant was one of frequent occurrence, although the Home Office was quite determined to put a stop to it. It would be clearly and unmistakably shown there had been grievous mismanagement in the mine, which was the property of George Bradley of Ackton Hall. The defendant had been certificated manager not more than a year, and the practice complained of had been carried out before he came into his position, and he had evidently fallen into bad ways by bad example.
   Last December 16 and 17 shots were fired in the mine in direct, open and wanton violation of the law. Responsible persons known as underground viewers entered reports in books kept for the purpose, and in these books it would be found gas was reported in those very places where these shots were fired, although the Act distinctly provided that within three months after the discovery of the existence of gas no gunpowder or any inflammable substance whatever was to be used, neither was it to be used at all when men were working in the mine.
  When Mr Goddard, assistant inspector, visited the mine on December 17 there were about 100 men in various parts of the workings, and he found a very large accumulation of gas in another place. He then ascertained shots had been fired and saw four men almost within reach of the gas. \Previously, prosecutions had been made against deputies and underlings generally, but now it was the intention of the Government to prosecute the owners, agents and managers. It was hoped the effect of the prosecution being brought so prominently before Mr Bradley and others would be salutary, and the law would in future be better regarded.
  The opinion of the Solicitor General was no shot whatever should be fired by day or night when men were in the mines, and this rule must be regarded and abided by if the lives of the men engaged in the precarious calling of coal getting were to be protected.
  Joseph Chamber, underground viewer, said it was his duty to examine the underground workings and to make a report in a book. On December 2 he found gas in "No.4 bank" and withdrew the workmen. It was the custom of the pit not to stop shotfiring if gas was found. The drills for boring were kept where all men had access to them. They provided their own powder and no permission had to be obtained for the firing of shots. Between December 2 and 17 about 8 or 10 shots a day were fired on average. He accompanied Mr Gerard on his visit and they found gas in No.4 bank. There was also the smell of powder from a shot fired 100 yards away. All the shots were fired by deputies.
  Charles Birchall, coal getter, said he worked in No.4 bank and confirmed a shot had been fired. Hiram Walshaw, shotfirer, said he fired five or six shots a day in No.4 bank. He had known of the discovery of gas but had not been told to discontinue firing. (The Advertiser commented all the witnesses appeared unwilling to give evidence against the manager.)
  Mr Gerard said he visited the mine on December 17. In one of the working places he found a large quantity of gas and perceived a distinct smell of gunpowder. He discovered a shot had been fired in a bank closely adjoining. He examined the report book and found an entry of the discovery of gas on December 2. Shots should be fired at night between shifts and nobody whatever should be in the mine except the shotfirer.
  Mr Kershaw, a Leeds barrister, defended Senior. He said he had no doubt the Act prohibited the firing of shots within three months of gas being found, but he contended the defendant was not liable to any penalty on the principle that no one can be made criminally responsible for the acts of his servants, unless connivance and guilty knowledge was proved. The defendant had done all he could by posting the rules and supplying all applicants with a copy. As no wilful or guilty knowledge had been proved Mr Kershaw asked the Bench to dismiss the charge against Senior.
  Mr Gill said it was not the intention of the Government to proceed against such persons as underviewers and the like, as heretofore, but against the owners and managers, who were now to be held responsible for the lives of the men placed in their hands as it were. The defendant had the supervision of the book in which a report of the existence of gas was entered, and although he must have known there was gas in the workings, he allowed the man appointed for that duty alone to fire shots several times daily; and now he pretended he had taken every possible precaution. Could the defendant defend such conduct as this? The prosecution asked that where as in this case a flagrant  breach had been committed, the Bench would inflict such a penalty as would prevent them and others from repeating such an offence in the future.
  The magistrates retired to consider their decision, and on their return the chairman said "We have decided the defendant is guilty. The offence with which he is charged is a very serious one, and he ought to have known better than to act as he has done. He might very easily have caused a great and terrible calamity. We have decided to inflict a fine of £10 and costs". (The maximum fine was £20.)

  A new development brought the water supply situation back into prominence when it was learned Wakefield Corporation had decided to build a reservoir in the hills to the west and pipe the water to Wakefield. Featherstone Local Board decided to ask if the supply could be extended to Featherstone. Mr Wardman said if they talked about the matter in 12 months time it would be soon enough.
  It was December before a reply was received from Wakefield saying it would be two years before the water works were completed.  Pontefract Corporation also informed the Local Board they were seeking a new source of water and might be able to supply Featherstone.

JANUARY  George Bradley refused to sell the land the Yorkshire and Lancashire Railway Company required to make improvements to the north side of the station.

FEBRUARY  The Featherstone Local Board set a half-year rate of 6d in the £1. They agreed to make a road crossing of setts at Purston School and Streethouse. A tender of £18 9s was accepted for the two. (At this time the roads were made of dirt or dross and were very muddy in wet weather.)  There was also a rate of 1s 2d for the poor, Burial and School Boards.

  The Board of Guardians issued a summons against the Ackton overseers because they had not paid the call (the poor rates.)

MARCH  Charles Bennett was charged with assaulting Mary Ann Teasdale on what was know locally as the "Saturday night drunken train" from Tanshelf to Featherstone. There was a rush for the train at Tanshelf and Mary got into a carriage with Joseph Shaw, with whom she had been living "tally" until the previous week. She claimed those already in the carriage tried to turn her out, and in the ensuing struggle she was struck by Bennett and her head knocked against the window. Bennett claimed Shaw had offered to fight anyone in the carriage and Teasdale, who was very drunk, rolled up her sleeves and said she would fight him. He denied hitting her. PC Lee said the Saturday before he had been called by Mr Dawson, the station master, to get Mrs Teasdale's name as he intended reporting her. The case was dismissed.

  A five year old girl playing with matches set fire to an out-building containing straw and hay on the premises of J White a cab proprietor in Station Lane. Volunteers put out the blaze before it could reach benzolene and fireworks in the same building.

  The Local Board passed plans for Mr Maxwell's house and shop in Station Lane. They were informed by Mr Bradley he intended working the Winter and Stanley Main seams at Manor Colliery. This is probably when he changed the name to Ackton Hall and Manor Collieries.

   There was one change in the local Guardians for the next year. George Bradley (no appearances at meetings last year) continued for Ackton, Richard Cowling took over Featherstone from Ernest Andrew who had made nine appearances, and John Waller, who missed only three meetings out of 27, continued for Purston.

APRIL  Nine Featherstone men and women were fined for being drunk and disorderly. Mary O'Connell, said to be one of the worst characters in South Featherstone, refused to pay and was sent to prison for 14 days. Supt Whincup said he was making special efforts to prevent drunkenness on Sundays.

JUNE  Edward Martin was arrested in West Bromwich and brought to Pontefract to be charged with deserting his wife and children in Featherstone. They were compelled to apply to the Pontefract Union (the Board of Guardians) for relief and had been given a total of £10 9s. Martin claimed he had gone away after Dr Buncle said it would be good for his health. He was sent to prison for one month with hard labour.

  The Local Board agreed to recommend to the Local Government Board voting in Board elections should be by ballot ie in secret. The current system was voting papers were sent out and had to be returned within a few days. Some of these were found to have been altered many times.

  Richard Wright was fined for the tenth time for letting his cattle stray on the highway. Supt Whincup said the defendant had no land of his own so he sent them out in the charge of a small boy, presumably to forage what they could.

JULY  One morning eight men went into the Railway Hotel and ordered rum and beer. When they left, empty porter bottles were found which were normally stored in the cellar. Three of the men were arrested and warrants were issued for the others. They were charged with stealing the porter while the bar was unattended, but the Bench decided there was not enough evidence to convict.

  The Local Board accepted a tender of £49 6s 5½d for the flagging of Green Lane, Pontefract Road and Whinney Lane. A tender of £34 was refused because it arrived after the deadline.

  At a Board of Guardians meeting the assistant clerk said he expected all the calls would be paid except for that at Ackton, and the overseers would have to be proceeded against as usual for non-payment.

AUGUST  The Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company informed the Local board they were still unable to buy the land to improve Featherstone Station. The Board was of the opinion the company already owned sufficient land to build a subway and provide better accommodation. Mr Denton said because the Featherstone people were only colliers the company thought anything would do for them.

  The 7th annual athletics meeting (Purston feast) was held in a field on Pontefract Road. The Pontefract Borough Band marched from the station to the field to give an afternoon concert.

  The Goole to Wakefield passenger train hit a heifer at 5.30pm belonging to Alfred Copley. The engine was not derailed and after a ten minutes delay it continued its journey.

  William Gittins, acting overseer for Ackton, was summonsed for not paying the call of  £234 12s 2d due to the Pontefract Union. The Bench ordered the payment of the money forthwith.

OCTOBER  The Local Board fixed a half-year rate of 10d. The magistrates signed for a rate of 1s 1d for the poor, Burial and School Boards.

NOVEMBER  John Kirkbride sued George Bradley for a week's wages of £1 7s and a fortnight's wages in lieu of notice. He was employed as enginewright at Ackton Hall Colliery and he had ordered a cast iron pipe to fit a boiler. Although he said he had ordered the correct length it arrived too short, and in attempting to make it fit it snapped. The manager, George Senior, was not on the premises so he could not report it immediately, and the next morning he was sacked.
  For Mr Bradley it was said Kirkbride had ordered the pipe a foot short, and because of other previous faults and errors he was dismissed for wilful neglect. The Bench decided the sacking was justified. Kirkbride would receive his week's wages but not pay in lieu of notice, and he would have to pay £1 damages to Mr Bradley for damage to the pipe.
  Mr Kirkbride was then fined £1 for not reporting a crack in a crank on the pumping machinery which kept the mine clear of water. If the pump had broken down hundreds of pound of damage would have been caused by water flooding into the mine.

  A complaint was made to the Local Board that George Bradley had enclosed a public well at North Featherstone. The Board told the surveyor to make inquiries and he reported the old residents said the well had been used by the public for at least 80 years. It was what was originally the parish pinfold, and Mr Bradley had erected a wall round it but he had left a doorway in it and the public were not prevented from getting water.

DECEMBER  William Gittins had not paid the money owed to the Pontefract Union and a warrant was issued for his arrest but he could not be found in Ackton.

  The Local Board chairman, Joseph Fearnley, complained about the bad smell of gas in church on Sundays. Mr Cowling said it was because all the lamps were fed by a common meter and gas was allowed to escape until all the lamps were lit.
  The clerk reported George Bradley had enclosed the North Featherstone well in 1880, and the water was now polluted by sewage matter from nearby cottages and this would have to be remedied by the owners. Mr Bradley could be ordered to remove the wall and rebuild the pinfold. It was unanimously agreed he be requested to do this, and Mr Bradley was given three months notice.

  Henry Slater, William Luckman and Jeremiah Bradley were playing cards for money in Slater's house. Bradley was accused of not playing fair and was assaulted by the other two. In court they were fined £1 each plus costs.

  There was a letter in the Yorkshire Post from a man who simply signed as Rufus saying he missed the 1.30pm train to Wakefield on a Saturday afternoon and had to wait until 3.45 for the next one. He said it was wage day for the miners, and their wives had to wait until they returned from work, and then wait for the 3.45 train or walk it to Wakefield, which a great number did in the summer months. A train at about 2pm would be a great boon to the Featherstone public, and probably a financial success for the railway company. 



Sunday, 8 May 2016

The Featherstone Chronicle 1883

A History of Featherstone, Purston and Ackton
Compiled by Irvin Saxton

The first requirement of the new School Board was to decide where to provide the new school accommodation. Their first idea was to build a school at each side of the railway, but they eventually decided to concentrate south of the railway. By February the education department had approved plans for schools in Regent Street and George Street and the land had been purchased. A census was held to find out how many children there were of school age.
  Once the prospective school population was established Robert Brown of Featherstone prepared plans for an infants' school of 150 places and a girls' school of 174 places for Regent Street at a cost of £2,618, and a boys' school of 174 places for George Street at a cost of £1,640. A loan was obtained from the Public Works Loans Committee at 3½% for 50 years. 

  James Umpleby of the Railway Hotel was charged with permitting drunkenness. The market train from Pontefract arrived at Featherstone Station at 9.30pm carrying some passengers who had had to much to drink. They made a rush for the Railway Hotel, and Supt Whincup said on many occasions he had had to detail officers to await the arrival of the train to protect the station master and the landlord.
  On this occasion in February the police entered the hotel at 10.30 and found George Malpass seated in a room drunk with a glass of whisky before him. For the defence it was said he had got in during the rush from the train. The Bench said under the circumstances they would be lenient, and fined Umpleby £2 and costs but did not endorse his licence.

  The original name for the Purston end of the road from Ackworth Road to the top of Castlesyke Hill was Chapel Lane. It was later called Ackworth Park Road, but to the locals it was known as Coach Road. In 1883 the land alongside the lane belonged to Thomas Peel JP and Claud Leatham. In September they applied to the Local Board to stop it being used as a footpath because, they claimed, immorality and gambling were frequently practiced there and people passing along it did damage to the corn and other crops. Most Local Board members were men of property so it is not surprising they agreed and it was decided to apply to the Quarter Sessions for a legal stoppage.
  Many local folk didn't thing it was a good idea and so a town meeting was arranged. The usual method of letting people know was used, that is touring the streets with a brass band and a placard. As a result about 600 people gathered in a field off Station Lane.
  George Shackleton was appointed chairman and he said when he lived in Pontefract he never took a more delightful walk than over these fields from Pontefract and back again to Pontefract by East Hardwick. Though those present were met to claim a right which had been theirs from time immemorial, for themselves and their children, yet they must remember simply meeting there and protesting was not sufficient to accomplish their object. They would have to put their hands in their pockets to maintain their cause at the Quarter Sessions.
  Mr Buffy proposed "That the resolution by the Local Board at their last meeting with reference to the stopping of Ackworth Park Footpath is subversive to the rights of the people, and the meeting call upon the Board at their next meeting to rescind the same".
  It was carried unanimously, as was one to employ a barrister to defend the rights of the people. It was said ex-Police Sergeant Grimshaw had been put at the lodge gate to turn people back unless they had business at the farm.
  On September 29 Messrs Leatham and Peel took their case to the Pontefract Highways Board. Mr Leatham claimed no bona fide travellers used the path and Mr Waller had told him only about three persons a week used it. It was used mostly for the pilfering of crops and by certain persons for purposes of an immoral nature. It was also used by colliers for gambling, and because of its length it was impossible to keep a proper surveillance over it. There was a parallel lane to the bottom of Castlesyke Hill which was actually 133 yards shorter.
  Mr Peel confirmed what Mr Leatham had said and described damage to trees, gates and locks. He said two persons had volunteered to come forward and give the names of loose women who they had seen with men on this footpath.
  The Highways Board agreed to serve a notice on the overseers of Ackworth to call a meeting of ratepayers so that Quarter Sessions might be applied to for an order to stop the footpath.
  Five days later at the next meeting of the Featherstone Local Board, David Denton proposed the minute consenting to the stoppage of the Ackworth to Featherstone footpath be rescinded. He said the allegation about damaged crops could be dealt with by the law. The second reason that few bona fide travellers used the footpath was scarcely fair to class as idlers men who had thought fit to have a leisurely walk after a hard day's work. Public feeling showed the proposed action was contrary to the wishes of the public, and the Board ought therefore to have another opportunity of expressing an opinion on the subject. The public was fully determined to use every means to prevent the closing of what he understood to be one of the loveliest spots in the district.
  John Waller said the men who passed along were continually taking large quantities of corn, turnips and potatoes. He thought all such footpaths should be stopped.
  When put to the vote five voted for Mr Denton's amendment and four for the confirmation of the minutes, so the minute in question was expunged. It was suggested by Mr Waller and his supporters this was not the end of the matter - but it was. Messrs Leatham and Peel saw the futility of going to the Quarter Sessions without the backing of the Local Board and the matter was dropped.  

  The Local Board received a letter from Joseph Battye in November on behalf of the Featherstone Footpath Protection Committee objecting to the condition of the footpath from Featherstone to West Hardwick. The Board agreed to meet a deputation who asked for a bridge over the Went which was sometimes 18 inches deep. There was only a narrow piece of wood at present.
  The clerk to the Board explained the public had only a right to use this footpath because it had been used for the past 20 years. The owner had no obligation to keep it in good repair. The Board were not responsible unless the road had been dedicated to the public in a proper manner. The deputation would have to prove the old Purston highway surveyors had always maintained the road before the Board could do anything. If the Board erected a bridge it would certainly be surcharged by the auditors.
  Mr Denton proposed a bridge be erected and said he would pay his share if the Board was surcharged. Mr Wardman seconded but all the others voted against. The clerk (Mr Kaberry) offered to refer the matter for council's opinion and pay the three guineas if he was wrong providing Mr Denton paid if the clerk was correct. Mr Denton declined.
  A footbridge over the River Went was eventually provided, but this is unlikely to be the original.

JANUARY  William Wilcox, a collier age 44 of Station Lane, was killed by a fall of roof at Snydale Victoria Colliery.

MARCH  At 12.30am on a Saturday morning PC Missenden found five men gambling by the light of a candle in Halfpenny Lane. He rushed among them but only managed to grab one who struck him in the face. The other men ran away leaving their mate to be fined 10s for gambling and 40s for assault.

  A Featherstone Man died from typhoid and his widow burnt the bed. She applied to the Local Board for a grant towards a replacement and was given £1. Dr Buncle said the order for destruction had not come from him, but if necessary he would make out a certificate as he would have given such an order. The Pontefract Advertiser commented it is to be hoped the District Auditor may not surcharge them for the act of humanity.

  Foot and mouth disease had broken out at Hemsworth and South Kirkby and it spread to James Fozzard's farm at North Featherstone. Thomas Fisher of Knottingley was fined 20s for taking a cow to Fozzard's farm when it had not been in his possession for 14 days. He had received the cow from Wakefield market and had driven it to Featherstone the next day. It was this cow that had spread the outbreak.

  Elizabeth Grant age 13, who escaped a poaching charge last year, was back in court accused of stealing a purse containing 5s 7d and a gold earring from Sarah Goodall. Mrs Goodall felt her take the purse from her dress pocket when in a shop. Elizabeth was sent to prison for ten days and then to a reformatory for five years. 

  Matthew Travis, a pony driver age 15 at Featherstone Main Colliery, was found dead under a tub. The inquest verdict was accidentally killed.

APRIL  PC Missenden was commended for his bravery in arresting a burglar he found in Station Lane. When challenged the burglar (James Williamson of Nottingham) drew a knife and threatened to kill the constable. Assistance was given by Robert Smith, a signalman, and Williamson was overcome and handcuffed. Even then the prisoner attacked PC Missenden and ran off. He was recaptured and taken to the police station.
  PC Missenden was awarded the badge of merit which he would wear on his sleeve. The citation was "Police Constable 141, John William Missenden is appointed to a pass of merit for the praiseworthy manner in which he apprehended a notorious burglar at Featherstone on April 4th, 1883". He would also receive an additional 2d a day.

  The Local Board accepted a tender of £110 for the flagging of Purston from Stephenson's farm to Mrs Hall's lodge gates.

  There had been no local elections for a number of years for the Board of Guardians at Pontefract so all three were to serve for another year. George Bradley hadn't turned up to any meeting in the past year. Ernest Andrew had made 10 appearances and John Waller 18.

MAY  John Edward Briggs of Knottingley was fined 5s for leaving a horse and cart in Station Lane for 50 minutes while he went to his mother-in-law's for a cup of tea.

  John William Hickling was sent to prison for one month after being caught poaching in Purston. He had seven previous convictions for poaching, assault, threatening behaviour and drunk and disorderly.

  William Ashton was fined 10s plus 12s costs for assaulting Sarah Ann Yates. He said he wouldn't pay so he was sent to jail for 14 days.

JUNE Dr Buncle reported to the Local Board ash pits and privies were still being emptied into the streets and sometimes left for two nights before being collected. It was said some of the ash pits had been constructed such that a cart could not get to them, and Dr Buncle said in such cases a barrow should be used.

  Two miners were fined 10s each for doing damage to trees. They said they were cutting walking sticks. The Bench said this practice must be stopped as it was now becoming so frequent.

JULY  A special service was held at All Saints' Church to commemorate the repair of the belfry and the re-hanging of the three bells. The belfry had been considered unsafe for many years, but the bells could now be rung again. One was said to date from the 15th Century and the other two from the 17th.

  A hot air balloon from a gala in York came down near Pontefract. Thomas Hopkinson of Pontefract was engaged to transport the balloon and its several occupants to the town. A crowd of roughs from Purston and Featherstone demanded money from the gentlemen of York for services rendered, and failing to get any George Sharpe struck the horse on the head. It reared and broke the shafts and tipped the passengers onto the road. He was fined 5s, 35s damages, and £1 4s costs, or two months in jail..

AUGUST  The surveyor asked the Local Board for permission to order 200 tons of dross for the highways and 200 tons for the main roads. There were comments that the stones were thrown about by children and used in catapults. The Board agreed to put up posters warning stone throwers and offering £1 reward for the conviction of offenders.

  Alfred Steele age 15 had taken his pony to the stables in Manor Colliery. He was walking away when a large fall of coal buried him and he was dead when got out.

  It was reported there were three public houses, one beerhouse and eleven off licences in Featherstone. There were just two public houses in Purston.

SEPTEMBER  John Tears was fined 5s for being drunk and disorderly. At his trial it was said he was a teetotal lecturer.

  Supt Whincup objected to the renewal of the off licences in Featherstone because he said there were too many, and that the beerhouses provided ample accommodation for the want of the people. He objected to Henry Gledhill, Samuel Banks, Robert Parkins and Charles Searby (all near to each other at the top of Station Lane), William Cowling (half way down), Joseph Phipps, John Cadman, Elisabeth Poulson and John White. Licences were granted to Banks, Cowling, Phipps and Poulson. The others were refused.

OCTOBER  A petition to the Local Board signed by 70 ratepayers asked for a causeway above the station similar to that below. The Board agreed to lay one six feet wide.

  The Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company sent a letter to the Local Board saying they did not propose to construct a subway at the station but had given instructions to erect a footbridge. The Board objected to a footbridge and said a subway would cost the same.

DECEMBER  William Richards was charged with deserting his wife and five children who had to be taken into the workhouse.  Richards left Featherstone to avoid arrest but was found in Altofts. However he had found a job and his wife was living with him again, so the charge was dropped providing he paid 2s a week to the Pontefract Union to repay the £6 6s it had cost to keep his family.