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Society AGM and Presentation report. Held 17th March 2016.
March 2016
The fourth AGM of the Northowram Historical Society was reasonably well attended. The chairman, Mike Beecham, gave a report on the past years activities. This gave an insight into the societies members focus after the publication of the Northowram book. These members who attend the Wednesday evening research group had decided to put together a new book now featuring Northowram village and a smaller surrounding area from the 1900s onwards. This would not only be a history of the times but more of a social document, charting the people of Northowram and their recollections. All members of the committee were standing again and were re-elected by the meeting. Other projects that were being pursued by individual members were also explained and these both formed the parts of the presentation given after the chairmans speech and financial accounts overview. The first presentation featured Philip Gibson who was working with two of the members to produce a book called the 'Lost Houses of Shibden'. Philip gave an introduction to the audience on the background research of the proposed book and Alan Rushworth continued with two examples. The lost barn from Shibden Hall and Godley Grange, a house now demolished. Mike Beecham went on to show some pages from a book he will be publishing in association with the society called 'Brynescoles Valley and older histories of Northowram Village'. A 220 page book due to be published late 2016. The meeting finished at 9pm with the usual refreshments and a time to ask more questions. The next Meeting will be an organised walk by George Bowers in the Coley area, 19th May 2016.

Report on the History Society presentation by Dr. Susan Deal.
October 2015
Home & Housework; 1840s - 1890s. An Illustrated talk by Dr Susan Deal took place at Northowram Methodist Church, The Green, Northowram on Thursday, 15th October.
Although Susan was a senior IT specialist in her daytime work, she took degrees and a doctorate in history subjects. It was evident from her very well researched talk, spaced by well illustrated images, that she had a total knowledge of this era of history. Susan kept the audience interest throughout with interesting and sometimes detailed insights in to Victorian houshold life. There was a good turnout of approx 60 people, who all commented on the quality of this presentation. The introduction and thanks at the end were given by Mike Beecham. Refreshments ended a good evening. There was an announcement that at the Christmas Social event there will be a raffle for the very last Northowram History Book!

The Question of Railways in the 1830s.
The feasibility of constructing railways and the permanent value together with their usefulness was a major point of discussion in the 1830’s. Mr. Thomas Bradley, for many years the engineer to the Calder and Hebble Navigation Company, and the constructor of the canal from Salterhebble to Halifax, published his thoughts, that railways were never going to supersede the canals. The Stockton to Darlington Railway was completed in 1825, and the Manchester to Liverpool opened in September 1830.
One of the chief investors in the canals was Anne Lister. Her diary of the times feature various information to her families investment into the canals and the high value of these investments. By 1825 the canal was still being cut towards Halifax. Miss Lister comments on 9th July that when the improvements are completed the proprietors will make 25% on their stock. Navigation stock was difficult to buy at this time as it was deemed to be a good investment.
Six years later in 1831, Mr. Bradley comments that this ‘new fangled’ system is a speculation of capital and will have too many difficulties to contend with, besides managing the every day running of it.
His main objection is, that it can never be available to everyone on account of the great expense and the hilly and irregular landscape of the country. He goes on to say; that a speed of eight to ten miles an hour will satisfy the merchant, so why not employ them on the turnpike roads! There were a number of new lines being contemplated at this time that Mr. Bradley says will be beyond the skills of engineers. Looking back forty years with the construction of the canal network, he says, there is no need for the railways. He cannot believe that the many millions of ‘sterling’ spent on the canal system that ‘connects all rivers and gives a cheap and ready conveyance to almost every village and town in the kingdom,’ can possibly be swept away! A final statement concludes that the ‘aquatic medium shall maintain superiority,’ and that our navy will suffer the consequences of railway mania. ‘British seamen must continue to be protected and encouraged for the benefit and security of the empire.’
Strong words in the face of the impending changes that were soon to echo through time. We now know through further developments and inventions, that these changed our ancestors daily lives in a massive way.
Later in Anne Lister’s diaries we find that she too starts to ask questions about the shares she holds in canals. There are discussions in 1831 that the railway could carry goods cheaper than the canals. Anne says they will lower their costs if needed to beat them. Another diary entry at this time refers to the proposed Manchester to Selby railway, saying that it is cause for discussion, as the rich men of Todmorden think it a bad investment.
Eventually she rides on the railways. On September 11th 1831 she takes an omnibus (horse drawn transport) to the steam carriage station on the Liverpool Manchester Line. The train leaves from Edgehill Grand area, Liverpool, and travels towards Manchester. She gets in the last carriage, a German wagon (a covered top with glass windows all along the back), being able to see the line of the railroad. She writes; ‘it would be impossible to be surprised and gratified at the steam expedition; I would not have missed it on any account. We went twenty miles an hour.’ She says that when she arrived at Manchester, there was talk that the Manchester Leeds railroad had be ‘given up,’ therefore the canal was not under threat.
By October of 1834 there was a plan to widen the canal at Salterhebble for larger vessels. Miss Lister thinks her shares are worth £430 each. In 1837 Miss Lister tells the reader that a boat and horse are worth £250 and that the young man who owned the boat could carry 18 to 19 tons of stones from the area to Macclesfield, at a freightage of 1d. per ton per mile, or about £3 a trip and he could make three trips a fortnight. June 5th 1837 another comment at this time by Miss Lister to Mr. Rawdon Briggs, says the railways can’t hurt the canals, they will never pay.
In 1838 Miss Lister has sold some shares in the Navigation at £432, a good price. But by April 1839 there is some panic about Navigation stock! One of the gentlemen of Halifax, Mr. Lewis Alexander had ‘hawked some stock,’ which had a bad effect, no doubt having doubts about investments in the canals. Although Anne sold a few shares at this time, she still gets a good price of £434 per share.
There are no more entries that confirm whether Anne Lister had to sell more shares before her death in 1840. The railways established themselves and the canals declined.
M. Beecham

June 2015
You can buy this new book by downloading the order form, Edited by the late Alan Petford and David Cant this important history book is available for only £12.50 including postage and packing. Please be aware there are limited copies available. Order now!


The book is a study of the wills, inventories and related documents of the people of Northowram township and reveals a vivid picture of life and death in the West Riding at the end of the seventeenth century. Many were involved in farming and the growing textile industry, others had considerable wealth through mining and quarrying.
These documents provide an intriguing insight into the links between families through bequests, property transfers, indebtedness and support for those surviving.
The introduction describes the steps of the probate process in detail, from the conventions involved in making the will to obtaining permission for execution from the church court. It examines the role of the executors, the apprisers, who had to value the deceased’s goods, and the bondsmen, who guaranteed to act in accordance with the law.
There are also maps, three indexes and a detailed glossary of the descriptive terms found in the inventories.
The book was produced as a co-operative effort with the support of the Halifax branch of the Workers’ Educational Association.

Research help for members required, world wide help required.
April 2015
We have various research projects going on now we are in full swing, with members focusing on various aspects of Northowram history such as mining, quarrying, Godley Cuttings and political history of the area to name a small amount. Can you help, have you any information or artifacts?

Sad death of Alan Petford.
March 2015
It is with great regret that we report the untimely death of Alan Petford a friend and founder member of the Northowram Historical Society. Alan had been unwell for a considerable period & had undergone intensive treatment and prolonged convalescence but seemed to be (cautiously) on the mend when visiting us to be at the November 2014 book launch.

.Alan was instrumental in getting the society membership tutored and on course to publish their two books. He was educated at Oxford and was Senior Lecturer in Local History at Leeds University. Not only did he become involved with the Northowram group but many other local history groups who also have benefited by his deep and extensive knowledge of the history of our area. He is sadly missed. G Bowers. Chairman. Northowram Historical Society

A great day at the new book when it was launched, 8th November 2014 at Heywood Church.
November 2014
The much anticipated launch of the Northowram Historical Society new history of Northowram book started with people arriving well before the advertised opening time. By 11am the hall at Heywood Church was nearly full to bursting with well over 200 people filling all the standing and sitting space. those who came to pick up their books who had subscribed could collect them at the well organised tables maned by the members of the society. Another table was selling books to those who wanted to grab a first copy before the limited print run of 700 ran out. Everyone enjoyed a great selection of cakes and biscuits and a cup of tea or coffee whilst waiting for the launch speeches.
George Bowers the chairman of the society informed everyone of the great work done by the members over the four years that the society had been in place. He thanked Mike Beecham for the work in designing and producing the book as a co-editor with himself. George then handed over to Alan Petford who was instrumental at the start up of the project and up to the present time in instructing members in how to research and write their history projects. Alan is a lecturer in local history and has experience from lecturing in this subject at Leeds University. Together with Ian Bailey the two of them produced the Midgley history book with a similar group and them moved their experience to help Northowram Historical Society.
Alan made the main speech of the launch, pointing out the academic work in the book and the social history also recorded in it, that there was something for everyone. He also mentioned that the members hard work was reflected in a book that stood out as a special book in this category because of the illustrative and wide spread of images of the Northowram old Township not just the Northowram village area. It was a credit to the members and to the area that this project had the outcome of such a successful book together with a group who would be continuing with history research in the future.
Ian was then asked to cut the special celebration cake that featured an image of the book cover on its surface. The cake was kindly prepared by Sally Macareth.
There was also a table selling poppies for Remembrance day with the Rev Jean Hoggard and her husband John. Jean was also promoting the Friends of Heywood Church and Graveyard with a view to getting more local people involved in the upkeep and progression of the church for future generations. Buy the end of the lauch day there was estimated to be over 300 people visited.
The rest of the remaining books will be sold in the village shops and other outlets up until Christmas. When all books are sold there will not be another re-print so it is possible that these books will become as collectable as the old Pearsons History of Northowram book published in 1898.
New history research sessions are open to all and start for a ten week period Wednesday 14th January 2015 these start at 7.30pm and are held at Heywood Church lower meeting room. Everyone welcome to research any history period they have an interest in or be part of special research sessions that are involving political history, the first world war and other subjects including census research.

Northowram historical society book launch


The FULL DVD is available now and is available at £12-99 Films can be ordered through our website by clicking this linkwww.pathwaysvideo.co.uk

DVD’s will be available in Tourist Information Centres in Calderdale, Harvey’s in Halifax,
Just Books in Brighouse, or from our website

THE HISTORY OF NORTHOWRAM TOWNSHIP GROUP... will be holding individual sessions at 7.30pm.
These will been running from January 14th 2015. These sessions are for those who are want to research a history subject of their own and for those who would like to help in cataloguing the archive of material built up over the last five years. For more details email history@northowram.org or call Mike Beecham 07930 388713

See the Calendar of Events page for full details.

NSPCC its work in the past in Northowram.
February 2013
Here are two stories published in the Halifax Guardian at the turn of the 20th century. Both are sad stories but I think illustrate the positive part the N.S.P.C.C. was starting to play in its approach to child cruelty and child welfare. The N.S.P.C.C. had been formed in 1895. These stories from 1899 illustrate some of the conditions that were possibly common at that time due to poor people trying to exisit in very hard conditions. In the second of the two stories the evils of drink are obvious, the temperance movement becoming more and more popular.
At the Stump Cross Inn, on Tuesday afternoon, Mr E.H. Hill, coroner, held an inquest relative to the death of Harry Banister, the four year old son of Edward Bannister, brick maker, Lane Side, Thornton, which occurred on Sunday.
The father was originally from Hipperholme and had lots his wife so decided to put his two children with a Mrs Jagger who lived at 10 Brow Lane, Northowram. The elder boy was still with her. He also goes on to say that he came over every week to see them. He had three children, besides the boy who had just died another had died at Mrs Jaggers house at about a year and seven months previously. He paid 7s a week for the keep of the two children, and found them clothes. Mary Jagger tells the inquiry that the lad had complained of pains in the lower part of the body, and became ill. She sent for the doctor, but the lad died last Sunday. She also says she knows nothing that would cause the illness.
When questioned by the coroner she told him that she had had fourteen children and the longest lived 14 months. The corner then says: Do you think if you could not rear your own children you could look after those of others?
Besides the Chief Constable present there was Inspector Robb of the N.S.P.C.C. present who kneew Mrs. Jaggers children had died in infancy, and therefore he visited Bannister’s children frequently. He found them nourished and well cared for. Dr. Charteris, of Hipperholme, said he had been called and found the deceased suffering from inflammation of the bowels and there was nothing suspicious about the case at all. Death was due to exhaustion consequent on inflammation of the bowels.
At the Borough Court, yesterday, before the Mayor, Alderman Brear, Messrs. R W Evans, F Patchett, and T Scarborough, Henry and Lydia Minshall, of Baxter Lane, Northowram, were charged at the instance of the N.S.P.C.C. with cruelly neglecting their children, all whom were under the age of sixteen years. Both defendants pleaded not guilty.
The officer from the N.S.P.C.C. had visted the family and states that there were four children, one a baby nine months old who had since died. He describes what he found on his visit. He found three children upstairs in a bed on a sacking and straw mattress, covered with some old rags but had their clothes on. He found vermin on their clothes, the babies feeding bottle had sour milk in it, also there was no food about the house so he had to purchase some. At a later date he followed one of the parents home after he had visited four public houses, by the time he got home he was drunk. The day after the officer took Sergeant Binns and P.C. Robertshaw to the house where he says the room resembled a barn, the children lying on some straw in a corner with a rag over them. They were in a filthy condition. It took another twenty days for a Dr. Wright to visit the house and certify it unfit for habitation. The parents were sent to prison for two months, the husband with hard labour.

Report from A Peep Inside Shibden Hall presentation held 17th January 2013.
January 2013
Tony Sharpe gave a presentation based on his vast knowledge of Shibden Hall, having worked there for a long number of years. Tony supported his talk with many illustrative slides that showed various places and artifacts inside and outside the old hall. Members and guests who had braved the snow to listen to Tony were rewarded with some hidden facts dating back to Anne Lister and the families who owned the hall back into the 14th century. An introduction was given by George Bowers and the thanks were given by Mike Beecham.

The first Northowram book is a real success.
January 2013
The Northowram Historical Society made a big contribution to its fund to produce a new history book of Northowram by selling a smaller book called; Northowram Village. A Collection of Past Images with Brief Histories. 1000 books were printed just before Christmas 2012 and nearly all have been sold, which has now added a considerable sum to the fund to produce a bigger and more comprehensive book. If you require a copy of the smaller book please contact Mike Beecham via email; history@northowram.org the price is £6.95 and postage is £1.20 for UK delivery. Prices for postage to the rest of the world by request.

Calderdale Folk Lore presentation held 20th Sept 2012.
Sept 2012
John Billingsley gave an entertaining talk and slide presentation on all aspects of Calderdale Folk Lore stretching back to the time when Halifax got its name and the different stories surrounding this, right through to more modern stories that included 'Bogarts' and other ghostly characters. Mr George Bowers introduced the speaker and Mr Mike Beecham gave the vote of thanks.

Latest History Walk, Chelsea Valley and Westercroft areas.
August 2012
For once the weather was kind to a big group who met at the walk start point at 22 The Square. Mike Beecham the walk leader, gave the group a short history of St Matthews church followed by the old Crown Brewery, now the defunct Booths furniture shop. This was followed by memories of the old barbers and newsagents that both stood on the corner of Westercroft Lane. The walk then went down Hedge Top Lane to stop a Only House farm for further information on this and Quarry House. The photo below shows the group on their way down to Brian Scholes farm.
northowram history walk
From there the walk went along Bird Holme Lane, stopping to explain the history of this lost area. Next, onto Lumbrook mills, and finally to Westercroft house where Philip Gibson the owner, and a fellow society member, valiantly gave a history about the house in a well lit area outside as the light had completely gone by then. Everyone enjoyed the evening and a vote of thanks to Mike Beecham was given by George Bowers.


January 2012
18th January 7.15pm

An informal discussion was held on the above date to help understand how interested parties could be involved in contributing a written piece for the new History of Northowram book project. This meeting was held at:

We have now completed a series of courses that have introduced these participants to various aspects of local history, covering areas of the old Northowram Township. Whether you have been involved in these or not it’s not a problem, as it is now time to register your interest if you would like to produce, either individually, or to be part of a group, an article for future publication in this proposed book.

This first meeting was a time to register an interest but there is still penty of time this year to get involved. Questions can be answered and hopefully resolve any reservations you have by getting in touch with the Northowram Historical Society.

Certain parties have now declared a specific area of study. New areas have also been proposed to help make the book a more comprehensive historical representation of this large and diverse township. If you feel you would like a view of the proposed chapter headings for the book then please contact us as the time has come for us to conclude a timetable to meet this commitment and publish this long awaited book. A representation of all areas of the old township would be welcome, whether it be Claremount, Boothtown or Queenbury. You don’t have to live in the area to be involved.

Please email or call for more information:
Call Mike Beecham 07930 388 713

2nd AGM for Northowram Historical Society held 20th October 2011.
October 2011
Previous to the presentation given by Mike Beecham who was standing in for Tony Sharp, who was ill, the 2nd AGM for the Northowram Historical Society took place. A welcome and address to members was given by the acting Chairman George Bowers, this was followed by the voting in of all existing committee members. No new nominations recieved. The report on the accounts was given by John Faulkes and the meeting was quickly concluded for the following presentation. The society was shown to be in a healthy position as it had grown not only in funds but had increased it activities in line with its clear plan to publish a new history of Northowram within a three year plan.

Latest Committee Meeting Report from Northowram Historical Society.
September 2011
Committee meeting held on the 14th September 2011. Present: P Turner, M Turner, M Beecham, I Bailey.
Apologies for Absence: P Gibson, A Petford, G Bowers, D Brill

New course is now ready to start and all arrangements have been made for the commencement. Application forms distributed for the Calderdale Industrial Museum Association, a meeting of which P Gibson had recently attended, & urged members to support this, the museum & contents being in good condition, at the present point in time.

Membership : 67 membership cards have been issued giving a total of 90+ members.
Course filling up well for the next one launching on Wed 21st, more people required.Posters not put up in some businesses around the village for presentation.

Publicity:Business Cards in “Cafe at 18” but they didn’t seem to be moving very quickly. The website is attracting a high number of regular visitors. He had received two mailshots; a “taster” session by WY Archives at the library on Monday, 19th September, & an allocation of 5 places on “Local History Networking Day” on 19th November, also at the library.

People are emailing us at “info” with requests to trace ancestors. It takes approx three hours of work. It was acknowledged that this research is a saleable commodity & Ian will enquire of the Hebden Bridge Soc how they go about this.

AOB: No need to be asking for subscribers to the book, at this stage.
AGM to be 20th October 2011 preceding Tony Sharpe’s talk.

Date of next Committee Meeting: Tuesday 11th October – 7.00pm at Northowram Club.(Please note revised day & time)

Northowram Historical Society gains it furtherest member!
August 2011
The beauty of the worldwide web is that it puts the name of Northowram throughout the world. An interesting email was recieved from Rachel Adamson in Austrailia who told us that her Great-Grandfather lived at Saville farm on Towngate and emigrated to Aus’ in the early 1900’s. This is what Rachel had to say about her ancestor:-William Hughes was quite successful in Australia, although he died around 10years or so after arriving. He was a town councillor of Swan Hill and integral in having irrigation set up in his town for the farmers. With bad health (most of his siblings died at very young ages probably because of working in the wool mills) he moved to pioneer the opening of a “desert” town, Ouyen, and has a street named after him for his efforts.
Rachel kindly offer to join the Historical Society and now holds the honour of being our most distant member.

Research help for members required, world wide help required!
June 2011
We have various research projects going on now we are in full swing, with members focusing on various aspects of Northowram history. The beauty of the world wide web is that hopefully we can come to the attention of those out there who have some gems of knowledge or artifacts that can help add that extra value to our finished projects. Areas of research that have some gaps or have come to a halt with local searches are:-

Quarry house. Certain facts seem to contradict earlier ownership in the 17C. We have the name Mellin and the name Northend overlapping. We also have a name that was attributed to possibly being Quarry House and this is 'Quarlers' or 'Wharlers'. Has anyone got any facts on these points or any photographs or illustrations of the old property?

Godley Cuttings. There is a reference on the Malcolm Bull site to a contractor called Rhodes and Ledbetter being the people who excavated the cutting. We have no other source than this, is there any help to uncover more on this major Halifax event? Does anyone know of any other material (other than West Riding Archives) that shows maps or plans of the 1827-30 period of this area.

New Bank. Any information to its construction and when?

The Merry Boys Inn/Public House. At Cave Hill Northowram, any photographs existing anywhere.

Report on the Shibden History Walk led by Philip Gibson.
June 2011
Although the rain tried to halt the walk the few small showers didn't deter above 30 plus hardy souls from turning up and enjoying a thoroughly good evening history walk in the Shibden Valley.

On Thursday 16th June the group met at the Shibden Mill upper car park and were led by walk leader and local Historical Society member Philip Gibson on an uphill start towards the now demolished Lower Hagstocks. On the way the group were introduced to some old and new mining information as it stopped by the recently opened and reworked clay mines. Mr Gibson then went on to explain using some old photographs together with his own memories and records, the history of Hagstocks. Hagstocks as it was in the past is shown below, it came to be abandoned due to the access becoming impossible other than a horse and cart being able to traverse the winding road from the hill top.
The group then walked on towards Ouzel Hall and across to Lee House, from here they decended to Scout Hall(shown below)for another facinating history of the hall and the Stancliffe family that lived in that area for over 400 years. The weather threatened again but delayed long enough for the group to carry on to its final building, Water Scout. This building was in ruins but the pictures shown to the group illustrated that it was once a thriving farm house and offered teas and refreshments to the many Victorian and Edwardian tourists in the area.
scout hall
The walk ended back at the Shibden Mill Inn with a well earned drink to help relax a few tired legs.

Report on surveying Historical Buildings. Brian Scholes farm group invited to find out about the building and its construction.
June 2011
Saturday morning on 18th June the members of the Northowram Historical Society who had enroled for the Historical Buildings Course were treated to a special session to help them increase their knowledge of old buildings in the Northowram area. The owner of Brian Scholes farm kindly let the group take part in an anaysis and measuring of the old farm buildings and property. This building dates back a long way in time but has had numerous alterations and re-builds. The objective was to measure and record the various features of the external and some internal features to assertain what had happened over time and help understand the possible date of the building.
brian scholes farm
The group at Brian Scholes Farm are shown above. More information on the findings will be given as the work goes on, please watch out for this on the web site.






































Brynescoles Valley (Chelsea Valley) Northowram

Written and researched by M.Beecham

This brand new book covers from medieval times through to the 1800s, encompassing Brynescoles Valley, (Chelsea Valley) including parts of Hipperholme that fall into to this area.
Also there are earlier histories of Northowram village centre,
It also includes a complete history of Quarry House. A lost house that has interesting roots in the development of Northowram village.
Included too is an extract of all owners and tenants shown in the 1837 Northowram/Hipperholme Valuation and the corresponding map showing how this part of Northowram
looked at that time.

YOU CAN NOW PURCHASE - £20 per copy

EMAIL: history@northowram.org to buy a copy. Only 100 left from the original 300 copies printed.
Don’t miss out on purchasing this NEW book. It makes a great partner to the previous book.

224 pages in full colour throughout. Hardbacked.

You can submit your details by sending an email to history@northowram.org or you
can write your details and post it to M.Beecham. 2 Harwin Close, Northowram. HX3 7BE. Be sure to include your name and address, plus how many copies you require.
When the book is published there will be a launch day. Details will be published soon. You can pick then up your book. If not, and the book requires posting, we will contact you and inform you of the cost. Local deliveries will be arranged. Payment can be made when you pick up your book.
Keep checking this page for more details:

No upfront payment required. ONLY 100 books now available from the original 300 to be published!

Instigation of the Halifax Council in 1848 and its relationship to Northowram Township.
une 2015
Iorthowram was a large Township in the 1800’s . Due to the enlargement of Halifax and its municipal powers it started to become more under the influence of its ever-growing neighbour. In 1848 Northowram possibly differed very little from Halifax other than Halifax having its commercial centre of shops, where as Northowram differed with its commercial interests spread in a wider areas such as textile, coal and stone extraction. In the early 1800’s, Halifax centre had 3,918 houses, of which 220 were vacant and 150 were being built. The centre of Halifax was growing and the need for proper sanitation as disease was prevalent. Places like Charlestown were the worst effected. Charlestown being in the Township of Northowram. 46% of mortality in Halifax was of children under five, and the average age at death was 26.
By 1848 Halifax had a Charter of Incorporation. This gave powers to buy land and tenements and provided a common seal for transmitting business; it also had to have a Town Council and Mayor being within a Parliamentary Borough. It also led to the establishing of a police force and a Bench of Magistrates. This led to the council adopting the Public Health Act of 1848. This Act gave governmental powers, or interference, that the new Council didn’t want. However, Northowram Township ratepayers had a different view and made a petition for an inquiry into the need for applying the Act to Halifax.
In 1851 William Ranger was sent to make a report of the area and gave a first hand report of the appalling conditions people worked and lived in. Some councillors however thought it not worth considering as Halifax compared favourably with other industrial towns! Ranger had reported on the poor sanitary conditions in Northowram, this would have been the area around North Bridge, Akroyden and New Bank. The Halifax Town Council made opposition to the Ranger report but approved the Northowram portions of it. The interesting fact here is that the legal person involved in bringing the Charter to Halifax was Michael Stocks. Possibly he had influence, maybe he recognised the humanitarian issues, or was it the pressure of all the Northowram ratepayers wanting to bring about change to living and working conditions? Another Northowram person of influence, Edward Akroyd, the great mill owner, pushed for an inquiry into health matters in Halifax. The Council were at last empowered to get water from outside its own area and were provided with funds to instigate lighting, gas and sewage systems. At this time it was decided to set public clocks to keep a common time. Anne Lister commented that there was a 45 minute difference in time keeping at Manchester compared to Halifax!
M. Beecham

Highway robbery in the nineteenth century

October 2014
Reported in 1851 - William Salisbury, warp-dresser, of Bradford; Joseph Eastwood, weaver, Halifax and Simon Crossley, presser, Wheatley, were brought before the West Riding Magistrates, on Thursday, charged with robbing Charles Horatio Gill, Spa House, Northowram, of 12s. and upwards, and using considerable personal violence to him. On Monday night when the affair happened the whole of the parties were together in a public house in the lower part of Halifax, and after Gill had left to journey homewards the others appear to have followed him, and about eight o’clock effected the robbery in Godley Lane. The Magistrates sent the three worthies to take their trials at the next gaol delivery.
Reported in 1841 - On Saturday evening last, betwixt seven and eight o’clock, as Mr. Thomas Bottomley, manufacturer, of Shibden Mill, near this town, was returning home, he was stopped by three men, two of them seized hold of him whilst the other stood by and watched, at a place within 100 yards of the top of New Bank, near Godley Lane, and took from his person £55 in bank notes, and a bill of £85 10s.
Reported in 1843 - On Tuesday morning last, betwixt one and two o’clock, as a young man and his wife were returning home from Halifax, towards Hipperholme, they were attacked on the bridge over the cutting, in Godley Lane, by four men. The parties gave alarm, and the thieves hearing someone approach, immediately made off in different directions. One of them named Henry Tetley, a coal hawker, from Shelf, mistaking his leap, jumped over the bridge into the road below, a height of between 20 and 30 feet. Another made down the New Bank towards town, and was secured by a person coming up at the time. His name is Henry Jagger, alias “Buck,” of Clayton Heights, near Bradford; the other two escaped. Tetley was conveyed to the Infirmary, when it was found that he had received a compound fracture of his thigh, both his wrists broken, and his jaw bone smashed to pieces; little hopes are entertained of his recovery. Jagger was brought before the magistrates the same day, and remanded until Thursday.
A slightly later report gives more information to this robbery -
It will be remembered that on a highway robbery taking place here in April last, one Henry Tetley, in attempting to escape, jumped over the bridge and fell into the deep cutting of Godley Lane road, thereby fracturing his right leg and the left side of his jaw, and otherwise severely injuring himself. Of these injuries he has ever since been confined at the Halifax Infirmary. By the exercise, however, of the ability and skill of the medical officers of that institution aided by their patient’s excellent constitution, Tetley has so far recovered as to be able to move about on crutches. He was therefore, last week discharged from the Infirmary, taken into custody by the Northowram constable, and committed to York Castle to take his trial at the next assizes. Two of his companions in the robbery were transported at the last assizes.

Landslide at Stump Cross - 1856
April 2014

Sunday night of December 6th 1856, was an alarming and an unenviable one for the few people then living at the foot of Shibden Valley where it merges into Stump Cross. After a heavy snowfall there had been a sudden thaw on the Friday, much rain had fallen since. About midnight on Sunday people were awakened by rumbling noises that brought most of them from their beds in panic. The upper part of the steep hillside began to slide towards the valley, gathering with it as it descended trees and large stones and a tremendous weight of earth and sludge.
Not until daylight could it be seen precisely what had happened during the night, nor the extent of the damage be discovered. It was then found that the wood on the upper part of the hillside had entirely disappeared, all trees having been uprooted and carried down under pressure of the slipping soil to the roadway at the bottom. Twenty yards of the road itself had been forced ten yards from its original position, but had remained more or less intact. Fences and walls had been torn down, and the whole locality looked as if it been the scene of an earthquake.
On the lower slope earth seemed to have been pushed upwards, reports stated, under the pressure from the slipping hillside; it was piled with trees, tree roots and blocks of stone. Streams of sludge were oozing down Brow Lane, and this collected near the Stump Cross Inn, a plank had to be laid to the back entrance.
There had been no serious injury to anyone, but several people had narrow escapes. Three young men, one of whom was the son of the toll-bar keeper at Stump Cross, were up on the hill when the landslide started. They sank up to their thighs in the wet soil and sludge as the ground gave way under them, and they had difficulty in extricating themselves from the slipping mass. A pedestrian on the road at the foot declared that he had to “run for his life” to escape from the descending mass.
The previous year there had been a minor landslide near the hilltop, which had left a crevice ten feet deep, and the accumulation of water in this long, deep hole, seeping under the soil, and the pressure of earth higher up, were believed to be the source of this 1856 landslide.
An extract from. It Happened Here. By Arthur Porrit. Published 1955.

History Weekend report - April 20th and 21st 2013
April 2013

The Northowram History Society ' History Weekend' held at Northowram Methodist Chapel, The Green, Northowram was a great success. People streamed in on the Saturday to see the displays and listen to the presentations throughout the day. The first presentation was from Alan Petford on the old houses of Northowram, this was followed by a presentation by George Bowers on Quarrying. Lunch was offered to those who wanted to make a day of it as the afternoon was a full adgenda too. Mike Beecham did a presentation on Photoshop techniques for retouching historical documents and other members discussed other specific topics about historical aspects of Northowram old township too.

Sunday activity was a walk and talk that started at Northowram Club where a crowd of approx 30 people turned up. It started by going on Towngate and discussing the older properties before heading up Howes Lane to talk about quarrying at the top of Northowram hill. From there the walk went down to Brow Lane where Phil Gibson explained about the old houses of Shibden Valley. After this part it went up the hill back towards the village, stopping at Marsh Hall as a last stop before returning home.

Report on the Shibden Valley walk
June 2012
Thursday June 21st Phil Gibson led a history walk taking in some places of historical interest around the areas of Simm Carr, Barehead and Merryboys. Unfortunately the weather wasn't as kind as it could be, not only a good amount of rain but a fair expanse of muddy paths to negotiate. Mr Gibson kept everyones interest up as he delivered an excellent talk on all properties and places visited and supplimented with some interesting historical pictures of the areas too. An old photo of Simm Carr house showing it as a tea garden was especially liked by the group plus lots of facts from the past including some from his own family connections who had lived in these parts for many generations. Mr George Bowers thanked Mr Gibson at the end of the walk.
shibden walk

REDISCOVERING THE HISTORY OF NORTHOWRAM TOWNSHIP is now holding individual sessions at 7.30pm.
This will been running from September 2013. These sessions are for those who are want to research a history subject to include in the publication of the new Northowram History Book, or just for personal pleasure.

See the Calendar of Events page for full details.

Email: history@northowram.org

Report on the Historical Buildings of Northowram by D Cant
May 2011
Thursday evening on the 19th May was another successful evening as it exceeded the expectations of the Northowram Historical Society organisers by the sheer numbers of people who turned up. Nearly 80 people were given an interesting and enlightening talk by David Cant, an expert in old buildings in our area and a leading member of the Halifax Antiquarian Society.

David explained the external and internal features of houses, some smaller and more mundane to larger and more prosperous dwellings. Also a piece was included that explained the architectural features of St Matthews Church. After tea and biscuits the remainder of the presentation showed some houses such as Godley Grange and High Sunderland that have since been demolished.

The introduction was given by the Chairman George Bowers and the vote of thanks was given by Mike Beecham.

By M Beecham - Extracted and adapted from
The Story of Old Halifax by TW Hanson.

In medieval times the word “village” was never really used in our district. The English village, as a rule, consisted of a compact cluster of farm houses and cottages with a church and a large manor house. The houses in the Halifax townships were scattered along the hill sides, where there was a cluster of houses, it was invariably called a town. Thus we have Warley Town and Sowerby Town and the main streets in Northowram and Midgley are called Town Gates.
In those days men worked on large fields that were common to the township or hamlet. Each hamlet was like one farm, and the produce of the fields was shared among the inhabitants. The only relics of this open-field system are a few place names that still survive. In Halifax there were four or five of these large common fields. One was called South Field, and on the way to South Field was South Field Gate, which was then shortened to Southgate.
As the number of people increased, and some of the men grew richer, more land was wanted for farming. A new piece of the hilly land was marked out, the trees were cut down, and shrubs cleared. Rocks were broken up , the loose stones gathered, and a wall built up of these stones to fence the land. The was “ridded” or “rid” of these trees and rocks and was therefore called a “riding” or “rode”. Just as boys used to turn the word “coal” into “coil” by using a local dialect, then the word “rode” was pronounced “royd”. It is the most interesting local word and royd is our own word for clearing. Murgatroyd could have come from moor-gate-royd, the clearing on the way to the moor. In our area we have Plough Royd at the end of Addersgate and a bit further up above Barehead you’ll find Hanging Royd, in our village there was of course Royd Farm, where the entrance into Hall Close is now.

Keep a look out on this page for new information and forthcoming events!

Northowram Old Township Map from Pearsons History of Northowram Pub 1896
Click the map to see at full size

northowram township map

Northowram old township included Claremount, Boothtown and Queensbury too!

Our latest drive is to promote the inclusion of members into the society that come from the surrounding areas of Northowram. The old township took its boundary up Godly Lane, down Newbank and to the edge of Northbridge. It then went all the way up to Queensbury and skirted the edge of Shelf down to the end of Westercroft through Chelsea Valley and along the bottom of Shibden Park to meet with Godley Cutting.

We are always on the lookout to increase our membership but one bonus would be to have new members from the other parts of the township who could add a more representive selection of history research to hopefully be included in our new hia=story of northowram book project.

Oliver Heywood presentation, a successfull night for the society
March 2011
Tuesday 17th March was another in the series of presentations hosted by the society. This was a talk supported by images on Oliver Heywood and was held at Northowram Methodist Church, The Green Northowram. By 7.15pm it was obvious that this was going to be a popular event as the organisers had to get out more seating. By the time the presentation by Alan Petford started the hall was nearly full, there being over 80 people attending.

Alans talk was supported by a visual presentation illustrating the life and times of Oliver Heywood the well know historical non-conformist preacher who left his mark on our village. Well supported by some very interesting facts and information relating to the Puritan faith in the time of Oliver Cromwell and James 1st the audience were definitely kept interested throughout. A welcome was given by George Bowers the Chairman of the society and the vote of thanks at the end was given by Mike Beecham.

A usual refreshment break at the end of the talk gave everyone a chance to discuss the evening, feedback being received is that the society is growing in strength and that everyone is looking forward to the next event. you can find these on our Calendar of Events page.

Why not join us, whether you're young or older all you need is a specific interest in history.
If you want to publish or if you want to do your own research for fun, it doesn't matter, enjoying history does!

Why not find out how to join us

base strip

Have you any historical material to help in our search?

If anyone has any visual material, whether it be photographs, maps or document, please let us know. We know these are precious to you and will more than likely not want to let them out of your sight. Today we can scan these by using a portable scanner and computer whilst you watch! Ten minutes and we're done!

Sometimes it can be exciting to find information in the background of a photograph that is helpful. So please look hard at what you've got, or alternatively if you know anyone who has left the area who may have a hidden treasure trove of images please let Mike Beecham know: Tel 01422 205234 or contact us by using the email: history@northowram.org

upper brear

Look at this example above. In the background of this picture taken as a family photo in Shibden Park is the hillside in the background with no trees leaving Upper Brear visible. We scanned the image at high resolution and managed to get a reasonable sized individual image to use for our archives.









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