Cowcliffe Methodist Church and Sunday School: 1836-1936 (1937)

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ASSOCIA TIONS 18536—1936

Huddersfield : Tom Woffenden, Printer, King Cliffe, Birkby

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Saturday, March 13th, 1937:


Preacher, Rev. G. E. ALLCOCK.

OLD SCHOLARS: at 7-0 p.m. _ A Time for Reminiscences. Musical Items. :: Light Refreshments. PUBLIC TEA at 5 o'clock.

1s. each.

Sunday, March 14th, 1937: IPECTAL SERVICES at 10-30 a.m., 2-30 p.m. and 6-0 p.m. Preacher, Rev. G. W. THORN

(Former Minister).

Collections at all services for Centenary Fund,

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EARTIEST congratulations to Cowcliffe upon its : Centenary. Although the exact date of the open- ing of the Chapel cannot be ascertained, yet we know with certainty it was approximately one hundred years ago. : I One recalls Walt Whitman’s tribute to General Grant: “A inan of mighty days, and equal to the days.” These words are surely descriptive of those simple, earnest folk, who during long years “ allured to brighter worlds, and led the way.”

We speak justly of the wisdom of our fathers; I wish we had their courage and faith!

It the Methodists of to-day prove as loyal and steadfast as the Methodists of bygone days, then the future is bright with promise, and the latter glory of : this House shall be greater than the former. God grant it! : : : GEORGE EH. ALLCOCK, Wesley Manse, Superintendent Minister : 130, Halifax Old Road, ©

Birkby, Huddersfield. February, 1937.

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Officers of the Church, 1937.

Society Stewards:

Mr. F. Jounson, Glenacre, Stanwell Avenue, Birkby. Mr. FRANK 195, Cowcliffe Hill Road.

Poor Stewards:

Mr. A. Heaton, North Cross Road. Mr. R ‘“Gronwen,”’ York Avenue. Mr. W. Brook, 55, Cowcliffe Hill Road.

Church Stewards:

Mr. A. Ocherhole Road, Cowcliffe. Mr. W. BROOK.

Church Treasurer: Mr. T. W. Jounson, ‘“‘ Wood Nook,” Grimscar,

Church Secretary : Mr. WALTER JOHNSON, “Highcliffe,” Netheroyd Hill Road.

Choirmaster : Mr. J. R. WHITELEY, Royd Lea, Cowcliffe.

Organist: Mr. W. Brook.

Sunday School Superintendents : Mr. A. TuRNER and Mr. F. JOHNSON.

Sunday School Secretary: Mr. W. BROOK.

Sunday School Treasurer : Mr. J. WATERTON, I0, Red Doles Road, Fartown.

Missionary Secretary: Mr. F. JOHNSON.

Representative to Leaders’ Meeting: Mrs. TuRNER.

Caretaker: Mr. A, BooTHROYD, 28, South Cross Road, Cowcliffe,

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The Coming of John Wesley.

FINE tribute to the work of John Wesley is con- A tained in the comment of a famous writer that single figure influenced so many minds, no single voice touched so many hearts, no other man did such a life’s work for England.” A Russian authoress in her memoirs also said: ‘God sometimes sends into the world exceptional men who can never be replaced, and whose memory radiates like a warm shining light where their footsteps have Who dare chal- lenge the fact that John was one of these “ exceptional men” ? ade

John Wesley’s first visit te Huddersfield was made on August 24th, 1781, when he preached both at Greet- land Chapel and at Huddersfield. His sermon in the town would probably be delivered before the populace in the old Market Place. Wesley records that after preaching he was a guest at Longwood House, Fixby, which he describes as one of the pleasantest spots in the country. He made four subsequent visits to Longwood’ House, the last being on April 30th, 1788, when “he was eighty-five years of age. During his visits John Wesley preached many sermons in Huddersfield and the sur’ rounding villages before large and enthusiastic gations, and as a result the stagnation in the religious life was considerably arrested, and ee a firm hold on the people.

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Longwood House was a picturesque old dwelling : built near the site of the present house of the same name, now the residence of Mrs. A. J. Slocombe. The old Longwood House was at one time occupied by the Whitacres, who, it is recorded, were always friendly disposed towards Wesley. Subsequently George Dyson resided there, and he entertained Wesley during his visits to the district. The old house was razed to the ground for the sake of the mineral rights, but the exact date is not known.

The Founding of the Chapel.

One hundred years ago the village of Cowcliffe, situated amidst beautiful scenery, was sparsely popu- lated, and the inhabitants were almost isolated from the people living in the town. Their means of livelihood were precarious and their wages small, but they were hard working and thrifty people. About this time the influence of Wesley was gaining ground, and a number of his devout followers in Cowcliffe regularly attended the services held in the village cottages.

It is to the everlasting credit of this small body of worshippers that they resolved to raise funds and build a chapel. Thus, a hundred years ago as near as can be ascertained, the foundation of Cowcliffe Wesleyan Chapel became an accomplished fact. We remember with gratitude the names of those who were responsible for its erection, and also all who have since worked so faithfully for the welfare of the cause. The list of such workers is too long for individual mention, but their loyal services are none the less appreciated.

Until the year 1836 the land upon which the chapel is built formed part of a farm; and was the property of

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Sir John William Ramsden, On November 23rd, 1836, Sir John let to the Trustees, on a tenancy at will, a site for the chapel at an annual ground rent of £1 os. 6d. The names of the first fifteen trustees of Cowcliffe Chapel, together with their occupations, were stated as follows :-—

William Cocker Cowcliffe Side Weaver . Edward Brooke Sheepridge Esquire I George Scholes Sheepridge Manufacturer Joseph Marshall Cowcliffe Cropper David Thornton Cowcliffe Cropper William Pitchforth Cowcliffe Cropper John Hardisty Cowcliffe Spinner Samuel Stoney Cowcliffe Cropper John Sharp Cowcliffe Cropper Thomas Walshaw Sheepridge Clothier Joseph Boothroyd Cowcliffe Tailor» Benjamin Smith Cowcliffe Blacksmith Titus Standeven Cowcliffe Weaver William Dyson Huddersfield Silk Mercer Joseph Webb Huddersfield Merchant

It is interesting to note that five of the original trustees were ‘“‘Croppers”’ engaged in the old method of cloth finishing by an implement from which they derived theirname. With the introduction ofimproved machinery many of the croppers were thrown out of work and their craft became extinct. Some of these unfortunate men were involved in the Luddite riots, which had such disastrous consequences. ‘There is a collection of early tools and machines used by the croppers in the Tolson Memorial Museum, Ravens- knowle Park.

Very little information is available of the trustees, but the name of Edward Brooke is still re- membered and revered in the Huddersfield district. In


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addition to his religious activities Mr. Brooke pur- chased land at Fieldhouse and founded the well-known business of Edward Brooke & Sons, Fieldhouse Fire- clay Works, which was acquired by The Leeds Fireclay o;, 240; 18 1693.

‘‘Squire”’ Brooke was a remarkable mau, and his sudden conversion from a sporting squire toa Methodist preacher was as great a surprise to himself as it was to his friends, In his enthusiasm for Methodism he never wholly lost his old sporting interests.

Mr. Brooke resided for many years at Sheepridge, and spent the latter years of his life in the village and its vicinity. Not far from his residence was the Chapel, which he took under his special care. Known far and wide as ‘the eccentric and. energetic Methodist preacher,” Mr. Brooke was born on March 2oth, 1799, aud died on January 30th, 1871.

Another of the first trustees was Joseph Webb, a merchant, who was also a trustee of Buxton Road and Queen Street Wesleyan Chapels. The original trustees included Mr. George Scholes, a highly respectable cloth manufacturer at Sheepridge, Unfortunately the trade depression during the years 1837 to 1839 com- pelted him to suspend payment, but being a man ot high integrity he made up his mind to pay all his creditors in full, and was ultimately successful in accomplishing this object. Subsequently Mr. Scholes carried on business at Clough House Mills in partner- ship with his son John. He was elected an Alderman for the Fartown Ward in the first Huddersfield Town Council in 1868. He was born on October 27th, 1805, aud died December 8th, 1872.

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Grant of New Lease.

On June 12th, 1872, Sir John William Ramsden granted a new lease for the Chapel to Thomas Chrispin and John Hardisty, for a term of 999 years, at an annual rental of £2 13s. 4d. Chrispin and Hardisty assigned this lease on January roth, 1873, to W. H. Hardisty and others for the benefit of the Wesleyan Methodists.

When Sir John William Ramsden sold his Huddersfield estate to the Corporation, the lease was transferred to the new owners, Under the Huddersfield Corporation (Lands) Act, 1920, the Corporation sold to the Chapel Trustees the original site and an additional 480 square yards of land, The purchase price amounted to £100, and the deed was signed on September oth,


Twelve new trustees were appointed on April 11th, 1896. Included in the list is the naine of W. T. Johnson, who gave many years of faithful service to the Chapel, and died February roth, 1926. Edward Field and T. Mercer, two of the new trustees, were also splendid workers for the Chapel, and their photographs are reproduced in these pages. The decease of several of the trustees appointed in 1896 necessitated the appoint- ment of fourteen new trustees on April 20th, 1920.

During September, 1898, the Chapel was renovated

and redecorated. The joinery work was executed by Messrs. Blakeley & Hollins at a cost of £95. Messrs. Abbey & Hanson were the architects, but they made no charge for their services,

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E. Field Died Sept. 14th

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T. Mercer Died June 5th, 1899 9 2)


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Long and Faithful Workers in the Church and Sunday School

Died February 10th

W. T. Johnson

S. D. Tiffany Died March 26th, 1924



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Bright Sunday Hour Services.

The highly success- ful Bright Hour Services, : conducted in the Chapel on Sunday afternoons, :

will long be remembered. The services were held under the presidency of the late Mr. Charles A. Lee,and maintainedahigh standard of efficiency. In addition to those connec- ted with the Chapel, many well-known local singers and speakers willingly gave their services, Mr. Lee was a gentleman ot wide outlook and great kindness of heart, and during the time he lived in Huddersfield he took a great interest in Cowcliffe Wesleyan Chapel. He died at Falmouth on July 26th, 1936.

Mr. C. A. Lee

The Sunday School.

A century’s good work is indeed a great accom- plishment, and a record of which both past and present teachers and scholars may be justly proud. It is regrettable that the early records of the Sunday School are lost, but a minute-book dating from 1866 has been carefully preserved in which Anniversary Services, Whit-Monday Treats, appointments of Teachers, and other matters are faithfully recorded.

A perusal of this old minute-book makes it quite clear that the Anniversary Services and Whit-Monday Treats were red-letter days for the scholars, and that


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they had happy times. A supper was pro- vided at the close of the Anniversary Services, and it is illuminating to reproduce a list of the goods purchased on the occasion of the 1868 Anniversary, which was as follows :—

os. d. 104 lbs. of Beef 6 7. At lbs. of Cheese 3 2 Currant Bread... gr 3 Plain Bread Oo 5 Oat Bread 6 Sugar, Vinegar and Salt Oo 53 1 stone of Potatoes I 2 ‘Tobacco and Pipes Oo 4 Total 53s 13 105

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A feature of the Whit-Monday Treats was the distribution of nuts to the children, for which a special collection was made.

~- In 1868 Mr. S. D. Tiffany was appointed Secretary of the Sunday School, a position which he held for many years. Mr. Tiffany is largely remembered for the great interest which he took in the musical part of the services, but in many other directions he rendered yeoman service to the Chapel and Sunday School. His passing on March 26th, 1924, was a sad loss to Cowcliffe.

A resolution was passed on May 12th, 1868, to the effect that all teachers and scholars should wear a black rosette on the Anniversary Day and Whit-Monday, in memory of those connected with the Chapel and Sunday School who had died during the preceding year.

The total number of teachers and scholars: in the early years of the Sunday School are not recorded, but

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from the year 1870 to date there is a fairly complete record. For the purpose of comparison the following figures may be quoted :— I 1870 1871 1872 1873 1874 1875 1876 No. of Teachers... 25 21 20 21 28 23 @2I

No. of Scholars... 89 82 78 71 78 83 87

It will be seen that during the period under review the number of scholars was well maintained. In the present Sunday School there are ten teachers and forty scholars.

The local celebrations of the centenary of the Sunday School movement, which was founded in this country by Robert Raikes, took place in Greenhead Park on August t4th, 1880. The Cowcliffe scholars met at the School, and before marching to town were presented with a medal, ticket of admission to the park, and supplied with sufficient money to purchase a cup of coffee anda bun. It must have been a delightful sight to have seen these happy children marching in procession to the town, with a banner at their head which had been specially restored for the occasion.

Enlargement of Sunday School.

The Sunday School was enlarged in 1885 at acost oft £115. The builders (Messrs. Law Stead & Son) made an allowance of £5 in consideration of the digging out of the foundations having been undertaken by friends of the Chapel. The architect was Mr. J. E. Moseley.

On the occasion of the Jubilee of Queen Victoria’s accession to the Throne, the teachers and scholars assembled at the School on June 20th, 1887, and were presented with a Jubilee medal, Afterwards they joined other schools in the district.and marched to

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St. George’s Square, for the great United Scholars’ Demonstration. I

A cricket club was formed by members of the : Sunday School on May 23rd, 1910.

During the Great War the Choir and Sunday School sent parcels to past and present scholars who were training or serving with H.M. Forces overseas. Mr. Willie Brook, the present organist, voluntarily enlisted in 1916, and served until the cessation of hostilities.

Peace Rejoicings.

On July 26th, t919, the scholars from Cowcliffe Wesleyan Sunday School and the other two schools in the district walked in procession from Cowcliffe to Netheroyd Hill, and sang hymns en route. The streets and houses were gaily decorated. A Fancy Dress Parade was held in the evening, and the rejoicings concluded at 9-30 o’clock, when a huge bonfire was kindled by Mr. and Mrs, Clifford, the oldest couple in the village, whose ages were eighty-four and eighty- seven respectively. Another elderly lady afterwards presented Mr. and Mrs. Clifford with a purse of money collected during the afternoon.

The Funeral Brief,

The Funeral Brief, which was commenced about the year 1866, was discontinued on October 22nd, 1917. After payment of the amount due to members there remained a credit balance of £100, It was resolved to dispose of this balance as follows: £50 to the Organ

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Fund, £25 to the Trust Fund, and £25 to the Sunday School Fund. Mr. Richard Hartley, who was the Secretary of the Funeral Brief from 1875, held many other offices in the Chapel and Sunday School, and special tribute must be paid to his memory for his long and loyal service.

The New Organ.

In September, 1920, it was resolved to erect a new organ in the Chapel. The contract was placed with P. Conacher & Co., Ltd., Organ Builders, Hudders- field, at a cost of £500, but in consequence of a wages increase a further sum of £25 had to be paid to the contractors.

At a meeting of the Trustees held on January 31st, 1921, it was decided that the new organ should be known as ‘‘ The Memorial Organ,’’ and that the names of those connected with the Chapel who lost their lives in the Great War should be inscribed on a panel to be affixed to the organ.

Successful opening services were held on August 13th, 1921, and a special Memorial Service was also held on October 2nd, 1921, when the Roll of Honour was unveiled by Mr. William Field. The names of the fallen heroes are as follows:

Arthur Beaumont. Reginald Noble. Sam Field, Frank Thorpe. Joe Marshall. Jack Ward. Harry Marsden.

In 1927 an electric blower and tremulant was added to the organ in memory of Mr. Walter Thomas : Johnson, an active member of the Chapel for fifty years.

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Richard Oastler, The Friend of Factory Children.

Fixby Hall is situated near to Cowcliffe Chapel, and is surrounded by a beautiful park which charms

the eye, and which is now used as a golf course. The

property in the neighbourhood has been owned by the Thornhill family for several centuries, and when Richard Oastler

steward of the Fixby estates in‘1820 he resided at the Hall.

These were the days of child labour, and from Government tables published in.1836 it appears that 55,455 children from eight to thirteen years of age were employed in tex- tile factories in the United Kingdom. The children were treated in a most brutal manner by cowardly overseers, and compelled to work long hours at unhealthy and dangerous occupations. Less than a hundred years ago boys, and also girls, were often dragged out of their beds early in the morning and taken half-clothed to their work. I

Richard Oastler, 1789—1861

During his stewardship of the estate Oastler carried on a vigorous agitation for the abolition of child labour in the factories, and a reduction of work- ing hours. The lawn in front of the Hall was several

sueceeded his father as

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times the scene of an assemblage of children who bore marks of the cruelties of the factory system. After a long struggle, Parliament passed the Ten Hours Act of 1847.

Richard Oastler left Fixby Hall in 1838, and was presented with a silver salver by the tenants of the estate. This was not the only presentation made to Oastler, as factory children gladly subscribed their hard-earned pennies and gave him a silver cup. It is satisfactory to record that this cup has been preserved and is a treasured possession of a lady related to Oastler by marriage. After the passing of the Ten Hours Act, Oastler lived in retirement near Guildford, and died at Harrogate on August 22nd, 1861. His remains were interred in Kirkstall Churchyard, near to the ruins of the abbey. A statue to his memory was unveiled in Bradford by Lord Shaftesbury, and there is also a monument in the churchyard of Christ Church, Woodhouse, Huddersfield.

A Terrible Railway Accident.

It is nearly a hundred years since members of the Thornhill family resided at Fixby Hall. After Oastler’s departure various tenants occupied the Hall until it was leased, together with the grounds, for the purpose of a golf club.

One of the tenants of Fixby Hall was Captain J. Priestly Edwards, who, with his son, met with a terrible death on August 20th, 1868. They were travellers on the Irish Mail train between Abergele and Llanddulas when the train came in collision with some petroleum trucks and instantly became a blazing

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inferno, causing the death of thirty-three passengers, including Captain Edwards and his son. A granite monument in the Parish Church at Abergele marks the place where the remains of the victims are interred.

The Old London Road.

A few minutes walk from Cowclifte Chapel to the main road in the direction of Fixby brings us into a portion of the picturesque and practically unchanged old London Road. This road passes through what is generally known as ‘Ochre Hole,” skirts Fixby Park, and runs into Lightridge Road. Before entering ‘Ochre Hole” there is an old boundary stone with the inscription:

“ Here Parts Fixby And Firtown 1764.”

The road from “The Shepherd’s Arms,” until it reaches Lightridge Road, is said to be the best example of an un- turnpiked and secluded road in the district. The road is older than the old coaching days, although -it would no doubt be used by the stage coaches. It has remained very much as it was in 1777, when it was superseded by the . ; ‘new road, or even as long ago as 1675, when it was surveyed by Ogilby..

A Familiar Landmark

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_ The Cowcliffe Cross,

Many cross-shaped monuments are to be found in the towns and villages throughout England, and Yorkshire is fortunate in possessing many of these links with bygone days. Without these memorials our country would be poorer in every way, and it is a regrettable fact that many of the crosses were destroyed during the Commonwealth period.

I The Cowcliffe Cross was probably erected in the vicinity of the Cross Road, but the actual position has never been definitely established. Neither tradition nor history has preserved the date of its erection. There is, however, every reason to believe that the cross was in existence in the year 1789, when the Huddersfield Enclosure Act was passed, for it is mentionéd in connection with one of the numerous new roads (South Cross Road, Cowcliffe) proposed to be made at the time.

Careful inquiries have failed to reveal whether the Cowcliffe Cross was destroyed or removed to some other locality. Many of these old crosses were erected to remind travellers of their religious duties, while others marked local boundaries, and are frequently shown on maps and mentioned in old deeds. A num- ber of crosses of more recent origin perpetuate the memory of some particular event or person of fame,


.. Hor a period of one hundred years Cowcliffe : Wesleyan Chapel and Sunday School have in a quiet way accomplished splendid work. It surely behoves a

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us to venerate the memories of those who in the past have displayed enthusiasm in the work, and whose affection for the little Chapel on the hill has been so

great. We look forward to the efforts of the years

ahead, and the experience of the past assures us that they will not be in vain.

The sincere thanks of the writer are due to Mr. Stanley Chadwick for kindly revising and correcting the proofs, to Mr. Alfred Wainwright, of Macaulay Road, Birkby, for his excellent photographs, and also to Mr. Edgar Woffenden for the interest he has taken in printing the handbook.

In conclusion, may I crave the reader’s indul- gence for any omissions which may subsequently be revealed in this brief history of Cowcliffe Chapel.


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Centenary Renovation Scheme.

O celebrate the Centenary, the Trustees resolved I to renovate the Chapel and the Sunday School, and also to undertake other necessary improve- ments. The whole scheme has been carried out in accordance with the suggestions and under the

personal direction of Mr. Geoffrey Haigh, L.R.1.B.A., of Huddersfield. I

The Chapel buildings have no architectural style, but they are soundly built. The Chapel and Sunday School are erected together, with access to each other. The buildings are one storey in. height, and consist of the Chapel and Schoolroom, with two class- ‘rooms, kitchen, and boiler-house in the basement under the Sunday School.

A short description of the improvements made under the Centenary scheme will be of interest to former scholars. The Choir-stalls have been improved, and a new Communion Rail added. The old drop lights have been replaced by new bowls suspended from the ceiling, which give a pleasing effect. A note of brightness has been introduced into the colour scheme throughout the whole buildings, which are

now more bright and attractive in appearance

The pitch pine pews and the pulpit have been restored to their natural texture and re-polished. The

roof and gutters have been repaired, and exterior

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painting also undertaken. These alterations should mark a new era of Methodist activity at Cowcliffe.

‘The contractors for the various works under the Centenary Renovation Scheme were: Building, Samuel Johnson & Son (Mirfield) Ltd.; Electric Installations,

H. Hey; Painting and Decorating, Ripley Bros.

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Tom Woffenden, King Cliffe, Birkby.

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