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TWO POEMS, I By Charles
THOSE THAT WERE DROWNED, BY
Of Brockholes, near
HINCHLIFFE MILL. Fold Gate.
THE HOLMFIRTH FLOOD,
Occasioned by the
BURSTING OF THE BILBERRY RESERVOIR,
Which oceurred on the Morning of Thursday, February 5th, 1852.
1 GREAT God! what desolation do I see, What havoc, wretchedness, and misery ; I ask the cause? it is the Flood! they say, Which burst its bounds, and
3 The fearful flood got strength from step to step, Sweeping the works of man at every leap; Death and destruction mark’d its reckless course, And rocks and trees were driven by its force.
4 The Bilberry mill was first to feel the blow, And quickly it did lay this structure low: Leaving a wreck to shew where once it stood, Before it suffer’d in that fearful flood.
5 With gathering strength, it then rolled down the hill, And soon arrived at Upper Digley mill,— At once took down the barn, the horse, and cow, And damaged th’ house and mill, which lay below.
6 To Lower Digley mill it swiftly flies, Roaring as loud as thunder through the skies ; Observe !—the mill was built from hill to hill, And did across that narrow passage fill.
7 But soon the flood, with an appalling clash Brought down the whole with one tremendous crash 5 Then, armed with instruments of woe, away It takes the wheels and boilers as its prey.
8 Away upon the mighty flood they fly, Making a doleful sound and deathly cry, Which all who heard, or saw, that dreadful night, Will ne’er forget the awful, mournful sight,—
9 Again, with speed and power unknown to man, Along the dale to Bank End mill it ran: Part of this mill was carried by its force, And part left trembling near the water course, —
10 Then down to Holm Bridge church with haste it flies,
It soon threw down the gates and filled the aisles ; And here it spread, as though the sea had found, A subterraneous passage under ground.
But come, my friends, with trembling let us chase This fearful torrent in its dreadful race ; For with a mighty and resistless power, All that obstructs its course it doth devour.
And now the horrors of my mournful tale, If rightly told, will turn the stoutest pale : For the six families in Water Street Thought not that death and they that night would meet.
But soon was heard a rushing, mighty sound, Which broke the sleep of all who lived around ;— It was the flood! which came with such a force, As swept the strect into the water course.
Some of the neighbours saw, with deepest grief, The strect go down, but could not give relief: They heard the thrilling cry, for some to save, But none could snatch them from the wat’ry grave.
Behold! the flood rush’d down with fearful specd, And none could help them in the hour of need ; Th’ observers saw that death had struck this blow, And none could rescue from his iron jaw.
But now the cry to save is heard no more, For human aid no longer they implore : Nature upheld the
When morn arose, and chased away the night, No tongue could tell, nor pencil paint the sight ; The street was gone in desolation’s train, And its inhabitants ne’er to be seen again.
Their poor remains were carried with the flood, And left in wreck, or buried in the mud : Poor Joseph Marsden has not yet been found, But still lies out of the burial ground.
A thirst for gain at first built up the bank, Which was not founded safe, and soon it sank; A thirst for gain, neglected its repair, Which introduced, at length, this sad affair.
But come, my friends,
31 When th’ inhabitants awaked from sleep, They saw the flood roll on with fearful sweep,—— They cried for help, with terror in the sound, Which brought the neighbours near unto the ground.
32 When Mr. Crosland saw their dangerous state, He cried, “‘ be quick, or we shall be too late He saw a mason’s ladder fixed, hard by, Tied fast with ropes, but soon he made them fly.
83 He called two active youths, ‘‘Go down,” he cried,
Behold! this widower had retired to rest, With health, and strength, and social comfort blest ; His children too, felt: safe beneath his roof, For of his love they had sufficient proof.
And thus reclining on their beds they lie, Until sweet sleep had closed up every eye; Soon the midnight hour had passed-away, Unconscious of the morn or coming day.
But oh! the flood was gaining weight and power, From moorland stream and from the falling shower, For down it came with a tremendous sweep, And none were near to wake them from their sleep.
When they awoke, they heard its dreadful roar, But now, alas! it was close at their door ; Another rush, and down the building fell, But of their deathly struggle who can tell.
I think I hear the children loudly cry, ‘‘ Dear father, save, or we shall surely die; ”’ Alas! they felt, no power on earth could save, And downward sank into a watery grave.
O come, ye daughters of the vale, draw near, And for your sisters drop the parting tear ; Prepare to meet them on yon-happy shore, Where floods and sudden deaths are known no more.
And now we'll take a glance at Sandford’s mill, The loss is great, and all the wheels are still— The loss, its former master will not know,
For he has done with all things here below.
45 My friends, the loss of property is nought, If weighed with life, it is not worth a thought. We now will hasten down to Farrar’s mill, The wreck is great, and all the works are still.
46 Ye who have suffer’d much, fresh courage take, For christian sympathy is now awake, Your case has raised the sympathizing sigh, And soon the public will your wants supply.
47 Next is Scar Fold—with sorrow I relate, Their loss of life and property was great ; Kight precious lives were taken by the flood, And all the place in perfect ruin stood.
66 Was Master Ashall and his family,
They were all launch’d into eternity : They cried for help, no man could do them good, And down they sank into the awful
The next who felt destruction’s horrid throes, Whose house was shivered in its dreadful jaws, Was Sydney Hartley, a man of real worth,
Who tried to bring his wife and children forth.
But ah! his efforts proved in vain, And down he sunk, with honour on his name; Four of his family he helped to save, Before he sunk into a watery grave.
But who the children’s loss can calculate, For they were plung’d into an orphan state, Their parents and their home are swept away,
The loss feel unto their dying day.
They saw the flood around their mother roll, They saw the fearful anguish of her soul ; When in her agony, she cried, farewell! But what it is to die you cannot tell.
Now to ye orphans, a word I’ll give, Strive in the fear and love of God to live, And he will guide you through this wilderness, And with eternal life your spirits bless.
Now I must leave this hill, and mournful town, To look below at what 1s overthrown ; The flood has stopp’d the busy wheels of trade, Aud for the consequence we feel afraid.
I feel my grief is stronger than my fears, To see so many children, young in years, Snatch’d from their cradles by the raging flood— Brought to the pump, to wash away the mud.
87 Now I will take a glance at Smithy place, And then the flood I will no further trace : Their’s wreck and ruin in its fearful swell, But the amount of grief I cannot tell.
88 For it turned over, in its passage through, The dyehouse, butcher’s shop, and smithy too : But now a greater loss I must relate, It is Elizabeth Heeley’s dreadful fate.
89 The poor mother made her escape the first, With her dear youngest child clasp’d to her breast ; The father soon sprang forth out of the flood, And placed the children where the mother stood.
90 Away he ran, to bring out the last pair, But, oh! my friends, his horror and despair : The flood had swept Elizabeth from the floor, And forced its passage through the pantry door.
91 Her father tried, with all his strength and might, To snatch her from the flood’s most rapid flight ; He would have gone, but for an active man, Who drew him out, as through the house it ran.
92 Her poor remains were carried far below, Near to a place that’s named Berry Brow; But see her spirit rising from the flood, And angels there to guide her home to God.
93 And now, my friend, a word before we part, You’ve heard sufficient to affect your heart ; Fly to Christ Jesus, who alone can save, And
THE success attending the publication of the first Poem on the Holmfirth Flood has far exceeded my most sanguine expectations,—having already reached its Third Thousand, with every probability of a still larger issue. The Poem is, as will be found on perusal thereof, a plain unvarnished tale, in rhyme; but in its plainness I read the secret of its success, as it is just adapted, nay was written especially, for the minds of the working classes. In the neighbourhood where the lamentable Catastrophe took place, the sale, has been largest, but many have been sent to all parts of England, likewise to Australia and America.
I have been repeatedly asked to write another Poem on the Hair-breadth Escapes, so as to embrace in it many whom [I could not possibly introduce in my former one ;— I have yielded to that request, although it has been at a great sacrifice of time, having to labour hard for my living, it was only a few minutes now and then that I could spare to write in. The information and details, in this Poem as well as in the former, are true, having received it from the lips of those who witnessed the acts. Trusting to the leniency of a generous public,
I am, Their sincere Friend, Brockholes, June, 1858. C. ROBINSON.
Alas ; we all can see when it is too late, For they are gone into a future state ; We know, with grief, the awful flood is past, If water must be piled, pray bind it fast.
But to proceed, for downward I must go, To hear who ’scap’d from death’s tremendous jaw; They called on God with agonising cries, He heard their voice and lengthen’d out their lives.
With the sincere the Lord is ever found, For his good providence doth gird the world around. Young Metterick stands first upon the list, Whom God preserv’d, for death’s sharp arrows
It was a picture frame, against the wall made fast, By which he held until the flood had past ; Methinks with every rushing, rising wave, His ardent cry would be for God to save.
But with my narrative I must proceed, And tell how others from the flood were freed ; William Whitehead, who lived at
28 And now, young friend, felt the worth of prayer, Give God your heart with constancy and care ; All these most marvellous escapes I find, Strengthen true faith and cheer the drooping mind.
29 I travel on to Holmfirth Hollowgate, Where nine dear creatures met their deadly fate ; Mysterious providence, too deep for man, The why and wherefore we can never scan.
30 I’ve thought of Fearne’s escape and For both were overwhelm’d as well as they, But mercy clave the waves, and drew them out, And both with safety to the land were brought.
31 The active spirit in Holmfirth that morn, Will be extoll’d by some that’s yet unbarn ; Many there were who risk’d their lives to save Their drowning neighbours from a watery grave.
32 In George Exley’s escape I think
He must go through or feel the pain of death, So on they push’d, and soon he reach’d the earth. Come praise thy Maker, while he gives thee life, For saving thee, thy only son, and wife.
There were escapes in Thongs bridge dale I find, That all will say were of the hair breadth kind ;— The first was Hanson and his
As quick as thought he made the window fly, Give me the youngest was his earnest cry ; She gave him two, he grasp’d his precious load, and soon she saw him hastening up the road.
The flood was quick, she leap’d on to the bed, She felt the waters rise up to her head; While on the bed she holds fast by the post, Her cry for mercy reach’d the Lord of hosts!
He sent her help in time to save her life, Her husband came and soon drew out his wife ; Yet still, my friends, there is the eldest boy, If not got out will blast their warmest joy ;
He cheer’d his mother on at every step, He often cried,
63 Oh! God, I see death cannot throw his dart, Until thou bidst the precious soul depart. The next which follows in my tedious song, Is Widow Brook, it wo’nt detain me long.
64 When she awoke she thought the wind was high, But soon she found the awful flood was nigh ; For by its force the door wide open flies, reservoir is
70 The flood rushed in, and rolled his bed around,
The chester fell, and no escape he found ; Penn’d up in bed as in a cage he stood, He felt the rapid risings of the flood ;
It reached his mouth, he was engaged in prayer, And soon he found
Three score years are passed away Since first I saw the light of day, Since first the air embraced my lungs, And help’d the springs of life to move.
The air since then has been my friend, And will be to my journey’s end ; In every stage of human
It kindly works in every breast, Whether at labour or at rest ; Till death comes in and shuts the door, And then we need the air no more.
Let these remarks on air suffice,
And help my heart in love to rise, To thee, my God, to thee alone, For thou hast my affections won ;
For thy Almighty power I see In fire, in air, in earth, and sea, And when I upwards turn my eyes, I see thy power run through the skies ;
And not thy power alone I see, But wisdom in sweet harmony ; The sun, and moon, and stars proclaim The wonders of thy glorious name.
Thy providence I now can trace, Has been with me from place to place,— In every rolling year I see Fresh tokens of thy love to me.
Oh! God, my heart to thee I give, Help me in gratitude to live, And when thou bidst my time to stand, May I be found at thy right hand.
G. & J. Brook, Printers, Huddersfield.