Brewster Sessions of 1863

The Brewster Sessions were the "annual meetings of licensing justices to deal with the grant, renewal, and transfer of licences to sell intoxicating liquor".

The following report is based on newspaper coverage of the sessions held on 20 August and 29 September 1863.


On the bench:

  • George Armitage (chair), Major Crosland, William Willans, S.W. Haigh, J.T. Armitage, Joseph Sykes, Wright Mellor, Joshua Moorhouse (Holmfirth), and Lieutenant Harpin (Holmfirth)

The chairman began by "expressing satisfaction" that there had been fewer convictions than in any previous year since he had sat on the bench. Out of 284 public houses in the whole district, there had been 15 convictions and only 5 were within the improvement boundary. Of those convictions, the majority were for opening during prohibited hours on Sundays.

However, out of the 249 beerhouses, there had been 35 convictions and in 3 cases a fine of £5 had been imposed. Armitage expressed his dissatisfaction that the local magistrates had no control over the granting of beerhouse licences

Superintendent Heaton noted that during the year a man had been killed at the house of Thomas Dodgson of Netherthong, but the magistrates felt that "Dodgson was no more to blame than any of the other publicans".

The licence of Joseph Goldthorp (Holmfirth) was suspended until the adjourned sessions for refusing admission to the police and for allowing his house to be used during a cockfight attended by around 500 people on 1 June 1863. It was also stated that he had permitted prostitutes to use his premises.[1]

A total of six applications for new licences were submitted, although the decision on William Bray's application was left until the adjourned session to allow the magistrates to inspect his premises:

applicant abode premises granted?
John Crow Primrose Hill N
Edward Lodge Deanhouse, Honley N
William Hepworth Newtown, Huddersfield Y
Joseph Berry Lockwood's Yard, New Street, Huddersfield Farmer's Boy N
Joseph Shaw Oakes, Lindley Y
William Bray Cinderhills, Wooldale Butchers Arms A

John Crow's premises at Primrose Hill was situated in the centre of the district and there were no other licensed public houses on the road between the White Lion at Lockwood and the Star Inn at Moldgreen. In opposition to the application, it was noted that Mr. Rockley Berry was currently building a new premises "which would afford far better accommodation than that of Mr. Crow."

Edward Lodge's beerhouse was situated near to the workhouse and the Guardians of Huddersfield Union were in favour of the application.

William Hepworth had kept his beerhouse at Newtown for 15 years with no complaints laid against him. However, the Licensed Victuallers' Association opposed the application on the grounds that there were already sufficient premises in the locality.

Joseph Berry had kept the Farmer's Boy beerhouse for eight years and had made "extensive improvements" to the premises.

Joseph Shaw of Oakes had kept his beerhouse for six years without any convictions. It was noted that no new licences had been granted in Lindley since 1860.

William Bray's beerhouse (Butchers Arms) was on the "road leading from Holmfirth to Scholes and Hepworth", with extensive traffic to and from the Hepworth Ironworks. The premises had stabling for eight horses and the adjoining field was used as a drill ground by the Holmfirth Rifle Corps. Bray's application was supported by Superintendent Heaton and also the Superintendent of the Holmfirth Police. Bray was declared bankrupt in February 1864 and the premises offered at auction. It is believed that it was then renamed the Belle Vue.

At the adjourned session, four licencees were summoned for non-attendance at the first session. After giving suitable explanations, all had their licences renewed:

  • Mary Lindley (Fulstone)
  • Law Cookson (Longwood)
  • Henry Halstead (Shelley)
  • John Dyson (Slaithwaite)

In the case of Joseph Goldthorp (Holmfirth), it was decided that he was not a fit tenant and the licence was awarded to the owner of the premises so that he might find a more suitable tenant.

Magistrates had visited the premises of William Bray (Cinderhills, Wooldale) and the chair "expressed himself quite satisfied both with the character of the applicant, and the extent of the accommodation afforded by the premises". Bray was awarded his new licence.[2]


  • "Brewster Sessions" in Huddersfield Chronicle (22/Aug/1863)
  • "Adjourned Brewster Sessions" in Huddersfield Chronicle (03/Oct/1863)

Notes and References

  1. "Huddersfield" in Leeds Times (03/Oct/1863).
  2. It seems Bray's inn might have been short-lived as he was declared bankrupt in February 1864.