Burnt Platts, Slaithwaite
- also known as: Burnt Plats (1854 map)
- location: Slaithwaite
- category: area with one or more properties (now demolished)
Slaithwaite: Place and Place-names (1988) by George Redmonds:
This was almost certainly a part of the moor where plots of ground were cleared by burning. Families living in this remote corner of the township were described as ‘a community to themselves’ with ‘their own wild laws and government’ (Phillips, 1848), but it is most unlikely that there was ‘a small colony of foreigners’ here, as Haigh (1928) suggested. Names given to the inhabitants were ‘duediz’ or ‘Burnplatters’, the former possibly from the dialect form of George. The parish registers, militia lists (1800), and census returns (1841) show that the residents bore characteristic local names such as Sugden, Parkin, Dyson, Sykes and Pearson, hardly suggestive of foreigners or even of ‘people of gypsy origin’ (Sykes). James Hirst of Worts Hill wrote in his diary that the ‘First House Built at Worts hill was in the year 1763’, and this ties in with the Burnt Platts evidence. It seems quite likely that the earliest houses here, variously described as ‘poor huts’ (Haigh), ‘near hovels’ (Sykes) and ‘thatched with sods’ (Phillips), were squatters’ cottages, built on encroachments from the moor in the 1700s. The fact that this was in the years when a ‘George’ was on the English throne and a local inn was called ‘The Royal George’ may have had something to do with the nickname ‘duediz’.
Bradford & Wakefield Observer (18/Nov/1847) - Walks Round Huddersfield:
Burn Platts lies, as I said, about two miles from Poll, and is a part of the property of this same Earl of Dartmouth. A few years ago the inhabitants of the Platts were literally savage, living in log huts thatched with sods, and paying neither rent nor taxes. They were a community to themselves, and had their own wild laws and government. They were the terror likewise of all wayfarers, and it was dangerous for any man to go amongst them alone. They lived by hunting and whiskey making; and when these failed by depredations. Their legal marriages however, were celebrated in one or other of the churches in the neighbouring villages; and on all such occasions, they marched in grand procession, adorned with ribbons, and having a fiddler at the head of them. In the meanwhile, a party was left behind, whose duty it was to prepare a home for the bride and bridegroom on their return; and they did this by felling a tree or two, after the manner of the American backwoodsmen, and covering the whole in with a roof of turf! The settlement is now broken up, and there are only a few native families residing on the Platts. The spirit of manufactures has reached and partly civilized even them; and they are all, men and women, engaged in some branch or other of cloth making or fancy weaving. There are also many houses built in the vicinity of the Platts, and a good road runs all along the foot of the hills where they lie. The first time I visited them was in company with three or four gentlemen, some of whom are well known in the political world; and I mention the circumstance now, because they will testify to a fact or two which I have to relate in connection with the "Tenure of land question" in this neighbourhood, and which, if I mistake not, will startle Mr. Commissioner Foster and the "Times" quite as much as they startled me and those who were with me. Before I proceed to speak of these facts, however, let me re-describe the cottages of the Burn Platts, as they now exist. They are all built of stone and mud, and at a distance have more the appearance of hovels than of human habitations. They lie half way up the hills on the right hand, going from Poll. We entered one of them, which may be regarded as a fair specimen of the rest. It consisted of a single room, open to the roof, and was occupied by an old man and his two sons, who received us with kindness and hospitality. A bed was standing on each side the fire place, and we found the young men lounging upon them when we entered. From the rafters of the roof were suspended sundry tattered garments, and in a hole in one of the walls were several broken pots and mugs of an ancient manufacture. We inquired into their "ways and means," and found that they were weavers, earning not more, upon an average, than 8s. per week. The old man interested me much. He had quite a patriarchal head, great shaggy brows, and a lofty domelike forehead; but he was smitten with years, having seen 76 winters, as he said, and now his latter days were full of sorrow. With a child-like confidence he told me all his griefs and troubles, and pointing to a vacant chair by the hearth, be said, "She is gone. I lived with her fifty years, and shall soon follow her." Poor old man! He did not complain of his poverty, but of that great loss alone, which the vacant chair so touchingly proclaimed.