Halifax Guardian (14/Feb/1852) - The Dreadful Accident at Holmfirth

This page is part of the Holmfirth Flood Project and its content is believed to be in the Public Domain.

The following article covers events from Saturday 7 February onwards.

The following is a transcription of a historic newspaper article and may contain occasional errors. If the article was published prior to 1 June 1957, then the text is likely in the Public Domain.






At the close of our notice of this terrific catastrophe, last week, we expressed a hope that the loss of life would be found under, instead of, as was universally believed, exceeding one hundred. We are happy this week to confirm this hope. And though further enquiry shows that the loss of property may exceed our estimate, the magnificent and munificent subscriptions with which the noble-minded men of Huddersfield and Holmfirth have inaugurated a national subscription, give promise of such an amount being realised as will alleviate, in some degree, that portion, at least, of this dire calamity which it is alone within the power of human agency to mitigate.

Having thus briefly referred to the only pleasurable circumstances connected with this sad visitation, we now resume our report of the mournful details of one of the most awful accidents which ever occurred in this neighbourhood.



The parties engaged in clearing the wrecked materials in and near the brook were rewarded on Saturday by the recovery of five more of the missing bodies. These are Miss Emily Sandford, the second daughter of Mr. Jon. Sandford; Mrs. Greenwood, Charles Crossland, Sarah Hannah Dodd, and Nancy Marsden. The first body was found in Holmfirth dam-head, and was removed to the White Hart. Mrs. Greenwood was the wife of the toll-bar keeper in Hollow Gate, and her body was found in the shop of Mr. Joel Haigh, draper, in Hollow Gate. The other three formed part of the band of victims in Water Street, Hinchcliffe Mill; the body of Nancy Marsden was found in the ruins of the destroyed cottages; the other two were found in the dam of Bottoms Mill.


G. Dyson, Esq., the coroner, was occupied the greater part of Saturday, in holding inquests on the bodies found at a distance from Holmfirth.

The first inquest was held at the Odd Fellows' Arms, South Crossland, upon Rose Charlesworth, wife of John Charlesworth, clothier, of Water Street, Hinchcliffe Mill. The following gentlemen were sworn upon the jury:—

Mr. Chas. Brook, foreman
Mr. Joseph Batley
Mr. Ely Dyson
Mr. Thomas Oldfield
Mr. Robert Lunn
Mr. Joseph Drake
Mr. Christopher Tinker
Mr. H. Baxendale
Mr. Wm. Wigney
Mr. Crispin Mellor
Mr. Joe Mellor
Mr. Abraham Crowther

Henry Howard, aged 21, the son of the deceased, was called to prove the identity of the body. He said he lived at Water Street, Hinchcliffe Mill, with his mother. They were eleven in family, viz., father, mother, himself, and eight children. Of these himself, his father, and three children, named Ann, aged 11, Mary, aged 9, and Ely, aged 7, are saved. The rest are all drowned. Of these two, namely, John, aged 4, and Hamer, aged 6, were not yet found. Those drowned and found were his mother, aged about 40, a child about a year old, Joshua, aged 15, and James, aged 13. They all retired to rest about 10 o'clock on Wednesday night. About one next morning he was awoke by a loud roar. On opening the window he saw the water rushing down. He got two of the children and ran out, calling out to his father. The water was then coming in at the door. The two children were taken away by the water, and Robert Ellis, who lives in a house higher than Water Street, got them into his house, and they were saved with all Ellis's family, consisting of 17. The house in which he and his parents lived, was one of six belonging to Mr. Barber, called Water Street, which were all destroyed by the flood. There were 42 persons in them on Wednesday night; of whom only seven are saved, five of them out of their house. Only a few minutes elapsed from his first getting away to the houses being destroyed. A mistal and four cows, a stove, part of Hinchcliffe Mill, and the engines were also swept away.

Thos. Armitage, of Wood Bottom, proved that on Thursday he found the body laid by the river side in Mr. Batley's field, with nothing on but a handkerchief on the head.

This being the only evidence heard, the jury, under the direction of the coroner, returned an open verdict of "Found drowned" leaving to the Holmfirth jury to enquire narrowly into the circumstances connected with the bursting of the reservoir. The next inquests were held at the Golden Fleece, Almondbury, on the bodies of a boy unknown about five years of age, and a little girl aged three, named Ellen Ann Hartley, the daughter of Sidney Hartley, of Holmfirth, engineer.

The jury was composed of the following gentlemen:—

Mr. David Beaumont, foreman
Mr. Benjamin Brook
Mr. Godfrey Brook
Mr. Benjamin Scholefield
Mr. Joseph Rushforth
Mr. Matthew Beaumont
Mr. Benjamin Brook
Mr. William Haigh
Mr. Abraham Pinder
Mr. Joshua Wade
Mr. Samuel Hudson
Mr. Bramnald Barrand

The evidence of identity in this latter case had to be given by Hannah Hartley, her little sister, aged 10, who said they lived in Mill Fold, Holmfirth, and the deceased was her sister, and would be 3 years of age next October. On Wednesday night they were 11 in family; seven are drowned, namely, her father, Sidney Hartley, engineer, aged 41, and the baby, George, aged 10 weeks, whose bodies were at the Crown; her mother, Mary Ann, whose body was at the Traveller's Inn; Martha, aged 17, whose body was at Jacob's Well; Elizabeth, aged 4, who was at the Royal Oak, Thongsbridge; Ellen Ann, aged 3, who was at the Fleece Inn, Almondbury; and James, aged 15, whose body was at Lancaster's. On Thursday morning father wakened them; the water was then as high as the chamber windows. It burst in directly, and the "thack" (roof) fell in directly. She got on some flags and then on to a "thack." Henry Dearnley, an apprentice, then get her on his back and carried her across the dam into Mr. Bower's mill. Her brothers David, aged 15, and John, aged 12, were saved in the same way; and also Dearnley, the apprentice. Her mother spoke to them after the water came in. She had not gone to bed until after one. They had heard that the reservoir was going to burst. George Smith, of Berry Brow, proved finding the deceased girl about six o'clock on Thursday morning, at Dead Ash, in the river Holme, which belongs to Mr. Brooke, and is about a quarter of a mile above Mr. Brooke's house. The body was fast in a "brash" and had no clothes on.

Nathan Bradley, of Parkgate, Armitage Bridge, proved the finding of the body of the boy, about five o'clock on Thursday morning, amongst the wreck brought down by the flood into Mrs. Vickerman's field. The body was naked.

Benjamin Scholefield, landlord of the Fleece Inn, proved that many parties had been to look at the body, but that no one had identified it. One woman had said it was the body of Abel Earnshaw, but she had called afterwards and said she was mistaken.

An open verdict was then returned in each ease.

The next inquests were held at Jacob's Well, Honley, on the bodies of Martha Hartley, aged 16, daughter of Sidney Hartley; Charles Thorpe, aged three, son of Matthew Fearns, mason, Holmfirth; Betty Heeley, aged seven, daughter of Thomas Heeley, labourer, Smithy Place Hill; and a boy unknown, about six years of age. The following were the jury:—

Mr. James Stocks, foreman
Mr. Joshua Schofield
Mr. George Roebuck
Mr. — Donkersley
Mr. John Taylor
Mr. Nathan France.
Mr. Mr. John France
Mr. William Wilkinson
Mr. Edwin France
Mr. Joseph Greenwood
Mr. Thomas Armitage
Mr. Jon. Roebuck

Jesse Howarth, of Jacob's Well, proved that about half-past three o'clock on Thursday morning, he, along with Charles Ramsden, found the body of Martha Hartley in a field of Mr. Shaw's, called Tenter Field, near Honley Bridge. The water was then rapidly going down, and the body was fast in a thorn with nothing but a night cap on. The neighbours called him up. He knew what the flood was, having heard such a bad account of the Holme reservoir. He had heard the evening before that they could not draw the shuttle. Mr. Cudworth, of Honley, had brought word from Holmfirth that they had given the people at Digley notice to remove.

The little girl, Hannah Hartley, identified her sister.

James Myers, of Honley, proved finding the body of the boy Thorpe, about half-past seven on Thursday, in some stakes, in Banks Mill dam, belonging to the Messrs. Haigh, between Honley Bridge and Thongs Mill Bridge.

The body was identified by W. Taylor, constable, the lad's mother, Amelia, wife of Matthew Fearns, being drowned. The house in which they had lived, was situate in the street between the bridges at Holmfirth, and was entirely destroyed.

Thomas Heeley, the father of the deceased Betty Heeley, identified her body. He said he lived at the bottom of Smithy Place hill. On a awaking on Thursday morning, he heard the water coming, and found it already in the house. There was a wall four feet high in front, and the water was coming over. He called up his children. Five of them came out of the chamber; he, his wife, and a little boy were below. One of his daughters said the table had knocked down the deceased, who could not be found. The water on the house-floor was four feet deep, and all the furniture was destroyed. Was afterwards told that this was about 2 o'clock in the morning.

Taylor, the constable, said he was present when the body of Betty Heeley was found, in a field called the Dam Field, going to Steppes Mill, about a mile from Heeley's house. It was about six o'clock on Thursday night; and the body was first seen by Edward Sykes, of Slaithwaite.

Dean Swift, of Honley, proved finding the body of the boy, unowned, about a quarter past seven, on Thursday morning, in a bush above the goit-shuttles of Banks Mill corn-mill.

An open verdict of "Found drowned" was returned.

The same jury then went to the Rock Inn, Thurstonland, and held inquests over Wm. Mettrick, aged 26, manufacturer, Hinchcliffe Mill, and another daughter of Matthew Fearns, aged 6 months.

John Haigh, of the Rock Inn, proved that on Thursday Morning, a little before two, he got up as the water was coming into his house. It began to go down about a quarter past two, and he found the body of Mettrick, in a field, opposite his house immediately afterwards.

Mr. Superintendent Heaton stated that the deceased was from Hillhouse, and was a manufacturer. He was about 24 years of age, and was unmarried. On the night of the flood be was sleeping at his father's.

Sylvester Shaw Swift, of Honley, bailiff, proved finding the body of the little child, Fearns, in a bush a little below Smithy Place Bridge, about 8 o'clock on Thursday morning.

And Elizabeth Helliwell, the landlady, proved that Fearns (who had lost his wife and two children) had identified the child.

Verdicts similar to those in the former cases were returned; and the same jury next went to the Traveller's Inn, Honley, to hold inquests on Mary Ann Hartley, aged 39, the wife of Sidney Hartley; James Hartley, aged 14, their son; Jane Mettrick, aged 3, daughter of James Mettrick, clothier, Holmfirth; and a boy, unknown, about four years old.

Hannah Hartley, the little girl, who had already been at two former inquests to identify her deceased sisters, was again called to identify the mother. As big tears rolled down her little cheeks, she said that after the water came into the house she heard her mother bidding them all farewell. She had a little child with her, which she held out as long as she could.

Betty Lancaster proved that about four o'clock, on Thursday morning, three men brought in the body, which they said they had found in a large three-grained tree in the field above the Rock. She also proved that the deceased, Jane Mettrick, had been identified. It had been found by Wm. Whiteley Holmes, on Friday morning, buried in wreck in a field near Mr. James Robinson's dye-house.

George Jagger proved the finding of James Hartley, in the middle of a field adjoining the road going up Hagg Road, on Thursday, at seven o'clock.

Harriet Hartley[2] identified the deceased as her brother. They slept in the same chamber. Her eldest brother, David, had hold of him, but was obliged to leave go. Part of a balk was over him.

An open verdict was then returned in all the cases.


As was anticipated the influx of visitors on Sunday was enormous. Although the weather was extremely wet and the rain descended most pertinaciously, thousands of persons were found visiting the desolate valley during the day. The Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company alone brought in more than 9,000 passengers. From Bradford the estimated number was 4,000, in addition to a many coaches, omnibuses, cabs, horsemen, &c., from that place, as well as from Wakefield, Halifax, Manchester, Sheffield, and other places. The Manchester, Sheffield, and Lincolnshire Company also contributed very materially to the great influx of people into Holmfirth. In fact, such was the great number of of persons in the valley, that there was a complete dearth of provisions, most of the inns being cleared out early on in the day.


The parish church at Holmfirth having been so much damaged that public worship could not be celebrated therein on Sunday, the congregation assembled in the National School Room. After the morning service had been gone through, and the Rev. R. E. Leach had taken his text, Psalm xxix and part of the 3rd verse "The voice of the Lord is upon the waters," great consternation was created among the congregation by a woman rushing into the room, in an almost frantic state, and imploring those present to send the children home, as it was expected that the Home Sties reservoir, on the Ribbledon stream, would burst. Alarmed by remembrance of the fearful catastrophe which had so recently occurred, and terrified as to the danger of its repetition (which in some measure received the air of probability from the swollen state of the Ribbledon stream, which runs within a few yards of the school-room), the great body of the congregation speedily left the room, and the minister found it necessary to abruptly close the service without delivering his discourse. The unusual swell was caused in part by the late heavy rains, but on Saturday evening and Sunday morning mainly in consequence of the sluice of the Holme Sties reservoir having been drawn, by order of the magistrates, to allow the water to get below the level at which it is considered safe.


On Sunday morning the congregation usually attending the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel assembled with the view to the performance of divine worship in the west gallery of the chapel, but in consequence of the serious damage which the chapel itself, the vestry, and the grave yard had sustained, and the great force of water which then swelled the stream, in consequence of the almost incessant rains of the preceding night, it was feared that the south east gable, next to the river, was not safe, from the washing of the foundations during the flood. The bed of the river having also been considerably raised, and the course of the stream thereby diverted, so as to cause it during the swell of Sunday, to again reach the gable of the chapel, the idea of performing worship was abandoned, and in this emergency it was suggested by the minister and some of the leading members of the congregation that they should on the instant take measures to preserve the foundations of the chapel thus in danger, a proposition instantly acceded to. For hours the Rev. J. Garbutt and the male members of the congregation might be seen busily engaged in throwing up a barrier of stone and earthwork, with to the greater safety of this portion of the chapel.

When the water had somewhat subsided, it was found that great inroads had been made into the grave yard, the river having altered its course since Thursday last. Many of the graves were washed open, and several coffins laid bare. Some of them protrude into the river, and in one instance the lid of coffin had bee had been washed away revealing nothing but a few mouldering bones. Grave stones were upheaved, tombs overturned, and the entire scene presented a most gloomy and melancholy aspect. A special police officer was stationed at the gateway to prevent intrusion into the yard, the ground upon the brink of the river being considered to be in an extremely unsafe state, and liable to give way with the least amount of pressure. In order to correct a rumour which has been current for the last few days, to the effect that the body of Mr. Harpin, which lies in this grave yard, had been swept away, we may add, that though the tomb is destroyed the body still remains in the spot as that in which it was deposited some short time ago. The cottage and vestry at the rear of the chapel, (formerly used as a school room) are most seriously damaged, and we understand a meeting of the trustees of the chapel was held on Monday evening to determine what steps it is desirable to take to remedy the the great damage done to the grave yard. We have not heard the result.


Sunday was a day of gloom and mourning from the extraordinary number of funerals which took place. The urgency for burying the dead had become a pressing necessity, from the rapid decomposition which usually goes forward in cases where death has resulted from drowning. Morning, noon, and evening, hearses, biers, and mourners were seen flitting about in all directions. The scene had a more strange effect from the unfavourable circumstances under which the funerals took place. The inclemency of the weather, which had been the first cause of such ruin, misery, and death, now interposed to prevent that decent and decorous attention to external forms in which the bereaved, more especially in rural districts, are anxious to manifest their respect for the memory of the dead. All Saturday night and during the whole of Sunday the rain fell heavily, sometimes in torrents, not only adding discomfort to grief among the mourners, but (as we have already stated) absolutely again raising the fears of the people almost to terror lest another of the reservoirs should burst, and overwhelm the town a second time.

The Holmfirth coroner's jury went round to the various inns in the the morning to view the following five bodies, which had been found on Saturday, to receive evidence of evidence identification, and grant burial certificates, viz:— Lydia Greenwood, aged 45; Emily Sandford, aged 3½; Nancy Marsden, aged 53; Sarah Ann Dodd, aged 13; and Charles Crosland, aged 13. In some cases, where whole families perished, there was no one for some time to own or identity the dead. Their relatives in distant towns and villages, even if they had heard a vague and uncertain rumour of the inundation, had not apprehended that the consequences were so fatal; but fortunately most of the heads of families, or some of the branches of of most of the families, were members of benefit and friendly societies. These societies were liable by their rules to demands for burial fees in such cases, and it is creditable to the officers of them that they did not wait for the claim to be discovered and made by friends and representatives, but actually made thenselves instrumental in searching out the friends such parties, visiting Huddersfield, Halifax, Bradford, and other places to bring forward the next relatives — where such were discovered — that they might identify the bodies, receive the money, and see that the fitting funeral rites were attended to. The orders of Druids and Odd Fellows were particularly distinguished in this respect; and groups of members also were busily engaged on Saturday dispersed along the sides of the river searching for the bodies of the dead.

Although no service could be performed in Holmfirth Church, owing to so large a portion of wreck being deposited therein, the ringers were enabled to ascend the steeple, and ring muffled peals nearly the whole of the day. These mournful peals, added to the fitful gusts of wind, and the darkened atmosphere, gave a melancholy interest to the funereal ceremonies which were performed. The following is a list of the interments at the various places of worship down the valley:—

HOLMBRIDGE CHURCH. — It had been arranged that ten bodies should be interred here, and with that view the friends and relatives had them conveyed to this place. Owing, however, to the inclemency of the weather, the ceremonial of interment and the usual service for the burial of the dead was deferred till Monday, the bodies being merely conveyed to the church, where they were lodged until Monday. The following are the names, namely:— Joshua Crosland[4], Charles Crosland, Jonathan Crosland, Joshua Crosland (the younger), Hannah Crosland, Mary Crosland, and Charles Crosland[5], all of one family. One child unknown; William Heeley, and Rose Charlesworth.

HINCHLIFFE MILL WESLEYAN CHAPEL. — At this place there were nine bodies interred, and two deposited in the chapel, the ceremony over them being deferred till next day. The following are their names:— Eliza Marsden, Nancy Marsden, Joshua Marsden, William Exley, Jane Metterick, William Metterick, Joe Metterick (all of one family), Abel Earnshaw, Elizabeth Dodd, Sarah Ann Dodd, and Hannah Dodd (all of one family). The interment of the two Miss Marsdens was deferred till Monday.

UPPERTHONG CHURCH. — At this church there were twelve bodies interred in four graves. In the first were John and Nancy Ashall; in the second, James Lee; in the third, Amelia, wife of Matthew Fearns, and two children; and in the last, Mrs. Hellawell and five children.

LANE CHAPEL. — At this place six bodies were interred. viz., James Booth and Nancy, his wife; Mrs. Joseph Brook and one child; Mrs. Enor Bailey and one child.

HOLMFIRTH CHURCH. — It was expected that the family of Richard Shackleton, consisting of his wife and three children, would be interred here, but in consequence of a desire on the part of the relatives that the body of the father (not yet found) should, if possible, be interred at the same time, the sad ceremony was deferred, in the hope that in the meantime his remains might be found.

HOLMFIRTH WESLEYAN CHAPEL. — At this place there were two bodies interred, viz., Alfred Woodcock and Sarah Sandford.

NEW MILL CHURCH. — Here were interred the bodies of the family of Sidney Hartley, consisting of himself, his wife, and five children.

The whole number of burials during the day was 36, so that of those already discovered 29 remained uninterred until Monday. Only three of the corpses remained unrecognised by friends after the rest had been removed. The Charlesworth and Crossland families had burial places higher up the valley, in the churchyard of the rustic little village of Holme Bridge, and graves had been dug for seven bodies; but during the night the incessant fall of rain, added to the waters of the flood which had poured over the yard into the church, had filled them to overflowing, and the coffined dead were deposited for a temporary resting place in the church.

There was perhaps only one thing the rain could not damp and restrain, and that was the excited curiosity of the immense crowds of people. The streets and roads were crowded like a fair. The turnpike-roads were also filled with a constant stream of vehicles full of people. It was extraordinary to see the strangers, despite the falling torrents, wending their way up the valley, after inspecting the scene of devastation at Holmfirth, to the ruins of the reservoir. Well dressed people as well as operatives — men, women and children of all ages — were amongst them, wet to the skin, shivering with cold, yet unable to find room in the few public-houses to shelter or warm themselves. The wind blew in sharp and fitful gusts, and now and then, as the crowds moved along the hill sides, one of these gusts would catch up an umbrella like a kite, and hurl it down again deep into the valley or into the river.

A private meeting of the magistrates was held in the afternoon at Mr. Lawton's, for the purpose of authorising an official notice to Sir George Grey, Home Secretary, and for the transaction of such other business as required immediate attention. There were present Joseph Moorhouse, Esq., W. L. Brook, Esq., Joshua Moorhouse, Esq., and Mr. Kidd, magistrates' clerk. In accordance with previous arrangement, W. L. Brook, Esq., laid before his brother magistrates a letter addressed to Sir George Grey, Home Secretary, detailing the principal facts connected with this melancholy occurrence. The document having been read over, was signed by the magistrates present, and ordered to be immediately dispatched to Sir G. Grey. The next subject entertained was the recovery and disposal of missing property, and after a short consultation, a notice was ordered to be issued early on the following morning, calling upon all persons in the possession of property which might have been recovered from the ruins caused by the late flood, and of which they are themselves not the owners, to take such property to the Town Hall, under pain of prosecution in default, and further announcing that the Town Hall will remain open from nine in the morning to five in the evening, to allow of the identification of the property at present lying there by its respective owners. It was also arranged during the meeting that Mr. Sidney Moorhouse and Mr. Firth, surveyors, should proceed on Monday morning to a personal investigation of the damage sustained between the Bilberry Reservoir and Smithy Place.

Every possible precaution had been made by the magistrates for any breach of the peace, and against any sudden calamity. The bridges were duly guarded, and it having been found that Victoria Bridge had sunk 5 inches during the night, all further traffic over it was strictly prohibited. At dusk large bonfires were lighted on either approach to the bridges; all dangerous places were railed off; and in fact every thing done that human foresight could suggest for the protection of life and limb. To carry out these police arrangements with greater effect, Mr. Superintendent Heaton, with the whole of the constabulary of the district, Mr. Superintendent Thomas, with a staff of eighteen of the Huddersfield borough police, and Mr. Superintendent Spiers, of the Halifax district constabulary, assisted by the special constables, were in attendance, and through their arrangements prevented the recurrence of anything of an unpleasant nature.



With the return of fine and settled weather the crowds of visitors to Holmfirth increased; and every point where the devastation was most marked, was the centre of intense interest. Females who would probably have hesitated long before crossing a dirty street, found the fording of the stream no obstacle, and an occasional slip into the water no damper to their curiosity. Few appeared content to fail of reaching the reservoir itself; and its apparent smallness, when compared with the damage done, was remarked by all. During the forenoon two more bodies were discovered. One in Holmfirth mill-dam was recognized as Sarah, the daughter of Richard Woodcock, of Holmfirth. The other, the body of a boy about seven years of age, was found by a person named George Bolton, in the river at Dalton Lee, and was taken to the Black Horse Inn, Dalton. It was identified as Foster Crosland, the son of Jonathan Crosland, of Hinchliffe Mill.

During the afternoon, the bodies which had been left in Holmebridge church, awaiting the subsidence of the stream, and drying of the burial-ground, were interred. The bodies of Tamer Shackleton, the wife of Richard Shackleton, joiner, and their two children were also interred at Holmfirth church. Their burial had been delayed in the hope of finding the body of the husband and father, who, as he had shared the fate of his family, it was intended should share their grave also; but this hope had not been realised. A mournful interest attached to the simple funeral train, from the fact that a little girl, who was led by the hand behind the hearse, was the sole survivor of the whole family; and that she also had only been spared a sadder doom by the fact that that night she was not sleeping at home.



Tuesday being the first really fine day since the tragic scenes of Thursday, there was an enormous influx of visitors to Holmfirth. Some of the trains from Huddersfield had no less than three engines attached to them, and even then the ponderous weight was only slowly dragged along. The roads were more crowded than ever with private vehicles, and owing to the extreme fineness of the weather, a greater number of ladies were present than upon any previous day to witness the terrible effects of the outburst of waters. Vehicles of all descriptions, — from the elegant cabriolet to the humble one-horse cart with deal planks and straw for the women, — were crowded around the doors of every inn and beer-shop along the route of devastation. Huge baskets of provisions, with here and there a well-corked bottle peeping from beneath the lid, formed a noticeable feature in the groups of pedestrians who hurried over the scene of the sad disaster. The immense crowd, as viewed from the neighbouring hills near Digley Mill, formed a singularly impressive sight, and almost realized the pictorial representations which have been given of the gold-diggins at Bathurst and California. An immense number of operatives, who have been thrown out of employment, were engaged in seeking lost treasure among the mass of sand, stones, and shingle covering once fertile fields. A considerable amount of property was recovered during the day; the finder each case taking the salvage to the Town Hall, where proper officers were appointed to receive it. Only a casual survey of the articles of property and wearing apparel thus recovered was sufficient show the terribleness of that of that awful flood which, in its irresistible course, swept away factories and inundated alike the mansions of the rich and the humble cottages of the poor.

About 10 o'clock in the forenoon the body of Samuel Greenwood, of Hollow Gate, the toll bar keeper, was found imbedded in black mud in Holmfirth mill dam. The body was somewhat disfigured, but was easily recognised. As if to add still accumulated horrors to the terrible catastrophe which involved a slumbering village in ruin, the tiny body of a new-born babe was discovered early this morning near Hinchliffe Mill. A mother to be drowned in the very pains of labour, and she and her offspring overwhelmed by the roaring torrent, is surely the height of horrors!

During the day placards were plentifully distributed an posted in the valley, offering a reward £10 to any person for the body of Mr. Jonathan Sandford. This unfortunate gentleman is described as being about 45 years of age, six feet in height, rather fresh-looking in the face, and a little round in the shoulders.

Since the sad calamity the light-fingered gentlemen have flocked here from all parts, and taken advantage of the opportunity offered by the crowds to exercise their nefarious vocations. During Monday and Tuesday five of these depredators were apprehended in Holmfirth, and sent to Huddersfield, handcuffed together, by by the the last train. Two were also apprehended at the Huddersfield station during Tuesday for the same offence. In the latter case the object of the rascals' plunder was one of the Holmfirth manufacturers who had lost considerably by the inundation, and had attended the Huddersfield market to sell a few goods to enable him to procure a few of the necessaries he had been deprived of by the flood. Before stepping into the railway carriage, he found that his purse containing upwards of £5 had been extracted from his pocket. The porter at the station had witnessed parties operating, and some of the money fell on the platform as the operators were stepping into the carriage. A pickpocket was taken into custody by P. C. Taylor, at the station on Tuesday, who caught the rascal with his hand in a woman's pocket. On the same evening a young woman lost three sovereigns which she had tied up in the corner of her handkerchief for safety.


On Tuesday, G. Dyson, Esq., attended at the Black Horse, Dalton, to take the inquest on the body of Foster Crosland, who had been found the previous day. The following were the jurors:—

Mr. R. H. Tolson, foreman
Mr. James Johnson
Mr. Thomas Newhill
Mr. James Broadbent
Mr. Robert Brook
Mr. Joseph Berry
Mr. Valentine Brook
Mr. Francis Hirst
Mr. Joseph Lockwood
Mr. Walter Shaw
Mr. John Ellis
Mr. Charles Wilson

Dan Crosland, clothier, of Hinchliffe Mill, proved that the deceased was his grandson, and the son of Jonathan Crosland, clothier, who lived at Water Street, which is close to the river near Hinchliffe Mill. Jonathan and his seven children were all lost; all their bodies had been found except that of a daughter, 19 years old. The young woman found at Mirfield was called Earnshaw. About one o'clock, he was alarmed by the noise of people running about. In ten minutes he got down to Water Street (about 200 yards off), but the six houses were all gone, and the water had a little gone down. Deceased was eight years old. There was one of the grandchildren not living at home, besides the seven that are drowned. [In this evidence it is evident the old man was confused. Only six Croslands have hitherto been discovered, and the young woman aged 19 has been found and identified.][8]

John Kilner, of Dalton, proved finding the body in one of Mr. Dawson's fields, by the river side; and that the river Holme runs into the river Colne at Huddersfield.

An open verdict, as in the inquests on Saturday, was returned.


Repeated personal observations and calm enquiry have enabled us to collect many interesting details of this calamity in addition to those published last week. The little lapse of time which occurred between the accident and our publication last week, added to the distracted condition of the inhabitants of the valley, rendered it impossible for us to obtain a full account of the flood down the entire length of its devastating course. By dint of great labour, and of personal interviews with eye-witnesses of the course of the flood as far as Holmfirth, we were able, however, to give a connected narrative down to that place, the accuracy and fullness of which has elicited approbation from all quarters. We now resume our narrative at that point, in order to make it a complete record of this distressing and unprecedented event; but before doing so will add some remarks on the reservoir and the course of the stream, embodying additional details.


Our report of the circumstances preceding the bursting of the reservoir, was given faithfully from the statements of spectators. We have no wish to anticipate the engineering evidence which will, no doubt, be produced on the inquest next week, as to the facts connected with the construction of the reservoir, and particularly of the embankment wall. We shall rejoice it on this (as occasionally happens on somewhat similar occasions), the talk of the entire country-side as to the defective formation of the embankment, shall be proved upon enquiry not to have been well-founded. But were the puddle-wall and the puddling all that could be wished, and the embankment sufficiently strong to hold so deep a body of water, there is a fatal defect in the reservoir which must strike the eye of the most casual observer. There was literally no outlet whatever to carry-off any surplus supply of water. The old form of a weir, the level of which is below that of the embankment and which leads into an independent water-course, is the only form of a "bye-wash" probably adapted for a reservoir fed by mountain streams. In times of flood masses of heather and peat, roots of trees, and other substances are often loosened and borne down such streams and into any "lodgers" which may be formed upon the stream. In these reservoirs they are naturally attracted to the culvert by which the water has its ordinary outlet; and the stoppage of that outlet by such a cause is too common to excite remark. Deprived of this chance of escape, the reservoir then fills; but a "bye-wash" soon affords an escape for the water, which, if of sufficient width, can never be thus made-up. In modern times a more sightly bye-wash has been invented, in the shape of a circular chimney, a kind of outlet, excelently adapted for reservoirs of spring water; but not for moorland reservoirs, which require some care in the provision of a sufficiently capacious and independent outlet. In the Bilberry reservoir, such a circular column had been erected, probably with a view of saving the space which would have been lost in an old-fashioned bye-wash. This column, however, had no outlet for the water, except by the ordinary culvert into which the shuttle opened. In fact, the shuttle or "clow" was worked on the side of the column facing into the reservoir. Supposing, therefore, the culvert to be already filled with a stream of water flowing through the "clow," no water could escape down the column. When the "clow" would not open, and there was no outlet that way, the column would of course become a safeguard. But even this chance of safety was denied to the Bilberry reservoir, for the top of the chimney, over which the water would have to rise before it could get down the inside, was ABOUT A YARD HIGHER THAN THE EMBANKMENT. This fact made it impossible for the reservoir to stand in case of a flood sufficiently great to fill it to overflowing, and to continue that overflow until the outer embankment was weakened. It is impossible to suppose that at its original construction the circular bye-wash was higher than the embankment; and it will be for the jury to ascertain how it is that the relative levels were so fatally altered, and why they were not altered either by raising of the embankment, or reducing the height of the circular funnel. It will also be for the jury to obtain engineering evidence as to the capacity of the culvert to afford an outlet both for the water flowing through the clow, and for any which might have come down the funnel. Upon this question no opinion can be given without an approximate estimate of the gathering ground, and of the sudden floods to which streams in a moorland moss are periodically liable. Mr. J. F. Batemon, C.E., who has the superintendence of the reservoirs belonging the Manchester corporation water-works (which are situate but a short distance on the other side of the chain of hills) estimates the fall of water on the summit of the hills, during the first nine days in February, at little less than ten inches; and states that the fall of rain, at the foot of the hills, was an inch and a tenth on the day preceding the bursting of the Bilberry reservoir, and was two inches and four-tenths from 11 a.m. on the Wednesday to 11 a.m. on the Thursday. So greatly did these rains swell the streams feeding the Manchester reservoirs, that instead of an ordinary run of from 15 to 30 cubic feet per second, Mr. Bateman found the stream on Wednesday (the day before the Holmfirth accident) pouring into his reservoirs an average of no less than 1,730 cubic feet per second. And since that time the streams rose at one period to from 3,600 to 4,000 cubic feet per second. As the gathering ground for the Holme Moss reservoirs is on the same Pennine range as those of the Manchester water-works, the same data will apply in both cases, and all that is requisite to apply the above facts to the Bilberry reservoir is the approximate calculation of the gathering ground of the two streams by which it is supplied.


The wonder excited in the mind of the reader that a reservoir so comparatively small should do so much damage, vanishes with a very cursory inspection of the locality. The entire Holme valley is a striking instance of British enterprise. On sites, apparently the least adapted for their object, mills, manufactories, shops and dwellinghouses have been erected; the owner of each actuated only by considerations of his own means and requirement; and yet all these isolated efforts combining to congregate and employ in the narrow valley of the Holme a large and industrious and hitherto a thriving population. With a striking disregard for the dangers of great floods, but a singular fear of little overflows, the Holme lands upon the wider expanses of the valley are rarely the sites of either mills or dwellinghouses. But, where the valley contracts to a gorge, and the stream deepens as it narrows, there the little space by the side of the stream is blocked-up with a mill, and a row of cottages with their "wall-race" in the very bed of the stream perched on the precipitous bank on the other side which did not allow room for another mill. It was at these gorges, thus obstructed by buildings, that the loss of life and property occurred. And hence it is, that although the embankment of the reservoir burst to its very base with one tremendous roar, pouring out its millions of gallons of water so fast as to empty the whole in little more than a quarter of an hour, the flood down at Holmfirth is described by some as coming in three successive surges. The chasm in the embankment being on the side furthest from Bilberry mill, and the valley widening on that side, that mill

did not sustain the full force of the flood. Its tremendous force is, however, shown about a quarter of a mile down, by two large rocks, the least weighing four or five tons, which have been carried there and are left "high and dry" on the flat land at the back of Mr. Fourness's house. The house itself which would be nearly in the middle of the flood has received little injury; but the mill below is damaged on one side. The valley then narrows rapidly, the brow on each side becoming perfectly precipitous; and this was the spot selected for the erection of Digley mill, on the right bank of the stream, and the further entire blocking-up of the valley by a large weaving shed on the left side of the valley. Here the water was pent-up for a short time until it had attained depth enough to force down the obstruction; and the description of this process as that of the entire premises melting in the boiling liquid, exhibits the process of such a destruction. The mill on the right hand was four stories high and forty yards long, set broad-way to the coming flood; and the buildings on the left consisted of a weaving-shed, dye-house, and the residence of the owner, Mrs. Hirst. Of these all are swept away except the chimney; but we could see no marks upon this standing relic to show the height to which the waters had risen before the premises melted beneath them. From Digley the valley continues to be a narrow glen until it approaches Holme bridge. Half way down the Bank End mill, on the left bank of the stream; but as there is no obstruction on the other side, and the stream has here a rapid fall, only one end of the mill has been swept away.

At Holme Bridge, the greater part of the bridge (which belongs to the Huddersfield and Woodhead turnpike road) is swept away; and the church flooded. But, as the valley here widens, the flood was again weakened by its being spread. Approaching Hinchcliffe Mill the river is crossed by a bridge, a mill-dam on the right bank encroaches on the stream until the space left for the exit of water is only some 15 yards; the edge of the stream on the left bank being formed by the "wall-race" of the six cottages, which formed the lower part of Water Street. Into this narrow space the boilers, machinery, and timber, which had been brought by the furious flood all the way from Digley Mills, were driven. The houses in Water Street were three stories high; and the wreck was driven against the second story, blocking up the stream, which pressed with the force of hundreds of tons behind. The affrighted inhabitants fled from the lowest to the second, and from the second to the top story. According to some accounts six of the inhabitants escaped at that time. The whole of the six cottages were then pressed outwards by the collected wreck, and fell, so to speak, upon their backs in the street behind. And all the living souls, but one, then in the houses were swept away, only to be picked up mutilated corpses. That one, James Metterick, escaped under circumstances to which we last week alluded. He has been the object of great curiosity ever since. He states that there were ton of them in the house when the flood came, viz., his father, step-mother, and eight children. On being awaked he put on some of his clothes and ran to the window, where he met with his step-mother; and they both at once saw that the reservoir had burst. The other children were at this time below, but his father handed them up, and they were placed in the chamber. Just then the deluge came, and the water burst through into the chamber. He and Mrs. Metterick again seized the children, and carried all but one a story higher, into the attic: the flood caught his father and one child on the stairs and drowned them. The next moment the whole house was carried away, and he saw no more of the family: he found himself in the raging torrent, swept before it for a quarter of a mile like a feather. He got hold of a floating plank, lost it, and seized another: was carried aside into the Bottom Mill Reservoir, where the water soon became quieter, and he paddled himself to the side by means of another floating piece of wood which he seized.

From Hinchcliffe Mill, the valley again widens; and in this reach, two boilers are deposited, one of which had been brought all the way (one male) from Digley Mill.

Victoria Mill on the left bank of the stream, and the mill dam to Dyson's mill again contract the stream, and caused the destruction of three cottages built (in the disregard of danger to which we have already adverted) close to the water edge, and of the house occupied by Mr. Jon. Sandford, jun., and his family, which was built close under the mill-dam.

After another expanse the stream is once more obstructed by the Lower Mill on one side, and the houses at Scarr Fold on the other; and from this point to the lower end of Holmfirth, the river was literally "throttled" with buildings. On the mill-end above Scarr Fold, there are marks which seem to indicate a height of more than 20 feet above the stream which was running this week. Scarr Fold itself consists of the lower stories, which face towards the stream, of houses the upper stories of which abut upon the high road. A number of steps lead down to the fold; and, as if to court the greater danger, at the bottom of the passage, one of a row of houses standing sideway to the stream, projects further than the neighbouring fronts. The flood has swept this house clear away; but, the occupants (Mr. Jon. Charlesworth, his wife and two children) being alarmed, made their escape up these steps. At the second house from the stream, occupied by Richard Woodcock, two lives (children) were lost. Woodcock with two of his children escaped, leaving his wife and other two children to follow, but the children were caught and carried away. In the row of houses below this place, all the inhabitants escaped except in one house, occupied by Joseph Helliwell, weaver, and his family. They, it appeared slept in the bottom room. Helliwell himself had only just time to run up stairs; his wife and five children (not four, as was stated last week) were drowned in their beds; and Helliwell himself was only saved by being dragged through the floor of the house above.

Next comes the Upper Bridge, which stood the shock remarkably. On the left bank another house, occupied by Mr. Enor Bailey, his wife, and two children, projected towards the stream and was carried away by the flood. His wife and children were all drowned; but he laid hold of a beam which was being carried down the stream, and which, by a sudden sweep, brought him again to the left bank of the river, and he was able to scramble out and escape into the turnpike-read by the gate near the house of Mr. S. Wimpenny, grocer. Mr. Wimpenny sustained damage to the amount of £200; and we ought also to mention that near Upper Bridge damage was done to the stock of Mr. Haigh, grocer, to the amount of £600; to the house of Mr. James Charlesworth, banker, to the amount of £300; and to Mr. G. Bower, the King's Head Inn, to the amount of £70.

But it was on the premises below, and on the opposite side of the point to which we have now brought our narrative that the most serious mischief visible in Holmfirth was done. The Upper Bridge was dismantled, and very soon overflowed. The whole of the houses ranging on the right hand side of the river forms a long street called Hollow Gate, and suffered severely from the inundation. The Elephant and Castle, occupied by Mrs. Kippax, and situated on the right hand side of the bridge, was damaged to the extent of £200, and a butcher's shop adjoining, kept by Mr. H. Bowers, to the extent of £50. A row of shops three stories high, a little lower down, were more or less injured and much property destroyed. Messrs. B. & E. Woodhead, grocers, estimate their loss at £60; Mr. Abram Haley, grocer, at £50; Mr. H. Swire, clogger, at £40; Mr. McClellan, bookseller, at £400; Mr. Briggs, greengrocer, at £20; Mr. J. Moorhouse, tailor, £10; and Messrs. Joel Haigh, & Son, drapers, at £600. The bed of the river at this point was completely choked up with the accumulated ruin of mills and houses, and the current was therefore somewhat diverted from its usual course. The residents in the houses already named in this immediate locality happily escaped with their lives; but the most tragic scenes occurred to the inhabitants of some houses on the opposite side of the street, the foundations of which are now washed by the river. On the left hand side of what the day previous was a narrow street, stood a toll-bar house kept by S. Greenwood, who, with his wife and a child, were swept away. He was seen by some neighbours, who had been awakened by the roaring of the torrent, to come out of doors with a lighted candle in his hand, no doubt to ascertain what was the matter. He returned into the house, closed the door, and in a moment or two not a vestige of the toll-bar house could be seen. A little lower down on the same side of the street an extensive warehouse, occupied by Messrs. Crawshaw, curriers, which was swept away by the flood, as also a cottage in which a person of the name of Ashhole resided, who, with his wife and child, perished. Another cottage adjoining these premises met a similar fate. It was occupied by a labouring man, named John Kaye, with whom lived his son-in-law and daughter with their child.[9] The three latter were drowned, while a remarkable deliverance awaited the old man. He was driven by the force of the current into Victoria Square, on the opposite side, and a little lower down the street. He was espied floating on the water by the landlord of the Rose and Crown Inn, who at once stretched out a pole to the drowning man, and rescued him from almost certain death. An extensive warehouse, barn, stable, &c., on the same side of the street, belonging to Mr. J. Morris, manufacturer, was also annihilated.

On the other side of the street where these premises and cottages once stood, some hair-breadth escapes were effected. The premises occupied by Mr. T. Ellis, plumber and glazier, are elevated from the road, and ascended by a flight of steps. Nevertheless such was the sudden and great rise of the flood that the inmates who were sleeping in the upper story were placed in great jeopardy. Mr. Ellis made his escape by forcing open a small portion of the ceiling of the workshop with a crow-bar, and by this means got into one of the houses on the hill side. Richard Tolson (a workman with Ellis, and who lived upon the premises), his wife, four children, and James Roberts, a lodger, seeing the water already up to the lower ledge of their bed-room, and having witnessed the destruction of the three houses opposite, went up the narrow and contracted bed-room chimney, and providentially got into another house higher up the hill side. The inmates of the adjoining house, occupied by Mr. R. Parsons, escaped out of the back door; the house was gutted and damage to the amount of £10 sustained. Mr. B. Burton, plumber, and who also occupied adjoining premises as a toy warehouse, was damaged to the extent of £690. The next building was a small stable occupied by Mr. H. Firth, whose horse had been put-up in it the night previous. The front of the stable being washed away the horse was carried down the river, but when opposite the White Hart Inn managed somehow to get out. The affrighted animal galloped right away to the top of the hill. Nearly opposite this stable there stood a grocer's shop, occupied by Mr. H. Firth, and a small house, occupied by Mr. Abel Hoyle, both of which were washed away bodily. Fortunately the tenants did not reside upon the premises.

At Rotchet (a continuation of Hollow Gate) much damage was done. Mr. Joseph Haigh, butcher, sustained damage to the extent of £20, and Mr. Jonathan Butterworth, butcher, £40. Mr. James Lee, tailor, who lived next door perished, and the only wonder is that the house did not come down. Lee and his grandson Job, were down stairs at the time making some black clothes for a funeral. The food burst open the door and the old man unable to help himself was drowned. Job managed to swim about the house, and fortunately his cries were heard by a man named Benjamin Brearley and his wife, who lodged in the house, and were asleep upstairs; they immediately ran to his assistance but found themselves unable to open the chamber door; with their feet, however, they managed to force one of the panels, and through a small aperture of only 5 inches square, pulled Job by the head and shoulders. Mr. Robert Castle, grocer, had a narrow escape. The old man said "the water came right up into my chamber, and I could dabble my fingers in it as I lay in bed." Fortunately it subsided, but not before doing damage to the extent of £20. The Ribble runs in front of this house and shortly after falls into the Holme. The battlements of the bridge were washed away. Not much damage was done to the Rose and Crown Inn, but Mr. Walker Hinchcliffe, tailor, sustained a loss of £10, and the next premises occupied by Mr. Blakey, tailor and draper, were completely gutted. The damage was estimated at £600, and the remainder of the goods have since been sold off. Mr. Watson, chemist, sustained a loss of £300, and Mr. John Johnson, tinner, of £300, while the loss of Mr. Wood, grocer, is estimated at from £1000 to £1500. Mr James Haigh, of the Shoulder of Mutton, estimates his loss at £200; and Mr. Joseph Balmforth[10], painter, at £100. Adjoining the bridge on the opposite side of the street, was the dwellinghouse of Mr. Charles Marples, ironfounder, but whose wife kept a milliner's shop. The family fortunately escaped, but only the front wall, and a portion of one of the gables of the house, is left standing. A portion of the next house occupied by Mr. Wm. Day Martin, clock and watch maker, has been swept away, and the building is completely gutted. He estimates his loss at £200. A similar fate befell Mr James Whiteley's house, shoemaker, whose loss is said to be £1,000. The family had a narrow escape out of the windows. Mr. James Garside, ironmonger, of Church Street, suffered a loss of £100 to £200; Mr. Samuel Woodhead, shoemaker, of £20; Mr. William Cartwright, of the Jolly Hatters, of £20; Mr. Francis Vero, hatter and draper, £100; and Mr. James Boothroyd, draper (whose shop is far up in the church yard), £250.

We have now brought our peregrinations to the old church, which has not sustained any very serious damage, but a most remarkable proof is afforded in the church-yard of the amazing force of the flood. One of the massive pillars of the gateway has been lifted from its bed, twisted half way round, and yet, singularly enough, left to maintain its perpendicular. A small triangular house at the end of Mr. Vero's shop was washed away. The resident escaped. Below the church Mr. Joseph Morris, painter, sustained damage to the amount of £10; Mr. Francis Gutteridge, confectioner, £40; Mr. John Dyson, tinner, £60; Mr. Wm. Gledhill, grocer, £150; and Mr. Wm. Dyson, White Hart Inn, £250. Mr. Dyson had a narrow escape, but the moment he was saved himself he set about rescuing the lives of his neighbours who were placed in jeopardy. Immediately opposite the White Hart stands a dwelling occupied by Mr. Shackleton, a retired publican. The water had already made sad havoc with it, and washed away the furniture, when Mr. Dyson made a desperate effort to rescue the inmates, and succeeded in carrying them out of the house on his back; Mr. Shackleton's daughter and grand-daughter being in their night-dresses. The next house is inhabited by Mr. Joseph Whiteley, boot and shoemaker, who suffered a loss of £30; Mr. Joshua Mosley, grocer, of £100; and Mr. Benjamin Bailey, tailor, of £30. The house adjoining the White Hart is occupied by Mr. Geo. Haigh, butcher, who had meat and furniture spoiled to the amount of £70. We now come to Mr. Howe's, the George and Dragon Inn, where some stabling was thrown down and the house damaged to the extent of £200. Mr. John Bower, of the Friendship Inn, also sustained a loss of £50, his house, like the rest, being flooded.

Turning to the left round the corner of the George and Dragon Inn we approach the extensive premises known as the Holmfirth Mill, belonging to Messrs. Nathan Thewlis and Co., and which was occupied as a scribbling, spinning, and fulling mill. The mighty rushing torrent swept clean through the two lower stories, smashing the machinery, and inflicting an amount of damage which we have not yet heard estimated. Approaching the river and on the right hand side is a house occupied by Mr. John Roberts, who had a narrow escape. The house was gutted. A most appalling spectacle is presented on the brink of the river, and no pen can do justice to the scene of devastation which is there presented. On the opposite side stands the Wesleyan Chapel, with part of the grave yard washed away. Turning to the left we scramble over the ruins of some extensive blue dye works, formerly occupied by Messrs. John Roberts & Son. The destruction of these premises was most complete. Messrs. Bowers' wool warehouse adjoining, suffered damage to the extent of £1000. A little above the mill and between that building and a stable stood two small cottages; one occupied by Sidney Hartley (engineer to Messrs. Thewlis) and his family; and the other by Richard Shackleton, weaver, and his family. Both these families, with the exception of three, were swept away, and the cottages also. In order to shew that an alarm had spread even to Holmfirth that the Holme reservoir was not safe, we find that Mrs. Hartley (according to the narrative of one of her children — a girl — who was saved) having heard on Wednesday night that it was likely to burst resolved not to to go to bed. She, however, put her family of eight children to bed, and sat up to await the issue, hoping to get sufficient warning to enable all to escape, if the report should prove correct. She sat up until one o'clock on Thursday morning, and then went to bed. The alarm reached almost immediately she had retired to rest. The girl states that the water burst upon them before they could get out of the chamber, and, when her mother found they could not escape, she held up her infant child above the water outside the window, hoping to save it, but finding the front of the house giving way she turned and bade her family farewell, and was swept away with the babe in the foaming torrent. So also perished the father and four other children; but the little creature who gives this narrative, with two sisters and the apprentice boy, who had also been sleeping in the house, being suddenly floated up to a part of the roof which yet remained, caught hold of the rafters and clung to them. When the flood began to abate, the apprentice, John Dearnley, got out upon the roof and assisted the three girls to do the same. Here they remained at least twenty minutes. He afterwards carried then one by one into the portion of Holmfirth Mills which had escaped destruction, where, in their night clothes, standing up to their knees in mud, they were exposed to the inclemency of the night air and to the falling rain. Ultimately, however, they discovered a way into a room nearly full of wool, and burying themselves amongst it obtained the warmth they so much needed, and remained there till morning. The three orphans are now residing with their relations.

Victoria Bridge (like the other bridges) is dismantled. On the right hand side, over the bridge, is a new row of shops, built in the modern style, every one of which was flooded to a greater or less extent according to their proximity to the river. The loss sustained by the various occupants is as follows:— Mr. Joshua Woodcock, draper, £700; Mr. Robert Gutteridge, confectioner, £250; Mr. John Hargreaves, shoemaker, £700; Mr. Thos. Dyson, druggist, £100; Mr. Edwd. Williamson, draper, £700; Mr. John Bowcock, tea-dealer, £100; Mr. William Lawson, tinner, £50; and Mr. Richard Harrison, grocer, £30. Mr. Bowcock had only opened his shop the previous Saturday, and bills were posted on the shutters of Mr. Williamson's to the effect that the shop would be opened the Saturday following. The goods which were swept away had only just been deposited upon the premises. What rendered the destruction of property in this street so very great arose doubtless from the circumstance of cellar-kitchens being beneath the shops; the immense weight of water seems to have broken down the floors the moment the shutters and windows gave way, and by this means washed everything out of the shops through the openings obtained in the back kitchens. Fortunately no loss of life was sustained in this street, but most of the inmates escaped as by their very skin. Mr. Woodcock's family (being the occupants of the lowermost shop) had a most marvellous deliverance effected for them. They were awoke by the roaring of the waters, and seeing the flood rush past with such impetuosity were naturally alarmed for their own safety. Mrs. Woodcock at last exclaimed "I know a way of escape; follow me." She immediately threw open the room window on the second story, and, nothing daunted, stepped upon upon the narrow wooden cornice of the shop fronts, and which is only some 14 or 16 inches in width; upon this narrow ledge she ran in her nightdress to the top of the row, which consists of eight shops. Finding no member of her family following, she went back, exclaiming, "If I am to perish, I'll perish with my children, and we we will all go together." As she was thus returning she fell through one of the room windows, but was rescued from her perilous situation, and both her husband and her children were also delivered from the horrible death which at one time seemed inevitable. On the opposite side of the street damage to the amount of £2,000 was done to the extensive warehouses, dyehouse, and premises belonging Joshua Moorhouse, Esq., J.P. In the rear of the shops in Victoria Street, and on the left hand side as we progress along the course of the river, stands the mansion of Joseph Charlesworth, Esq., J.P., whose family and himself had a narrow escape, the house being at one time completely surrounded with water. The damage is estimated at from £300 to £500. An adjoining barn, occupied by Joseph Battye, was inundated, and he lost a horse valued at £18. The dwellinghouse and stable of Mr. Johnson, tinner, was flooded, and he lost a valuable horse, a pig, and cow. A row of eight cottages in Norridge Bottom, facing towards the river, and belonging, Mr. Andrew Sanderson, narrowly escaped destruction. A widow named Bashworth was drawn out of the window of her house with ropes, and thus was saved. The rest of the inmates of these cottages also got away in safety. The Christian Brethren's meeting-room was considerably injured, and many of the benches swept away.

The Wesleyan chapel comes next in the route we are taking. The injury done to the chapel has been noticed in a previous column, but we may here add that, although the chapel stands firm, the earth has been washed away to the depth of several feet very near one corner. The chapel was flooded to within a foot of the tops of the pews. The preachers' houses are elevated a few yards higher up, but the cellars were filled, and, terror-stricken by the awful calamity, the Rev. B. Firth and the Rev. T. Garbutt, with their wives and children, ran out of their houses in their night dresses, and sought shelter on the hill side. A large tree, torn up by its roots, was left by the retiring waters the back yard of one of the houses. Several strange sights are presented in the grave-yard, and perhaps the most singular is that occasioned by the whirling flood having scooped out the slumbering occupant of one of the graves, leaving a yawning gulph. Among the rest of the bodies washed away is that of the late Rev. Aaron Floyd. Several of the houses lower down the stream were injured, but not to any very considerable extent. The gas-works suffered damage by some of the mains being washed up. Messrs. Marples' iron foundry was also damaged to the extent of £50, and a large goit, which had been made at considerable expense by Mr. Joseph Broadbent, and only recently completed, was swept away. The county bridge leading to the railway station was greatly damaged, and the battlements destroyed. A small mill called "Old Tom's Mill," situate on the other side this bridge, and which has latterly been occupied by Mr. John Wood, was washed away. Between this old mill and the church-yard little damage was done.

Below this county bridge, and immediately abutting on the right-hand side of the river, stood a cottage occupied by Mr. George Exley; the front wall of which was washed away, together with some outbuildings. The family had a narrow escape, having to be pulled out head foremost through a small window. Lower down still we come to Bridge Mill, occupied by Messrs. Broadbent. The teazing room was swept away, the reservoir bank partly washed down, and the machinery of the mill greatly injured. The battlements of a small bridge belonging Mr. C. S. Floyd were carried away; and about a quarter of a mile lower down the valley the woollen mill and promises occupied by Mr. George Robinson, were greatly injured. The drying stove was taken away bodily, and a steam pan forced from its bed. In the fold adjoining, two cottages occupied by Hiram Earnshaw and Andrew Sanderson, were seriously damaged, and the furniture spoiled. These houses are built very near the river, and a large tree near them having withstood the fury of the element, in all probability saved the inmates from a watery grave. At Thongs Bridge a mill occupied by Mears. Woodhead and Wimpenny, was greatly damaged; as was also the mill occupied by Messrs. J. & S. Mellor, of Mytholm Bridge, where the machinery was injured, and a cask of oil swept away. At Lower Mytholm Bridge, the mill occupied by Messrs. Bashworth and Booth suffered in a somewhat similar manner to the rest, and several ends of cloth were washed away. The injury sustained by the millowners and inhabitants lower down the valley having been detailed in the Guardian of last week, we are now enabled to close this somewhat minute account of the sudden ruin, and the effects of that dire calamity, to which the great manufacturing districts which environ Holmfirth have been subjected.


Yesterday week an inquest was held before Thomas Lee, Esq., coroner, at the Ship Inn, Mirfield, on the body of a woman who had been taken out of the river on the previous day. The woman not being known, and no evidence produced as to how she got into the water, a verdict of "Found drowned" was returned. Shortly after the conclusion of the inquest a person from Holmfirth identified the body as that of Betty Earnshaw, a married woman, aged 25 years, and who resided with her father, a person named Metterick, near to Hinchliffe Mill, several of whose family had been drowned the previous morning. The friends of the deceased not being able to bear the expense of her removal to Holmfirth, she was buried on Saturday evening at Mirfield church.


The act of parliament incorporating the Commissioners of Holme Reservoirs was passed in the 7th William IV., session 1837, and the preamble recites, that "whereas there are many mills, factories, and other promises situate near the line or course of the overflowing of the waters in the river Holme, &c., and of streams flowing into the said river Holme, using waterwheels, engines, or other machines worked by water flowing along such streams and brooks; and whereas the supply of water to such mills is very irregular, and during the summer months is frequently insufficient for effectually working the wheels, engines, and machines, in such mills, factories, and premises, which irregularity might be greatly remedied by the making and maintaining an embankment and reservoir on the brook called the Diglee-brook at Bilberry-mill;" &c., the act next goes on to appoint commissioners, consisting of millowners and owners and occupiers of falls of water in the district of the annual value of £100 a-year and upwards. The 86th clause of the act is as follows:—

That for the purpose of regulating and insuring the supply of water from the said several and respective reservoirs for the use of the mills, factories, dyehouses, and other premises upon the said several and respective streams, rivulets, or brooks and rivers, the said commissioners shall, and they are hereby required, at their first meeting after the completion of the said several and respective reservoirs and works, or any of them, or before the completion thereof, or any of them, when the same or any of them shall become useful, though only partially completed, and at their general annual meeting in each succeeding year, to appoint twelve of the said commissioners, of whom four shall be both owners and occupiers, and eight shall be occupiers only and not owners of the said falls (in case there shall be so many of such characters from time to time capable of and willing to accept the office, but in case there shalt not be so many of either of the said characters respectively, capable of and willing to accept the office, then the deficiency shall be made up from the other of the said characters), as a committee who (subject to the direction of the general or adjourned meeting of the commissioners) shall have the entire management and regulation of the said sluices and other works for regulating and ensuring such supply of water, and shall have the power of regulating at all times the flow of water from the said several and respective reservoirs, so as best to insure at all times, by day and night, a constant and regular supply of water to the said several and respective streams, rivulets, or brooks and rivers, for the use of the said mills, factories, dyehouses, and other premises: provided always, that such flow of water from the said several and respective reservoirs shall be so regulated as that the quantity of such water which shall be allowed to flow in the night-time (such night-time to be computed from eight of the clock in the evening to six of the clock in the morning) shall always be one-half at least of the quantity which, under such regulations, shall be allowed to flow there- from in the day-time; and for enabling the said committee more effectually to accomplish this object, such committee are hereby authorised and empowered to appoint a proper person or proper person a keepers of the said reservoirs and works, with competent salaries (to be paid by the said commissioners or their treasurer. on producing an order for payment from the said committee) for the protection and management of the said reservoirs, and works connected therewith, or any of them, who shall be entirely under their authority, and shall constantly reside in the dwelling-house or dwelling-houses to be built or provided near the said reservoirs or some of them as aforesaid.

The 88th clause of the Act, which is of serious importance to the commissioners at the present crisis, enacts—

That if any person being a commissioner under this act, or any other person, shall sustain any damages in his lands or property. by reason of the execution of any of the powers given by this act, or by reason of the breaking down of any of the embankments, or any of the works hereby authorised to be made, or if any public bridge or the road belonging to the same shall be thereby destroyed or damaged, then, and in every such case, full compensation and satisfaction shall be made by the said commissioners for all such damages; and in case of non-payment of the amount of such damages for the space of thirty days next after the same shall be demanded, the same shall and may be recovered, together with full costs of suit by action of debt or on the case, or by bill, plaint or information, in any of his Majesty's courts of record at Westminster.

The commissioners had power to construct five reservoirs, and subscribed £40,000 for that object, but only completed three by means of £30,000 additional money raised on mortgage, at 5 per cent. The contract for constructing the reservoir in question at Bilberry mill was let to Messrs. Sharp and Sons, Dewsbury, in 1849; but before they had completed the embankment the contract was broken, in consequence of the defect in the foundation, to which we last week adverted. A Chancery suit was the consequence, which has not yet been settled. The contract was again re-let to Mr. David Porter and Brothers, and by the advice of Mr. Leather, engineer to the commissioners, a cofferdam was sunk in the centre of the embankment to get at the seat of the spring. A dispute as to the interpretation of the rating clauses of the act then arose, and involved the commissioners in almost endless litigation with the occupiers of water-power, and ultimately in pecuniary difficulties, so that, except for two or three years, no interest has ever been paid on the capital invested in the undertaking. Meanwhile dilapidation of the works went on for want of proper repairs along the embankments sustaining the water. It is said that a majority of the commissioners were anxious to make seasonable repairs to the embankment, and that the mortgagees came forward and offered to reduce their claims to three-and-a-half per cent., if by so doing they could enable the commissioners to raise upon mortgage the additional sum required. The commissioners went before parliament last session but one, backed by the mortgagees, for a new bill to empower them to raise this extra money; but they were vigorously opposed by a part of their own body. Lord Beaumont defeated the bill before the Peers, alleging that it was contrary to the principles of legislation by which the house ought to be guided, to suffer mortgagees to come before it for the purpose of improving the security on which they had advanced their money.


It is to be regretted that no official list should have been drawn up of the number of bodies missing. The following is an authentic return of the bodies found, and of their names as identified before the coroner:—


1 — Rose Charlesworth, aged 40, wife of John Charlesworth, of Hinchcliffe Mill, clothier.


2 — Ellen Ann Hartley, aged 2 years, daughter of Sidney Hartley, of Holmfirth, engineer.
The inquest was held over the female child by the above name. It was first stated to be one of Metterick's daughters. Subsequently the little girl Hannah, daughter of Sydney Hartley, came forward to identify it as the body of her sister Ellen. She was asked how she knew it, and replied, because it was 'calf licked,' like herself — pointing to a peculiarity of the hair on the forehead — so denominated in Yorkshire. The coroner took her deposition, but afterwards the same child was claimed by a man named Bailey as his daughter, and he ultimately obtained possession of the corpse, and interred it.
3 — A boy unknown, aged about 5 years.


4 — Martha Hartley, 16 years, daughter of Sidney Hartley, of Holmfirth.
5 — Charles Thorpe, 3 years, son of Matthew Fearns, mason, of Holmfirth.
6 — Betty Heely, 7 years, daughter of Thomas Heely, labourer, of Smithy Place Hill.
7 — A boy unknown, aged about 6 years.


8 — Mary Ann Hartley, 33 years, wife of the said Sidney Hartley, of Holmfirth.
9 — James Hartley, 14 years, son of ditto.
10 — Jane Metterick, 3 years, daughter of Jas. Metterick, clothier, of Holmfirth.
11 — A boy unknown, aged about 4 years.


12 — William Metterick, 26 years, manufacturer, Hinchcliffe Mill.
13 — Aged 6 months, a daughter of the said Matthew Fearns, of Holmfirth, mason.


14 — Hannah Bailey, 40 years, wife of Enos Bailey, of Holmfirth.
15 — Hannah Shackleton, 9 years, daughter of Richard Shackleton joiner, Holmfirth.
16 — Infant child unknown. supposed to be Hannah Bailey's.
It was erroneously reported that this child had been born in the water; but it bears evidence of having been alive for a few days, and dressed. It is said that Enos Bailey had some difficulty in identifying his wife, owing to the changed features through drowning, and that he only became assured of its identity by a particular mole upon her person.


17 — Joshua Earnshaw, 70 years, of Water Street, Hinchcliffe Mill.
18 — Tamer Shackleton, 33 years, wife of the said Rd. Shackleton.
19 — James Shackleton, 1 year, son of ditto.
20 — Elizabeth Hartley, 4 years, daughter of said Sidney Hartley.
21 — A girl unknown, aged about 2½ years.


22 — Hannah Crosland, 19 years, daughter of Jonathan Crosland, clothier, Hinchcliffe Mill.
23 — Ellen Wood, 22 years, servant.
24 — James Charlesworth, 10 years, son of the said John Charlesworth, clothier, Hinchcliffe Mill.
25 — Alfred Woodcock, 17 years, son of Richard Woodcock, dyer, Holmfirth.
26 — Ruth Charlesworth, 1 year, the daughter of the said John Charlesworth.
27 — Emily Sandford, 34 years, daughter of Jonathan Sandford, of Dyson Mill, manufacturer.


28 — Sidney Hartley, 41 years, engineer, Holmfirth.
29 — George Hartley, 10 weeks, son of the said Sidney Hartley.
30 — Charles Earnshaw, 30 years, clothier, Hinchcliffe Mill, son of the said Joshua Earnshaw.
31 — John Ashall, 32 years, currier, Holmfirth.
32 — Margaret Ashall, 30 years, wife of the above.
33 — Sarah Jane Sandford, 9 years, daughter of the said Jonathan Sandford,
34 — Martha Crosland, 17 years, daughter of the said Jonathan Crosland.


35 — Joe Metterick, aged about 12 months, son of the said James Metterick.
36 — A female child unknown, about 4 years.


37 — Amelia Ferns, 30 years, wife of the said Matthew Fearns.
38 — Joshua Charlesworth, 16 years, son of the said John Charlesworth.
39 — A boy unknown, aged about 11 years.


40 — Eliza Marsden, 46 years, single woman, Hinchcliffe Mill.


41 — James Lee, 65 years, tailor, Holmfirth.
42 — Jos Marsden, 15 years, son of the said Eliza Marsden.
43 — William Exley, 26 years, Hinchcliffe Mill (insane).
44 — Eliza Matthews, 12 years, daughter of David Matthews (in the asylum). She lived with Saml. Greenwood, of Hollow Gate.
45 — Lydia Greenwood, 45 years, wife of the said Samuel Greenwood, bar keeper.


46 — Abel Earnshaw, 6 years, son of Enos Earnshaw (who is gone to America).


47 — Jonathan Crosland, 39 years, clothier, Hinchcliffe Mill.
48 — Joshua Crosland, 21 years, son of the above.
49 — Mary Helliwell, 28 years, wife of Joseph Helliwell, weaver, of Holmfirth.
50 — George Helliwell, 9 years, son of ditto.
51 — Sarah Helliwell, 6 years, daughter of ditto.
52 — Elizabeth Helliwell, 4 years, daughter of ditto.
53 — John Helliwell, 2 years, son of ditto.
54 — Ann Helliwell, 10 months, daughter of ditto.
55 — Hannah Dodd, 30 years, wife of Joseph Dodd, engine tenter, Hinchcliffe Mill.


56 — James Booth, 60 years, labourer, Hinchcliffe Mill.
57 — Nancy Booth, 44 years, wife of the above.
58 — William Healey, 45 years, labourer, Hinchcliffe Mill.
59 — Lydia Brooke, 28 years, the wife of Joseph Brooke, of Hinchcliffe Mill.
60 — Hannah Brooke, 11 years, the daughter of Joseph Brooke, of Hinchcliffe Mill.
61 — Elizabeth Dodd, 7 years, daughter of the said Joseph Dodd.
62 — Nancy Marsden, 53 years, single woman, Hinchcliffe Mill.
63 — Sarah Hannah Dodd, 17 months, daughter of the said Joseph Dodd.
64 — Charles Crosland (1839-1852)|Charles Crosland]], 15 years, son of the said Jon. Crosland.


65 — Foster Crosland, 7 years, son of the said Jon. Crosland.

[ editor's note: the writer of the article listed the following three separately, but all three are believed to have been taken to the White Hart ]

66 — Sarah Woodcock, 12 years, daughter of Richard Woodcock, dyer, Holmfirth.
67 — Samuel Greenwood, 46 years, toll-bar keeper, Hollow Gate.
68 — Ann Earnshaw Beaumont, 14 years, lived with her grandfather, the said Joshua Earnshaw.


69 — Betty Earnshaw, 25 years, wife of Enos Earnshaw (who is gone to America). She resided with her father, James Metterick, of Water Street, Hinchcliffe Mill.

This makes sixty-nine bodies (not including the one born in the water) already found. The following are the descriptions of the other bodies lost, and which, if amongst the unknown bodies above given, are not fully identified:—

Joseph Marsden, 19, Water Street, sandy hair, fresh and good looking.
Joseph Dodd, 48, Water Street, low in stature, very thin large nose, sandy hair and whiskers, and bald on the top of the head.
Mary Crosland, 19, Water Street, middle size, very thin, pale looking, dark brown hair.
James Mettrick, 57, Water Street, 5ft. 5in., stout and good looking, very bald head, and grey whiskers.
Mary Mettrick, 38, rather tall, moderately stout, slightly pock- marked, lost all her front teeth on the top side, except one, and a blue mark over one eye.
Samuel Mettrick, 20, Water Street, 5ft. 7in., slender, and long in his limbs, thick upper lip, and dark brown hair.
Alfred Mettrick, 8, Water Street, very slender, strong light coloured hair.
Hamer Charlesworth, 6, Water-street, slender, very light coloured hair.
Jonathan Sandford, 45, Dyson's Mill, 6ft., stout, round shouldered, sandy hair and whiskers, slightly pock-marked, and very bald on the top of the head.
Richard Shackleton, 31, Holmfirth, 5ft. 9in., brown curly hair, dark eyes, and a brown mark on one arm, between the wrist and elbow.
Grace Hirst Shackleton, 4½, Holmfirth, small, dark brown hair, and a slight scar, from a burn, on the side of her neck.
Ellen Ann Hartley, S, Holmfirth Mill, light coloured hair, very much turned up in front.
Ann Bailey, 4, Upper Bridge, not tall, but stout, thick dark hair, a little scorbutic eruption on one eye, with lindsey night-gown.
Alfred Ashall, 2, very stout fine child, eruption above one eye, rather light hair.

In the above list of bodies found there are five boys and two girls not identified, and in the list of missing there are six children who may be amongst the found. In this last list are also reckoned as still missing both Ellen Ann Hartley and Ann Bailey; but the child over whom the inquest was held at the Golden Fleece, on Saturday, bas been identified first as one and then as the other. This leaves only eight bodies as certainly still missing, which, added to the sixty-nine found, makes the total loss of life appear to have been SEVENTY-SEVEN.


The weather still continuing fine there was, if possible, a still larger influx of visitors than upon any previous day since the terrible calamity occurred. An excellent provision was made at the railway station to remedy the tearing of dresses and the squeezing of the ribs of the perfect multitude of passengers seeking admission into the station, in order to obtain tickets for the departing trains. No particular times were specified for the departure of special trains, but a booking-clerk was kept continually a-going all day giving tickets to a continuous stream of applicants, and so soon as a train of about 12 carriages was filled it was despatched to Huddersfield. The valley presented much the same features as it has done during the week, and the searchers for missing property continued their labours with untiring energy. Happily their exertions were pretty successful during the day. A gold watch was found in Holmfirth mill dam, and about half-past five o'clock in the afternoon, a bag contained 130 sovereigns was discovered, a little below where the toll-bar house formerly stood in Hollowgate. The money, it is said, belongs the co-operative society. A beautiful silk manite, elegantly trimmed with lace, was also found somewhere near the same locality.

During the afternoon the inhabitants and the public generally were greatly cheered by the issuing of the following notice:— "The Lord Bishop of the Diocese, in his paternal sympathy for the afflictions of Holmfirth and the neighbourhood, has intimated his wish to offer his personal consolations to the inhabitants of Holmfirth, Upperthong, and Holmbridge, on Sunday next, Feb. 15, 1852. It has been accordingly arranged that the Right Reverend the Lord Bishop of Ripon shall preach in the morning at Holmfirth church; in the afternoon at the National School, Holm Bridge; and in the evening at Upperthong church. It is not intended to make any collection on this occasion."


Considerable variety having been found in the estimates of the capacity of the reservoir, we are happy to be enabled, upon the measurements of Mr. Horsfall, land-surveyor, Halifax (taken on Thursday), to state that the area it covered when filled would be about 6¾ acres; and that the embankment wall measures about 100 yards across, and the circular well, or funnel, 58 feet high from the top to the surface of the water now running through the clow. This circular well is 12 feet in diameter at the top, giving an area of about 113 square feet; but the outlet of the culvert into which it leads is little more than half a circle about 5 feet in diameter, giving on area of outlet both for the funnel (could it have acted) and the clow, of only about 10 square feet.

Allowing for the back-water up the two cloughs supplying the reservoir, its area would be at least 7 acres; and as the engineer at at Bilberry mill states that the water rose on the day before the accident at the rate of 18 inches an hour, we have data upon which to calculate the required outlet. The area of seven acres is 33,880 square yards, or 304,920 square feet. A rise of 18 inches upon this surface indicates an addition of 457,380 cubic feet of water, filling the reservoir at the rate of 2,850,480 gallons per hour, the weight of which (apart from the force it would subsequently acquire in its rapid descent down the doomed valley) would be 14,725 tons.

Mr. Bateman, the able civil engineer under whose direction the Manchester waterworks (to which we have already alluded) are now being constructed, reports that his discharge pipes, which are 4 feet in diameter, and under a pressure of from 80 to 100 feet, deliver from 500 to 600 cubie feet per second. These pipes are circular, and their area 124 square feet. In any comparison with the culvert at Bilberry reservoir allowance will have to be made for its shape (a semi-circle with a bed of silted rubble and gravel) and also for the lesser pressure of the column in the reservoir.

We will not further anticipate the the engineering evidence which will, no doubt, be adduced before the jury next week, than to record the universal universal opinion opinion that the embankment itself was sufficiently strong to to have upheld the water at its utmost depth, had there been a proper puddling and an adequate bye-wash. But there is proof on the embankment as it now stands that this matter had not been duly attended to. The top of the embankment has been suffered to become "saddle-backed;" and near the circular well which should have bean a bye-wash, there is a hole in the embankment which betrays the sinking and washing away of the puddle within. A similar hole to that was in the very top of that part of the embankment which has been washed away. When the water therefore, began to overflow the embankment at that part it not only washed away the outer slope of the embankment (which was its only resistance to the pressure of the water in the reservoir) but burrowed within the wall itself, down the hole which indicated the failure of the he proper puddling beneath. To this cause, and to the general sinking of the embankment must, no doubt, be ascribed the fatal fact that the reservoir was left entirely without bye-wash, or any means of extraordinary outlet except at the expense of the embankment which was the only safeguard of the lives and property in the valley below.



To-day, Geo. Dyson, Esq., coroner, and the jury assembled at the White Hart, for the purpose of hearing evidence as to the finding of the bodies of persons whose names are given below, and also of their identification. In order to render this proceeding intelligible to our readers and the public, we may state that the object of the coroner in sitting this day, was simply to receive evidence on the two points already mentioned, leaving the inquiry relative to the cause of the accident to be commenced on Wednesday next, at the Town Hall, to which place the inquest was originally adjourned on the 6th instant. The whole of the jury, 17 in number, having answered to their names,

The CORONER, addressing them, said that he did not now propose to go into any formal evidence, his only object being, that the jury should hear testimony in reference to the manner in which the bodies had been found, and of their identification. They would then return an open verdict of found dead shortly after the bursting of the reservoir, leaving the inquiry as to the cause of the accident to be proceeded with on Wednesday next. He thought that the adoption of this course would be of great advantage, because he must necessarily occupy a large portion of their time with the evidence remaining to be adduced.

FOREMAN. — I wish to observe that one of the jurymen is a commissioner of the reservoir, and he wishes to know whether he would be justified in keeping his place?

Mr. MOORMOUSE. — I am the party alluded to.

CORONER. — Are you qualified as a commissioner?


CORONER. — I think, perhaps, that under the circumstances, it would be more satisfactory if you did not retain your position; but you need not leave the room unless you please.

A JURYMAN. — There are several of our body who are interested in the reservoir, and are losers by the occurrence. Would that fact make any distinction?

CORONER. — No; I see no objection on that ground. Mr. Moorhouse stands in a different position: he is a qualified commissioner, and if there is any culpability attached to that body — I do not say that there is — he would be affected in common with the rest, and, therefore, I think it would be advisable for him to relinquish his duties. But in reference to the last observation, I should scarcely be able to get a jury at all, if those were to be excluded who have suffered more or less injury.

Another JURYMAN. — I think that every man ought to come to this inquiry with disinterested views, and not influenced by any narrow-minded motives

CORONER. — I have no doubt that every juryman will dismiss from his mind any prejudice that may have arisen, arising out of reports, of which I know nothing. Of course, there are various reports in circulation, but I feel satisfied that the jury will avoid being influenced by them.

Mr. HORNCASTLE. — I believe I am the party referred the juryman who put the last question; but I have not been an occupier for two years.

CORONER. — You have not qualified, I suppose?

Mr. HORNCASTLE — No; but I should be very glad to be excused attending.

A JURYMAN. — Yes, many of us may say the same thing.

The conversation having terminated, the witnesses in attendance were called in, and the subjoined facts respectively deposed to by them.

John Morris Woodhead, an engineer, residing at Holmfirth, said he was engaged in looking after some premises on Thursday, at half-past 2 o'clock in the morning, and picked up the body of a woman, just off the road side, near Thongs Bridge. He did not know who it was at the time; the body was quite naked. The infant was found rather higher up; there was part of its night dress round the neck. The woman was much bruised, but the child did not exhibit any particular marks.

Enor Bailey, stated that his house was quite destroyed, and his wife and two children drowned. He was thrown into a field together with the falling materials of the house, and thus contrived to escape. He had identified the body of his wife (alluded to by Woodhead) and one of the children, but the other he supposed to have been buried as a child unknown.

John Crossland stated that he had found the body of the child, Hannah Shackleton. She had on a portion of clothing, and was covered with wreck, particularly the head.

John Brook also identified the body, as the daughter of Richard Shackleton, a joiner; she was nine years of age. The father himself, and another child, five years of age, were also drowned, and the bodies had not been discovered. The house was entirely taken away.

Joseph Turner, residing at Hagg, Netherthong, found the body of an old man, named Jonathan Earnshaw[13], near Thong's Bridge, about thirty yards from the river.

Henry Earnshaw, brother of the deceased, identified the body. The house and all the family were swept away; the bodies had all been found.

John Hinchcliffe, living at Thong's Bridge, deposed to having assisted in removing the bodies of Tamar Shackleton, and child about two years old, from a place called Lincroft to the Royal Oak. The woman was wholly divested of clothing.

John Brook, the witness previously called, identified bodies of Tamar Shackleton and James Shackleton, the bodies lying at the Royal Oak.

George Brook, constable of Huddersfield, found the body of a child, about five years old, near the mill bottom, at Thong's Bridge. It had been washed under the floor of the mill.

David Hartley stated that he had lost his father and mother, three sisters, and two brothers. He succeeded in making his escape by means of a projecting beam which enabled him to get out of the top, and then on to some pieces of timber outside. Another brother and an apprentice were saved in the same manner. The house was swept away, with all the clothing, but a portion of the furniture was saved.

John Shaw, of Upper Bridge, found the bodies of a girl and a boy unknown, taken to the Waggon and Horses. He did not know either of them: they were found in Victoria Street. The body of the girl was not identified, and was buried at St. John's Church, Netherthong[14], on Monday. The boy was also found in Victoria Street, and had been spoken to as Joseph Mettrick.

James Mettrick, living in Water-street, stated that ten persons were sleeping in the house on the night of the accident, and only himself and a brother were saved; his father and mother, with his brothers and sisters, were all drowned. He was endeavouring to escape by means of the door, but a great rush of water took place, and he ran up into the garret. He remained there till the house gave way, and then he was floated down the water for a distance of 300 yards. He never lost a sense of consciousness all the time, and he was enabled to form something like an idea of his position, by his head frequently coming in contact with pieces of floating timber. He frequently "bobbed" over head, but came up again, and finally saved himself by grasping a piece of wood. His brother, who was younger than himself, ran out at the door, before any large quantity of water had accumulated, but he (witness) had no such chance; he had the presence of mind, however, to put on his trowsers, when he discovered his danger.

William Dyson, said that he found the bodies of Hannah Crossland and Sarah Woodcock, who were removed to the White Hart.

Daniel Crossland, of Hinchliffe Mill, identified the body of Hannah Crossland, his grand-daughter. Six persons lived in the house in Water Street, on the night of the flood, and they were all lost. The bodies, with the exception of one, had been recovered.

John Mate said that he found the body of Ellen Wood, about seven o'clock on Thursday morning, in Mr. William Dyson's gig-house: the body, which was in a state of nudity, was brought to the White Hart. The deceased was about 22 years of age.

Mrs. Wood, living in Ward Place, stated that her daughter described by the last witness, was housekeeper to Mr. Jonathan Sandford, at Dyson's Mill. Mr. Sandford and his two daughters were all drowned, and the body of that gentleman had not yet been found. (This poor woman appeared to labour under great mental anguish.)

John Rowbottom deposed to finding the bodies of James Charlesworth, Alfred Woodcock, and Samuel Greenwood, all of whom he identified.

John Charlesworth, residing in Water Street, Hinchcliffe Mill, stated that his house was entirely destroyed, and six of his family drowned. One of the children, Hamer, aged 9, yet remained to be found. He identified the bodies of James, Joshua, John, Rose, his wife, and Joshua, his grandfather. There were 42 persons occupying six houses, in the district, and only seven were saved out of the whole number. In his own house eleven persons were present on the night of the flood, five of whom, including himself, were saved. One of his sons might have escaped, but he foolishly remained to get hold of a number of hens.

A JURYMAN. — Did you say ends or hens?

Witness. — Hens. (Sensation).

Richard Woodcock described the mode by which he saved himself, his wife, and two children: two others were drowned, one of whom, Alfred, he identified.

Thomas Buckley, living at Underbank, Holmfirth, stated that he found the body of Ann Earnshaw Beaumont near Sands House, the residence of Mr. C. S. Floyd. The deceased was discovered in a tree, several yards from the surface of the water.

Ann Beaumont, mother of the deceased, said that her daughter lived with her grandfather, Joshua Earnshaw, in Water Street. She identified the body.

Thomas Fallas found the body of a little girl, on Saturday morning, which was taken to the White Hart: it was subsequently owned as the body of Emily Sandford.

Ruth Barraclough said that she knew Mr. Jonathan Sandford and his children, and housekeeper: the house was entirely destroyed by the flood. She had since seen the bodies of two girls, whom she identified as Emily and Sarah Jane Sandford. The body of the father was not yet found.

Joseph Clegg identified the body of Joshua Charlesworth, which was found on Thursday morning, near the Ribbledon mill.

Joseph Brier, inspector of police, Huddersfield, was duty at Holmfirth, on Thursday, and found the body of a boy behind the counter in the shop of Mr. Wood, grocer, Town Gate. He was taken to the Shoulder of Mutton.

James Haigh informed the jury that a great many persons had been to see the body alluded to by the last witness, but no identification took place, and it was interred at St. John's church, on Monday.

James Bailey, a mason, found the body of a girl, about 16 years old, near James Lee's house, which was taken to the Elephant and Castle.

Benjamin Roebuck, living at Cliff Top, identified the body spoken to by the preceding witness, as that of Eliza Matthews, his niece. The deceased lived servant with Samuel Greenwood, who, with his wife, also perished. The witness identified the body of the latter. The father of the girl was at present in an asylum.

John Exley, residing at Jackson's Bridge, found the body of Lydia Greenwood, in the front room of James Haigh's house, in Hollow Gate, almost opposite to the toll house, with which she had been carried away.

John Kenyon, of Lipold Bank, found the bodies of Wm. Exley and Joshua Marsden, which were taken to the Elephant and Castle.

Frederick Marsden, cousin of the last mentioned person, identified the remains. The body of another brother had not been found.

Thomas Armitage, residing at Hinchliffe Mill, recognised the body of Wm. Exley, aged 32, a sizing boiler.

Thomas Buckley, of Holmfirth, was present when the body of a boy, aged 3 years, was found in the Bath Wood, about seven yards from the water course. The remains were taken to the King's Head.

James Beaumont, grave digger at the Methodist Chapel, Holmfirth, identified the body as that of Abel Earnshaw.

John Kenyon was re-called, and stated that he identified the body of Jonathan Crosland, which had been washed into a new building near Victoria Mill. He also recognised the body of Joshua Crosland, another brother. This poor fellow was found in a dyke, and was so tightly wedged in the place, that it was necessary to procure a rope to pull him out.

William Moorhouse, assistant constable, stated that be went into Helliwell's house, Scarr Fold, on Thursday morning, and found the bodies of Mary Helliwell and her five children. They were all laid upon one bed, and had their clothes on. He believed that some one had been in the house before him.

Thomas Taylor, of Holmfirth, gave an account of a conversation which he had with the father of the unfortunate family, who stated that he was washed out of bed by the force of the water, and ultimately escaped by resting on a "breast beam." His wife and all the children perished, and every thing they possessed was destroyed. In answer to a question by a jury man, the witness stated that the bereaved husband had been confined to bed ever since the deplorable occurrence, partly from injuries received, and partly from anguish of mind. He was utterly unable to leave the house.

Thomas Haigh, of Holmfirth, found the body of Hannah Dodd, aged 36, laid on some wreck, at the Upper Mill dam. The husband of the deceased was also drowned; his remains had not yet been discovered. The witness also found the body of Sidney Hartley, between the mill and the dam, at Upper Thong. It was much bruised. He did not know the age of the deceased; but he should suppose between 40 and 50.

James Charlesworth, a labourer, deposed to having found the body of a child, about eleven weeks old, which was taken to the Crown, and afterwards identified as the offspring of Sidney Hartley.

John Earnshaw, residing at Holmfirth, stated that he found the body of Charles Earnshaw, aged 30, shortly before two o'clock on Thursday morning, in a house occupied by Betty Turner, situated under Mr. Kidd's office. The woman and the rest of the occupants managed to escape. At the period he referred to, the water had, in a great measure, subsided, so that he found himself in no danger. He also discovered the body of Margaret, wife of John Ashall, below the Bridge Mill. Their house was entirely destroyed. He did not know who was living there on the night in question. Mrs. Ashall had no clothing on, but a silver watch-guard was observed round her neck. Her husband, and a child, two years old, likewise perished. The witness further identified the body of Mr. Ashall, which had been taken to the Crown Inn.

William Howarth, living at Five Lane's End, Upper Thong, found the body of Martha Crosland, aged 15, which was taken to the Crown Inn.

Mr. John Roberts, mill-owner, Hinchcliffe Mill, stated that he was present at the finding of the bodies of James Booth, and Nancy, his wife, Lydia Brook, Hannah Brook, her daughter, Nancy Marsden, William Healey, and Elizabeth Dodd. The witness identified the body of Sarah Jane Sandford, his niece, whose remains he saw at the Crown Hotel.

Mr. Firth Barber, of Hinchcliffe Mill, was present at the finding of Sarah Hannah Dodd and Charles Crosland, Saturday.

The evidence, which occupied nearly five hours, having closed, the coroner and jury adjourned for refreshment, and on their return, the inquisitions were duly signed, thus completing the inquiry, so far as the two objects previously mentioned, are concerned.

Capt. Mudie, of the Royal Engineers, arrived at Holmfirth, this morning, being sent down by the government, for the purpose of inspecting the reservoir, and of making such a report of the facts as he may deem necessary to assist the jury assembled on Wednesday next.

The influx of strangers, yesterday, was much less than on Thursday, owing, no doubt, to the inclement state of the weather, a heavy fall of snow having taken place in the morning.


It affords us the highest satisfaction to state, that the appeal made by the magistrates, last week, for contributions of clothing, has met with a most cordial and generous response. Large quantities have been forwarded from Halifax, and other districts, and we trust that this very seasonable aid will be continued in abundance. A more fitting opportunity for the exercise of every benevolent feeling cannot possibly be imagined.

On Sunday afternoon, the Rev. Joshua Fawcett, of Low Moor, preached a sermon in aid of the destitute families at Holmfirth, from St. Matthew xxiv., 39 — "And knew not, until the flood came, and took them all away." The collection realised £5 13s. 3d. The rev. gentleman stated that he would gladly receive and forward any clothes the poor might wish to give. The appeal has been responded to most nobly by the poor of Low Moor, and several of clothes, addition to the collection, have already been forwarded for the sufferers.

On Sunday evening, after a sermon at the General Baptist Chapel, Haley Hill, Halifax, a collection was made amounting to £4 4s.; and at Highfield Chapel, Huddersfield, on the same day, voluntary offerings were made amounting to £20. The members of the Rev. J. Glendenning's congregation also made handsome contributions of clothing, which the rev. gentleman forwarded on Monday, for the immediate use of the sufferers. On Monday, the sum of £26 3s. was raised by the inhabitants of Horbury, and transmitted to the treasurer on the following day.

At Leeds, a committee was formed on the Stock Exchange, on Saturday, for the purpose of obtaining subscriptions towards the general fund, and upwards of £40 was raised in the room. This, however, must be understood merely as a preliminary movement, a public meeting of the inhabitants being fixed to take place on Monday next.


The visitors to the scene of the terrific and unprecedented calamity at Holmfirth has been very great during the week. Pedestrians, and those in private conveyances, far out-number those taken by the railway. On Sunday last, notwithstanding the continuous down-pouring of rain during the whole day, thousands upon thousands passed through this town in all kinds of vehicles; vast numbers coming from Wakefield, Ossett, Horbury, Mirfield, Dewsbury, and all the adjacent places. From Bradford and Halifax great numbers went by train; but from the fact of their booking through, and not changing at Huddersfield, we have no means of ascertaining the correct returns of tickets issued. So far as we have obtained the returns, they show that an immense number have been booked at Huddersfield. The numbers are as follow:— Thursday (the day of the catastrophe), 522; Friday, 1,082; Saturday, 1,110; Sunday, 2,114; Monday, 1,857; Tuesday, 1,225; Wednesday, 1,513; Thursday, 1,000; making a total in the eight days of nearly eleven thousand! It has been computed that on Sunday alone nearly fifty thousand persons must have visited Holmfirth; and to-day, notwithstanding the heavy fall of snow, hundreds of anxious spectators have passed through this town, on their way to the scene of one of the most terrible events which ever occurred in England.


  1. Saturday 7 February 1852.
  2. This should presumably be "Hannah Hartley".
  3. Sunday 8 February 1852.
  4. This is an error for Joshua Earnshaw.
  5. This is presumably an error for Ralph Crosland.
  6. Monday 9 February 1852.
  7. Tuesday 10 February 1852.
  8. The journalist was incorrect and Daniel Crosland's statement of seven children with one still missing (Mary was found on 29 February near Bradley Mills) was correct.
  9. John Kaye was actually the uncle to Amelia (named as his daughter here).
  10. Father of James Bamforth (1842-1911) who founded Bamforth & Co. Ltd..
  11. Thursday 12 February 1852.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Friday 13 February 1852.
  13. This is an error for Joshua Earnshaw.
  14. This should be St. John's Church, Upperthong.