Holme Valley Express (06/Nov/1987)

This page is part of the Holmfirth Flood Project which aims to make content available to researchers in advance of the 175th anniversary of the 1852 Flood which will be commemorated in 2027.

Of the 78 named victims of the Holmfirth Flood of 1852, only 5 do not have an known burial register entry and none match the description given by pathologist Michael Green. Therefore, it is highly unlikely that the remains are linked to the 1852 Flood.

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.

Who was Annie? That name is inscribed on a ring found with bones discovered in a disused Holmfirth mill dam.

The remains are possibly those of a female victim of the devastating Holmfirth flood of 1852, an inquest heard this week

Artefacts found with the bones are likely to be displayed by Holmfirth Civic Society, if owners of the site, Hepworth Electrical Developments Ltd, agree.

The bones, an upper arm bone and an upper leg bone, were unearthed in May by builders preparing foundations for an extension at Bridge Mills on Huddersfield Road.

Police were called in to investigate and a 16-strong task force spent days sifting through mud and silt in a fingertip search for further finds.

Det Supt Anthony Ridley told Coroner Mr James Turnbull that Items found with the bones included shoes dating from 50 to 200 years old, a thimble, a ring inscribed with the name Annie, and buttons from the uniform of Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway, which ceased operating in 1922.

He said: “These might be associated with the Holmfirth Flood of 1852 when the Bilberry Dam burst killing between 80 and 90 people. Ten bodies were unaccounted for.”

Forensic pathologist Michael Green said the bones could be anywhere between 50 and 100 years old and had probably belonged to a woman in her early thirties.

He said it was impossible to tell what the person had died from but the age of the bones made it possible they could have come from an 1852 flood victim.

The coroner said it was arguable that an inquest was unnecessary but he had decided to hold one because the find had caused considerable local interest.

He thanked the police team for its painstaking work and said: “It demonstrates the expertise of the investigating police and the lengths to which they can and do go to in searching out possible crime or conducting investigations.”

In summing up Mr Turnbull said: “It is quite clear that it is possible the body became lodged in that area at the time of the flood.”

He said both Holmfirth Civic Society and Kirklees Leisure Services had written asking permission to take possession of the articles found with the bones and display them for the public and he felt it was more appropriate that Holmfirth should retain them.

Gareth Owen, for Hepworth’s, said the firm was claiming ownership but said items of historical interest would happily be loaned permanently. “I agree that Holmfirth is the appropriate piece to exhibit them.