Honley Feast (1873)

The 1873 Honley Feast took place between Sunday 21 September and Wednesday 24 September.

In mid-September, the Yew Green Floral and Horticultural Society held their third annual exhibition at the Railway Hotel in Lockwood. The Chronicle noted that the cabbages were by far the best exhibits, leading to ponder if the upcoming Honley Feast — "the feast of beef and cabbage" — might be the reason.[1]

Tom Stocks of the Sawyer's Arms, Honley, advertised a "small field" to be let adjacent to the turnpike road in Honley for the duration of the feast.[2]

The Huddersfield Daily Chronicle reported that three large fields in the vicinity of Lockwood Baths and the nearby Bath Hotel in Lockwood had been set aside for outdoor attractions, consisting of "swinging boxes, or highflyers, shooting galleries, pea and pie booths and saloons, steam dobby horses and velocipedes, several mimic theatres, stereoscopic exhibitions, Bailey's Marionettes, Williams's Mechanical Exhibition, together with innumerable nut, gingerbread, and other stalls".[3]

On the Sunday of the feast, the Chronicle reported that "many thousands of visitors" had made their way to the feast by rail, on foot or "various kind of vehicles" and that there was an "abundant supply of roast beef", meat pies, spice cake and home-brewed ale.

The Monday of the feast often saw sporting events taking place, and the Lascelles Hall and Lockwood cricket teams played against each other at the pitch in Lockwood, with the former winning. At the end of play, Dr. Scott suggested that, "if the weather continued favourable", the two teams should play again the next day. A large crowd gathered to watch the rematch, which Lockwood winning comfortably.[4]

65-year-old Godfrey Haigh, a labourer residing at Fieldhouse, visited the feast on the Monday and was last seen alive at the Leeds Tavern, where he had "twopennyworth of gin". He was found dead the following morning by William Sugden in a plantation at Fieldhouse. There were no signs of violence and he had not been robbed.[5] At the inquest, evidence was given that Haigh had "fallen from a wall, and so came to his death." It was also noted that the Haigh family had been extremely unlucky — Godfrey's brother John had been burnt to death at a "public-house in Northgate" in 1841, another brother had died at Almondbury Workhouse in 1861 after breaking his leg, his sister Sarah had died of heart disease in 1861, his brother Henry had died in Brighouse "from the effects of kicks received in a fight", his two sons had died in separate coal pit incidents, and two of his nephews had been killed during the Crimean War.[6]

The Chronicle reported that it was estimated there were more than 20,000 visitors in the Lockwood area on the Monday, "while on Tuesday the number was far greater." Horse-drawn buses ran every 15 minutes from Huddersfield Market Place throughout most of the day, "and every vehicle was well patronised."

With the feast over, the majority of the stallholders and entertainments moved off on Thursday morning to the feasts being held in Idle and Rastrick, both of which commenced on the Friday.[7]

Four apprentices in the employment of packing case maker Robert Whiteley, Huddersfield, were charged with absenting themselves without their employers permission in order to attend the feast. In court, Whiteley stated that he "would be satisfied if the lads expressed their regret, and promised not to repeat the offence." Despite that, all four defendants were ordered to pay 7s. 3d. each.[8]

The Lockwood Local Board reported a net profit of £19 13s. 3d. from the feast, which went to the Borough Fund.[9]

Notes and References

  1. Huddersfield Chronicle (20/Sep/1873).
  2. "Miscellaneous: Honley Feast" in Huddersfield Chronicle (20/Sep/1873).
  3. Huddersfield Daily Chronicle (22/Sep/1873).
  4. "Cricket" in Huddersfield Daily Chronicle (23/Sep/1873) & (24/Sep/1873).
  5. "Sudden Death" in Huddersfield Daily Chronicle (24/Sep/1873).
  6. "Extraordinary Fatalities in the Same Family" in Leeds Times (27/Sep/1873).
  7. "Honley Feast" in Huddersfield Chronicle (27/Sep/1873).
  8. "Refractory Apprentices" in Huddersfield Daily Chronicle (30/Sep/1873).
  9. "The Expenditure of the Corporation: Meeting at Lockwood" in Huddersfield Chronicle (21/Oct/1873).