Huddersfield Chronicle (05/Aug/1871) - The "Happy Valley"
THE "HAPPY VALLEY."
The deeply interesting proceedings which have taken place today at Meltham Mills have provided us with more than one contributor to our columns. It would afford us much pleasure to find room for all the contributions we have received on this subject, but, as the following contains in substance what each of our correspondents touch upon, we here give it insertion, and readily bear our testimony to the accuracy of the observations. Our correspondent says :—
It would have formed an interesting study to the philanthropist to have taken a ramble to-day with the rest of "the world" into the Meltham district, and whilst there endeavoured to ascertain the general condition of the people of that neighbourhood. Interested as he ever is in the welfare and happiness of mankind at large, he would surely there find that which would cause his heart to rejoice. At least it would be an interesting problem to solve — viz., are these people, who are so well employed, who are surrounded by those who are considered the highest specimens of the human race, in that they live not for themselves, but out of their abundance seek to ameliorate in every possible way the condition of their poorer neighbours, — are these people really happy, do they come up to the standard which the philanthrophist has set up as the magnum bonum of the human race ? Physically considered, what strips of land can boast of greater attractions than that which sketches from Harden Moss on the south to Crosland on the north; from Honley Moor on the east to Cop Hill on the west. There we have hill and valley, woodland and pasture-land of the most striking, the most varied, and of the richest kind. Who that has stood on the "lover's leap" at Netherton, and taken in the rich panorama lying beneath his feet, and stretching away to the south-west, that has not exclaimed, "Ah, this is lovely!" Who, that has stood on that inimitable hill — "Cop" by name — and not felt lifted upwards, not felt his heart thrill with praise. Truly there is "beauty everywhere." But hygienically considered what attractions there are. The Meltham valley must assuredly enjoy rich flows of health. What are all those countless — we might almost say — thousands of acres of moorland which lie on every side ? Are they not natural reservoirs which store up and then send forth with every gust that blows draughts of the purest air ? Turning from the works of God to the works of man, where is the valley that can boast of the advantages that have been enjoyed there. "Short work" is a phrase that is almost unknown to the present generation. During this century at least there have been moving a few of those master spirits which count difficulties nothing. They have raised up vast fabrics, which give unceasing employment to well nigh every man, woman, and child. For, if each one be not directly so engaged, each one may be said to indirectly participate in the wealth which has been, by these means, drawn to this favoured spot. With respect to education the valley is not a whit behind. Schools have been built in every hamlet. Employers of labour have striven, with a noble emulation that deserves universal praise, to outdo each other in their care for the mental condition of their poorer neighbours. In this spot, at least, that cry, which has gone through the length and breadth of the land respecting the lack of educational agencies, can have no echo. It wants but the will, and every mind may be stored, — stored first at school, and afterwards from the many well-stocked libraries which are to be found attached, not only to the Sunday schools, but even also to the mills. Then, in addition to all these blessings, we find the higher nature of man — the moral and the spiritual receiving equal care. What few square miles of rural landscape throughout this highly favoured country can show so many evidences of Christian good-will and benevolence ? Let the eye take in those noble edifices at Wilshaw, Meltham Mills, and Helm — which are but the outward evidences of the princely hearts that have throbbed there; as well those older yet not less more useful structures which stand in Meltham and at Crosland, and we realise faintly the care that has been evinced, that men should not only be temporally but eternally blessed. Now, indeed, we are to take one step further still and, to witness, in the opening of the Convalescent Home at Meltham Mills this day, not only an evidence of the blessings so richly poured out upon this favoured valley and there enjoyed, but to see them — according to the highest teaching of the Christian faith — wafted far and wide to the valleys and less favoured district around. The noble hearts that have felt for those that are within — as it were — now swell towards those that are without. All honour be to such genuine proofs of manly worth, which dwell or have dwelt at Healey House, at Meltham Hall, at Wilshaw, and at Thickhollins, may their numbers be multiplied, may other less favoured spots yet find such noble spirits, who will emulate the goodwill and the good deeds of these pioneers in Christian charity. No wonder that this district has been called the "happy valley ;" all we would say in conclusion is "if not it ought to be."