Huddersfield Chronicle (09/Apr/1864) - Meltham: Cutting the First Sod of the Railway

The journalist who wrote this piece appears to have struggled with the location of the sod-cutting ceremony, giving it the bizarre name of "Gill-up rudes". Perhaps he tried consulting a map but couldn't find it market, so attempted a phonetic spelling. The location was almost certainly somewhere below Folly Dolly Falls as the old name from the stream which flows over the falls was Gylloproyd Dike. As the dike marked the eastern boundary of Meltham, the location was probably chosen as being where the railway would enter the township of Meltham.


The following is a transcription of a historic newspaper article and may contain occasional errors.

Cutting the First Sod of the Railway.

The long expected ceremony of cutting the first sod of the Huddersfield and Meltham Railway took place on Monday afternoon last, amid a continual downpouring of rain. The large assembly present, however, appeared to care little for the weather, their interest in the undertaking being sufficiently great to withstand personal inconvenience, and they were probably further buoyed up by the adage, that what is commenced in a storm frequently ends in sunshine. A few minutes before three o'clock, Charles Brook, junior, Esq., arrived on the ground, there being then assembled more than a thousand persons. Amongst those present we observed Messrs. J.W. Carlile, Thickhollins ; Edward Brook, Benthouse; James Wrigley, Netherton ; Alfred Beaumont, Esq., Greave ; Rev. Thomas Thomas (baptist), Meltham ; Edwin Eastwood, Meltham ; T.A. Haigh, surgeon, Netherton ; W. Kilburn, Netherton ; Joseph Taylor, of Golcar and Meltham ; — Ramsden. W. Wrigley, Huddersfield ; T. Dunderdale, steward to H.F. Beaumont, Esq. ; Henry Tinker (Geo. Tinker and Son), agents to Messrs. Brooks ; — Varley, manager for the late Mr. Ibbotson, Netherton ; G. Dyson, solicitor, of the firm of Laycock and Dyson, Huddersfield ; Mr. Watts, the resident engineer to the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company, Manchester ; Mr. Perring, surveyor to the company, Manchester ; Mr. Brown, working-engineer ; Messrs. Barnes and Beckett, Manchester, the contractors for the works; &c., &c.

All being in readiness, Mr. James Wrigley came forward and presented Mr. Charles Brook, jun., with a polished steel spade, with a carved oak handle, bearing on the blade a suitable inscription. In presenting the working-tool, Mr. Wrigley said the promoters had selected Mr. Brook to perform this ceremony, believing that on this as on many other occasions he was the "right man in the right place." He (Mr. Wrigley) looked forward to the completion of this undertaking as being one of great importance to the manufacturing population of both Meltham and Netherton, and hoped that the time was not far distant when the district would become A 1 in the manufacturing world. He trusted that Mr. Brook would live to see the undertaking carried out, and long afterwards to enjoy the benefits of the railway communication which the present line would confer upon the entire district. Mr. Brook having lifted three large sods in workmanlike style, placed them in a new wheelbarrow provided for the occasion, and wheeled them from the platform to the tip end, where he overturned them as the foundation of the future embankment. He then thanked the committee for the gift of the spade, which to him was of infinite value as a reminder of the day's proceedings, in lifting the first sod of that important railway. It was only a short branch, but they looked upon it as one of great importance to the manufacturers of the whole district. It was also of great importance to the working classes, who, he was proud to say, would bear comparison with any working men in the kingdom. Where, he asked, would they find a more industrious, well-conducted, or comfortable working population than in this beautiful valley? (Cheers.) They were greatly indebted to the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company for giving them the line. Some of them at first did not think the line would be advantageous to the district ; but when they (the directors) were shown the operations that were carried on in that locality, they (the company) came forward nobly and gave them the line, which in due time would prove of immense advantage to the whole population of both Meltham and Netherton, as well to the manufacturer as the working man. (Cheers.) It was a great day for Meltham — (a voice, and Netherton also) — (cheers) — and for the 8,000 or 9,000 of population living there. The Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company might rest assured, that for the great interest they had shown in the district by giving them the line, the inhabitants would not be backward in repaying them. He hoped that at the opening of the line they would have the directors amongst them, and when they (the directors) saw the beautiful valley through which the line ran, they would never regret what they had done. He concluded by thanking the promoters sincerely, from the bottom of his heart, for the honour they had done him by selecting him to perform the ceremony of the day. Three cheers were then given to celebrate the laying of the first sod, three for the first workman (Mr. Brook), three for the directors of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company, three for the contractors, and three for the Queen. On the call of the Rev. Mr. Thomas, three hearty cheers and one more were given for Mr. Wrigley, who briefly returned thanks, and the assembly broke up.

The contemplated line will be, as above stated, about 3½ miles long, and will be a single line, the total cost being estimated at £70,000, or £20,000 per mile. It will commence at the Huddersfield end of the Lockwood viaducts, passing behind Woodfield House, the residence of Bentley Shaw, Esq., by a deep cutting about half a-mile in length, the average depth of which is 40 feet, and then proceeding by a tunnel 200 yards long, through rock, under "Butternab." This tunnel will be followed by an embankment 200 yards long and 80 feet deep, passing by a culvert over the stream that runs down to Armitage Fold, then passing through a small cutting and approaching Netherton through a small tunnel, from which it will emerge on to another embankment 60 feet high ; then through a tunnel of rock and shale 335 yards long, ending in a cutting a quarter of a mile in length. It then passes along an embankment the whole length of the "big valley," behind Healey House. The average height of the embankment will be 20 feet, and it will be fully half a mile in length. It next traverses a small tunnel about 30 yards in length, under the grounds of Healey House, then through a shale cutting a third of a mile long, averaging 25 feet in depth, and then proceeds forward by an embankment half a mile long, averaging 20 feet high, crossing the Lockwood and Meltham Turnpike road by a skew bridge 36 feet span and 16 feet high on to "Gill-up rudes," the place where the sod was lifted, passing on to the terminus at Meltham proper, just below the church, where will be the station. A short branch will diverge at "Gill-up rudes," passing under the grounds of Meltham Hall by an open cutting, which will afterwards be arched over, then filled up level, then by small cuttings and embankments on to Meltham Mills, the whole length of the branch being 700 yards. The Railway Company will construct the first 300 yards of this line to the end of their boundary lines of deviation, and Messrs. Brook the remainder. Another short branch will join the main line near where the sod was taken up, and run to the silk mills at present occupied by Messrs. Ainley and Taylor. The gradients will be 1 in 60 at one part, 1 in 120 at another, the remaining small portion being level. It is expected that the line will be completed in less than two years, the company being compelled to have it working before the expiration of five years from obtaining the act, which received the royal assent in June, 1861. The proceedings on the ground being over, between 20 and 30 gentlemen proceeded to the house of Mr. John Bray, the Rose and Crown Inn, where they sat down to a first-class dinner. Charles Brook, junr. Esq. occupied the chair. The usual loyal, patriotic, and complimentary toasts having been given and responded to by the various gentlemen present, the company separated shortly after eight o'clock, The church bells rang merry peals, with firing at intervals, during the afternoon and evening.

Commencement of the Work.

The works on this undertaking commenced on Wednesday last, when a number of navvies were employed removing the soil, at the place where the first sod was taken up. On Thursday morning a number more men were set to work at the end of the intended embankment leading to the Netherton tunnel, and in a short time the work promises to be pushed vigorously forward

Rejoicings.

In remembrance of raising the first sod of the railway, on Monday last, Mr. Kilburn, iron-founder and machine-maker, subscribed a sum of money towards giving a number of his workmen a treat. This sum was augmented by one of his employees, who had that day been married. At night upwards of twenty of the men partook of a substantial supper at the house of Mr. John Hollingworth, the Swan Inn, Meltham. At the same time and place twenty other workmen joined them. After the cloth had been removed, Mr. Peter Sykes occupied the chair, when the evening was spent harmoniously amid singing, reciting, dancing, &c.

On the same evening a number of gentlemen assembled at the Life Guardsman Inn, Meltham Mills, for the purpose of rejoicing over the ceremony of the day. Mr. Moran, surveyor, of Huddersfield, occupied the chair, and Mr. Dan Dyson, of Netherthong, the vice-chair, when the evening was heartily enjoyed, the usual loyal and patriotic toasts having been drunk enthusiastically.

Huddersfield Chronicle (09/Apr/1864) - Meltham: Cutting the First Sod of the Railway

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Articles about Charles Brook (1814-1872) | Articles about Meltham | Articles about the Meltham Branch Line | Articles from 1864 | Articles from the 1860s | Newspaper articles | Stone laying and sod cutting ceremonies
This page was last modified on 1 September 2016 and has been edited by Dave Pattern.

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