Huddersfield Chronicle (09/Oct/1852) - District News: Holmfirth
STATE OF PUBLIC FEELING. — Many of the people of Holmfirth, who resided within reach of the water, when the Bilberry Reservoir burst in February last, had their nervous systems so shaken that they will scarcely ever be the same people again. If a heavy shower of rain happen now to fall, or if, from any other cause, the water in the river happen to rise a little higher than its wonted level, they cannot rest. It is very easy for persons who are not similarly situated to laugh at their fears, and say there is no danger. The people themselves know as well as any one, that there is no immediate danger ; but, as one of them remarked to us lately, they cannot feel safe. “I know,” said the individual. “that there is no danger now, but if the water rise in the ‘dyke’ we can hear it rolling over the dam stones ; or, if a heavy shower of rain falls, I am put in mind of the flood, and an involuntary trembling seizes me, and I cannot feel safe.” During the early part of the last week we had a very heavy fall of rain, and the water in the brook rose about half a yard. The consequence was there was no rest for the people. Some of them who had friends to help them removed for the night from the immediate vicinity of the water. Others, and these were not a few, never went to bed at all, but continued, at intervals through the night, to visit the bridges to ascertain whether the water continued to increase Or not. It was pitiful, even in the early part of the night, to see the poor creatures standing in groups, and listen to the half suppressed “Oh dear!” as it burst from many an aching heart. How long it will be before the people will have sufficiently recovered from the shock to bear, with even a tolerable degree of comfort, an ordinary fall of rain, it is impossible for us to say. Since writing the above circumstances have transpired to increase, rather than diminish the general alarm, and the heavy rain which fell on Monday last made the people completely beside themselves. Towards evening on that day some individual or individuals sent round the bellman or town crier to inform them that the Holmstyes reservoir contained forty feet of water, and to warn them to look to their own safety. The consequence of this was that many of the people left their houses for the night. Large numbers congregated together on the Victoria Bridge, and a many went up to see the reservoir for themselves. To add to the excitement of the people in the town, several parties who pretended to have seen the reservoir, said it had more than forty feet of water in it ; and that it had filled two feet in less than an hour. Expressions of opinion were uttered on every hand, which showed the estimation in which some members of the drawing committee were held. The excitement of the people was very great Among the individuals who went up to the reservoir was Mr. James Charlesworth, who on his return reported that instead of upwards of forty, the reservoir only contained 36 feet 8 inches of water ; and that it had only filled 4 inches in four hours. He also informed the people that Mr. David Hinchliffe had consented to draw the shuttle to such an height that the water ran our faster than in. This to some extent quieted the alarm of the people, though many of them were strangers to sleep that night.