Huddersfield Chronicle (15/May/1852) - Correspondence: Holmfirth Catastrophe and the Oldham Subscription Fund

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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.





Passing through the above unique town (Oldham) a few days since I observed on the walls a placard announcing that a meeting had been held on the 25th ult., — “the Mayor in the chair,” — at which sundry resolutions were passed, to the effect that “as the money which had been subscribed for the sufferers at Holmfirth had been raised under an erroneous impression as to the extent of the accident, it was resolved that two-thirds of it should be refunded to the subscribers.”

On seeing this announcement I began to ask myself, “is this alleged catastrophe, which has excited the deep commiseration of her Majesty and all her subjects from one end of the kingdom to the other — is it, after all, a mere illusion, or some ordinary, every-day sort of accident, such as the overflowing of a dam at some mill, or the bursting of a water-tub?”

I felt ashamed, Mr. Editor, for the men who could manifest so little of human sympathy for those who had been bereft of friends, and home, and fortune, and, in fact, of everything which can make life either comfortable or desirable, as to offer to them charity with one hand, and then with the other take two-thirds of it back.

I am not aware what is the sum which these Oldhamites had put down upon paper, but I believe it did not amount to more than half as many hundreds as the noble-minded men of Huddersfield have raised thousands, and when its proportions are reduced so as to be in harmony with their stinted benevolence, it will present the paltry sum of one or two hundred pounds, as a type of the liberality of the wealthy cotton lords of Oldham. I should like to know how large an “accident” they would desire before they would feel justified in giving a few hundred pounds. If, after all, any money is sent from Oldham for this fund, I trust the committee will reject such a reluctant contribution, not so much because of the amount as the grudging and unwilling manner in which it is offered. It appears to me to betray a want of confidence in the committee, to cast a reflection on the deputation sent to Oldham (one of which was the Rev. J. Glendenning), as having produced an “erroneous impression ;” and what is worse than all, it shows a want of that profound and heartfelt sympathy which has been everywhere else manifested.

Apologising for the length of this letter, I remain,
Yours respectfully,
May 11th, 1852.