Huddersfield Chronicle (24/Apr/1852) - Holmfirth Flood

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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.

The following are the articles related to the Holmfirth Flood of 1852 that appeared in this issue.



The annual meeting of the Commissioners of the Holme Reservoirs was held on Tuesday afternoon last, at the office of Mr. Jacomb, the clerk, Enoch Vickerman, Esq. in the chair. There were present Messrs. Joseph Broad bent, R. Broadbent, James Robinson, George Robinson, John Hobson Farrar, Thomas Moorhouse. R. Haigh, W. Haigh, Abel Cuttel, David Hinchliffe, John Hinchliffe, James Holmes, E. Butterworth, and Joseph Mellor. Mr. C. S. Floyd entered the room before the passing of the last resolution.

On the opening of the meeting a resolution was adopted, in answer to an application from ourselves, admitting the press, after which the minutes of the preceding meeting were read, from which it appeared that a sub committee bad been appointed at that meeting to communicate with J. F. Bateman, Esq., engineer, Manchester, in reference to the Holme Reservoirs; and in pursuance of the powers with which the committee were vested, that gentleman had been requested to examine the Holme-styes and Bosh aw Whams Reservoirs, and report thereon to them. On the 14th inst., Mr. Bateman proceeded to examine the reservoirs and reported as follows:—


Manchester, 16th April, 1852.
Dear Sir,
On Wednesday last, the 14th inst., accompanied by the committee appointed to meet me, and by Mr. Hall, the surveyor to the Commissioners, I had an opportunity of carefully inspecting the Holme-styes and Boshaw Whams Reservoirs.
Both Reservoirs being nearly empty, I was enabled to ascertain pretty accurately the character of the valleys in which the reservoirs had been constructed, and the state of repair of the embankments and the works connected therewith. At the Boshaw Whams Reservoir the waste weir is much dilapidated, and requires immediate repair, but in other respects the embankments and other works appear perfectly secure, and the reservoir may be filled and used as usual. The collecting ground to the reservoir is small, and no flood need be apprehended which cannot easily be discharged by opening the sluices, by which means the water may be prevented from passing over the waste weir until it be properly repaired. A little careful attention on the part of the roan employed to draw the water is all which is at present requisite.
The Holme-styes Reservoir is in a very unsatisfactory condition, and I consider it unfit to be filled with water until it be thoroughly repaired, although I apprehend no danger from its being occasionally filled, as it must be during heavy floods to a depth of thirty or forty feet. After rain, however, the water should be drawn down to a level at which the leakage is small, and unaccompanied by discoloration, and, as far as possible, permanently maintained at such level until all defects be remedied, and every cause for anxiety effectually removed.
I am not prepared at present to recommend any mode of effecting this object. I must obtain further information as to the manner in which the works have been constructed, and the nature of the ground upon which the embankment stands. The subject shall have my earliest attention and my most careful consideration, and, in the meantime, I have given instructions for such surveys being made as will enable me to lay out and estimate such additional works as I may think it necessary to advise.
I remain, very faithfully yours,
J. F. Bateman.
William Jacomb, Esq.


It being intimated that the report of Mr. Hall for making a rate, and also the auditing of the accounts had not been completed, and that it would be necessary to adjourn the meeting for these purposes,

Mr. George Robinson, as one of the auditors, explained that there had not been sufficient time to complete the audit, and the auditors had therefore felt called upon to recommend the adjournment of the meeting. There appeared, he continued, on the face of the accounts something like a balance of £1300, including several bills of Mr. Jacomb, but which appeared to be paid. The balance sheet had only been prepared since the previous day, and it was therefore impossible that the auditors could investigate the matter as was required. He took upon himself, however, to caution Mr. Frederick Jacomb against paying those bills until the Commissioners had met and authorised their payment, thinking that under the awkward circumstances in which the commission was now placed they ought to have an opportunity of appropriating this money themselves. But Mr. Jacomb, notwithstanding this caution, under a resolution of the 17th November, 1849, had in the interval appropriated nearly the whole of that balance. Now, he did not think it was ever intended that the Commissioners should have no control over their income, for, under such arrangements, it would be impossible for the Commissioners to carry on their undertaking, and therefore, with a view to set the matter at rest for the future, he begged to move that the following resolutions, entered on the minutes as passed respectively at meetings of Commissioners held on the 27th November, 1849, and the 12th November, 1850, be rescinded:—

That Messrs. Jos. Brook, Cookson Stephenson Floyd, and Thomas Pearson Crosland, be and are hereby appointed a committee for the purpose of effecting an arrangement with the Huddersfield Banking Company, and the other creditors of the Commissioners, upon the basis that the said committee shall out of certain sums of £275 6s. 3½d. £40 16s. 6d. end £120 7s. 5d. pay to Messrs. Floyd and Booth £200, Mr. Joseph Hall £100, Mr. John Kirk £15, and Mr. Joshua Littlewood £15, on account of their respective demands, and the residue thereof in such manner to any of the other creditors of the said Commissioners, exclusive of the said Huddersfield Banking Company, and not being creditors by mortgage or for subscriptions, as the said committee may think proper, and also upon the basis that all future rates to be made and collected (after deducting current expenses) shall be divided amongst all the creditors of the said Commissioners including the Huddersfield Banking Company (but exclusive of creditors by mortgage or subscriptions) ratably and in proportion to the amount of there respective debts, that in the meantime, and until such arrangement with the said Huddersfield Banking Company be effected, no more rates or other monies belonging to the commissioners should be paid into the said banking company or the treasurer.

That the said Joseph Wood, the collector, do pay over to Mr. Jacomb all rates now in his hands, or to be collected by him, to be applied by Mr. Jacomb in the terms of the order of the 27th of November last, excepting the Huddersfield Banking Company, so far as the present rate is concerned.

Mr. D. Hinchliffe thought Mr. Jacomb had acted in accordance with the resolutions of he Commissioners in dividing the money amongst their creditors, and any resolution they could now adopt would merely refer to future rates.

Mr. Moorhouse seconded the motion.

The motion was then put from the chair, and carried by a majority of two, the numbers being for the motion six, against it four.

Mr. George Robinson said that they would see from the course he had pursued that he was anxious that the monies of the Commissioners should be voted by themselves, and not appropriated by their clerk at his pleasure. (Expressions of dissent.)

Mr. F. Jacomb — I beg your pardon, Mr. Robinson, the clerk does not do so.

Mr. George Robinson — Well, he would put it in this way, — under a resolution of the board past years ago. He did not think, he continued, they would be doing justice to the treasurer by dismissing him without ascertaining his views upon the subject, and the position in which they stood, and he (Mr. Robinson) had therefore called upon Mr. Marsden, the manager of the Huddersfield Banking Company, that morning to learn what he would be disposed to do supposing the line of policy now being taken was adopted. Mr. Marsden seemed quite agreeable that the Commissioners should appoint some one else. There was a large balance still due to the bank, and of course he (Mr. Robinson) did not mean that this balance should not be paid, but that the Commissioners should appropriate certain portions of their funds towards its liquidation. He suggested to Mr. Marsden as his successor, Mr. James Charlesworth, of Holmfirth, and the suggestion appeared satisfactory, and having obtained the consent of Mr. Charlesworth to that nomination, he begged to propose

That a resolution, passed at a meeting of the Commissioners on the 3rd of July, 1837, appointing Hugh Watt. Esq., manager to the Huddersfield Banking Company treasurer, be, and is hereby rescinded ; and that James Charlesworth, Esq., of Holmfirth, be, and is hereby appointed treasurer to the Commissioners, and that all monies now in the custody of the collector or clerk, or which may hereafter come into their hands, shall be paid over immediately to such treasurer.

Mr. Richard Haigh seconded the motion, which, on being put, was carried without a dissentient.

Mr. Robinson again rose, and said that not only himself, but ever}’ other Commissioner, must have seen, from the large bills constantly presented by their clerk, that it was high time they should adopt a different course from that previously pursued. If they were desirous of exercising economy, and at no time was it more necessary than at the present, he was convinced it would be for the interest of this corporate body that a non-professional person should be appointed as its clerk. He did not say it out of disrespect to professional men, but there was a danger of their promoting a little more law than most parties liked. He had just drawn out a rough draft of what Mr. Jacomb had charged under the head of “general business” during his term of office, and were be to read it to them they would see that this body was being carried on at an enormous expense—

Mr D. Hinchliffe thought Mr. Robinson was taking an undue advantage of Mr. Jacomb’s absence (from illness), more especially as the accounts were not clearly made out.

Mr. Robinson merely wished to say there had been a large expenditure under this head. For instance, from March 1846, to March 1849, there was a bill for £699 6s. 3d. for general business. From that time to the following September, and for the application to parliament in 1849, £365 16s. ; then again from September 1849, to December 1850, there was a bill for £206 5s. 10d. ; from October 1849, to February and May 1851, for proceedings in two actions brought against the Commissioners by Mr. Sharpe and Messrs. Leather, £88 7s. 7d. ; for general business during 1851, £74 5s. 10d. Previous to this there had been a bill delivered for the application to parliament in 1846 of £977 13s. 2d., besides above £1,000 paid to parliamentary agents and expenses in London.

Mr. F. Jacomb ― You are quite mistaken.

Mr. Robinson ― I took this from the account myself.

Mr. D. Hinchliffe ― If you look minute-book, Mr. Robinson, you will find resolutions authorising the clerk to pay these accounts.

Mr. F. Jacomb proceeded to explain that the bill was for monies paid on account of the Commissioners for expenses in their applications to parliament. He also added that Mr. Jacomb, the clerk, was the largest creditor; that he had been six years in the Commissioners’ service, and the only money he had received personally during that period was £463. Mr. Jacomb then proceeded to explain that the latter bill referred to by Mr. Robinson included monies paid by the order of the Commissioners to the witnesses and others in relation to the application to parliament. That Mr Jacomb (the clerk) was the largest creditor of the Commissioners, as he had from time to time consented to postponement of payments to him to allow of the money being paid to other creditors. That he had been six years clerk to the Commissioners, and that, notwithstanding the heavy expenses that had been incurred, yet that up to the time of the commencement of the present accounts for the last two years, he had, with the exceptions of disbursements and payments made by him by the order of the Commissioners, only received on account of his bills of costs delivered the sum of £463 19s. 1d., which had been applied to the bill for the application of 1846, the amount of which bill was £491 17s. 8d., and not £977 13s. 2d. as stated by Mr. Robinson. This bill also showed there was a balance due to Mr. Jacomb for the payments to the witnesses, Mr. Jacomb having advanced the balance of the monies required for this purpose, and that the bill of costs delivered comprised not only professional charges, but any large disbursements and outlay on behalf of the Commissioners. Mr. F W. Jacomb in reference to the remarks of Mr. Robinson relative to the present accounts, proceeded to explain that on the previous afternoon when two of the audit committees were obliged to leave for London, the accounts were not balanced up for want of the insertion of the exact amount of Mr. Robinson’s rates and of the rents received by Mr. Floyd. That with the exception of these, and the want of some vouchers for the accounts, principally those for the division among the creditors of the balance in hand in pursuance of the orders of 27th November, 1849, and 12th November, 1850, the account might then have been completed, and that he had afterwards proposed to the committee that Mr. Robinson should complete the accounts the next day before the meeting, when he could come prepared with the exact amount of the rates he had paid. That Mr. Floyd’s account had come in, and he (Mr. Jacomb) had wanted Mr. Robinson to complete the accounts before the meeting, but he had not come prepared with the amount of his rates which had been paid by Mr. Robinson in several sums on account at different times, and he (Mr. F. W. Jacomb) could not find that the whole had been paid. The statement of Mr. Robinson as to the balance in hand, was erroneous as the account showed.

Mr. Cuttel — Who has been the cause of that large expenditure?

Mr. Robinson objected to being interrupted in this manner—

Mr. Hinchliffe thought every Commissioner had a right to contradict Mr. Robinson if they believed he was stating falsehoods.

Mr. Robinson said it appeared impossible for him to make any remarks without being grossly interrupted. If gentlemen liked to have his resolution without justification, he would read it, but every one of the Commissioners knew there was justification. On the grounds he had named, he begged to move the dismissal of Mr. Jacomb as clerk to this body, and that a non-professional man be appointed as his successor at a salary of £35 per annum ; and further that a committee be appointed to carry this resolution into effect

Mr. Moorhouse seconded the motion.

Mr. F. Jacomb said there was an order of the Commissioners to pay these monies, and the only money the clerk had received for business done was £463.

Mr. Cuttel thought it would only be common justice, if they were to dismiss Mr. Jacomb, to dismiss him honourably. If there were any charges against Mr. Jacomb, let them be made in his presence, when he would have an opportunity of rebutting them, and not, whilst he was sick, dismiss him shabbily in this manner.

Mr. F. Jacomb proceeded again to explain to the chairman the item of £977 13s. 2d., after which,

Mr. Robinson said he was quite willing to accept the explanation, but at the same time it did not affect his resolution.

Mr. David Hinchliffe thought it very unfair to make these bills the ground of a charge of dishonesty against Mr. Jacomb, when they had been paid under the authorisation and on behalf of the Commissioners. If Mr. Robinson referred to the minute book, he would find that on the 20th April, 1849, the following resolution was adopted :—

That Mr. Jacomb should be and is hereby authorised and empowered to apply so much of such cash balance as may be necessary in paying and defraying the expenses and disbursements of himself and of the parliamentary committee of or connected with the opposition by the Commissioners to the bill now pending in parliament, and otherwise in carrying the last mentioned order or any matter or thing therein contained into effect.

Now, on reference to preceding resolutions, he found that Mr. Robinson was one of the parliamentary deputation, so that he was actually charging Mr. Jacomb with dishonesty in paying his (Mr. Robinson’s) expenses.

Mr. Robinson denied that he had made any charge against Mr. Jacomb : all that he had said was that there had been an extravagant expenditure, — (hear, hear) — and he accused Mr. Jacomb of that expenditure, but he denied charging him with dishonesty. As to the expenses of the parliamentary deputation he had only received £8 17s.

The Chairman thought it would be better to adjourn the consideration of this matter to the next meeting, and thus afford the clerk an opportunity of being present.

Mr. Butterworth, Mr. Hinchliffe, Mr. Broadbent, Mr. Cuttel, and Mr. Floyd concurred in this suggestion, and after a short conversation the motion was withdrawn, and notice given to introduce it at the next meeting.

Mr. Robinson then proposed, and Mr. James Holmes seconded,

That the appointment of Mr. Bateman as engineer to the Commissioners, by a sub-committee appointed at the last meeting of the board, be and is hereby confirmed ; and that the clerk urge upon Mr. Bateman to use all practical despatch in furnishing his more detailed report, with the estimate of expense as mentioned in the order of the last meeting.

This completed the business before the board, and on the suggestion of Mr. Floyd, the meeting was adjourned to that day month.



Relics of the Flood. — For some time past several workpeople have been employed in removing the debris from the sites of the houses of Mrs. Hirst, of Digley, and of Mr. Henry Beardsell, her son-in-law. During their labours they have discovered several articles which, strange to say, have received little or no injury ; and amongst the rest two pots of lard, one of which is totally uninjured. On Wednesday they found the family bible, in which we have been informed Mrs. Hirst had been reading shortly before she was forced to leave her abode. In the inside were found her spectacles. The water had not penetrated into the leaves except at the place where the glasses were. They have also found a pair of spectacles belonging to the late Mr. Hirst uninjured.


Slaithwaite Reservoir. — We are happy to learn that a letter has been received by the Rev. C. A. Hulbert, from the Inspector of the Huddersfield and Manchester Canal, stating that the Directors of the London and North-Western (Railway, Huddersfield and Manchester section,) have ordered certain repairs to be made of the reservoir embankment and the byewash, which, when completed will, he hopes, be satisfactory to all parties. He is now engaged in preparing the necessary material, and no time will be lost in getting the work in hand. The order for repairs was passed by the directors on Monday, the 6th instant.