Huddersfield Chronicle (27/Nov/1880) - The Late Mr. John Henry Abbey

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 Late Mr. John Henry Abbey.

It was our painful duty on Saturday briefly to announce the unexpected death at an early hour that morning of Mr. John Henry Abbey, late borough surveyor of Huddersfield, at the early age of 49 years. Mr. Abbey was the oldest representative of a family which, for more than one generation, have been surveyors in Huddersfield. He and his father were natives of Lookwood; his grandfather having established himself in business here, coming from Green Hammerton, near Ripon. On the death of deceased's father the business was succeeded to by Mr. Mallinson Abbey, his uncle, and Mr. Thomas Abbey, an elder brother, mid on their deaths Mr. Abbey and his cousin, Mr. J. B. Abbey, entered into partnership and carried on the business together until the latter was appointed manager to the Huddersfield Corporation Waterworks.

About 25 years ago Mr. Abbey was elected surveyor to the Huddersfield Improvement Commissioners, and for some portion of that time he held a similar office under the Lockwood Local Board. Whilst so engaged he planned and carried out a system of sewerage which the latter Board found it necessary to adopt. On the incorporation of the present municipal borough Mr. Abbey was chosen surveyor, and in that capacity he gave effect to the many improvements which the Council have from time to time sanctioned. His work is to be seen in the widening and straightening of the streets, and in the amelioration of the steep gradients which rendered traffic in many of the principal thoroughfares so difficult. He was also a civil engineer, and had considerable practice as an architect. The handsome arch which spans the river Colne at Aspley was made from his plans, and the great improvement in the approaches to Somerset Bridge, to Engine Bridge, and to Folly Hall were designed by him. He was also the architect of the new Borough Offices in Ramsden Street, and of the massive Public Hall which is in course of erection behind it. The new — and, architecturally speaking, pleasing looking — wing which has been added to the hospital at Birkby was designed by him, and his plans were adopted for the laying out of the new Cattle Market in Beaumont Street. He was the architect of the Mechanics' Institute and Town Hall, at Lockwood, of the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, Bentley Street, Lockwood, and of many substantial dwellings in the neighbourhood. In the promotion of the various Improvement Acts of the Huddersfield Corporation, and in the extension of their scheme of waterworks, Mr. Abbey's assistance and local knowledge were of great value. He surveyed the town for the purposes of the tramways which the Council have obtained powers to lay down, and prepared the plans for the intercepting sewer — a great work which the Corporation have sanctioned, and have yet to undertake — which is intended to relieve the drains of the lower part of the town, and to carry the sewage to an outlet at Woodhouse Mills. His capacity for work was enormous. He was agent for the Lockwood and Rashcliffe estate, for the Meltham estate, and for eight or ten others, and in addition to this be established a considerable business as a timber merchant at the Albert Saw Mills, Lockwood. He was surveyor to the existing Wakefield and Austerlands Turnpike Trusts, and during their existence to the Huddersfield and Woodhead, Lockwood and Meltham and Huddersfield and Leeds Trusts. His knowledge of the value of land led to his being consulted as arbitrator in local land disputes ; in the various railway and road schemes which for the past few years have been initiated for the benefit of the town and district ; and only this year he was a witness for the promoters of the South and East Junction Railway Bill, having, in conjunction with Mr. Crowther, valued the lands which the promoters wished to acquire.

In religion Mr. Abbey was a Churchman, and for many years, and at the time of his death, he had intermittently held the office of churchwarden at the Parish Church, Lockwood. In politics he was a Conservative, and took an active part at the late election in organising the canvass of his party of Lockwood. At the late municipal election there was a strong feeling in favour of his being nominated for the Lockwood Ward, but the illness to which he has now succumbed caused him to decline the invitation.

On January 17th, 1877, Mr. Abbey was elected a member of the Society of Arts. On the 11th May, 1869, he was elected an Associate of the Institution of Civil Engineers, and on November 27th, 1877, he was elected a member. He was a Freemason of considerable standing, being a past master of the Huddersfield Lodge, No. 290, as well as a Royal Arch Mason. He will be long remembered as an old and ardent cricketer, having been a generous supporter, and for several years secretary of the Lockwood Cricket Club. He was also a member of the Huddersfield Troop of Yeomanry Cavalry at the time Colonel Pollard commanded.

Mr. Abbey resigned his position of borough surveyor on August 20th, 1879. Soon after that event he declined in health; but it was not until eight weeks ago that he was obliged to give up work. During his illness he was unremittingly attended by Mr. Hall, surgeon, of Lockwood, but it was not until within the past fortnight that his complaint — cancer on the stomach — caused any fears of his ultimate recovery. During the latter portion of time, Mr. Hall had the able assistance of Dr. Clifford Allbutt, of Leeds ; but no medical skill could check the disease, and Mr. Abbey succumbed at five minutes past twelve on Saturday morning, at his residence, Boyd House, Lookwood.

From the foregoing brief sketch of his public career, it will be seen how important a part Mr. Abbey has played in the development of Huddersfield. From a town of very unimportant dimensions when he first became a public servant, it has grown into a leading centre of commerce, and in all the great works necessary for public health and commercial requirements, he has played a very conspicuous part. A long and intimate friendship with him in his public life, and also in his private and social relationship, enables us to bear testimony to his many sterling qualities of head and heart. He was never half-hearted in whatever he took in band. Firmness and thoroughness were his great characteristics, and his well-balanced mind and strong self-confidence tided him over many difficulties which presented themselves to him in Parliamentary, municipal, and other public matters, in which he frequently had to give evidence. Those who more immediately mourn his loss are a wife and eight children — four sons and four daughters — three of the former having acted as assistants to him in his various professional duties. By them his memory will be cherished with affectionate interest as a kind and devoted husband and a loving and indulgent father. By his friends he will be remembered as a man of sterling quality, honourable in all his dealings, and as a public servant who deserved better treatment than he received from those he had served so long and well.

We understand the interment will take place on Tuesday morning next, at the Parish Church, Lockwood. The funeral will leave the residence of the deceased at eleven o'clock, and for the information of his friends who may wish to be present to pay a last tribute of respect to his memory, it has been arranged to meet at the Town Hall, Lockwood, which is in immediate proximity, at a quarter before eleven o'clock.