Huddersfield Daily Examiner (14/Feb/1902) - The Holmfirth Flood

This page is part of the Holmfirth Flood Project and its content is believed to be in the Public Domain.
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.



We have received the following interesting narrative from Mr. Peace Sykes, the well-known artist, who for many years has been a resident in Huddersfield:―

May I be allowed to give a brief account of my experience, as I was an eye-witness of the sad calamity ― the Holmfirth flood, on February 4th, 1852. I was living at that time near the White Hart Inn, in a house within about fifty yards of a house occupied by Mr. James Shackleton, who for a long period had been the landlord of the Waggon and Horses, from which he had retired. I had retired to bed, but had not been long asleep when my wife was greatly alarmed by an awful noise outside, and she awoke me and exclaimed “The reservoir has burst.” I immediately got up, opened the bedroom window and looked out, and found her words to be too true. I hurriedly half dressed myself, put on my slippers, and ran out to awake some of my neighbours. My house was in a side street a short distance from the main thoroughfare, through which the flood was rushing in a most alarming manner. I did not then expect the water would flood my house, but when I returned and got inside again, and had locked the door I found the water had already filled my kitchen up to the ceiling and the room above to about eight inches, which would make it about eight or nine feet deep in my house. I found my wife in the bedroom, and we were unable to get outside, but were safe from the main stream.
I watched the flood do its destructive work, and the first thing I saw fall was the Old Genn, as was termed the large pillar which had been erected to commemorate some important public event. Next Mr. Shackleton’s house. Immediately afterwards I saw the house in which Mr. Richard Shackleton (the son of Mr. James Shackleton) and his family resided completely swept away, with all its inmates, and Sidney Hartley’s house I also saw go down and sink into the waters. A large empty oil cask passed along the street, and I saw it afterwards in the church burial ground, having been driven against the iron gates, which it had burst open.
In about twenty minutes the water began to subside, and I was able to leave my house, where I had been imprisoned by the flood. My wife was naturally in a state of great alarm, and before I left her, a neighbour woman came in to keep her company. I went at once to the Shackletons, and found the old man stood in the street with no clothing but shirt and trousers, and the poor man danced and cried like a child. He had just seen his son’s house and all the family swept away. At this time his own daughter and granddaughter were standing in a doorway which stood a little out of the water, and Mr. William Dyson, landlord of the White Hart, and others with myself got them safely down. Close to old Mr. Shackleton was the corpse of a woman who had clung to a piece of timber.
The corner shop near, belonging to Dr. Beeley, was occupied by William Gledhill, grocer, who had his bed in the cellar kitchen under the shop. He told me that he was awoke by a great noise, and jumped on the floor, when found he was in water. He rushed upstairs, and every step up he took the water was following on his feet. This also occurred as he went up a second flight of stairs, and got safely out into an upper room, in which his sister slept.
Richard Shackleton’s body was carried a long distance, and it was found at Ferrybridge, beyond Pontefract.