Huddersfield and Holmfirth Examiner (04/Sep/1852) - The Holmfirth Catastrophe

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

The following are selected items relating to the 1852 Flood from this issue.

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.


David Haigh and Brothers — £5 0s. 0d.
William S. Thornton, Buxton Road — £5 0s. 0d.
Subscriptions from Stainland — £7 5s. 0d.


Falling of a Building.

At an early hour on Wednesday morning last, the inhabitants residing adjacent to the side of the river, in the immediate locality of Upperbridge, were aroused from their slumbers by a tremendous crash, accompanied by a loud and terrific noise resembling a hurricane. On proceeding to the spot from which the noise came, a large number of persons had congregated, and several others partly dressed, who dare not venture into the public street, put their heads out of the casements to see what was the matter. Upon examination it was discovered that a part of a building recently occupied by Mr. Anor Bailey, tailor, of Upperbridge, and a portion of which had been carried away by the great flood, had fallen in, breaking down a cart-shed, the property of Mr. George Bower. Several other buildings, in addition to the public bridge leading into Hollowgate, known as Upperbridge, yet remain in a dilapidated and dangerous condition, much to the annoyance of the inhabitants.


To the Editor of the Huddersfield & Holmfirth Examiner.


I shall esteem it a favour if you will give publicity to these few remarks in your next Saturday’s publication, relative to the proceedings of the Holmfirth and Huddersfield Relief Committee, and especially its award on my own case.

On the 4th of February last I occupied a house and shop in Holmfirth. I had a house well furnished, sad a shop well stocked with watches, clocks, jewellery, and a general stock of useful and fancy articles. That shop I occupied for the last fourteen years, carrying on a respectable business during that time, and but for the fatal inundation I should have been there now ; but in one single night all I had was swept away, as it appears, by the carelessness of a corporate body, and I and my family had a narrow escape from death. A few days after this most fearful catastrophe, bills were placed upon the walls requesting persons that were sufferers to deliver in a schedule of their loss on or before the 16th, at the office of Mr. Tinker. I, along with many others, took mine, which, under the circumstances, was as correct as it was possible for me to make ; and now the affair is settled, I can state most conscientiously was not more than I lost ; and upon that statement I have had awarded and paid to me not quite 8s. in the pound, whilst I am informed some have got 15s. in the pound paid to them. Mine is not a solitary instance, for I know parties who have got even less than that ; one person I know has had only £50 paid to him, and I am certain his loss would not be less than £200, and he was told he would do very well, as he was only a bachelor, and could carry on without it. Is it right that a man who his paid his way and has something left, should be paid less in proportion to his loss than the reservoir commissioners? (Well might one of them taunt me in the street and say they were better used than me.) Their estimate for the rebuilding of the reservoir is £8,600, and they have granted to themselves £7,000 ; for I understand from a letter of the 3rd of July, that there are eight persons composing the schedule committee, and that five of them are reservoir commissioners, and it has not been contradicted. Is it a wonder then that they should vote the lion’s share to themselves? I think it was never the intention of the subscribers that their money should go to build up that which was the cause of the disaster. The commissioners well knew, that by their own act, they were liable to make up our losses ; and they also know that, by the 107th section of that act, any one was debarred from taking legal proceedings to recover damages six months after the damage was committed ; and it is my opinion, and the opinion of many others, that it was their object in delaying the final distribution of the fund. Well may not some of the towns deliver up their contributions into the hands of the Huddersfield committee. My opinion is that those parties who are not paid in proportion to the largest recipient, ought to petition those towns which have subscribed to the fund, to know if it is their wish to have their money returned or to make nearer up our losses. If any money it returned I think in justice they ought to return the £7,000, for I will engage to say that 99 out of every 100 subscribers did not give their money to build up the reservoir, or at all support an insolvent corporate body in their differences and neglectfullness, for if I mistake not, the paltry sum of £12 would have prevented the disaster. So said Mr. Leather in his evidence before the jury of which I was a member ; and I think if I was not competent to sit on that jury, the commissioners were not fit to sit in judgment upon my loss. I placed my case in their hands, feeling assured they would do me and the other sufferers justice according to the funds in their hands. Whoever heard tell of money being returned unless full justice had been done to all, and their losses made up? Mr. Wimpenny said truly at the meeting on Thursday that it was the duty of one and all to return their thanks to the subscribers for their kindness to us in our time of need. I for one give to one and all my hearty thanks — to rich and poor, but more especially to the poor.

I remain, yours respectfully,
Sept 1st, 1852.



The Standard of Monday evening has the following remarks on the subscription for the sufferers by the above calamity, and the grant of money recently made to build up the Bilberry Reservoir:—

The collection of so magnificent a subscription is a subject for sincere congratulation and just pride ; and if it have succeeded in indemnifying the really poor who survived the calamity at Holmfirth, and in compensating, as for as money can compensate, all who have lost parents, or husbands, or children, we have reason for thankfulness and joy. But it seems to us that the allotment of such large sums out of the surplus for building mills and repairing water-works is not a strictly correct application of foods collected for a purpose purely charitable. As respects the latter allotment, if memory do not cheat us, the corporation that ought to have kept the works in repair was blamed for a neglect which led to a frightful loss of life, and to give to them £8000 of a fund obtained from the compassionate, upon grounds, as we have said, strictly charitable, looks very like a wrong to the merciful subscribers, even assuming that the innocent sufferers have been compensated to the fullest extent. We cannot think that in the occurrence of any future like calamity, and we must expect such things, the cause of charity will be promoted by the remembrance that of the surplus of the collection for the Holmfirth sufferers a large proportion is to be handed over to the very parties by whose neglect so many poor persons suffered. Would it not be more in accordance with the purpose of the collection and the feelings of the subscribers to devote what surplus remains to some humane and religious object, — the erection and support of a school, for example? As it at present appears, the money is certainly not applied in conformity with the feeling of the donors, and therefore we must say that it is misapplied.