Jere Kaye and Co.

Jere Kaye & Co. were timber merchants with timber yards on Quay Street and elsewhere in the Aspley area.


The business was established by timber merchant Jeremiah Kaye (c.1810-1877)[1], later a Justice of the Peace who resided at New North House, 70 New North Road.

In April 1861, 16-year-old James Kaye[2] was working in the firm's planing machine room when his foot became snagged up in the machinery and "he was at once caught up to the thigh in the arm of the wheel." He died of his injuries the following day. A verdict of "accidental death" was recorded.[3]

A fire broke out in the timber yard on a Sunday afternoon in July 1867 when wood shavings "by some means became ignited, and speedily the whole of the lower portion of the [adjoining] shed was one mass of flame." A number of people nearby tackled the fire with buckets using water from the canal whilst waiting for the fire brigade to arrive. The damage was estimated at between £15 to £20.[4]

On the afternoon of 12 January 1876, John Norcliffe (aged 60), a carter in the employment of John Sykes of Helme, had loaded his cart with timber in the Quay Street yard. As he attached the horse to the cart, it started suddenly and he fell to the ground. He was killed instantly as one of the wheels passed over his head.[5]

Seth Brook, the foreman for Jere Kaye and Co., happened to be walking through Aspley at around 11:30pm on Saturday 29 May 1880 when he saw a coach pass by and an object fall into the road. Although he called after the coachman, it didn't stop. Stepping out into the road, he was amazed to find it was a box containing a "beautifully chased and engraved" silver spade. Earlier that day, the first sod of Beaumont Park had been ceremonially cut by the wife of Henry F. Beaumont using the spade. The Beaumonts had then spent the evening as the guests of honour at banquet held at the Town Hall before returning home to Whitley Hall, somehow managing to lose the silver spade on the way. Seth kept hold of the box for safekeeping until it could be reunited with its rightful owners.[6] Seth had lived on site since at least the 1860s, when the Huddersfield Chronicle reported on the sudden and inexplicable death of his wife, Sarah, in January 1866 — she had been sitting in a chair in the house when she suddenly exclaimed "oh my head!" and fell to the floor dead.[7]

According to the Chronicle, the firm traditionally presented every workman with a joint of beef for Christmas, with the 1880 present "weighing about nine pounds."[8]

In the summer of 1892, the company donated timber to build an stage for the Hillhouse and Birkby Musical Festival.[9]

The Chronicle reported in April 1893 that the company had held their second annual social gathering at the Friendly and Trades' Hall. Following a "sumptuous knife and fork tea" for around 90 employees and their wives, the tables were cleared for a "lengthy programme of songs, dancing, etc." Some of the entertainment was provided by Mr. J. Brownhill a "humorist of Denby Dale" who "created much amusement with his songs, mimical recitations, and his performances as a ventriloquist."[10]

In late July 1893, a fire at the neighbouring hearthrug five-storey factory mill of Messrs. Cockins was brought under control by Inspector Cundall and four firemen before it could spread to the timber yard. The Chronicle praised the promptitude of the fire brigade who "turned out in one minute after receiving the alarm".[11]

On the last Saturday of August 1896, the employees of the company and their families were treated to a day trip to Blackpool. Departing at 6:30am, they eventually arrived at 1:50pm and dined at the British Workman Dining Rooms, before spending the rest of the day "wandering at their leisure to the various places of amusement". They returned by the 7pm train to Huddersfield.[12]

Two boatmen on the canal near Turnbridge raised the alarm when they saw the company's saw mill was on fire on the night of 11 November 1896. The fire had started in one of the timber drying stoves and was contained before it could spread to neighbouring mills, although the Chronicle noted that "a number of rugs and coats, belonging to the drivers and other workmen of the company, which had been hung in the stove to dry" were destroyed.[13]

At around 5a.m. on Sunday 11 April 1915, a fire broke out at the firm's two-storey saw mill at Turnbridge. Inspector Wharf at the Fire Station dispatched engines "Ladas" and "Atalanta" and they found the building "was well alight, and that there was no chance of saving it." The crew fought hard for two hours to bring the fire under control and to stop it spreading to nearby warehouses. Fortunately, plans to drain the adjoining canal to carry out repairs that weekend had been abandoned and the crew were able to use it as a water supply. The Huddersfield Daily Examiner reported that, if not for the sterling work of the Fire Brigade, it would have been "one of the most extensive and disastrous fires" in the town's history.[14]

Notes and References

  1. Worked on the partial restoration of Almondbury Parish Church circa 1840. Married 11 August 1841 to Elizabeth Joy Spencer, then 16 January 1851 to Anne Marshall, then 3 May 1860 to Harriet Brook (daughter of Joseph Brook of Meltham). Died 18 October 1877 leaving an estate valued at under £100,000.
  2. Not believed to be related to Jeremiah Kaye.
  3. "Huddersfield: Fatal Machinery Accident" in Leeds Times (13/Apr/1861).
  4. "Fire at a Timber Yard" in Huddersfield Chronicle (03/Aug/1867).
  5. "Fatal Accident to a Carter" in Huddersfield Chronicle (13/Jan/1876).
  6. "A Silver Spade Lost and Found" in Huddersfield Chronicle (01/Jun/1880).
  7. "Sudden Death" in Huddersfield Chronicle (06/Jan/1866).
  8. "Christmas Gift" in Huddersfield Chronicle (27/Dec/1880).
  9. Huddersfield Chronicle (27/Jun/1892).
  10. "Social Evening" in Huddersfield Chronicle (12/Apr/1893).
  11. "Fire at a Hearthrug Manufactory" in Huddersfield Chronicle (02/Aug/1893).
  12. "Trip to Blackpool" in Huddersfield Chronicle (02/Sep/1896).
  13. "Fire at a Huddersfield Saw Mill" in Huddersfield Chronicle (14/Nov/1896).
  14. "Turnbridge Sawmill Gutted" in Huddersfield Daily Examiner (12/Apr/1915).