Manchester Times (11/Aug/1849) - Holmfirth
Between the hours of eleven and two o’clock on Thursday, a terrific thunder storm raged in the Holmfirth valley, near Huddersfield, and was attended with injurious effects to property from the filling of the streams in the neighbourhood, to a height beyond that ever attained with the memory of that venerable and sagacious individual, “the oldest inhabitant.” Happily, as far as we have been able to ascertain, the storm was not fatal to life, although the Junction Tavern, on the road from Holmfirth to Dunford Bridge, was struck by the electric fluid, and two men who had gone thither for shelter were prostrated to the earth. One of them was a considerable time before he recovered from the effects of the shock. The play of the lightning was incessant and terrifically vivid. The war of the thunder was loud and constant, reverberating again and again among the hills, striking awe and terror into the hearts of the stoutest and most fearless. The rain literally fell in torrents, particularly on the hills between Holmfirth and Dunford Bridge, where the Manchester and Sheffield Railway passes. Part of the water from these hills is discharged by a small stream called the “Ribble” to Holmfirth, where it joins the main stream, down the Holmfirth valley, called “The Holm ;” and although, at the upper portion of the river there is a large catch reservoir constructed for the use of the numerous mills that stud this valley — and although the reservoir was in a few moments filled to several yards in depth — the immense quantities of water that fell accumulated so fast, and rolled down the course with such force, that several of the weirs erected across the stream for the use of the mills were swept away, and considerable damage done to the fields, fences, and crops, on each side of the stream. At Holmfirth, where the buildings prevented the accumulated torrent from spreading over the adjoining grounds, considerable damage was done to the property stored in the buildings by shopkeepers and others, the buildings on the margin of the stream being flooded to the depth of several feet. It will take several hundred pounds to replace the property destroyed and damaged. Another portion of the flood descended from the hills by the New Mill stream ; and although on this, as well as on the Ribble, there is a catch reservoir, yet the accumulation of water was so great, that at the Dobroyd Mill, which strides the New Mill stream, about a mile below the reservoir, the natural outlets were quite inadequate to take the flood, and the water poured through the windows into the fulling mill, carrying away whatever was movable, and amongst the rest 14 or 15 pieces of cloth. The miller’s house, adjoining the mill, was filled to the depth of six or seven feet, the clock and chests of drawers floating about in the pool. The flood came so suddenly upon the family that they had only just time to escape with their lives. The dam to the Dobroyd Mill, one of the largest in size, was considered to be most substantially constructed, yet the torrent was so heavy and the overflow of the banks so tremendous, that the latter was washed away, and the volume of water thus stored up for the use of the mill added to the already overpowering flood. The roads in the neighbourhood are much injured, and the damage done cannot be less than from £300 to £400. At the Jackson Bridge Mill — the next below the Dobroyd — the weir has been completely swept away. The banks of the dam belonging to Mr. Sidney Moorhouse’s mill were also broken down, and the foundation of a woolstove so far undermined that the back wall fell. The fence walls adjoining were also washed down, and damage done to the extent of from £40 to £50. At the Ing Nook Mills, belonging to Messrs. John Hinchliffe and Sons, large quantities of gravel and silt were carried into the dam, and a portion of their weir and a bridge swept away. The damage done in this case amounts to £60 or £70. All along the stream the fence walls have been prostrated, the potatoes and other crops washed away, and the fields left covered with gravel and stones. At New Mill the water was in numerous dwellings floating, the furniture about, destroying the eatables in the cellars, and in some instances wetting the whole of the clothing of the inmates, so that they had not even a change of dry linen. A small shopkeeper, named George Thackray, a deserving, industrious man, with a large family, has lost nearly the whole of his little stock by the flood. In the New Mill stream, the water rose higher than it was ever known within the memory of man.