Shady Row, Meltham Mills

Shady Row was an area of mill workers' properties built next to the mills at Meltham Mills. Census returns indicate that there were a total of 60 houses.

Until a boundary change in the 1890s, the row was classified as being part of the township of Honley.


Properties existed at Shady Row as early as the start of the 1800s, when early Methodists in the district reportedly met in a cottage on the row.[1]

In 1827, Jonas Brook helped establish one of the first co-operative societies in Yorkshire and, according to some sources, the store was initially on Shady Row.[2]

At the time of the 1841 Census, 57 of the houses were occupied, with a total of 339 people were residing there (averaging nearly 6 people per property).

The subsequent Census returns show that the total number of people living on the row gradually decreased, reaching a total of 188 in 1911 (averaging just under 4 people per property).

The 1861 and 1871 Census returns also indicate that one of the properties was a grocery, opened by Charlotte Wadsworth. Born Charlotte Haigh in Linthwaite circa 1807, she was a widow when she married bleacher Jonathan Wadsworth on 8 February 1846.[3] The couple were living on Shady Row by 1851 and Charlotte's occupation was given as "draper and grocer" in 1861. Following her husband's death in 1870, she became a full-time grocer. She died in February 1881 aged 74 and was buried on 26 February at St. James with her husband.

In January 1858, around 70 women who lived on Shady Row were treated to a tea party in one of the large rooms at the mill. The Huddersfield Chronicle reported that it was traditional for the Honley rate collector to give a small sum of money to each woman, and "other influential persons in the neighbourhood contributed trifles." The Meltham Mills Brass Band provided music and "a merry evening was spent in dancing and singing."[4]

39-year-old James Kenworthy of Shady Row was charged in January 1866 with raping 14-year-old Jane Hannah Turner of Highburton. The girl had returned home crying and her uncle eventually managed to "elicit from her the fact that [Kenworthy] had been taking liberties with her." The local Magistrates found him guilty and he was committed to trial at York Assizes.[5] He as found guilty and sentenced to 15 years penal servitude.[6]

Mule tenter Moses Preston of Shady Row was involved in an accident at Meltham Mills in July 1866 when his leg became trapped in machinery. Although it was reported that no bones were broken, Dr. Haigh felt it would be several weeks before the injured man would be able to return to work.[7]

On 21 April 1871, Mary Marshall of Shady Row, the wife of teamer John Marshall, gave birth to triplets — Gathorne, Rose and Wilfred. Perhaps concerned that they might not all survive, the triplets were baptised straight away at St. James. The Chronicle pondered if the subscription triple cradle that was once held at Big Valley Hotel in South Crosland might be available for use.[8] They also speculated if her Majesty's private secretary would be gifting the family the traditional three guineas.[9]

Sadly Garthone died shortly after being baptised and was buried on 24 April. Rose survived only a few weeks longer and was buried on 17 June. Wilfred died aged 5, and was buried on 1 July 1876. All three were buried at St. James.

On 1 October 1873, a 5-year-old boy, the son of Oliver Wilson, accidentally tumbled into the Meltham Mills dam. The child's scream attracted the attention of women on Shady Row, but they were unable to help. However, a young lad passing by jumped in and rescued the boy, who soon recovered.[10]

In April 1874, the Chronicle reported that a married woman living on Shady Row, who seemingly suffered from mental health problems, had caused "much excitement" when she was seen walking down the street in her nightclothes. After being persuaded to return home, her neighbours were shocked to see her jump out of her bedroom window. Fortunately she was uninjured and, "with some difficulty", her neighbours confined her to her home.[11]

On 1 April 1882, 63-year-old spinster Sarah Barstow of Shady Row was found dead in one of the outside toilets. The cause of death appeared to be an internal haemorrhage and she had been recent poor health.[12]

Grocer and tea hawker George Stead of Shady Row (aged 71) died suddenly at the Railway Hotel in Meltham on the evening of 25 June 1885. He had gone to visit his son, Edwin, who was the landlord of the inn, when he collapsed and died. The Chronicle reported that Stead had an incredible memory for local facts and knowledge and that he had brought his seven children up as musicians, with three of his sons — Wright, Richard and Edwin — being prominent members of the Meltham Mills Brass Band and his daughter Mary an excellent vocalist.[13]

A few months later, in November 1885, George's younger brother James Stead (aged 58), also of Shady Row, died in strangely similar circumstances. James had gone to the Rose and Crown Inn in Meltham and, within a few minutes of arriving, had died of a heart attack.[14] He had been one of the oldest members of Meltham Mills Brass Band, who paid their respects by playing at his funeral.[15]

Another member of the Meltham Mills Brass Band died in an accident on Shady Row in March 1888. 23-year-old Matthew Lunn had been walking down the row, carrying a heavy metal bar with some other men. Lunn slipped and the end of the bar hit his head, "completely stunning him." A few days latter he died. Sadly, he had only been married for 2 months. Once again, the brass band played at the funeral and hundred of mourners lined the route to the church.[16]

Dora Thewlis, who became known as the "baby suffragette" following her arrest in London aged 16, was born on Shady Row in May 1890.[17]

Vandeleur Earnshaw, a 36-year-old gardener of Shady Row, met with an accident at Meltham Station just before 6am on Saturday 20 August 1892. Desperate to catch the departing train, he ran alongside and opened a compartment door but, before he could jump in, he stumbled off the end of the platform and fell. Earnshaw's left foot was caught under the train and one of the wheels passed over his leg, just below the ankle. He was taken to Huddersfield Infirmary — quite possibly aboard the train he had tried to catch — where they amputated the limb.[18] Later Census returns show that he understandably had to abandon his career as a gardener and instead took a job at one of the silk mills at Meltham Mills. His son, Hilton, was killed in the First World War.

In February 1895, all of the residents of Shady Row petitioned Meltham Urban District Council, "praying that the Council take the necessary steps to transfer them from the Honley District Council's jurisdiction to the Meltham township." The Council approved the petition, noting that Meltham paid for the drainage and roads whilst Honley collected the rate.[19] Unfortunately, the Honley District Council rejected the proposal.[20]

This proposal was then escalated and the West Riding County Council ordered an enquiry into the matter in June 1895, which was held at the Odd Fellows' Hall. The majority of witnesses called on the first day were in favour of the boundary change.

The Boundary Commission eventually ruled in favour of the boundary change in March 1896.[21]

Cases of scarlet fever occurred in the house of William Schorfield in Shady Row. The local medical officer, Dr. T.A. Green, recommended that his house be turned into a temporary isolation hospital to help contain the disease within the household. A contentious issue was that Green told Schorfield that, until the isolation ended, the local council would cover all expenses incurred.[22]

At least three men from Shady Row were killed in action during the First World War:

Shady Row was still in existence in the late 1940s, but had been demolished by 1965.[26]

Census Returns

Census occupied properties total residents avg. per household
1841 57 339 5.95
1851 58 322 5.55
1861 57 310 5.44
1871 60 300 5.00
1881 57 279 4.89
1891 53 256 4.83
1901 43 175 4.07
1911 49 188 3.84


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Shady Row appears to have comprised four rows of housing, some of which were back-to-back properties:

Notes and References

  1. West Yorkshire Archive Service: Off the Record
  2. See "Local Social and Industrial Contrasts" in Huddersfield Chronicle (02/Dec/1893) for a report of Owen Balmforth giving the year as 1827.
  3. Her first husband was had the surname Quarmy.
  4. "Tea Meeting a Meltham Mills" in Huddersfield Chronicle (09/Jan/1858).
  5. "Criminal Assault on a Girl" in Huddersfield Chronicle (20/Jan/1866).
  6. Leeds Mercury (04/Apr/1866).
  7. "Mill Accident" in Huddersfield Chronicle (14/Jul/1866).
  8. "Meltham: Triple Birth" in Huddersfield Chronicle (22/Apr/1871).
  9. Early in her reign, Queen Victoria had gifted three guineas to the mother of triplets, in recognition of the financial difficulties that multiples infants could bring a family. This then became a tradition throughout her long reign.
  10. "Narrow Escape from Drowning at Meltham Mills" in Huddersfield Chronicle (02/Oct/1873).
  11. "Meltham Mills: A Crazy Woman" in Huddersfield Chronicle (11/Apr/1874).
  12. "Local and District News: Found Dead" in Huddersfield Daily Chronicle (04/Apr/1882).
  13. "Meltham: Sudden Death" in Huddersfield Chronicle (27/Jun/1885).
  14. "Local and District News: Sudden Death" in Huddersfield Daily Chronicle (17/Nov/1885).
  15. "Local and District News: Funeral of a Musician" in Huddersfield Daily Chronicle (20/Nov/1885).
  16. "Death of a Meltham Musician" in Huddersfield Chronicle (17/Mar/1888).
  17. Dora's parents were listed in the 1891 Census as residing at 42 Shady Row. 10-month-old Dora is listed residing with her grandparents in Holmfirth.
  18. "Serious Accident at Meltham Station" in Huddersfield Daily Chronicle (22/Aug/1892).
  19. "Meltham" in Huddersfield Daily Chronicle (22/Feb/1895).
  20. "Local District Councils: Honley" in Huddersfield Daily Chronicle (14/Mar/1895).
  21. "West Riding Boundary Question" in Huddersfield Daily Chronicle (10/Mar/1896).
  22. "Meltham: Meeting of the District Council" in Huddersfield Chronicle (28/Jul/1900).
  23. "On This Day" in Huddersfield Daily Examiner (15/Jun/2015).
  24. "Causalities Among North-Country Soldiers" in Yorkshire Post (13/Nov/1915).
  25. Every Man Remembered: Private W. Stokes
  26. Based on view Ordnance Survey maps of the period.