Slaithwaite Notes: Past and Present (1905) - Chapter LXX

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Chapter LXX. An Old Slaithwaite Man's Request

In the Huddersfield Examiner of August 8th, 1871, will be found a report of Mr. Alfred Sykes — then of Ramsden, Sykes, and Ramsden — defending a case from Scapegoat Hill way. How many things have happened since then? The Huddersfield borough magistrates on the bench for the week were Messrs. Henry Brooke, Jer. Kaye, and E. Huth — all three long dead.

At Marsden a meeting was held to consider rules for a proposed Liberal Club. A sub-committee was selected, and Mr. Joseph Crowther was appointed chairman. Further under, Marsden is aoted as a place for a feed, on which is drawn a fictitious picture. But more lasting is the notice of a testimonial to the Rev. H. Pickersgill, some time a former minister, but then of Tunstall, Staffordshire, and who was again removing to Westmorland.

At the same time, under Linthwaite, mention is made of the then famous band taking first prize (£26 10s.) at Gorton, near Manchester; Kingston Mill second, and Healer Hall (Rochdale) third. Judge, Mr. Jenkins, Manchester.

In the same issue was a notice of Mr. Thomas Dean, M.D., being appointed medical officer of health for Burnley at £500 per annum, and at this date (a Slaithwaite lad) now living, and honourably carrying out his professional duties most successfully.

A little lower is a notice of the Slaithwaite choir, then under the late and respected Henry Pearson, the then popular organist, and the father of some eminent musicians.

It also says of the Feast time: “Scrub, scrub, scrub, and clean, clean, clean, may be said to be the order of the clay, and nearly enough of it to drive an old bachelor mad.” Describing further it says: “All sorts of vendors have found their way into the town, with a miscellaneous lot of articles, while beer, beef, and provision dealers have been as throng as if a famine were coining on. Traps of varied degree have entered the village, already filling the Towngate, so that those who love this sort of thing are likely to have their fill.” The glory of this thing has departed. It is a corpse in latter days, a deserted town, the inhabitants of which have gone to the seaside.

Again, there is mention of the adult members of the Baptist Sunday School, with their then popular minister, the Rev. W. E. Tomsett, of a pleasant Saturday afternoon’s out to the then famous Blake Ley, kept by Mr. John Hirst, a well-known character in his day, representing many of the tips and downs of life — opened again, after many years of closing, by Mr. Firth, the temperance reformer.

Then follow some comments on the flower show, which had had a very successful career with such good men workers as Mr. G. H. Walker, one of the pioneers of all that was best in Slaithwaite; but it had got down to horse racing, and this was what killed it. It was up to this a living ornament to the village. The cottagers did wonders in their successful productions, and it is anent this that a dear old living soul has preserved a copy of my report of 1874 and treasured it with a miser’s care, and now prays for it to have a corner in my little book. It may not be much, but it is enough to graciously grant the request of this deserving fellow:—

“Mr. James Walker, gardener and farmer, of Hill Top, has in his little vinery three very good vines, all in fine condition, trained almost to perfection, the branches being very straight and quite filling the house, which is only 15 feet by 21 feet. It would be a difficult matter to find an equal for the same room and conditions. The bunches of growing grapes number about 500, and are very healthy. About a similar number have been taken away to help the others to grow. From these trees, which are regularly improving, Mr. Walker took the first and second prizes at the annual flower show last Saturday, being about the last of these things in Slaithwaite of which he is justly proud to-day.”

Slaithwaite Notes: Past and Present (1905) by John Sugden