No two townships can be so near together as Slaithwaite and Golcar without having many things in common. One advantage Golcar has over all the rest of its adjacent townships: it can use all their roads and enjoy the rates of all the very valuable property built just within its borders. This is a privilege of the few in the local government of the surrounding townships. Then, again, its sons and daughters love the place better than all others, no matter wherever they roam; they are fain to get back to the old ground. Well do I remember a very dear old friend, the late Mrs. G. Haigh, and her determination in her early married life to honour “Brook Loin” anniversary (as she called it); and not alone. George and all the family had to be there, or this good Golcar lass would have known the reason why. This kind of devotion to a place is so strong, so true, and so loyal, that it is bound to command the admiration of all who have seen it, and it must be of great advantage to the place so favoured. In this sense so greatly has the Golcar Baptist Chapel profited that it is one of the largest and best-attended places of worship in the district. In former times the doctrine was much divided, there being two sections, the broad Baptists (a chance for all) and the Calvinists, who were on a narrower gauge, honestly believing in the selection of a few for God’s glory and the inheritance of the kingdom of heaven, the rest nowhere.
Many were the friendly and other discussions in tin church on this troublesome question; sometimes making dissensions even in families. It has nearly died out in its bold outlines, and left a wider spirit of true Christianity. But Golcar was always original; it has made great progress; and at one time it contained more little cloth manufacturers than any place of its size in the United Kingdom. Many of these were fathers of the present day’s most successful manufacturers, merchants, etc., and how they would “fratch” with one another, then and now. I have heard these men call one another names that to-day would land them in an action for libel. But they did not mind: it was their way of differing about the government of the town, their religion, and politics. They stood distinctly aloof; the Church had no dealings with Dissent, nor the latter with the Church. No; there seemed a great gulf between the two.
Looking back, I am not sure whether the Church has made the most of its mission. In the days of old they were very very strong. It has since only extended to Westwood Edge; while, on the other hand, the extensions of the chapels have grown on every side. This may be food for friendly reflection, but it is not meant for invidious distinction. Oh dear no! And one is much cheered by the broader spirit of charity displayed in later days on both sides, as witnessed by the many acts of kind co-operation for the public good. It will take a longer time, I fear, to work out the same broad spirit in politics. No; a Tory in Golcar will to-day stand alone for the faith once held by the saints, just as the Radical now and at all times believes that he alone is in the right, when in reality the truth lies between them. Therefore we will call honour quits, and at the balance will be mute, for we never can adjust it.
Well do I remember a great Liberal banquet and meeting held a long while ago to celebrate a Liberal victory. All the clans were gathered together; the Nonconformists held politics then next sacred to their religion. The Iredales, the Ainleys, the Taylors, the Smiths, and others whom one forgets, were there in great array. Never shall I forget the honest enthusiasm of the men and the determination of the women. There was one beautiful lady who set off the colour of the party, to which she added a personal charm and an earnest devotion which gave éclat to the meeting. She was the then honoured and married daughter of the late J. Taylor, and living on the flat near the new Providence Chapel, and in business (if I am not mistaken) as finishers for the small manufacturers who then, happily, crowded the town. These, unfortunately, have been driven off. There is no place for them, since Europe and America have largely closed their doors by adverse tariffs, that only the very large firms can compete successfully. This means less chance in future for the young and rising generation, and, I fear, fewer self-made men, who cannot have the same easy opportunities to become great manufacturers in the future as was the case in the good old past, when Golcar was a perfect hive of thriving piece makers of sturdy independence, pushing energy, and possessed of considerable wealth.
We had a glorious time. Golcar was not Tory, as the wicked had prophesied, but Liberal to the core, as some of the latter-day enthusiasts would warmly acclaim at the present; and as John Sugden found it, to his sorrow.
Then we were for Peace, Retrenchment, and Reform, and preached them for all we were worth, and pledged ourselves at the meeting held in the old Town School to secure the blessing of peace, which was the basis of all human happiness, retrenchment in all that was extravagant, and to work for those reforms which should be just and generous to all persons alike in Church and State.
Much has happened since then. Golcar has gone on prospering in fewer hands, though, like her lilies, she keeps a clean, pure, and lofty isolation from the approaches of all other townships. Huddersfield may promise great things; Golcar believes they can be achieved at home. Linthwaite may all but combine, yet they will miss at the finish. And Slaithwaite may woo and plead with the fond allurements of an earnest lover to make one grand council, with power to grapple with the great education or other important questions. Still, I fear, there is no chance for this most desirable ideal of ever joining with the other adjacent bodies in a happy married state. At the same time, in justice it must be said, there is not a more enlightened Board, or one that has done more for the good of the ratepayers, than the present governing body, so ably presided over by Mr. William Crowther, of whom it may be said:—
Slaithwaite Notes: Past and Present (1905) by John Sugden