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

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The following is a transcription of a historic book and may contain occasional small errors.



To my dear brother Sam I dedicate these Notes in grateful memory of those happy and hallowed associations of our young days.

His life was one of great humility and silent charity, which found expression in unseen little acts of kindness to the deserving poor.

Money did not spoil him, nor in its acquirement injured he any man.

He died a good Christian and closely attached to Providence Baptist Chapel, and to this place of worship he and I were much devoted by a long and close connection, and by the dear departed who peacefully sleep in God’s acre adjoining the church.

In the same loving spirit his widow has honoured his memory by placing in her beloved church — St. James — a beautiful stained glass window.


82 Greenhead Road, Huddersfield, 1902.


John Sugden

My only reason for publishing these notes is the pressure of my numerous friends, who have very likely been mistaken in their worth and value.

When I pleaded that they had no merit, were of no importance, and could not possibly interest anyone outside Slaithwaite, they said I must leave them to judge, and for the sake of old times let them have a chance of preserving in book form this little record of local history, so that they may look at it now and again, in order to compare the past with the present, and mark time in this fast growing district.

In this sense alone have I consented to their publication; and knowing how poor and defective they are, I must ask the indulgent reader to pardon all the mistakes, to forgive all the weaknesses, and to accept them as a tribute of love towards this smiling valley, the happy place of my birth, the joy of my living, and when I have done be taken to this land of rest beneath the trees of its lovely vale.


HUDDERSFIELD, August, 1902.

[The author is very grateful for the few kind letters inserted and for some of the illustrations so graciously conceded, but he alone is responsible for the opinions frequently expressed, and which have no pretence to be infallible.]


“Where the bee sucks, there lurk I,
In a cowslip bell I lie;
There I crouch when owls do cry;
On the bat’s back do I fly
After summer merrily.” — The Tempest.

Another name is added to the list of local authors. With the greatest humility, and only in response to the solicitation of friends who have been interested in reading the papers as they appeared from time to time, Mr. John Sugden has republished in book form the “Slaithwaite Notes” which appeared originally in the columns of a local paper. The book is dedicated to the late Mr. Samuel Sugden, a man greatly respected by all who knew him. After referring to his brother’s humility, charity, and simplicity, the writer says “He died a good Christian, though never a member of Providence Baptist Chapel,” and dwells upon the old associations which both had with that place of worship. Mr. Sugden’s reminiscences go back to an early date. He deals with first-hand knowledge with the history of the Colne Valley from forty to fifty years ago. Anyone who wishes for material for a description of life in a West Riding clothing village during the last half-century will find it here. And he will find many memories of old fights, which deeply stirred the people in those days, many echoes of the controversies of a wider world, all told with a freedom and a frankness that at once reveal the nature of the writer, who deals in the same spirit of kindness with everybody he has to mention and tells what he knows about them with the utmost faithfulness and with a freedom of expression and flow of language that give an added quality to the work. Many people who may not be interested in the story itself, to whom Slaithwaite may be a terra incognita and its great men mere shadows, will be interested by the manner of the telling which is wholly characteristic of the writer.


Under the title of “Slaithwaite Notes,’’ Mr. John Sugden has produced a very readable little book of 92 pages, in which he forcibly describes much of the local history of Slaithwaite during the last 50 years, and the interesting peculiarities of many of its old inhabitants. Some of the stories he relates are exceedingly racy, and command the attention of the reader. We confess to have read the book from the first page to the last with unflagging interest, and thank Mr. Sugden for so vividly bringing before our mind’s eye once more the well-remembered form and features of several old and valued friends in the Colne Valley who joined the ranks of the Great Departed many years ago, but who have left behind them a sweet record of good words and works. The little book shows that Mr. Sugden has thought through life that he had a mission — that of a world-mender. He has tried to accomplish great things, but, like many another, he has not always succeeded. In his attempts to better mankind he has often met with rebuffs which would have discouraged a man of a less sanguine temperament. He has, however, gone plodding on, and if more tangible results have not been accomplished the fault has not been his. As a politician with a conscience, he left his life-long associates, because he could not and would not join in the gyrations of the party which preceded “the great betrayal” by the introduction of Mr. Gladstone’s Home Rule Bill. Since then he has done good work on the platform as a Liberal Unionist. He is an effective speaker, always kind and courteous, with no bitterness; but there is evidence in his book in several places that his treatment by some politicians of the baser sort has left a rankling sore, though he does his best to hide it. We give below an extract from “Slaithwaite Notes.” We recommend all Slawiters to obtain a copy of the humorous and interesting record of the doings of many who are still in the flesh, but of more who have gone to “that bourne whence no traveller ere returns.” The work is illustrated — a portrait of Mr. Sugden, a view of “Old Slaithwaite,” the mill of the Slaithwaite Spinning Company, and the interior of St. James’s Church, Slaithwaite: “I feel sure they were happier in former times — had much more pleasure in life, simpler things were more satisfying, less did, there was neither as far to fall or as high to rise. There was neither the sudden fortunes or the ruinous disasters; for all that, taking all in all, the latter days are better than the former.” — Weekly News.



Ladies and Gentlemen, —

From time to time I have been strongly pressed to republish my little Notes, the first edition having been readily sold out; but thinking they were of so little importance during my lifetime, I had agreed with my very dear daughter “Janey” (Mrs. Brook) for her to bring out a second edition at my demise, for which I had placed with her many more Notes to enlarge the little volume to a readable size. But, alas! “the best-laid schemes o’ mice and men gang aft agley,” and leave us naught but grief and pain for promised joy. The dear girl so beloved by all has gone before: been called to her Master too soon — far too soon — for her deeply sorrowing relations, hosts of friends, and the good and useful work she was doing in her native village with other good Christians, where, it is not too much to say, she was revered by all for her many virtues, great kindness, and numerous acts of benevolence. At such a time, and at her death, I have been told it would be well to publish now, and to add whatever was said by the press and from a few friends (selected, because it was impossible to give them all) who have so kindly thought of our distress with a word in due season, and to these will be added a portrait of her, which may be some little souvenir of a humble village lass so very dear to such a large circle of friends in the Colne Valley, the life of which she ever strove to lift to higher ideals of happiness; never sparing in hard work (especially with her dear girls), and each day did something to help humanity on earth, with a special aim for heaven. Of such an one, and so near and dear, I shall be forgiven for saying — it is hard to say — Thy will be done; but we must all bow to Jehovah’s decrees, and let her example be our guide (for she did none of these things for self, vanity, praise, or vain gloryings, but to make the world better and God, the Saviour of all mankind, nearer to us all). With becoming humility let us say:—

“Father, in Thy gracious keeping Leave we now Thy servant sleeping.”

In addition to a new font in the body of the church to the sacred memory of the dearly beloved wife of the highly respected vicar, Mr. Rose, a richly stained glass window (“Faith, Hope, and Charity) is to be placed in one of the south windows to Mrs. Brook. Both of these have been handsomely subscribed for by the generosity and goodwill of the people.


December, 1904.


White House Hotel,
West Cliff, Whitby,
3rd October, 1902.

Dear Mr. Sugden, — I have to-day received your “Slaithwaite Notes,” which I shall read with much interest, and shall value very highly for the writer’s sake. My wife desires to join with me in very warm thanks for your kind remembrance of us at the present time. — With every good wish, I am, yours very truly,

Thomas Brooke.

Later: “I have read with the deepest interest and pleasure the local notes on Slaithwaite and its inhabitants which you were able to collect. There ought to be some one in every place who would jot down local memoranda and information. Much history is daily lost.”

The Inner Hey,
Marsden, near Huddersfield,
3rd October, 1902.

My dear old Friend, — Many thanks for your “Slaithwaite Notes,” which I am reading with intense interest and delight. I can go over the whole ground, and that fact adds to my pleasure. I shall value the “Notes” very much, and once more “read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest” them. Could you come here on Sunday afternoon next that we may have a few hours of sweet converse? — Yours truly,

J. H. Robinson.

John Sugden, Esq., J. P.

Mayor’s Parlour,
Town Hall,
October 9th, 1902.

Alderman John Sugden, J. P.

Dear Sir, — Allow me to thank you for your courtesy in forwarding me a copy of your brochure, “Slaithwaite Notes.” I have not yet been able to read the whole, but from what I have been able to read I promise myself a considerable amount of pleasure in reading the remainder. I recognise old friends in the poetic account of “An old Colne Valley Romance.” — With thanks and kind regards, faithfully yours.

Ernest Woodhead.

55, Hanover Square,
October 2nd, 1902.

Dear Mr. Sugden, — Thanks for the capital “Slaithwaite Notes.” It is evident that they have a “mein” of their own. — With love to all, yours sincerely,

Frank Curzon.

“Eversley,” Grange Road,
Sutton, Surrey,
February 2nd, 1903.

Dear Sir. — Please send me a copy of “Slaithwaite Notes,” by John Sugden, and I will send you the cash for it as soon as I know what the charge is. I have just read it with a great deal of pleasure, and am very anxious to possess a copy, especially as I know so much of Mr. Sam Sugden and his sister Mary. I have not much recollection of the author, but I have a high regard for the man who promulgates such sentiments. Please send it to the above address, and oblige. — Yours truly,

Edward Kent.

Mr. J.W. Roberts,
Slawit, Hothersfield.

“Eversley,” Grange Road,
Sutton, Surrey,
February 10th, 1903.

My dear Sir, — Ten thousand thanks for the book (“Slaithwaite Notes”) you have so kindly sent me. After my decease my elder son will take possession of it. He can appreciate it much, having heard me speak of many of the incidents. I am now close upon 80 years old. I was born in 1823, and was sent to Newark in 1838 to serve an apprenticeship with a draper, when we had to travel by coach. No railways in those days. What a change! When you next see your sister, remember me kindly to her. My mother was always fond of her. The last time I saw her was at the funeral of my mother in 1884. — Again with thanks, yours very truly,

Edward Kent.

John Sugden, Esq.,

44, Corporation Street,
Oct. 14th, 1902.

Dear Sir, — I had the mournful duty of coming home on the 4th inst. to attend the funeral of my sister at Gadsby’s Chapel, and Tom Cock, of Carr Lane, presented me with a copy of your “Slaithwaite Notes,” which I have perused with great pleasure. I well remember the time I used to walk from Shaw Carr Wood and climb the wooden steps outside “Jammie” Boyle’s house, and am grateful to you for many instructive and happy hours spent there. To show you that your time and labour was not spent in vain, I herewith send you cutting from the Sutton Coldfield News, of the 11th inst., by which you will see I am trying to follow out your precepts in the Midlands, and to infuse a bit of the old Yorkshire into my work on the Town Council. I may add the Tom Walker you mention on page 65 was my uncle. — Apologising for troubling you, I am, yours fraternally,

John Bamford.

John Sugden, Esq.,
22, Greenhead Road,

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

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


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