The Era (15/Feb/1852) - The Catastrophe at Holmfirth

This page is part of the Holmfirth Flood Project and its content is believed to be in the Public Domain.
The following is a transcription of a historic newspaper article and may contain occasional errors. If the article was published prior to 1 June 1957, then the text is likely in the Public Domain.


The scene of the late fatal and devastating calamity continues to attract thousands of the curious from all parts of the country. On Saturday and Sunday, notwithstanding the heavy and almost ceaseless showers of rain on the latter day, the crowds that flocked into the town and up the valley were enormous. The ordinary trains were found inadequate to accommodate the vast multitudes that pressed into the stations all along the line to Holmfirth, and extra engines and carriages, cattle pens, and horse-boxes, were brought into use to convey the people to the scenes of misery spread on every side, in a valley which last week could boast of all the comforts of civilised and industrious life. It is stated that one train from Bradford landed two thousand people in the town on Sunday morning ; and at the Huddersfield Railway Station, where the average of daily fares to Holmfirth and the valley of the Holm amounts to about £5, the receipts are said to have increased to upwards of £120. The day was exceedingly wet and unfavourable for out-door excursion, or there can be little doubt that the town and valley, to the source of the flood, would have been a vast stream of human beings Since Saturday, several bodies have been found ; three in the dam of Bottom's Mill, and two others lower in the valley ; and another at Dalton, a little below Huddersfield, and again on Wednesday one in a dam a little below Hinchliffe Mill, and an infant a few hours old at Holmfirth. The body of Mr. Jonathan Sandford, of Dyson’s Mill, still remains undiscovered, and his friends, anxious to pay the last tribute of respect to one so generally esteemed for his upright conduct and manly bearing, have offered a reward of £10 to any one who can discover the body. His two children and servant, who were hurried to destruction at the same moment, have been found, and the last sad offices have been performed over their bodies, Mr. Sandford is described as being six feet high, fresh looking, and rather round shouldered.

The Huddersfield subscription alone now amounts to upwards of £6,000.

On Thursday afternoon a meeting of influential gentlemen, resident in Leeds and the surrounding locality, was held at the Court-house, Leeds, to take preliminary measures for a more general public meeting with a view to raise subscriptions for the relief of the sufferers by the calamity at Holmfirth. The meeting was convened by the Mayor (Mr. George Goodman), and was numerously attended. Amongst those present were several of the magistrates and principal manufacturers. The object of the meeting was briefly introduced by the Mayor, who read a letter from Holmfirth, in which it was staled that the probable extent of damage to property would be from £200,000 to £250,000.

Mr. Brook, of Holmfirth, attended the meeting to furnish any information that might be desired. He said that about 30 billies (a machine used in woollen manufacture) had been destroyed or brought to a stand, and it would require probably three or four months to replace them. In all the departments of labour connected with these machines not less than 4,000 hands had been employed, who were now deprived of employment. Thus, in the locality the payment and circulation of about £2,000 a week in wages was stopped. He also stated that the coroner’s jury had already viewed sixty-seven bodies, and between thirty and forty persons, who had become victims to the recent calamity, were still missing, making in all the loss of life more than a hundred.

Mr. John Gott moved a resolution requesting the Mayor to call a public meeting, to be held next Monday, for the purpose of raising subscriptions. The resolution was seconded by Mr. Henry Hall, and adopted.

All the gentlemen present then signed the requisition, and the Mayor, at once complying with its request, fixed the meeting for Monday, to be then held in the Stock Exchange Hall, which had been offered free of expense.

Before the meeting separated several subscriptions were announced, amounting altogether to between £500 and £600. The chairman of the Stock Exchange (Mr. Ridsdale) stated that the sharebrokers had subscribed £100, and their clerks £7. Deep sympathy for the sufferers is manifested in the town, and it is expected that a very liberal subscription for their relief will be raised at the public meeting.