The Flood Came and Took Them All Away (1852) - Appendix: Sympathy and Support

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The Flood Came and Took Them All Away: A Sermon on the Holmfirth Flood (1852) by Rev. Joshua Fawcett

Sympathy and Support.

Perhaps no occurrence within the memory of any living person ever called forth a greater amount of sympathy and corresponding support than this awful catastrophe at Holmfirth. No sooner had the dreadful intelligence reached the ears of the public, than donations in the way of clothing and money poured in from almost every quarter; and it is now calculated that the sum raised will reach not less than £50,000. This has been contributed by parties in all ranks of life, from the Queen to the humblest cottager, from the Peer to the peasant, and residing in the most distant districts of the Kingdom. The writer is happy to be enabled to say that the sum thus realized, will go far towards mitigating the immediate wants of the vicinity; though it must be many years before the Valley of the Holme can be in a position equal to that in which it was prior to the disaster.

Among the pleasing instances of sympathy may be mentioned the visit of the Lord Bishop of Ripon, on Saturday, February 15th. On the following day, his Lordship preached in the morning at Holmfirth Church, from 1 Thessalonians, iv. 13. In the afternoon, at Holme Bridge National School, from Revelations, iii. 20.; and in the evening, at Upper Thong Church, from Revelations, iii. 19. On Monday morning his Lordship went to Holme Bridge, and accompanied by the Rev. J. Fearon, visited and kindly addressed several of the sufferers in the neighbourhood. In the afternoon, accompanied by the Rev. R. E. Leach, the Bishop visited several of the sufferers in the neighbourhood of Holmfirth Church, and whilst he expected the kindest sympathy towards the sufferers, particularly and most affectionately addressed the eldest son of Hartley, who with his wife and five children were drowned.

In addition to this, his Lordship has been a very liberal contributor to the “Holmfirth Fund.”

In order to show that every exertion was immediately rendered on the spot to mitigate the sufferings of the survivors in this awful calamity, a placard containing the following appeal was issued on Friday, February 6th:—

To the Benevolent and Humanely Disposed.
The magistrates in petty sessions assembled, hope that parties from a distance Trill leave subscriptions at the railway stations, the bank, Mr. Crosland's, stationer, and with the authorised collectors, towards affording immediate relief to those unfortunate individuals who are deprived of house and home by the sad and distressing calamity which has befallen this district.
Joseph Charlesworth,
William Leigh Brook,
Joshua Moorhouse.
Magistrates acting at Holmfirth.
Friday Noon.

To carry out this arrangement “authorised collectors,” with boxes bearing cards duly signed by the above magistrates, took up the most important thoroughfares along the line of destruction, and realised during Saturday about £30.

A mixed committee of ladies and gentlemen was formed, for the purpose of distributing clothing to the sufferers, and consists of Joshua Moorhouse, Esq., John Farrar, Esq., Joshua Charlesworth, Esq., James Charlesworth, Esq., George Hinchliffe, Esq., Mrs. Joshua Charlesworth, Mrs. Leach, Mrs. H. Booth, Mrs. Boothroyd, Mrs. and Miss Gartside, Mrs. George Hinchliffe, and Miss L. Hinchliffe, and Miss Stephenson. The relieving officer also sat at the Town Hall, during the day, to relieve the destitute.

By this means the absolutely destitute were at once provided for, but there remained vast numbers of able-bodied workmen, who were deprived of employment by the destruction and stoppage of the mills. To meet their case, the following circular was issued by the relief committee, and addressed to all the employers on the stream:—

Committee Rooms, opposite Town Hall,
February 7th, 1852
“The committee, conceiving that the mill owners and occupiers might now be affording some relief to the workmen thrown out of employ by the stoppage of their mills, have come to the resolution to request them forthwith to set to work their respective workmen in recovering salvage, and in clearing and restoring their machinery and premises (except actual buildings): and that the committee will, out of the funds placed at their disposal, allow to such workmen after the following rate, namely, Children under the age of 14 years, 4d. per day; from 14 to 18 years of age, 9d. per day; and Men above 18 years of age, 1s. 6d. per day. A weekly return of their names, ages, and occupation to be made on Fridays to the committee.
It is conceived this will be a better mode of relieving the destitute than actual charity. To these sums you will be at liberty, of course, to add on your own account such allowance as you may consider the workmen's labour to be worth, and thus earlier get your premises into working condition.
If you assent to this proposition, the committee will be obliged by you forwarding to them, as soon as possible, a return of the persons thrown out of employ by the stoppage of your works, in what department employed, and their names and ages.
You are also requested to see to the proper superintendence of such workmen.”

To all this little need be added to show that every attention was paid to the wants of the distressed poor, and also to satisfy the subscribers to the fund, that their liberal contributions will be judiciously and economically expended.

Mode of Applying Relief.

The plan of relief is to give employment as much as possible, but supplying the necessities of such as are unable to work or otherwise destitute.

All losses of furniture, &c., or damages of the amount of £20 and under, when the accounts are passed, are paid at once; the larger amounts when classified and arranged, it is proposed to submit to a Representative Committee to be elected from those Towns which have so nobly aided the Relief Fund, the Holmfirth Committee merely giving information, but having no vote.

There are at present about 500 Families on the books of the Relief Committee.