Water Street, Hinchliffe Mill

This page is part of the Holmfirth Flood Project which aims to make content available to researchers in advance of the 175th anniversary of the 1852 Flood which will be commemorated in 2027.

1851 Census

  1. Joshua Earnshaw (71) — woollen cloth manufacturer
  2. James Mettrick (56) — [engine] sizer boiler
  3. John Charlesworth (43) — woollen hand loom weaver
  4. Jonathan Crosland (38?) — woollen hand loom weaver
  5. Joseph Dodd (44) — engineer
  6. Mary Marsden (58) — dress maker
  7. Uriah Wimpenny (46) — woollen cloth manufacturer
  8. Jonathan Holmes (35) — woollen mule spinner
  9. George Hinchliff (32) — woollen dyer(?) labourer
  10. John Wimpenny (50) — slubber
  11. Joseph Brook (31) — woollen hand loom weaver
  12. George Crossland (49) — woollen hand loom weaver

1861 Census

  1. Samuel Hardy (67) — butcher
  2. Samuel Brook (21) — grocer & corn dealer
  3. Jonathan Hinchliff — wool hand loom weaver
  4. John Turner (41) — wool power loom weaver
  5. Joseph Crosland (50) — wool power loom weaver
  6. George Coldwell (36) — sizer beamer of wool ...?
  7. James Mettrick (36) — sizer boiler & farmer of 10 acres
  8. Robert Ellis (54) — woollen cloth manufacturer
  9. Hinchliff Kaye (21) — wool power loom weaver
  10. Thomas Armitage (38) — wool slubber
  11. Joshua Balmforth (50) — painter & plasterer


The Holmfirth Flood (1910):

I was looking out of a window, and saw the water come rolling down the valley. In a minute after I saw the six houses ‘wobble’ a bit like on the top of the water, and then they all went away.

On the Trail of the Holmfirth Flood 1852 (1996) by Gordon and Enid Minter:

About a quarter of a mile below Holmbridge Church the valley narrows down and here the torrent gathered force again to begin its catastrophic descent on the densely populated village of Hinchliffe Mill. The mill from which the village takes its name stands on the south west bank of the river a few yards downstream from the bridge. When the flood arrived it demolished the bridge and swept away the engine house, stables and barn and destroyed three of the mill's four dams. Great damage was done to stock and machinery as the water rushed through the two lower floors but, remarkably, although it was in the direct line of the torrent the mill itself stood firm. Sadly, many of the houses in Hinchliffe Mill, and their occupants, fared less well.

A warning of imminent danger reached the sleeping village at about one o'clock but the flood arrived so soon afterwards that for forty unfortunate men, women and children there was to be no time to escape. In Fold Gate, five people drowned inside their houses which were instantly flooded to first floor level. In Water Street, six three storey dwellings were quickly overwhelmed and swept away and with them thirty-five of their forty-two inhabitants. Many years later, George Hirst vividly recalled Water Street as he saw it on the morning after the flood. It was, he said, "...a big open space, just like a dock after the ship has taken to water".

So quickly did the deluge overcome the houses near to the river that the only possible escape route open to their occupants was upwards, through the roof, to reach adjacent, possibly safer, roofs. In one of the houses left standing in Water Street the inhabitants, all sixteen of them, managed to save their lives by clinging precariously to their own roof top as the water tore past only a foot or so below and the building trembled beneath them.

There were other, even more remarkable escapes that night. James Mettrick, aged twenty-three, who lived in Water Street with his parents, brothers and sisters, was awakened by the warning shouts at just after one o'clock. As he was helping to carry the younger children to the first floor the water burst in through the doors and windows flooding the lower rooms and catching Mr. Mettrick and the youngest child on the stairs. The rest of the family scrambled into the attic but less than a minute later the house collapsed. James was swept along on the flood for about a quarter of a mile before he was carried into the comparatively calm waters of Bottoms Mill dam. There he managed to seize hold of a plank and, with the aid of the wind, eventually succeeded in reaching dry land. Dazed and exhausted he stumbled to a nearby house where he went to bed. Tragically, his father, stepmother, three sisters and three brothers perished.

The youngest child of Robert Ellis of Water Street was overlooked in the family's haste to escape. When the worst of the flood had passed a neighbour, Charles Johnson, made his way into the remains of the house and found the baby in his waterlogged cradle underneath the table. Fearing the child was near to death Mr. Johnson carried him to a neighbour's house where he was revived and later reunited with his family, all of whom survived.

Another remarkable escape was that of George Crosland, also of Water Street, who, when he was cast out into the flood, managed to climb onto a box which eventually washed into a house downstream. There, with great presence of mind, he caught hold of a sampler hanging from the joists and saved himself by clinging on until the water level lowered.