William Dyson (1813-1854)

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.

William Dyson was a manufacturer and innkeeper.


He was born on 24 February 1813 in the Township of Netherthong, the son of manufacturer James Dyson and his wife Martha, and was baptised on 28 March 1813 at Netherthong Wesleyan Methodist Chapel.

His brother was woollen manufacturer Thomas Dyson who resided at Elmwood.

He married Sarah Littlewood[1] of Netherthong, daughter of innkeeper Jonathan Littlwood, on 21 July 1843 at All Hallows, Almondbury. The couple had two known children:

  • Ellen Dyson (1844–1906)[2]
  • Alice Dyson (c.1848–1860)[3]

In 1854, William and Sarah contracted cholera which proved fatal. Sarah died on 19 October and William on 22 October, and both were buried at All Saints, Netherthong, on 23 October.

Holmfirth Flood of 1852

A statement by Dyson was published in the Huddersfield Chronicle:[4]

On the Wednesday evening, between seven and eight o’clock, I called the persons then in my house out into the street, to look at what I thought something wrong in the general appearance of the water. We all returned, however, into my house, though agreed in opinion that there was something wrong. In some twenty minutes afterwards several workmen came in from the mills, and said that the water had lowered about a foot in the last twenty minutes. With this assurance we were somewhat satisfied ; and our company having left, we went to bed between eleven and twelve o’clock, and I fell asleep. Mrs. Dyson awoke me about one o’clock, and said the water was coming into the house. I immediately jumped out of bed, ran down to a back door on the second floor, intending by that means to let my family out by the back door, which is on a level with the ground behind, though chamber high. At the same moment the water burst in the door, and I with difficulty escaped with my life. The water completely filled the lower rooms, washed down the bread creel, which was affixed to the kitchen ceiling, and swept down everything before it. As soon as I had secured my own family, I ran across the stream in the street to Mr. James Shackleton’s, one side of whose house had fallen. I said, ‘Where are you all?’ and a voice cried out ‘We are here.’ I passed the children over to Jonathan Roebuck, and succeeded in carrying Miss Shackleton on my back, in her night dress, into my own house in safety. I then went down to Mill Hill to see what had become of the others, and I could see a woman in her chemise. I shouted out. ‘Who’s there?’ and she answered, ‘Mrs. Tate,’ adding, ‘my child is lost and I will never leave the place.’ I said — ‘Then I must compel you, it is no use looking for the dead, you must save your life.’ I rushed to, and swung her across my back, carried her through the water into my own house, and thus saved her life.

At around 2:30am, William recovered the body of 12-year-old Sarah Woodcock from "amongst some timber at the Holmfirth Mill Dam".

Notes and References

  1. Born 26 April 1824.
  2. Born in Wortley, Yorkshire. Married William Crouchley on 12 February 1868 at All Saints, Netherthong and moved to London soon afterwards. Died 10 January 1906 at 5 Devonshire Square, Middlesex.
  3. Died aged 12 on 24 June 1860 at Elmwood. Buried 28 June at All Saints, Netherthong.
  4. "Mr. William Dyson's Statement" in Huddersfield Chronicle (14/Feb/1852).