Wood Cottage Hotel, Greenfield Road, Meltham

This page is a bare-bones entry for a specific location marked on an old map. More detailed information may eventually be added...


  • also known as: The Watch House (1854 map), Duke of Edinboro' [or Edinburgh] (1879 Licence Register), Harden Moss Inn (1901 Census), Wood Cottage Youth Hostel, Wood Cottage (current name)
  • location: now off Greenfield Road, Meltham
  • status: exists but under a different use
  • category: public house, beerhouse, inn, etc.


Situated on the Greenfield & Shepley Lane Head Turnpike (now Greenfield Road), just within the boundary of the township of Meltham, this premises went through a series of name changes between the 1850s and the 1901 Census, with licensees rarely staying more than a few years. It likely changed name from the Duke of Edinburgh to the Wood Cottage Hotel in the late 1870s.

Due to its distance from Huddersfield, charges against licence holders appear to have been mostly heard in front of the Holmfirth magistrates.

Frances Ann Davenport successfully applied for a six-day licence at the 1879 Brewster Sessions, where it was noted that “a great number of people frequented the inn, and a spirit licence would be a great boon to them”. An attempt to upgrade this to a seven-day licence at the 1880 Brewster Sessions failed.

The premises was advertised for let in 1892:

WOOD COTTAGE HOTEL. TO BE LET BY TENDER, that noted free and full-licensed HOTEL, called or known as “Wood Cottage,” in the midst of T. Cank’s Yorkshire Pheasantries, adjoining the highway leading from Greenfield to Holmfirth, with bowling green, lawn tennis, stabling for upwards of 40 horses, and also other appurtenances. Also meadow and pasture land, up to 10 acres, if required, and 10 acres of woodland, on the south-west side, for holding picnics and other recreations, the year round ; also 30 acres of woodland, on the north-east side, from March 29th to August 10th ; and after August 10th up to March, and additional 150 to 200 acres of woods and common will be open for visitors for pheasant and rabbit shooting.

Licensee Robert Taylor completed the construction of a circular racecourse in 1895, situated in a field to the north-east known as Harden Hill. The racecourse had originally been planned by solicitor Frederick R. Jones (1814-1896), who was the steward of the Marsden estates of Sir Joseph Percival Pickford Radcliffe. Taylor finished laying out the track and built a wooden grandstand for spectators, situated on the western side of the track. Despite attracting an estimated 6,000 to 8,000 spectators to the inaugural race on Monday 22 September 1895, it seems the steep decline in attendance at the meeting held in September 1896 led to racing being abandoned.[1]

Dates of known licence transfers are Charles William Machin (1881), James Hampshire (1884), Joseph Chappell (1888), Thomas Cank (1892), Robert Taylor (1895), Vincent Shepherd (1897), Sarah Ellen Shepherd (1900), Firth Hinchliffe (1901), John Henry Wilkinson (1905), Wright Smithies (1906), Walter Nelson Butler (1907), Walter Barrick (1910), William Chapman (1910), Robert Wells Ibbotson (1912).

The owners of the property were named in the Licence Registers as Fred Robert Jones of Huddersfield, then his executors, and finally Miss Lucie Gertrude Latham of Osmondthorpe, Leeds.

An undated photograph, likely from the early 1900s, shows a recreational bowling green in front of the premises.

In November 1914, Thomas Henry Hudson (formerly a licence holder of the Kings Arms, Croft Street, Bradford) was unsuccessful in having the licence temporarily transferred to him. When it was stated that he was a “trainer of trotting horses”, Superintendent Hustler advised the magistrates that “it was not desirable that the trotting matches near the Wood Cottage should be resumed”.[2]

In February 1916, William Potter of Keighley’s attempt to have the licence transferred to him was rejected by Huddersfield magistrates when it was shown that his supporting petition contained falsified signatures.

The Licence Register notes that the premises closed in 1916 and the licence lapsed, as “no application for renewal having been made for the years 1918 and 1919”. The property was opened as the Wood Cottage Youth Hostel in September 1934, with “accommodation at the outset for eight of each sex”.[3]

Licensees, Landlords and Publicans

  • innkeeper Frances Ann Devonport — 1879 Licence Register
  • publican widow Frances Ann Devonport (aged 46) — 1881 Census
  • innkeeper Charles William Macken — licence transferred 24 May 1881
  • innkeeper James Hampshire — licence transferred 30 September 1884
  • innkeeper Joseph Chappell — licence transferred 1 November 1888
  • innkeeper Thomas Cank — licence transferred 15 November 1892
  • innkeeper Robert Taylor — licence transferred 25 June 1895
  • innkeeper Vincent Shepherd — licence transferred 26 January 1897
  • publican widow Sarah Ellen Shepherd (aged 36) — 1901 Census

Further Reading


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Notes and References

  1. Violence against the police at the inaugural event meant that Taylor’s attempts to get a temporary licence to sell alcohol at the trackside at the subsequent races was blocked.
  2. Huddersfield Daily Examiner (10/Nov/1914). The track was later used as part of the Harden Moss Fell Race in the 1940s and is still faintly visible in aerial photographs of the field.
  3. Leeds Mercury (22/Aug/1934).