Yorkshire Evening Post (26/Aug/1919) - A Village with its Own Electric Light

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.

A VILLAGE WITH ITS OWN ELECTRIC LIGHT.

“ENGINEER” AS ROAD MENDER AND FARM HAND.

In the hills which rise from Holmfirth and the Holme Valley, towards the famous Woodhead Reservoirs, there is a quaint electricity generating station. It is part of a novel scheme set up by the villagers of Holme to provide themselves with light.

Strictly, Holme can hardly be called a village. It has an inn, it is true, and a schoolroom of some antiquity — a date on one of the stones looks like 1604 — but the place consists chiefly of about twenty cottages and farms, clustered together on the exposed road as if to afford each other protection against the weather. The population, including all the people living within a mile or so of the place, is less than 700 souls.

To discover how this rural spot came to have its own electric light. I journeyed to Holme (writes a correspondent). The taxicab had run about a mile and a half along the valley when the driver suddenly remembered another appointment, and all he could be persuaded to do further was to direct my steps and offer to pick me up again later. I did not suspect the genuineness of the other appointment until I took the turning off the main road and saw the hill that leads to Holme. Then I understood.

The story of the lighting scheme was told me by a farmer. He thought at first I was a possible purchaser of his farm — at £500. When he understood my mission he took me along a tortuous sheep track, through pouring rain, to the generating station. He explained that the “Chief Electrical Engineer” was about the parish somewhere — road-mending! The district council has only one servant, and, apparently, he and David, the engineer, repair the roads and act as handy men generally.

“They helped me with my haymaking,” my informant added.

The generating station is in a cleft in the hills, where once stood a small woollen mill, “old Rake’s.” The four walls of Rake’s house still stand close by. Before the mill ceased to exist some 30 rears ago, its looms were driven by a water-wheel, and, in order that power might be obtained from the small mountain stream, a dam was built, and most of the water diverted into a sluice 100 feet or more above the mill. From here the water dashes down a pipe to its natural course directly underneath. Once it turned the mill wheel. To-day it drives a turbine.

The station is a stone shed built among the ruins of the mill. The turbine and a dynamo are so small that they are tucked away at one end, leaving plenty of room for the chief engineer’s pile of firewood. The current is carried up the hill by overhead cables, and down the road to the village. The wooden poles which carry the cables along the road are fitted with one light each. Electric lights overhead and harebells, bilberries, and heather at one’s feet!

ORIGIN OF THE SCHEME.

In the village itself there is an auxiliary station, containing another dynamo, and an oil engine to supply power in the event of Rake’s dyke temporarily running dry. The stream has not failed during this dry summer, but it did once or twice during the frosts of last winter.

The scheme has been in operation for about three years. The credit for its inception, I was told, is largely due to Mr. Charles Tinker, a Holmfirth woollen manufacturer who resides at Lanehead, the last house of any size on the road over Holme Edge or Moss — a mountain of 1,839 feet. Anxious to obtain light for his house, Mr. Tinker was the prime mover in the formation of the Holme Electric Company (Limited). He is the owner of a stretch of moorland which included Rake’s mill, and, realising its possibilities, he made a gift of the place to the company. A Huddersfield firm carried out the scheme, the cost of which, even in war-time, was only about £800.

No consumer is bothered by a meter. Each of the 200 or so people who use the light pays 30s a year for three lights, and 4s. extra for every additional one. The plan works splendidly. Share holdings in the Company are confined strictly to people in the parish, and the concern pays its way comfortably. Increased charges to meet higher wages and the rising cost of coal are unthought of, simply because coal is not used and almost anyone could work the plant.