Yorkshire Post (31/Jan/1952) - This World of Ours: The Holmfirth Disaster
This World of Ours
The Holmfirth disaster
The night of terror that broke on the West Riding town of Holmfirth when the Bilberry Reservoir burst its dam 100 years ago next Tuesday is to be recalled in a B.B.C. programme at 10.30 p.m. on Sunday.
A graphic description of the disaster is given in the Annual Register of 1852, which says that, for want of funds, the dam had become rotten and it was the talk of the neighbourhood that "something would happen." On the afternoon of February 4 officials helplessly watched the waters rising a foot in every hour.
"The inhabitants of the valley seem nevertheless to have treated the matter with supine indifference and retired to repose," says the Annual Register. "About 12.30 a.m. of the 5th, the whole embankment suddenly gave way and the pent-up waters rushed down the valley. Mills and dye-houses, walls, cottages, barns and stables went down before the flood; trees were uprooted, carts and waggons swept away and the ruins formed battering rams for the destruction of new objects. Thus the deluge rushed through the hamlet of Holm, wrecking shops and residences, and in many case unhappily overwhelming their terrified inmates." More than 80 people lost their lives.
In preparing the programme Heppell Mason was helped by local experts, notably Mr. Winston Wood, a Holmfirth solicitor, Mr. Cyril Armitage, Editor of the Holmfirth Express, Mr. S. G. Dilnot, Clerk to the Urban Council, and Mr. H. Goulden, the Huddersfield Librarian.