Some potted additional historical notes


The family history going back to 1813 is very instructive and fits well with any project on recreation and the discussion that is possible about discovery.  I will never know which it is, but I’m not particularly sympathetic at the moment to discovery.  However the Walker inheritance goes back to Golcar so far.  The male line is tenuous – only children or very small families – in contrast with the women who they married who all came from massive families.  They were all in the textile business – woollen weaver, clothier, engine tenter, cloth finisher up to the 1930’s or so when grandad Walker became a green-grocer.  They mostly lived in Lindley, once Eli moved from Golcar, presumably when he got married.  There is something about non-conformism in the 1880’s as well.  Great grandad got married in The New Connexion Chapel on High Street in town.  Its a jewellers now.  This feels like quite a departure.

We are not that far from small-holdings up in the hills and strong needs for independence and dissent.  Proud outsiders.

From Brook.  In 1563 a clothier was defined as one who “puts cloth for making for sale”.  Many carried out most textile processes themselves;  they bought the wool, wove the cloth and then sold it.  Some employed others to prepare the wool for weaving and it was etimated that to make a kersey in a week took the labour of one weaver and five others who spun and carded the wool.  The clothier was in a small way of business because there was little profit to be made from the inhospitable countryside and little capital available for development.  Nevertheless these men ran the cloth trade of the West Riding in the sixteenth century.

The Yorkshire manufacturing system by which the clothier worked his own looms with his own material and depended on very little capital was unique in England.  Like everyone else, however, he required a regular market to keep himself going.  In some places weaving was subsidiary to farming whilst elsewhere farming may not even pay the rent.  Under this system of work for all, it was seldom necessary to to apply for charity or poor relief.  Thus, independent enterprise was to engender a spirit of self-sufficiency which was later seen in many fields of human endeavour in Huddersfield.

The processes involved in the hand and cottage industry changed little from the fourteenth to the eighteenth century.  Arriving home with a few stones of wool from the market, the clothier and his family opened out the bundles and spread the wool on hurdles or on the floor.  The wool was then beaten and tossed with sticks to open out the fibres and any poeces of twig or dirt were picked out by hand.  Sometimes the the wool was dyed ina vat which stood outside in the yard, or it was left in a natural state to be “dyed in the piece” after weaving.  Then the wool was oiled or greased to make the fibres cling together and, as oil had to be brought to Huddersfield, home-made substitutes  etc……

One clothier, who died in1712, left an inventory which gives a useful guide to his work and circumstances.  He had one old cow, aheifer, a stirk and a calf, eight sheep, some bees, one little horse with pack saddle, farm implements, a cheese press, two looms, cards, a pair of tenters, a dye vat, and a weigh beam.

So far, we have looked at the new inventions in spinning, carding and finishing and their social consequences.  These inventions competed with the home industry but did not end it.  They caused home weaving to expand, and the early mills did not kill the domestic outwork system.  Power-weaving, however, took the whole industry with a giant’s step into the future.

Even in the 1830’s the typical working man was either at home or in a small workshop;  and it has already been said that the majority of the early factory hands were women and children whose labour was cheap and whose long hours of work led to so much agitation from Oastler and his friends.

Richard Oastler, defending the handloom weavers in 1834, claimed that there were three quarters of a million of them but over the following twenty years this labour force declined rapidly.  The young and able bodied found employment in limited numbers in the factories, more went to work on the new railways and in other forms of transport, others to building-there was much to do in a growing town.  the elderly weavers eventually retired and were kept by their children until they died.  Of cours, women and children were employed in as large numbers as the Factory Acts would allow and this helped to offset any reduction in earnings by their menfolk.  Many men must have seen the trend of events and solved their own problems.  I have an ancestor who abandoned his handweaving and smallholding near Marsden to work at Lockwood’s Mill as a cord cutter, and he was obliged to live in lodgings in Upperhead Row in the 1840’s.

The domestic clothiers had valued their independence.  Family life had been maintained and the children had been brought up at home.  Yet, rather too much stress has been laid on the advantages of the system of working at home.

Between the time when water provided the power to drive the first simple textile machinery and today’s almost universal electrification of industry, steam was king and the driving force in every factory.  First came the days when every mill had its church-high window behind which flashed the rocking beam and the thrusting rods of monster beam engines driving their huge fly wheels two and more stories in diameter.  In grooves across the rim face of the fly wheel a row of arm-thick ropes transferred the power of stem to shafts and gears throughout the mill.  Each machine room had its maze of flapping belts connecting machines to overhead shafts.  The high priest of the engine room was the ‘engine-tenter’, in his hands an oil can and a wad of waste, on his head a greasy cap.  His ear was sensitve to the slightest change in note or tempo of his beloved engine; his fingers as delicate thermometers, testes the temperature of each bearing.  On him, with no book learning but with patiently aquired knowledge of the ways of his engine, the mill and its workers depended.

Huddersfield in 1833 had its own MP, unpopular master manufacturers, and Richard Oastlar fighting both over the question of conditions in factories; and protest meetins, of the sort described by Chalmers, were to be repeated in the Market Place and in other places around the town from the days of the Luddites around 1812 to the Plug Riots and the collapse of Chartism towards the middle of the century.  The first half of the nineteenth century is of particular importance to our story since it was during this period that the basic elements of modern Huddersfield were formed.  Since 1850 the industrial and socual character ot the town hardly changed at all.

From 1800 almost every working man felt insecure, and pined for the ‘independence’ of the ‘good old days’.  In such an atmosphere the New Poor Law and its evil offspring, the larger workhouse, and centralised control was never likely to be acceptable to the people and Huddersfield became notorious for its opposition to the new regime.

In 1812 England was near to commercial ruin.  The Napoleonic wars had reached their climax, the country was on the brink of war with the United States, and these factors had shut off a third of the country’s textile export market.  The Poor Law which cost four million pounds in 1800 was costing six in 1812, and prices were half as much again than they had been in 1789.

The year 1812 has been regarded as a watershed in time, with Luddism looking forward to the ideal situation where motivation arising out of human needs would triumph over that of profit.

However explosive their impact on the localities they chose for their operations, the Luddites were in reality simply the focus for tension felt everywhere during the economic crises of 1811 and 1812, especially among those who believed that trade difficulties had been used as an excuse for introducing new machinery, raising prices and depressing the people.

The disaffection of the scattered communities had the effect however, of driving magistrate and mill owner into the same camp, partners, as it were, in apprehension and self-interest.  The military were unable to cope with these diaturbances, for in force they made too much noise, and no small detachment would venture into the trouble spots.  In these circumstances it was inevitable that concessions would be made by the authorities to the manufacturers.

Nonconformity with its direct approach to the people, its simple services and its music, obviously appealed to the hard-working Huddersfield folk.  Furthermore these people, who were by tradition independent in spirit, now had a free choice of where to worship.  They valued this free choice and were prepared to dig deeply into their pockets to pay for its continuance.  The reaction against the Parish Church was a natural rebellion against any suggestion of being compelled to attend the Church of the Establishment, to which many felt they definately did not belong.  If a generalisation can be made, it might be said that clothiers who prospered and became manufacturers tended to become Liberal in their politics because they felt that Conservatism, rooted in the land, was not for them;  and they remained loyal to their nonconformity as a matterr of their independent principle.

The New Connexion which had challenged established Methodist order laid down by Wesley was nicknamed the ‘Tom Paine’ Church for they were the ‘Jacobins’ of the Methodist Movement.


In pre-industrial times, everyone, except the landowners, lived cheek by jowl around the Market Square. Ramsden, Thornhill and Kaye were the large single landowners, running their estates in the traditional patriarchal feudal manner. As the population expanded and towns grew, lots of amateur entrepreneurs organised land, labour, material and capital for small scale developments. In the town centre building was haphazard, filling in the space between existing properties and creating overcrowded insanitary courtyards where living in the cellars was normal. The next stage was a segregation of the classes, initiated by the class conscious middle, supported by a planning process that excluded cellar dwelling. From 1850, the elite, headed by the merchant manufacturers moved to Edgerton, the so called lower middle class people, shopkeepers and small businesses and maybe skilled workers, moved to Hillhouse, whilst the workers lived in monotonous rows of back-to-back terraces constructed in Fartown, Birkby, Moldgreen and Dalton.

5 Willow Lane was on a courtyard and the cellar might have been lived in at one time, which would date it to the first half of nineteenth century. Whilst it was used as a coal cellar in the 1950s, the window and frames facing the courtyard suggest someone may have lived there previously. Web browsing shows there was a Willow Lane, Hillhouse in 1853, but no clue as to the housing. Hygeine was fine as we had modern inside facilities. The wash house in the courtyard was part of a nationwide movement to facilitate cleaner clothing as part of countering the cholera epidemics of the 1830s.

It was normal to rent as the economic cycle was unpredictable. You needed to move quickly when times were hard.

Before the first war, the Midland Railway Company intended to build a station at Newtown with a big hotel. The line came from Red Doles and Mirfield, but it was only ever a coal siding for the gas-works. A small tank engine and a few trucks then connected the sidings with the gasworks under the main line viaduct down Beaumont St. The line closed in 1968 and the bridge at the end of Willow Lane was dismantled. The wilderness is now an industrial estate. St John’s is still there but the pop factory, Ben Shaws, after more than a hundred years, has been taken over and closed down by more recognisable national soft drink brands.

Granny Addy’s house on Whitestone Lane has been demolished, making way for a housing estate. The story goes that her mother, Mary, eloped from Connemara with Patrick Malone, my great grandad, living with other irish immigrants in the yards off Upperhead Row in town. There is some hard evidence (census data and birth certificate copies) about them, but just now, February 2011, the trail is cold. It suggests they arrived in Huddersfield in the 1870s with no origins other than Ireland. By the time they have children, they are resident at Turnbridge, but no mention of a marriage. Granny’s maiden name varies. We checked it out at the public library in Clifden, west of Ireland, and it’s likely that Mary would not have been able to write and probably only spoke Gaelic, so the midwife at the home delivery would have to have had a guess (Dooan, Doolan ?). We have three birth certificates, including granny, Mary Ann, but there were more siblings apparently. Patrick was classed as a chemical labourer; maybe for Robinson’s or Holliday’s and family legend has it he did a runner and died in poverty.

Mary Ann married Edward Addy, who was classed as a teamster on the certificates. Memory suggested he delivered coal for the Coop with a horse and cart and his first task of the day was to catch it. It’s said his team member was Douglas Clark, a legend of northern rugby union, WW1 and wrestling. Edward was born ?1870 in Shepley, six miles away, into a family of tee-totallers, his dad a railwayman, he must have married Mary around 1910, with two children pre WW1 (another Mary and Nora). Granny and grandad kept their whisky in a jug shaped into a brown cow, safe high above the range on the mantleshelf. In 1919, at the age of thirty nine, granny had mum, her last and third daughter. The daughters all married and had kids, born either before or early on during WW2. I was the only post-war child (1947).

‘What was grandad like, mum?’
‘He was kind and gentle. He would’ve loved you to pieces.’
They were in the back kitchen, 5 Willow Lane. Dyce was on the floor, moving cardboard indians and canoes around. His mum was sat, watching, keeping warm by the fire.
‘You always say that.’
‘Because it’s true.’
‘But what did he do?’
‘He worked for the Coop.’
‘What’s a Coop?’
‘It’s where we get food from, bread and butter, up Bradford Road, you know. Where that nice lady weighs out things on big scales.’
‘Oh, yer. Did grandad sell butter then?’
‘He was a coalman.’

Edward was a rugby fanatic, specifically a Fartown fanatic. In 1875, Edward was born at Laurel Terrace, Hillhouse. At the age of twenty he would have been right in the middle of all this excitement in the rugby world. Later he would follow arguably the best Fartown team ever – the team of ‘many talents’ that contained legends the likes of Wagstaff, Clarke and Rosenfeld. Mum used to say that her dad’s best pal was the Cumbrian, Douglas Clarke. She said that her dad was so keen, he used to watch them train. Well, he would have done if Clarke was his pal. What must it have been like living through that era? He died at sixty-four in 1939. Granny continued to live alone on Whitestone Lane until a few years before her death in 1970. Huddersfield had a bit of a lean spell until my dad and big brother started going in the early fifties. I followed them in the early sixties. Dad said the crowds were too large for me in the fifties. They are back in the top flight, superleague, and are called the Giants ( Part of a large company owned by a newspaper man. If grandad Addy came down from heaven today, he’d spend a lot of time scratching his head under his flat cap.

Granny would have been in her eighties when mum and dad threw most of her things away, before she moved into a small flat nearer us at Waterloo. They discovered £500 in the piano. Aged 90 when she died, she had a Catholic burial with the wrong name, Mary Jane, on the coffin and intoned by the Irish priest.

Dad, also known as Reg-o’-Frank’s, was born in Lindley in 1917. Frank was a cloth-finisher at Pat Martin’s and Lidell, Wellington Mills. He died at 60, a year after big brother arrived (1942). Dad’s grandad, William, was an engine stoker at Syke’s, Acre Mills, Lindley, behind and around the Globe ( and he died at 73 when my dad was 10. Going back further to my great great grandads, we think there was Eneas Bailey who was a farmer at Cowrakes and Eli Walker who was a weaver on Yew Tree lane. Both must have been born around 1820. Eli probably belongs to the great tradition of domestic handloom weavers, many of whom remained at home despite the factory developments of the early 19th century.

Mum and dad got married in 1939, aged 18 and 20 respectively. Big brother was born in 1942. Dad then went to India, 5 years as a corporal in The Pay Corps. I arrived in 1947. Dad was grumpy a lot. I realise now that England after the war must have been a disappointment to him. Mum and big brother were probably wrapped round each other. He wasn’t qualified to do anything, having left Hillhouse technical school at 15 with a skill for figures and maps. Nothing out of place in his paperwork when me an’ our kid sorted his stuff out after he died. But he was special with wood. He could tell you which tree a lump of wood would have come from, and where the tree was growing if it still was. And he made things. Tables, bookcases and wardrobes when we couldn’t afford to buy them and coffee tables for gifts and carvings when he retired. He said he worked for Elliot’s, timber people, before the second war, and in accounts, at  the Electricity Board after. He wanted things to be better They bought a house, had a car, and got us to go to college.

Mum left Longley School with shorthand and typing qualifications. She worked for Brian Tunstall at Hopkinson’s valves where dad must have also worked for a spell.

I had my tonsils out in 1953. It was done by a Mr. Ironside in the old Royal Infirmary. Those in the trade tell me he performed radical surgery. In other words there is very little left in the back of my mouth. It all still seems to work. He moved up to the new Lindley site in the early 1960s, but got a bit out of hand and had to retire.

So Granny Addy was thirty-nine when she had mum. Granny Walker had dad when she was was thirty-three. Mum and Dad were the youngest in their families and both had older sisters. Mum was 28 when she had me. Fractures in family building brought about by war. I’m not sure, but was there any impact?


1944 act created a tripartite education system. Grammar, technical and secondary modern, selected by 11+ examinations which assessed aptitude and ability. Most kids went to secondary moderns anyway as the number of grammar school places stayed the same. It allowed girls and working class children to have a secondary education and thus an increased opportunity to go on to further education. This enhanced the awareness of the disadvantaged social position of the workers and is said to have created bitterness between the workers and the middle classes.

Looking at social classification. Jilly Cooper would describe us as spiritual meritocrats – people from working class or lower middle class backgrounds who gained an education at grammar school and university and have subsequently obtained professional or managerial jobs within companies or government. Jilly Cooper stated that these people are more likely to move geographically than the more local middle middle class.[13] These people are less socially secure than the traditional upper middle class,[11] and would speak in a mixture of accents depending on their origin. 

Immigration from the Commonwealth began in the late 1940s, continuing through the 1950s and the 1960s.


“Fartown” are now the “Giants”, some might say a subsidiary of a foreign newspaper. Dad stopped going when they started playing on Sundays and I never got the hang of summer rugby. Now, 2013, BARLA play summer rugby.

The coal trains stopped a long time ago. The bridge is dismantled, only the supporting brickwork remains, like bookends. The gas works flyer crossed a bridge over the canal. The supporting pillars can still be seen (2103). 5, Willow Lane has been a few things since our time. A family home, empty, a designer clothes shop and now a sandwich bar. The corner shop rents Bollywood videos. Now 2013, it’s a private house again. The gas-works has been blown up, people came from all over just to watch. The railway wilderness is Newton Industrial estate, and Syke’s pop factory’s expanded into a beer and wine outlet.

Fartown main stand – The ground was the first excursion I can remember, not far from home – ten minutes slow walking. It was too busy when I was a toddler, counting the buses was all I was allowed to do. But eventually I went, children were let in free, by  a man behind a big wooden door, next to the scoreboard. I was always cold or wet or bored or all three. Opposite the stand was a natural hillside, cindered and tiered with old railway sleepers. Then it got some concrete steps, and fencing and barriers. The toilet was a corrugated iron shack, which hid very little. No ladies loos. A wooden scoreboard, at the open Bradford Road end was replaced by an elegant stone affair, a memorial to Dave Valentine. The pitch was immaculate, great arena. Other end to the scoreboard was the scratching shed – a small covered standing area. No idea why it was called that. The stand itself was massive. There’s a picture at Headingley of it full when Leeds were playing possibly in a semi-final. The stand is jam packed. No good now, after the Bradford fire disaster. Sat in it twice. We played a curtain raiser against Deighton, and got free seats for the main game. The second time, I paid for the two dads to go in on Boxing Day – annual bash with Halifax, dreadful.

Behind the stand was a very good cricket pitch and bowling green. The cricket pitch was county standard, played on by Yorkshire into the sixties for one day games. The clubhouse was a smashing mock Tudor spot, taken over by some idiot in the 1970’s for functions – when we went through a phase of being called the ‘barracudas’. Even the programmes were written in childish language.

I watched the 1961-2-3 team, and after, for a short while before going to college.


I can gaze at the hustle and bustle of Willow Lane. Lorries are delivering and cars are cutting through from Birkby, busy workers with things to do and places to go. A small boy walks alone toward the old railway bridge, and I try to picture another small boy, aged six, with red curly hair in a battered cowboy outfit. Back in 1953, I’d roamed safely and easily up and down the lane, part of a square mile sized world. Forty years later, I drove importantly through the lane to attend private patients. People said I did it to keep My successful life in perspective. Another five years and the success had gone.


Recently, within the last three months (September 2001), the local professional rugby league team has fallen from grace. After four years of being the bottom of the top flight super league, there is a ‘minnow’ from the lower divisions of rugby with the right facilities to take its place, and they can play rugby. So Huddersfield go down and Widnes come up.

Both were part of the northern movement that split from rugby union in 1895. Huddersfield had successful teams around WW1, and in the fifties and early sixties, whilst Widnes had their best period in the seventies, when Wembley was considered a home fixture. There was one occasion, in the seventies, when the two met in the cup, on the old Fartown ground. Stuart Wright was their famous winger, against one of our heroes, Senior, who was approaching the end of his career. We lost of course, but not before Senior had dumped Wright into touch, a moment to savour when several thousands fans saluted their man, temporarily united in their contempt for Widnes and their admiration for Senior.

There is poignancy in the memory of this fixture, as my brother, a Widnes fan and a tad arrogant with it, and I lost touch with the game. He lost interest when Widnes could no longer compete at the top level and I moved away.

Today (2001), both of us I suspect have mixed feelings – despair and guilt – as neither of us has strong affiliations to our rugby teams. Whilst there are other things on which we would rather spend our money, there is also disloyalty to something we both held dear, and even my big brother would acknowledge the role that Fartown has played in the shaping of his sense of identity.

How has something once so strong, become so weak?

For me there is something about 1995. It was the hundred year anniversary of the formal and acrimonious split between amateur and professional rugby union, the latter evolving into rugby league. One hundred years after this split, rugby union could no longer ignore the market place, and in 1995 they went fully professional themselves. It was also the year our father died, severing another important link with Fartown’s past. Mother’s day that year had been a bitter-sweet occasion, celebrated with Sunday lunch and a game at The MacAlpine Stadium. Chris, my son, was there, so three generations of Walkers were represented, but mum wasn’t. She’d died the previous Christmas, and it had all started with her father, Edward Addy, a coalman with the Coop.

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