19th Century Characters

Revd. Thomas Dawson Lumb – Curate

Thomas Dawson Lumb
Curate 1821 -1843
The Leeds Intelligencer reported the recovery of the body of Dawson Lumb of Methley on the 17th December, 1843 from the river Aire at Swillington Bridge as a ‘Distressing Occurrence’.
This blessed curate had served St Oswald’s and its parish faithfully from 1821 until his untimely death at the end of 1843. The incumbent at this time was the Hon. Archibald Hamilton Cathcart who was also the Rector of the church at (now nearby) Kippax where he resided, and at the same time who enjoyed the title of Deputy Lord Lieutenant of the West Riding.

One week earlier, the curate had left his residence at Churchside House to visit his uncle Richard Lumb at the Lowther’s Arms Hotel adjacent to the bridge at Swillington.  He did not return and his absence in those following days would have been a source of huge concern to his wife and their five children along with parishioners of the village.

The inquest held on the 23rd December, at that same Lowther Arms before the Coroner, a Mr Jewison delivered a verdict of ‘Found Drowned’.

All the possibilities of how he may have entered the water would have been considered. However, it was generally thought that an accident at the bridge to the poor man in extremely foggy conditions was the most likely cause. It was most unlikely that local people would have considered that he had taken his own life.

Looking back, it is possible to deduce that the curate did not enjoy a satisfactory level of income given the fact that he carried out private schooling from his home at Churchside. There is little doubt in my mind that he would have solicited support for an improvement to his stipend (salary) from Cathcart, his successor Yorke Savile and the church authorities. We would not know the outcome of any such overture.

At this point I am indebted to Debbie Cunnew, a descendant who was interested enough to raise the matter in the first instance, she was later kind enough to send me a copy of the will of Richard Lumb, the uncle of Dawson Lumb. The contents of the will indicate that Dawson Lumb may have borrowed and accumulated debt with his uncle over the years, and in an act of kindness his uncle had bequeathed the sum of the debt to his nephew in the will. Additionally, the will did not indicate that there would be anybody to benefit from the death of Thomas.
We are not to know if Thomas was aware of the contents of the will. However we know that the poor man had recently lost a favoured son in a tragic shooting accident. We can also ascertain that Thomas would have been acutely aware of the preparations for the introduction of an act of parliament which would improve the conveyancing arrangements of sites for the construction of new schools. This would certainly include one to be aimed at Methley and would surely aggravate his small but private earnings from the school.
The recent installation of Yorke Savile as Rector would also considerable reduce the income levels as that incumbent would take on more of the duties of priest with christenings, marriages and burials.

19th Century 20th Century History

Governance in Methley 1882 to 1908

Local Government in Methley   Page 2

Mr. North resigned as clerk of the Board in 1882 and Mr RS Wigin who had been admitted a solicitor in December 1875 and who was a member of one of the oldest families in Methley was appointed.  He carried out his duties faithfully and well for 38 years.   He was succeeded in 1920 by his son Mr Robert Wigin, solicitor, Leeds who has held the office up to date with the same unfailing courtesy.  Also in 1882, Mr J Richardson re-entered the Board and he held the chairmanship on and off until the present time.  Dr. GW Wigin resigned membership in 1884 to take up the post of Medical Officer of Health.   The population at this time was estimated at 4,200  there being — inhabited houses.  The village had a death rate of 17.3 and a birth rate of 30.9.

On water and sewerage Mr Fenwick prepared a further scheme in 1883 estimated at a cost of £7,200 and a deputation went to see the Leeds Waterworks Committee with respect to water supply.

With the passing of the Local Government Act of 1894 the old Local Board was replaced by the UDC and the first meeting was held on 31st December.Members present were Messrs. Atkinson, TW Embleton, Getliffe,  Rev.JC Hall,Harrison, Hartley, Horsfall, Phillips, Poulter, Robinson, Taylor, Winterburn.  Mr Taylor was elected Chairman and Poulter as Vice Chairman.  It was agreed that members would retire every three years but the County authority would not agree to triennial elections. The report of the MOH for that year gave a population of 4,450, a death rate of 16.3 and a birth rate of 36.4.  The death rate being the lowest for 11 years.  The first general rate for the new authority was 2/- in the pound and remained the same for the following year.

Mr John Richardson was Chairman in 1897 when an address was sealed and signed to be forwarded to the Home Secretary for presentation to HM Queen Victoria on her Diamond Jubilee.In 1899 Mr Thomas Thompson was appointed surveyor, nuisance inspector waterworks inspector and inspector of canal boats.

 waterworks inspector and inspector of canal boats.   That year a resolution was passed that the town street of Mickletown be lighted with gas from the top of Mickletown to the Queen Inn.  Later it was resolved that all roads in the districtwhere gas mains were laid and also roads where Messrs Briggs & Co. were willing to lay mains should be lighted by gas.  Mr La Maitre was appointed toget out plans and specifications. He was also asked to examine and report on the whole of the sewage scheme in Mickletown as to the construction of filter beds and other works.

Apparently in 1900 the parish church was undergoing restoration, there being a minute as to an application for a water meter for this aim. Another church matter the following year was the decision to pay the voluntary church rate out of petty cash.  It was also decided that same year that the public would not be admitted to the council meetings.

For the coronation of King Edward VII in 1902 it was agreed that 2d in the £ on the General District Rate would be allowed bring the rate up to 2s.3d in the pound.   Mr GP Hollings entered the Council in 1903 and continuing up to present (1937) was ‘Father of the Council’.   That year the county authority asked Methley to prepare scheme to form an education area, the provisional committee being Messrs J Richardson, C Atkinson,TW Embleton, JH Phillips, FE Shepherd, AW Wade, the Rev. HA Hall, Capt. H Savile and Mrs Jessie Phillips.

In 1906 the Methley Council again express their repudiation to the West Riding Education Committee of association with Castleford, claiming the natural affinity of Methley is with Leeds.  Adding that secondary education can best be secured by continuance of the with arrangement with Leeds.

In 1909 Mr FE Shepherd was appointed to represent the Council on the Board of Governors of the secondary school for three years.

19th Century History

Governance in Methley 1876 to 1881

Page 1

Local Government in Methley  1876 to 1881

When Rates were 1/3d in the £

Methley Urban Council was to lose its identity following the rearrangement of areas under the review of county districts by the West Riding County Council.   The last meeting was held during the week of 27th March 1937.   In future the village will be part of the Rothwell Urban District and will attract differential rating on a graduated scale during the next five years.
So passes an authority which has been in operation for 61 years, first as a board of health and then as an Urban District Council.

The first meeting of the old local board was held at the Rose & Crown Hotel on 23rd Feb. 1876. The members at this time were, Messrs Hollings, Richardson, Farrer, Wood, Wroe, Denison, Smirthwaite, Bickerdyke and Holmes. Mr John North being the returning Officer and clerk to the Council, John  Richardson was the first Chairman. Robert Wigin was the unsuccessful applicant for the position of clerk.

Subsequent Meetings were held at Red House which continued to be the ‘town hall’ up to the present time (1937).  At the April meeting
Dr. Taylor was appointed as Medical Officer of Health and Mr Joseph Charlesworth was appointed as Inspector.
The minutes of 1877 included a motion to oppose a Parliamentary Bill aimed at constructing a gas works within the greater Castleford area promoted by the Castleford and Whitwood Gas and Coke Co.  The works would have included supply to a portion of Methley. As a result of that opposition supply of gas to Methley had been withdrawn from the Bill.

In respect of a forthcoming election, it was decided that only those who paid their own rates would be permitted to vote. 

This was in the days before voting booths were in use and voting was taken to the houses. 

In 1880 a letter was read From Mr W Pratt clerk to Whitwood Local Board asking if Methley was willing to join with Whitwood in order to approach Leeds Corp. for a supply of water and stating that the Leeds Waterworks had agreed to supply the district with 50000 gallons per day over ten years.  Methley declined to collaborate. Later that year it was agreed to trake samples from various wells for analysis.

When in 1881 Rothwell were promoting a Gas Bill the Board called upon to withdraw Methley from the proposals as it would have been cnecessary to oppose the Bill in Parliament. It was also reported that Whitwood and Altofts intended to build a hospital for infectious diseases and there was some discussion for Methley to be included but no proposal was made.

The first meeting of sewerage works for Mickletown was in the following year, when a scheme was prepared by Mr Fenwick, and it was agreed to sanction for a loan of £6,220 but the scheme was later abandoned owing to very serious opposition being offered.      

19th Century Social

Sobriety v Intemperance – Briggs Family

The Briggs family were more than interested in many social aspects at their sites, introducing schooling, furthering adult education and supporting the churches and chapels (they were ardent followers of the Unitarian teachings at their church in Leeds).

By 1882 there was a Briggs built Reading Room at Hopetown, Normanton Common. Mrs Briggs also sought to establish the same at Methley (in which she succeeded in doing).    She also sought to introduce Cocoa Taverns as alternatives to the many alehouses in the area – don’t know if she succeeded with this one. However at the time these institutions were being promoted successfully in towns and cities throughout the country in order to promote abstinence.

Displaying her desire for the well being of miners and their families, her mission also included the aims of her church to support these objectives in introducing standards of sobriety and where possible total abstinence. Significant numbers of workmen (miners) as a result did embrace the values of abstinence.

19th Century Social

Methley CC 1873/74


Saturday September 20th 1873  Extracted from Pontefract & Castleford Advertiser

HB Wards Eleven v’s Methley & District
This match played in the park (Castleford) resulted in victory for the visitors. Pease (professional for Woodlesford) did well for the visiting side.

Methley & District

Jos Pease (pro) b Selby 5
K Burnley b Simpson 2
H Parrott b Selby 3
J Hopwood run out 0
T Pyrah run out 0
Jos Wright b Whiteley 3
C Dickinson b Whiteley 0
E Raby b Whiteley 11
T Wright run out 0
H Hughes not out 0
E Wigin run out 0
Extras 7

Total 31

Saturday 1st November 1874

Methley Cricket – On Monday evening a concert was given at the library and reading room to a very large audience by a party of finalists from Leeds. The Hon Rev YP Savile presided and amongst the speakers were the Rev J Armitage (Whitwood), messrs Thos Embleton, TW Embleton and Enoch Kaye Sec. The post singing was of admirable style.

Mr Thomas Lawton gave ‘The Happy Muleteer’ in a very effective manner. Master Willie Waring sang ‘The Birds are Trilling One-Another’ and was well received. He also sang the Sol-fa duet with Mr Lawton to much applause.

Mr Hartley Thompson (who was in good voice) gave ‘My Sweetheart when a Boy’ in excellent style and in response to a hearty encore gave ‘Barbara Allen’

Mr Walter Woodcock presided with ability at the pianoforte and also played Mendelsohn’s ‘Leider Up’ with great taste.

A vote of thanks to the Chairman brought a pleasant evening’s entertainment to a close.

19th Century Industry

Foxholes Colliery

Foxholes Pit Explosion

The following appeared in the Wakefield Express dated August 26th 1877. ‘Great excitement prevailed in the Methley district on Wednesday morning when it became known that about 3.30 that morning there had been a serious explosion of firedamp at the Foxholes Colliery, belonging to Mr William Wood of Oulton. The explosion took place at a part of the pit about one mile from the bottom of the shaft. When the explosion occurred there were only 14 men and boys in the pit.

Two men named Henry Howe and Peter Nelson, and two youths named Oliver Hartley and Joseph Cookson were working at the spot when the gas ignited. Howe who is about 26 years of age was slightly burned about the face, and the others were burned about the legs and back. The four were attended by Dr Taylor of Methley who did not consider the injuries of a dangerous nature.’

Death of a Boy

The very modest memorial headstone adjacent to the roadside in St Oswald’s churchyard was placed there in 1896 by Robert Benjamin and Anna Mary Shaw in memory of their son Harry. This young man who was only 14 years of age was killed in a tragic accident at Foxholes pit on 30th July that year. Engraved on the headstone is the simple message ‘Thy will be done’.

Little imagination is required to figure out that Robert and Anna were by no means wealthy, the fact that their son Harry had taken employment at the pit certainly confirms the view that the family had experienced or been near to hardship throughout their lives.

The grief and distress at the loss of their son must have driven those parents to have a headstone placed to his memory totally out of proportion to their means and indicates the great sacrifice made by them for this memorial. In many ways it is one of the biggest memorials in the churchyard.

The incidence of coal mining disasters during the 19th and early 20th centuries are well documented, what may be less well remembered were the individual accidents which occurred with equal certainty and effect during these times.

Examination of records produced by researchers from Sheffield University regarding mining fatalities from 1860 to 1914 add much more to the tragic loss of Harry Shaw.    During the 20 year period from 1881 to 1900 there were 13 fatalities at Foxholes 3 of which were to workers of 15 and under.  During the same period 3 men died in accidents at Savile Colliery and 1 at Methley Junction, a total of 17 – almost one death per year in the coal mines in this village.

19th Century 20th Century Industry

1911 Census

Census of England and Wales 1911 (Methley)

The census was carried out for all persons present in the identified dwellings of Methley over the period Sunday night 2nd April, 1911 to Monday 3rd April am. Analysis for the village identified 952 dwellings, each one completing the following information under the supervision of an authorised enumerator.

Name and surname of all those present.
•Relationship to the identified head of the family.
•Age at the last birthday – male and female separately.
•Whether single, married, widow etc.
•Number of completed years of marriage.
•Children born during the period of the marriage and recorded as to those living and those who did not survive.
•Personal occupation or trade.
•Industry or service.
•Whether employed, self-employed or employed at home.
•Place of birth.
•Number of rooms in the household.

A total of 4327 souls made up of 2256 males and 2071 females were enumerated on the date. At this point I am grateful to Jim Melvin for his permission to print census statistics published in his book ‘Methley2000.’

From this (1911) we can see that at the time of the census, there were 4.55 persons per house (A table of the population figures from the year 1871 to 1921 are appended at the end of this analysis).

Children recorded during marriages up to the 2nd April, 1911 is not a statistic of the year, however it is a reflection of the uncertainty of life during the period, say, 1860 to 1911. Here we observe that of 3840 births during this time 839 children did not survive.   The census does not quantify the final age for a child to be identified, however I take this to be 0 – 13 years.    Here, I think it would be reasonable to assume that the great majority of child deaths would have occurred in the very early stages of their lives. A mortality rate of the children of the families enumerated from 1860 to 1911 would be 22%, which means 1 in 5 children did not live to enjoy the benefits of Victorian industrial Yorkshire.

Equally surprising in this summary was the high number of boarder/lodgers which at 105 reflected both the number of migrant labourers seeking employment in this pit village (mostly from the West Midlands) and the limitations of shortfalls and inadequate housing stock in the village (see extracts from Council Minutes). This state of affairs is unlikely to differ with many of the developing industrial towns and villages in the country.

The total number of rooms was 3880 which works out at 4 rooms per house, (imagine a family of 10 in a two up and two down property, or for that matter a family of 5 and a lodger in a similar or smaller e.g two roomed accommodation).  Chronic overcrowding proving to be a regular feature on so many census returns.

Obviously the biggest employers over the census period and the earlier census records were the coal mining companies. Here the census did not identify which pits the miners worked at. It is possible that some of the miners worked at pits outside of the village but then local pits would also employ men from outside of the village. The pits being worked over the period 1861 to 1911 were, Foxholes 1 and 2, Parlour Pit, Methley Junction, Newmarket and Savile.

Methley men employed in Coal Mining :-

1871          1881          1891         1911
 626          887          999        1130

At the time of the 1911 census there were 104 men employed in farming.

Population Figures

Year                Houses               Population              Males                  Females              Inf
Total                                                                                                                                        Source

1871                   693                    3277                         1696                   1581                   Methley 2000

1881                   818                    4073                         2137                   1936                  Methley 2000

1891                   870                    4329                         2283                  2046                 Methley 2000

1901                   890                    4271                         2240                   2031                 Histpop

1911                    952                    4327                         2256                   2071                 Editor/Census

1921                                              4492                         2328                   2164                Histpop

Methley 1911 Census Most Common Surnames

Households with 4 Same Surnames
Atack, Beards, Brunt, Clark, Crewe, Dickinson, Dunnill, Ellis, Garforth, Grayson, Holmes, Jennings, Milner, Norris, Pyrah, Scott, Stainthorpe, Sunderland, Totty, Walton.

Households with 5
Ashton, Charlesworth, Cox, Hetherington, Miller, Hill, Potts, Shaw, Turner, Wheeler, Worrilow.

Households with 6
Anderson, Arundel, Backhouse, Firth, Fletcher, Harrison, Howson, Illingworth, Micklefield, Ripley, Sawyer, Websdale, Webster, Westmoreland.

Households with 7
Atkinson, Carr, Shillito. Wilkinson.

Households with 8
Bedford, Naylor, Robinson.

Households with 9

Households with 10
Bell, Kaye.

Households with 11

Households with 12
Taylor, Wilson.

Households with 15

Households with 16

Households with 17

Households with 21

Households with 35

19th Century Coal Mining

Evictions 1863

A printed poster on view at the National Mining Museum at Caphouse Colliery describes the dreadful state of industrial relations in and around Methley at this time.

This was a situation brought about by adverse trading conditions in coal mining at the time, subsequent cost cutting steps imposed by the mine owners (Briggs’) and the resulting hardship suffered by the coal miners involved and their families in Methley and the adjacent village of Whitwood.    

The poster (appended here) was in the form of a plea to the general public to understand the position that miners had found themselves in and the actions that were being taken by the owners.

The build up to the dispute began in the June of that year when the men, having had to accept a reduction of seven and half percent on wages refused a later request to riddle (screen) the coal before filling the tubs.  As a result of this refusal the men were then locked out having also refused to sign not to defend each other (form an association with representation).

One witness writing to the Leeds Express reported seeing hundreds of men and women along with their furniture being ejected from their homes at Common Row, Whitwood.    The bailiffs in this work being guarded by a strong force of police armed with cutlasses.

Similar action was taking place in Methley as extracts from the churchside school logbooks reproduced in Jim Melvin’s book Methley 2000 confirm:-

16th July   – All the pits are closed, strike likely to prove serious.
15th Sept   – Mr. Briggs the coal proprietor has turned parents and children out of
his houses and great destitution has been caused.
17th Nov    – Increase in attendance as some colliers return to work.
25th Nov   – Effects of the strike still very detrimental.
11th Dec    – Colliers working much better.
5th Jan      – The colliers are now returned to regular work.

Of equal significance to the melodrama described by the poster is the postal address of the Committee of Locked-out Colliers which was the Bay Horse Inn, Methley.   From this we can deduce that the pub was more than a watering place.   As meetings were taking place there (as they did right up to the 1970’s) it was clearly becoming one foundation of the developing Miner’s Association.   

After failure in earlier years by the Chartists to secure representation and organisation for workmen from the top downwards, it is possible to see that association developed from the bottom upwards and the Bay Horse at Methley would be a factor in the development of early representation for miners.   (The West Yorkshire Miners’ Association was formed in 1863 – it takes little imagination to work out where the originations for this type of association originated).

The structure of the later Yorkshire Miners Association in 1881 and then NUM was certainly an amalgamation of like groups.

One is left to wonder if Samuel Poppleton the landlord of the Bay Horse at this time could have envisaged the role of his public house towards that end.

Doubtless he would have simply been pleased to get the business of those thirsty colliers in his premises.

19th Century History Industry

Methley Junction Explosion 1875

On Thursday, December 9th 1875 an explosion occurred in the mine workings belonging to Messrs. Henry Briggs, Son & Co. killing 5 men and 1 boy. (A brief report of the explosion and the names of those killed can be found in the book Methley 2000 by Jim Melvin).

Approximately 100 hundred years later a group of surveyors from Savile were travelling through the old Methley Junction workings and in the old pit bottom office came across the following poem of the explosion written on six sheets of old notepaper.

Reproduced here from a copy held by Peter Bell.

1 Pay attention people far and near                                                       2 It was at Methley Junction
I shall not detain you long                                                                           under Messrs Briggs and Co
Whilst in these few lines I do relate                                                           and it is the first explosion
to the old and young                                                                                      that we ever did there know
I am myself a miner                                                                                       On the ninth of December
and I am in duty bound                                                                                 The men rose in their bloom
to comment upon that explosion                                                                 they went to their daily toil
which happened underground.                                                                    not thinking of their doom.

3 At half past ten the roof fell down                                                        4  The longwall deputies
which deprived them of their lives                                                               quickly did volunteer
They have left their orphan children                                                            Not thinking of th e fierydamp
Likewise their weeping wives                                                                         which they had to fear
The worthy steward James Tupman                                                            With all speed they ran along
his name I cannot withold                                                                              they did not hesitate
He quickly ran into that place                                                                        Until they arrived within that place
with heart so brave and bold.                                                                         but alas they were too late.

5 Not one man they found alive                                                              6 Next I must comment upon the bank
I am sorry for to tell                                                                                      where people quickly ran
That cause of the explosion                                                                         Some lamenting for their fathers
Was the heavy roof that fell                                                                         their husbands or their sons
Life is uncertain but death is sure                                                              It was a painful sight to see
Sin is the wound but Christ is the cure                                                     The people ran with speed
The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh                                                        who had a friend in that shaft
Blessed be the name of the Lord.                                                               It made their poor hearts bleed.

7 There was a poor woman that could not run                                    8 Messrs Briggs and Co
She was too lame and old                                                                            A fund they did propose
Her only son was in that place                                                                   To subscribe for the widows
Its true so I am told                                                                                      To find them food and clothes
She is put upon the widows fund                                                               A miner in the meeting
although she were a wife boldly                                                                 stood up and said
I hope it will support her                                                                            We must gather for the widows
the remainder of her life.                                                                            Cause the poor men are dead.

9 If it should be opposed                                                                       10 This is the last verse I shall write
and should not be carried out                                                                    and in it I must say
The Union will support them                                                                     hope the souls of these poor men
Of that I am sure, there is no doubt                                                          to heaven went straight away
It is the best thing in the world                                                                  and there forever may they remain
and in it all men should be                                                                         with angels round the throne
It demands fairation in our land                                                               and meet wives and children there
and defies all poverty.                                                                                  with the happy home.

19th Century Industry

Methley Junction Colliery

Benjamin Burnley commenced sinking the shafts in 1845 and the pit started to produce coal in 1851. In the early 1900’s severe flooding problems were experienced and as a result the shafts were altered and the pit was used for ventilation for Whitwood and Savile mines and also manriding for Whitwood.

One notable feature was on closure the pit was the only one in the area to have wooden headgear. Rail connection was to the Methley curve on the North Eastern Railway and was by a steeply graded incline – see photo. It had previously been worked by cable haulage – see the cable rollers between the tracks.

Burnley sold the colliery to Briggs & Co in 1859.

Information source R. Rockett