* The railway porter, the coalman and the Irishman. The Hillhouse Addys

The Addys of Hillhouse

The Walker heritage runs back from my dad. His father, Frank, was one of two grandfathers I never knew. On my mother’s side, the Addy line goes back to George who was born in 1845. From Kirkheaton and maybe a farming background, he became a railway porter possibly working on the Kirkburton line from Huddersfield. By the 1880s he and his family were on Willow Lane East, maybe working in Huddersfield. So it’s impressive to have a railway worker in the family, albeit we know nothing about him, though family rumour is that the ‘Shepley’ Addys were teetotal and a touch prim. We have a brown cow, which older brother might still have, in which Edward, his son’s whisky was stored on the mantle shelf.

This information comes from ‘Huddersfield Exposed’; Huddersfield railway station opened in 1847. All the different railway companies can be confusing, but I think Huddersfield and Manchester railway and canal company built a connection with Heaton Lodge using Huddersfield as a joint station with Huddersfield and Sheffield railway. Former was acquired by the London and North Western in 1847. Latter by Lancashire and Yorkshire. The line to Leeds ran right through Hillhouse over a long viaduct and embankment. The Kirkburton branch line opened in 1867, with stops at villages like Kirkheaton, so George could have had a choice. A porter was at the bottom of the station pecking order, but a secure job. Willow Lane East wasn’t lower middle class like Clara and Honoria streets, but it was Hillhouse.

Another branch line, owned by the Midland railway was completed in 1910. From Mirfield to Deighton, Fartown and Birkby. Finally Newtown, an ideal site for a goods yard, sidings and a station. The plans were abandoned at outbreak of war in 1914. We think the line carried coal up to the 1950s. Newtown sidings supplied the gas works. My dad needed a pass to cross the line from Willow Lane to our hen-run up under the wall of St John’s Rd.

Alder St coal hoppers. We called them schutes. Coming to living memory, I remember the noise of regular coal deliveries and lights on all night. The coal company sheds are in the yard behind the walls. Already documented the private contract that Wellington Mills had with two dedicated trucks. The line was constructed up Whitestone Lane to join the public tramway on Bradford Rd.
This is an idea of what the Wellington Mill coal trucks looked like with hopper behind.

George’s son was Edward, a Fartown fanatic, born 1875. The other unknown grandad. He delivered coal with a horse and cart, out of Hillhouse sidings. Edward married Mary Ann Malone who’s parents came from the west coast of Ireland. There is a lot of duplication about family trees, covered in ‘Letters to my grandchildren’. Suffice to say that Edward came from Willow Lane East and Mary Ann from Turnbridge and they lived on a yard at the back of Whitestone Lane. Mary Ann’s parents traditionally would have first moved into the Upperhead Row area of Huddersfield town centre. But we think the move to Turnbridge address was to some form of early council housing.

So leisure was happening – organised and had to be paid for. Afforded by improved living conditions and wages. Cricket, football and rugby were the usual suspects and they were businesses even back then. Playing, coaching and spectating – and gambling, which was massive. Not as we know them today and there was a deal of hypocrisy. Better than bear-baiting however. Began as unregulated games of ball. Then the public schools, the emerging middle class and rules. Edward was around 20 when the Northern Rugby Union split off. Eventually mutated to Rugby League (1922). As you might expect it was about money and the snotty teachers and businessmen who didn’t approve of business methods in sport. Soccer has always been professional. Cricket grudgingly so I think until the early 20th century when the distinction between amateurs and professionals was abolished. It was as late as 1995 before rugby union went professional.

From Gordon and Enid Minter. The rugby union club first played on Rifle Fields, Greenhead, shared with the athletic club. In 1876, the club amalgamated with St. John’s Cricket Club at Fartown to form the Huddersfield Cricket and Athletic Club. St. John’s cricket field was laid out in the 1860s, home to Huddersfield United, members of the new District Cricket League (1891). Of sufficient quality to be a Yorkshire county ground. The Northern Union rugby team played from 1878 onward. As already mentioned, this team was part of the beginnings of rugby league. After the 1895 split many of the local village teams disbanded. A side representing traditional rugby union reconvened in 1909.

From Jane Springett, ‘Handsome Town’. Hillhouse was within easy walking distance of town whilst avoiding the worst of its noise and pollution. In 1852 the landowners, Thornhills of Fixby drew up plans for three interconnecting residential streets. Honoria, Clara and Eleanor Streets, named after Thornhill daughters. Houses were built, maybe spurred on when the horse drawn omnibuses started running along Bradford Road in 1858. The Willow and Whitestone Lanes building came after.

Hillhouse 1850 – maybe before it was Hillhouse
Modern map

From Gordon and Enid Minter, ‘Old Huddersfield’ and David Jenkins, ‘Handsome Town’. Mary’s dad was Patrick who eventually, according to family legend, did a runner and died in a workhouse. Before that he laboured at a chemical works. That term in Huddersfield usually means dye works, so does that mean LB Holidays? The 1850 map, whilst showing very little, includes a small chemical works, but I’m not sure how important it was – could it have been Robinson’s? Also the small settlement called Newtown (10-14 terrace) dwellings, a Collegiate school and a corn mill. The Huddersfield Collegiate School was founded in 1838 as a fee-paying school administered by the Church of England and the headmaster was always an Anglican clergyman. The Collegiate was never as successful as its undenominational rival, Huddersfield College, and by the 1870s was in financial difficulties. They merged and moved to New North Road. The empty building was developed as a printing works by Alfred Jubb.

Looking at the history of Hollidays, in the 1830s, they were a company with many chemical interests, located at Tanfield. The connection with textiles began with distillation of the gas company ammonia waste for use in wool scouring, presumably Jarmain’s amongst others. They moved to Turnbridge to try and manage pollution. In the 1860s they began synthetic dye manufacture. The business had ups and downs, especially in the late nineteenth century, as a result of competition from Germany. By the 1920s it had become ICI. James Robinson and Co of Hillhouse Lane manufactured natural dyes. They suffered the same fate as Hollidays and moved on to other products after 1900.

The story, much as Lindley, is about the second half of the nineteenth century. Population increase, pressure on public health in overcrowded towns, factory and suburb development and eventual improved living conditions and wages. The railway revolution and coal helped power the economy. And we have an Irish couple in the family. Most of us have. Great grandmother Malone and Patrick emigrated from the West of Ireland later than the 1845-49 famine. Daughter Granny Addy was raised a catholic. So we need to summarise context in the next piece – coal, wool, transport and some of the social and political realities of the late nineteenth century. That will bring us to the twentieth century.