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A History of Pudsey by Simeon Rayner




Pudsey township comprehends within its limits, or boundaries, the hamlet of Tyersal, part of Stanningley, and the Moravian settlement of Fulneck, and its superficial area is 2,545 acres. The township is situated in the midst of an interesting field of geological research, surrounded by strata of the most valuable and varied kind. On the north and east range, is the carboniferous or mountain limestone, extending through the northern counties, and supporting the coal measures, containing also abundance of metalliferous ore and organic remains of shells and corals.
The south and west are bounded by the great Yorkshire coal field and the extensive millstone grit formation-the latter of which extends from Derbyshire to Northumberland. This complex deposit is the principal geological feature of the strata underlying the township of Pudsey. This formation is a kind of coarse-grained gritty sandstone, containing numerous beds of shale, limestone, and, in some places, coal. The beds in some instances contain innumerable impressions of coal plants. The thin layers of coal found in the immediate neighbourhood are not of much value, but the layers of shale have an important effect upon the character of the soil. The excellent quality and durability of building stone quarried in the township and neighbourhood are justly celebrated throughout England. Iron pyrites have occasionally been found in well-sinking, and small specimens of mica and quartz in the various stone quarries.
Layers of plastic clay are found on the south side of the township, and in some parts excellent beds of yellow clay; but most of these beds are so thin and inconsiderable, that they would almost lead to the conjecture that they are only the croppings of the extensive foundations by which they are surrounded, having become dislocated by some of the mighty geological disturbances that have affected the whole island.
Being at a considerable elevation, Pudsey commands most extensive views of the surrounding country, and from the heights above Greentop it is said that Pontefract Castle can be seen with the aid of a glass.
On the south of the township is the deep gill which bounds Tong and Tyersall-a beautiful roman sylvan, but beginning to suffer at the hands of the manufacturers. As I wandered through the glen by the side of that murmuring stream, how often was my mind thrown back to the days when the careless hunter roved with his hawk and hound, and the scream of the fluttered wood-bird arose, instead of the clash of the shuttle; when Tong was baronial, and rustic Pudsey mostly in the hands of the monks of Kirkstall. Let us now restore one of the panoramas of the past. When the Angle chieftain, Stanning, looked from his hall towards the noonday sun his vision was bounded by the slope which the Celt called the "hwpp," where the footpath now runs. He called it the "hrice,: as we call it a rig, or as people of culture and superior education tone it down, the ridge. It was then wood-grown, shady, verdant, and sacred to the foot of the hunter. The leafy garment that shaded it, the Angle called a "Scua," which custom and superior education has so softened that we know the word as a shaw. And so "the wood on the ridge"-the rig-wood-became in Angle speech the "hrice scua," and as the feet of after generations trod a path to that wood the path became the "hrice-scua" lane, which the changes of time twisted so slightly that for twenty generations the path was known as Rikershaw Lane. But alas I by the advancement of learning, the truth-telling designation had to be clothed in new garments, and from the awkward hands of its blundering tailor it came forth as that monstrous abortion Richardshaw Lane.
The descent from the rig along the northern slope is down Lidget Hill to Waver Green. Abutting upon the Waver Green is the Manor House of Pudsey, a quaint, gabled mansion, now reckoning some two hundred and fifty or seventy years of age, but the child of a predecessor, which doubtless carried its own existence back into the Norman days. Of a suggestive meaning is that word "Waver," which remains to mark its conjunct green. It bears within it all the wild traditions of the superstitious Norse days. The Icelandic verb vafra means to hover about; and the expression vafrlogi, meant a "waver-lowe," every enchanted princess or enchanted land was surrounded by a "waver-lowe." We need not go far to find the enchanted princess who was surrounded by this "waver-lowe" when the Celt was hovering about and there were race difficulties and doubts of mine and thine-she dwelt in the Manor House hard by, as the poor Celts of the "hupp" and the "trowch-dale" would find out if any cattle had been lifted from the ager, or midnight depredations elsewhere indulged in. Thor's hammer was kept in the recesses of that Manor house, and the "waver-lowe" was the electric light which found it when required. Thor's hammer, in the shape of the less romantic baton of the policeman is yet kept in the neighbourhood of this Waver Green, and it is said that in Lowtown, hard by, its exercise is more frequently required than in all the other parts of the town. Of a truth these Celtic people are apt, both by work and by deed, to make themselves a very vital factor in the world's history. Had they been as stolid and law-abiding as the Goths of Chapeltown and Greenside, Lowtown might not have enjoyed the many distinctions which have favoured it since the mythical days of the vafrlogi.
Separating Waver Green from Chapeltown there remains a distinctive feature of the past in Toft House. Toft, a corrupted form of the Danish tompt (empty), would signify an open, unclaimed piece of land, or an unoccupied and wrecked dwelling; and in this light the Toft we have here would be an excellent fence between the steady respectability of Gothic Pudsey and the nondescript gathering which had to be illuminated by the "Waver-lowe," and found its termination in the Crimbles, where solid rule and no poetical nonsense had to prevail. The word Crimbles, we may perhaps resolve into the Norse expression kraum bol-the farm house in the nook, say at the fringe of the "ager," where the essarts were in progress, the woods not yet chopped down, and a shady nook presented itself as it does yet in the case of scores of farmsteads which are to-day nestling beneath a background of trees. *
*=Mr. Wheater, in Pudsey News, March 5th, 1887.
No record is preserved of the number of the population previous to the year 1800, but the following tabulated statement of the several censuses taken by Government shows the modern progressive increase of population :--

Date Inhabited Houses.   Uninhabited Houses.   Males Females Total
1801 850   44   2,182 2,240 4,422
1811 986   23   2,406 2,291 4,697
1821 1,219   78   3,107 3,122 6,229
1831 1,504   41   3,744 3,716 7,460
1841 2,011   102   5,013 4,989 10,002
1851 2,429   178   5,770 5,833 11,603
1861 2,859   277   6,325 6,587 12,912
1871 3,150   218   6,779 7,197 13,976
1881 3,458   519   7,353 8,103 15,456


In JAME'S History of Bradford, there appears the following notice:--
At Leeds Sessions the 13th day of April, in the 44th of Queen Elizabeth, before Sir John Savile (of Howley), Thomas Fairfax, and other justices, it was agreed that the justices should meet at Wakefield upon Wednesday in Whitsuntide week the next, touching soldiers' pensions, assessments, and other matters; and then agree upon a particular estreat and perfect assessment of the towns within the wapentakes, to be and remain a precedent to direct other justices to make equal assessments for these parts when occasion should require.
It may, therefore, be supposed that the greatest care would be taken in making the assessments, and it will give the most correct view, in the absence of actual computation, which can now be obtained of the relative size, population, and wealth of the towns comprised in such assessment. I give a copy of such part of it as relates to all the towns about here (Bradford).

Bradford 20 Huddersfield 17
Bolton 5 Halifax 19 1
Bolling 5 Horton 7
Bingley 9 Idle 11
Calverley and Farsley 11 Leeds39
Dewsbury 12 1 Manningham 9
Eccleshill 7 1 Pudsey 9 1
Heaton-cum-Clayton 11 1 Shipley 5
Haworth 12 Wakefield 39
From this table a pretty near approximation may be drawn of the population of the township at the time (A.D. 1602).