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A History of Pudsey by Simeon Rayner

 

 

SOCIAL CONDITION AND HABITS

It is not possible for us to faithfully portray the conditions of actual living in Pudsey in the earlier periods of its history, when there existed a vastly different state of things to that which we find at the present time. The want of roads, the primitive conditions of the dwellings, and the domestic economy, the struggles with nature to obtain a living from the ground, and the restricted privileges of schools, churches, and literature, with the unpolished manners of the people-all these drawbacks, as we reckon them-made the conditions of life very hard to our ancestors in the bygone centuries, and we might be led to infer that "life was not worth living" under such hardships, did we not remember how readily human nature can adapt itself to circumstances.
That the conditions of life were hard, may be gathered from the following illustration of the domestic slavery existing in this district in the fourteenth century: --
Thomas de Tiresall made fine with the lord of 6d. chiefage, for licence of having John, son of Roger Childeyoenge, a bondsman in his service up to the feast of St. Michael next ensuinge, so that he shall give back the aforesaide John to the bailiff at the time. *
*- From Bradford Master Court Rolls. Temp. Edw. III
In the reign of Edw. III., 1352, the wages paid to haymakers was 1d. per day; a mower of meadows 5d. per acre, or 5d. per day; reapers of corn, without meat or drink, finding their own tools, 2d. to 3d. per day; for thrashing a quarter wheat rye, 2 1 d. In 1361, of same reign, a chief master carpenter or mason received 4d. per day, and others 2d. or 3d., as they acquitted themselves. In the reign of Richard II., 1389, the wages of a bailiff of husbandry was 13s.4d. per year, and clothing once a year; the master hind was paid 10s a year; the carter, 10s.; and the shepherd, 10s. From this time up to the year 1445, in Henry VI reign, the price of labour was fixed by the justices by proclamation, viz., freemasons and carpenters, 4d. per day-without meat or drink, 5 1 d. per day; reapers and carters, 5d. per day, without meat or drink. In 1758 labourers received 10d. per day.
The homes of the poor were scarcely more than hovels, and it was not until the eighteenth century that any great improvement took place. For many generations there could be seen, around these dwellings of our ancestors, the moorland, unreclaimed by the plough or the spade, and fine woods where the towering trees grew thick as a forest. We can well understand that the labourers of those days were poor and ignorant, but it is certain that out of this apparently crude and unproductive period, and from these unlettered ancestors of ours, the present prosperous condition of Pudsey had its rise. Our forefathers laid the foundation of the manufacture, which is now the staple trade of the place, and from which the wealth, which has its evidences on every side, has been realised.
In 1736, the wages of a weaver were only 8d. a day, and for this sum he had to work fifteen hours. The price of provisions was much less than at the present time, but through nearly the whole of the eighteenth century, beef and mutton were from 3d. to 3 1 d. per lb.; cheese and butter from 3d. to 4d., and sugar, 6d.; while tea and coffee were luxuries unknown to Pudsey folks of the poorer class. Clothing of all sorts was very dear, and boots and shoes were equally expensive. The fashions in dress, and the quality of the food of our forefathers, were of the plainest description. In the beginning of the present century their food consisted of very poor fare-such as porridge, bacon, salt beef, and havercake (haver, Scandanavian for oats), now called oatcake; in fact, so largely was this wholesome article of food used, that a regiment of soldiers (the 33rd), raised principally in Yorkshire, was called the "Havercake Lads." Wheat bread was but seldom seen in many households; it was considered a rare treat to be favoured with it once a week, viz., on Sundays. When a pig was killed it was usual for a goodly portion of it to be distributed amongst the friends or kinfolk. The villagers, having but few sweets or luxuries, such as is common in this age of refinement, grew up hale, hearty, and strong; they thought little of walking forty or fifty miles a day.
The dress of the men of Pudsey, at the time of which we are writing, very often consisted of coarse grey hose, leather breeches, drab vest and coat, gay-coloured neckerchief, beaver had, and often a striped Woolsey apron, and once "rigged out" it would do almost for a generation. The dress of the fairer sex rarely rose above a gay-coloured print, the plainest of a cottage or coal-scuttle bonnet, and a plain or fancy shawl.
We cannot forego the temptation to say one work to the workman of Pudsey with reference to his present condition. If he has regular work at present, he should be far better off than the working man of a century ago, with his 8s. or 10s. a week, and bread occasionally at famine prices, as in 1800, and again in 1820, when the best corn was from 20s. to 22s. per bushel. There was, occasionally, an increase of wages in bad times, but not in proportion to the cost of bread. At such seasons, the most sober and industrious workman had much "planning" to be able to pay for necessary food and house rent, but even in the hardest of times, we have heard of instances where men have struggled on through all difficulties, in order to be able to pride themselves upon never having received a penny from the parish. The poor who had to receive parish relief were but indifferently treated, as we are told by one writer, who says:--"At the poor-house in Pudsey, not more than fifty years ago, I have seen large black bowls filled with oatmeal porridge and milk, and a big podgy person who figured as master, filling black earthen mugs with a ladle, and the poor, miserably-clad old people, hobbling away with their meal to their room, which was not very tidy or over clean. But I suppose it was thought good enough for the aged and inform poor."
Coming down to recent times, we find that Pudsey, in the early years of the present century, had a somewhat unenviable reputation; its inhabitants were considered rude, intractable, and scarcely amenable to the common laws regulating order and courtesy. The very name of the place furnished amusement for many a long year, and anything belonging to it was thought fair game for sport. That both the place and its people had their peculiarities it would be idle to deny. The place was not picturesque enough for those who were partial to order and regularity in the architecture and environments of the homes of the people. A writer, in 1829, thus expresses himself:--
Pudsey, one of the most populous villages in the West Riding, is finely situated on an eminence, but the irregularity of its buildings detracts greatly from its natural beauty. The inhabitants do not appear to pride themselves in the beauty of their village, or to rival each other in the exterior decorations of their several dwellings; but, on the contrary, they try to excel each other in industry and frugality, and seem more anxious to acquire riches than ostentatiously to display them. The manufacture of woollen cloths is carried on here to a greater extent than any other village in England. *
* - Pigott and Co.'s Directory of the West Riding, pub. 1829, p.1045
This neglect of the beautiful, in the homes of the people, might be attributed to many causes. There were no schools in existence at that time where the taste for the beautiful was cultivated, and the people had hard work to encounter in order to provide things honest, and keep the wolf from the door. True, the number of small freeholders in the place was at that time, a noticeable feature, and these favourites of fortune manifested a strong feeling of independence, which may have had something to do with the indifference to external surroundings which they manifested.
When the cloth manufacture began to develop itself, houses of a roomy, if not of a very substantial character, were built, generally of stone. In these houses the small manufacturers, who were also in many cases farmers, lived, and carried on the domestic manufacture of cloth. The farm buildings (outhouses) were inconvenient erections, sometimes covered with thatch, but oftener with grey slates.
Of the better class of houses built in the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries, and occupied at that time by the yeomanry of the village, we have several good examples left to us. One of these is
NESBIT HALL.-On the sunny side of the township, nestling under the hill, and protected from the north and east winds by fair-sized sycamores and beeches, stands a quaint old mansion, Nesbit Hall (or Nisbet Hall). Standing near the old iron entrance-gates, the first sight of the place gives one a feeling that there is something unusual about it. From papers still in possession of Mrs. James Clayton, it appears that in 1712, a John Holdsworth, of Pudsey, yeoman, and Dorothy, his wife, lived here, in the "Bank-house," and then sold it, and sixteen closes to John Darnbrough, of Tong, who died 1741, leaving his son John in possession. Darnbrough, junior, parted with the property, in 1775, to Richard Farrer, of Pudsey, who then resided here; and he in 1760 sold it to Claud Nisbet, merchant, of the city of London, who built the present hall on the site of the old "Bank-house," and had the graceful monogram of "C. & J. N., 1761," cast in the conductors, with his crest on each socket below. His will is dated this year, and Claud Nisbet, the elder of two sons, enters into possession; but "soon afterwards departed this life," where or how was never known, though some old neighbours will have it, that if the lower cellars are inspected, he will be found there. In 1811, it was sold to John Clayton, by auction, on the condition that, if ever C. N. turned up, he should be reinstated. The Claytons were of some standing in the district, were lords of the manor of Yeadon, and earlier on, were stewards of the Calverley estate of the Thornhills, living in the house next the church there. Two generations lived here, finally leaving in 1866, since which date the place has had several short occupiers, until 1885, when it was bought by Mr. John Cliff, late of Wortley, and Lambeth, London, who now lives there, takes a great interest in keeping up the old place, and in learning anything of its history and architecture. *
* Mr. Cliff gives the accompanying photograph of the Hall to this book.
The house gradually ceased to be styled "Bank House: after Nisbet's purchasing, and now, Nisbet is changed to Nesbit. It was designed by the same architect as Fulneck (some ten years later) and the house on Scotthill; and the similarity in the windows, mouldings, etc., fully bears out the tradition. The old malt-kiln shown in the ordnance map was built for Christopher Scott (his son-in-law), of Wortley, maltster, by John Darnbrough, senior, and was finally sold by the late Mr. James Clayton as old material. In the grounds is an old doorway, of very much older date than the present house, and it is believed to be the front doorway of the old "Bank" house. The views over the Tong estate fro this "bank" are very beautiful.
Mr. W. Wheater, in writing of the old houses in Pudsey, tells us that
In the Heights stands one of those fine old yeoman-mansions that tell us that when King James the Sapient conquered England and ascended its throne, the yeomen of Pudsey were a sold and thriving race. In the low broad windows of those houses, with their heavy stone mullions and light surmounting labels, their peaked roofs and deep splayed doorways, their cosy rooms, and wide expanding fire-places, we have the best types of English past-baronial grandeur. In Pudsey there are some six or seven such houses-the foremost perhaps being that on Greentop, which Mr. Rayner told me was dedicated to liberty of conscience in the troublous days of "the man Charles Stuart," when these Pudsey men ranged themselves bodily on the side of manhood, and afterwards told their children how
"We trampled on the throng of the haughty and the strong
Who sat in the high places and slew the saints of God."
Notwithstanding the awful fact that
" The man of blood was there, with his long emerced hair,
And Astley, and Sir Marmaduke, and Rupert of the Rhine."
They are sacred, these old houses, to the political liberties and moral grandeur of England. They are the abiding testimony of what manner of men they were who smote with the sword of the Lord and of Gideon. Burghers and freemen they, as the domestic character of their houses still indicates-no time-servers, no menial sycophants, no aspirants for baronial distinction, no dwellers in castles, or sham things having the similitude thereof; but plain men, substantial, capable of endurance, self-willed and self-respecting, much endowed mentally, and resolute in the good. To them the apostle's exhortation, "Fight the good fight," was not a meaningless waste of words; it was a soul-wracking command. Under the roof of his friend Sales, in this very mansion at Greentop, that fiery Puritan, Elkanah Wales, was wont to preach to his brother parishioners; and he preached in no courtly tones; he advocated no maudlin theology; he had taken up his cross and started to follow the God-man, whom our Saxon forefathers called the Healer, He who justified His own life upon Calvary. Such men are born to win; ye may destroy them in the flesh but in the spirit they are immortal. They it was who prepared the men who rode through Charles's ranks at Marston Moor, and shattered his duplicity at Worcester; it was their children in the wilds of the New World who taught England that prayerfulness was stronger than kingcraft, and that freedom was more powerful than bayonets. Let Pudsey point with undying pride to these burgher-mansions, and may the spirit of the wild Vikings, whose children founded them, never depart therefrom.
WEST HOUSE, the property and residence of Mr. James Banks, is a fair specimen of the class of residences which spring up as a result of commercial prosperity. It is of modern date, and has all the appearances of substantiality, comfort, and adaptability to the domestic requirements of the successful manufacturer. Mr. Banks has occupied a prominent position in Pudsey for many years, having served in the offices of churchwarden and guardian of the poor with great ability, and to the entire satisfaction of his fellow-townsmen. He has also held other public offices, and in many ways has rendered praiseworthy services to his native town. Mr. Banks is a Conservative in politics, and a member of the Established Church.
At Troydale there is an old farmhouse, upon which is a double cross or stone, denoting that the site on which it stands formerly belonged to the Knights of Jerusalem, afterwards called Knights of Malta. This Order had considerable possessions granted to them by pious admirers in the thirteenth century, and the lessees of their lands had many curious privileges granted to them. Proof of wills, was one of the prerogatives enjoyed by the Order, and this right was exercised within their manors of Crosley, Bingley, and Pudsey, so late as 1795. The wills are kept by Mr. Ferrand at St. Ives, Bingley, whose family were impropriate rectors. *
* Cudsworth's Round about Bradford, p. 499.
GROVE HOUSE, in Chapeltown, with its tastefully laid out grounds, and many excellent conveniences, is a good specimen of the domestic architecture of last century. This was at one time the residence of John Farrer, Esq., a justice of the peace, who was of some importance in his day, as appears by the part he took in town's affairs, and what is of still greater importance, the lively and unceasing interest he took in the training of young men. Mr. Farrer is the first magistrate we hear of as connected with Pudsey, but at that time justice was not dispensed in the village itself, for there was no court house; the police station had not shown itself, and the blue-coated police officer had not then begun his patrol of the streets and highways. There was a poor house, at the back of which was the prison where the refractories were locked up until the constables could escort them to the New Inn at Bradford, or the then noted "Catherine Slack: where justices used to sit and hear cases belonging to the township.
On the death of Mr. Farrer, the Rev. W.L. Howarth succeeded to the possession of Grove House, at which place he resided alternately with his Leeds residence. In 1868, Mr. Howarth qualified as a West Riding magistrate, and sat in Petty Sessions at Bradford. He was a distant relative of the Rev. W. Howarth, who was for fifty years incumbent of All Saints' Chapel. He was educated at Fulneck, Doncaster, and Leeds Grammar Schools, and graduated at Magdalene College, Cambridge. He was ordained to the curacy of St. Lawrence's Church, Pudsey, which office he held for seven years. In 1865 he married Mary, daughter of the late Mr. Thomas Banks, and sister to Mr. James Banks, of Pudsey. As a reader and elocutionist, Mr. Howarth, it is said, "was not surpassed by anyone in the district, and his sermons were generally sound and eloquent." Mr. Howarth died at his Leeds residence, Elmwood House, on the 14th day of December, 1877, aged 58 years.
In 1878 Grove House came into the possession of Mr. William Dibb Scales, a gentleman whose life, though it contains no adventures or events of an exciting nature, serves to show how high and worthy a position may be attained by steady perseverance, plodding industry, and honourable dealings. During the last forty years, Mr. Scales has been one of the most prominent public men in Pudsey, and has taken a large share in furthering its growth and development. He has during that long period taken a deep interest in all public matters tending to the welfare and well-being of his fellow-townsmen. He was elected first chairman of the Local Board, having previously served in many public offices connected with the township. He has been identified with every benevolent and Christian movement, and a large-hearted well-wisher and contributor to every good cause. His life has been marked by great thoroughness, transparency, and firmness of character, and having now retired from business, he has ample opportunity for usefulness, and also the willingness to avail himself of it. In religion Mr. Scales is connected with the Wesleyan body, and in politics is an advanced Liberal.
As to the people who lived in Pudsey in bygone days, they were a strong-minded race, and not to be "put on." Adopting their own expression, they would "fight like tigers" for an opinion, and it is said of them, that "politics, friendship, and kinship go for nothing in a question of doubtful policy." Refinement of manners was not then a characteristic of the people, but other sterling qualities made amends for the roughness and uncouthness of their speech and actions. An amusing description of an encounter with a Pudsey youth is given by the late Dr. Winter Hamilton, of Leeds. *
* From Sugar Literaria, pub. 1841. Pg. 292
He says:--
A week had scarcely elapsed since my arrival (in Leeds), before I determined on an excursion to the Moravian settlement at Fulneck. Ignorant of the way, I accosted a lad who was breaking stones by the side of the road, in a very common but unmeaning manner-"Where does this road go to?" With a proud contempt on his face, at what he perceived to be a southern tone and an equally foolish question, he, half with the air of the churl, and half that of the rogue, exclaimed: "Go! no where; I have knawn it for more than ten years, and it never sturred yet." A little out of countenance, if none out of temper, I still urged my desire for information. "Whither shall I get if I drive along this road?" "To Pudsey, sure; follow thy nose, and aw's plain as a pikestaff." Thinks I to myself,--if such be the cub, what must they be who have whelped him? If such be the eaglet, little more than callow and new ejected from the eyrie, what is the region of his sires? A precipitate retreat seemed alike prudent and inevitable from scenes with which I had so small an affinity; and those sharp spirits which peopled it, for which I was so poor a match.
If, however, the people were unpolished, a considerable number of them were frugal and industrious, and although they might never forget their mother tongue when addressing a stranger, yet they were hospitable and generous to those who had any claim upon their kindness. They were earnest and conscientious, independent and strictly honest, and though they might appear, on a first acquaintance, rough and hard to a stranger, under this apparent coarseness there was no lack of kindly feeling. A recent writer, in a notice of Ossett, says:--
It has long taken rank in popular estimation with Pudsey, and similar places, where artificial refinement of manners has not been deemed a characteristic, but where, at the same time, sterling good qualities have been combined with a hard and plodding industry. *
* Bank's Walks in Yorkshire, published 1871, p. 485.
Judging from what we can learn of our ancestors and their ways, we are led to the conclusion that what they lacked was education and more refined conversation, for they had mother wit enough to be able to hold their own with strangers.
That the simple diet, frugal living, and naturally healthy surroundings were conducive to long life, is abundantly testified by the many instances of longevity, of which we give the following list, extracted from registers:--
1672 Old Dame Lobley, aged 99 years, buried September 19th.
1696 James Thornton, aged 102 years.
1778 Richard Anderson, sen., aged 93, buried in the Old Chapel, Dec. 9th.
1779 Mrs. Margaret Marshall, widow, of Black Hey, aged 96, buried March 1st.
1779 Elisabeth, widow of Dan Farrer, Owlcoats, bur. at Calverley, March 18th, aged 105.
1780 John Hinchcliffe, buried March 12th, aged 92.
1780 Frances, widow of Samuel Hinchcliffe, sen., buried Nov. 19trh, aged 95.
1782 Mary Rough, of Pudsey, bur. at Calverley, aged 93.
1784 Sarah, widow of James Fenton, buried Oct. 2nd, aged 99 years.
1785 Elizabeth, widow of John Grave, buried March 19th, aged 90.
1790 Sarah, widow of Rich. Anderson, buried January 10th, aged 93.
1790 Mary, widow of William Kershaw, buried Dec. 28th, aged 96.
1793 Elizabeth, widow of Joseph Binns, buried Jany. 7th, aged 90.
1794 Joseph Wilson, buried January 6th, aged 90.
1794 Martha Fenton, alias Pearson, buried Dec. 26th, aged 99.
1799 Joseph Turner, late of Jumble's Well, buried Jany. 8th, aged 99.
1802 George Hainsworth, a Chelsea pensioner, buried Jany. 27th, aged 89.
1805 Joseph Holliday, buried Sept. 27th, aged 91.
1810 Mary, widow of Boocock, of Lowtown, buried Sept. 7th, aged 98.
1810 Jane, widow of Richard Farrer, buried Dec. 22nd, aged 99.
1810 Aaron Ackroyd, buried Nov. 18th, aged 92.
1812 Mr. Joseph Drake, late Chapel Clerk (Old Chapel), and Schoolmaster, buried Sept. 29th, aged 87.
1814 Edward Hinchcliffe, aged 91.
1816 Mrs. Susannah Holdsworth, aged 95. She was mother, grandmother, and great-
grandmother to upwards of 100 persons.

1801 Joshua Gaunt, of Pudsey, bur. at Calverley, January 21st, aged 92.
1807 Mary Hodgson, of Owlcoats, bur. at Calverley, May 31st, aged 91.
1810 Betty Armitage, bur. at Independent Chapel, Sep. 15th, aged 91.
1829 George Poole, Esq., of the Height, Pudsey, aged 99.
1831 Ellen, widow of Joseph Northrop, of Lowtown, bur. June 18th, aged 93.
1839 Mrs. Susannah Holmes, aged 92 years, died July 9th.
1840 Robert Bywater, of Chapeltown, Pudsey, died Nov. 8th, aged 91.
1841 Mrs. Farrer, mother of the late John Farrer, Esq., J.P., died March 17th, aged 90
1841 Mrs. Elizabeth Haste, died August 17th, aged 90
1842 Jeremiah Watson, sexton, Independent Chapel, aged 92.
1844 Mary, widow of Mr. Thomas Walker, aged 89.
1845 Samuel Ingham, in his 90th year, died Feby. 19th.
1847 Nancy, widow of Samuel Farrer, died Oct. 13th, aged 89.
1855 Benjamin Farrer, in his 92nd year, died August 29th.
1857 Hannah, relict of Jeremiah Watson, died Jan. 15th, aged 93.
1857 Hannah, wife of John Barraclough, died March 12th, aged 93.
1859 Tobias Farrer, of Lowtown, died Dec. 31st, aged 92.
1861 Mrs. Ann Schofield, died July 20th, aged 92, leaving behind her 5 children, 35 grand-children, 61 great grand-children, and seven great great grand-children.
1863 Matthew Ingham, farmer, died May 9th, aged 91.
1874 Mrs. Sarah Banks, Chapeltown, died Oct. 26th, aged 93.
1874 Joseph Roberts, died 8th of December, aged 90 years.
1876 Mary, relict of old Jim Berry, died Oct. 18th, aged 94.
1876 Joseph Webster, in his 95th year, born at Morley, died June 22nd.
1879 Mrs. McCollah, died June 5th, aged 90 years.
1880 Hannah, widow of James Waterhouse, died Dec. 28th, aged 93.
1882 Sarah, widow of late Joseph Varley, Lowtown, died May 18th, aged 92.
1884 Eleanor, widow of Joseph Roberts, died Dec. 27, aged 93.
1885 Joseph Appleby Bateson, died March 18th, aged 94.
1885 Elizabeth, widow of William Lupton, died May 27th, aged 93.
1885 Martha Smith, buried May 29th, aged 92.
1885 Thomas Johnson, died October 8th, aged 89.
1886 Hannah, widow of John Walton, died January 16th, aged 90.

Pudsey like many of its neighbours, had a somewhat unenviable reputation in bygone days, in the matter of drunkenness. Fighting too, was not uncommon, a century ago, more especially at holiday and feast times. The former vice led to the latter, and it was not at all a rare sight, to see men stripped to the waist, fighting for a great length of time, until one of the combatants was completely beaten. Dog battles were a favourite form of amusement, as also, cock-fighting, game cocks being trained to fight with steel heels put on. That much allowance needs to be made for the indulgence in these coarse amusements, we do not deny. The drinking habits of the people were the outcome of the customs of centuries and especially of the old-time modes of "treating," and giving drink as part of wages. From the middle of the last century until a comparatively recent period, the drinking customs of society have kept their sway over each successive generation of our people; but efforts have been made, from time to time, to check the evil, and in 1833 the first "Temperance Society" in Pudsey was formed, and for a time did much for the moral and intellectual advancement of the village, but, having relaxed its efforts, the society was re-modelled in 1853, when the crusade against intemperance was carried on with much vigour and persistency, and with a considerable amount of success.
In 1880, the "Pudsey and District Band of Hope Union" was formed, with Mr. Matthew Walker as president, and in 1883, the membership numbered 1,000, whilst in 1886, there were sixteen Bands of Hope connected with the Union, having a membership of 2,801, 716 of whom were over twenty-one years of age.
Other agencies for the improvement of the condition of the inhabitants, and for the more rational enjoyment of their leisure, were started from time to time. In 1857, the "Early Closing Association" was formed, with the Rev. H.J. Graham as president. The scheme came into operation on Sep. 14th, and the hours of closing were, for the first four days of the week, at 8 o'clock; Friday, 9 o'clock; and Saturday at 11 o'clock. The number of members was 60. A half-holiday on Wednesday afternoon in each week, has now been in operation for some years.
In 1857, the "Pudsey Floral and Horticultural Society: was instituted, and held its first exhibition on the 28th day of September, when a large and respectable collection of plants, etc., was shown, and the undertaking was a pecuniary success. Mr. H.C. Smith was the first president. For many years the society enjoyed a career of great usefulness, having induced amongst the resident cottagers a spirit of emulation and pride, and their little garden plots began to occupy the leisure time, which was previously used unprofitably, if not perniciously. Much of the success of the society was due to the exertions of Mr. Smith, Mr. George Hinings, and Mr. E. Sewell, the secretary.
The number of Friendly Societies in Pudsey is very large, there being between thirty and forty lodges or clubs, having an aggregate membership of nearly 3,000 persons. In addition to these, the amounts paid into the building societies of Leeds and Bradford represent a large sum. The various orders of Odd-fellows, Foresters, Rechabites, and similar societies, cannot in Pudsey date their origin earlier than the year 1823, but since that year they have increased rapidly, and have become so popular that there are few working men who do not belong to some one or other of them. Judging from the number of members, one would be led to conclude that a very large portion of the working classes in Pudsey are men of provident habits, who make provision in case of sickness or casualties, so as to place themselves independent of the workhouse or parish relief.
During the last twenty-five years, Pudsey has borne a conspicuous part in furthering the co-operative movement. The Leeds Industrial Co-operative Society first commenced business here in 1860, the first year's turnover amounting to L2,923, and the profit to L53. In 1871, the foundation stone of a large new store was laid at Pudsey, an eligible site having been secured at the junction of Manor Street with the main road at the top of Lowtown. The building comprises spacious shops, in which are carried on the grocery and drapery trades. There are also two dwelling houses, and, over the whole, a large room for the use of the committee and shareholders at their meetings. The erection is in the Italian style of architecture, from designs by Messrs. Wilson and Bailey, architects, of Leeds. The foundation stone was laid by Mr. William Bell, president of the Leeds Society. The number of members connected with the branch of the Leeds Society is about 300, and the amount of their purchases in connection with the store at Lowtown for year ending December, 1886, was L10,111 16s. 5d. and the profit realised thereon, L930. The total amount of business done at the store from its commencement in 1860, to December, 1886, is L184,857, and the total profit, L12,725.
In addition to this store, the Society has a branch at Greenside, Pudsey, which was commenced in 1874, and another at Littlemoor, commenced in 1879.
The whole Society, the operations of which cover a large area, numbered at the end of 1886, 23,985 members, with an annual turnover amounting to L481,220, with a net profit of L54,737, having a share capital of L231,235.
In 1871, the first Co-operative Mill in Pudsey was started, under the title of the "Pudsey Worsted Mill Company, Limited." The first stone of the mill was laid by one of the directors, Mr. James Newell, on the 14th day of July, in the presence of a large assembly, when an address on the advantages of co-operation was delivered by Mr. Bell, of Leeds. The cost of the erection was upwards of L6,000, and it was built from designs by Mr. John Haton, of Pudsey. Nearly 2,000 shares at L2 each were taken up, principally by working men. The site of the mill is near to the Greenside Station of the branch railway from Stanningley.
The means of communication, in Pudsey itself, as well as with other towns was, until a comparatively recent period, of a very unsatisfactory kind. The roads were of the most primitive character, chiefly footpaths, leading from one part of the village to another, and to the markets at Leeds and Bradford. No macadamising, no paving, no draining, no side walks worthy of the name, and the roads generally both dangerous and difficult to travel. On dark nights, lanterns, pattens, and sticks, were indispensable to avoid accidents, and ensure a measure of safety in plodding along the knife-edged footpaths, and almost impassable streets. Since the formation of the Local Board, a great improvement has been effected in the management of the highways, and Pudsey, in this respect, will compare favourably with neighbouring towns.
For a quarter of a century Pudsey was dependent upon Stanningley for its railway accommodation, and it was not until 1870, that steps were taken to remedy this great inconvenience, arising from Stanningley Station being too distant to meet the growing requirements of a populous manufacturing town like Pudsey. A local committee was formed to wait upon the directors of the London and North-Western Railway Company, with the view of inducing them to continue their line from Lower Wortley and Farnley to Bradford, via Pudsey. The deputation went to Euston Station, met the directors, and stated their case. After due consideration, the Company came to the conclusion that on account of the difficulties of crossing the Tong Valley, and obtaining a station in Bradford, they could not accede to the application. The Committee subsequently went, on the same errand, to the head-quarters of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company, at Manchester. Their application was favourably received, and instructions were given that the district should be surveyed. This was being done, when in 1871, the Great Northern Railway Company obtained powers in Parliament to construct a railway to Pudsey, branching from their Leeds and Bradford line. Negotiations were commenced with some thirty-two owners of property, and the line was marked out.
The ceremony of cutting the first sod took place on March 24, 1875, in a field near to Priestley Mills. Mr. John Butler turned the first sod; Joseph Elsworth and Joseph Emsley, two old inhabitants of Pudsey, also taking part.
The railway is two and a quarter miles long. Commencing behind the station at Stanningley, a line of rails is laid alongside the main line for a distance of some 600 yards in the direction of Bramley. The line then breaks off to the right, and is joined by a fork from Bramley, near Dyeholes Well, in a field opposite the Priestley Mills, which stand a little to the left of the line. This fork is 850 yards long. It leaves the main line about 150 yards on the down side of Bramley Station, and joins the Stanningley fork at a point 1,000 yards from Stanningley Station. The line from the Bramley end to some distance above the junction, runs on a heavy embankment. The Stanningley fork leaves the main line in a cutting 100 yards long, and then the level is raised until the junction is reached. The railway from this junction follows the direction of the Bramley fork, sweeping gradually to the left until it reaches Pudsey main street, a little above the Allanbrig Mill. In order to bring the line underneath the road, a cutting had to be made 730 yards long, and 32ft. in its deepest part, extending from a short distance above the fork to about 100 yards on the other side of the road, where Lowtown Station is erected. The site of the station is on the lower side of the line. The land purchased by the Company at this place for station purposes-some four or five acres in extent-comprises a portion of the field in which for many years the Pudsey feasts were held, and where, in times gone by, the lovers of bull-baiting used to witness their favourite sport. The cutting is through shale and a hard "bastard" rock, and the work was mainly carried on by means of blasting. After leaving the station, the line curves considerably to the right, and passing to the left of Crawshaw Mill is carried underneath Robin Lane, opposite Crawshaw House. Radcliffe Lane is crossed in a similar manner, near its junction with Robin Lane. The line then passes through a number of fields between Chapeltown and the top of Fartown, until its terminus is reached in a piece of vacant ground near Cliffe Mill, Greenside.
There are several substantial bridges on the railway, among which may be mentioned that carrying the line over Swinnow Lane, another (a three-arch bridge) over Boggard Lane, near the Allanbrig Mill reservoir; a third supporting the main street; an arched way under the line at Hammerton Fields; and two iron-girder bridges which carry Robin and Radcliffe Lanes. The Main Street bridge is 68ft. long and 43ft. wide, and consists of an iron-girder span, 26ft. across, supported by two massive stone abutments. The height is 15ft. from the level of the rails. There is only one line of rails, but the bridges have been constructed so as to carry a double line, and the Company have also purchased the land necessary for that purpose.
The total rise from the Bramley Junction to Greenside is nearly 149ft., so that somewhat heavy gradients predominate. The steepest ascents are 1 in 50, and the easiest 1 in 108. Messrs. N.B. Fogg and Co., railway contractors, Liverpool, constructed the line. Mr. John Fraser, C.E., Leeds was the chief engineer. Mr. John Butler, of the Stanningley Iron-works, supplied the ironwork for the bridges, and the stone was procured from the Park Spring Quarries, near Bramley. The cost of the line was L103,000. It was opened for passenger traffic on the 1st of April 1878, amidst much enthusiasm on the part of the townspeople. From early morn to late at night the famous Pudsey bells rang out merry peals, while the Pudsey band paraded the streets during a great portion of the day. There was no recognised holiday, except so far as Saint Monday is recognised, but the aggregate result of the day's working would probably show that machinery might as well have been allowed a rest. As might be expected, the inclination to take a ride on the first day of opening was irresistible, if only that so extraordinary an event might be handed down to posterity; but apart from that, the delights of a railway ride might, to not a few natives, have been a real pleasure, for it is affirmed that scores spent most of their time in riding backwards and forwards throughout the day. However that may be, it was found at the close of the day that 450 single tickets, and over 400 returns, had been issued between Pudsey and Stanningley Stations, and nearly 500 tickets giving transmission from Stanningley to Pudsey.