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Dog Bottom!

The area enclosed is red is Dog Bottom


Thomas’s business card

Today I went in search for Dog Bottom. Well, with a name like that who wouldn’t! Thomas Gibson was living there in 1861with his wife, Sally, nee Wrigley, who was living in Lily Hall at the time of her marriage in 1838. In 1841 Thomas and Sally, my great great great great aunt and uncle  were living at Lily Hall too.

Thomas was a well known local photographer. When I first found his address on the 1861 I discovered that Dog Bottom was the name given to a small area of flat land on the way to Hardcastle Crags, just across Hebden Water from Hebden Bridge Bowling club. I often walk along here just to get out and about. Recently I’ve been making friends with a blue heron that often stands right on the weir just past Dog Bottom. This morning, through looking at some historic maps I found that there is an actual building named Dog Bottom so I set off to find it. Soon I encountered a couple who were letting their dogs swim in Hebden Water, despite the chill in the air. I chatted with them and asked if I could take a photo of their dog in ‘Dog Bottom.’ She gladly agreed and I explained why! “Ah, you can see Dog Bottom house through the trees if you go a little further,” she suggested. “They’re having a lot of building done there. I’d love to go inside. It’s a really old house,” she continued.

Dog Bottom: Current home of Freud’s great grandson, and former home of my great great great great aunt and uncle

So, having looked for my heron, unsuccessfully, probably because it was so late in the day I headed across the river and soon came to a sign. Well, at least I know I’m in the right place. Masses of new building work was under construction and after taking a few photos of the original house I got into conversation with one of the builders who was laying a stone wall. He told me that the name Dog Bottom is derived from a pack of wild dogs that used to roam the area. First of all I asked if the owners were friendly – and explained my interest. He was eager to tell me all he knew about the owner – none other than Siegmund Freud’s great grandson! Wow. That was a turn up for the books. The psychologist’s grandson was Lucian Freud the famous artist who owned to fathering 14 children, though friends put the estimate at around 40, and the current owner of Dog Bottom is one of those 14 children: From the Daily Mail

  1. The Whirling Dervish

Growing up, Francis Eliot, 45, considered himself the son of Perry, the raffish 10th Earl of St Germans, although it was an open secret that he was the issue of Jacquetta’s long affair with Freud. Francis Eliot was named after artist Francis Bacon. It was an open secret that he was Lucian Freud’s son. He was named after Freud’s fellow artist Francis Bacon, giving rise to a sardonic joke from Perry, who knew he was not the boy’s biological father: ‘How do you like your bacon ? Freud?’

Francis is married with two children and lives in an artistic community in Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire. He is an expert whirling dervish, the eastern dance practised by Islamic mystics, and teaches dance in the 5 Rhythms method, combining movement and meditation.

I rather think my photographer ancestor would have appreciated this story! This was not the outcome that I’d anticipated when I set off for my little stroll this afternoon!

Lucian Freud Biography:


Lucian Freud was a German-born British painter known mostly for bold and realistic portraits and nudes. His 1995 painting of a nude, obese woman, Benefits Supervisor Sleeping, sold in 2008 for $33.6 million, a record high price for the work of a living artist. The grandson of Sigmund Freud, his background was primarily in drawing, and he was a tutor at the Slade School of Fine Art in London in the late 1940s and ’50s. Freud began getting recognition in the early 1950s, making his mark as a new kind of realist, with muted colors and heavy brushstrokes that emphasized the flesh. Freud was known to spend thousands of hours on a single portrait; he often painted people he knew who were willing to endure months of sitting under the gaze of a probing eye. A retrospective exhibit in 1987 and 1988 in Paris, Washington and London helped make Freud an international star. By the end of his career, Lucian Freud was among a handful of painters described as the world’s best, and the value of his painting began to soar. The National Gallery of Australia bought Freud’s After Cézanne (2000) for $7.4 million in 2001, and in 2011, a few months after Freud’s death, his Boy’s Headsold for nearly $5 million.

As his business card tells us Thomas had a studio on Crown Street, Hebden Bridge. I have yet to find out which building his studio occupied, but I currently live adjacent to Crown Street!

Muddy paw prints on my jeans was a small price to pay for such an interesting afternoon!

I  visited their grave a while back  – a very imposing memorial – in Heptonstall cemetery. I must visit it again now that i know a little more about them.

The 901 bus to Huddersfield – a fabric artist’s view

The 901 to Huddersfield.


Blue-butted sheep clinging to the hillsides are woollen smudges on green felt

Faintly mottled with age and growing decrepitude.

Fragments of ancient walls crisscrossing the quilted landscape

Are half finished seams defining and redefining the juxtaposition of fabrics.

Hand embroidered backstitches create paths through the panorama

While roads are unravelled seams bordered by messy ditches to be constructed, moved and rethought time after time.

The motorway looming below is an ugly fray, brutally ripped open, causing mayhem to the surrounding countryside

Xs mark the placement of buildings clustered in their cross-stitched confusion along

A trailing blue ribbon slip-stitched in meandering waves through darkened valleys of worsted cloth.


It’s late afternoon and the winter light is fading.

In my workspace I turn on the overhead light causing the sun to break through brocade clouds

Bringing a luminescence to the tightly woven silken threads.

Circles of shining sequins sowed like seeds over the felt

Are reservoirs feeding thirsty machines and people

Living in their cross-stitched villages, in the shadows of their buckram chimneys,

Connected by their ribbon river and their running stitched roads

And tonight, secure in their blanket stitched beds.

Set in Stone?

Set in stone?


On viewing the West wall of Manchester Cathedral


A first view:

Black, pitted,

Scored by aeons of weather

Scared by centuries of man.

Man and horse struggled

Through the penetrating precipitation

Of a Mancunian winter to carry that once-golden stone

Masons left their marks

Gauged with chisels, struck with hammers, polished it until smooth.


Set in stone implies ‘forever’

Yet here the ravages of time, be they made by man or Nature’s serendipity

Have destroyed those chiseled lines,

Blurred those straight edges,

Roughened those smooth surfaces until

Only scattered remnants of fine tracery peak out with blinded eyes from beneath its wretched face.

And now, like an ancient mummy the once-smooth skin is black and pitted,

A volcanic crater of aging epidermis.


But wait,

A second viewing, now informed by a Father

Garbed in mockery of the knights that lie prostrate beneath our feet.

That ancient wall that spoke to me of medieval masons

Whose marks I’d traced with hesitant fingers,

Yearning to connect across the centuries,

Its marks are mutilations, wounds wrought by virtuous Victorians

Intentional disfigurements of medieval craftsmanship

By prim men in straight-laced garb

Yearning to cover the ancient disorder with modern clarity of line.


This wall, with its pock marks and scuffs bore witness to my forefathers,

Their birth, their love, their demise.

Music shrouds their spirits for

Without them I wouldn’t exist.

“That wall needs a face lift.

Cover the blemishes, obliterate the scars,” the renovators had said.

Today that white wash has flaked away into its own oblivion

Leaving the pitted West wall to conjure its own convoluted saga.

A musician’s view of the 12:27 to Leeds

The 12:27 to Leeds


“The next train to depart from platform one will be the 12:27 to Leeds

Calling at Mytholmroyd, Sowerby Bridge, Halifax, Bradford Interchange, New Pudsey and Leeds.”

The contralto’s opening recitative sends ‘shivers down my spine.’

This platform change has me running Prestissimo beneath the bridge passage synching my pulse to the finale of the William Tell Overture.

I slip for a moment on the wet cobbles but managing to avoid a fully fledged glissando,

I run up the stairs in whole steps and, with the leap of a tritone, like the Devil I jump aboard.

The iron Lion growls and lets out a roar as this Carnival of human Animals settles back in its seat to enjoy this Short Ride in a Fast Machine.


The Water Music to our left softly serenades with Tales from Vienna Woods

While the Ash Grove placidly sits on the hillside above soulfully singing Dido’s Lament over a ground bass provided by lowing cows.

Below me Mytholmroyd church still manages to keep its asymmetrical head above water

But with much more rain it’ll become La Cathédrale Engloutie.

But for now in these green quilted fields Sheep May Safely Graze

Farther along the valley abandoned factories resound to the rhythm of Bolero

As ghosts perform a Danse Macabre on the skeletal remains of neglected buildings.


Through a dense mist of atonal fog Britten’s Night Mail performs an accelerando through the entire Four Seasons

Coming at last to a rest in Winter at Sowerby Bridge

Where the platform is humming to the Waltz of the Flowers as Eidelweiss pirouttes with Roses from the South

But at this time of year all respectable Bumble Bees have already taken Flight.

Continuing at a tempo moderato the train goes ‘past cotton grass and moorland boulder’ and eventually

Rows of saw-toothed weaving sheds climax in Halifax’s phallic folly

As, through the rustling leaves of Der Lindenbaum, I glimpse The Lark Ascending.


Heading over Coley viaduct a phrase of staccato raindrops bounce off Satie’s umbrellas keeping dry the heads of men intently involved in Le Golf

As, high above them, marching with Pomp and Circumstance, huge pylons stomp across the course con moto like Martian fighting machines.


At length a dolce phrase from a Bach Suite greets our arrival After Eight in Halifax, home to Mackintosh and Quality Street.

And several crochets climb aboard accompanied by small quavers stoically holding hands.

They scale the half steps and jump eagerly onto the two lined staff stretching across the page

While white haired minims and legless semibreves prop up the bar.


Subito, we plunge into the blackness of the Hall of the Mountain King,

Where sparsely orchestrated Catacombs lurk at ever diminishing intervals

“Where’s our Lux Aeterna when we need one?” I ask the ripieno gathered around me

‘But answer came there none’

For a grand pause was written into the score and everyone was silent.


Back under the Nuages Gris and ever onward past Jardins sous la pluie

We pause for a brief fermata at Bradford station

Where the train suddenly goes into retrograde motion for the remainder of the trip.

As we make a controlled ritardando into New Pudsey

The vast expanse of Asda’s car park is revealed as a Land of Hope and Glory

Wherein ‘the machine of a dream’ vies for space with a mercury Queen.

Ponies scatter on the sodden field dreaming of a life in the sun in Copland’s Rodeo

While at the Major’s poultry farm I spy a Ballet of Unhatched Chicks

Caused by a sharp cat wandering into the flat yard

And causing havoc in The Hut on Hen’s Legs.

Hen’s LegH

“Oh puss, get out” I cry to myself, sotto voce,

But my voice is lost in a cacophony of cell phones

As aleatoric pings Come Together in a final cadenza

Heralding not The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba into Leeds railway station

But a Fanfare for the Common Man.

James Wrigley – my great great great grandfather – therein lies a tale.

James Wrigley – my great great great grandfather – therein lies a tale.


Between 1809 and 1811 James and Mally Wrigley moved from their home on Toad Lane Rochdale to Heptonstall. Toad Lane Rochdale is famous all over the world for being the home of the Cooperative movement. In fact, I went to a lecture last night given by the Hebden Bridge Local History Society about the origins of the first cooperative mill, Nutclough Mill which just happens to be in in Hebden Bridge, and how it was eventually bought out by the Cooperative Wholesale Society. It brought back memories for me of going to the Coop in Bolton, not just for food, but I had my elocution lessons in a room upstairs, was a member of the verse speaking choir (which is why I can recite so many poems) and the singing choir. Verse speaking and elocution festivals were held in the ballroom about the food store. I also went to the Coop dentist and Coop opticians in that building. The first coop on Toad Lane Rochdale is now a museum which I visited during my summer trip to England last year. The site of the museum at 31 Toad Lane was where the ‘Pioneers’, 28 working people opened a co-operative store on the 21st December, 1844.


I’d discovered, surprisingly, that James and Mally Wrigley are my great great great great grandparents. It’s from my connection with them that I am related to the Wrigley builders of Hebden Bridge, and the Gibsons of Hebden Bridge. Between the birth of their fourth and fifth sons the growing Wrigley family moved from Rochdale to Heptonstall. I don’t know where they lived immediately but by 1840 they were living in Lily Hall. Lily Hall is pivotal in my family history.

Lily Hall, Heptonstall

But for the Wrigleys of Lily Hall I wouldn’t have the ancestors in Heptonstall and Hebden Bridge that first brought me to stay in this area with Rachel in the summer of 2015 which eventually led to me moving to Hebden Bridge in Sept 2017 after 32 years in the U.S.

When James (junior) was married at St Thomas’s, Heptonstall on March 15, 1840 he was living with his parents James and Mally in Lily Hall. His occupation is given as a white limer, one who paints walls and fences with white lime, and his father is a cabinet maker. James’s new bride is Mary Pickles of Rochdale. James and Mary both made their mark in lieu of signature so they were probably illiterate. A witness to their marriage is Thomas Gibson, a 20 year old whitesmith who was living next door at Lily Hall. Sometime the following year in 1841 Mary gave birth to a son, Thomas, who soon died and was buried at St Thomas’s on July 15, 1841. In 1843 Sarah was born and a year later Martha in 1844. In 1847 Mally was born – named after her grandma. By the census in 1851 James and Mary were living at Town Gate Heptonstall and James is a head plasterer, thus carrying on the family tradition of being connected with the building trade. In 1852 James’s wife Mary died at the age of 37. She’s buried at St Thomas’s: Plot #V1 9 Flat In memory of MARY the wife of JAMES WRIGLEY of this Town who died June 12th 1852 aged 37 years Also of JAMES WRIGLEY her husband who died Sept 2nd 1886 aged 75 years. Two years, 2nd July 1854 later he married another Mary, Mary Ackroyd, a widow whose maiden name had been Pickup. The following month (!) their daughter Mary Ann was born on August 21st. The next 3 censuses 1861, 1871, 1881 have the family living at Millwood, an area between Hebden Bridge and Todmorden near the Shannon and Chesapeake pub (which I noticed yesterday is closed and up for sale for £195,000). Mary died in 1876 and James lived to the grand old age of 75 and was buried with his first wife (!) at St Thomas’s.

Shannon and Chesapeake pub is for sale

So, how does all this tie in with MY family tree. Well, here’s an article I wrote explaining just that. It was published in the Calderdale Family History Journal:

Elizabeth Ann Whitham

In the summer of 2016 I spent seven weeks in Calderdale researching my maternal grandmother’s ancestry. Though born and raised in the tiny village of Affetside in Lancashire I now live in Northern California and I was eager to make this trip to find out more about my heritage. For the previous seven years I had been doing as much research online as possible but I had come upon a puzzling fact: my great, great grandmother, Elizabeth Ann Whitham had been married twice, but had given the name of two different fathers on her two marriage certificates. First Elizabeth Ann married Ishmael Nutton at St John the Baptist church in Halifax on April 27, 1861.   His residence at the time of marriage was Skircoat and Ishmael’s occupation was woolsorter. Ishmael’s father, James Nutton gives his occupation on the marriage certificate as woolsorter too. Elizabeth Ann, whose residence was Halifax, gives her father’s name as William Whitham with the space for his occupation left empty. In the 1861 census an Elizabeth Ann Whittam (born Heptonstall, 1841) is a cook at a large boarding school on Hopwood Lane, Park House. So far, so good. The school was run by the Farrar family. John Farrar (1813-1883) born at Heptonstall (just like Elizabeth Ann) was the “schoolmaster: Classical, commercial and mathematical.”(1861 census). Interestingly the road that joins Shaw Hill in Skircoat is Farrar Mill Road.

Ishmael died from alpaca poisoning (sorting alpaca wool) on March 17 1876. I found his grave at Christ Church Mt Pellon. Elizabeth Ann, now 40, was now head of the household living at 20 Haigh Street, Halifax, with her sons Charles 18, John 17 and William 14. She also has a lodger, James Hainsworth Leeming, eleven years younger than her. In 2016 I went to find her house. Haigh Street is still there, partially, but as ill-luck would have it the part I wanted has been demolished. It’s a street sandwiched between factory buildings, many of them derelict. Five years later Elizabeth Ann married James Leeming, a widower, originally from Horton near Bradford. But here, things get a little more complicated because she gives the name of her father not as William Whitham but as James Wrigley, a plasterer. Try as I might I just couldn’t figure this out. She’d given two different names for fathers on her two marriages. The simplest explanation is that I’d got the ‘wrong’ Elizabeth Ann, but that didn’t seem likely since the birth years were about the same and they’d both been born in Heptonstall. Completely at a loss I just happened to find a person online offering to help with people’s ancestral brick walls in Calderdale. I emailed Roger Beasley of the CFHS one evening in August, giving details of my predicament and, lo and behold by the time I woke up the next morning he had solved my mystery. He wrote: “I think I may have worked out why Elizabeth Ann Whittham gave both William Whittham and James Wrigley as her father. Her mother, Sally Farrar, daughter of James Farrar, married William Whittham in 1822. Their children were: Hannah (b.1828), Farrar (b.1831), John (b.1833), James Farrar (b.1837). William Whittham died in 1837. In the 1841 census there was a James Rigley, plasterer, living next door to the widow, Sally. It seems possible that Elizabeth Ann Whittham was the illegitimate daughter of Sally Whittham and James (W)rigley. I couldn’t find a baptism for Elizabeth Ann Whittham which was common for children born out of wedlock. However, I did find the record of her birth in 1840 on FreeBMD.” Perhaps Elizabeth Ann herself wasn’t aware of her true father when she married for the first time. But Roger Beasley’s email also contained two other very important facts. I’d been unable to trace Elizabeth Ann’s mother. Roger found her to be Sally Farrar of Heptonstall. When I got the church records for St Thomas’s Heptonstall there are 190 Farrar baptisms recorded! Roger did find a birth record of Elizabeth Ann in 1840 on FreeBMD in which she’s registered in Todmorden. When her birth certificate arrived from England I found that, sure enough, as Roger had surmised there is no father named on it. Her mother’s name is Sally Whitham nee Farrar and Elizabeth Ann was born at Lily Hall. I can’t help wondering if James Wrigley and his wife knew that Sally was giving birth to James’s daughter literally in the next room – in Lily Hall.

Lily Hall

So in September 2016 I embarked upon some research into the family of James Wrigley. After all, if these facts are correct he is my great, great, great grandfather! I found two online Wrigley family trees with the correct James Wrigley, of Heptonstall. I contacted both tree owners and they both live in New Zealand. James was one of eight children. One of his brothers was Abraham and remarkably there was a photo of Abraham taken with his own son John. From Grace Hanley in New Zealand I found out that “John came to NZ in 1863, Edmund in 1865 and Hannah, James and their mother Sally arrived in NZ, 1883.” James Wrigley, Elizabeth Ann’s biological father had married Mary Pickles on March 15th 1840. One of James and Mary’s children was Mally Wrigley. She married James Barker of Water Barn, Rossendale on July 14, 1866 in Heptonstall. Mally and James were both weavers when they married but by 1871 and 1881 he was a cotton operative.

I will return to Calderdale this summer to further my research and would love to meet up with people who may have recognized some of their ancestors in my story.

With many thanks to Roger Beasley.


So, just two months after James married his first wife Mary Pickles, his next door neighbor gave birth to James’s child, Elizabeth, who took as her surname her mother’s married name of Whitham. On June 11th 1840 just 3 weeks after Elizabeth Ann was born at a petty sessions held at the White Hart in Todmorden in front of 2 justices of the peace James was acknowledged as Elizabeth Ann’s father and ordered to pay 4s 6p to the Overseers of the Poor in Heptonstall for the maintenance and support so far incurred and he is ordered to pay weekly 1s 6p weekly until the child reaches 7 years of age. When Sarah and I had lunch in the White Hart we’d no idea of how significant a role this building had been in our family’s history.

Through a couple more years of research, especially when I moved to Hebden Bridge I found out more about the Wrigley family. They continued to expand their building business, building some of the largest buildings in Hebden Bridge and surrounding area. But that’s for another post on my blog. Sally had already given birth to six children when she had Elizabeth. Their early deaths make very sad reading. Her first two children died less than a year old. Her third, Hannah, outlived her, dying at 66, then Farrar died aged 5 and John aged 2, then she had James Farrar (1837-1901) and 7 months later her husband, William Whitham died. No wonder she was living back with her parents in Lily Hall in 1840.




Thomas Wardle Gledhill – my great uncle.

Thomas Wardle Gledhill


Ever since I received a photo of my great uncle Thomas from a new-found relative on I’ve been haunted by his gaunt face, staring out. It’s a face that tells of hardship and sorrow so I decided to delve a little more into his background, and perhaps find out if what I was reading in his face was born out by what I could find out about his life.

Sure enough I find that by the date of his baptism at Halifax minster, August 12, 1863 twelve days after his birth on July 28, his mother, Mary nee Peel, had already died. Within 2 years his father George remarried, this time to Charlotte Haigh. The turbulence of their marriage and George’s various prison sentence have been described in my chapter about George. However, Thomas’s middle name has puzzled me for a while now. It surely is a surname, possibly indicative of his ‘real’ father. And then I found ‘the missing link.’ I’ve just noticed that on the 1881 census that when Sarah Gledhill was living at 51 Battison St in Halifax the next door neighbour at # 61 was James Gledhill Wardle. There MUST be some significant connection here. It can’t be a coincidence. So possibly James was Thomas’s biological father. OK. But why does James have Gledhill as a middle name? Argh! The plot thickens. That requires more delving. So I spent an entire evening finding out about the life of James Gledhill Wardle, born in 1843 to mother Isabella who was born in Soyland, Halifax. I traced him from 1861 until his death in 1919 and there’s no accounting for his middle name being Gledhill. I do know that he was christened with that name but none of his siblings have that as a middle name. So I’m none the wiser. Getting back to Thomas Wardle Gledhill George and Charlotte subsequently had two children Abraham, born 1866 and Sarah, born 1868. Did they realize the biblical significance of these names?

By the time he was 8 years old Thomas was living with his grandparents John and Harriet Gledhill at 1 and 2 Regent’s Court, Orange Street in Halifax. This is now a car park though Orange Street still parallels a new road by the Orange Street roundabout. At 61 and 58 years old his grandparents were quite elderly to deal with an 8 year old. Their own children John 18, and Maria 15 were working. John as a drayman like his father, and Maria as a worsted twister.

On Aug 31, 1876 there is a record of Thomas being employed at Crossley carpets, one of 6 children between 13 and 18 years of age who took up employment that day in what was then the largest carpet manufacturer in the world, employing 5000 workers. John Crossley (1772 – 1837) founded the firm at Dean Clough in Halifax. By 1837 the firm had 300 employees and the fourth largest mill in Britain. Following the death of their father, the firm was inherited by his three sons, John, Joseph and Francis.

Francis Crossley (1817 – 1872) was responsible for the company’s rapid expansion throughout the mid-nineteenth century. He pioneered the development of steam-powered carpet manufacturing, which gave the company an enormous advantage in terms of cost of production. Licensing the use of their patents to other carpet manufacturers brought in substantial revenues from royalties alone. Unusually for the time, Francis Crossley operated a policy of paying women equal wages to men for doing the same job. Many of the Crossley family values were inspired by their Congregationalist faith.

By 1862 Crossley & Sons was the largest carpet manufacturer in the world. In 1864 the firm became a joint-stock company, with the primary aim of allowing its 3,500 employees to become shareholders. 20 percent of the company was sold to the employees at preferential rates. They were perhaps the first large industrial employer to profit share with their employees.

In 1868 John Crossley & Sons was the largest publicly quoted industrial company in Britain, with an ordinary share capitalization of £2.2 million (about £220 million in 2014). 5,000 people were employed. By 1872 the company had annual carpet sales of £1.1 million, including exports to the United States valued at nearly £500,000. The buildings at Dean Clough Mill covered 20 acres, where concentration of production at a single site lowered costs.

By the time of the next census in 1881 Thomas was living with the Thomases: his aunt Rachel and uncle George in Milk Street, Halifax. Milk Street was part of ‘the City.’ The City was a densely populated area at Cross Fields bounded by John Street to the south, Great Albion Street to the north, Orange Street to the east, and St James’s Road to the west.

It was built at the beginning of the 19th century, and became a slum area with a higher death rate than the rest of the district. There were an estimated 780 people living in a maze of back-to-back houses, courtyards, dimly-lit shops, and narrow streets. On 27th February 1926, the Ministry of Health approved the demolition of the area. The property was demolished in 1926. The site remained empty until 1938, eventually making way for the bus station and the Odeon. Thomas’s job appears to be ‘printer in carpets.’

In Feb 6 1888 at Halifax Minster he married a widow Ruth Dean (nee Bates) both of Crossfield Halifax, another part of ‘the City.’ Thomas’s hand look very unsteady on his marriage certificate. I wonder if he was literate. The 1891 census finds the family at John Street, another part of ‘the City.’ Thomas is a tin plate worker. They had two children, Willie and Minnie but five years after their marriage Ruth died in 1893 at the age of 30 and a year later on 19th August 1894 Thomas married Sarah Jane Veal at St Thomas’s church in Charlestown, Halifax. Thomas was 31 but at 32 it was a very late first marriage for Sarah. However Sarah had already given birth to a son Frederick Horsfall Veal who was baptized on 12 Nov 1884 at All Souls, Haley Hill, Halifax. That’s the church where my great aunt Lil and her husband Bart are buried and Sarah and I went to find their grave in the summer of 2017. There is no father indicated on the baptism record meaning that Sarah wasn’t married. Presumably Frederick’s biological father’s surname was Horsfall.


Thomas was living in Fleet Street, and Sarah in Pitt street at the time of their marriage. Both streets are in the slum area of ‘the City.’ A year later their first daughter was born, Gladys (18895-1962). 1901 sees Thomas and his family at 10 James Street, also in ‘the City.’ His occupation is given as ‘scavenger’ (corporation) with three children Willie 13 and Minnie 10. Ten years later, 1911, the family are at the same address and Thomas is now a labourer on the road (corporation). Now Sarah Jane’s son by a previous relationship Frederick Horsfall Veal is living with them. He’s 26 and a fish fryer! Frederick went on to become a private, 2nd/6th Bn. in the Duke of Wellington’s West Riding Regiment, was killed in action on 3 May 1917 and is commemorated at Arras memorial cemetery in France. From army records I believe he saw action in France, Belgium, Germany and Gallipoli.

10 months later Thomas himself died, aged 54, at 20 Grant Street in the centre of Halifax and is buried at St James’s church in Salterhebble. It’s odd to realise that this man was my grandma Florence’s uncle, her mum’s step-brother, just like it’s so difficult to realise that Thomas’s father, George (of Wakefield jail fame) was my grandma’s granddad. There was always tension at family get togethers between my mum’s mum and my dad’s mum. My dad’s mum lived in a semi and my mum’s mum lived in a terraced house but I was also aware that my mum’s mum thought that her sister-in-law lived ‘above her station.’ I wonder if she knew about George’s prison time and the poverty that affected Thomas’s family.






Thoughts in a Café

The Loom Cafe


The White Rabbit offers his pocket watch to me

As Alice looks on bemusedly.

Bobbins of spun cotton fill the coal scuttle that adorns my table

As jostles for air between cake and cappuccino.

Through glass, spotlessly clean, a crisp winter light pours in,

But, with eyes wide open I dim this light, cloud this glass, drown the music

And I’m in a dark forbidding place, a basement, where deafening thuds,

Piercing whistles and earth-shaking stomps

Transport me to a former time.


I glimpse a young boy, ten years old, flat-capped,

With thread-bare overcoat and scuffed clogs trampling along the shit drenched cobbles

Barely awake, barely cognizant of his surroundings

Where he s dwarfed by buildings so tall

That the sun never reaches the ground

Even in those times when, just for a brief moment,

It penetrates the ubiquitous smog and grime.

A surgeon signed his papers – he’s fit for work.

But he doesn’t stay long, and next time I meet him

He’s a gunner

Taking aim at other young men from factories and farms and homes

Where anxious loved ones await them.

Ishmael returned home,

Was he devastated?

Did he scream in nightmares in the living daylight?

In a gallery above me a striking wreath takes my breath away:

The dead eyes covered with pennies

The kit-box stenciled with numbers

Beyond my comprehension.


Dean Clough Mill, Halifax

My great uncle Ishmael worked at Dean Clough carpets which was, at the time, the largest carpet manufacturer in the world. Today it houses, art galleries and the Loom Café, decorated with Alice in Wonderland paraphenelia.

Remembrance Sunday: Halifax and Blackshaw Head

Remembrance Sunday: Halifax and Blackshaw Head


As The Last Post sounds

A multi-coloured caterpillar stands to attention

Its rain-booted feet silent and still.

Above it towers the church, proud of her coat of black grime

Stares with unseeing eyes at the vast hills that encroach upon her

Threatening to overcome her once dominant position.

Rain pours from the sky and my eyes

As ‘Jerusalem’ resounds as if in irony –

“England’s green and pleasant land.”


Out of the rain now

Into the vast echo chamber punctuated with blood-red bullet points

As a thousand people gather to sing, to cry, to remember

Not just the fallen

But the damaged, in this, the war to end all wars.

As I leave the church the sun peeks out from behind her shroud

And a rainbow arches through the sky

Coming to rest directly over the black tower


In the dark of the evening

A beacon is lit high on a remote hilltop

Here, handbells ring out from a tent

Where poppy quilts and paper gravestones bump elbows with

Hot soup tureens and tea cups. Fussy toddlers and excited canines

Join the nationwide remembrance.

Outside, high above me, in a silent night

The spirits of the fallen soldiers

Shimmer in a cloudless sky,

Remembered but not forgotten.


In honour of Giles Sunderland (1886-1916) a distant relative of mine, who lived in the village of Blackshaw Head, near Halifax, Yorkshire.

Another ancestor with ‘a story’ – George Gledhill

Anna at the font at Christ Church, Sowerby Bridge, Nov 2017



Rachel and I on our first visit, 2015

George Gledhill, my great great granddad was born May 26th, 1837 and baptized at Christ Church, Sowerby Bridge on June 25th along with 22 other children! In 2015 on my trip to England with Rachel we visited the church in order to see where George had been baptized. We attended a coffee morning and were greeted with open arms by the parishoners and the minister, Angela Dick. I was even able to play the organ in the church. Since then the Tuesday morning coffee mornings have become  frequent entries into my diary and I keep in touch with what’s going on at the church. It transpired that one of the ladies I met, who is another person interested in geneaology, is actually a distant relative of mine, through our common Barraclough ancestors.


Christ Church was opened on the 24th May 1821, (my birthday) but its roots go back much further in time, nearly 300 years before, to 1526. In that year a chapel of ease was built to serve the people of the townships of Warley, Norland and part of the township of Skircoat, in the ancient Parish of Halifax. It was situated on low-lying ground just opposite the junction of the Ryburn stream with the River Calder, between a fulling mill to the east and Sowerby Bridge to the west. I’ve recently been to find the site but nothing remains.

At the end of 1828, a mere seven years after the church opened, it was found that the roof of the nave was unsafe. The ridge had sunk eight inches  in the middle pushing the crenellations and upper parts of the walls outwards, on the north side to the extent of four inches. The church was closed for two months whilst the roof was propped as a temporary measure. Repair work eventually began in August 1830, the church being reopened on Sunday, 20th March 1831. So when George was baptised there the church had been in its present state for only 6 years.

Cote Hill. I go along this road every time I go into Halifax and didn’t know that this area was called Cote Hill until I did the research about George

Warley, photo taken 2015, with Rachel

At his baptism his address is given as Warley. Warley is a large tract of  beautiful rolling hills, with a small village on the hill inappropriately named ‘Warley Town.’ Ir’s a lovely little village where the author Phyllis Bentley lived in a house once lived in my Rev Patrick Bronte, father of the famous Bronte writers. On the 1841 (aged 4) census he is living at Coat, now Cote Hill.Cote Hill is the area around the Burnley Road, near Warley, between King Cross and Sowerby Bridge.  With George is  father John, 30, a cart driver, and mother, 25 and 2 younger siblings, Thomas, 2, and James 4 months. Before the next census, in 1851, 4 other siblings were born, Robert, Rachel, David and Nancy.  By 1851 the family is  living at 1 Regent Court, Orange Street, Halifax. Father John is a drayman. A drayman was historically the driver of a dray, a low, flat-bed wagon without sides, pulled generally by horses or mules that were used for transport of all kinds of goods. In 1846 his brother James died, aged 5 and in 1853 his 4 year old sister Nancy died. Two other siblings were born before the 1861 census, John and Maria.

On June 17, 1857 I have him marrying Mary Peel at St Peter’s in Birstall, both George and Mary living at Flush in Liversedge. This just doesn’t seem correct since it’s so far away – well, for those days! Actually I just looked it up and it’s only 8.8 miles from Halifax. Birstall is 3 miles from Flush. Flush is described in Wikipedia as ‘the place where the mills of the woolen industry stood.’ The 1881 census lists the following – all born at Liversedge. I think this proves that it’s a different family in Liveredge – not ‘mine.’ George Gledhill 43, Mary Gledhill 41, Arthur Gledhill 21, Albert Gledhill 17, Thomas Gledhill 7, Elizabeth A. Gledhill 5.

Ancoats, 1904

Henry Street, Ancoats, 1900

George is now an ‘overlooker’ presumably in one of those mills. Samuel Gledhill was a witness, and again that makes me unsure since I don’t have a Samuel in George’s immediate family. 1861 finds the newly weds living as boarders at 15 Henry Street, Ancoats, Manchester. Historically in Lancashire, Ancoats became a cradle of the Industrial Revolution and has been called “the world’s first industrial suburb”. For many years, from the late 18th century onwards, Ancoats was a thriving industrial district. The area suffered accelerating economic decline from the 1930s and depopulation in the years after the Second World War, particularly during the slum clearances of the 1960s. Since the 1990s Ancoats’ industrial heritage has been recognised and its proximity to the city centre has led to investment and substantial regeneration.

In 1861 George is a porter with both wife Mary and himself born in Halifax. 2 years later their son Thomas Wardle Gledhill was born on July 28th. Wardle sounds like an ancestor’s surname but I haven’t  found anyone. Soon after the birth, between July and September of that year Mary died. Two and a half years later George remarried 1865 Dec 18  Register office, Halifax which means that he had moved back to Yorkshire after Mary’s death. His second wife was Charlotte Haigh. I know this is correct because George was a widower, aged 28. He was a drayman. Father John Gledhill was also a drayman Orange Street, Halifax. Orange Street still exists but it’s just roads and car parks. The following year their son, Abraham was born in Rastrick. Two years later a daughter was born in Salterhebble, Sarah who was my great grandma. The census of 1871 see the growing family living at 4 Bath Street,Halifax. I’d found Bath Street in June 2016. It’s adjacent to the station but the houses on it were demolished when the land was bought by the railway. The baths after which it was named were an elegant affair with formal gardens, modeled on Roman baths, a place to be seen, not the slipper baths which were a necessary function of everyday life without bathrooms in homes. Also known as Halifax Baths and Pleasure Grounds, and by the rather boastful title of Greece Fields these

Bath Street today

This imposing building was once Halifax railway station where George worked. When I took this photo the glowing stone and the style of ornamentation reminded me of India

Platform at Halifax station today

extensive facilities were developed by Thomas Rawlinson at Coldwell Ing near the Hebble Brook at Lilly Lane. They opened in 1793 on the east side of Hebble Brook. They were the only local public baths at the time. The facilities were said to be the finest and most extensive suite of baths in Yorkshire, including bowling greens, quoits area, shrubberies and landscaped gardens with sculpture, a dining room, shower baths, swimming baths, medicated and sulphur baths, and hot, cold and tepid baths. A membership fee was charged for the use of the facilities. The baths were supplied by fresh-water springs which rose in Greece Fields. The privately-owned baths, which were built of red brick, closed in 1853 and were sold to make way for the railway. This makes perfect sense because on the census of 1871 George, now 32, is  a railway porter. His wife Charlotte, born in  Rastrick is a dressmaker. Their children are Abraham Gledhill 5, and Sarah Gledhill 3.  Samuel Appleyard 26 is a lodger. Their daughter Ann was born in 1875.

However, in the meantime, George was getting up to no good. On 30th April 1879, at the age of 41he was sentenced to 6 months imprisonment at Wakefield prison for threatening Charlotte Gledhill. It’s difficult to read the sentence since it’s buried in the fold of the prison record book but it definitely records that George was issued with a fine of £20 plus something else. At the time George was 5 ft 4 ½” with brown hair. Date of discharge is October 29, 1879. Less than 2 years later George’s name crops up in the Bradford Daily Telegraph on Saturday March 26, 1881:

George Stott, wire drawer, of the same place, was charged with making use of provoking language Charlotte Gledbill, wife of George Gledhill, Battison Road, tending to create breech of peace, on the 19th inst. The defendant was ordered to pay fine of 5s and 9s 6p costs , or in default serve ten days.

On the 1881 census Charolotte is living at 51 Battison road Halifax

Wakefield prison as seen from the railway platform

The prison entrance I got a little too close to.

Battison Street runs vertically on this photo. Presumable #51 would have been situated where the school now is

and  is the housekeeper for William Wolfenden, a 30 year old widower with 3 small children. Note: at #61 Battison lives James Gledhill Wardle!  He is aged 37 of  and was born in  Soyland. He’s married to Mary, 39 of Barkisland. Since George’s son , born 1863, is called Thomas Wardle Gledhill I’m sure there must be some connection but I’ve been unable to trace James Gledhill Wardle on any other documents so far!  On the 4th of July George was again in trouble, this time for being a ‘rogue and a vagabond’ and he’s sentenced to 14 days in Wakefield prison, though he was committed at Dewsbury. This time he’s recorded as 5 ft 6 ¾” with brown hair ‘with a boil mark on the back of his neck.’ He’s listed at being 46 (in 1881). In June 2016, I had successfully, but inadvertently,  managed to get myself into Wakefield’s top security prison. Having learned of George’s incarceration there I wanted to document my visit by taking a photo to commemorate the occasion. I looked around carefully for ‘No photography’ signs but couldn’t see any so I began taking photos of the entrance. Within 30 seconds a prison guard came running out demanding my cell phone! As I explained that there was nothing to say I couldn’t she shepherded me into the prison itself. Yeah! Just what I’d hoped for , but not quite in this way. Explaining myself to another guard he told me it was fine to take photos from across the street, which I duly did. The prison is mainly Victorian, though parts date back to the 1500’s. There’s a mulberry tree in the center of the exercise yard and legend has it that this accounts for the nursery song Her We Go Round the Mulberry Bush.

Meanwhile back at the ranch there is this account of what is befalling Charlotte:

Sheffield Independent – Wednesday 09 April 1873 entitled A Brutal Fellow

George Harris, 23, carpet printer, was sent to gaol for six months, for unlawfully and maliciously wounding Charlotte Gledhill, at Halifax, on the 26th of February. Mr. Wilber- force prosecuted. The man, who lived with the prosecutrix as her husband, had a quarrel with his paramour, and knocking her down, kicked the woman on the legs and face, until her jaw was broken, and her body seriously bruised. It’s obvious that George and Charlotte were living pretty rough, tough lives. I find it very poignant to look into the eyes of Sarah, their daughter, in photographs and know just fragment of her parents’ story.

For a long time I’ve been unable to find further references to George. I’d had no luck finding him on an 1881 or1891 census, neither could I trace his death. In November, 2018, I contacted roger Beasley from the Calderdale family history society and he also drew a blank. I decided to obtain a death certificate from the General Registry Office. It was a shot in the dark because there are many George Gledhills but luck was with me because recorded as being present at ‘this’ George Gledhill’s death was his son T. W Gledhill. Since I know that one of George’s sons was Thomas Wardle Gledhill then the death certificate must be from my George. Success! His place of residence at his death is given as 5 Fleet Street, Halifax, a place previously unknown to me – therein lies some more research needed.






An ancestral distraction – or two!

Did Ishmael read this sign?

Ishmael’s employment record at Crossley Carpets

My needle felted gargoyle

The gargoyle on Crossleys almshouses. I wonder if its a portrait of Joseph Crossley himself.

Cake and a cappuccino in the Loom Cafe

The Alice theme in the Loom Cafe

At Lil and Barts grave, All Souls. Haley Hill, 2017

The first email I found in my inbox this morning was from .  . . .drum roll, please  . . .  none other than the first Wrigley relative I’ve been in contact with. She is the grand daughter of Willie Wrigley, the architect. How wonderful! I responded right away, despite this being – for me – an ungodly early hour! This immediately got me digging through previous emails, ones that I wasn’t sure I’d catalogued precisely and this led me on to Ishmael Nutton, my paternal grandmother’s brother. I have a very, very faint recollection of meeting him at my grandma’s on Thorns Road, Astley Bridge which is where the Denton family gatherings were always held. Ancestry provides ‘hints’ and one of the hints that popped up this morning was this:Here was the very document that showed that my great uncle actually worked at Crossley’s Carpets in Halifax, which was the largest carpet factory in the world. John Crossley built almshouses and a couple of weeks ago I’d visited them and taken a photo of an interesting gargoyle. Just last night I’d finished a felted fabric art piece I’d made from that photo! Back to Ishmael. He’d  been certified by the surgeon to be fit for work. The year was 1901 and he’d be 11 years old. I’d suspected that his sister Lily had worked there. Possibly I’d heard her mention it but for the last few years when I’d visited Calderdale with my daughters we’d usually visited the Dean Clough site which once used to employ 5000 people. Many of the individual mills have been revamped providing art galleries, a theatre, cafes, restaurants, even a cooking school – all of which I’d visited. And now, I find that my great uncle actually worked there. It looked bright and sunny outside with a thin film of frost on the roof tops. It’s half term this week which means my classes aren’t running so off I popped to Dean Clough, just to go and sit in the Loom cafe with its Alice in Wonderland theme, and taken photos of some of the views Ishmael may have known.


The tower block where Auntie Lil, Ishmael’s sister lived and the spire of All Soul’s where she is buried, with the mill complex in the foreground

In the first photo the original cobbled street leads to the mill complex. The spire of All Soul’s church towers above the blocks of flats. My Auntie Lil and her husband Bart lived in one of the flats and I visited her there. They are now buried in All Soul’s cemetery and Sarah and I managed to find their grave last summer, 2017. The mill complex is also the place where I bought my



Anna at the lego model of the mill complex in Nov 2017

Anna in the Loom Cafe

Sarah in 2017 finding her comment from 2016  in the visitors’ book 

current digital piano from! I took a brief look in the book shop and found cards created by Valerie Wartelle. I did a day workshop about felted fabric with her in Hebden Bridge last winter. Through the Crossley Gallery to the Loom cafe where I was the only mid-morning customer –  a perfect place to collect my thoughts about Ishmael and others who had returned from WWl  but how their experiences had affected their lives and that of those close to them can only be imagined. Last  night I’d watch a rerun of one of the episodes from Blackadder set in the trenches, and in the Loom cafe I find fliers for the upcoming production next week in the Viaduct Theatre in the mill. Yes, you’ve guessed it. It’s Blackadder!


My Thoughts in a cafe

The White rabbit offers his pocket watch to me

As Alice looks on bemusedly

Bobbins of spun cotton fill the coal scuttle that adorns my table

And jostles for air between  cake and cappuccino

Through a glass window, spotlessly clean, a crisp winter light pours in,

But, with eyes open, I dim this light, cloud the glass, drown the music,

And I’m in a dark forbidding place, a basement, where deafening thuds, piercing whistles and earth shaking stomps

Transport me to a former time.

I glimpse a young boy, ten years old, flat capped, threadbare overcoat and scuffed clogs tramping along the shit drenched cobbles

Barely awake, barely cognizant of his surroundings where he is dwarfed

By buildings so tall the sun never reaches the ground

Even in those times when, just for a moment, it penetrates the ubiquitous smog and grime.

A surgeon signed his papers – he’s fit for work

But he doesn’t stay long, and next time I meet him he’s a gunner

Taking aim at other young men from factories and farms

And homes where anxious loved ones await them.

Ishmael returned home. Was he devastated?

Did he scream in nightmares in the living daylight?

In a gallery above me a striking wreath takes my breath away.

The dead eyes covered with pennies,

The kit box stencilled with numbers

Beyond my comprehension.


After my cappuccino and cake I wandered around the galleries for a while and my eye was taken by a new exhibit. Well, that’s a mild way of putting it. I was stunned by it. The subject was wreaths, which, in my books, didn’t sound too interesting, but these celebrated the living, the dead, the lost. One included display included objects that mothers attached to babies they left on charity doorsteps. Another was a wreath wrapped around a hanged man. The one that took my attention was one about a fallen soldier, including family photos, and old pennies to close his eyes. The kit box supporting him listed the number of people killed and wounded in WWl.

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