JuneJuly August September 2018

Sherwin Stephenson


The Clayton Poet1881-1954

Sherwin attended Clayton Infants school and left school at the age of 13 to work in the local mill. He attended night school and became a talented writer of poetry.

Life in the mill was not for Sherwin and he acquired a job in the local Co-op where he spent most of his working life. His memories were recorded in a publication called “ Chronicles of a Shopman” and many of his poems, mostly about Clayton and its people are recorded in our archive.

His memorial can be seen in the Parish Church Yard and takes the form of an open book.

In the next few publications of The Thornton Directory we will bring you examples of his work.


Wanted, strong youth 15/16 years old. To make himself generally useful.

Here was my chance. Being neither old enough or strong enough I sent in my application and lo and behold I got an interview. The other lads were bigger, stronger and older than me. Each went in and came out and left..Remembering my manners I went in with my cap in my hand and faced ten stern looking men sat in armchairs around a large table.

What is your name? Which school did you go to? What standard did you achieve? How old are you? Have you lived in Clayton all your life? Was I a good lad? One old gentleman asked if I could do sums, yes sir, can you? A titter went round the room, had I spoken unwisely?

No, I later learned that the questioner could just about sign his name.

A letter arrived next morning. Start Saturday at 8-30 am prompt.

My first day as a shopman, happened top be the Annual Co-op Tea Party. Close at 1pm and a free ticket for all employees . With my new white apron, I entered the great enterprise. Men were cutting Hams and Tongues. One man in particular was ill at ease, sweating and I believe swearing.

Do you mind if I have a try, I asked politely. “Now ah doant. Tak hod. Onnytbody can hev this job for me”

It was one of those teas where you could eat as much as you want for 9 pence.

One big man in particular, appeared to devour a whole ham, surely he would bust. I was told he always ate greedily when food was on the cheap. Later, he died suddenly, after a big meal, at a free tea.

My duties were many and varied. Light the fire, wash windows,clean currants and raisins, wash down boiled hams, wrap soap, in those days soap came in long bars which had to be cut into pieces weighing 1lb. As a junior I was paid eight shillings a week.

Stuart Downey Clayton History Group To Be Continued







The Clayton Poet1881-1954 (Part 2)




They often called her “Gurt Ruth” meaning Big Ruth. In her appearance she was as much unlike and angel as you could imagine. Yet without doubt she was an Angel.


Her face was round, her cheeks fat and ruddy , her arms strong, her weight 13 stone ?. Shawl on her head clogs on her feet, her voice loud and broad.


If any of the poor of the village were poorly she did not wait to be asked to help. If anyone died she was called to lay them out.


Her touch was gentle, her manner kind. She would say “Sup this it'l mak tha better.”


How many children she brought into the world I do not know , must be hundreds.


If folks were poor they paid her nowt, if folks could afford they gave her a shilling or two. She was a welcome visitor indeed.


Sunshine seemed to shine in her train and she nursed up to the time of her death when she was over seventy.


God rest her soul. On earth she was an angel without wings. Now I hope she wears the wings so nobly earned. SHERWIN


GURD RUTH Sherwin 1941




A, angel she i, clogs an, shawl,

She hed nooa halo an, no wings,

An, luved bi t,poor fowks mooast ov all;

Like artists gie ta,em wat hings,

Hah t,poorly fowkes did her to cling,

I,fancy frames on t,cottage walls,

She mothers helped ther bairns ta bring

An, finn,d a hooam wi, t,rich an, all;

Ta deein fowk she whispered cheer,

Now nooan sooa fer Rewth wor plain,

An, laid ,em aght wi, a silent tear,

She did,t moiter ner complain;

Oh! she were a gooid un wor Gurt Rewth,

She wor as God wod hev her be,

A-body knows Ah,m speikin, t,trewth

An angel i,reality






Oh what a man. He looked to have been stung all over his face and hands. All pimples,large, red and shiny. In fact he looked as if he had honey shine on his person and on his clothes.


A large bowler perched on the back of his head. Two large lumps on his forehead preventing his hat from fitting properly.


We bought honey from his tin can to sell to our customers, he would put it in our stone jar with a piece of wood which he twirled round and round.


We boys thought he must have been a brave man to take honey from the hives and to suffer the stings and pain.


Very likely we were wrong, he might have bought the honey from a real bee keeper..


Stuart Downey Clayton History Group To Be Continued





The Clayton Poet1881-1954 (Part 3)

My Adventures

The Co-op cat had been missing for some time. I found it dead under the cellar steps, said nothing to anybody, put it on the fire in the heating apparatus, went on with my sweeping.

What a smell! Pulled the damper out, smell getting worse! Dressmakers coughing, cobblers using bad words to describe the stink, grocers wondering what was up. Soon a patter of feet down the cellar steps.

What,s up?” “Nowt” “What a d.....d stink”

The boss came to see me alone. “Now Sherry tell me what that horrid smell was” “The cat I put it on the fire” The others did not get to know for a long time. Years after, a crematorium was built at Scholemoor Cemetery Was I a Pioneer?

The Thief (1903 )                                                        Me (1947)

Pray think ye of the little mouse,                                            ,Ah know Ah'm nooan sa pretty,

That make it home within your house,                                    Ah'm wrinkled nah, an' gray,

And eats the crumbs from off the floor,                                  Still some fowks say Ah'm witty

So stealthily, and longs for more.                                          ,An' others say Ah'm gay,

Though not a welcome guest like me                                    ,But speikin'nobbud for missen,

It has to live e,en though it be,                                                Nooa better I ner other men,

a little thief by nature willed,                                                    Ah nobbud try to ewsful be,

It's hungry belly must be filled                                                 An' gie life moar ner life gies me.


The Firewood Merchant

He collected old wood for fire wood. It was his only income.

King of comedians and knew it not. Folks were forced to laugh when they saw him. What a nose, natural of course, his face must have been hard work to hold it. And his mouth ,what a size, it contained uneven, black and broken teeth in which he held a a stumpy ,black clay pipe. Rumour has it , he kept his pipe in his mouth while he washed his face. Muck was fashionable in those days.

His voice was heard at it's best (or worst) when he sang. Only ever heard him sing one song, he would sing the same song with different words to suit all occasions, he made it up as he went along. It was called “With the servant girls on Manningham Lane.” Tune and words by himself. Nobody could make”ass (ash) or couks (cokes) of it.. We screamed with laughter , He finished up with a clumsy step dance. Many a worse comedian made fifty pounds a show, and he needed no make up. The lads of the village played pranks on him, both harsh and cruel , but he kept on smiling.

He had a cat and a kitten. He was tired of opening the cellar door ,so he made a hole for the cat to go through. When he had finished he sat down. After a while he saw the kitten and said “be gow I've never made and oil for't kittling” so he made a hole for the kitten !!!!

He died in the workhouse Poor George

Stuart Downey Clayton History Group To Be Continued


Sherwin Stevenson

The Clayton Poet 1881 – 1954 (Part 4 )


The Boy and the Matches

The boys mother was ill and he had to get up and light the fire. “ Mother we hev no matches.” “Oh dear expect fathers taken em, to leet his pipe.” “ Never mind mother I'll get some.”

The newsagents shop was the only one open at this early hour. “O'w Ben, will yo lend me a box of matches whol t' co-op opens. I want to leet fire, me mothers poorly”

He got his matches, newsagent is sure the boy will one day be Prime Minister.


A small boy asked me if I had any strong rope. “What for” “Nay me father said if ahr dog ran't sheep again he'd heng it. Me and be brother copped it running em soa were bahn to heng it.”

They did not get the rope. The dog lived.


Yes we got lots of awkward enquiries, many a good laugh we had. Life was not all dull, the grown up's did not always mean what they said. “ How long is it since your husband died Mrs Lee”? “Well if he'd lived whol t' next wick, e'd just a been deead five year”.


A kind hearted genial man wanted some “ham bags”. “Sorry we haven't any” “ Sorry you have!” pointing to a bottle.. “ Oh its humbugs you want” He laughed , so did we. His language was finer than ours. He was not as generous as we were with the broad sound of the vowels.


Hill and Vale


Oh, steep are the slopes of Fall Delph Hill,                                   Oh,green are the vales by Fall Delph Hill,

With rugged boulders strewn,                                                       Whence lightsome footsteps danced,

Where the stately grasses dance at will,                                       And maidens fair, with beauty rare,

As the breezes sing a rune,                                                           With comely youth romanced,

Where the sun shines bright, like a kingly sprite,                          Where the bearded saint in his raiment quaint,

Through the grey o' the morning haze,                                         Bow'd low his head upon the sod,

And the moon by night, in a halo of light,                                      Then did lift his eyes to the distant skies,

Beams down with entrancing rays                                                 And laud and magnify his God.




Woman who startled me.


“Ar la t' new lad” “Yes” “Fancy tha lewks hoaf pined. Some poridge ud do tha noa harm. Fancy givin thee t' job” A hr Nelson tried for it. H'd mak two o thee ,well I'll be hanged. Give us a pund o'soap.

Bit rough on me. As years past on she was one of the best friends I ever had. Many a meal she gave me and succoured me when I was ill. Took me into her house, gave me the best medicine she had and got the greengrocer to give me lift home on his cart. You can judge folk by their speech. Glad to say a'hr Nelson got a job in the wool trade and prospered.

Many years after I left the village I called by to see her. She was nearly blind. Now at rest.


Stuart Downey Clayton History Group

The full text of this four part series can be found on our web site. or Google Clayton History Group






 JUNE 2017





This hamlet was mentioned in old deeds from the 14th century to the 18th century, but after that the name disappeared from all references in the area. It was situated in the parish of Clayton.

During the reign of Queen Anne, Clayton was divided into three areas. Town (The Village)

Height (Clayton Heights) and Cockam.  Cockam was probably centered in the area of Hole Bottom

It was a scattered community most of the people living in wooden houses which over the years have rotted without trace. Some stone houses may well remain

The hamlet of Cockam grew out of forest and moorland and like other hamlets in the parish of Bradford contributed to the rise of the local woollen and worsted industries Then unlike its neighbours it passed out of existence to be forgotten.

However it is not forgotten due to the existence of ancient manuscripts and deeds examples of which follow.

In 1639    A manor court roll dating from the time of Charles 1st mentions Cokon Beck and the way leading from Cllatton to Cokon.

  August 10th 1550 (Edward VI)   Rosamund Tempest granted to Johanna, Agnes and Effam Robynsonne, land in Cokan at 6d per annum.

July 6th 1582 (Elizabeth I)     John Webster of Bradford (yeoman) granted to Brian Webster of Cockeyn, 5 acres of land in the hamlet.

January 8th   1369   John de Clayton granted to William Fabro de Bradeford the rent of 6 shillings in respect of two tenements in Cockin.

Why should Cockan be lost?        1   Rotting wooden houses.   2  In the 16th century there were some 250 people living in Cockan and some may have been obliged to migrate to neighbouring towns looking for work leaving a depleted farming community.

Cockin Lane still exists and runs from Chat hill up into Yews Green.

Cockan is not shown on any of the early maps but it clearly existed.



Two troughs at the south side of the present roundabout in Clayton, were later moved to the middle of the road for watering horses. A modern roundabout was built around them. They are now dry and ornamental.

Holts Well      This well on the Holts Lane bridle path, was covered by two large slabs one displaced, they lay over  a shallow well which contained some water. (Exact position unknown).

There are four other ancient wells recorded, Hurstwell, Dackwell, Merwell and Turnwell Dackwell was near Hole Bottom Beck bridged by Brow Lane. The is no information as to the whereabouts of the others. Hollingwell  on the way to Yews Green has a well marked on early O.S.Maps in the field behind the row of cottages.

Speight said there were several wells near West Scholes Old Hall dating from1694.

There is an old well near Fall Top on Brooke Lane, and Greenwell on Greenwell Row and the probability of a well near Riva Syke Farm

Further research is clearly required which would make an interesting project for our group.


                                       Stuart H Downey       Clayton History Group






Stuart  H Downey - Clayton History Group




The Domesday Book is the Great Survey of  Britain published in 1086 by William the Conqueror.


The Domesday inscription  reads  :-  Claitone in the manor of Bodeltone, in the Wapentake of Morley, Ilbert has it, it is WASTE.


Clayton means a farmstead built on clay,  From Claeg ( Clay)  and Tun (Farmstead) so it is clear that there was a farm in the area run by a family of  farmers. They would have a simple dwelling house . The size of the family is unknown and they would have had cattle, pigs and poultry. Life would have been very hard and they would have paid rent and taxes to Ilbert De Lacy


           De Lacey  is the surname of an old Norman family which originated from Lassy, Calvados in France.   Ilbert, left Normandy and travelled to England with William the Conqueror and for his allegience to William  was awarded lands.


So why was Claitone  WASTE?


The Anglo-Saxon brothers and earls, Edwin of Mercia and Morcar of Northumbria, were notorious figures of medieval history. They had unsuccessfully defended the north of England at the Battle of Fulford Gate against the Danes in September 1066, narrowly escaping death in the ensuing slaughter. In early 1067, shortly after William’s coronation, Edwin and Morcar swore loyalty to their new king but they did not keep their promise for long.


Although it only took William of Normandy one day to defeat the English at the Battle of Hastings, it took far longer to secure his position as King of all England.


Rebellions and threats from Edwin and Morcar  and the sacking of York, were hallmarks of the early years of William’s reign and prompted his greatest act of cruelty, known as the Harrying of the North.


The Harrying of the North:    A Great Medieval Massacre, 1069


On hearing the news from York, William reacted quickly and marched north with his army. William was not just determined to crush this rebellion, but to deter the English, and the Danes, from rising again. William’s response was to destroy. He began first with the city of York, isolating his enemies and finally driving them out. His destruction did not end in York. With his army he travelled around the north of England, laying waste to everything.


Orderic Vitalis was an English chronicler and Benedictine monk who wrote one of the great contemporary chronicles of 11th- and 12th-century


He Wrote :-   “In his anger at the English barons, William commanded that all crops and herds, chattels and foods should be burned to ashes, so that the whole of the North be stripped of all means of survival. So terrible a famine fell upon the people, that more than 100,000 young and old starved to death. My writings have often praised William, but for this act I can only condemn him.”


The Harrying may have had the desired effect but there is evidence to suggest that William may have deeply regretted the severity of his actions. According to Orderic, William bared all on his deathbed


“I persecuted the native inhabitants of England beyond all reason. Whether nobles or commons, I cruelly oppressed them; many I unjustly disinherited and innumerable multitudes, especially in the county of York, perished through me by famine and sword,   I am stained  with the rivers of blood that I have shed.”


So in conclusion, our predecessors who had been living happily in our village of Clayton prior to the conquest ,were starved and murdered by William.              


Clayton was laid to WASTE     (But was raised from the ashes)










1870 – 1999

 Clayton's textile industry was established in the 18th century, when hand loom weaving and spinning took place in the cottages of the villager's. Finished pieces would be sold in Bradford and at Piece Hall, Halifax.

At the beginning of the 19th century Clayton had over 1500 hand loom weavers working from home.

With the advent of the industrial revolution and mechanisation, the work was transferred into a mill environment.

Oak Mills is strong in the memory of the majority of Claytonians. Many Clayton families were employed at the mill which was responsible for the growth and prosperity of Clayton and its residents.

  In 1850, the area of Clayton which is now the estate comprising Jacobs Croft and Pinfold was known as Cowgill Fields. On Cowgill Fields was a row of houses called Coghill Row, (a derivative of Cowgill) which were administered by the Poor Law Board.

In 1867 Joseph Benn and Co applied to the board to purchase the land in order to build Oak Mills. Permission was granted and the land was purchased. Building work commenced in 1868 and the mill was completed by August 1869 and was operational in 1870.

The mill was 45 yds long and 20 yds wide and was four storey’s high. At basement level was the yarn storage and packing departments, ground floor was for combing. 2nd and 3rd floor for spinning and the top floor for sorting. Attached to this building was the center part of the mill which was three story`s high and housed the engine room, boiler and mechanics workshop. Continuing toward Nursery Road was the shed, used for drawing and roving and sometime later for weaving.

Joseph Benn left in 1881 to form a new company, Joseph Benn and Sons operating from Beck mill. Reva Syke Road.

The business continued to prosper under the direction of Asa Briggs and Alfred Wallis

In 1898 Asa Briggs retired from the partnership leaving Alfred Wallis as sole owner. Alfred Wallis died on the 27th March 1913 aged 84, only 14 days after his wife. Their son Frank Wallis inherited the business which continued to prosper. He died on the 27th December 1946, leaving an estate worth £1,096,402. In 1924 he had endowed a university scholarship of £2000 to deserving Clayton Students and many were the gifts to villagers and organisations.

On the 6th October 1947 Oak Mills was sold to Jowett Cars Ltd for £50,000. On the 18th February 1954 the Mill was obtained by the British Wool Marketing Board.

In 1999/2000 it was demolish for housing bringing to an end 130 years of history

Stuart Downey Clayton History Group



1859 AUG 11

 The inhabitants of Clayton have held their Annual Feast during the past week and the occasion was marked by a larger exercise of hospitality than for several years past. In proof of this seven fat cows were killed this year, a larger number than on former occasions.

 1861 AUG 15 Clayton Tide.

 On Sunday a great number of persons visited the village but ignoring the Teetotal Lectures which were given at Town Bottom the public houses were well attended. On Monday there was a yet greater gathering and attractions were many and varied. Mr Pablo Fanque, always a welcome visitor on such occasions was present and a damsel in his Company, who emulated Blondin's feats drew amazingly. The children of the North Bierley Union were generously admitted free to this circus and were rightly delighted. An itinerant photographer took his share of the money that was flying about and the various shows must have been very successful. The correct date of the original Clayton Tide is the first Sunday after twelve days succeeding St James's day (July 25th), but if the twelfth be on a Sunday it is the feast or tide.

 1863 AUG 13

An open air temperance meeting took place on Sunday at the village of Clayton, being the annual feast, which was attended by about 1,200 persons, who stood for about two hours in the most orderly and attentive manner listening to the arguments set forth by the different speakers. The meeting was addressed by Messrs William Sunter, Bradford, Job Walmsley, Clayton Heights, and William Tiplady, of Lidget Green. Mr Henry Haley presided. At the conclusion of the meeting several pledges were taken.

On Tuesday evening a similar meeting took place at Great Horton, under the presidency of KT John Wood when a great crowd of listeners were addressed by Messrs Henry Haley and Wm Sunter of Bradford.

Clayton Tide has been held this week, on Sunday there was a large influx of strangers to the village. In the evening the Baptists and Wesleyans united in holding divine service in the Town Bottom under the canopy of Heaven. Afterwards the teetotallers harangued the people, advising them to abstain from intoxicating drinks, but notwithstanding this the public houses drove a roaring trade, and, as usual on such occasions the landlord's took the lion's share of the visitor’s money. On Monday there was even a greater gathering than on the previous day, and the friends who paid us a visit were well regaled with roast beef and plum pudding. Indeed eating and drinking seems to be the one end and aim of these extraordinary festivals, and "the feast of reason and the flow of soul" are quite forgotten in the feast of fat things and the flow of strong ale.

"CHORUS TOMMY" was in attendance and so highly appreciated that he has not yet left the village.

 Hedley Smith          Clayton History Group

 MARCH 2015

March 3rd 1873       19th CENTUARY NEWSPAPERS

The Local Board meeting recieved a letter from The National Society of Womens Suffrage with a form of petition enclosed to remove " The Electoral Disabilities of Women" and requesting the Board to sign and return the same. It was moved by Mr Asa Briggs and seconded by Mr Charles Booth, that in the opinion of this Board, "women have sufficient power already " and declined to sign the petition.

5th APRIL 1866 On Monday last Mr Abraham Kershaw celebrated his 91st birthday, when some of his descendants were entertained to tea at his house. He has eight living children, seventy four grandchildren, sixty two great grandchildren, and twelve great great grandchildren, making a total of 156. He has lived his whole life in Clayton and attended church at both Clayton and Queensbury, but was recently converted to Mormonism. After smoking for sixty years he discarded the pipe for good. It is reported he still works at the hand loom.

14th JUNE 1876 A serious accident occurred on Saturday, little after noon, to a young man named Thomas Mann, employed at Hole Bottom. It appeared he was recklessly playing with a dynamite cartridge, when it exploded and blew away the fore finger of his left hand and the thumb of his right hand from the first joint, there was also injuries to other fingers and one of his eyes. He was immediately removed to Mr Fawthrop's surgery, where his wounds were 4th MAY 1877 The Local Board received a letter from Mr Booth Sharp complaining of a nuisance caused by Messrs W & E Seed, depositing manure near one of his (Mr Sharp`s) houses, thereby causing tennants to leave. It was resolved that the Nuisance Inspector serve a proper notice upon Messrs Seed, requiring them to abate the above mentioned nuisance within 7 days.

4th MAY 1865 John Swaine , Simeon Barker, Leonard Jagger, Charles Ackroyd, James Metcalfe and David Taylor, were all charged at the West Riding Court, with Sunday gambling on the Highway, e,g, playing pitch and toss. All were grown up people, some married and each was fined twenty shillings, with nine and sixpence costs or one months imprisonment.

12th APRIL 1866 On Tuesday morning, one Benjamin Pollard, was found lying unconscious at the bottom of Balmforths Quarry, into which he had fallen the previous night, when intoxicated and returning from a public house. He had long been an inveterate drinker. Faint hopes are entertained for his recovery.

Stuart Downey     Clayton History Group



 9th November 2014 saw the 50th anniversary of the vote in parliament to abolish the death penalty in Great Britain, the vote becoming law in 1965. For over 100 years more than 100 executions a year had been carried out, the last two having been in August 1964 at Strangeways prison when Gwynne Evans and John Maltby were hung for the murder of laundry worker John

The history of hanging in Britain was dominated by two families, the Billingtons and the Pierrepoints, the latter family being connected to Clayton. Henry Pierrepoint was admitted to the Home Office list in 1900 and carried out 63 executions in 10 years and his elder brother Thomas carried out 203 in 37 years in the profession before he retired in 1945. Tom was also appointed the official executioner for the US military in Europe, carrying out 16 hangings of servicemen at Shepton Mallet prison during the Second World War.

Although Tom Pierrepoint and his wife Lizzie lived in Clayton, people in the village had no idea that he was the hangman. According to the 1911 census they lived at 14 Back Fold, Town End, Clayton and had two daughters, Annie and Nellie. Their house had originally been the oldest public house in Clayton, the Whittle and Steel. A stone over the upper window still reads ICS 1752 and shows the Whittle and Steel inscription. Lizzie kept a shop and Tom had a haulage firm as well as keeping mules, chickens and goats and running a bookmaking business as a side line. From time to

time he would disappear for a couple of days without saying anything to anyone. He kept this side of his life very private, living quietly with his wife and daughters. He was very popular in Clayton, especially with the children and was a firm favourite of his nephew, Albert, as was Lizzie.

Albert Pierrepoint, in his book “Executioner Pierrepoint” describes coming, at the age of nine, to spend the school summer holidays in Clayton with his aunt and uncle, having walked from the then tram terminus in Lidget Green. He describes the long walk on a hot July day and the “enticing smell of fresh-baking bread when he arrived.

Albert knew that he was their favourite nephew and says that he was happy to be filling a space around their hearth after eating an enormous tea. The Pierrepoints left Clayton in 1934 to live in Lidget Green where Tom died in 1954 at the age of 83, having successfully kept secret his life as an executioner, even from his closest relatives. An article in the Telegraph and Argus of 11th February 1954 said that friends remembered him only as a kindly old man, quietly spoken and with a good sense of humour.

Tom Pierrepoint was succeeded by his nephew, Albert, who became Britain’s last and most prolific official executioner. An article about Albert will appear in the Directory next month.


The Pierrepoints of Clayton, Part 2 — Albert Pierrepoint

Albert Pierrepointwas born at 5 Green End in Clayton, later moving with his parents
to Huddersfield. However, he still thought of Clayton as “home”, spending much of
his spare time there with his aunt and uncle, Tom and Lizzie Pierrepoint. In 1931
Albert was appointed as an executioner. He began by assisting his Uncle Tom and was later to become the Official Executioner for this country, resigning in 1956 after
having carried out over 400 executions, more than any other executioner. He also
travelled abroad to teach his methods to colleagues in other countries. Like his father, Henry and his uncle Tom, Albert did not publicise his work as a hangman, being known as a grocer and delivery man. Later, he kept a pub, “The Poor Struggler” in Greater Manchester with his wife, Anne. Albert dedicated his book “Executioner Pierrepoint” to Anne who he says never asked any questions.
Albert was very efficient and regarded what he did as a profession. He was proud of his method which he considered to be the most humane and dignified way of ending the lives of those he was required to hang on behalf of the state. He was not salaried but was paid a fee for each execution. In the book he says that he was carrying out a public duty and conducted each execution with great care and a clear conscience.
Albert Pierrepoint ended the lives of many notorious criminals, including Derek
Bentley, Timothy Evans, John Christie, Lord Haw Haw and the last woman to be
executed in this country, Ruth Ellis. The latter was hanged in Holloway Prison in
July 1955 for the shooting of motor racing driver David Blakely. This hanging
caused a lot of controversy and when he left Holloway Prison Albert needed police
protection to get him through the mob which had formed. He was also responsible for the executions in Germany of many war criminals, including the infamous Josef
Kramer, known as the “Beast of Belsen”.
Albert submitted his resignation to the prison commissioners on 22nd February 1956 and several years later his log book fetched £19,800 when it was auctioned along with other items of execution equipment. Albert spent his last years in a Southport nursing home where he died in 1992. The matron said he died peacefully and was a perfect gentleman. Although he always fervently believed that he was carrying out a public duty and took great care every time, Albert came to the conclusion that executions solve nothing. In his book “Executioner Pierrepoint” he says “I do not now believe that any one of the hundreds of executions I carried out has in any way acted as a deterrent against future murder.”

 Note to Stuart and Neil: It’s ok to quote from Albert’s book. I’ve acknowledged
the quotes from it and I had correspondence with Albert in 1986 and in one of
his letters he gave me permission to use any of his writings.

Margaret Dalgety — Clayton History Group

APRIL 2016


To complete the building of the Town Hall the architect drew his inspiration from the Campanile of the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence. The original instructions stipulated that a public clock be installed together with a fire bell which was thought to be very necessary as the new fire-engine was to be housed in the back of the Hall and the Superintendant of the Fire Brigade would be living on the third floor of the Hall.

During discussion about the ordering of the equipment some members thought that a clock and chimes would be more in keeping for the building. Others thought that the bells would be a confounded nuisance (or words to that effect) and that bell ringing was all right in the country but not in Bradford which was a place for making money. After much discussion it was agreed to install bells, a clock plus a carillon machine for playing tunes.

The tender from Gillett and Bland of the Steam Clock Factory of Croydon was accepted at a cost of £4013 with the bells being cast by J Taylor of Loughborough.

Details of the bells were a four ton bell, 4 bells to strike the quarters, 8 bells for the chimes and a carillon machine with three barrels so the people could have a fresh tune every day for three weeks played three times every three hours day and night. Total weight was 17tons, 3 qrts 10lbs the largest peal of bells in England and the largest made for carillon in Europe, the only other carillons in England being at Worcester and Rochdale.

The clock was a masterpiece with four faces of opal glass illuminated by gas which by means of an ingenious device could regulate its own power. The mechanism allowed for long and short days was fully automatic so no attendance was required.

Hedley Smith   Clayton History Group

 JANUARY  2016



19th SEPTEMBER 1861 A little boy, son of Mr George Storey of Clayton, five years old and playing in the vicinity of Beck Mill last Thursday, inadvertently fell into a tank full of gas tar. He was completely submerged and presented a sorry sight, when rescued by his brother who was nearby.


9th AUGUST 1866 On Thursday last, in the West Riding Court, a boy named Joseph Foster, aged 14, from Queensbury, was charged with stealing a duck, the property of Alfred Hey, a farmer living at Sun Wood, Clayton. The lad had sold the duck to Thomas Ingham and this coming to the ears of Constable Barrett, apprehended Foster while at work at Broadbent's Mill, Gt Horton. The young pilferer having being well whipped in the area of the Court House, was discharged.


6th AUGUST 1868 On Monday at The West Riding Court, James Armitage, an elderly man, was charged with stealing a quantity of beans from the garden of Mr Edwin Ridings, Clayton House, who stated he had previously missed cabbage's and cauliflower's. The prisoner was committed to one months hard labour.


28 JULY 1903 The Anti-Vaccination League consider the 7/6d charged by the West Riding Magistrates for a Vaccination Exemption Certificate is exhorbitant, and within the last two months, twenty people have refused to get such a certificate, or have their children vaccinated. Four who refused to pay the costs incurred were arrested yesterday and taken to Wakefield Gaol for a week. Their names are Kershaw Craven, Reva Syke Rd, Sam Craven, Tenter Hill, Alf Walker, Town End and Sam Murray, Brow Top. During their absence their wages will be paid by the league and after their release on Saturday next, there will be a public demonstration and the Clayton Silver Prize Band hope to be in attendance.


Oct 28th 1858 A meeting of working men has been held in the village school room at Clayton to consider the propriety of forming a Co-operative Society, the object being to collect a store of provisions, drapery goods etc which will be retailed to the public at a cost which will always be within the market price. Mr Josh Andrews presided and made a few pointed remarks with reference to the advantages which would accrue from such a Society if properly managed.


6th NOVEMBER 1878 The Local Board Clerk reported that he had assertained from Mr Thomas of Thornton, that the price for painting the names of streets on zinc plates was three farthings a letter


18th JULY 1871 A serious accident took place on Saturday, to a man called Daniel Whaley, in the woolcombing room at Joseph Benn & Co. The machines in the room had been stopped at a quarter to one as was custom, to clean the machines prior to leaving work. The shafting was still running, when for an unaccountable reason the machine restarted, and in doing so, tore off the poor mans left arm by the elbow and also removed some fingers from his right hand. It was assumed that he had not completely thrown off the driving belt, but his prostration was so great after the occurence as to render him unable to account for it.



 June 2016

Clayton House

Prominent Claytonians - The Hirst Family 

Margaret Dalgety  -  Clayton History Group 

	The Hirsts were a very prominent Clayton family; in fact, the historian William Cudworth wrote in 1876,
in his book "Round about Bradford", that they were "the principal residential family of Clayton." Eighty
years before that, in 1795, Mr. Tom Hirst had been responsible for the building of Clayton House (pictured)
which at that time was a real mansion. Tom was an overseer of the highways of Clayton and an employer
of local labour, with his farm workers and malthouse employees, the malthouse being adjoined to the house.
He was also a warden of the chapel at Thornton.
The next Hirst to reside at Clayton House was Mr. John Hirst, who gave the land for the Parish Church
to be built, after having allowed his house to be used for worship when Clayton first became a parish.
He died in 1852, the year after the church was opened. John Hirst's brother, Thomas and his wife Sarah
lived at Low House, near the Clayton/Shelf border, formerly known as "Brightwaters". This had been the
ancestral home of the Hirst family since the early 17th century, where they combined farming and cloth
making. Mr & Mrs. Hirst were the main contributors to the building of the Old Dolphin Wesleyan chapel at
Clayton Heights.
Later in the 19th century their son Joseph Hirst resided at Low House and his brother, Lt. Colonel Henry
Sagar Hirst, at nearby Westwood House. They were the proprietors of Low House brewery for many years before
it was sold to Bentlevs Breweries. In 1918 Bradford Corporation acquired Westwood House for hospital purposes
and Low House was later demolished, the last occupants having been Joseph and his family.
Before becoming a brewer, Henry Sagar Hirst trained as a solicitor after being privately educated. As a young
man he had joined the Volunteer Movement and received his commission as an ensign in September 1859.
Three years later he was appointed a lieutenant-colonel commanding the Third West Yorkshire Rifle volunteers
(The Bradford Rifles). In 1881 he received the title of Companion of the Bath for services rendered to the volunteer
movement and when he resigned his commission in 1890 he was made honorary colonel of the battalion. In 1864
he married Sarah, daughter of John Foster of Hornby Castle, founder of Black Dyke Mills. He was president of the
West Riding Rifles
Association, master of the Clayton Harriers and captain of the Bradford cricket team. He was a
faithful member of Clayton Parish Church and one of its most generous benefactors. He played an active part in local
affairs and, along with his wife, gave generously to the poor of the parish. He was a chairman of the District Council,
a manager of the school and President of the Board of Surveyors.
Colonal Hirst died in 1899 and is buried in Clayton churchyard. There is a tablet to his memory inside the church.


JULY 2016



Stuart Downey – Clayton History Group


Clayton's textile industry was established in the 18th century, when hand loom weaving and spinning took place in the cottage's of villager's. Finished pieces would be sold in Bradford and at Piece Hall, Halifax.

At the beginning of the 19th century the Clayton area had over 1500 hand loom weavers working from home.

With the advent of the industrial revolution and mechanisation, the work was transferred into a mill environment.

Holme or Beck Mill still exists and Oak Mills was demolished in 1999/2000, but the first mill to be built in the Clayton area was Brow Top Mill.


Brow Top Mill was situated in a small valley below Brow Top Farm. Access for carts was via the lane and farm yard, or by foot, via a path leading from Raven Cottage, Brow Lane. A small stream fed the mill dam and this stream still meanders its way into Hole Bottom. The mill was built of stone and was only 75 feet long and 25 feet wide, it had three storeys and a warehouse extending over two cottages.

Brow Mill was built by Timothy Wood about 1823 and in the late 1820's Timothy started a business as a worsted manufacturer, by 1830 he was bankrupt. In 1835 the mill was described as having an engine of 10 horsepower, eleven days work of land, cottages and a barn. In 1838 the mill was purchased by Joseph Fawthrop.

1854 was a disastrous year for business, due to the high price of wool and several small firms were ruined. Trade picked up but by 1858 bad times returned and Joseph decided to sell.

In 1860 the newly formed business of Joseph Benn and Co, leased the mill. The partners formerly employees of John Foster of Black Dyke Mills were Asa Briggs, Alfred Wallis and Joseph Benn. The company leased the mill for two years before moving to Beck Mill in 1862. The 1861 census shows Joseph Benn and his family living in one of the mill cottages.

From 1862 the mill was leased to several companies and was finally sold by the Fawthrops in 1873 to Jacques and Wright & Co.

In 1878 it was sold to John Kershaw who in 1882 built West View House. In 1907 the mill and West View were again sold in parts to several people one of which was Sam Priestley of 2 Brow Cottages who purchased barns stables and mistals and 4 Brow Top. The mill was now in decline and was used for a time as a rug making works in 1917. The ordnance survey map of 1921 shows the mill as derelict. The Mill was demolished in the early thirties, only a few stones remain to show its whereabouts.



Stuart Downey -Clayton History Group


Clayton Victoria Park was opened by Mr Asa Briggs on the 23 July 1898. Since that date it has become a central meeting point for the community of Clayton.

The Cenotaph was installed in the park in 1928. It commemorates those brave men from Clayton who lost their lives in World War 1, World War 2, and more recent conflicts.

The Queen Elizabeth Jubilee Garden is a joint venture between the Parish Council and the Bradford Council Leisure Services . The Parish Council funded Queen Elizabeth Jubilee oak tree and commemorative plaque. The tree forms the centre piece to the garden which includes sustainable plantings of herbaceous perennial plants, herbs, grasses and flowers, all of which have been chosen to stimulate senses such as smell and touch as well as to provide all year round interest.

At the planting ceremony, Clayton Parish Council Chairman, Councillor Jean Pitts said "The tree and garden will provide a wonderful and long lasting tribute to the Queens Diamond Jubilee.

The main entrance gates on Park Lane show two dates. 1898 the year the park was opened and 1928 which is significant in many ways.. In 1928 the bus service was introduced to Clayton. To facilitate this Park Lane was widened by using 2 or 3 yards occupied by the park. At the same time the park gates were built showing the dates 1898 and 1928. The bowling green, tennis courts and cenotaph were installed about this time.

The park has a children's play area, pic-nic area, five side football enclosure and a bowling green. Clayton Victoria Bowling club take an active part in the local bowling leagues and is always in contention for bowling honours.

Park Young Men


The Park Plaque (reads)

This ground was handed over by the inhabitants of Clayton at a public meeting on June 22nd 1897, for the purpose of being laid out as a public park in commemoration of Her Majesty Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee. The cost of £1136-3s-10d was defrayed by public subscription and the park was opened by the chairman of the urban district council Asa Briggs Esq JP on July 23rd 1898.


The Rialto Cinema

Clayton 1916 - 1956


Albert Harrison opened his new Clayton Picture House in the October of 1916. Films ran from 6.30 to 10.30.The opening programme included "Beulah" Starring Henry B Walthall, Joyce Moore and Mae Prestell.

The cinema did not advertise in the local papers but confined its publicity to handbills around the village.

An advertisement proclaimed " The Best Pictures Only. See Them Here In Comfort"
Prices were 5d to1/- for a once nightly show (except Sundays).

By the early twenties the cinema was advertised regularly in the Bradford Argus and Bradford Daily Telegraph.

THE OWNERS By 1920 William F G Philips previously of the Wilsden Picture House, had taken over and after some alterations and refurbishment, reopened the Clayton Picture House on 22nd November 1920 with."The Melting Pot" Starring Henry Bergman, Doc Crane and Valentine Grant.
In 1932 Roy Firth became the owner and its name was changed to THE RIALTO CINEMA. . Later owners included Dean and Heggs and Joe Emmotts Dales Cinema's who also controlled the Queens Hall and Thornton Mechanics Picture House. Around 1940 Stanley Lister Proud was chief projectionist. In later years The Rialto was owned by Alfred A Howarth once the assistant projectionist at the Clayton Picture House, the Savoy in Darley St and The Theatre Royal Manningham Lane. He was to buy the Rialto in 1952. The Rialto closed following a fire on the night of Monday 14th September 1953 which had started only minutes after the cinema closed. Smoke was seen coming out of the cinema roof at 10.45 pm by Mr Herbert Brooke who lived next door. His timely intervention in calling the fire brigade prevented the cinema becoming a total loss. The cinema was closed for over a month whilst Alfred Howarth took the opportunity to refurbish the hall and install a new wide screen. A grand re-opening was held on Monday 19th October 1953 by The Lord Mayor of Bradford, Alderman Angus Crowther, featuring
"Singing in the Rain" with Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor and Debbie Reynolds. The cinema finally closed on Saturday 17th March 1956 with "Shadow of the Man" Starring Paul Carpenter, Rona Anderson and Jane Griffiths
Alfred Howarth returned to The Theatre Royal where he became director and secretary, before retiring to the dales.
In June 1956 The Rialto was put up for auction by John H Raby. It was offered as a going concern but the property was withdrawn when the bidding reach only £2000. It has since been used as industrial units.

Stuart Downey

Clayton History Group

 AUGUST 2016


Stuart Downey Clayton History Group


Clayton Golf Club was formed at a meeting held at the Clayton Board School on the 20th of April 1906. The club was formerly opened on the 19th May 1906. Elected President was Thomas Priestley Esq.J.P. a former Lord Mayor of Bradford and elected Captain was Mr. Herbert Robertshaw. The land on which the course would be built was originally rented from local farmers, who ensured they kept full grazing rights for their livestock.

The course at this time was cut by using a horse drawn mower. The course was difficult to play, not only because of the grazing animals but because the greens had to be fenced for protection.

In 1909, the club rented a clubhouse at 23 Lavinia Terrace, from Mr. Asa Briggs at a weekly rental of six shillings and two pence per week.

The club progressed well in the early years, but was held back during the 1914-1918 war due to lack of members and financial constraints, and loans of £25 had to be obtained from members.

A massive step forward in the clubs fortunes occurred in 1964 when the club was able to purchase part of the course from a local farmer at what was then an expensive £7.750. This was financed by a government grant and a loan from Mr. W Holden a former President and Captain of the club. In 1966 the club purchased more land from the trustees of Mr. Asa Briggs.

Arguably the most important development in the clubs history occurred in 1979/80 when the club purchased six acres of land together with the old workhouse farm and bungalow. This meant the club owned the whole of the course. By selling some land, Underhill Farm and Thornton View Bungalow, the club was able to finance the conversion of the farm into a fine modern clubhouse, and also build new greens and extend the course.

In 1996 additional land was purchased which allowed the club to extend the course to 6237 yards compared with 3000 yards in 1906. Today’s course is considered to be a stern but fair test of golf, made more difficult by the many tree’s and strategically placed hazards. Spion Kop is the clubs signature hole.

The club is justifiably proud of its collection of trophies which are presented annually. Pride of place on the trophy shelf are the Asa Briggs Trophy and the Priestley Shield which were presented in1906, and the Centenary Trophies presented in 2006.

Clayton were Bradford League Champions in 1969 and 1984, which is an amazing achievement for a nine hole club, who competed against clubs with county and international players.

Clayton has produced many good golfers. Martin Foster is best known. A former winner of the English Boys Stroke Play Championship and the British Boys Matchplay Championship, he won Amateur International honours and was noted member of the professional European Tour.

Clayton Golf Club is proud of its past and its future is secure.

All categories of membership are currently available









Clayton Baptist Infant school in Clayton Lane was opened in June 1873, with 41 boys and 26 girls attending on the first day. The fee was 2d per week.


The age range was 4 - 7 years but some were sent before their 3rd birthday. The school was divided into first, second, and baby classes and the teacher was Sarah Tattersall who was helped by pupil teachers.


The school year ran from the beginning of March until the end of February, when the children were examined by school inspectors. The school log book, kept by Miss Tattersall is now held by Bradford Archives . The log gives a fascinating insite into village school life during the late 19th century. Many of the entries relate to attendance , which was of prime importance in securing a grant for the following year.


In winter children were often kept at home during cold weather. On the 7th December1882, heavy snow prevented so many children attending that the ones who had turned up were sent home and the school closed for the day. In summer parents allowed their children to play out until very late, and as a result chidren slept in the following day, often not turning up at school until after lunch.


Illness kept many children at home, sometimes for weeks at a time, Ethel Appleyard returned to school on the 8th November 1889 after an absence of three months, and when Elizabeth Firth was admitted to school on1st April 1881, she had been ill for over two years. Epidemics occured regularly, including chicken pox, mumps, whooping cough and scarlet fever. There was a particularly bad epedemic of measles in October 1884. By the 2nd week of the month, more that 50 children were ill, rising to 62 by the end of the month. Measles was a serious illness before the introduction of antibiotics and children often took many months to recover. Some were left with permanent disabilities,such as deafness or blindness and in some cases the disease was fatal. According to a log book entry dated 27th August 1886, Asa Yewdall died from measles. A case of typhoid fever was diagnosed in one of the children on the 27th October 1882. By the 22nd November more cases had been reported and the school was closed for two days for cleaning. On the 13th November some "Condey's Fluid" was obtained and this was used each day in the school. By the 17th November, 29 cases of sickness were reported among the children but it was reported that the disease was abating somewhat in the village.


Miss Tattersal often went out to visit children who were absent from school, seeing as many as 15 families in one evening.


Some delicate schoolchildren were often away from school. On the 20th January 1882 five children were listed as "often ailing" who scarcely make any advance with their lessons. One of these, Alfred Shepherd subsequently died in August of the same year, his being one of 24 deaths recorded in the years 1873 - 1898. Miss Tattersall recorded the deaths with regret, an entry for the 4th July 1874 reading "One of my boys, named Joe Sharp, a fine little fellow,died on Sunday after a short illness." Not all the deaths were from illness. In September 1875 Ephraim Watmuff, aged 5 ,died after falling down a quarry at Brecks.


School holidays were, one week at Easter and Whitsuntide, two weeks in summer and two weeks at Christmas. There was half holiday for Shrove Tuesday and for Gunpowder Plot . In addition the children were given an occasional day off for other events, such as in August 1895 when the school was closed, as so many were watching a "Grand Wedding " at the village church or, on the 23rd September 1889 when all schools in Bradford were closed , so that children could go and see Barnum's Show in Bradford. National events such as the wedding of the Duke of York and Princess Mary in July 1895 were also celebrated, and in 1897 the school was closed for a week for Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubillee.


When Joseph Wilds was admitted to the school on 26th March1886 he was described as having a speech impediment and a useless right hand. On the 1st September 1876, Sarah Smith was said to be an infant in mind and partly paralysed. An entry dated 27th January 1882 read, Andrew Chadwick. I sent him home for being dirty and filthy, to return when he was clean. The children are utterly neglected by the mother.


Listed are the topics taught, in addition to reading writing and arithmetic , there were object lessons such as The Lighthouse, The Whale, Day and Night, Kindness to Animals, The Railway Trains and Minding the Baby. The girls were taught sewing and all the children learnt songs such as "I must not grieve my mother" and " The old black cat".


Interspersed among the more mundane entries, such as the buying of slates or the visits of the Baptist Minister, there are interesting entries such as the end of term outing to to play in Mr Yewdalls field, or on the 31st July 1874 when the local blacksmith, whose workshop was next to the school, where Angus Jowett and Herbert Andrews had been throwing stones "came into the playground and without speaking to anyone, kicked the boys most severely".


By 1898 the school had become very overcrowded. A new Board School was opened, the entry for 30th September reading " The scholars have all marched through the village this afternoon carrying banners, slates and books, to the new school to learn their appointed classrooms ready for Monday morning. Sarah Tattersall continued to keep her log book at the new school until her departure on the 22nd December1899.




From BOD-KIN The Journal of The Bradford Family History Society Sept 1995

 AUGUST 2014

Alfred Wallis of  Glenholme Clayton

Alfred Wallis 1829 - 1913

Alfred Wallis was born in Northowram in 1829, he was a well known and highly respected Claytonian.

 Alfred Wallis started in business in 1860 at Brow Mill with Joseph Benn and Asa Briggs.
He was very active in public affairs, an overseer for 29 years, County Councillor for Clayton, Thornton and Denholme, and generally taking a close interest in the welfare of Clayton residents.
In 1898 Alfred became the sole owner of Oak Mills with his sons Frank and Joah, he also owned Highgate Farm, Clayton Heights. 
He lived at " Glenholme" in Pasture Lane and set up the Alfred Wallis Trust Fund.



A grade 2 listed building used until recently as a retirement home.

Designed by Milnes & France 1886,

Glenholme was the home of the Wallis family. It was built  by Alfred Wallace who moved in in 1888. The entrance to the house was very impressive with several stained glass windows and two portraits painted on the wall.
Above the doors are stained glass windows depicting various industrialists, Arkwright, Stephenson, Watt, Naisby and several others not identifiable.
On the top floor the rooms are fairly large and light, and it is assumed that these rooms would have been used by the servants. The first floor bedrooms are more spectacular with the ornate woodwork and ceilings and on the ground floor the windows in the games room show scenes of popular games, dance and hunting.
Fireplaces throughout the house are a particularly interesting features.



FROM 19th Century Newspapers 1869

 There is scarcely a town or village which does not contain one amongst its inhabitants who is better known than his neighbours and in the village of Clayton there is a man of this sort, who is setting an example which is worthy of being copied by his fellow men.

AMRIAH ROBINSON was brought up to the trade of cordwainer (leather worker), but for some years has filled a situation as a warehouseman in Bradford.

Amriah having for many years been a strict teetotaller is a man of frugal and careful habits and besides maintaining his family, had every week a small surplus from his wages, until at last he was of the opinion that he had a sum sufficient to build himself a cottage, and having purchased himself a plot of ground, he set to work in earnest, he dug the cellar, and did all the excavation work himself. Having provided himself with a wheel-barrow, he fetched all the stone from a quarry some 300 yds away, the number of barrow loads being 548. All the stone was dressed and pitch faced , and this work he has done nights and mornings without the the least encroachment on his masters time.

The cottage now nears completion and stands at the top of Pasture Lane on Virginia Street and is an attractive structure. The name he has given to the building is VIRGINIAN COTTAGE. Its style is Gothic consisting of one room on the ground floor with a sleeping room above and kitchen at the rear.

On the front there are two carved heads representing DEMOSTHENES and the other SOCRATES. There is another representing EVA of “Uncle Toms Cabin“. Also inscribed on a tablet are the words ”Prove all things, hold fast that which is good”.


Amriah was born at Pinnacle, Lidget Lane now Bradford Road in 1834. His father Israel was a porter and his mother Mary was a stuff weaver. He had three younger siblings Haria, Barbery and Jeremiah. He married Elizabeth Andrews in 1854.

The census records show that Amriah and his wife lived at Cowgill and Lane Ends, before moving to Virginian Cottage. Amriah died in 1885 aged 51. They had six children Alice Jane, son Greenwood, Barbara, Catherine, Eva, and Julia. Sam Charlton was also living with the family , he had married Barbara in1881.

In 1901 Elizabeth was still living at Virginian Cottage with her grandson Horace Charlton aged 17. Elizabeth was living on her own in Virginian Cottage, when she died in 1913 aged 81.

Virginian Cottage is still standing and is a happy family home.