NOSTALGIA: Photographs taken before slum clearance

PUBLIC HOUSE: The White Hart was a very old established hostelry, possibly dating back to the 17th Century. It was also called the Ferry House.
PUBLIC HOUSE: The White Hart was a very old established hostelry, possibly dating back to the 17th Century. It was also called the Ferry House.

ONCE again readers were quick to contact me regarding the mystery photographs which appeared last week – and yet again both pictures are from the Flatts area, writes Margaret Watson.

The main picture, showing the washing on the line, was Back Granville Street, and the smaller one showing the little boy standing in the middle of the street, was Vulcan Road.

Both pictures were taken in the 1950s shortly before slum clearance in the area was commenced and the people living there were mainly rehoused on estates in Chickenley and Thornhill.

John Haigh spotted where both photographs were taken and added that he could recall Hirst’s shop being in Back Granville Street.

The smaller picture was of Vulcan Road looking towards Vulcan Ironworks, known locally as the Boilermakers.

The street on the left of the picture was Webster Street, and the next street on the left was Back Webster Street, and John should know because he was born there on 26th August 1940.

Peter Robinson kindly contacted me to also identify the picture taken of Vulcan Road and also pointed out the building which housed the Boilermakers.

Another landmark he pointed out in the far distance behind the chimneys, was the spire of St John the Baptist Church, sadly demolished in March 1967, exactly 50 years ago this month.

It is interesting to look at these streets in which many of us grew up, and to ponder the history behind them.

Where did their names originate?

Who chose them? And who were the people they were named after?

Some I know, some I can guess at, but most I have no idea.

For instance who was “Granville”, the person Granville Street was named after? Who was Webster, the man whose name was given to Webster Street and Webster Hill?

There are hundreds of streets in Dewsbury named after important people, some of them local, others kings and queens, prime ministers, naval officers, army generals and some after famous battles.

I lived up Victoria Road, Springfield, and there are no prizes for guessing who this particular street was named after, but the streets on either side of it, Hirst Road and Albion Street, I haven’t a clue.

The school I attended was in Naylor Street, Batley Carr, but who was Naylor, and to get to my school I had to walk along Beckett Road, but who was Beckett?

It would be interesting to research some of the street names in Dewsbury to find out more about who they were named after, perhaps some readers may know the origins of some of our streets and let me know.

Talking about street names, I should think that the history of pub names and where they originated from, would be of equal interest.

The pub pictured above, the White Hart in Thornhill Road, Thornhill Lees, could take its name from the fact that this area was once vast woodland where deer hunting took place.

It seems plausible because the pub, which dates back to the 17th Century, was also known as The Stag.

There is a possibility that the White Hart could have been part of the family crest of those earls and barons who once owned these lands.

I was delighted to find this photograph of the “White Hart” in an old Wormald and Walker’s magazine, the same magazine from which I got the mystery street photographs shown last week and the week before.

The magazine editor obviously took an interest in the town’s history and frequently published old photographs such as the one above.

I should imagine he found this one in the company’s archives because all the men pictured on the coach worked at the mill.

They were engineers, blacksmiths and mechanics, who had been involved in installing a new engine at the mill which was named “Daisy”.

They are pictured in 1906 setting off on a celebration trip to Dunford Reservoir, which in those days supplied Dewsbury with its main water supply.

Even though they are all long gone, I am publishing their names because there might some of their descendants still living in the area.

Here they are:

Walter Gibson, John Auty, Mr Hinchcliffe, Abe Harper, Mr Crawshaw Jnr, Mr Crawshaw Snr, Jack Hemingway, Tom Fletcher, Joe Talbot, Jack Mitchell, Alf Brook, John Richard Lunt, William Cox, Fred Smith, Billy Littlewood, Tom Parr and Bill Swift.

The man seen standing by the horses was Willie Watkinson.

Recently I wrote about Dewsbury once having more public houses than any other town its size in Britain.

In the town centre alone there were 30 pubs operating, most of which have closed down, including the White Hart pictured above, but the names of most till linger in our memories.

Many of the earlier pubs were not just drinking places, they were also places were working men met to educate themselves and to discuss the topics of the day.

Trade unions held their meetings there as did sporting cubs and friendly societies, and various political parties had their origins in local pubs.

The following are three events which took place at The White Hart.

In February 1892 members of the choir of Holy Innocent Church, Thornhill Lees, along with a number of friends, sat down to a first class supper.

In 1890 members of the Thornhill Local Board and a few friends sat down to an excellent dinner.

Mr T Turner, chairman of the board, and Mr R Machell were present.

Also in 1890, the annual supper of the artisans employed at Dewsbury and Brittania Mills, Thornhill Lees, was held.

Those present included joiners, mechanics, stockwrights etc.

The White Hart was a very old established hostelry, possibly dating back to the 17th Century, but later being rebuilt.

In the 18th Century the inn was called the “Ferry House”, probably because of its nearness to the canal and Cleggford Bridge.

Towards the 19th Century it became known as the “White Hart” but even then it was sometimes referred to as “The Stag”.

In 1854 it was put up to be sold by private contract and was purchased and rebuilt by Messrs Hague, Cook and Wormald, the founders of Wormald and Walker’s Mill.

Grateful thanks to Rod Kaye for providing some of the background to the history of The White Hart.