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Alverthorpe and Low Laithes Part 2


Flanshaw Lane.

I was born in Wakefield on the 8th December 1932. Shortly after, my mother and father and I went to live in Balby Doncaster. My father had been a glass blower at a Castleford firm until the firm was taken over by Pilkingtons. They took the married men with them to St. Helens but the single men were made redundant. Since this time my father had had one or two jobs and had decided to get married. This was while he was a miner working at a colliery near Doncaster. Although they were living in Doncaster, my mother came over to Wakefield for my birth. We lived at Doncaster for about three years before coming back to Wakefield to live at Acute Terrace, Flanshaw Lane. We lived in the 2nd or 3rd house from the top and at the other side of the lane opposite our house was a large old house called Flanshaw Hall. (See fig.1. bottom right).

Graphic2 - Fig.1. 1st. ed.6 in OS map 1851 of Alverthorpe and Flanshaw.
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The road along the bottom is the Wakefield Dewsbury road with Flanshaw Lane End. At the time this map was made (1851) Acute Terrace had not been built, but the lane which became Acute Terrace was there leading to a small farm on Flanshaw Hill. Parts of the hall were timber framed but had later been clad with stone, there is a description of the hall and its occupants in J. W. Walkers Wakefield Its History and People pages 653-55. I think it was demolished after the 2nd world war.

"The earliest notice of Flanshaw Hall is in the will of Philip Nevile gent, described as of Flansa1l who made his will May 27, 1588. Later the hall came into the possession of Robert Dyneley who assisted the Presbyterians in and around Wakefield holding meetings at the hall. On Mr. Dyneley's removal Edward Watkinson, a Wakefield mercer, resided at the hall and continued the Presbyterian services until they acquired premises in which to meet. Joshua Kirby preached there when he left the Church of England in 1662".

We lived at Acute Terrace for about three years. I know I had been going to the infants school at Alverthorpe for about a year when we moved to Milners Court which was opposite the bottom of Willow Lane. (The entrance to Harraps Bective Mills now stands on the site see figs.2 & 3.

Graphic3 - Fig.2 Part of 1914 OS map showing area around Milners Court.
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Graphic4 - Fig.3 Modern map of area around Milners Court showing all new buildings except 49 and 51.
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Milners Court was a short cul de sac with a row of four houses on each side and one detached house at the bottom left hand side. (See fig.2 At the time when we moved here in 1938 a lot of the old houses on the southern side of Flanshaw Lane and around the entrance to Milners Court had recently been demolished. The entrance to the court was very narrow widening out after about twenty feet. (See plate 1a & fig.2, picture and plan of houses prior to demolition)

Graphic5 - Plate 1a. View of top half of Milners Court before demolition.
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The house on the immediate left of plate 1a is the first house in Milners Court as I knew it. The next building is a row of four toilets which had to be shared by the eight terrace houses, two houses per toilet and the building immediately behind that is the communal ash midden where all the domestic rubbish from the houses was deposited. All the buildings numbered were demolished in slum clearance in 1937. The curb at the opposite side of the road marks the bottom of the wall belonging to the garden. (Mentioned below)

The rest of the buildings in the picture. No.128 is part of the east wing of what was found later to be the Batty House. No. 127 has a double roof and behind that is another house fronting onto Flanshaw Lane (also shown on plate lb) next to No's 122 & 121. To the right of 121 is the entrance to Milners Court and across the road can be seen the corner of the wall at the entrance to Willow Lane. Behind the wall is a building which had been demolished by 1938. (See fig. 2) There was another building behind this which was Talbot's offices (shown on plate 5b which cannot be seen as it is masked by the former building. Above this is the gable of the 3 storey Talbots' confectionary building and behind this can be seen the top of the flat roofed modern extension.

On the right-hand side of Milners Court was a large enclosed garden which rather intrigued us children, it had a red brick boundary wall to a height of about four or five foot topped by a wooden fence. The garden comprised of rockeries with paths round them. I particularly remember the lupins and foxgloves. On the whole when I think back somebody must have been looking after it because it was always reasonably tidy, it never became overgrown with weeds. (See fig. 2 marked G on the plan)

On a recent visit to John Goodchild the Wakefield historian I was asked if I knew where there was an old Presbyterian grave yard. I said that the only place I could think of was the old garden. He agreed with me that this was the only suitable place and that the grave stones were reputed to have been lifted about 1900. Later on a Mr. Jaques who has lived next to the garden all his life (see H fig. 2.) confirmed that this was indeed the burial ground we sought. Mr. John Broadbent also told me that he remembers the stones on the rockery having lettering on them which supports what Mr. Jaques told me.

"The congregation at Flanshaw Hall soon became too large for the accommodation at the hall; consequently a disused maltkiln in Flanshaw Lane was taken and converted into a meeting house, which was opened by Oliver Heywood who preached there on December 10, 1672 the adjoining house "Kellice house" being rented as a residence for the first minister. "(See J W Walker page 351) The possible chapel building (blacked out on Fig. 2 and the house marked H is possibly the Kellice house)

"Later in 1697 a new Chapel was erected on Westgate End and the Wakefield and Flanshaw congregations combined. On the erection of the new chapel the one at Flanshaw was abandoned, it was recently used by Mr. Edward Ashton as a warehouse. The graveyard containing more than one hundred graves, was disused as a burial place. Until about 1905 the tombstones remained in situ, but were then removed and the ground converted into a market garden. (See J W Walker page 353) Mr. Edward Ashton had the shop at the bottom of Willow Lane about 1900. (see plate 2a)

Graphic6 - Plate 2a. Edward Ashtons shop at bottom of Willow Lane.
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This is a photograph on a post card taken from the bottom of Willow Lane looking towards Colbeck Street. The building shown on the extreme left is the same one shown on the left of plate lb. On the other corner of Colbeck Street is a shop which in 1937 was an off licence grocer.

This post card photograph and Plate 2b were lent to me by Mr. Norman Ellis of Ossett and were posted in 1906. The main feature is the Flanshaw Congregational Chapel May festival procession organised by the Band of Hope passing through on its way to Wakefield. Both are good records of the buildings which stood on this part of Flanshaw Lane at the turn of this century.

The street lighting was gas and even in 1938 a lamp lighter came round with his pole every evening to switch them on and every morning to turn them off

Graphic7 - Plate 2b. Looking from the railway bridge towards Willow Lane and Milners Court.
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This was taken from near the railway bridge looking towards the bottom of Willow Lane. The houses on the left are those which fronted onto the road with the entrance to Milners Court between. (See plate 1a) In the centre on the right side of the road is an old house in which Mr. Harry Talbot lived. In the late thirties this building had an extension built onto it, but this too has now gone along with all the other buildings between Willow Lane and the railway. Behind the house can be seen the roofs of the row of cottages shown on plate 5b.

On the left side of this house can be seen the gable of the fish & chip shop and to the left of this the shop at the bottom of Willow Lane. On the extreme right is the three storey mill building in which the Talbots first started their confectionary business. The mill was originally a rag mill and can be seen on the 1st Ed. 6 in. OS map. 1851. (see Fig. 1.)

A. Talbot & Sons commenced trading in 1890 as wholesale grocers selling their goods from a horse drawn wagon. At first they purchased boiled sweets from a John Kay of Flushdyke, a few years later Mr. Kay decided to retire and passed the business and his boiled sweet know-how to the Talbots who were probably his best customers and they ran the business until 1964/5 when it was sold to Victory V Gums and lozenges.

The Talbots became a very well known local family and James Cyril Talbot who was born in 1888 bought Highfield House, a large mansion which stood on top of the hill above Alverthorpe railway station. He continued to live there until his death in 1960. Other property included houses on Acute Terrace and Spout Fold. Also all the property between the railway embankment and Willow Lane (see Fig 2.). None of the buildings on these two photographs remain. In fact all the houses between Willow Lane and Brick Street have gone, replaced by modern semi's or terrace houses. (See fig. 3) Only the top two thirds on the left side of Brick Street remain.

The high railway embankment and the two bridges over Flanshaw Lane and Becktive Lane have gone. It is very strange to stand where the entrance to Milners Court was and look towards Alverthorpe. I can see the village and the church at the top of the hill which were blotted out by the railway embankment when I lived there. (See plate 1b. The railway separated Alverthorpe from Flanshaw very effectively.

A comparison between the maps Fig.1, Fig.2, & Fig. 3 shows the buildings in existence in 1851 Fig.1. Then the building of lots of terraced houses shown on Fig.2, by 1914. Finally the clearance of most of the property and replacement by modern buildings Fig.3., 1997.

There has been a mill on what became Becktive Lane since 1791 originally called Hebble Mill. (see Fig.1) Hebble Mill was destroyed by fire in January 1905 (see page 142 Bygone Wakefield & District by Norman Ellis) The Harrap family first became involved with it in 1837 when Mark Harrap took it over and then in 1889 it became the property of Thomas and Henry Harrap who were no relation to Mark. The business of Thomas and Henry Harrap (Messrs Harrap Bros.) dates back to 1880 and was originally commenced at Ossett.

After establishing themselves considerable progress was made and important extensions were made in 1905 and 1912, while from 1920 onwards the company had more than doubled its plant and is now exceptionally well equipped on the most approved modern lines. The firm is now known as Sirdar PLC and has grown until it now covers most of the land between Bective Lane and Flanshaw Lane. (see Fig.2 & Fig. 3) Including where Milners Court was and the fields at the back of Alverthorpe W.M.C.

On the right side of Willow Lane were some modern offices belonging to Talbots (see Plate 5b) and then the entrance to the yard of the firm, followed by an old three storey Mill. (See Plates 1a & 2b)On the right side of the mill building was the boiler house with the large chimney seen on Plate 3a and Fig.2. Above this was a modern extension probably built in the early thirties.

The demolition of the houses surrounding Milners Court had left a large open space on which rested a large oak beam. I can remember it clearly with all the various mortise holes. It was a central beam which supported the joists for the upper floor at bressumer level either longitudinally or from principal to principal. This beam survived until the end of the war when it was burnt at our first bonfire night.

The area left by the demolition was fairly level with just a few bricks left about which we kids used for building things. After a period of time it became covered with grass and weeds and we used to play golf on it with improvised clubs. A strip of iron an inch wide and an eighth thick bent and twisted the last 3 inches with a handle covered with insulating tape became an iron. A small branch of a tree with a knot at the end became a wood.

Looking at the photographs of the various buildings which were demolished in 1937 I can fit some of them in to the foundations which were left when we played there as children.

There is a possibility that the beam came from a large 16th.century timber framed house which was demolished with the othersin 1937 just before we came to live there (see fig. 1, Fig.2, & Fig.10. & plates 3a & 3b) This house was the house of the Batty's and there was a date stone with 1541 on it.

Dr. Walker say's "In the centre was an immense chimney stack about 12fi. wide at the base, built of very good hand made bricks, which originally served six rooms. Four massive Tudor fire-places with stone mantels were found, two of which were removed to Wakefield, one finding a resting place in Clarke Hall, the other in Wakefield Museum. "(see page 651)

'A large quantity' of good plain oak panelling of the late sixteenth century date against the walls of one room was covered by brickwork. One of the rooms had a plaster ceiling with a handsome frieze bearing the date 1605. In a little hole cut into a beam were found five letters in good state of preservation addressed to 'Cosen Battey' also a promissory note; the letters were written by' the Hon. Francis Pierrepoint to John Batty of Alverthorpe, and dated 1647 and 1648; frequent mention is made of the Black Swan Tavern in Wakefield"

"These recovered letters definitely prove that this house was the one at Alverthorpe situated as stated in the deeds, between the Beck and Dickon Ing Lane, which came into the possession of James Batty' chapman of Westgate, Wakefield." (see Dr. Walkers "Wakefield its history and its People" Vol 11 page 651, to 653)

Dr. Walker records at the bottom of page 444. " Aug.17, 1657. John Batty of Alverthorpe, was brought before that active Commonwealth magistrate Captain Pickering at Wakefield and "was this day convicted before me of grinding corne in the water mill at Low Laithes in Ossett upon the 16th inst., being Lord's Day, and also of doing worldly labour the same day with a spade about the Miln Dam, upon his own confession. "(See Fig.5 map for mill)

Graphic8 - Fig.5. Map of Low Laithes farm and corn mill.
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In the Court Rolls of the Manor of Wakefield, (Wakefield Court Rolls Series, Volume 58. At a Court Baron of Gervase Clifton held on 14 August 16 Charles [1640]
---- (103) Appearance of John Batty' of Alverthorpe, who paid 12d for licence to have the wardship of Robert Smith son of William Smith late of Seile Cotes deceased and of all his lands in the graveships of Alverthorpe and Wakefield during his minority'. Agreed on condition that he account to Robert Smith when he reaches his majority'.

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