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Bygone Stanley - Lake Lock Railroad


with 'Who could have thought it' and a Santa Claus story

John Goodchild did some research and wrote an article on Lake Lock Railroad which is, of course, very much part of Stanley. I take the liberty of quoting some parts of this most interesting article.

'A John Smeaton, who lived from, 1724 to 1792, a Yorkshire-born engineer, claimed that the introduction of railways into Yorkshire was within his own living memory and that one of the earliest Yorkshire railway's was within the township of Stanley cum Wrenthorpe~ It was referred to in an advertisement of 1745 concerning the bringing of good quality 3ft 6ins thick house coal known as Haigh Moor, and which was easily accessible in the higher parts of the township down to the Navigation on the north bank cf the Calder.'

Another section says: '... the coals were carried from the mines to the River Calder at Lake Lock in carts when the weather was dry and, when wet, on horse back. A Stanley farmer claimed that prior to the enclosure people employed their leisure time in taking the coals down to the Wharf at Lake Lock.

I now quote another section from this most interesting article by John Goodchild:-'There was a bad accident at Lee Weston and Co. Colliery when ten men were drowned in 1809, another four escaped to the upper parts of the workings and, by the working if their engines, they were liberated three day's after being imprisoned. The event gave rise to the colliery cottages being known as 'Who Could Have Thought It' (this was in the East Ardsley area)'

Now I have been told by Stanley old residents, many years ago of an Ale House in Stanley in the early part of the 19th century which was on the edge of Stanley Lane End Quarry, almost where our Health Centre now stands. This Ale House was named 'Who Could Have Thought It'. I remember this stone built cottage -old friends of mine, Jack, Fred & Toby Smales, lived there for many years, using it as a private residence. I also well remember the father to this family - Benny, a good rugby player in his youth and his wonderful sense of humour which he passed on to his sons.

Fred, one of his sons, told me this wonderful story many years ago - it was Christmas Eve. They were living as a family in this ex-Ale House in the early 1920s. Most people in the village were very poor; wages were low and raising a family was most difficult. There was no money available for presents or extras. The children were sat in front of the fire on the large home-made peg rug expressing their hopes and wishes on what Santa Claus would bring them. Benny knew that Santa Claus had no exciting presents to bring - an apple, an orange and a new penny were what they were going to receive. So he went into the outhouse where he had a gun used for pigeon shooting, which he loaded and went into the garden. He fired one shot into the still night air. He then went back into the outhouse broke the gun and proceeded to the house. When he entered the children said (What was that gunshot, dad?' Benny said 'I am afraid there is some sad news for you all. It was Santa. He has gone and shot himself.'

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This page (lake.html) was last modified on Sunday 27/01/2013