J.A. Bland: 1874.
This is a transcription of a slim book of some 26 pages Hebden Sketches: Historical, Traditional, and Biographical written by J.A. Bland, and published by Edmondson & Son, steam printers(!) of Skipton. The preface was written in October 1874, and it was probably published soon after that. It was also published, in its parts but without photographs, in the Yorkshire Magazine, the first part being published on December 15th 1874.
Hebden Sketches was written during the period of Hebden's reconstruction. Royalties from the mines had been coming into the community for the last 20 years, and the village had been re-modelled in the 1860s, and the new school had just been opened. The writing style is not great, the punctuation is idiosyncratic, and some of the historical painting is fanciful. Nevertheless, it does give a valuable insight into the village of that time. The comments concerning the non-conformist nature of the village are particularly interesting. Note that some particularly confusing punctuation has been corrected to make it more readable.
John Atkinson Bland (1824-1914) was a member of a well established Burnsall family, and served the community in a variety of roles including being a member of the first Highways Board of the area, and for some years Overseer of the Poor. He also had literary aspirations and was known as the 'Wharfedale Poet', and wrote extensively for the West Yorkshire Pioneer and the Craven Herald.
I am grateful to Peter Hodge for making a scan of this book available.
The following Sketches were written for and published in the Craven Pioneer and the Ilkley Free Press in the spring of the present year. At the request of numerous friends they are re-published in the present form. The substance of PART III, "The School and Its Memories", which was written first, was suggested to the writer when passing through the village of Hebden on his return from Kettlewell Fair, on October 23rd, last year - an extremely "blowy and snowy" day. Seeing the walls of the Old School in course of demolition, a host of recollections flashed in rapid succession through the mind, and became, as it were, photographed there. Whilst each line remained clear distinct on the mental page, the attempt was made to embody them in a pen-and-ink narrative. When the New School (which was opened on Tuesday, August 25th, 1874, by the Lord Bishop of Ripon) began to show its graceful form on the "Village Green", it occurred to the writer that a foundation should be given for this the crowning evidence of Hebden's progress, and with this view, the two companion pictures, PART I and PART II, "Its Early History", "Its Traditions", etc., were sketched. Should the Sketches, as presented in the following pages, interest the reader, it will add to the pleasure experienced by the writer in their first preparation for the press.
October 13th 1874
Part I: Hebden: Its early history
Hebden, as the historian tells us, took its name from the situation in which it is placed, heb - high, dene - a valley, signifying the high valley, "a name accurately expressive of the nature of the place, which consists of a deep gully, running up from the Wharfe to the summit of the lofty ridge which separates Craven from Nidderdale". Down this runs the noisy Hebden (or high-valley) beck, which, after doing certain service at the lead mines in its course, and giving a turn to the heel at the "Auld Meal Mill", hastens to join the merry waters of the Wharfe. It is not improbable that the place gave name to its ancient owners - the Hebdens - for we have Simon de Hebden, William de Hebden, John de Hebden, Sir Nicholas de Hebden, etc, mentioned from the thirteenth to the fifteenth century (A.D. 1271 to A.D. 1431). In 1336 (ninth year of the reign of Edward III) the Hebdens held the whole of the manor, and also free warren in Burnsall and Thorpe, along with Hebden and Coniston.
Many have been the changes made in this small but picturesque village, and in the manners, habits, and customs of its inhabitants, as well as the ownership of its ancient manorial lands, since the Saxon Dringle was the mesne proprietor, and since the Domesday record, A.D. 1080, when Osborn de Arches was the superior lord. It may not be impossible, nor yet uninteresting, to attempt a description, from the few historical items left on record of the appearance of the village and its surroundings at that early date. Looking from an eminence on the east of Hebden what a grand picture would then be presented to the view. No fences would at that time mar the scene with "right-lined and angular deformities". The bold heather-clad crag-crowned fells of Barden, Burnsall, and Thorpe, would then as now show their lofty and majestic outlines against tho southern skies. The heights of Penyghent, Fountains Fell, Malham Moor, and Hard Flasks, would then as now strike the distant outline of the west. The snow-capped mountains, Whernside, Fryers Hood, and Meugher Hill, would then as now tower high against the northern heavens, forming a massive back ground to the scene, and a shelter from the northern blast; whilst the extensive open moorlands of Hebden, Hartlington, and Appletreewick would sweep far away to the eastern hills, Brown Rigg, Hardcastle Moor, Craven Cross, and Greenhow Hill. Viewing the picture enclosed within this massive framework of hill, fell, mountain, and moorland,- those swelling knolls and sloping hill sides, now clothed with a rich green verdure, were then thickly crowned and richly clad in their primitive vesture, the hazle, hawthorn, mountain ash, birch, the green holly, the indigenous yew, and the hoary white-beam. The undulating lands in the valley would be studded, park-like, with the Craven ash, alder, elm, and the sturdy oak of the growth of centuries. The crystal waters of the Wharfe (overhung on each side with luxuriant woods, whose long arms and leafy fingers, dancing to the breeze, would appear as if shaking hands across the stream), would quietly flow in pleasing murmur, or sing their babbling song as they rippled on their winding way. The native sheep, and kine, and the bounding deer, would give life to the picture, Here and there in the most sunny, snug, and sheltered places, might be seen peeping out above the forest trees the grey-capped turret of -
"The Saxon pile with single aisle",
the bleached leaden roof of which would form a striking contrast to the sombre heather-thatched roofs of the lowly cabins, built nigh or clustering round the ancient religious edifice, where the "pile, the poor, and the priest", were maintained from one common fund, the tythes. Indeed, the whole would form one grand panoramic scene of surpassing beauty. At the southern end of the village of Hebden,opposite to Thursgill, stood the old manor house and appurtenances. Dotted here and there to the north of the manor house stood a number of rudely built cabins of wood or stone, all one storey high, low doorways, with top thrust up into the eaves of the heather-thatched roof, small square holes for light, the roof crowned with a wooden or cobble-stone chimney, neither round nor square, out of which puffed in circling eddies the stream of blue "reek" from the well piled fire of wood or turf blazing cheerily on the hollow hearthstone.
Few and simple were the wants of the humble occupants of those homely huts. Their furniture was heavy, rude, and ill-fashioned; benches and stools served for seats; a rough made table, and a large chest constructed of oaken slabs; flatted pieces of oak laid together, raised a little from the earthern floor, and pinned together with oaken pins, served for bedstead, with beds of straw and coverlets of skins. No clock would grace the unplastered walls of the interior, the sun dial of the manor house being the only indicator of time. The clock whose silvery-toned bell first chimed out time's fleeting hours in Hebden, is still in the village. Their fare, too, would be of a coarse and frugal kind, such for instance as common grain, which as appears from complaints made by the monks in the 12th and 13th century, seldom arrived at maturity. Their clothing would be of the simplest kind, the men wearing close coats or tunics which were put over the head like a shirt, and were then girded with a belt, similar to the smock-frock of the husbandman or navvy of our day, and which is a pure piece of Saxon costume. One author says, "if it were well made and worn by a man of good carriage it would form a much handsomer dress than the unmeaning stiff cut coat of our time." They wore long socks or hose, and the feet were shod with roughly made slippers. The great ambition in those primitive times would be, to excel in hunting the deer, hawking, or winning the speckled fry or salmon from the Wharfe for the table of their lord at the manor house.
One mode of their hallowing the Sabbath was that of going through a certain ritual at Thursgill, the Fountain of Thor, a copious spring on the eastern side of the valley dedicated by the ancient Druids to the God of Thunder. Remnants of well-worship existed in Craven up to the middle of the last century. Close by the spring is the altar, where the ancient Druids offered up their sacrifices in a remote period of English history.
Part II: Its Traditions, Ancient Customs, "Kirk Sights" etc.
From the thirteenth to the fifteenth century, as mentioned in the preceding chapter, the manor of Hebden was held by the family of Hebden. At the latter period a co-heiress daughter of Sir Nicholas de Hebden was married to Sir Piers Tempest, of Bracewell, who thus became possessed of a moiety of the manor, and in his family it remained till the beginning of the reign of Queen Elizabeth, when it was parcelled out, either by Sir John Tempest of Bracewell, or Richard Tempest's, Esq's., nephew, and successor in the estate, to a number of small freeholders. In old indentures of Queen Elizabeth's time there are the names of William Topham, Peter Bland of Hebden, also Robert Eshe, John Waters, and Matthew Bland (dates of deeds varying from A.D. 1570 to A.D. 1589), only one of those names remains in the district. A race of independent yeomanry, "the happiest, and probably the most virtuous condition of life in the kingdom, arose in Wharfedale, partly from the dispersion of the estates of the monasteries" - Bolton, Fountains, and the Priory of Marton-in-Richmondshire - "and partly out of the vast alienations made by the Cliffords. The freeholders now account themselves joint lords." Then it was that small enclosures began to be made. Previous to this time there were only the small tofts, crofts, or the cagarth (calf-garth) about the old homesteads. Better houses also began to be built in the early part of the following century, as we frequently meet with the date A.D. 1600 to 1635, etc, preceded by the initials of the owner cut out in raised letters on the headstone of the old door way in the well-built, many-mullioned, diamond-windowed old houses of that time. Then it was that improvements in the style or fashion of furniture began to appear, of which we still see many evidences in the old carved oaken chair, settle, chest, cupboard, ancient clock and bedstead, which generally bear initials and date, - telling of comforts of which their ancestors never dreamt. This, too, would be the period when the rude open oak benches of Catholic times, which were still in most of our Parish Churches, gave way to the large square seated-all-round family pews of the yeomanry of Craven, all of oak, and many of them richly carved, initialed, and dated. Such pews may still be seen in the ancient, unrestored Parish Church of "Kirkby Malghdale", — and who would wish to see that grand old Church deprived of those ancient carved pews, or its oak timber'd and leaden roof? The massive oak timbers in most old houses, barns, and Parish Churches, tell us plainly that oak was plentiful in Craven little over two centuries ago. The estates of the day were small, and the number of little freeholders considerable in proportion; almost all of whom farmed their own property, and lived upon the produce.
Their herds with milk, their fields with bread,
Their flocks supplied them with attire ;
The trees in summer gave them shade,
In winter fire."
This description is literally accurate, and indicates a mode of life the most natural conceivable. "Each land owner had a small flock of sheep, and fatted one or two hogs every winter. They all grew oats in the open lands set apart for the purpose, and which formed the principal article of their subsistence. The kiln in which the grain was parched, previously to being ground, belonged to the township as a whole, and when in use was a resort of the villagers, where the politics of the place and the day were discussed", and where they would also talk over their simple cares or pleasures, loves or joys, and many a plaintive love-song, or merry ballad of the chase, would be chanted in the simple strains of that early time. "Their bread and most of their puddings were made of oatmeal; milk, or water - when milk was scarce, supplied them with breakfast and supper." Each owner too, grew his own barley, and manufactured his own malt, his "gude wife" brewing the brown-sparkling October ale. "Very little fresh meat was eaten, excepting at their annual feasts, when cattle were slaughtered and sold by persons who never exercised the trade at any other time. Indeed, under such a system of manners there could scarcely be any tradesmen. Every man exercised, however imperfectly, almost every trade for himself. The quantity of money in circulation also must have been inconceivably small. Almost every woman could card and spin wool from the fleece. The women were principally dressed in their own home-spun and home-woven, as were also most of the men." The women wore no ribbons or chignons, and the men did not frequent the public-houses for the simple reason that there were no public-houses, and as a consequence no poor-rates. Very many things were common property. "There was a stone called the batting-stone where the women of the place beat their linen with battledores after having rinsed it in the brook. Their linen was rarely or ever smoothed with heated irons."
"Their early hours rendered the consumption of candles, excepting in the depth of winter, very trifling and those were merely rushes partly peeled and dipped in coarse fat. Few hired servants were kept. The wages of labourers were very low, not exceeding two pence half-penny a day with board."
The religious observances of this period were not confined to those at the "Fountain of Thor". From what we can gather a considerable number of the inhabitants of Hebden might be seen on a Sabbath morn wending their way through the open or enclosed meadows and corn fields, - across the "Hippings " in the Wharfe, to the ancient and solitary parish " Kirk" of Linton, 1 some two miles distant, where, especially on festive occasions, great numbers assembled — for the influence of the Catholic religion was not forgotten at the end of two centuries after the Reformation — "such as the great holidays of the church, the feast of the patron-saint, parochial perambulations, and religious epochs in private families, such as baptisms, thanksgivings after child-birth, marriages, and even burials, which were all celebrated with carousals. To these may be added the masks, mummeries, and rude dramatic performances, which evidently arose out of the mystery plays anciently exhibited in parish churches by the ministers and clerks. And when we take into account another class of feastings, purely rustic, such as the sheep-shearing, hay-getting, and harvest-home, it cannot be denied that the life of the inhabitants was sufficiently diversified and cheerful."
"The festivities, at least of the former kind, are well enumerated by an old poet in the dialect of the north of England:
At ewle we wonten gambole, daunee, to carol and to sing,
To have gud spiced serve and roste, and plumpies for a king,
At Fastes Eve Pampuffes; Gangtide Gates2 did aile Masses bring,
At Paske began oure Morris, and ere Pentecoste oure May.
Tho' Robin Hoed, Hell John, Frier Tucke and Marian deftly play,
And Laird and Ladie gang till Kirk with lads and lasses gay;
Fra. Masse and E'en sung sae gud cheere, and glee on e'ry greene,
As, save oure wakes 'twixt Eames and Sibbes, like gam was never seen.
At Baptis day, with ale and cakes 'bout bonfires neighbours stood;
At Martlemas wa turn'd a crabbe, thilke told of Robin Hood.
Till after long time Myrke, whan blest were windowes, dares,and lightes,
And pailes were fil'd, and hearths were swept, 'gainst Fairie elves and sprites;
3Rock and Plow Monday gams sal gang with Saint-feasts and Kirk sights."
Amongst the periodical seasons of festivity was the rush-bearing, or the ceremony of conveying fresh rushes to strew the floor of the parish church, a custom also common in houses while the floors were of earth. The bundles of the girls were adorned with wreaths of flowers. and the evening concluded with a dance.
'Merry-nights', "as they were called, were often held in private houses, where young people were admitted without any particular invitation, and often danced in masks, the maskers being very ludicrously dressed." But the most popular of their amusements was the acting of old "Kirk Sights", and clerk-plays, which may be traced back to A.D. 1606. These were the good old times.
In later times theatrical performances had taken the place of the "Kirk sights" and clerk-plays for we read in "Hone's Table Book" of one Tom Airay, a respectable and well-conducted man, who had more and merrier occupations than that of carrier betwixt Grassington and Skipton. Tom, we are told, had a "Theatre" at Grassington, which was "open for the season", i.e., a few months in the depth of winter. The corps dramatique of Tom Airay consisted chiefly of young men, farmers' sons, or of the working class. "There was honest Peter W--, whose face peeped from behind the curtain like a full moon. He was accounted a bit of a wag, ever foremost in mischief. He more than once almost blew up the stage by gunpowder. But he has 'left the mimic scene' and now sleeps peacefully under the beautiful lime-trees of Kirkby-Malham-dale Church-yard, undisturbed by the murmur of that mountain stream which, rippling over its pebbly channel, hymns, as it were, his requiem. Then there was Isaac Garrs, the fiddler and comic singer; Waddilove and Frankland, of Hetton; Bill Cliff, the Skipton poet and bailiff; Tommy Hammond, the village carpenter and merryman. There were also the Hetheringtons and Jack Solomon the besom maker; and Tommy Summersgill, the barber and clock-maker; and Jack L--, the politician, of Threshfield. Besides these, there were fifteen or sixteen others from Arncliffe, Litton, Coniston, Kilnsey, and the other romantic villages that snugly nestle amongst the heath-clad hills in the upper reaches of Wharfedale." The "Grassington theatre" or "play house", as it was designated, where our worthies received their "nightly acclamations of applause, was an old lime-stone "lathe" (now pulled down) with huge folding doors, one containing a smaller one, through which the audience was admitted to pit and gallery, for there were no boxes. Yet on particular occasions, such as when the Duke of Devonshire, or the Earl of Thanet good-naturedly deigned to patronise the performance, a "box" was fitted up by railing off a part of the pit, and covering it, by way of distinction, with brown paper, painted to represent drapery. The stage was lighted by five or six half-penny candles, and the decoration, considering the poverty of the company, was tolerable. The scenery was respectable; and though sometimes by sad mishap the sun or moon would take fire, and expose the tallow candle behind, it was very well managed. The dresses, as far as material went, were though not always in character. An outlaw of the forest of Arden sometimes appeared in the guise of a Craven waggoner, and the holy friar, whose vesper-bell is the bowl, ding, dong, would wear a bob wig, cocked hat, and the surplice of a modern church dignitary. The audience was always numerous (no empty benches there.) "I have known", says the writer, "the village lawyer, the parson of the parish, and the doctor, comfortably seated together laughing heartily at Tom Airay strutting as Lady Randolph, his huge Yorkshire clogs peeping from beneath a gown too short to conceal his corduroy breeches, and pronouncing the 'hard words' in the most barbarous fashion. The company would have spoken better, had they not on meeting with a "dictionary word", applied for information to an old schoolmaster, who constantly and purposely misled them." The plays were of the regular drama, the productions of Shakspeare, Dryden, Otway, or Lille.
We will give now a passing glance at the latter part of the last century, when we find that the church with its festivals and "Kirk sights" was on the wane, or had ceased to attract so much attention. Causes were not far to seek for this. There were then as now careless "shepherds", arrogant and intemperate priests. Educated they might be, but with no fitness for the christian ministry, nor to act as overseers of "God's heritage". An instance we have in that of the Rev. Benjamin Smith, B.D , rector of one mediety of Linton, in A.D. 1776, who despised his parishioners, and who took no pains to conceal his contempt for them. He called them "baptized brutes", and they in return regarded him with dislike, and treated him with disrespect. The Rev. J. Hart, B.A., of Otlev, in a lecture on "Our valley", states that the Rev. B. Smith was not only a "bachelor, a scholar, and a recluse", but also one of the best dancers in England". A fine accomplishment for a christian minister! He was careless as to the wants of his parishioners, looking more to the fleece than the flock, as is now the case in more than one parish in this church-revival day.
The well at Thurskell continued to have its devotees. It was frequented by the young people on Sunday evenings in summer, who drank its waters mingled with sugar — as innocent, surely, in such hours of relaxation to drink water, even from a consecrated spring, as to swallow intoxicating libations on a Sabbath eve at the village inn. We find that at the end of the last and the beginning of the present century, religious observances were at a low ebb. Foot-ball and other active out-door games were indulged in on the Sabbath, verifying the couplet:
With shepherds so careless the flock may 'weel 'stray',
Like people, like priest, was true at that day."
We find also that improvements had almost ceased. Houses had become delapidated, not a few were in a tumble-down condition. The ancient Manor house had entirely disappeared. Neither church nor chapel was to be found in the village. The roads were almost impassable for carts or carriages, - loose open dirty patches of waste lands where stray horses, donkeys, pigs, and geese fed and held communion. The whole condition of the village was retrograde. It was the darkness before the dawn of a new and brighter day.
A marked change has been wrought in the present century. In 1812 the Wesleyans, — who had done so much for the civilising and christianising of the nation, during the past century, placing their little "Bethels" in almost every village in the land, - built a large and substantial chapel. The mines which had been worked from the reigns of James the First (A.D. 1603) had become more remunerative and gave employment to the surplus population.4 The old cotton mill also contributed as now some little work and wages. The village began to assume a more cheerful aspect. In 1838 another worthy body of dissenters, the Primitive Methodists built a neat structure for religious worship. Next followed the State Churchmen (who then, as now, were roused to more active life, by their more energetic brethren) — who in 1840-1 built a neat church, on a commanding site, near the centre of the village, with nave, chancel, and tower, and with narrow lancet windows. The three lancet lights in the chancel are filled with richly stained windows representing the crucifixion.5 A neatly kept cemetery surrounds the well-built edifice. The tower contains one bell, whose high pitched tones sweep along the valley or reverberates in musical echoes amongst the weather-beaten cliffs. The hoary crowns and furrowed sides of these cliffs which tower up almost perpendicularly to the north of the village, carry us back in imagination to the superstitious ages of Druid worship.
In 1857 the open moorlands were enclosed, a circumstance which added greatly to the farming interest and to the rateable value of the township, a few individuals getting nearly the whole of the benefits from the common lands previously, and no rates accruing therefrom. We must next notice the improvements in the dwellings. Dilapidated houses have been pulled down, and replaced with new and substantial dwellings others have undergone considerable repairs; most of the houses having neat and well-trimmed flower gardens in front. Shops, or more properly speaking, mercantile establishments of no mean pretensions have been erected, in which are stored and sold an abundance of every day wants; two inns also supply the villagers with "refreshment for man and beast" — "The Oddfellows and "The Clarendon." In 1827, at the expense of the county, a massive bridge was thrown across the valley, almost levelling up the deep ravine, in place of the old shaky bridge which was almost at the bottom of the valley, and thus making the ascent up "the bank" much easier. The roads which had been somewhat repaired, have undergone considerable improvements since the introduction of the new Highway Act, and the appointment of a district surveyor, and under the more immediate superintendence of the energetic ex-waywarden of Hebden, Mr. Francis Hammond. The dirty looking waste have now been enclosed with substantial walls, the enclosures are now rented and the rents are applied to parochial uses, thus equally benefitting the ratepayers. We would suggest that it would add much to the adornment: of the village if trees were planted at intervals within the enclosure walls. They would be a shelter from the northern winds, and a shade in summer to pedestrians on the intended footway by the side of the village street. A plentiful supply of pure water was brought into the village in 1862. Prior to this time, Hebden "was subject to typhus fever and other epidemic diseases through want of drainage, and a proper supply of water." The Medical Officer of Health and the Sanitary Inspector, Messrs. Symes and Parker visited the place during last winter. Suggestions made by them to promote health and comfort have been carried out, and the sanitary condition has been much improved. One peculiarity in the dialect of some of the genuine Hebdeners, not common in any other village in Wharfedale, was that some words beginning with the letters th were pronounced as d; the words, this, that, then, and them, were pronounced as dis, dat, den, and dem; whilst the words think thought three, and thunder, were pronounced as fink, font, free, funner, etc. The social and intellectual condition of the village has in late years been much improved. There is now an amateur brass band. The Church has its organ, but of it the less said the better, as it is an unsightly and misplaced article in the sacred edifice, no matter what its musical capabilities. The two chapels have their harmoniumns, whose rich and powerful tones add greatly to the musical portions of the sacred service. Each place of worship has its village choir; that in connection with the Primitives excelling both the others in proficiency. Each place too has its Sunday school, the Church having 15 scholars, the Wesleyans 40, and the Primitives 55. These Sabbath schools, with their occasional service of song, have a refining influence nowhere more apparent than in Hebden. The area of the township is 3527 acres, 1 rood, 36 perches. Estimated rental £2108 19s. 3d. Its population in 1801 was 341: in 1871 the population was 362. The ancient market town of Grassington might with advantage "take a leaf" from the example shown by its once inferior neighbour, "the old hamlet of Hebden", especially as to its water supply and sanitary improvements.
Part III: The old school and its memories
A most important and much needed improvement still remained to be done up to the latter end of last year. The erection of a new school, in place of the old school which had long stood on the village green, and was a forcible reminder of those primitive structures of some centuries ago we have already mentioned. In pulling down the old school its original purpose was fully revealed to be that of the ancient township drying kiln before alluded to. There were the ancient fire-places and flues. There were visible evidence of the building at some time having been on fire, as the beams in the roof were blackened and charred. In a lower story, under the eastern end of the building, was the ancient "Kiln-horn." In this miserable hovel one Hannah Stackhouse, a wretched and degraded woman, widow of the late J. Stackhouse, a relative of the great Biblical Scholar, the Rev. Thos. Stackhouse, died in the most abject poverty. The necessity for a new school had long been admitted, and the old school had become an unsightly object amongst the many improvements that had been carried out. At length exertions were made, funds were raised, neats plans prepared, contracts entered into, and the graceful architectural proportions of a new school, in the decorated Gothic style, now show its ornamental design on the village green. The conflicting debates as to the style of the building are ended, and those on the basis of its future management are at least silenced for a time. So down has gone the old school at last. And as we stood one blowy, snowy day, towards the close of the past year, looking on the roof-less ruin, the rude rough hewn timbers lying in all directions on the fallen wreck; and the fragments of its unplastered smoke-stained walls that still stood tottering in the blast, we thought of the successive generations of little urchins that had been collected under the humble roof of that old school-house. We also recalled those other varied scenes within those now tottering walls — its penny readings, its concerts, its theatrical performances, in which the knee-breek'd amateur of the stage gave laughable evidencet of his budding abilities as a comedian. Scenes in which the pencil of a Hogarth would have revelled with delight. We also called to mind those more homely scenes, when the well-known north-country razor-grinder and bag-pipe player — Billie Bolton — used to exhibit to a well-packed crowd of children and adults, his "Gigantic and unrivalled diorama of the Holy Land", — his "Splendid and scientific pictorial transmutations", — " Kirkstall Abbey in Airedale", — "Bolton Abbey in Wharfedale, by Moonlight", — and a series of comic views: "The laughable farce", "The rival courtship", "Family quarrels", or "Old Three Laps in bed", which generally wound up the exhibition. And we also thought of the memorable scenes that have taken place in times gone by, when the ratepayers have assembled to discuss important township matters, such as village improvements, inclosures, the appropriation of township or charitable funds, and last, though not least important, the yearly election of the public functionaries, scenes that would baffle the skill of a Cruicshank or a Dickens faithfully to pourtray. We do not care as to whether there have or have not been holographs taken of its exterior or interior, nor do we here intend to give a pen and ink sketch, as allusions were made to its appearance in an article in the Pioneer some time ago. It may interest many readers of the Pioneer if we give a simple record of instances of "men who have risen", men, who by their own energy and skill have lifted themselves above the position in which they were born, and who took their first drill for life's rough battle beneath the roof of that humble shieling. Though we may not be able to point to any who have won their way to rank in the church, the army, or the bar, yet we can point with pride to men who usefully and honourably occupy dissenting pulpits, others who have attained to high position in the commercial world or have been successful in farming pursuits and in the trades of their choice. In doing so we will take the reader back to the beginning of the present century, when "schooling" was not so much thought of as in these educational times. Standing on the rim of a grassy mound which once formed the bank of the ancient Manor House fishery, and looking across the lower end of the High Valley, to where still may be seen the plain farm-house and stedding shielded by a cluster of elms from the western blast, we picture in our mind's eye emerging from the old gate-way beneath the elms, and watched by the aged grandsire, — three or more sturdy lads dressed in stout fustian, well capped and clogged, not in the modern never-in-repair clogs of to-day, but clogs that boasted enough of wood and iron to see a romping lad through the most of his rough school days, — down the side of the hill we hear and see them coming; across the wooden bridge in mixed march we hear the clatter of their well-shod feet; up the side of the valley on which we stand we see them hieing their way to the old school house, into which they enter, and there, under the keen eye of the old master, whose austere and grave looks pass for signs of deep learning, are watched to their seats, and there go through the daily drill of reading, writing, cyphering, so far perhaps as rule of three, or practice. Few in those limited schooldays, having the time or opportunity of working their way through the perplexing problems of Nesbit or Bonnycastle, and rarely or ever having the chance of even glancing into the symbolic pages of Euclid. After a short training in the old school try see one or more of them starting away from the old farm-house escorted by the thoughtful sire to a large commercial mart in a neighbouring county, there to take a seven years' course of schooling in the art and mystery of trade; there to put into practice the knowledge already gained in inches, ells, etc., in the measuring out the varied fabrics that may be found in the large drapery establishment. The boy enters upon his new duties is quick, diligent, and attentive, and passes through the daily tedious ordeal of those monotonous seven years with credit to himself, and more than credit to his master, who many times spoke of that "diligent apprentice", and gave recitals of his "conduct, manners, and aptness", to the youths in his large establishment. The diligent apprentice begins business, makes a start in the world for himself, his seven or more years treasured acquirements are brought out with all the force of bouyant manhood, and in a term of years he is so far successful, that he retires from business with a fair competency. However, we find his energetic spirit cannot settle down to "indolence and ease." He is twice elected councillor, then alderman, and amongst that body takes a prominent part in various improvements, social and political, and in the commercial interest of the town; and this Hebden lad, the diligent apprentice, the energetic businessman, then councillor, then alderman, was twice elevated to the civic chair, thus attaining the honour and the exalted position of becoming mayor of a large provincial and prosperous town, and some ten years ago was elected J.P. He took an active part in giving a completion to that town's greatness and grandeur, in materially aiding in the erection of its splendid Town Hall, which was opened in the early part of last year by His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, who was accompanied by Her Royal Highness the Princess of Wales, — being the first record of royalty visiting that ancient borough-town. Another of those lads was alike in learning the business to which he was apprenticed, was successful in the trade of his choice, bore an honourable name, and has become owner of the largest property in the township of his early days — Hebden — and has also considerable possessions in Craven's metropolis. Another of those romping lads we watched from the banks of the old Manor House fishery, plied himself assiduously to the avocation in which he was bred and reared. After many a hard and fast battle in early life with all the hardship of hard times, of which the modern farmer knows little or nothing; - unremunerative prices of all kinds of farming stock, etc., which barely produced the amount to meet the yearly rent, leaving out the rates, or impost of tythes, which then as now had to be raised. However, we find that over all those difficulties he gained the ascendency, and came off tion, the " Town's School",
"O'er all the ills of life victorious",
and has now put away his cares, and has settled down in a neat and snugly esconced villa in one of the prettiest of our Wharfedale villages which stands on the banks of the —
" Winding river,
Which sings on ever,"
"Where quaint and grand
Doth proudly stand,
Bridge, school, and church with battled tower,"
and only second as proprietor of its ancient township lands, watching with lively interest the progress of his children and children's children.
We will now glance at more recent times, and refer to some of whom we have recollections, and with whom we spent some of the merry days of boyhood. We remember that boy, who with others trudged each morning from a neighbouring township to receive lessons for life in the old school of Hebden, under a worthy master. Recollections we have also of the termination of his merry school days, and his starting away to be apprenticed in a business house in a large manufacturing town. During the early part of his apprenticeship he was painfully impressed with the rude manners of the adult population. He spoke of this to one or two with whom he occasionally conversed, and the conversation resulted in the commencement of a mutual improvement society with only four members; himself, two others, cloth weavers, and a shopkeeper's son. The society became talked about, made rapid progress, soon numbered more than one hundred members, and at the present time has a large hall with class-rooms, library and reading-rooms, etc.; and at the annual soirees, that great promotor of education, the Right Honourable W. E. Forster, M.P., has frequently officiated as chairman. We will just glance for a moment at the four originators. The first, after passing creditably through his apprenticeship and business life died. One of the weavers rose from the loom, became the first manufacturer and largest employer of labour in the town, and died at the early age of thirty-nine, leaving a nett balance of accumulations to his family of £100,000. The other became a successful merchant, and is now trading with some of the largest houses in New York. The shopkeeper's son took to learning, literature, and the law, and is now one of the first barristers in the ancient metropolis of Scotland. We could enumerate many others, were we not afraid of wearying the patience of our readers, who took their first lesson in the old gone-down school-house from the master already alluded to, who have fairly won their way to higher positions, and who are deserving of honourable mention, as mining agent, Government official, successful merchants, skilled artisan or amateur organ builder, the plodding and well-to-do farmer, and not a few who alike usefully and creditably do their duty in the various industries of the district, as, in the social and moral interests of the people, men who are wishful to promote the good of all, and the obliteration of all unworthy class distinctions. Indeed, the reader is indebted to the fact that the humble writer of these sketches spent six weeks of his best spent and most joyous school days in the old school of Hebden, and of which time he retains many pleasant memories. The enumeration of successful and useful men already given, and which might be doubled were we to apply ourselves to the task, is the result of teachings given in that rude old biggin of the past, without endowment, where no catechisms, creeds, or religious formularies ever found a place. We are hopeful that the new erection, the "Town's School", which stands so prettily on the "green", and is so chaste an ornament to the village of Hebden, may fully and usefully serve all the requirements for which it was built for many generations; and that, at some distant date, some writer may be able to give a much ampler and brighter record than the one now presented—of the old school and its memories.
1. The parish of Linton includes Hebden, Grassington, Threshrield, and Skyrethornes.
2.Gangtide Gates are Perambulations.
3. Saint Rocke's day "Euchiridion of the Church of Sarum, printed by Kerver in 1528" was August 16th (or the 27th now.), and was celebrated as a general Harvest-Home. "For" saith the calender of that work - "The goodes of the e'rthe be gethered ever more In August."
4. Extensive trials are now being made by the Hebden Moor Mining Co. Wm. Chadwick, of Arksey House, near Doncaster, is the principal shareholder. Mr. W. Hill, of Hebden, is agent for the Company.
5. To the Glory of God. In memory of Ann Bailey." Given by her husband, the Rev. Henry Ives Bailey, who also donated the land on which the church stands.