The Wilsden Almanac, 1892: extracts part 1

| March 30, 2013 | 0 Comments

The editor is very grateful to Mr Stan Lumb for kindly passing on a photocopy of the 1892 Wilsden Almanac which belonged to his late wife. Some extracts from the almanac feature below – look out for further snippets in future issues of the Bingley Rural.


It used to be a common custom after a wedding had taken place at the church, to have races on the highway from Harecrofts to the Church, by members of the wedding party. As these races can be recollected by many Wilsdenites of to-day, details of these events would be welcomed by the editor.

Whelpton's Purifying Pills advertisement

An advertisement for Whelpton’s Purifying Pills from the 1892 Wilsden Almanac


Dolly Hill has been so named because an old woman, who was named or nicknamed “Dolly”, used to sit knitting at the base of a tree, which before the Dolly Hill houses were erected used to grow by the road side there.

Can any reader give us the origin of any other curious Wilsden place-names, such as Stop-a-green-dyke, Honey Pot, Gazeby Hall, Crack Lane, etc. ?


DIALECT BITS. —Pain wark’s harder to bide ner wark wark.

Allus addle t’worth ov a thing afore yo’ buy it, an’ then yo’ nivver need run i’ debt.

Owt yo’ buy ‘at yo’ve really noa need for is deear at onny price.


ON THE NORTH.—Harden Beck, starting from a point in the stream, which comes from the Cullingworth district, some 1140 yards distance up from Goit Stock Mill, which, and the house there, are in Harden, they being on the other side of the beck ; Goit Stock Waterfalls, however, are entirely in Wilsden, as also is the field known as the “Woolyrings ;” coming down the stream from Goit Stock we reach Harden Beck Mill, with Mill Hill Top houses near by, all being in Wilsden. Further down we come to Harden Beck proper, the houses being in Harden, but the Malt Shovel Inn is in Wilsden ; this stream continues the boundary till it reaches a point in Bingley Woods, the eastern and northern juncture of the boundary being formed by the meeting of the Wilsden and Harden becks.


AH wor comin’ throo t’pit wi’ a cartload o’ coils

One for’nooin on a cowd winter’s day,

When ah saw a young lad wi’ his cloaz all i’ hoils,

He’d be eight summers owd ah dersay ;

He’d a kit on his arm, an’ wor threng as a bee

Sammin’ t’bits up ’at shack’d off o’ t’cart ;

So regg’d, an’ so pale, an’ a hooind-leukin’ wor he,

Wol ah pitied t’poor lad i’ mi heart.

T’poor little regg’d mortal ! he made muh feel sad,

An’ ah thowt “Ah’ll speyk tul him, chuse hah ; ”

So ah stopped t’horse an’ t’cart an’ went up to t’lad,

An ah said tul him, “whose lad are tah ? ”

But he stepped back a bit, an ah saw he wor flayed

‘At ahst hit him wi’ t’whip, or else try ;

So ah stuck mi whip under mi arm, an’ ah said,

“Ah’m noan bahn to hurt theh, nut I.

Ah want theh to tell muh whose young lad thah art,

An’ likewise to tell muh hah ’tis

‘At thah’rt pickin’ t’coils up ’at shack off o’ t’cart,

O’ sitch a cowd mornin’ as this.”

T’lad shamed, ah could see, fer he hung dahn his heead,

An’ ah saw he wor troubled beside,

Then he leuk’d up an’ said, “Ah’m John Robi’son lad,

An’ ah live i’ yond hahse bi t’roadside ;

Mi mother is poorly i’ bed, do yo’ see,

An’ mi fatther is workin’ i’ t’mill,

An’ this mornin’ ah couldn’t mak’ mother her tea,

T’coils wor all done, an’ t’fire’s aht still ;

Ah’ve hed nowt to-day but a bit o’ dry cake

Abaht t’bugth o’ mi hand, do yo’ see,

An’ wol ah can kin’le a fire ah can’t make

Mi porridge, nor mother her tea.

Mo fatther is off nearly ivvry neet

A-drinkin’ at ‘T’Trowel an’ Stone,’

Mi mother says we mud ha’ plenty to eyt

If he’d nobbut let drinkin’ alone,

An’ that he may give ower gettin’ his beer,

Mornins an neets mi mother does pray.”

Ah said to t’poor lad, as ah brushed off a tear,

“God help yo’, ah hoap ’at he may !”

Ah’d a nice bit o’ pasty lapped up in a claht,

‘Twor to eyt o’ mi road, do yo’ see,

But ah thowt to misen, “Ah can manage withaht,

T’lad needs it a deal wahr ner me.”

So ah gav’ him mi pasty, an’ filled him his can,

An t’gladness ’at beamed in his een

Made muh feel a better an’ happier man,

An’ repaid muh fer all ’at ah’d gi’en. John Illingworth.


In writing the history of men it is nearly always necessary to either speak of the way they made their fortunes or the great events they brought about in the history of their country. We are spared the trouble, however, while dealing with the subject of our sketch. He has amassed no heaps of gold, and consequently has none to gloat over ; nor has the welfare of a political venture or a parliamentary measure depended on his action. But who that has ever spent a couple of days in Wilsden can say he has not heard of “Owd Frenk ?”

Francis Butterfield of Wilsden

Francis Butterfield

Born a couple of years prior to the Battle of Waterloo he has resided in the district more than three-quarters of a century, and still continues to enjoy the love and esteem of his fellow-townspeople.

Frank, as we feel disposed to call him, was best known in his youth as the king of practical jokers. His occupation was that of combing by hand, an employment which made claim to more larkers than any other in West Riding. Some of the jokes are well worthy of narration, therefore we submit a few.

Wilsden was visited in those old days with a severe thunderstorm, and some of Frank’s fellow-workers were telling on the following day of the damage which had been done, and expressing their fear lest the still pervading gloom should break out and result in more serious consequences. Frank withdrew with a confidant of his on some slight excuse and prepared for a lark.

The building was a low slated one of one storey, to the top of which Frank took a large boulder and held it there while his companion got a piece of wool, and after thoroughly saturating it with oil, placed it in the corner of the window. He then securely tied the door and applied a light to the wool, Frank at the same time rolling the stone down the roof. The amazement of the inmates may well be conjectured when they saw a fire at the window and heard the rumbling overhead. They rushed headlong for the door, some of them knocking others down in their hurry, themselves falling over them and tripping up those who came behind till they all formed a ludicrous mass of angry individuals ; when the door was found locked, and they heard the laughing outside, however, the combers half-angrily and half-laughingly returned to their places and resumed their work.

On another occasion, while his wife was serving a woman in the shop which they had, he came up out of the cellar with the hide and horns of a cow thrown over his body, and frightened the woman so badly that she left her necessities and ran screaming down the village.

In the Wilsden Almanac for 1890 is related the incident of “His Satanic Majesty’s visit to Wilsden ;” the story is quite true, and he who took the part of the great Sulphur King in the ghastly scene was he who is best known as “Owd Frenk.” We could relate more of his funny doings but space forbids, therefore we hurry on to the more serious matter of a life well spent.

Those Wilsdenites who are yet unaware of the fact will be pleased to know that Frank was one of the founders of Rechabitism in Bingley ; one of the originators and most ardent workers of the Wilsden Temperance Society of 56 years ago ; and one of the founders of Wilsden Mechanics’ Institution.

He has always welcomed the advocates of temperance to his home. When Thos. Worsnop used to come to Wilsden he invariably dined with Frank, and when the eccentric old advocate went to receive his reward he wrote the history of his life and doings. He also wrote the pamphlet entitled “A Village Cause and how it Propered,” and one on the doctrines and founders of the Church of England. George Holyoake, the renowned lecturer and writer on Co-operation, etc., has had tea under Frank’s roof. All who have had the slightest show of talent, and felt ambitious to develop it, have always had a sincere friend in Francis Butterfield. It was he who went with Mr. Hird soliciting subscribers for his little volume, “The Harp on the Willows.” It was he who nurtured the poetic spirit and gained for the cause of temperance John Illingworth ; and it was he who was the bosom-friend of S. Nicholl, the Wilsden artist. He has visited Harriet Martinue at her own home, and possessed the friendship of John Nicholson, the Airedale poet, he also owning what is of singular interest and value—the pledge-book containing Nicholson’s signature, it being the first on one of the pages ; from it the facsimile in “The Poets of Keighley, Bingley, Haworth, and District” was taken.

Frank was the means of driving out of the district a renowned fortune-teller whose name we for the present withold.

In the old Chartist days Frank fought in the front ranks of the reformers. He was known far and wide as a devout Chartist, and it was due to this fact that his advice was sought by Charlotte Bronte.

The famous novelist had collected a number of books and pamphlets on Chartism, intending to write a novel on that subject, but before doing so she decided to seek the advice of Mr. Butterfield. She came and found Frank busy with his woolcombing ; he ceased his work, however, and spent the remainder of the afternoon discussing the subject with Miss Bronte, his advice being, at the close of the conversation, to change her intentions. He then accompanied her to Birchlands End homewards, and as they reached the stile where the footpath turns down towards Hallas Bridge, the great authoress of “Shirley,” she whose magic pen traced the pages of “Jane Eyre,” turned and said simply, “We must now part company. I thank you for your advice, upon which I shall act.”

“I shall never forget it,” the old man said to us when he related the incident, and for several minutes he gazed into vacancy, apparently looking backward over a space of fifty years, and picturing in his mind’s eye the face and form of one of England’s greatest novelists breathing words of thankfulness to one whose avocation was that of combing wool.

Of his acts of kindness and deeds of charity they can be reckoned by the score, and many a heart to-day has the greatest cause of thankfulness to the subject of this sketch.

Frank is now old and somewhat feeble, and perhaps the solemn hour will come ere we have seen as many suns set as he has seen rise ; but when it does arrive with its doleful message will not those who are left behind be able to say of him as was recently said of a more widely known individual ? “He was a man of unswerving principle and unflinching courage, of noble ambition and unfaltering will, of keen insight and strong grasp ; and England will seek long ere she find a sturdier and more loyal son. He might have been more widely known but would have been no greater man, nor left an example more inspiring. Full of love for man, he ( has ) led a pure and noble life, and to those who know him the loss will be irremediable.” Thos. Williams.


At the foot of that steep, ugly, rocky, stony footpath leading through the woods from Wilsden to Bingley there is a big rock on the right hand side, which forms part of the path boundary there. On its face, and near the top right-hand side, are what seem like foot-long finger marks ; near the base, at the left-hand side, is an impression like the sole of a man’s foot. Tradition says that these marks were made by Samson when he pushed, or hurled the rock from the top of Norr Hill !

Appeal: The editor and Wilsden historian Astrid Hansen would be interested to know if other copies of the Wilsden Almanac still survive. If you have any information, please contact Lisa on 07818 887242.

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