KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAThis page is based on a talk given to Honley Civic Society on 14 September 2017 at Honley Parish Rooms.  Some of the material I had to exclude on that occasion due to time constraints has been added, plus other information I came across during the process of revision. 


Nature does not acknowledge administrative boundaries, so the definition of Honley in this talk is a fluid one. Formerly, for example, Meltham Mills was part of Honley township, but was detached in the 1890s, while Magdale is considered to be in Honley now , but historically was part of South Crosland.  It is an area with a wide variety of habitats.  The large heath of Honley Moor was mostly replaced by cultivation after enclosure in the 1790s.  Some old woodland remains in Honley Old Wood, whilst Spring Wood, as the name indicates, was managed woodland, regularly harvested for its timber. Cliff Wood, West Wood and the Meltham end of Old Wood were all seriously affected by coal mining in the early 19th century but most of the scars have been obliterated.  An ecological survey in 2002  concluded ‘Honley Wood is one of the counties [sic] best examples of Pennine oak woodland.’ There are also numerous abandoned quarries, the most recent being the infill of Johnson’s quarry in Honley Old Wood, which has created a heath-like scrubland habitat.  We have two rivers flowing through our area, fed by several springs and streams, and the remnants of what was once an extensive network of mill goits and dams. The period covered by this talk is also arbitrarily demarcated by the information I have and certainly does not mean to imply that there were no naturalists in Honley before 1860 or after 1939.  This talk attempts to weave in the stories of the naturalists with the lives of some of the species they studied and recorded and show how the understanding and appreciation of nature developed.    [1]


The earliest interest in natural history was often associated with botany due to its very practical medical applications. The use of herbs is probably as old as humanity itself, but from the 17th century medical botany increasingly took on a more scientific aspect, particularly with the Linnaean classification of plants which established a common nomenclature where before there may have been numerous different local names for plants.  In 1838 there arrived in England the unfortunately named Dr Coffin, whose remedies, based on those of fellow American Samuel Thomson, in which cayenne pepper played an important part, became popular among working class herbalists. Coffin was active in the north of England and visited Huddersfield in 1845. His agent William Fox of Sheffield and his son A Russell Fox continued to publish and revise Coffin’s remedies as‘The Working Man’s Model Botanic Guide, or Everyman his own Doctor, Being an Exposition of the Botanic System…’ which went through 24 editions up to 1932 .

Honley Botanical Society, originally with about 30 members, was founded around 1849, based on the principles of Dr Coffin.  By 1861 membership had shrunk to 8 and a and the secretary, James Sykes, was forced to take legal action against Job Sykes of Deanhouse, a distant relative and former ‘dispenser’ of the society, to recover scales, bottles, weights, recipes, a desk and a quantity of cayenne pepper he had kept in his possession. What became of the society is not recorded but, as we shall see medical botany continued to interest some naturalists even as other branches of natural history gained ground. [2]

An amusing anecdote from that same year shows that natural history, or at least a naturalist, was of topical interest in the village.  When the landlord of the Allied, George Dodson, was prosecuted for being open after hours on a Sunday, he claimed in mitigation that the nine men sat with glasses of ale were listening to an interesting story about Squire Waterton, the famous and eccentric naturalist and explorer who lived at Walton Hall near Wakefield, where he had created Yorkshire’s, if not the world’s.  first wildlife sanctuary.  The magistrates let him off but for costs ‘Out of deference to Squire Waterton’s adventures.’ [3]

The first indication we have of an interest in Nature in Honley was literally of the first cuckoo of spring variety when, in 1854, the bird was reportedly heard here on the 4 May.  The reports to the Chronicle over successive years appear to come from the same person judging from the use of the same clichés. In1862   the ‘messenger of spring’, arrived at Honley with dulcet tones, without which ,’ the chorus of the feathered songsters of the wood never sounds complete’. Three years later ‘The merry cuckoo, messenger of spring, has been sounding her dulcet notes in the Honley Woods throughout the week’. And in late April 1870 the cheering voice of this “messenger of spring” was heard in Hagg Wood, where, ‘her dulcet notes make the harmony of the wood complete. It is surprising to see how the cuckoo will skim along the hedges in search of birds nests, to rob them of their eggs.’ The ignorance of the cuckoo’s behaviour reflected in this last comment was to have unfortunate results, since some gamekeepers persecuted the bird for taking the eggs of grouse.[4]


The first book on the natural history of the Huddersfield area, CP Hobkirks ‘History and Natural History.’ published in 1859 has several mentions of Honley, particularly the Lepidoptera, with a record of the now rare Brimstone butterfly on Honley Moor.  One of his informants was Alfred Beaumont, son of Joshua Beaumont of Steps Mill, who plays an important part in our story .[5]

By 1863, Honley had its own Literary and Scientific Society which promoted the study of natural history and other topics.  In March of that year a Mr Richardson of the Society of Arts, London, spoke on Geology. ‘The lectures were illustrated by a splendid array of diagrams, by which the lecturer showed the researches of the naturalist as well as the geologist.’ George F Beaumont of Parkton Grove, brother of Alfred Beaumont, hoped the lecture would lead to more members for the society and the support of rich patrons to help ‘raise the intellectual character of Honley from its low estate.’  The correspondent who sent the report of the meeting to the Chronicle was even more candid: ‘If the working men and women of Honley would avail themselves of the advantages for the improvement of their minds which is afforded by such institutes, they would find it better than spending time and money in race running, dog fighting, rabbit worrying and other such pursuits.’   Six months later, however, perhaps the same correspondent complained, that ‘racing, quoit playing, [domestic pigeon] shooting &c…’ was all that Honley inhabitants were interested in while the Cottage Garden Society ‘has entirely dwindled away’ and ‘educational projects, the Mechanics Institution and the Scientific Society are seldom heard of, so that they might not be in existence.’  [6]

When indeed the Scientific and Literary Society ceased to be I have not established, but this appears to be the last reference to it.  In December 1863 one of its founder members died.  Henry Charlesworth of Thirstin, a woollen spinner, aged only 32,  left a wife and two small children.  He was also a member of the Huddersfield Naturalists Society, which had been established in 1848 by a medical herbalist, Richard Brook.   ‘A quiet, yet enthusiastic lover of nature,’ Charlesworth ‘was well known in the district as an expert and diligent collector of entomological and other specimens and as a devoted student of natural history.  Those who have visited him in his home, which was also his study, his laboratory and his museum, will not forget the pleasure they derived from the examination of his beautiful collection, tastefully arranged in cabinets made by himself.’ .  His widow loaned some of his bird cases to the Honley Industrial Exhibition three years later. [7]

The Exhibition, organised by Honley Workingmen’s Club and supported by some of ‘the elite of the district’ including its patron and president, William Brooke of Northgate House,   opened at the National School on 22 September 1866. It too had a moral purpose – ‘to provide some attraction which would deter the people of the district from spending their wages in revelry and drunkenness at their annual feast…’ As well as art and examples of industrial achievement,  natural history specimens were displayed in the infant’s school:   200 birds from the collections of Henry Charlesworth,  Alfred Beaumont and others, ( including  two eagles) 23 drawers of moths, birds eggs and nests belonging to George Liversedge of Huddersfield NS, geological specimens provided by the  Rev TB Benstead, a stuffed fox caught at Woodsome Hall,  (owned by Beaumont and described as ‘an excellent specimen of the taxoperdist’s [sic] art) ferns and aquaria’ An enthusiast for the exhibition wrote, ‘it is hoped that this Honley Exhibition will be of lasting benefit to the thousands who have visited it.’ But if it did stimulate an interest it was not until almost a decade later that there was a demand for Honley to have its own naturalists society. [8]

Honley Naturalists Society was founded in 1875, sometime before September of that year when it was represented on a ramble of the West Riding Consolidated Naturalists’ Society (an umbrella group of West Riding naturalist societies established in 1861) from Marsden up the Wessenden Valley to Bills o’Jacks and back via Diggle concluding with a meeting in the HLSS rooms Huddersfield.  Other than this I have not been able to find any details of its origins.  The following January, however, when it held its first annual tea party and entertainment at the Coach and Horses, 100 people were present and the  ‘great progress naturalists were making in that locality’ was celebrated.   J Sanderson, an auctioneer from Holmfirth, presided over the event and there were speeches by Alfred Beaumont of Steps Mill, John Armitage of Almondbury Bank, William Donkersley, who apparently ran a school in the village called the Spring Vale Academy, Allen Boothroyd and others.  The evening concluded with dancing late into the night. The Coach & Horses became the society’s regular meeting place. [9]

The Examiner report noted that the gathering included ‘ a fair sprinkling of the fair sex’.  Probably most of these were spouses and lady friends there for the social event.  But females sometimes did attend lectures and rambles, although, for the 19th Century, I have not been able to find any reference to any local female naturalist.  Mary Jaggar described herself as ‘a devoted lover and keen observer of nature’ but, as the four pages out of 338 in her History of Honley shows, she did not claim any detailed knowledge. In this field of activity, as in many others women were excluded, or their contribution ignored.  In 1882 however, Seth Lister Mosley (perhaps, as we shall see, the most prominent local naturalist due to his prolific written and artistic output and promotion of the museum movement) successfully proposed, despite opposition, that Huddersfield NS accept women as members. What the involvement, or level of interest of women was in Honley I don’t know, but they are certainly not mentioned and the lack of references to them in this talk reflects the lack of evidence, not any wish on my part to ignore them. [10]

In July 1876 a representative of the Honley Society joined a WRCNS ramble in the Calder Valley and the following month members of the Huddersfield, Heckmondwike, Barnsley, Wakefield, Ovenden, Stainland, Holmfirth, , Liversedge, Raistrick, Mirfield, Paddock, Bradford, Leeds Naturalists Society and Huddersfield LSS visited Honley. One party arrived via Castle Hill, another via Holmfirth and a third from Meltham Mills, which took in Spring Wood and Mag Wood, meeting up at the Coach & Horses.  The plants collected en route were named by John Armitage of Almondbury Bank, and others while  T Lister of  Barnsley presented the ornithological report. There was also a geological report and an unnamed ‘ member of the Honley society exhibited a splendid specimen of Calamites cameformia from the grit in Honley.’  [11]

As well as rambles fortnightly  meetings were held with speakers from Honley and other societies on a wide range of topics.  On 28 October 1876 at the  Coach & Horses, with J Stocks in the chair, J Sanderson of Holmfirth read a paper on the ‘Curiosities in Physical Geography’,  the meeting was poorly attended because it had not been properly advertised and it was decided to invite him again.  Sanderson promised that he would do all he could to promote the Society. On 4 August 1877 William Donkersley of Spring Vale Academy spoke on Linnaeus and his system of botanical classification and at the next fortnightly meeting JosephTindal, president of Huddersfield NS,  on‘Insects injurious to root crops’ with particular reference to the turnip. By November the Society was reported to be ‘in a very flourishing condition…’ with 60-70 members, their  interest being maintained by lectures throughout year. On ths occasion Mr Donkersley  spoke on  ‘The Atmosphere and its phenomena…’ ‘The audience was a numerous and an intelligent one…’ noted the correspondent to the Examiner.[12]

In May 1878,  ‘according to custom’ a large joint meeting of the  district societies  around Honley, chaired by John Armitage of Almondbury Bank, was held at the Commercial, Netherton.  120 specimens were placed on the table named and their medicinal properties described by Edward Taylor and Allen Boothroyd of Honley NS . It appears that conservation was already a problem since Taylor commented that ‘they would not say where the plants had been gathered, because some gardeners were in the habit of digging the rarities up, and selling them in the markets.’ [13]

The following month a ramble to Hagg Wood and Deanhouse was held , ‘but heavy rain forced retreat homewards’, nevertheless, at the evening meeting 50-60 plants  had been collected for naming by Allen Boothroyd, and Edward Hobson.   The account of the meeting concluded that it was a locality rich in botanical specimens. The interest of members in botany was underlined by a meeting the following January chaired by Allen Boothroyd   when John Armitage, ‘who is a great favourite with the Naturalist Society of Honley…’ gave a talk on the pleasures of botany… ‘He dwelt with considerable liveliness and humour on the sexes of flowers…’[14]

After a meeting at the Coach & Horses in 1880 ( when the millowner Lupton Littlewood a patron of the society, was present)  reports of the society’s activities decline. In May 1884 it held a ramble through Cliff Wood, Smithy Place and Hagg Wood,   ‘The weather was glorious and insect life swarmed.’  A corn crake and redstart were noted and Seth Mosley  made a good collection of insects – the first reference to his long association with Honley. He noted elsewhere that the Corncrake was unusually abundant that year, locally and nationally.  However, it had already begun its long decline to extinction throughout much of Britain due to the advent of mechanical reaping and mowing. The first recorded mowing machine in Honley was introduced by William Brooke, of Northgate House, in 1868 when ‘Being rather a novelty in the district, many people were present to witness its working…’.  Birds and young, who could flee a line of hand mowers, were driven into the centre of the field by the machines and often killed,  although the Grassdrake, as it was known locally,  was still heard occasionally around Honley until at least the 1930s.[15]

In April 1888 theAnnual Report of the Yorkshire Naturalist Union, which had replaced the WRCNS in 1877 announced that  Beverley and Honley Naturalists Societies,  ‘having ceased to exist are no longer borne on the role.’ Whether it was defunct, or just was too weak to participate in the YNU is not clear.  But at this point we will look at some of the prominent naturalists who contributed to the study of natural history in Honley



Alfred Beaumont’s residence at Parkton Grove, where he housed his natural history collections.

The best known was Alfred Beaumont, the eldest son of Joshua Beaumont of the firm Beaumont and Vickerman of Steps Mill.  He went to a school for young gentlemen at  Storthes Hall, which was run by  Mr. Peter Inchbald, a leading Yorkshire naturalist,  and developed a lifelong interest in natural history, particularly entomology , Inchbald’s speciality. In 1851 he was elected member of Entomological Society of London.  In 1858 he married Mary ,the daughter of Joseph  Hirst, a wealthy Meltham woollen manufacturer.  Tragically she died in childbirth eight months later and Wilshaw church was built by her parents as a memorial.  He remarried and by1871, now aged 39, was living at Parkton Grove along with his second wife Deborah Selina.    It was there he developed his massive collection of insects and birds.

Many of his birds were stuffed James Reid Mosley of Almondbury Bank the father of Seth Lister Mosley, whose own interest in nature was encouraged by Beaumont who gave him  duplicate insects and books. Occasionally, Alfred would visit the Mosleys house at Almondbury Bank to see how work was progressing on particular birds. It appears that he had some fakes passed off on him, notoriously an Andalusian Hemipode, a type of quail, which Seth Mosley claimed to have bought alive off two Irishmen who caught it alive in a field at Fartown in 1865.  He also had a collection of mammals and, since it was not known to contain a wild cat, Mosley concluded that the one seen by Mrs Jaggar and recorded in her History of Honley as trapped and killed by Alfred and his gamekeeper must have been a feral animal. [16]

As well as supporting Honley NS, Alfred was a member and a vice-president of Huddersfield Literary and Scientific Society (HLSS),  and he served as a president and patron (along with the Earl of Dartmouth and other dignitaries)  of Huddersfield Naturalists Society. One gets the impression that Alfred’s own passion for collecting took precedence over running the family firm !  This may partly account for the fact that by 1881 he was bankrupt. On 21 May 1881 an advert appeared for the sale of the stock and machinery of Steps Farm announcing that Joshua Beaumont & Co was in liquidation.  It was followed by adverts for mill machinery and for Parkton Grove house, the entire contents of which were auctioned in July, including a drawing room suite in ‘walnut wood, richly upholstered’, and dining room furniture in pollarded oak.

Amongst the household effects were advertised  ‘an extensive collection of  Cured Birds of various species, moths etc together with a costly library of books…’ The moths numbered about 15,000 including ‘very rare and valuable specimens’.   They lots were put on show at the Post Office buildings in Northumberland Street and auctioned by George Tinker on 10 August. The bird collection of 295 cases, described as ‘a unique collection of great variety…in the best state of preservation’ was bought for £200 on behalf of the HLSS.

Two years later 274 specimens, including golden and sea-eagles and other already rare birds, were exhibited in a ‘Fine Arts and Industrial Exhibition’ at Huddersfield Technical School and Mechanics Institute on Queens Street.   The catalogue explained that, ‘These were the property of Mr Alfred Beaumont and were purchased for the purpose of forming the nucleus of a Town’s Museum’.  After the exhibition closed they were briefly put on show at the  Technical School until the space was needed for class rooms.   They languished in storage, or the corridors, until a Museum was opened in 1901, in the new wing of the Technical College with Mosley employed as part time curator.  They were transferred to the new Ravensknowle Museum in 1920 where Mosley was primarily responsible for setting up the new bird room in 1925.  He frequently referred to the importance of the ‘nucleus’ provided by Beaumont’s collection and his own long association with it.

Alfred’s insect collection was lost to the district since it was bought be a London dealer and broken up – a constant source of regret to Seth when setting up Ravensknowle Museum , since many of the species in it were no longer to be found locally.  Alfred too left the district and died in Essex in 1905. He is a prime example of what the Victorians dubbed the kakoethes collegendi, the obsession with collecting, which Mosley and modern naturalists have come to reject. The acquisitive ethic accorded well with the values of industrial capitalism which Alfred’s occupation epitomised.  It is also hard today to understand today how a real love of nature can be compatible with game shooting, of which Alfred was also obsessive, although many others (including Teddy Roosevelt and Herman Goering!)  combined the same interests.  According to Mosley he shot ring ouzels so that their alarm call would not set up the grouse. This indicates that Alfred was then using the traditional form of grouse shooting, not the battue system employing beaters, which some considered unsportsmanlike.[17]



George Taylor Porritt. Lived at Crosland Hall, 1897-1904.

Alfred’s obituarist in the Naturalist,  George Taylor  Porritt, said he had not forgotten ‘the happy days long ago when Beaumont used repeatedly to drive him (then little more than a schoolboy) for an afternoon’s collecting in the woods at Storthes Hall, nor the enjoyable repasts at the Inn near by, when the day’s work was over’.  Porritt was born in 1848, the son of Richard Porritt, of Clare Hill, the founder of a firm of wool merchants which George later took over. His earliest interest in insects was said to have been stimulated by his nursemaid who showed him how to rear a Tiger Moth from a caterpillar.  This infant enthusiasm was encouraged by the Almondbury naturalist James Varley .  Porritt recollected that; ‘My own almost earliest lessons in science were from him, and I well remember the fear and trembling with which, as a small schoolboy, I used to take my specimens to him to name and the joy and excitement when, on one of my earliest visits, he presented me with my first half dozen larvae of Saturnia carpini.’ (Emperor Moth).   He joined Huddersfield Naturalist Society in 1865. He soon gained a reputation as an authority since he was made a Fellow of the Entomological Society in 1870 when only 22 and elected as a Fellow of the Linnaean Society two years later.

In 1897 he moved to Crosland Hall at Healey House in South Crosland, with its 12 rooms, entrance lodge, stables, greenhouse and gardens, where he remained until 1904.  On his death his collection totalled around 23,000 specimens in 71 of incalculable scientific interest, locally and nationally. There were 172 specimens of 18 species now extinct in Britain, 434 vary rare specimens and an enormous range of variations, all meticulously labelled.  Such a collection could never be made again. When it was acquired by Tolson Museum it was advertised as ‘a permanent record of the work of one of Huddersfield’s foremost naturalists’.

Some of those insects were collected and others referred to in his writings were recorded in the Honley area.  Sometimes he didn’t have to go much further than his own garden.  In 1899 he observed that the Red Admiral, ‘Vanessa atalanta’ was unusually common in Yorkshire and countrywide, along with Macroglossa stellatarum  the Hummingbird Hawkmoth ‘Both species formed a pretty feature about the flowers in my own garden, where also another butterfly, Vanessa io, [Peacock ]now rarely seen in the Huddersfield district, occurred…’

The most significant specimens in his collection are those of the Peppered Moth (Biston betularia), which shows both the main type and melanic variations. This insect has become the standard biology text book example of natural selection – the theory being that industry causes pollution, this kills off lichen on trees, therefore the lighter coloured moths stand out and are eaten by birds, while the dark ones have a better chance of survival.  Porritt questioned this simple view of industrial melanism and concluded from his observations and experiments that there were other reasons.  Recently his views have been revived to re-open the debate on the Peppered Moth. After he left the area he continued to collect specimens around Honley, for example recording taking a pretty variety of the Argent and Sable  moth in Honley Wood where the species was fairly common in 1920.  [18]

Porritt was also interested in other branches of nature and HEW ‘Nature Around Huddersfield’  records that on moving to Crosland Hall he ordered the gardener that no birds should be shot.  Consequently the  Hawfinch was seen several times by Porritt, while in 1899 he described his sightings of a Kingfisher in the Naturalist. He even spared Magpies although they took other fledglings.   On 28 June 1900 the Yorkshire Naturalist Union visited Huddersfield for its 152nd meeting.  Beginning at the Technical College, 3 parties set off; one under Thomas Woodhead, via Slaithwaite and Drop Clough; under Seth Lister Mosley via Marsden  and a party led by Wilmot Tunstall, which walked from Brockholes to Crosland Hall via Harden Moss.  Here they wandered the grounds, greenhouse and gardens and inspected Porritt’s insect breeding facility. Tea, provided by Mrs Porritt and family, was held in the garden at front of Hall.   Porrit chaired the meeting which heard reports on the rambles and he pointed out that  ‘Except sparrows, they never had birds nests or eggs disturbed by anyone if they could help it. This year they had seen 30 thrushes nests and nearly every one had got their young away’ .  A speaker from the YNU commented, ‘They all had the greatest respect for their president and his family. Mr Porritt was admired by them all because of his great ability as an entomologist. … wherever entomology was studied Mr Porritt’s work was known and recognised (Applause)…’

While he was at Crosland Hall Porrit worked closely with Wilmot Tunstall who lived at Brook House at Meltham Mills.  He was an active local naturalist from at least 1892 when at an  YNU meeting at Huddersfield Town Hall in 1892 he gave demonstrations with  the oxy-hydrogen microscope. In his 1904 List of Yorkshire Lepidoptera Porritt  referred to the Dun Bar moth ‘This is another species which varies exceedingly in the South West Riding, and by careful selection many pretty forms are to be got. I have one, figured in Barrett’s “Lepidoptera of the British Islands,” taken at sugar in Honley Wood, Huddersfield, by Mr. W. Tunstall, in which the broad central band is uniformly dark olive-green’.  He also had a very extra- ordinary and beautiful variety of the  Gothic moth with a large pink V-shaped mark across each wing which Tunstall bred in 1894 from a larva found near Healey House, This also was illustrated in Barrett’s ‘Lepidoptera’.  [19]



Thomas William Woodhead in his natural environment.

was born in 1863, the son of a Holmfirth boot and shoe maker.  His interest in botany led him to become first a teacher and then the virtual founder and head of the biology department at of Huddersfield Technical College and the director of the Tolson Museum. He was very active in both Huddersfield NS and the YNU.  In 1890 he sent a letter to Charles Wall, the headmaster of Honley National School and fellow member of Huddersfield NS, inquiring about the occurrence of Sisymbrium thaliana, (Mouse Ear Cress).  This shows how detailed his researches were and in fact he became a pioneer of ecology being a founder in 1904 of the Committee for Survey and Study of British Vegetation, (later the British Ecological Society),.  His PhD was awarded for a thesis on the ‘Ecology of Woodland Plants in the neighbourhood of Huddersfield.’  Part of his study was based on a survey of Mag Wood, and  Spring Wood.  His findings were published in the ‘Linnean Society Journal’ in 1906 including distribution maps of the main tree species and plants associated with the woodland. He also studied at Zurich under Prof C Schroter, an expert on Alpine flora and on his return in 1906 lectured at the British Association Conference at York, on ‘Ecology and work in Switzerland’  Dr Woodhead represents the emerging class of professional, academic biologists, who were (and are)  sometimes contemptuous of the efforts of self taught amateur naturalists. [20]

6e (2)

Map from T W Woodhead’s survey of local woodland ecology.



One who epitomises this breed of independent, self taught men more than any other was Seth Lister Mosley’. He was born in 1848 at Lepton the son of a handloom weaver turned joiner and, literally, poacher turned gamekeeper.  His father was famous as ‘bird stuffer’ and for a while had a small museum in his house.  He was also a staunch secularist and free thinker – a brave position to take in those days.  Seth followed him in this until in the 1880s he had an epiphany while contemplating nature, but after briefly belonging to the Methodists developed his own mystical ‘Theocosmic’ religion. He opened a museum near Beaumont Park, was part-time curator of the Technical College Museum and in 1920 became first curator of the Tolson Museum, his main project being the setting up of the bird room, which contained much of Alfred Beaumont’s collection. He was a prolific writer and illustrator having his own column in the Examiner – ‘Nature Around Huddersfield’ – which contains numerous references to Honley.

He recollected for example that the Pine Beauty moth used to be taken by his friend James Varley in Honley Woods and that he himself had found white heather on Honley Moor, or that the Long Stalked Cranesbill used to be found at Honley, but was no loner seen. In 1917 he accompanied William Falconer, a Slaithwaite teacher and expert on spiders and gall insects, who also explored our area, into the Old Wood where they found the Red Oak Weevil for first time.[21]

Consequently he was well known in the village.  After a service at Honley Wesleyan Chapel one Sunday night in 1917 a  Mrs Eastwood approached him and said’ ‘It is very strange you should come here today.  I had a letter only this morning from my boy in the trenches and he said, “If you see Mr Mosley tell him we talk about him here.”’  His religious views also won converts. He recorded that ‘A soldier in France, late of Honley, writes to ask me to tell him how to live a natural life.’[22]

Seth also corresponded with Mrs Jaggar, who complained that  ‘I see my old haunts more depleted this year than before’ and that children were not being brought up to respect nature.

‘Alas ! Many of our teachers are more in need of instructions themselves than able to instruct.’  She offered him a gift of her ‘History of Honley’ but Seth already had it and shared her concerns, ‘I secured a copy of her book as soon as it was issued. I am making the respect for Nature’s beauty the subject of Sunday morning talks to children’.  In 1920 Mr John W Tunstall of Magdale, a teacher at Honley National School, sent Seth ‘a very nice letter’ ‘There is so much  I admire and enjoy in your articles in the Huddersfield Examiner that I can scarcely find the heart to draw your attention to what I will call “the fly in the ointment”… It is difficult for me to understand why it is necessary to kill only for show purposes’.  Seth explained that although some killing was necessary for scientific research, he agreed about collecting unnecessary specimens, or using butterflies or feathers for decoration.  In 1923 a Death’s Head Hawk Moth  (Acherontia atropos) was found by a boy in Honley Old Wood, and sent to the museum by Herbert Mellor a teacher at the National School. Seth responded a bit ungratefully that ‘Teachers should destroy this love of killing.’ This now rare moth was also recorded in 1882 at Honley and Brockholes and in 1883 when‘One flew into a house at Honley. ’   [23]

Seth’s religious and mystical ideas did not endear him to some of his more strictly scientific fellow naturalists.  He said that he sometimes went to a wood just for mediation rather than observation and let sights and sounds awaken his spirit – these he called his Sabbath days when he communed with the ‘God of the Woods’. He kept his collecting tray in a ‘sanctified place’, then, on one occasion in Honley Wood after reading appropriate passage of scripture, he stared at a tray of galls on his knee and let visions pass through his mind. This was the literal practice of one of his most frequent quotes – ‘Where there is no vision, the people perish’ (Proverbs 29:13). He felt strangely drawn to visit Honley in the 1922 fungi collecting season since he had once found a fungus there whose only previous Yorkshire location was near Scarborough.  [24]

Among the specimens in the new Bird Room at Tolson were some from Honley.  In 1922 a gannet was caught alive after flying into electric wires at Hall Ing.  Since the museum did not have a local specimen, (although it was at least the fourth know to have occurred in the area)  Seth asked Franklin Hallas, who reported it, to bring it in.  According to Raymond Hallas, who told me he had been the actual captor, they were advised on the best way to kill it without damaging the specimen.   By the end of July 1924 new bird acquisitions also included a Puffin, caught exhausted on Honley Moor around 1908.  Perhaps the rarest bird recorded at Honley was a Hoopoe ,shot on the 17 October 1891 at Park Riding by George H Smith and brought to Beaumont Park Museum.  I am not sure where this ended up.  At that time it was only the third which had been recorded in the Huddersfield district.  [25]


A Hoopoe according to Seth Lister Mosley.

In 1909  Seth had set out to compile a comprehensive record of the natural history of the area by carefully surveying it a square mile at a time. While he was at Tolson he began to print his findings and Square Mile. No.50, covering Honley Moor , is one of the few that seems to have been kept.  The record marks Healey House station as the point of access to the Square Mile. The basic geology of millstone grit and rough rock is noted and the location of quarries, followed by a list of vegetation associated with the rough rock (see illustration).  The cultivation of wheat and oats is also mentioned.  There is an interesting reference to the Badger in the Museum having been killed in the Old Wood about 52 years ago, although the date when the survey was carried out is not specified. The killing of breeding Long Eared Owls is recorded, the presence of the nightjar and twite and the former breeding of Grouse.  This contradicts other statements by Mosley that the nightjar and twite were no longer common, or even exterminated. Overall, the evidence is often vague and cannot really be seen as a scientific survey but it does have some antiquarian interest. The comments on the human occupants conclude with a tantalising anecdote, ‘About 54 families reside on this mile mostly farmsteads. A very eccentric character – “Old Rigby” – formerly lived, along with his cow, pig and poultry, in a hovel on the moor.’[26]


Map of Mosley’s’ Square Mile survey of Honley Moor.


Text of Mosley’s Honley Moor Square Mile Survey.

His observations on Honley were updated in October 1927 when he went on a ramble to Old Wood, which he described as  probably a bit of wild forest where the trees were small because of millstone grit and thin soil –  ‘it has suffered greatly in recent years during colliers strikes from the number of trees felled for firewood’ .  At the Scotgate end there were mainly beeches and consequently little ground vegetation, at the  Meltham end oak, some sycamore, elm, birches, small beeches, and formerly holly .  Beneath the trees  stitchwort, hawkweed, golden rod, campion, bilberry and  ling were found.  The ‘mountain linnet’ and nightjar were once common, but no more.  He had recorded in 1915 that pairs of Nightjar used to breed every year in Butternab Wood, Storthes Hall (Fir) Wood, Honley Old Wood, Honley Moor ‘but I am afraid it has been exterminated in all these places’.  The moths,  Ruby Tiger, Wood Tiger, Orange Tip, Butter Tip and Swallow Prominent had also disappeared and Emperor, Sable and Pretty Argent moths were rare. He concluded his ramble with tea at Wood Nook Farm.[27]


He made several references to Honley in his Bird book and and natural history column.  Of the  Skylark he noted in 1915  ‘The fact that skylarks from the Honley Moor neighbourhood fetch more money in the Manchester market is an additional incentive to this wholesale robbery…’  he lamented that the lark ‘… made by God for the gate of heaven, [was] condemned by man to the hell of a sunless backyard.’   He also noted that before the passing of the Wild Bird Act it was also a victim of wholesale slaughter as a delicacy, commenting.  ‘Lark on toast is supposed to be aristocratic but a man who can devour a lark, whatever he may be by birth, has a larger stomach than brain’  He recorded local rookeries including one in 1909  at Hagg Wood with 23 nests, one in 1910 at Northgate House with 37, and at Smithy Place with 21 in 1912. The Corn-Bunting, called locally the ‘Bunting Lark’, now a very unusual occurrence, he recorded as nesting on Honley and Crosland Moors  although ‘Not so common as formerly’ .[28]

Mosley also recorded that the common snake, ie the Grass Snake, was still in Spring Wood and that many old residents of Honley recollected it being in meadows at Magdale.  He referred to Mrs Jaggar’s account of a snake (which she describes as ‘of considerable length’)  being found in Spring Wood.  Another reptile was recorded there by William  Edward  Locking Wattam, a solicitors clerk from Newsome, who thought that the Blindworm (Slow worm) might still be found in Springwood since one was brought to him July 1904 in June 1914 he saw two in same wood.   Wattam was very active in the Hudds NS and the YNU and in the summer of 1906 he lead a ramble through Spring Wood, Netherton and  Honley Old Wood where he noted the  defoliation of ‘considerable number’ of oaks due to larvae of green tortrix moth. In July 1924 he reported finding caterpillars of the Emperor Moth ‘on part of the moorland remnants near Upper Oldfield, Honley’  [29]


Blindworm – unfortunately from Pembrokeshire not Honley, and even more unfortunately not alive !

A close friend and confidant who also gave Mosley a lot of practical help transporting him around by motorbike and car to fetch acquisitions for the museum, or on joy rides into the Dales, was Mr Fretchfield Frobisher  of Far End House, Honley. It was an unlikely friendship between a pork butcher and a vegetarian, but Frobisher clearly shared Mosley’s interest in natural history although there is little record of his own observations.  In one case however, his professional concern is apparent: ‘Mr. S. L. Moseley called to show me report on the warble fly from the Board of Agriculture, it is now thought the grub works its way into the skin at the fetlock joint and thence up to the gullet and later to the skin on the back of the animal where it is found, a theory I had myself advanced to Mr. Moseley.’ He was one of the coffin bearers at Seth’s funeral in 1929.[30]


As we have seen, the YNU reported the demise of Honley NS in 1888.  If this was indeed the case then the circumstances of its revival are also unrecorded.  It appears in existence by 1896 when a representative is recorded at a meeting of  Huddersfield & District Amalgamated Botanical Societies at the Ravensthorpe Hotel.  One possible member at this time is John W Hoyle of Honley who helped name 153 plant specimens at a meeting of Marsden NS that same year.

 Two others who kept Honley NS alive may have been James Jessop of Magdale, Beaumont’s night watchman at Steps Mill who, according to Mosley was, along with Henry Wright, one of the founders of Honley Naturalists’ Society.  Wright had his own collection of Lepidoptera, which he handed over to Mosley in 1920 to be deposited at Ravensknowle ‘I’ve come to t’conclusion’, he said ‘ it’s no use a man hoarding up such things, they ought to be where everybody could see them’.  Mosley, with obvious empathy, described how a sparkle came into Henry’s eyes when he relived the capture of his favourite specimen, ‘Ah! That Puss Moth were a great ‘un when I fun it. It wor pearked on Alfred Beaumont’s garden wall one mornin’ when I wor goin’ to me wark at six o’clock. An’ I took it an’ kept it I me bobbin box while neet as ah came hoam. It war a grand un’.  Sadly they are not where everybody can see them, if indeed they still exist.  Nor are any of the insect collections easily accessible and their future hangs in the balance with plans to close Ravensknowle.  Henry Wright was attributed with naming three ancient beech trees at the bottom of Spring Wood ‘the three sisters’ after Jessop’s eldest daughters Angelina, Anaminta and Domina.  [31]

A photo from the early 1900s exists of a group of other Magdalers some of whom were, or became, members of the Honley NS.  One is showing his interest in botany by holding a plant.  This is Norman Brooke, a worsted spinner, who was 17 in 1901 and who joined the Yorkshire Naturalists Union in 1925, when his address in the membership list is wrongly given as ‘Maydale’.  He became a famous local herbalist and had a dispensary in a shed near his house at Whitegate until after the Second World War.  Two of his brothers in the picture, Hamlet, a pattern weaver, and Mark, a cloth dresser (25 and 23 in 1901) were also members of the Honley NS. According to  Hamlet’s obituary he joined Honley NS about 1904 so it must have been active then. In 1910 Honley NS was listed among the YNU affiliated societies at the address of the secretary Alfred Booth, 19, Oldfields Buildings ( who is probably the forty year old iron turner living in the 1911 census). [32]


Magdale naturalists. Back row left, Hamlet Brooke. Centre, Mark Brooke. Front row, second from right, Norman Brooke.

 Another active Honley naturalist was Arthur Littlewood who in 1915 provided Mosley with bird notes from Honley including a Sparrow Hawk, a Kestrel, and a Marsh Tit in Hagg Wood, a Goldcrest, a Heron, a kingfisher and a Water Hen, the last named on the river Holme, where he said it was occasionally breeding. The Marsh Tit is very unusual, but could be a mistake since it is very difficult to distinguish from the Willow Tit, itself a rarity both then and now.  In 1918 he reported a small copper butterfly near Netherton.  By now there were only rare occurrences of this insect, Mosley reporting that in 1915 it had been seen at Brockholes and Farnley Mill although, ‘Formerly it was common, but for many years has been extinct locally.’ [33]


Norman Brooke’s business card.

James Robert Simpson, who had remarkably wide ranging interests, appears on the YNU membership list for 1916, living at Banks. He apparently moved to Honley in connection with his work, which (from the clues below) may have been at Rock Mill. Born in Scotland in 1873 and a former woollen weaver in Galashiels in Selkirkshire, by 1901 he had risen to be a pattern designer. In November of 1916 the Naturalist published a paper by him on a new species of Carboniferous fossil fish, named Edestus newtonii, found when a well was being bored at Rock Mill, Brockholes.  He was also A member of Huddersfield NS (by now the HN&PS) from at least 1916 ,when he gave a ‘most interesting lecture’ entitled:  ‘Some Observations by an  Amateur Astronomer’ made with eye, field glasses and four inch refractory  telescope . Following conscription he enlisted in June 1916, but was not called up until two years later, aged nearly 43, joining the 3rd R.A.M.C. Training Battalion at Blackpool.   Although he was posted to Boulogne and Etaples he appears to have escaped front line service and was discharged in February 1919.[34]

His account of an unusual bird observed in the summer of 1919 is worth recounting in full because it vividly shows a local naturalist in action and the strict procedure for vetting claims of rare birds :  ‘I am sending you a few notes re a strange bird, quite distinct from any which breeds on this district,’ he wrote to Ephraim Fisher, the ornithological recorder of the HNP&AS. ‘I saw the bird on Friday, 22nd August, and again on Saturday 23rd, but although I have kept a look out for it since I have failed to see it.  On the Friday I saw it with the naked eye only, on Saturday through a fieldglass also.  Each time it was accompanied by three Pied Wagtails. I saw it in a meadow at Hope Bank; there is a public footpath through the field from Brockholes to Honley, along which I pass many times every working day. Now I am not going to say that the bird was a Tawny Pipit, but I have consulted the ‘Birds of Britain’ by J Lewis Bonhote, and it appears to me that his description of the Tawny Pipit is very like that of the bird I saw.’  Fisher sent Simpson’s ‘very detailed description of the bird’ to three leading Yorkshire ornithologists.  Johnson Wilkinson concluded that Simpson ‘seems to be a most careful observer’ but could not confirm it to be a Tawny Pipit although the description matched. Dr Hartert thought it could be a variation of a Meadow Pipit, but possibly was a Tawny Pipit although there could be no ‘absolute certainty’.  Riley Fortune pointed out the there had only been one confirmed occurrence of the Tawny Pipit in Yorkshire, and few in Britain, despite it being common in Holland.  ‘There is to my mind nothing unlikely in its occurrence, but I am afraid the record would not be accepted. It might have been a variety of the Meadow Pipit.’ [35]

Less problematic was his report from Honley in 1920 of a tree pipit, a flock of 20 ring ouzels, a  wheatear, a goldcrest  and a Long Eared Owl.  He also showed a small case of lepidoptera taken in Honley district to a Huddersfield NS on 28 February. Among the moths he recorded from Honley were the Garden Tiger, Gothic, Large Ranunculus, Old Lady, Plain Golden Y and  Poplar Hawkmoth.  In 1921, after he returned to Selkirk,  the Naturalist published detailed research by him on ‘The Moss Flora of Hagg Wood’ ,which he had begun in the autumn of 1917 on the suggestion of T W Woodhead.  His specimens were deposited at Tolson and some shown in a YNU exhibition at the Royal Society meeting at Hull in 1922.  He must have retained his affection for the area and his mentor because in 1930 he donated his entire natural history collection to the Tolson Museum.  Again, it would be interesting to know what has become of it.  His death in 1934 was recorded in the Naturalist’s annual report. [36]

The Naturalist announced that Honley NS had joined the  YNU in 1924, so presumably its membership had lapsed at some point since its admittance in 1910.  The following year 40 members and friends  celebrated its’ jubilee 50th anniversary with a dinner at the Coach and Horses, so it seems that no hiatus was recognised since its foundation in 1875.  By 1927 its’ secretary is listed as Fred Ricketts, 14 Reins.  A photo survives of one HNS outing to Askern in the 1920s (although the date is not clear)  and other group photos featuring the Brooke brothers are probably of NS excursions.[37]


Honley Naturalist Society trip to Askern. Date unclear – 1924 ?

In the summer of 1930 the Ravensknowle natural history class visited Honley Moor, which was described as a plateau which received a considerable rainfall, but drained off to springs in the valleys below, with a large area abandoned to heath plants.  The top of the moor had deeper soil producing decent corn crops, although infested with corn spurry and soft wood grass. They found some of the oak leaves much galled, scarlet pea gall, silk button gall, cherry gall and apple gall and recorded the plain wave moth caterpillar feeding on hairgrass. They saw a family of redstarts in Honley Wood, commenting that ‘These birds are by no means common…’  Indeed, in 1915 Mosley had only recorded one occurrence in Honley – in 1884.[38]

In 1937 there was wide interest when a pair of Long Eared Owls were found nesting at the foot of a birch tree in Honley Old Wood where they hatched three owlets. Photos appeared in the Colne Valley Guardian and the Examiner attracting crowds of people to see them.  Hopefully the publicity protected them on this occasion since Arthur Littlewood had reported in 1918  that a Long Eared Owl at nest at Honley had been destroyed.[39]


The Honley Old Wood owlets. (Thanks to Lesley Abernethy for the photo)

The schools were an important means of generating popular interest in natural history. In the 1883 Huddersfield School Board Report  SB Tait, the inspector recorded  ‘A large number of children wished to join the Botanical rambles which Mr SL Mosley kindly volunteered to conduct.  On alternate Saturday afternoons Mr Mosley has met his group of ramblers – generally numbering about thirty – who have assembled at one of the schools and proceeded with them to such places as Mollicarr, Honley Woods, Grimscar, Storthes Hall, directing their attention to wild flowers, insects and other objects of interest that they met with on the way.  Mr Mosley in short report upon the rambles says, “The girls seemed to take more interest than the boys and have turned up in greater numbers.  I have tried to not so much bore them with lessons as to create interest – to make the young mind anxious to find out some thing more than I have told them….”         Mosley later recollected ‘The Board School’s Natural History Society was killed by its own success; it grew beyond the control of one person and when Mr Tait left the town it was dropped’.  Honley National School did not have the benefit of Mosley’s enthusiasm or expertise, but Nature Study was a frequent element of the syllabus.   [40]

According to the 1882  Log Book of Honley Infants school (researched by the late Mr Bob Etherington)  Ada Beaumont, a pupil teacher, ‘takes natural history questions’ and led classes on such subjects as ‘Bird Nests’. The Raven’ and  ‘The Sparrow’.  In 1902-3  ‘Walks in the woods to study various plants are frequently recorded in the Log Book and the 1905-6 list of Object lessons reflects this. A great stress is put on ‘Nature’, but not under any specific heading such as Nature Study…’  . For example in 1904 there was a spring walk of boys in class one to Spring Wood ‘to bring back bluebell bulbs and well formed buds and leaves.’. Such bluebell walks to wood were a regular activity up to at least 1917 . In September 1909 there was a trip to woods  to study, and no doubt collect, Blackberries.  On other occasions the rookery down Eastgate (now destroyed by house building and tree felling) was visited.  In 1930 classes visited Spring Wood led by Miss Hobson to gather plants and to the confluence of the Mag and Holme to gather acorns and seeds, while in 1938 a small group of boys visited West Wood and FarnleyTop to collect and name plants. According to the entry by teacher Mr Mellor in the boys’ school logbook, ‘These rambles were held in connection with Honley Naturalist Society.’ My father recollected that his Uncle Hamlet Brooke used to accompany such school rambles and named the plants both by their common and scientific names. He carried a metal collecting case, which must have been the vasculum – a standard piece of equipment amongst serious botanists. [41]

One Saturday  in December 1939  Uncle Hamlet was walking from Honley with his niece when he complained of pains in his chest.  She remained with him for a while at Newtown until he seemed to recover, but he was later found dead on the floor of Newtown garage.  His brother  Havelock said, throughout his life, Hamlet had never been attended by a doctor. Perhaps until then he had found Uncle Norman’s herbal remedies sufficient.  The obituary in the Examiner  commented:  ‘ Mr Brooke was well known throughout the Huddersfield area as a naturalist and for over 35 years had been a member of Honley Naturalist Society. He was well known as a lecturer on nature subjects.’  It added he had worked at Josiah France as a weaver for over 50 years.  [42]

C Ridgewick of Honley delivered a ‘thoughtful and interesting address’ to Huddersfield Naturalist, Photographic and Antiquarian Society at the Technical College on 31 October 1936 on ‘British Butterflies’, illustrated with specimens and lantern slides.  In December 1937  he also gave an illustrated lecture on ‘The Head of Swaledale’, describing the environs of Keld where the YNU had held a Whitsuntide field meeting.   The following year, veteran Honley NS member, Arthur Booth, died and all local naturalist societies were experiencing a decline in membership with the passing of old stalwarts who were not being replaced by new blood.  The Huddersfield, Honley (represented by A Hadfield) and Berry Brow societies met at Tolson Museum on 11 October 1938 to plan joint activities.  These began on 26 November with a lecture by Frank Crawshaw of the Berry Brow society about ‘The Fungi of Huddersfield’, with illustrations of a ramble through Farnley Tyas to Honley.  Honley NS still existed in 1940 when it was represented by Mr Hadfield at the funeral of T W Woodhead in Almondbury cemetery.[43]

During the war nature itself was under added pressure due to more intensive farming and the expansion of military and industrial installations.  The world that emerged from the second world war was very different both in terms of technological  change and leisure and intellectual pursuits from that which had given birth to the naturalist societies in the 19th Century.  Even over the last 50 years or so there has been even more rapid changes which have affected wild life in our area, fortunately, not all of it bad.


Undated newspaper cutting (from the collection of the Boocock family, descendants of Norman Brooke) with reminiscences about Honley Naturalists, probably Huddersfield Examiner, 1960s ?


We have lost some species, such as the red squirrel and the water vole (common until c 1970)   due to the invasion of North American grey squirrels and mink.  But who would have thought only twenty years ago that we could look out of the window and see roe deer in our fields.  Large flocks of Starlings and Sparrows have disappeared, the Cuckoo is now a rarity, but the ending of persecution by gamekeepers and farmers has seen the return of the Buzzard and Sparrow hawk. The vast decline of the textile industry has resulted in cleaner rivers and trout and minnow are now established in the River Holme and Mag Dike, which are now habitats for the Heron, Kingfisher, Goosander and Dipper. The decline in atmospheric pollution, and some would say climate change, has resulted in the return of several species of butterfly and moth that had disappeared by the early 20th century and even some previously unknown, such as the Purple Hairstreak.  [44]

However, there is little room for complacency.  Our village is threatened by a planned massive sub-urbanisation of Netherton Moor and Banks which will lead to hundreds of more cars on our roads and thousands of more people with pets, all of which take a toll on wildlife and lead to the degradation of woodland walks..  A swathe of land, once the Seventy Acre Farm which was the centre of Mosley’s Honley Moor Square Mile,  is threatened with quarrying. The point of studying the natural history of our area, and the people who recorded it,  is to engender an appreciation both an of its own intrinsic value as well as the physical and psychological benefits to the human inhabitants who enjoy a beautiful and unpolluted environment.   It is in this vein that Mrs Jaggar concludes her history of the village with an appeal to prevent the destruction of the remaining wildness of Honley – ‘A public park is not so interesting as an old tree girt about with hundreds of years of memories or an old hedge sheltering birds and vegetable life.’ The aim of her History was  to remind,  ‘the dwellers of Honley, not only to preserve what is left of its once old-world beauty and character, but also to act as watch-dogs against both inside and outside vandals’.


[1] West Yorkshire Joint Services Ecological Survey .  This was previously available on internet but a recent search failed to find it. I have a copy if anyone wants it.

[2] HC 19 Jan 1861 :  for more on the medical botanical aspect see my talk on the naturalists of the Colne Valley.


[3] HC 20 Apr 1861

[4] HC 13May 1854 ; HC 3 May1862, HC 29 April 1865; HC  30 Apr 1870 ; HC 15 May1858 reported  ‘Marsden – a plea for the cuckoo.’, complaining about a systematic attempt to destroy  the bird in the Wessenden valley, where  gamekeepers, with ‘hearts of flint’  were setting snares, believing the cuckoo takes eggs of grouse which was just  ‘old woman’s tale’, but even if it took a few eggs better loss of few eggs than cuckoo be lost.

[5] Charles C P Hobkirk Huddersfield: Its History and Natural History’ (Huddersfield 1959).

[6] HC 7 Mar 1863.; HC 5 Sep 1863.  There was a report of the ‘barbarous’ practice of chasing rabbits with dogs in  HC 9 Dec 1854 and a public meeting was called on 20 January 1862 to protest against the ‘demoralising habits’ encouraged by the opening of a public race ground in the village. The racecourse owner, innkeeper Joseph Haigh, was persecuted by the police, perhaps a contributory factor the Honley anti-police ‘riot’ of that year.

[7] HC 26 Dec 1863; for the foundation of Huddersfield NS see Bretheren in the Temple of Science.


[8] HC 29 Sep1866; HC 6 Oct 1866. It was estimated that 20,000 people had visited the Exhibition, raising £270. HC 13 Oct 1866.

[9] HEW 11 Sep 1875. The other societies present included Huddersfield, Heckmondwike, Barnsley, Wakefield, Holmfirth, Ovenden, Liversedge, Raistrick, Mirfield, , Middlestown, and Paddock. Absent were Clayton W, Stainland, Ripponden, Birkby.  HEW 29 Jan: HC 29 Jan 1876 .

[10] Mary Jaggar, ‘The History of Honley’(Honley 1914)  pp. 87-90.

[11] HEW 15 Jul 1876 ;  HEW 12 Aug 1876 WRCNS, Sat 5 Aug rambles around Honley.  Among the named visitors were J French, Huddersfield, R Jessop, Lascelles Hall and  Isaac Exley, Holmfirth.

[12] HEW 4 Nov1876; HEW 11 Aug 1877; HEW 25 Aug 1877; HC , HEW 17 Nov 1877.

[13] HEW 18 May 1878 .

[14] HEW 15 Jun1878;HEW 25 Jan1879

[15] 1880 HEW 27 Nov; 1884 HEW 17 May; HEW ‘Nature Around Huddersfield’  in HEW 13 Dec 1884. HC 13 Jun 1868;  1933 – Upperthong. ‘…on a quiet summer evening, when you could hear the distant croaking of corncrakes (we called them grass-drakes).’  Louis Battye ‘I had a Little Nut Tree’ (London 1959) p.105.

[16] Op. Cit. p.90. She described it as ‘about as large as undersized fox with striped yellow fur, formidable fangs and seemed very old.’ However, she also says it was known locally as a ‘pow-cat’ and gave off a stench, which indicates a polecat, or ( since it was light coloured) a polecat-ferret cross.

[17] More on Alfred can be found in my Magdale and Steps: Life and Industry in a Textile Hamlet (2008) , now out of print and in Part III of my Catalogue of Mills (Mill 308. Steps Mill)


and in ‘Bretheren in the Temple of Science.’


[18] For more on Porritt’s work on moths and references to the debate about the Peppered Moth see:


For  a brief biography of Porritt and more on his lepidoptery see Geoffrey Fryer et. al.  Porritt’s Lists (Butterfly Conservation and YNU publication 2011) pp13-33.  HNS Report 1919-20;  YNU Ent Sec Rep Nat Jan 1921.

[19] HEW 19 Nov1892

[20] In 1891 C Wall had given a lecture on plants to Huddersfield NS which was partly published as  ‘Primroses and Cowslips’, in the natural history column of the Examiner 25 Apr 1891; HEW 6 Oct 1906

[21] HEW 28 Feb1885: HEW ‘Nature Around Huddersfield’ 4  Dec 1915; 29 Jun 1917 Falconer.

[22] HEW ‘Nature Around Huddersfield’  29 Jun ; 21 Sep1917.

[23] HEW ‘Nature Around Huddersfield’ 23 Jun1917 ; HEW ‘Nature Around Huddersfield’   7 Feb 1920; 19 May 1923; HNS Transactions. 1883

For John Tunstall see my Magdale and Steps: Life and Industry in a Textile Hamlet (2008) .

[24] HEW ‘Nature Around Huddersfield’ 27 Mar 1920; 23 Sep 1922.

[25] HEW ‘Nature Around Huddersfield’  9 Sep1922 , Gannet ; HEW ‘Nature Around Huddersfield’  2 Aug 1924, Puffin;  HEW,HC 24 Oct 1891 Hoopoe.

[26] HEW  2 Jul 1909 ,  The Sq miles were traced from 6in OS map, duplicated and three copies folded and gummed or stitched in cardboard cover, forming a notebook convenient for a side pocket with 3 maps and 10 blank pages.  One map recorded the geology, one altitude and one one left blank which was filled in with coloured pencils when visited to show relation of vegetation to geology. On the blank pages lists of all plants, animals and antiquarian information were made.  Four  photos characteristic of mile taken, and mounted for museum. Needs. A full survey required many visits at different months of year and collectors, antiquarians and photographers were urged to assist.  Copies were to be supplied to interested persons and used on ‘official excursions’.

[27] HEW  ‘Nature Around Huddersfield’, 29 Oct 1927.

[28] HEW ‘Nature Around Huddersfield’  16 Jan 1915.

[29] HEW ‘Nature Around Huddersfield’  21 Nov , 28  Nov 28 1914;. Naturalist 1 Apr 1925

[30] Frobisher Diary 28 Jan1920 . For more on Frobisher see The Life and Times of Fretchfield Frobisher , Neville Sheard & Jean Nursten (self-published).

[31] HEW ‘Nature Around Huddersfield’ 12 Dec.1925; 24  Jan 1920.

[32] For more on Brookes see my Magdale and Steps: Life and Industry in a Textile Hamlet (2008),  The photos relating to the Brookes are from the family collection of David and John Boocock, grandsons of my great-uncle Norman Brooke,who  have done extensive, detailed research into the Brooke genealogy (For more on Mark Brooke see:    https://undergroundhistories.wordpress.com/the-white-feather-the-first-great-imperialist-war/   ; Naturalist 1 Jan1911 Thanks to Dave Pattern, administrator of the extremely useful Huddersfield Exposed website https://huddersfield.exposed/wiki/Welcome  for biographical background of Booth. ‘Alfred Booth was born 1871 or 1872 (more likely the former) in Dewsbury, son of Thomas William Booth (joiner born in Huddersfield) and his wife Elizabeth. Alfred’s older brothers Luke (c.1866-?) and Thomas James (c.1868-1939) were both born in Lindley. 1891 census the Booths were living at 54 Commercial Street, Huddersfield, and Alfred was working at a mechanic. He married Annie Wise (c.1871-1917) of Dalton on 26 Dec 1892 at St. Paul, Huddersfield. Alfred died aged 67 and was buried on 12 August 1938 at Honley (his abode was recorded as Oldfield Buildings, Honley)’.

[33] HEW ‘Nature Around Huddersfield’  23 Oct 1915; 23 Feb 1918; 8 Jan 1916.

[34] Thanks to Dave Pattern for the biographical details from the Census and Military Service records; HN&PS Annual Report 1916-1917.p. 2.

[35] Huddersfield Naturalist & Photographic Society  had become the Huddersfield Naturalist,  Photographic & Antiquarian Society  in 1917. Annual Report 1918-1919. p.14.

[36] 1916 25 Nov  J R Simpson, member Huddersfield NS lecture. (HNS Rept 1916-17);  Yorkshire Naturalists’ Union : Annual Report, 1917 Naturalist Jan 1 1918.

HEW ‘Nature Around Huddersfield’  10 Apr 1920; HEW ‘Nature Around Huddersfield’  22 May 1920 ; (HNP&AS  Rept 1919-20) 1930 HEW 1 Feb:

[37]  Naturalist 1 Jan 1925; HEW 12 Dec 1925; Naturalist 1 Jun 1927, Honley NS sec.

[38] HEW 9 Aug1930;HEW ‘Nature Around Huddersfield’  17 May 1915.

[39] CVG 11 June 1937 ; HEW ‘Nature Around Huddersfield’  22 Feb 1919

[40] HEW 3 Nov 1883; HEW 31 Oct 1914

[41] Bob Etherington, notes from Log Book. Thanks to Mr Peter Marshall of Honley Civic Society for access to Mr Etherington’s manuscripts .  These formed the basis for  Honley National School 1816-1952, based on the research by Bob Etherington, edited by Peter Marshall, published by Honley Civic Society 2016  . Refs to nature walks on  p.42. p.63.

[42] HE Daily 11  Dec 1939.

{43] Minute Book of HNPAS.  T W Woodhead’s funeral is recorded by a cutting dated 8 March 1940, probably from the Huddersfield Examiner.

[44] See for example Geoffrey Fryer and M Jill Lucas. ‘A Century and a Half of Change in the Butterfly Fauna of the Huddersfield Area of Yorkshire.  The Naturalist  No. 1037; Vol. 126  April-June 2001.