BILLY HOLT - traveller, broadcaster, socialist, writer and painter
Billy Holt was a well known character in the Upper Calder Valley. He was born in 1897 in Todmorden. He lived at Holts Botanical brewery in Stoney Lane, Charlestown in about 1900 (for description of the brewery, see Oakville, Turret Hall and Old Charlestown).
At the age of twelve he became a half timer (half working at a textile works and half at school).
After being in the army during the First World War, he had a short time at Trinity College Oxford and came back to the valley to set up a holiday camp at Hardcastle Crags.
He travelled all over the world including a round the world trip as a deck hand, trips to USSR, Lisbon, Spain etc. Probably his most famous journey was in 1964 when he wrode a horse called trigger to Rome. His travelling style which included a wooly bobble hat, a goatee beard, eccentric behaviour and riding a white horse created a striking image to the inhabitants he passed on the way. This epic journey is recorded in his book Trigger in Europe
In 1927 he formed a branch of the National Unemployed Workers Movement and in 1932 was arrested following a march against the means test committed to Wakefield prison for 9 months. He was briefly elected to the Town Council as a member of the Communist Party, but did not really fit in with that form of political action.
Broadcaster and Journalist
He was briefly the editor of the Todmorden Gazette and in 1936 became a war correspondent in Spain for the Daily Despatch. During the Second World War, he did regular broadcasts for the BBC Overseas service, continuing after the war to broadcast on industrial topics.
He wrote nine books in all, the best known being his two part autobiography 'I haven't unpacked' and 'I still haven't unpacked'.
unfortunately, none of these are in print at present, but all can be borrowed from the library at Todmorden. The trustees of Billy Holt have also published a small illustrated pamphlet which is available from the library price £1.50
Billy Holt's painting style is difficult to describe, he certainly seems to have been influenced by the surrealists and William Blake. The canvases are of a monumental size and four of them can be seen at the Fielden Centre at Todmorden.
THE TATHAM FAMILY
We are indebted to Dave Whittaker who provided the information on the Tatham family from his family researches. Anyone who has a particular interest in the family should contact us and we will forward the details to Dave Whittaker.
From fairly humble origins, the Tathams rose to pay a prominent role in the commercial and civic life of the area between the late 19th and the mid 20th centuries.
Moving from Hebden Bridge around 1860, Robert Tatham (1837 - 1908) gained employment as a domestic servant at Stoodley Hall. At various times he is listed in the censuses up to 1891 as a gardener, groom and coachman, although curiously on one of his sons' marriage certificates and his own death certificate he is recorded as having been a 'land agent' - some snobbery at work here perhaps?
Robert married Martha Sutcliffe (1842 - 1910), a local woman who lived at Causeway Side, a small terrace of cottages on what was known as Stoodley Lane (now Lee Bottom Road). At one time there were eleven of the Sutcliffes living at this address - the buildings are still there. In her early years, Martha was a milliner and seamstress. She was also illiterate, at least until the birth of her second son; her marriage certificate and two birth certificates are marked with the customary 'x' instead of a signature.
After their marriage in 1863, Robert and Martha moved into a cottage at Gut Royd, off Stoodley Lane, where their first son, John James, was born in the same year, probably conceived out of wedlock. By 1866, the family had moved to lodgings by Stoodley Hall, where their second son, Charles Robert, was born in that year. A third son, Thomas Edward, was born in 1874, but sadly died in the following year. The family had moved into Stoodley Lodge by 1891, although John James had married and moved out by this time, to Victoria Terrace on Halifax Road. Martha and Robert had moved from the Lodge by 1901, also to Victoria Terrace. After Robert's death in 1908,
Martha moved in with her younger son and his family at Calder Bank, where
she died in 1910.
John James found employment as a cotton manufacturer's clerk. He was clearly successful in advancing himself, as by 1896 he was joint owner of Nanholme Mill which manufactured cotton goods with a Mr. Marshall.
John James married judiciously, you might say. His first wife, from 1888 to her death in 1925, was Susannah, a member of the Mitchell family of Middle Stoodley, who were coal merchants. By 1901 they had taken over Stoodley Lodge from the older Tathams; their only child, Lilian, was born here in 1906. Following Susannah's demise, John James married again, in 1927, this time Mary from the Moss family of Bridge Royd House. He went on to become a Justice of the Peace.
Charles Robert also became a cotton manufacturer's clerk, eventually being employed as a cotton cloth salesman, working with his brother. The company's sales office was located in the centre of Manchester.
Charles Robert Tatham
He married Florence Elizabeth Short, from Staffordshire, in 1896. They moved into a house in Victoria Terrace on Halifax Road but by 1910 had moved to Calder Bank, adjacent to Nanholme Mill.
Florence Elizabeth Tatham.
Three children were born: Dorothy (1898 - 1990), Floss - known as 'Cissie' (1899 - 1999), and Robert (1906 - ?).
Dorothy eloped with her cousin Thomas Albert Blane in 1920 as her parents disapproved of the match, although after the marriage they returned briefly to live at Calder Bank later in the decade, finally leaving the area for good.
Charles Robert died in 1926 and his wife and two youngest children moved out of Calder Bank to another house in the area. The old man was plagued by boils and carbuncles in later life, which had a perhaps not unpredictable effect upon his temperament.
Floss never married and stayed with her mother until Florence's death in 1954; by that time they had moved away to the Manchester area, close to Dorothy and her family.
Not much is known about Robert, possibly due to a family falling out some time ago. Robert remained in the area, although he eventually retired to Bolton Abbey . At some time, Robert took over Nanholme Mill from his uncle. He married Edith Dawson in 1929, herself the daughter of a cotton manufacturer. Edith became a Councillor for the Liberal Party in the inter war years. The couple had two daughters, Joan Catharine and Shirley. Joan had a daughter, Joanna who lives in New York (who has contacted the history group) and a son, Ian Nicolas. Shirley now lives in Aachen, Gemany and has three sons.
Robert remarried in the 1960s to Thora Barnes. They moved to Northumberland in the 1970's and died in the early 1984/85. His second wife died in 1988.
The Tathams were staunch Methodists and several of the marriages mentioned above took place at Mankinholes Chapel, where the family burial plot is also to be found. The Chapel itself was decommissioned in 1979 and has been converted into a house, but the graveyard remains open.
THE BRIDGE RATS MOTOR CYCLE CLUB
The following description of the history is an extract from the Rats website.
”The Bridge Rats are a no attitude club who meet at the Stubbing Wharf in Hebden Bridge every Tuesday night. They have over 60 members and are growing all the time.
The Bridge Rats are well know in the area for their annual pet food run to Halifax RSPCA which attracts hundred's of bikers and is getting bigger yearly. The event is well covered in the media (newspapers and television).“
Bridge Rats MCC History
In the 1960s, John "Chappy" Chapman Bridge Rats, current president formed a club called the "51" club which was rocker based and had 12 members.
In 1991 there was an advert in the local paper about a new motorbike rally club starting in the Calder valley at the Woodman Inn, Charlestown, and this is how the Calder Valley MCC was born. The club went to rally's and bike runs and the club got bigger and bigger but sadly the club was not doing what Chappy thought it should be and he and some of the members left and formed their own club in 1993.
The newly formed club had a logo that had a bridge for Hebden Bridge and a rat as Chappy’s father was a desert rat in WW2. A meeting was held at Blackshawhead pub and 7 people turned up (it was winter) and the new club Bridge Rats rally club was formed and its new club logo was worn.
The club stayed at the Blackshawhead pub for about another year and then the they moved to the Woodman Inn where the club had some great fun, but sadly the Woodman Inn closed down and the club moved to the Trades Club in Hebden Bridge in 1999. The club stayed at the Trades Club for about 10 months but as the club got bigger and stronger they where out growing the size of the Trades Club so they voted to find a bigger venue.
moved to the Stubbing Wharf in June 2000 and found that they had now got even bigger and stronger,( members 65 + plus 3 affiliated members) and still attend rally's, shows and visit other clubs.
Bridge Rats web page