Reminiscences of Bradford 50 Years Ago by an Old Bradfordian in America A Wiltshire Election 50 Years Ago
(Reproduced from the North Wilts Mercury for March 6th, 1885)

We have received the following interesting communication from Mr. Daniel Batchelor of Utica, Oneida Co., New York. Mr Batchelor is a native of Bradford, being born here in the Reign of George III. His communication is dated February 17th, and is as follows: " I think it must be nearly 50 years ago that Ezliel Edmunds or some other deft rhymster, posted in the Swan club room, at Bradford, an electioneering rhapsody, the first verse of which, as near as I can remember, was thus:

" The knight of Foremark he sprang from his bed
Where the gout had long confined him
And he swore that principle no more
Should in its trammels bind him
And " O, Corruption dear," he cried, " Corruption, O my Charmer!
Do thou arise, be Thou my guide and buckle on my armour."

The said Knight had recently come down from London to Devizes where on the hustings he had been put in nomination as M.P. for North Wiltshire, Sir John Cam Hobhouse having previously nominated Paul Methuen, who was detained at home by illness. Sir John had the crowd well in hand till old Frankies`s turn came to give the electors a touch of Westminster tactics. Among the many sneers thrown out by the old baronet was one he hurled at Sir John relative to his "arrogant assumptions" as Lord of the Manor or as landowner. I now forget which phrase, but at any rate Burdett said, "He reminds me of a proud king of Israel, who once said " Moab is my washpot, over Edom will I cast my shoe" And here the old fellow suited the action to the word, for as he leant on a staff or a crutch, he raised his leg and threw forward his foot in such a ludicrous manner that he convulsed the people, and set them screaming with laughter. And thus gallantly but absurdly the old Knight rattled on, to the great delight of his listeners. When he head subsided there was a call for a show of hands, but before the announcement of the result had reached the outskirts of the noisy crowd, the Westminster "£ bludgeon men" went to work with their knock-down arguments, and soon cleared the Market Place of all opponents. Colours at once were hidden. George Rolfe of Bradford, in full retreat, shouted something about the Marquis of Chandos, while Joe Collar puffed along behind him, together with a motly crowd of Bradford men and boys, including the writer hereof, who did not stop till he had reached that abode of the quiet Quakers called, in the dialect, "Milsom" All along the line of retreat was heard the shibboleth and defiant shouts of those who had turned their backs to the foe. The wrath in Bradford was terrible, an indignation meeting was called at the Swan, and the bludgeon men, together with Burdett who set them on, were denounced in idioms and in adjectives peculiar to the inhabitants of North Wiltshire. On the platform the bludgeon men were declared to be "lawless ruffians" But of course, the town was divided in sentiments, as were the attorneys, Way and Stone, for separate candidates. William Hale, at the Swan, Alex Wilkins, at the Seven Stars, John Dory, at the Bell, Hunt, at the Royal Oak, were among the stoutest advocates of Methuen. The other hostelries were about equally divided, save the portly John Kittlety, at Woolley, was conspicuous in person and power for the blues. At the Old Bear Jim Whitaker and Cobbler White held high converse over the affairs of the county, while at the New Bear tap-room a jolly set led by Jim Cash, the Barber, sang together in stimulating chorus:
"King William swears he is true blue,
and never will br kon-ker-ed."
Jack Hibberd`s mutton pies, old Forth`s baked fagots, and mother Haswell`s black puddings were incontinently devoured by the roarers, and huge pot`s of swipes were given to those who yelled the loudest at the headquarters of the opposing candidates. Great was the seething commotion, neighbours disputing with neighbours. Old Caddler Mead, Tommy Cleveland and polite Samuel Nicholls, held warm discussions. Joey Everett, Benny Spender, and Hunt, of the Royal Oak, made it warm at the Bridge Foot. Nightly meetings were held at the Swan, where George Lucas, the Schoolmaster, George Rolf, the Coppersmith, and Joey Collar, the Collector, were the chief spokesmen, while ever and anon the portly frame, the handsome face, and the eloquent voice of William Hale enlivened the scene. Sometimes Ezekiel Edmonds Junior, elegant in form and fiery I action, would stir up the Reformers till the old club-room would reverberate his eloquent words, "How dare the Westminster renegade, this hoary old turncoat, to ask for the votes of the electors of North Wiltshire?" But old Burdett was not only mendacious, he was audacious, tojous l`audace, and he boldly asked, and was triumphantly elected. But, as an eloquent American once said, " That procession had passed" As I look at the directory I find no more the old familiar names of Alexander Wilkins, Mrs Mason, at the Mason's Arms, John Dory, at the Bell, Hunt, at the Royal Oak, Mathews, at the Lamb, Grist, at the Horse Shoes, Dancey, at the Rose and Crown, Crisp, at the Queen's Head, D. Porch, at the Old Bear, Mrs. Munday, at the New Bear, Captain Wheatly, at the Barge. Poor Incendiary Buxton, at the Cross Keys, was hung because he was insane, I suppose. The shopkeepers, the Alford's, the Butterworth's, the Smarts, the Crisps, are all gone. Gone, too, are many quaint persons, among them the man who used to walk all over town as he sat cross-legged in a chair that he wriggled and rocked from peg to peg, and so went along. Jack Iles is gone, so too, is old Tommy Tanner with his irate donkey, gone to where the wicked boys cease from troubling. Pos Bush and Buff Sudd, where are they? Where is Dan Holiday, who used to go every year to the Trowbridge Fair, and wollop " the knobs" but somehow, he always came back with his visage, somewhat distorted.
By the way, we had, at the time, I have been considering a traditional boast that one Bradford gudgeon could swallow three Trowbridge knobs. But then we, were a vain glorious lot and meagre the sneers of the Bath chaps, who used to call the old town " Snuffy Bradford" there was a strong local pride there, and it was not a little of exultation that we often heard the cherry voice of Mum Kelson as he twirled his staff and shouted in the Old and New Market Places and at other coigns of vantage, " O Pretty Bradford!"
( The following is an Electoral Squib that was issued at the election of 1837 referred to above. No doubt the names in the letter and the squib will be familiar with the older inhabitants of the town!)

The Red Man and Fat Man
My Fellow Electors: Just listen to me,
And I will advise you the way to be free,
If a red whispered man, who wears a white hat,
or another bright lawyer, well known as the Fat
Should be peeping about to solicit a vote-
For Burdett, surnamed, the faded turncoat,
O! spurn the Red man and the Fat man away,
Nor fall on a Stone, nor stray by the Way,
And the paths of transgressors be sure not to choose
Misled by hypocrisy's fanciful Hues;
O! take an honest Reformer's advise,
And do not be purchased though vast be the Price,
Nor listen to treason's insidious poison,
Though preached or explained from the lips of a Mizen.
Refuse and deny, though hard be the rub,
That lure of enchantment the smile of a Bubb,
O! gloomy and dark is a nation's sad fate
When Coopers are sinking the Vessel or State
And fearful and frightful, heaven bless the mark,
When the realm is directed or ruled by a Clarke.
O! Red-man and fat- man, away from our view,
Nor deceive us by tales that you know are untrue
And Electors, the Red- man and Fat- man beware
Nor promise your votes at the sign of the Bear,
for Methuen and Long let true Britons vote,
And spurn far way the hoary Turncoat.

To the Editor, April 24th 1885
As you have permitted a late communication of mine to appear in your valuable paper I venture to send you another batch of reminiscences of men and things in Bradford fifty years ago. I begin by stating that I was inside of my first decade when the Clutterbuck`s resided beyond Sladesbrook, on the road to Bradford Leigh. Madame Ballard or Balward then lived in a villa above Bearfield. One of the steeds that then drew her carriage had been a charger at Waterloo. Madame Timbrell resided in the Chantry House. The Baskervilles occasionally visited their haunted mansion at Woolley. The Yerbury`s lived on their hereditary estates at Belcombe, and the old road to Turly then went very near to their old mansion and sheer through the lawn up through the estate to that picturesque escarpment rock known as the "half-way stone" or seat. In the last century the Yerbury`s were Unitarian as the several memeorials in the old Unitarian Chapel attests. Some of the Knapp`s lived at Belcombe Place, so too did the Shrapnell`s, I think. The Bethell`s dwelt in Sat. Margaret's Street. The Hopkin`s in Mill Lane. Budget was building his villa in Mason's Lane.
The Zion Chapel was in construction and the wall, that encloses the Saunder`s plantation and garden, from the top of Mason`s Lane down to Pippet Street, and up again to Zion`s Chapel Hill, was then in contemplation Back of the Priory, on the Newtown Road, was called, behind the Methuens." The amiable and charitable curate at the Old Church was a Mr Jones. The parson at the Independent Chapel was a Mr Flemming, born Cambrian, and of course, fond of leek soup, flavoured with bacon. Deacon Sergent Smith was once invited to share a frugal meal with the worthy Welshman. Smith went to the table on which was a smoking tureen of the pungent broth, which proved to be the sole picce de viande . The Minister said grace, and having ladelled out a joram for his guest, addressed himself eagerly to the feast. Gulp after gulp went down the reverend gullet, which poor Smith was merely dallying, tasting and trying, and halting between two opinions. Seeing the deacon halting, the good parson said" Come James, pitch in". It's beautiful, it's capital isn't it?" "Yes," replied the blunt deacon, "it may be good for those who like it, but I must say, for one, that I don't like it." The flock that gathered at the Baptist Chapel was watched and cared for by a good kind hearted Mr. Seymour who was succeeded by a Mr. Radway, a pleasant faced man, in whose pulpit labours much-stereotyped phrase was used. More than fifty years ago I heard the great William Jay, of Bath, preach in the Baptist Chapel at Bradford. He wore on his finger a small ring with a diminutive diamond set in it, some fastidious persons in the congregation objected to the display of jewellery by the preacher. I think that, before I was old enough to appreciate, I on e heard the majestic Robert Hall preach in the aforesaid chapel. I do not know who were the itinerates at the New Wesleyan Chapel, as I was not taught to revere that respectable and zealous denomination. Nor do I remember who dispensed at Lady Huntingdon`s Chapel, in Bearfield. There was, however, one conspicuous object in that conventicle, to-wit, my lady's majestic coat of arms which was nearly six feet square, painted white and posted in front of the pulpit, before the humble congregation, as a sort of awful insignia of something or other. The magistrates of the town in that day, were Thomas Saunders and Thomas Tugwell; the latter was so diminutive that on one occasion, while on horseback, he was overtaken by a mounted stranger, who accosted him, from behind with an, " I say, young`un what`l zell your old`os vor?" Mr. Tugwell had a leonine face, which he turned on the saucy stranger, who was awed thereby into obeisance and without another word, he rode rapidly away. The lawyers then were Bush, on Church Street, and Stone on Pippet`s Street, and later a Mr. Way on St. Margaret's Street. The Banker was Mr. Lowther. The pedagogues were Bradshaw, at the top of Whitehead`s Lane, Grist at the Free School, and Sergt. Bright on White Hill. Madam Dolls, or Doles, kept the Infant's school in Coal Ash Walk, above Chantry, where she once made an unsuccessful attempt to impart to this writer the accomplishment of the alphabet. The last lingering old clothiers, who made by hand were one after another going out of business, and some of them into bankruptcy. Among them were Blake and Porch of White Hill, Gale and Smart of Druce`s Hill, elsewhere Renison, Mears, Hart and others. While as I said, some of these were going down, the great factories were going ahead with steam and new machinery, and making the best broadcloth in the west of England. I have seen rowing, shearing and finishing all done by hand. And I was once deservedly thrashed for bobbing a hand shear, on the pompillion while the men were away from the shop. At the time the old Fonthill factory failed, some of its apparatus was bought by the Saunder`s factory. Among these was a superb iron rowing frame, with two slabs of highly polished stone on it, these measured four by six feet and 7 or 8 inches thick. When the frame was unpacked an old shearman asked his companion" What those slabs were good for now?" The reply was, "They'll make good tombstones for the masters bye and bye." It was sad to hear the old shearman of that day bemoan their lost occupation, for they had been the best paid and the most independent craftsmen in the town, until the machine shear bobs took their work away and left most of them too old to turn their hands to other branches of manufactory. I think that the first Boulton and Watt`s engine in the town was put up at Posthumus Bush`s factory in Whit Hill. Old Posey, as he was called, was eccentric, and would walk about the "barton" in female pattens when then weather was nasty. He saved enough gear to take him comfortably to the end. The principle linen draper were John and George Alford, they totally unlike in person, habits and manners. The bakers were Bulgin, Bishop, Smart and Scaplehorn. The confectioners were Matthews, at the corner of Coppice Lane and the Shambles, and George Grist on Pippet Street. The watchmakers and jewellers were Bullock, in Pippet Street, Stump and Bubb, in the Old Market Place, and Cross, in White Hill. The latter was the first person to make illuminating gas in Bradford, which he did of fine quality, and lit his premises with it. Cross carried on Pork Butchering and a grocery trade, together with his watch and clock business. The chief grocers were Smart, Budget, Taylor in the Shambles, and meek Mother Rowden in Pippet Street. The stationers and printers were Stump and Bubb, and good Mr. Rawlings.
The Tavern keepers I did not get well acquainted with till later on in life. But the foregoing retrospect does not include a tithing of the well remembered names and faces of those in various vocations who over fifty years ago flourished in the old town. The suburbs or tithings I have not attempted. I remember, however, when the "tithemen" put up or down the new stocks on Whitehill, in accordance with the statute of King Edward III, but I believe no culprit was ever lodged in them. Many a poor devil, in the olden times, sat in the rain with his hobnails exposed from the old stocks on Bradford bridge. Late photographs disclose the fact that these are gone, together with another conspicuous object of sentir mauvais that was once down in the corner of bridge-end coping wall. Have you not abolished some of the old customs such as clipping the church at shrove tide, the noisy skimmertons, the jolly wassailers, with their loud songs lieges are not now permitted to wash chitterlings at Ladywelkl, and the blanchiseuses are no longer allowed to bang wet clothes with "bwitles" on the slips below Bradford bridge.
"But these are voices of the past,
Links of a broken chain,
Things that can bear me back to times
Which cannot come again."

The past! Yes I remember seeing the ox a roasting, back of Seals buildings on Trowbridge road, and my eating some of the frizzled beef. The occasion being the coronation of GeorgeIII. On the 19th day of July, 1821. In the year 1823 or 1824, the lurid night light fromm the burning of Staverton Factory alarmed the old Batten houses, back in the timber yard, on Whitehill. For reasons of a private nature I should be gald to learn the exact date of that fire. A large crowd of people went to see the spectacle. In addition to the quaint and queer picturesque ness of Bradford, it used to have a street and local nomenclature, some of which was unsavoury but actually appropriate to the paces so designated. I learn that crier Bush, over 40 yaers ago, proclaimed away many of these frightful appellations. The zizgzag direction thatwas once given to a stranger who at the Horse Shoes, enquired forn the nearest way to Bath, would not now be I order. His instructions were to - "goo auver the berdge, down the Bullpit, up`ang dog halley, long church str`t up Druses Hill, up Shocking Lane,` long Newtown, up Wine's pass, turn to y`r left an kip straight on." How such designations must have sounded to ears polite. By the way, are you not losing the old dialect? I find but few new comers to this country from the west of England who can now understand such simple interrogations as - Waar bis tha vrom? Woot`n tha come we I acraas the waa an ya a drap o zummat? And thern too, how obsolete are the old accosts, such as- "Ets a main nice marnin`s marnin, yen`t it? Well so`s
Alive! Woo`d, a thought a zeein you`s atternoon! Why I `ired zombody za that ya wer up a twom leame and ya werdn`t yabble to obble out durs,"
So much for trhe old "Doric," It would be well if some Wiltshire Bard would do for your fast fading vernacular what Barnes did for the Dorset Dialect. Old Molly Dix who used to sell saloop or sloop on Bradford Bridge more than fifty years ago, was able to hold her own against all comers, ostler or jarvies, in the rougher specimens of Saxon. Jim Whittaker the watercress man was highly accomplished in the primitive local speech. But of all the voices that rang through the air in the old town that of Becky`s who sold hot cakes, was the shrillest. She would lift up her staccrato of hot cakes in such ear piercing tones as could be heard from Bradford Bridge to Budbury Hill. What has become of the donkey drivers who used to bring their animals laden with sacks of coals to the Bullpit? The sand pedlar too, perhaps he does not now stop at the Old Bear door and urge the Land lady with such persuasions " Naow Missus `tes a good bag o zand an ya`d better t`yak an ya`n," &c. Does the town crier yet announce in season that you can buy"fine fresh mackerel at the Old Bear door?" My father rang the 2nd bell in that noble peal of Holt`s Grandsire which was rung in Bradford Belfry on the 7th day of September, 1799, when 5,040 changes were completed in 3 hours and 25 minutes. Well might the mural tablet, in the tower name the ringers- the celebrated youth of the town. Forty years ago Rev. A.C. Coxe, now Bishop of western New York and a relative of President Cleveland, was visiting England where he became so delighted with the bell ringing that he wrote an ode on " The Chimes of old England" one verse of which was:

I love ye, chimes of motherland
With all this soul of mine,
And bless the Lords that I am sprung
Of good old English line!

Has that great feat of the old Bradford ringers ever been beaten? I think not. It used to be the favourite theme. How the doctors tried to force the tower down for fear the young ringers would kill themselves at their work- How each man was fed by an attendant who carried around a can from which he took bread sops of brandy and popped them into the open mouths of the ringers. How stout William Gibbs dropped his rope on the heavy seventh, and fell exhausted to the floor and thus ended the peal. How he was borne out and put to bed- the excitement and hurrahs all over the town, all this and much more was the talk in my day, and doubtless is the tradition with you. Some Bath ringers came to Bradford in 1828 or 1829 and tried to accomplish the great feat, but one hour and 20 minutes was enough for them. Bradford fair too is gone, they say. When I was a devourer of gingerbread, the stalls laden with that refection extended from the Swan Inn to Edmond`s factory in Church Street, and nearly up to the "baish" on Pippet street. Old Thespian Lismore with his bespangled corps, acme annually to the fair and pitched tent in the New market place, while over the bridge Wombwell or Atkins came with blaring bands roaring beasts and flaring canvas pictures which last were hoisted into place amid the applause of the noisy multitude. The cattle and horse fairs then extended from Timbrells, on St. Margaret`s Street, up to the old poorhouse beyond the Cross Keys. I once heard the superintendent of the poor house-old-Bummy Ferris-expostulate with a jockey who was enraged at the nefarious work of stimulating an old mare with ginger quid's. It was a colloquy between the two men not soon to be forgotten, and even now, as I write n, provokes a spasm of laughter not easily suppressed. I suppose that the gitanoes still continue to set up the devil on three sticks for the boys to pelt, at a penny a throw. But the English Gypsies have come to America by droves. They go south to Texas in winter and roam as far north as Minnesota in summer. Here they have good wagons and vans and teams. Their doxys are all well dressed, and they are fat and saucy. All the Gypsies in England would come over if they only knew how their brethren thrive here in indolence and honest horse dealing. A most remarkable man in Bradford more than 50 years ago was William Huntley, who was born blind. He was a universal favourite, for he was the very impersonation of amiability. He was tall and of well-developed form, had a fine pale, intellectual face, and as compensation his senses of hearing and feeling were marvellously acute. As he walked fearlessly in the highway, carrying his hands across, his fingers worked incessantly as if on the keys of a piano. He carried his head a little inclined to the right as if intently listening. I have seen him more than once walk around an obstruction like a wheelbarrow or a truck that had been carelessly left in the road, for the sound of his plantigrade step always told him if anything was in the way. He had also a wonderful faculty of knowing just where he was in the way. He had also a wonderful faculty of knowing just where he was on the road almost to an inch. I have seen him many a time walk down Pippet Street in the middle of the road till he was opposite my father's house when he would suddenly halt, for a moment, turn round and go straight across the gutter at one step to the walk, and on to the door knob would put his hand without deviation. When into the house he would go straight to the clock avoiding chairs, take the key off the nail, wind up and set the clock, this he did every Saturday for several years. With his fine intelligent hand Huntley could repair clocks and make delicate instruments, he was also a good performer on the clarinet. I have heard my father say that he and Huntley were playmates, and that, when they were small boys, they used to climb to the old clock tower at Yerberys where Huntley would feel the then silent clock all over, and talk of its mechanism with great satisfaction. Do you know if the leaden woman now a day gets off her pedestal when she hears the clock strike at Belcombe? The discovery of the Old Saxon church, St. Lawrence, was an event of deep interest to me when I heard of it, on this side of the ocean. I suppose that the structure is unique, i.e. there is no other authenticated Saxon Church of that period standing in England and perhaps not in the world. Kirtlington church in Cumberland was once thought to be Saxon but I believe that archaeologists disdain this pretension. Am I right as to these statements relative to the old edifice? The solecism and incoherence in the foregoing occur from inability to do better. For they all too frequent recurrence of the personal pronoun- the first person singular I crave the immunities of senility and am yours cordially Daniel Batchelor.