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1911 Coronation and Fox Glen

The Coronation of King George V and his wife Mary and the Opening of Fox Glen: 22nd June 1911

1911 Coronation and Fox Glen

King Edward VII had died on the 6th May 1910, and was succeeded by his son George Frederick Ernest Albert. Plans were set in motion for his Coronation, which would take place the following year.

In February 1911 Councillor Sheldon gave notice at the Stocksbridge council meeting of a motion regarding the observation of Coronation Day. It was resolved to form a sub-committee to organise the events, and meetings about the celebrations were held in the Works School on the main road with the headmaster, Henry Jones, presiding. The committee would include representatives of the Sunday schools and day-schools. A bank account was set up with the local branch of the London and City Bank. Mr. Rimington Wilson of Broomhead Hall sent a cheque for £5, Gregory and Company sent £5. 5s. and Lowood and Company promised some cash too. The Co-op promised to provide a tea for the “old people” of 60 years and over. Any surplus funds after the event were to go to a memorial fund for the erection of a drinking fountain or monolith in Fox Glen. A programme of ceremonies was to be arranged, and some posters ordered to advertise the day. Stocksbridge Brass Band were invited to attend, a military torchlight tattoo was to be organised, hymn singing decided upon, a field for the singing to be found, and a fete organised. Prices were to be sought for a firework display, although I don't think this happened.

The Trustees of the late Samuel Fox donated some land at Deepcar known as The Clough to the people of Stocksbridge and District, and this was to be officially opened on Coronation Day, henceforth being known as Fox Glen.

There was talk of each school pupil receiving a medal to commemorate the Coronation. A letter was sent to William Henry Fox (Samuel's son) asking him about a suggestion that the medals should have an impression of his father on them. Prices were obtained for both an aluminium medal and a more expensive bronze one. A suggestion that the schools should contribute towards the cost of them was vetoed. Another suggestion was that mugs would be far more useful. Initially, 3,000 medals were to be ordered, but two weeks before the big day it was decided that the idea of the children’s medals be dropped.

Mr. Rimington Wilson arranged for a beacon fire to be lit on the heights of Hunger Hill, and had ordered that the necessary materials be obtained. He also consented to give about a thousand yards of land which he owned adjoining the Clough. A letter was written to Fox’s requesting permission to light a beacon fire at the top of Hunshelf Bank. It was decided that the oldest inhabitant in the district be invited to light this beacon.

The idea of a torchlight tattoo was almost dropped because there had been little or no response to a request for participants, but it was decided to ask the Halifax Boys’ Brigade, along with the Stocksbridge Brigade, to help out.

There was to be a united procession of all the area’s youngsters on the day, and the committee resolved that all teachers in the Elementary Day Schools be asked to take part in the procession, as their services would be invaluable for the maintenance of order and discipline.

At some point, some land which was known as The Clough at Deepcar had been acquired by the late Samuel Fox, and as part of the celebrations this land was to be handed over as a gift to the people of Stocksbridge by his Trustees. The area had been a site of industry over the years, with coal pits and sandstone quarries being worked there. The Council were unanimous that the Clough should be made into a beauty spot, and that the Coronation Day procession should pass through it. William Henry Fox was to be invited to the opening ceremony, when its name would be changed to “Fox Glen.” Work began on the Clough a few weeks before it was officially opened, with new footpaths being laid and more land being acquired – an additional two acres at the Broomfield Lane entrance and a three-cornered piece at the Deepcar entrance, making, together with the land donated by Mr. Rimington Wilson, about 7 acres. The Council resolved to approach Mr. Wilson about purchasing a further strip of land and an adjoining cottage.


CORONATION DAY – Thursday 22nd June 1911
The inhabitants of the district spared neither money nor time in decking out their houses and streets. Bunting, banners, streamers, festoons and flowers and flags were everywhere. According to the local newspaper, scarcely a house in the district failed to show honour to their King in a display which far outdid that of the previous Coronation. Union Flags flew from churches, public buildings and the works of Fox’s, Gregory Reddish, Lowood, and others.

The Coronation festivities began very early in the morning at Bolsterstone with a 6am inspection drill for the Bolsterstone Boys’ Brigade. Morning services were held at the various churches and Coronation hymns were sung.

The procession took place in the afternoon, headed by the members and the officials of the Stocksbridge Urban District Council. The procession began at Deepcar and headed for Stocksbridge, with various groups joining along the way, including Sunday Schools, Deepcar school pupils, people from the Wesleyan chapel and St. Ann’s Catholic Church. By the time they reached Stocksbridge well over a thousand had joined in. Their numbers were further swelled when between five and six hundred pupils from the Stocksbridge Church school and four to five hundred from the Congregational Church joined them. Then it was the turn of the Stocksbridge Co-operative Committee, members of the Oddfellows’ Sick Society and the Druids (in their regalia). At the Friendship Hotel the members of the R.A.O.B. [Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes] in their regalia joined in, and then some three hundred people from the Primitive Methodist chapel joined at Horner House. The huge procession went up Hole House Lane and Bracken Moor to the Church Cricket Field. At 2pm 200 Bolsterstone school children were marched down to meet the main procession at the Cricket Field. Also in attendance were the 1st Stocksbridge Company of the Boys’ Brigade and the members of the Fire Brigade, all in uniform. A platform had been set up, and the crowds were marshalled in front of it.

It was here that the formal presentation of Fox Glen was made between 3pm and 4pm, and a dedication service held. William Henry Fox had written to express his regret at being unable to attend, and the presentation was made by Mr. J. G. Jeffery, another of Samuel Fox’s trustees. A letter from Mr. Fox was read out, and the deeds handed over to Henry Jones. The Glen now belonged to the public forever, and it was hoped that it would be a pleasure to the young and provide a resting-place for the old. Three cheers were given. The issue of the Glen - it's maintenance, planting, vandalism, caretaker, and so on, would keep the Council arguing for years and fill many column inches in the local newspapers on a regular basis.

The Coronation hymn “Joy bells are ringing” was "heartily sung," accompanied by the Stocksbridge Old Brass Band, after which there were prayers and the National Anthem. The procession set off again, this time heading to Fox Glen. They proceeded through the Glen, emerging at the Wood Royd end and on towards Stocksbridge, disbanding for tea.

At the schools the children were supplied with a “substantial tea.”

At Stocksbridge in the evening, from 7pm to 9.15pm, there were entertainments in the field on Ford Lane, with the Stocksbridge Old Prize Band again in attendance. The Halifax battalion and the 1st Company Boys’ Brigade gave demonstrations in a Massed Dumb Bell Drill, Parallel Bar Exhibitions and Swedish Drill, which was followed by a Military Tattoo. When it was time for the Halifax boys to leave, they were accompanied back to Deepcar train station by the Stocksbridge Boys’ Brigade. The local hostelries took advantage of a half-hour’s extension.

At Bolsterstone at 5pm there was a meat tea provided in the National School for the Church scholars, after which each child was presented with a Coronation cup with a photograph of their Majesties upon it. At six o’clock all the widows in Bolsterstone sat down to a “substantial repast.” The Bolsterstone Boys’ Brigade and the Stocksbridge Fire Brigade were entertained to tea at the same time. During the evening a band under the conductorship of Mr. Seth Sanderson played selections upon the village green, and the Sunday School scholars sang hymns and patriotic songs. At 7pm the members of the Fire Brigade gave a display of life-saving and fire-extinguishing and at 9.30pm the Bolsterstone Brigade, under the command of the Rev. C. Edgington, an ex-military officer, gave a magnificently disciplined torchlight tattoo.

All bonfires across the UK were lit at the same time, 10pm. The beacon fire was lit on Hunshelf Height by Mrs. Cuttle, aged 89, the oldest inhabitant of the district [born c1822]. The bonfire at Bolsterstone was lit on Mr. Rimington Wilson’s estate. The lady who lit the Hunshelf fire was Elizabeth Cuttle, and she was born on the 27th August 1821. She was 89 years old when the census was taken on 2nd April 1911 and would still have been 89 on Coronation Day, 22nd June. She was the daughter of Charles Askham and Ann Ramsden of Snowden Hill and was one of 19 children according to a newspaper article about her. Elizabeth first married Samuel Ro[d]ger[s], then Samuel Elliott and finally Edward Cuttle/Cuttil (spellings vary). She lived at Briery Busk, Hunshelf, for many years and died there in 1916 at the age of 94. She outlived all but one of her 14 children and at her 90th birthday she had 35 grandchildren, 16 great-grandchildren and one great-great grandchild. Elizabeth features in my story The Mysterious Death of Joseph Downing - she was his niece - which is on my website (link at the bottom of this page).

Family history note: Elizabeth and her first husband Samuel Rodgers had a son called Joseph who married Lucy Walton in 1885; she’d given birth in the Union Workhouse to an illegitimate son, Harry Walton, in 1883. He was my partner Keith Bramall’s great grandfather.

A Coronation Tree was planted by Mrs. Mary Grayson on land at Broomfield Lane, who was apparently in her 90th year. The ceremony was attended by members of the Council and others. This tree had to be replaced the following year. I am not sure why, but road mending materials had been stored on the site and perhaps the tree had become damaged. The tree was a sycamore.

Mary Grayson was said to be in her 90th year, implying that she was 89. This would make her about the same age as Mrs. Cuttle. Mary’s maiden name was Hawke, and she was the sister of my 4x great-grandmother Hannah Hawke, who had married Jonathan Crawshaw in 1837. Mary had been married twice; first to Thomas Grayson and then to James Grayson. She was born the year before Elizabeth Cuttle, on the 1st June 1822; she would have only just turned 89 on Coronation Day. She died in 1914 at Haywood Lane aged 92.

Although the idea of commemorative medals for the schoolchildren was abandoned, special bronze coins were minted by a silversmiths and jewellers in Manchester called Elkington & Co. Ltd. They were issued to the Fox employees still living in 1911 who had come to work for Samuel Fox from his home village of Bradwell in Derbyshire. The heads of the various departments at the Works were also issued with one. The “head” of these bronze medals showed the bust of Samuel Fox and the dates of his birth and death and the “tail” had the words “Fox Glen opened June 22nd 1911.” These are now very rare, because, according to Christine Herbert in her booklet Fox Glen Remembered, it was discovered that it was actually illegal to offer a coin depicting a head which wasn’t that of the reigning sovereign. I am unsure how many of these coins were made, but most of them were impounded by the local council. I have not been able to verify this story. Not all were handed in, and they do turn up from time to time. I cannot see many people wanting to hand them back, but they must have done. Note: Christine Herbert writes that around 300 coins were issued, and Jack Branston thinks the number was about 70-80. The original plan was for 3,000 medals to be issued.

Branston, Jack. The History of Stocksbridge pp137-138
Herbert, Christine. Fox Glen Remembered
Kenworthy, Joseph. History of Stocksbridge Handbook 18a: Old Registers and Old Scholars p17. Privately printed 1916
Church records and census returns at Findmypast and Ancestry
Local newspapers at Findmypast

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