First upstairs Gallery
The trowel and mallet were presented to the Mayor of Huddersfield Owen Balmforth in 1908 for laying the foundation stone of the Hillhouse Elementary School. Cllr Balmforth, a liberal councillor, saw the importance of education up to a higher grade for all children.
The Victorian School room in Tolson Museum has desks with lids and inkwells. Two pupils sit together in most of these desks and the desks are in rows. At the front of the classroom is a blackboard with chalks and over the door hangs the teachers gown and his cane.
Though this is a Victorian room, classrooms looked very much like this until well into the 1950s and I remember sitting at one such desk in the Netherton Council School. There was ink in an inkwell for writing and you kept your books in the desk. There was a cane behind the Headmasters desk but I never saw it used!
Teasels are plants that grow widely in this area in the hedgerows. They are tall plants which have prickly egg shaped heads. The stalks with the heads were collected and dried. The teasels would be put in this trough and the cloth was drawn across the trough. This raised the ‘nap’ on the cloth which was subsequently shaved off the cloth with shears by the cropper. If there was no ‘teasel trough’ the teasels could be fastened to handles and drawn across the cloth, the cloth would then go for ‘cropping’.
Once you had woven your ‘piece’ of cloth you had to get it to market and for this you were initially dependent on horse power. Your horse had to be looked after and it had to have the correct saddle. As the cloth was heavy, the saddle was padded.
Gangs of horses could be used to transport cloth and in this case the leading horse or galloway would have bells attached to the saddle as in this example.
This waistcoat is skilfully made on beautiful fabric. It has embroaded pochets and fancy buttons. Surely worn by a dandy! Probable made about 1770.
The Huddersfield Canal, which stretches from Asply, Huddersfield, over and through the Pennine Hills, is 20 miles long and joins the Ashton Canal to Manchester. Work started to build the Huddersfield Narrow Canal in 1794 and by 1798 the canal had reached Marsden. 42 Locks had been built.
To get over the barrier of the Pennines a three mile tunnel through the hill had to be constructed. This was a massive engineering project and when finished it was the highest, deepest and longest tunnel in the world. Five reservoirs were built to supply the water needed. On 4th April 1811 it was finished. It was 20 miles in length with 74 locks.
It is a single tunnel and the boats were propelled through the tunnel by ‘legging’. To do this two boatmen had to be on their backs and move forward by pushing there feet against the tunnel roof. The last working boat went through the canal in 1937 and from then on it gradually declined.
In 1974 a plan was launched to reopen the canal and this was achieved in May 2001. Tunnel End is well worth a visit, you can take a trip into the tunnel.
Tolson Memorial Museum
Ravensknowle House was built between 1859 and 1861. It has some very ornate stonework. The stonework is particularly fine round the ‘arcaded’ bay window of the Morning Room. To construct these arcaded windows required great skill as the stones used not only had to have an upward curve but also come together as a semicircle.
It is a cotton banner and was made in 1819 to honour the victims of the Peterloo Massacre in Manchester. This banner had to be hidden between meetings. It is a rare survivor of thousands of banners that were carried at meetings calling for electoral reform and suffrage.
It is one of the 10 treasures of Tolson Museum and it was chosen to be part of the ‘A History of the World’, a joint project between the British Museum and the BBC. It has featured in the Peterloo exhibition in 2019 in Manchester.
Entrance, Tolson Museum
John Beaumont started out working in his father’s cloth manufacturing business in Dalton. He proved to be a gifted designer and worked developing design for other firms. He went into partnership with his brother-in-law in the manufacturing of fancy waistcoating.
He made investments in Scottish Railways and was a director of the North British Railway Company. In 1850 he bought the Ravensknowle Estate and had Ravensknowle Hall, designed by Richard Tress, built between 1859 and 1861. He was a local magistrate.
In 1845 the Huddersfield to Penistone Railway Line was started. This would join to the Manchester to Sheffield Line. It was an enormous challenge which needed the construction of 4 viaducts, 6 tunnels and 57 bridges. The line was opened in 1850. This is the Paddock Viaduct, the first of four stunning viaducts.