Treasure of the Week no. 34: Holroyd’s almanac for 1864 – and the morals of Bradford. From Cab Fares and Public Baths to Thumps and Rushbearings

In the basement of Bradford’s Local Studies Library are collections of nineteenth century pamphlets (and some of earlier date). Ranging from sermons and programmes of royal visits, to reports, articles, obituaries and regulations, they are a treasure trove of local history. What follows is an account of one of these treasures.

Holroyd’s Historical Almanac for the Year of Our Lord 1864. Published by Abraham Holroyd, Bookseller & Stationer, Bradford. 32 pages (Reference: JND 130/11)

Almanacs (or ‘almanacks’) were popular in the mid-to-late nineteenth century. These annual compilations of local information, often produced by local newspapers, contained a rich mixture of facts: astronomical, calendar, national, local, political, legal, administrative and sometimes hints and anecdotes. The following from the contents pages of Holroyd’s 1864 Almanac is typical:

Phases of the Moon -1864; Eclipses – 1864
Stamps, Duties, Receipts, Agreements, etc.
Rates of Postage, Inland and Foreign
Money Orders, etc.
Telegraph Companies
Delivery and Departure of Mails
Bradford Post Office Regulations
Parcel Offices
List of Fairs, Feasts, Tides, Thumps and Rushbearings

THE CALENDAR with page per month noting:
The Flower Garden
Festivals, and Memorable Events
Rising and Setting of the Sun and Moon

The Kings & Queens of England
The Queen and the Royal Family
Her Majesty’s Government: the Cabinet
Present MPs for the West Riding.
MPs from the Borough of Bradford
The West Riding Magistrates
The Borough Magistrates
Special Sessions
Morality of the Borough of Bradford
Bradford County Court Information
Public Business and Borough Regulations
Banks and Bankers in Bradford
Former Mayors in Bradford
The Bradford Town Council
Committees of the Town Council
Officers of the Corporation
Borough Police Department
Borough Coroner
Inspector of Weights and Measures
Board of Guardians, Bradford Union
Overseers and Collectors of Poor Rates
Relieving and Medical Officers
Public Baths
Registrars of Marriages, Birth and Death
Cab Fares in Bradford
Proverbs and Wise Sayings
The Principal Hotels in Bradford
Temperance Hotels and Boarding Houses
Commercial Dining Rooms
Eating Houses

All human life is here, or a lot of it. Anyone wanting to know what life was like in the past would do well to quarry these yearly almanacs. Absent in this one are descriptions of the towns and village covered by the publication, but we learn that there were three temperance hotels in Rawson Place; that Bradford’s MPs were Henry Wickham and W. E. Forster; that hackney cab fares were a shilling for up to a mile, thence six pence a mile and that the Post Office opened at 7 a.m. (7.30 in winter).

Ah! But what about the ‘Morality of the Borough of Bradford’ as noted in the Contents above? Well:

Number of Constables 119
Known Thieves 91
Receivers of Stolen Goods 5
Prostitutes 151
Suspected Persons 114
Vagrants 491
Houses of Bad Character 5
being Public Houses 20

Brothels 58
Tramps’ Lodgings 45
Crimes Committed 247
Apprehensions 170
Committed for Trial 84
Burglaries 3
Breaking into shops 29
Highway Robbery 4
Laceny 173
Offences against the Person 5
Drunkeness 162

The meaning of some of these headings will have changed over the last century and a half, and also how crimes are allocated to headings, but it is clear that the Borough police force and the courts had plenty to do.
Compiler of the Almanac, Abraham Holroyd, was born in Clayton in April 1815, one of four children. His parents were both handloom weavers and the family were very poor. Self-educated, Abraham joined the army and saw service in Canada, hunting down rebels. He bought himself out of the army, settled in New Orleans, and married. After eight years in North America, Holroyd returned to England, setting up in business as a stationer and bookseller in Bradford’s Westgate. With the assistance of Titus Salt, Holroyd published a number of books on local history and become well-known in literary circles. He died in 1888.
We conclude this peek into 1864 Bradford with some entries from October:

  1. Sudden death in Bolton Road, Bradford, of John Howard, the pedestrian’
    Fire at Bank Mill, Morley, occupied by Mr. James Bradley; damages £2000.
    Luke Knowles, 24, carter, of Bingley, drowned by falling into the Bradford Canal at
    Spinkwell Locks.
    Gale on the East Coast and loss of life.
  2. Mortality of Bradford for the week ending this day, 90.
    William Frankland, 7. Of Lidget Place, Great Horton, killed by being run over by a
    contractor’s cart, in Beckside Road.
    Opening of a new school at Low Moor, erected by the Low Moor Company.
  3. Opening of new Independent Chapel and schools at Little Horton.
    18 John Egan, labourer, killed by being run over on the Midland Line, near Shipley.
    A resolution passed at the West Riding Sessions at Wakefield, pointing out the evils
    caused by the great increase of grocers’ drink licences, and asking that the
    magistrates should have the same control over those licences as they have over
    Laying of the memorial stone of a new United Methodist Free Church at Morecambe.
  4. Death of Professor Wheatstone, the inventor of the electric telegraph.
  5. Samuel Waite, lately manager of Messrs. W. H. Smith & Son’s bookstall at Keighley
    Station, sentenced at the West Riding Sessions to six month’s imprisonment for
    embezzling the moneys of his employers.
    Heavy gales and floods throughout England and Scotland.
  6. Opening of the winter campaign of the Liberation Society by a large meeting in St.
    George’s Hall, Bradford; addresses by Messrs. R. W. Dale and J. G. Rogers.
  7. Further gales and floods in the North and Midland Counties; great loss of life and
    destruction of property.
  8. Mortality at Bradford for the week ending this day, 102.
    The body of Henry Taylor, shoemaker of Cleckheaton, found in Bowling Tunnel
    Laying of the memorial stone, by the Rev. J. G. Miall, of the new Greenfield
    Congregational Chapel, Lumb Lane, Bradford.
  9. Visit of the Royal Italian Opera Company to Bradford.
  10. Explosion of an ammonia still at Messrs. T. Illingworth & Co’s chemical works, Frizinghall.


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