The Brig Barn Mystery

Brig BarnShip InnWas this outbuilding at the Ship Inn at ‘the Brig’ (Horbury Bridge), a barn or a stables? As there is a pulley to the left of the upper door/hatch could it have been a warehouse? Perhaps it was connected with the woollen or rag trade?

The lean-to, if we can judge by that matching window, appears to be part of the original building but the extension at the back looks like a later addition.

BarnfantailsTwenty or thirty years ago the upper storey was used as a loft for fantail pigeons. The entrance hatch and landing platform are still there in the middle of the upper door.

As I said the other day, there’s supposed to be a unique ladder or staircase inside but, from this side of the surrounding fence, I haven’t been able to spot it as the demolition continues.

I can see that the inner wall is modern-looking brick, the roof timbers sawn timber, so it is probably early twentieth century rather than early Victorian or Georgian. We can be sure that the stone-built, flag-roofed Ship Inn is at least 150 years old because it gets a mention (an unfavourable mention!)  in Baring-Gould’s account of Horbury Bridge in 1864.

Middups and Shippon

Ship Inn

What a shame that they’re demolishing this building that has been part of the townscape for so long. This was originally the rear of the inn, as you can see in the map below. The present main Wakefield to Huddersfield road through Horbury Bridge dates from the mid-twentieth century.

cowsThe field behind the Ship Inn was known as the Middups. Perhaps, like the place name Midhope this meant a secluded field in the middle of a valley.

It was in this field that local weaver and talented musician David Turton calmed a bellowing bull by tuning up his bass viol and playing a chorus from Handel.

The Ship sounds a likely name for an inn next to an inland waterway but alternatively it might refer to a shippon or cow shed.

Horbury Bridge 1906

Horbury Bridge
Ordnance Survey map of Horbury Bridge in 1906 superimposed on an Apple Maps aerial view. The old ‘barn’ marked in yellow.
Horbury Bridge, Ordnance Survey 1906

My thanks to Paul Spencer who pointed out, via Twitter, that there was a blacksmith’s close to the old ‘barn’. He sent me a copy of the Ordnance Survey map of Horbury Bridge for 1906 which I’ve superimposed on a present day aerial view. The ‘barn’, which I’ve highlighted in yellow, isn’t shown on the 1906 map but its footprint doesn’t overlap the older building – long demolished – immediately to the north, so it could be a century old.

Aerial view from the Apple Maps app.
Aerial view from the Apple Maps app. Note the new road which dates from the mid-twentieth century.

I’ve always wondered exactly how the Old Cut, abandoned and filled in during the twentieth century, fitted in to the layout of the Brig.

The river bridge of the early twentieth century was narrower than the modern version and crossed the river at a slightly different alignment.

Link; Account by Baring-Gould of the story of David Turton and the bull. This doesn’t mention that this took place in the field known as the Middups. My source for that was Horbury man Bernard Larrad, born (c. 1895-1980), who also told me that he had a photograph of himself as a baby sitting on Baring-Gould’s knee. Why he was so honoured wasn’t explained. As far as I remember, Bernard didn’t claim to be related to Baring-Gould.

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  1. I enjoyed the story of David Turton and the bull. The whole story of his playing the cello and going to London was really interesting, too. I’ve also been watching lots of videos about Cornish tin mines today, so now I feel like I’ve been on vacation! I also Googled “Yorkshire oat cakes” and found out how those are made. What an educational day it’s been! 🙂

  2. And I agree with you. It’s such a shame that old buildings like this one have to be demolished. I was glad to see that many of the old tin mines are being watched over by the National Trust.

    1. It’s still a mystery how old the building is but it’s fascinating going back to old maps and trying to picture things as they were. We’re lucky to have the National Coal Mining Museum a couple of miles up the road from Horbury Bridge at Caphouse Colliery. No view of a sparkling sea from its hilltop site but buzzards circling above the Smithy Brook valley is pretty good. I did a chapter on traditional Yorkshire food for ‘Wakefield Words’. As well as havver caak there was frummaty, haasty-pudding and rowly-powly pudding. I guess people burnt an awful lot of calories in those days.

        1. Only the footprint of the building remains now. It’s surprising how small it is! It’s opened up a lovely space on the triangle in the middle of Horbury Bridge. A great place for a village green or a market place. But I expect we’ll get yet another supermarket.

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