I’ve drawn the old scouring mill at Horbury Bridge several times this year, not because I’m particularly interested in the old buildings but because of the attraction of overlooking the mill, scribbling in my sketchbook as we wait for coffee and croissants at Di Bosco, just across the road.
Overlooking and scribbling . . . (with apologies for that terrible link) . . .
Arthur Pearson, a scribbling overlooker, worked in one of the woollen mills at Horbury Bridge until shortly before the start of World War I, when he started working for a large woollen cloth manufacturer in Freiburg, Bohemia. After getting into an argument about the Emperor and the Kaiser in the local barber’s, he was interned from March 1915 until December 1918, when he made his way back to Yorkshire.
Speaking to a reporter from the Leeds Mercury, he said that in Vienna ‘food and clothing were only purchasable by the very rich people; in fact, money at times could not buy food, and he had seen gold watches given in exchange for a loaf of black bread.’
Tea was selling at £2 per lb, salmon 30 shillings a tin, jam 25 shillings per jar and rice £2 per lb. A suit of clothes sold for anything from £80 to £120, but, Mr Pearson noticed, ‘the cloth was of very poor quality’.
Scribbling was the initial process of combing the wool prior to spinning it into yarn.
War Office Casualty lists for 8 October 1918, a little over a month before the end of hostilities, listed Private B Clark, 46532, of Horbury, who was serving in the Durham Light Infantry. In the previous month Private J Heald, 40981, of Horbury Bridge was listed as a casualty on the 10th.
In June two soldiers from Horbury Bridge had been listed as casualties, Private W H Osterfield, 48495, of the West Yorkshire Regiment and Private D Hall, 242319, of the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry.