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Great-grandpa’s Huddersfield poem

Posted by on October 5, 2013

My great-grandparents families, the Liversedges and Cooks were firmly rooted in the West Riding of Yorkshire, specifically Huddersfield.  Alfred John was born in Huddersfield and although the family moved for a while to Halifax they soon returned.  Charlotte Fanny was born in Fitzwilliam Street Huddersfield and her family lived there for many years although she moved to Almondbury to keep house for two of her brothers.

Alfred and Charlotte were married in October 1879 just four months after Alfred had left Hopkinsons and moved to Belfast.  They never returned to live permanently in Huddersfield although it must have retained a special place in their hearts; their four children were baptised there, the two boys born in Belfast and the two girls born in Glasgow.

I have a keepsake book that belonged to Charlotte in which Alfred has transcribed a poem to Huddersfield.  The poem isn’t dated but Charlotte was given the book by her friend Mollie on 8th February 1878 her 26th birthday and the surrounding pages have dates around 1879-80.  I wonder if Alfred wrote it when feeling homesick for Charlotte and Huddersfield when first in Belfast or when they were both away from home and family.

I like the quote at the top of page: “His ain clinkum-clankham things that he ca’s rhyme – gude help him” – Andrew Fairservice[i].

Oder’s Feld by Alfred John Liversedge

Tis not for any ancient towers or halls,

Nor yet for any old, embattled walls,

Reared by the Romans when they ruled the land

With firm and warlike, but improving hand.

Tis not because a saint lies buried here

Regarded once with reverential fear;

Nor yet because dame nature here displays

Her wonderous power in uncommon ways.

Tis not for such things Huddersfield is famed,

And in far distant countries often named.

 

And yet the antiquary here may find

Something to please his curious, searching mind

Hopkinsons Huddersfield

Hopkinsons Huddersfield

Where Almondbury’s house of prayer and praise

Retains some relics of the good old days;

Or where more ancient Cambodunum still

Exhibits traces of the Romans’ skill.

And to the lover of the wood and field,

This place at least some quiet joys will yield.

 

But see those buildings, huge and plain,

Defaced with many a dirty stain

Those chimneys tall that seem to rise

As though they meant to pierce the skies.

Enter that doorway, open wide

And see what those bare walls do hide.

Now watch the busy cleaning willy,

The roaring devil, and slubbing billy,

The carder, scribbler, or more useful still,

The new condenser, triumph of man’s skill.

Observe those shuttles, whose swift flight,

Rivals almost the speed of light;

And every process, every art,

Every machine that plays a part

In making clothing that the sheep have borne

Fit by their human masters to be worn.

It is for these things Huddersfield is famed,

And in far distant countries often named.

 

Let other places boast their old remains

Their monuments of Romans, Saxons, Danes;

Their halls, their castles, walls and towers,

Their hills, their lakes, their lovely bowers –

Rests Huddersfield content with that renown,

She gains by being the greatest woollen town.

 

 

 

 

 



[i] Andrew Fairservice is a character in Rob Roy by Walter Scott

 

 

2 Responses to Great-grandpa’s Huddersfield poem

  1. Susie Gutch

    I was interested to read about your family’s connection [and affection for] Huddersfield in the 19th century.I’ve just been staying in Yorkshire, visiting family and friends, and went to see the Cloth and Memory exhibition at Salt’s Mill, Saltaire. Fascinating the see the remains of the textile industry which once dominated the townscapes all around – the sheer scale of them.It’s harder to imagine the towns full of smoke, noise and people -as they must have been.What a grand poem – it must have taken some copying in a fair hand.
    I especially liked all the technical terms used in the wool weaving process.In Hebden Bridge I finally learned what fustian was!

  2. Margaret McAlpine

    A wonderful composition from an ordinary person! Poetry was far more mainstream in the 19th century – local newspapers often published poems and certainly my ancestors were taught to write poetry at school in the mid-19th century far more seriously than I was.

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