1916, 8 July – Batley News

Here is this week’s round-up of pieces from the Batley News relating to the parish of St Mary’s.

This was the first week’s edition after the start of the Battle of the Somme. Although news was filtering through of a “Great Battle in France,” including casualties, this week carried no reports about St Mary’s men.

As usual I have put in bold the names of those connected to the parish who served with the military. And, as ever, the spelling and punctuation matches that of the newspaper.

A parishioner, John Hughes, suffered a fatal fall at a local Irish Club. His death was the subject of an inquest.

Retired Miner Killed by Falling Down the Stairs.
Thirteen Steps – An Unlucky Number.

Sunday at the Irish National League Club at Batley closed with a sad tragedy when John Hughes, aged 70, a retired miner, of 28, Hume Street, fell down the stairs at the entrance to the premises and received such terrible injuries that he died a few hours afterwards. The case was investigated at the Batley Town Hall on Tuesday afternoon by Mr. P. P. Maitland, the Coroner.

Ellen Hughes, 28, Hume Street, said deceased, John Hughes, was her husband and was 70 years of age. He was a miner, and worked up to two years ago, when he had a serious illness. He began to fail and was lame in the left leg. He had to walk with a stick, but had been able to go about. Last Sunday [he?] was not very well, although he ate his meals [???] He went out after tea, and witness heard nothing else till about 10 p.m., when she heard he had been hurt at the United Irish League Club, where he was a member. When she got there he was in the cellar. He was alive but not conscious. He was taken home, and died at 4.15 the next morning, after being attended by Dr. Broughton. Deceased did not drink too much.

John Thos. Munns, the old Batley footballer, said he was the steward at the United Irish League Club, where Hughes was a member and frequent visitor. Deceased was in the Club on Sunday and had one small whisky and a glass of old beer. At nine o’clock Hughes was in a small room, quietly smoking and sober. He was very feeble. Half an hour later witness heard a crash as of someone falling down the steps. Michael Lavin cried out “It’s old John,” and some of the members went to the deceased’s assistance. It was a wooden staircase with thirteen steps.

The Coroner: An unlucky number.

Witness said that at the bottom of the steep stairs there were stone flags. There was a hand-rail. Witness was quite satisfied it was an accident, and that deceased was sober.

Mr. W. Ellis asked if deceased had got any other liquor, and the reply of the witness was in the negative.

Michael Lavin, 6, Whitaker Square, Batley, and attendant at Dewsbury Union, said he was a member of the Club, and was there on Sunday evening. At half-past nine he heard a thud at the entrance. The steps were well lit. Deceased was sitting on the bottom step in a crouching position, with his head against the wall. He was bleeding from the ear and nostril, and Dr. Broughton was called in.

The Coroner: There was no disturbance in the Club?

Witness: No.

Are you satisfied he fell down the steps? —I think there is nothing else for it.

Do you think these steps are so worn as to be dangerous? —They could be remedied, and given a better gradient.

Dr. A. G. S. Broughton said he found deceased had been laid on the cellar floor. It was a perfectly hopeless case, and Hughes was dying, From a post-mortem examination he found there was a fracture of the base of the skull extending to the forehead, with severe haemorrhage into the cranium and brain compression. He must have come into violent contact with a hard substance.

The Coroner said there was no doubt it was an accident. The evidence went to show that Hughes was feeble and rather lame in one leg. Probably the ferrule of his stick slipped on one of the knots in the wooden stairs, and if he slipped that way he would fall down. The fall would be mainly due to his lameness, It might be well if the owner of the premises had these steps renewed.

The jury returned a verdict in accordance with the evidenced, and the foreman endorsed the Coroner’s remark in regard to the desirability of the steps being repaired.

The Coroner: It does not belong to Mr. Redmond, does it? (Laughter.)

His death also featured in the family announcements.

HUGHES. —On July 3rd, aged 70 years, John Hughes, 28 Hume Street.

In St Mary’s school news:

Three more schools libraries have been established in Batley – at the Parish Church School (C.E.), St. Mary’s (R.C.), and Park Road (Council).

A parishioner was in front of the magistrates:


Wm. Henry Scelley, scourer, North Bank Road, Batley, and George Hy. Lee, machinist, Smithies Lane, Birstall, were summoned for a breach of the peace in Wellington Street on the 25th ult.; and Scelley pleaded guilty. Both said they fought in self-defence. —They were bound over for twelve months, and to pay costs, the Mayor observing “When you want to fight go across the water.”

The final piece of news this week was a letter from Gunner Walter Waite:

“Cheer Up! We Shall Make Things Hum!”

Anxiety concerning Gunner Walter Waite, son of Mr. and Mrs. R. Waite, of Beck Lane, Carlinghow, has been relieved this week by a letter from him. He is in Mesopotamia with the Artillery attached to the Indian Expeditionary Force, and prior to the receipt of this week’s message, nothing had been heard from him for nearly 13 weeks. He says:—

I am in good health. We had a terrible march up country, and we were nearly up to the neck in water in some places. Then we had two or three engagements. It is the worst country in the world for heat and floods, but we avenged General Townshend if we did not relieve him.1

We feel it and no mistake, and we had hard lines in April. I wish I could tell you all I have seen; it would open your eyes. I would rather be in France two years than be here a week. The place is a mystery.

Cheer up; We shall make things hum before long. It is all trackless country here, and the river is starting to dry up. That is a mystery too!

The enemy will never get back what we have got, again. I had a touch of dysentery, but have got over it. There are one or two here from Gallipoli, and they wish they were back. We passed the place where the King of the Jews was buried.

The Arabs are among our enemies, and we have knocked a few over, as they are fighting for the Turks. There is a lad from New Street in one of our Batteries, and they crown themselves with glory. I saw him last in Marseilles.

General Charles Townshend and his troops were besieged and captured at the Siege of Kut, December 1915 to April 1916. Three unsuccessful attempts were made by British forces to fight their way through to Kut, and relieve the besieged troops before their eventual surrender on 29 April 1916.