Carr And Coal. 11th April

Hartley Bank Bridge


Our mooring was chosen to give us good access to a footpath that would take us up to Horbury. The path skirts a property that has high mesh fences and signs of cute dogs, we waved and smiled as we walked past the cameras in view. To cross the river we walked over an old railway bridge and soon we reached the railway lines cut deep into a cliff, one way Wakefield the other Manchester. A steep path gained us a lot of height up to the town, turning round the views of lush green fields stretched away with Emley Moor transmitter breaking the horizon.

That is quite some cutting

First thing today was find a birthday card for a very important man who turns 80 tomorrow and get it in the post. This done we were exactly where we wanted to be, outside St Peter and St Leonard Church. This is not your normal run of the mill parish church, that one was knocked down to make way for this one, the foundation stone being laid in February 1790.

St Peter;s and St Leonard’s

Why had we made a special visit? John Carr was a renowned English Georgian architect who designed and paid for the church to be built. He was famous for his bridges (Ouse Bridge in York, Ferry Bridge) buildings such as Harewood House, Newark Town Hall and plenty more. He became Lord Mayor of York in 1770 and 1785, where he founded an architectural practice that through the years ended up with my Grandfather and Father as partners, long after John Carr had passed away needless to say. So I had an interest to come and see the church as John is almost family.

One huge organ

Carr was born in Horbury and never forgot the town, returning to build the church
“as a memorial to his skill and bounty.” The original cost was £8000 with a further £2000 for the bells and organ, between £5 and £10 million today. He passed away in 1807 at the age of 84 leaving a small fortune of £150,000 or £93 million today (shame he didn’t leave any for my Dad!). In the 1950’s when repairs where taking place at St Peter’s a vault was found under the floor of vestry, this is where John Carr and members of his family are interred.

Very reminiscent of Newark Ballroom, just with pews

We arrived just as midday Mass was starting. Taking seats quickly on the far side of the church from the service we sat and respectfully listened, having chance to look around. The church was light despite the number of windows and reminded me of the ballroom in Newark, with it’s elaborate royal icing decoration.

So much
intricate detail

After the service several people came over to welcome us. We apologised for only having come to look round the church. Despite having a strong link to John Carr, we didn’t manage to get an offer to view the crypt where he is buried. There is an open day in a weeks time, but we want to be further on by then. The vicar came and had a chat too, we had after all swelled the congregation to 11!

Not quite structurally sound

John Carr was unacquainted with certain principles of engineering and he omitted supporting arches from the lower part of the steeple. This meant 100 years later the steeple was in danger of collapse and large steel girders had to be inserted. A large heavy stone ball used to sit on top of the spire, but gravitation became too much for it during a storm and it came crashing down through the church roof.

Carr Lodge all boarded up, waiting to be brought to life again

Carr Lodge sits a short distance away from the church. Built in 1770’s for John Bayldon it is a Grade 2 listed house. It was passed on to John Carr the lawyer, nephew of John Carr the architect and is surrounded by large gardens which are now a park. Sadly the house has been empty for some years and is boarded up awaiting a new purpose.

Quite a view

With a pork pie from one of the butchers we returned to Oleanna. The old railway bridge had to lead somewhere and in the afternoon Mick did some digging around on the internet. The lush fields that surround us, was until the 60’s, Hartley Bank Colliery. Two pit heads reached for the sky and numerous buildings covered the land where the cows now graze. The railway led to sidings and on to the main tracks, there was also a wharf for transporting the coal by water.

Hartley Bank Colliery
The wharf onto the canal

Who would have thought we were sat where so much industry and dirt had once been.

Who’d have thought

0 locks, 0 miles, 3 miles walked, 1 cliff climbed, 1 Sir 80, 1 church, 2 saints, 0 communion, 1 very pretty church, 2 many boarded up windows, 1 pork pie, 2 smiling boaters on CCTV, 1 house built on the flood plane, 2 pit heads, 5 whole hours, 4 muddy paws, 3 friends, 1 long snooze on the cards thank you.

Mrs Tilly nearly approves

One thought on “Carr And Coal. 11th April

  1. Christine Geraghty

    What a lovely church and a really interesting blog about the local history.

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