Wednesday, 27 March 2013

YORKSHIRE. Lock-ups at Holmfirth, Haworth, Horbury and Hunmanby

The lock-up in North Street, Haworth was demolished towards the end of the 20th century.
It had latterly been used as a shop and a picture of it can be seen at :


The lock-up in the 'Last of the Summer Wine' village of Holmfirth in West Yorkshire, is in Daisy Lane behind the Holy Trinity Church, HD9 1RP.  Known as 'Th'owd Towser' it is a listed building.  As the blue plaque tells us, it stands on the site of the original church lock-up built in or soon after 1597. It was rebuilt in the early 19th century and served as a lock-up and watch room on the upper floor and the large lower floor as a mortuary and fire/ambulance station.

It was Grade 11 listed 4.8.1983 and described as :

Former detached lock up. Early C19. Hammer dressed stone. Stone slate roof. Two
storeys. North elevation: large carriage doorway with massive stone lintel supported
on rounded padstones. Doorway to east and south elevtions (the latter blocked). West
elevation: first floor has narrow slit opening with vertical bar .
Source: English Heritage
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.



OS Grid Reference: SE1430208197
OS Grid Coordinates: 414302, 408197
Latitude/Longitude: 53.5702, -1.7855


The smaller of the two upper rooms was the lock-up and an iron ring, which is still set into the floor, was used to restrain violent prisoners. There is also a ledge which was used for a candle.
The larger room was for the use of the Constable and The Nightwatch.
It is not known where the term 'towser' comes from. It has always been a favourite name for a dog and I wonder if it meant to refer to the 'dog house'.

The lock-up held an unusual prisoner in 1685 when the Rev. Edward Robinson was detained therein whilst awaiting his removal to York. Robinson who was the assistant parish priest, was arrested for the capital offence of 'coining'. Coining was prevalent in the area at that time and consisted of cutting the edges off gold coins to produce an accumulation of gold which was then  expertly moulded into a counterfeit coin. He was found guilty at York Assizes and hanged.
Photographs by Roy Pledger,

The lock-up at Horbury, also in West Yorkshire, is situated in Tithe Barn Street, WF4 6GL and dates to c1710. The single cell lock-up, known as 'The Kidcote' was on the ground floor with accomodation for the gaoler or constable on the upper floor which was accessed via an external stone staircase.

OS Grid Reference: SE2943418370
OS Grid Coordinates: 429434, 418370
Latitude/Longitude: 53.6610, -1.5560
It was Grade 11 listed 6.5.1988 (No.342513) and described as :
 Former lock-up. Early C19. Coursed, squared rubble with quoins. Stone slate roof. Two storeys. Single cell. Entrance in gable front with studded door. Rear has small window with iron grill to ground floor, left. A stone stair leads to lst floor entrance with stone surround. Small window at high level to each side elevation. Interior: not inspected. The building's ground floor was used as the town lock-up .
 Source: English Heritage
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.

 Tythe Barn Street

It is not certain why this lock-up is known as 'Kidcote'. Literally meaning 'little goat house' it may be a dialect word of medieval origin along the lines of a pigeon cote and may be a facetious term.
Old lock-ups at York and Wakefield had the same name.

Photographs by Roy Pledger.


The lock-up at Hunmanby in North Yorkshire is situated on a green at 1 Sheepdyke Lane, YO14 0PP. Known as The Black Hole, is has two cells and dates to 1834 (datestone). The village pinfold is alongside.


OS Grid Reference: TA1013177531
OS Grid Coordinates: 510131, 477531
Latitude/Longitude: 54.1817, -0.3140
It was Grade 11 listed 11.1.1952 (No.327000) and described as :
 Lock-up. 1834 on datestone. Blue and pink brick in English Garden wall
bond; stone dressings; slate roof. 2-cell, rectangular on plan. Single-
storey. Paired boarded doors at centre, under segmental arches of gauged
brick divided by pier with stone impost block and single stone quoin to each
outer jamb. Horizontal iron grilles over each door with the datestone
between. Hipped roof. Also known as the Black Hole .
 Source: English Heritage
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.

Datestone clearly marked AD 1834

Local man, Ces Mowthorpe wrote about the lock-up in 2007 as follows:

" After the Enclosure (1809) the Agricultural revolution began in Hunmanby. On Feast and Fair nights the young farmhands subbed from their masters a small sum of ‘monies’ – deducted from their annual wage which was only paid annually – and spent it in the village Inns and Beer-houses. This caused much trouble for the village Constable and his two deputies. The Lord of the Manor therefore gave permission for a Lock-up or Prison to be built at the junction of Lower Stonegate and Sheep-dyke Lane. It had two compartments in order that combatants my be separated, no windows and vented by iron grilles above each stout door. As in the stone above the doors, it was completed in 1834. The two stout doors were fitted with two blacksmith-made locks which would defy anyone without the huge blacksmith-made keys. Just prior to commencing work on the Prison (or Lock-up), the village Pound, then situated at the top of Stonegate (today, 2007, the site is surrounded by white rails) was collapsing to such an extent that it was decided to remove it altogether and rebuild onto the proposed Prison. The Pound was built of large stones from the beach and more had to be brought to the village to complete the rebuild. A gate, bricked-up in the 1930’s was incorporated where the two buildings adjoined. Consequently the work on this unique property was completed in 1834. The prison was in constant use until the building of Filey Police-station, complete with several cells and a courtroom was completed in the 1890’s. Still used occasionally in the early 1900’s it was referred to locally as “the black hole"! After the first World War, the East Riding County Council – to which Hunmanby then belonged -took over all road-works in the County and Hunmanby was designated as the local centre. The lock-ups were ideal for storing tools etc and the large area to the South was excellent for storing tarmac, chippings etc. Every few months it was visited by one of the County steam-rollers, plus living-van for the driver. Each night after completing his work he drove the steam-roller down to Sheep-Dyke and refilled his boiler for the next days work. By mid-1930’s the top of the Pound was in a parlous condition mainly caused by local boys running around its top ! Consequently the Parish Council ordered the top layer to be strengthened and a concrete capping complete with broken glass to be added. At the same time the gate-way was bricked-up.
World war Two broke out in 1939 but until the fall of France in May 1940 the village carried-on much as normal. However the summer of 1940 saw Hunmanby Hall Girl’s Boarding School evacuated to the West Riding and Hunmanby became a ‘garrison town’ with the H.Q. etc at Hunmanby Hall.After the fall of France the fear of para-troopers landing was great. The CO from Hunmanby Hall called upon my late father – the village Contractor - and proposed that it was decided to repair the Prison and re-enforce same for the retention of any para-troopers captured locally. All that was required was strengthening the ceilings, making new doors and frames and checking upon the locks. This was done July 1940. Upon taking the huge locks to bits, cleaning and oiling them it was found they worked beautifully. Two of the huge keys were placed – one with the Parish Council and one with my father – about 1952 my father returned his to the Parish Council but now, both have ‘disappeared’. Incidentally the prison was never used during the war. Until 1974, when Hunmanby moved into the North Riding the Prison was still used by the ERCC for road repairs. Later, it became an unused attraction to the village and to prevent it being used as a parking space for motor-lorries etc, both Hunmanby Primary School and later the Womens Institute planted trees and the grass was kept in order by the HPC. About 2000, a determined effort by local yobs to break into the eastern lock-up by breaking away the stone locking slab was easily defeated. After several attempts they gave it up as a bad job.
Every attempt must be made to look after this unique village property which I believe to be the only combined ‘Pound & Prison’ in the country ".
Ces. Mowthorpe (Copyright 2007)

Photographs by Roy Pledger.

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