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A Great Storm 1894
All Saints Church Damaged

from The Barwicker No.89

Just before Christmas 1894 the whole of the North of England was battered by a very severe gale. Commentators stated that nothing had been seen like it for over 40 years and it left a trail of death and destruction in its wake.

It started around midnight on the morning of Saturday 22nd December 1894 and gradually increased in strength. The speed of the winds became so strong that they started to cause structural damage. In Leeds the chimney of Messrs. Richard Bailes & Co, Chemical Works at Woodhouse Carr was blown down onto the adjoining house on Speedwell Street. At the time a mother and her six children occupied the house, one of whom was sadly killed. Reports from Liverpool to Whitby reported similar tragedies with many people crushed or hit by falling buildings.

Two trams were blown clean off the rails in Leeds and many shop windows were blown in. In Pudsey a workman narrowly escaped death when the chimney of the factory he was working in came down. Chaos was caused to communications when, starting at midnight, one by one, the 20 telegraph wires linking Leeds with London started to fail. By 1:30 am they were all gone, there was also no communications between Leeds and Derby, Birmingham, Bristol and whole of the west of England, most other places in the north of England were also affected. The telegraph office issued a notice that all messages would only be taken at the sender\rquote s risk.

Closer to Barwick there was also devastation. At Halton the wooden cricket pavilion was destroyed. At Thorner Mr. Benson had his coach-house completely wrecked and many greenhouses were damaged. Seacroft Church had the ornamental stone coping blown down. Between Seacroft and Roundhay the roads were blocked with many fallen trees. On Manston Lane some houses Mr. Chippendale was building were blown away. In Stanks Mr. Jesse Dawson had the majority of his roof carried away, at Ashfield Terrace all the spouting of the houses was blown down.

All the houses in what was known as the Fold in Stanks (behind the present Cock Beck public house) were damaged by the gale, chimney stacks been blown down, slates blown off or windows blown in. Not one conservatory in the district escaped some sort of glass damage. Most farmers' haystacks were lost, been strewn in all directions.

In Barwick village, All Saints Church suffered terrible damage. One of the pinnacles of the tower became detached, and crashed through the roof of the north aisle, carrying with it the timbers, slates and plaster, and wrecking the seats underneath; (see photograph on back page). A small portion of another pinnacle was blown off, but was retained on the roof of the tower itself, not causing serious damage. A considerable portion of the slating of the nave roof was also stripped off. Luckily there were no reports of any injuries.

Whilst the roof of the Church would have been repaired promptly the pinnacles were not replaced for over two years, until sometime in 1898.

The country experienced further severe weather, including freezing temperatures and gales for most of remainder of that winter, until it started to ease up in March 1895. This led directly to the triennial Maypole lowering and raising ceremonies planned for 1896 to be brought forward a year to Easter and Whitsuntide 1895. It was feared the pole, which had stood up to the gales had however been severely damaged and was unsafe.


The Leeds Mercury
The Yorkshire Evening Post
The Skyrack Courier
Colman A History of the Parish of Barwick-in-Elmet (Thoresby Society Volume 17)

Dave Teal

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