The Hands of Longwood Tower

A walk through the village of Longwood is never complete without a venture up to Nab End.

Like many of our town’s little gems, Nab End is somewhat obscured by trees. Heading past St Mark’s Church, the war memorial and both graveyards onto Back Thornhill Road and up the inclining snicket that leads to a set of stairs. Here you will see the village’s amphitheatre, home of the original and ‘mother of all sings’, Longwood Sing, a uniquely Yorkshire event that has a splendid history itself.

Reaching the top of the stairs, you will see a large green stretched out in front of you; or a small field depending on your perspective. Here the good folk of Nineteenth-century Longwood picnicked, socialised, held cricket matches, and it was the location for celebration during the uniquely-Longwood annual holiday ‘The Thump’ (Editor, 2020). All interesting aspects of Longwood history, but today is not about The Thump, today is about the stump.

As your eyes leave the field and scan across the disused, shrub-invaded quarry, you may initially miss the awesome view and be drawn to what is my favourite folly in all of West Riding, Longwood Tower.

Described by contemporary newspapers as A Novel Erection, and by others as weird and shapeless (Jarratt, 2011), this tower has a certain Nineteenth Century-industrial, chimney-like charm, whose origin is romantic enough without additional myths and legends.

Built in 1861 by unemployed local mill workers, it was done so seemingly without any design or confirmed motives (Minter & Minter, 1993). Over the years, we have managed to apply some motives for its erection that only contribute to this weird novelty. The most [orally] cited evidence appears to be that the unemployed men were showing off their trade. Other speculation includes: to honour the 1854-56 Crimean War; a beacon to warn of trouble; to communicate with a similar structure at Linthwaite Church and, perhaps the most intriguing, to honour the memory of a local hero and opponent of child labour, Richard Oastler (Jarratt, 2011). All fascinating, but, for various reasons, most unlikely.

If your eyes are still strong – and the weather hasn’t finished it off – just above the date, you may be able to make out the initials G.H. Putting the prior speculation aside, if unemployed mill workers building a tower for fun is not romantic enough, then the person behind these initials should be.

George Hallawell, a local stonemason credited with supervising the construction, was said to be deaf and, as a consequence, unable to talk (Ahier, 1943). As an advocate for folk with disabilities who also has an avid interest in related topics throughout history, Mr Hallawell is of great intrigue to me. Without knowing any further details, I would not like to speculate, but any further information about Mr Hallawell would be valuable.

As you begin to ascend the winding stairs that hug the outside wall of the circular structure, perhaps look across to the long-disused quarry, the source of the tower’s stone (Editor, 2020), and imagine a chain of men stretching from the rocks to Nab End. Perhaps directed by Mr Hallawell, imagine these men transporting the local stone, hand to hand, ready to build this most auspicious of structures.

Upon reaching the summit and peering over its sides you may notice the structural cosmetics that have taken place over the years. Long may these repairs continue as, out of all my favourite intact structures, I fear this one may be the first to fall foul to time. But, don’t think of that, certainly not while on the summit. Here you will be treated to over 180 degrees of history and heritage.

Stare out to Castle Hill through Colne Valley at its narrowest, picking up the viaduct and following from east to west past Milnsbridge and on to Longwood. Looking up here, you will see the far side of the valley fades away and the land opens up into a picturesque view over Bolster Moor. This view is quickly closed by the steep incline that is Scapegoat Hill. Taking in all the surviving greens in between industry and civilisation around Golcar and returning back to Nab End’s famous cricket field.

Before leaving Longwood’s obscure tower, I would like to give a final thought to the good folk of Nineteenth-century Longwood who have left their mark on many buildings in this splendid little village. For me personally, no other structure represents the hands of the people more than Longwood Tower.


References

Ahier, P. (1943). The legends and traditions of Huddersfield and its district volume 1 part 5. Advertiser Press.

Editor. (2020, July 10). Longwood Tower, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire: A Stump and a Thump. The Folly Flâneuse. https://thefollyflaneuse.com/longwood-tower-huddersfield-west-yorkshire-a-stump-and-a-thump/

Huddersfield Examiner. (1861, August 17). A Novel Erection. Huddersfield Examiner.

Jarratt, J. (2011). Slack, Longwood Edge & The Nab End Tower. Jim Jarratt. http://www.jimjarratt.co.uk/follies/page22.html

Minter, G., & Minter, E. (1993). Discovering Old Huddersfield Part One. Huddersfield Local History Society.

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