Your Letters

Thanks to all who lit up town

Letter of the Week: Richard Martin, on behalf of BBA

Dear Sir,

Thank you to all those who, in any way, supported the Batley Christmas lights switch-on event last Saturday.

It was great to see the Market Place packed with people when the lights were turned on.

The organisation of the event was a partnership between Batley Business Association (BBA), Kirklees and Pulse Radio supported by Fox’s Biscuits and Creative Scene.

Tesco also hosted a raffle on the Friday which made in excess of £130 towards next year’s event.

They donated a hamper as first prize and other prizes came from Batley Bulldogs, Fox’s, The Corner Cafe and Batley Baths. The prizes have been distributed to the winners.

It was great to have our new MP, Tracy Brabin, and Coun Christine Iredale (Deputy Mayor of Kirklees) as guests and also a visit to Batley from Santa.

To all those who helped on the day and participated in the event – thank you and have a wonderful festive season.


Publish the STP finance plans

From: Christine Hyde, Dewsbury

Dear Sir,

The government’s decision not to mention health or social care in the autumn statement is proof  that the National Health Service is dead.

Since the 2012 Act the Government has callously under-funded what facilities there are, and now cruelly, withdrawal of certain sorts of medication and specialist prescriptions, time-limited district nurse support, longer journey times to specialist services at Pinderfields and increased bureaucracy at GPs, if indeed there is one, begins.

The new ‘Secret Theft Plans’ hatched by NHS boss Stevens are surrounded by spin and lies in the system.

West Yorkshire is one of the biggest areas, and five of the six councils are not happy. STP Lead Rob Webster says the biggest risk to the STPs going wrong, is social care.

It would be irresponsible of any council to ratify the plans until they have seen the finances, which were not published, nor was the workforce plan, which threatens job losses. Call for publication of the full STP appendices now! Who picks up run-down public services? Why the multinationals with the gig economy, who want the funding stream of course.


Let’s see the back of 2016 and them

From: Mr WK Lambert, Roberttown

Dear Sir,

Many people I speak to have a common wish for 2017; to see the disappearance of John Major, Paddy Ashdown, Tim Farron and Tony Blair from our TV screens.

‘Has-been’ Paddy Ashdown (‘Pantsdown’) seems to think it fun to try and quash Brexit. He was sneering, laughing and smirking throughout his TV interview.

John Major was a weak Prime Minister, who got us into all sorts of monetary problems; he tried to run the country while deviously having an affair with Edwina Currie, now a major ‘ReMoaner’.

Tim Farron (Lib Dem), is a clueless wally who would do anything to keep us in the rotting EU.

Tony Blair, enough has been said about him!

Totally undemocratic ‘spiv like’ actions, such as planning to help three million immigrants into the UK whilst keeping it secret from the public with the help of his cronies, such as Brown, Straw, Blunkett and Balls. A major cause of unemployment.

He has the cheek even to be living here. Please disappear to a remote Scottish island!


Poppy Appeal total is a real tonic

From: Tim Wood, The Old Colonial, Mirfield

Dear Sir,

Just a tad short of £16,000, so far, is what we’ve managed to collect for the Poppy Appeal in Mirfield and Ravensthorpe.

The Mirfield RBL branch, shorter in numbers than ever before, managed to pull out all the stops and put in more hours to make the appeal work.

The Yorkshire Co-op in Mirfield very kindly let us have a show stand in the store itself, and the management and staff were kindness to the core.

All the premises that took boxes and tins did very well for us, as did the schools and pubs and clubs, factories, offices etc.

Well done to our Air Cadets from 868 Squadron.

Even though we are thin on the ground we leave no stone unturned, and then, in the blink of an eye, we turned ourselves around and called in and counted the hundreds of individual items, monies from boxes, pin badges, wreaths and random donations. All have to be counted and accounted for.

Then all the thank you cards are hand-written out and distributed back to the sources of box locations.

Then it’s Christmas and New Year and we start all over again.

What keeps us going is the generosity of all who give money to us, and the odd kind smile picks us back up.

A lot of people give in their own way and it all adds up. Thanks, all of you have a great December and New Year.


What is going on with Black Friday?!

From: ‘Ken Tankerhouse’, Mirfield

Dear Sir,

Black Friday – yes, Black Friday. What’s all that about then? There I was waiting for my local superstore to open when the mob of bargain hunters descended upon me just as the doors were opening.

I was picked up swept off my feet and was carried up the vegetable aisle heading towards the special offers area, the rollercoaster of humanity, elbowing and nudging its way forward at breakneck speed.

Kicking and tugging, I managed to escape the momentous crush and was spat out of the human vortex like a discarded pip, and ended up covered in radishes and mushrooms.

Oh and before you say “sounds like a real fun guy”, yes, I’ve heard that one before.

I picked myself up and headed towards the fish stand, I only wanted a bit of smoked haddock. On the way to the checkout I was barged out of the way by a massively-built crazy woman.

She had muscles like Mike Tyson and a face like one of his opponents. She had a TV under one arm and a kettle and three DVD players under the other, her tattoos were badly spelt, I noticed as the denim bombshell juggernauted past me.

A moment later there was a massive crash (I thought the roof had come down) and a massive scream of expletives as Mrs Swampdonkey, TV, kettle and all, had slipped on the discarded radishes and ended up under the cabbage stall. Welcome home baby, I thought to myself.

Battered and bruised I headed off home.

Now I had heard that my local pub was doing half-price food for Black Friday, never one to miss a trick or marketing opportunity is our landlord.

So at opening time I headed down the lane in search of a pint. The sign outside read ‘Black Friday Special – half-price mucky fat and black pudding, regulars 50 per cent off, skinflints ‘beggar’ off’. Strange, I thought, he normally puts all this sort of snap on for nowt.

The place was packed with bargain boozers and ‘half-price’ black pudding munchers.

Even Mrs Swampdonkey was there filling her face with black pud and mucky fat, it was like feeding time at the zoo.

The landlord was in the corner of the pub taking out a TV from its cardboard cover, his wife was de-boxing a kettle.

“Been treating yourself?” I said.

“Aye lad,” was the reply. “It’s all 50 per cent off down at the local superstore, I got Mrs Ramsbottom to go and get me a telly and a few other bits and bobs, I promised her a black pudding feast when she got back.”

He pointed to Mrs Swampdonkey, still devouring mountains of black pudding and fair relishing the delicacy.

So that’s what ‘Black Friday’s’ all about, I really do need a massive reality check, what about you...


Not in our interest

From: John Appleyard, Liversedge

Dear Sir,

The BBC is under attack from the government yet again.

This time they seek to privatise 60 per cent of BBC Radio, that would make wealthy private interests gatekeepers for one of our most trusted information sources.

Countless Brits at home and abroad rely on the BBC to be informed, engaged citizens.

Privatisation would make the BBC a force for wealthy enterprises, not the peoples’ interest.


Jane Eyre and the inspirational Taylor family of Red House

From: Kit Shorten, a member of Gomersal Moravian Church and Friend of Red House Museum

Dear Sir,

This year the world celebrated 200 years since the birth of one of Britain’s most acclaimed Victorian female writers, Charlotte Brontë. It is with irony, therefore, that this year will also see the death of a Brontë literary landmark.

Red House Museum in Gomersal is not just a landmark because of its location. It is a landmark because, as the former home of the influential Taylor family, it was a setting that provided Charlotte with ideas and inspiration that would permeate throughout the novels for which she would become famous.

As children, Charlotte Brontë first met Mary Taylor at school. The two pupils developed a close friendship, and Charlotte became a regular visitor to Mary’s home in Gomersal.

Mary’s family were characterised by Charlotte as the family ‘Yorke’ in Shirley, and their home the Red House as ‘Briarmains’.

In The Professor, Charlotte combined traits taken from Mary’s father and brother for the character ‘Hunsden Yorke Hunsden’.

Encouraged by Mary to be independent and to travel, Charlotte journeyed to Brussels, accompanied by Mary and some of the Taylor family. Charlotte’s experiences in Brussels suggest scenes used in both The Professor and Shirley, but most notably in Charlotte’s masterpiece, Villette.

Thus, having been a significant influence on three of Charlotte’s four novels, could the Taylors of Red House also have been an influence for Charlotte’s best known novel, Jane Eyre?

Possibly. The answer may be found in the Taylors’ connections with the nearby Moravian Church settlements at Gomersal and Fulneck, and a discovery made by a retired school teacher in 1997.

It was whilst doing some unrelated research in Fulneck Church archives that the late Margaret Connor first saw the name Jane Eyre.

The entry was dated 1843. A Frances Jane Eyre had applied to join the Moravian Church at Fulneck. Further research in the archives revealed that Miss Eyre had been a boarder at the Fulneck Moravian School as a child, and was now returning as an adult to join the church.

Margaret was aided in her research when she received an unpublished memoir which confirmed that a relative of Ellen Nussey, a friend of Charlotte Brontë and Mary Taylor, had been a pupil at Fulneck School with Miss Eyre.

Margaret’s findings were published in Brontë Studies.

By the time of Charlotte’s visits to Red House, the Taylors’ relationship with Moravians from Fulneck and Gomersal was long established.

As early as 1797, Fulneck’s Moravian Minister John Hartley had accepted an invitation from the Taylors to preach at their private chapel. His sermon was apparently well received, attracting a ‘numerous auditory’.

By the late 1830s, at the same time as Charlotte was visiting Red House, the Moravian Minister Henry Lauten was also to be found in the rooms of Red House.

He had developed an especially strong friendship with Mary’s father. In 1840, Rev Lauten called upon an ailing Mr Taylor and his family at least 30 times within a 10-month period, comforting and counselling them through Mr Taylor’s painful illness.

When Mary’s father died in December 1840, the Taylors invited Rev Lauten to conduct the funeral and blessing, an invitation which was humbly accepted.

Mr Taylor undoubtedly made a lasting impression on Charlotte, portraying him as ‘Hunsden Yorke Hunsden’ in The Professor, and as ‘Hiram Yorke’ in Shirley.

Rev Lauten must have also made an impression on Charlotte, as he was himself immortalised in Shirley as a German Moravian Minister.

Another character in Shirley is ‘Mathew Yorke’, based upon Mary Taylor’s eldest brother and heir to the family estate, Joshua Taylor.

He is the Taylor that Charlotte and Mary remained the most secretive about. Charlotte is said to have been fascinated by him.

Wanting to keep her identity hidden, Charlotte published her novels under a pseudonym. After reading Shirley, Joshua said that the author was either a relative, or someone who knew him intimately.

Joshua would become ever closer to the Moravian Church, even closer than his father had been. Shortly before his father’s death, Joshua married a member of Gomersal Moravian Church, Jane Lister Charlesworth.

Jane’s family hailed from Hightown, not far from where Patrick Brontë had once lived. She was a descendant of James Lister, the landlord at the inn where Luddites had plotted their attack on Rawfolds Mill in 1812. Charlotte would use the memory of this attack as one of her themes in Shirley.

Soon after his father’s death, Joshua became a full member of the Moravian Church, and was appointed to the church committee.

As a member of the committee, there would have been reason and opportunity for him to mix with the Fulneck Moravians, including the real Jane Eyre.

Gomersal and Fulneck are only a five-mile walk apart. Conversely, there would have been many occasions, both religious and social, for Moravians at Fulneck to travel to Gomersal, perhaps to be as guests at the Taylor’s Red House, as John Hartley had once been.

There is another connection between Miss Eyre and the Taylors of Red House.

In 1845, Mary Taylor emigrated to Wellington, New Zealand, where she joined her youngest brother William Waring Taylor.

They were soon accompanied in by Miss Eyre’s brother, the explorer Edward John Eyre, who was the newly-appointed Lieutenant-Governor in New Zealand. The two men corresponded with each other, and served on at least one committee together.

It’s very probable that the Miss Eyre of Fulneck and the Taylors of Red House knew, or at least knew of, each other.

The Taylors would continue to be prominent members of the Moravian Church until the end of the First World War.

Gomersal Moravian Church is open this Saturday, December 3, from 10am until noon, for its annual Christmas Fair.

My own research into the real Jane Eyre from Fulneck has identified numerous connections with the Brontës that go beyond mere coincidences.

I shall be presenting my findings at a lecture for the Spen Valley Historical Society in May 2017.

Red House Museum closes for good on Wednesday, December 21.

You can see the famous home that gave rise to three (or four?) of Charlotte Brontës novels, in all its Christmas glory, at the Red House Christmas Special on Sunday December 11, between 12noon and 4pm.

Please show your support.

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