scrolling about in Flash earth, arround this Teddy Tour
this looked interesting
Around 1900, the dales to the west of Masham - now in North Yorkshire but then in the West Riding - became the scene of intensive construction as Leeds Corporation sought sites for its new reservoirs. The activities of the contractors' firm of Arnolds, and the settlement they began at Breary Banks, are described in detail by Harold Bowtell, from whose book are drawn the following extracts.
"In March 1903, the city engineer of Leeds reported an outbreak of smallpox in a 'common lodging house' at Masham and this would point to the need for proper accommodation for the workforce - visualised by Leeds waterworks committee in 1903-4 as likely to attain at least 700, plus families. So the village of Breary Banks was created. It has come to be part of the folklore of Masham and Colsterdale, indeed of Leeds itself, and deserves an account in its own right."
"The site selected was well up the southern slope of Colsterdale proper. Water supply was provided, being pumped by a water wheel (powered by the river) from a spring in the valley to a small reservoir 300ft higher. Proper drainage and also sewage treatment beds were installed. Electric lighting was put in from the start; the generating plant (with boiler, steam turbine and electric generator) was moved a little northward around 1908 to the power house (of which foundations survive) beside the river near Gollinglith. Trucks (2ft gauge) of coal were lowered down an inclined track, partly on now-vanished timber staging, from near the Colsterdale dead end on the Leeds railway. From near the same dead end, a very steep adhesion-worked branch line trailed back to deliver coals and provisions to the village."
"By spring 1904, huts had been built for 400 men and others were being erected. The streets were titled First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Avenues, complete with nameplates. In 1908-09, 24 additional huts were built, enlarging the village; in general, each living hut accommodated 16 navvies, with sleeping and living quarters, bath and w.c., also accommodation for the caretaker and family. A Corporation photograph (date uncertain) shows some fifty wooden buildings, including the 'public buildings' of the village."
"A reading and recreation room, with billiard table, was provided and placed under the care of the missioner, as was the mission room, equipped - it is believed - with an 'American organ'. The mission room was opened by Mrs Grimston, wife of the Hon. R Grimston, superintendent of the Navvy Mission Society. The first missioner was Walter Barbour (or Barlow), whose services were shortly taken over by the Corporation from the Navvy Mission Society. When he resigned in 1911, Myles Miller was appointed navvy missioner in Colsterdale, at £78 per annum, with house, coals and light provided. The missioner was permitted to sell coffee and soft drinks in the recreation room. A licensed canteen was also established and soon (1905) this was placed under the management of the Peoples' Refreshment House Association Ltd, with T Manning in charge."
"The mission building, seating 300 people, seems to have doubled up in daytime as the village school, 'Masham Waterworks School', when this was set up in 1905. Its governors represented the education committee of the North Riding of Yorkshire County Council, the waterworks committee of Leeds Corporation, also the Healey Parish Council. From autumn 1909, Breary Banks school excluded children under five years; evidently there was by then pressure on the accommodation. About this time, the recreation room was enlarged, so this may have helped the school too. There was a house for the schoolmaster, but it is not on record what staff he had."
"There was a site hospital and a doctor in private practice attended three days each week and also when required urgently. Two general stores were let to tradesmen from Masham during the years of peak activity at Breary Banks. The village had access by narrow gauge railway and one may judge that the community enjoyed an active and usually pleasant life. Sometimes, at about 750ft up in the dales, the hard winters took their toll. For example, in January 1~2, the chairman and deputy chairman of Leeds waterworks committee were considering opening a soup kitchen, as distress had resulted from the bad weather. It would be a case of no work, no pay."
"A permanent Wesleyan chapel was built near Breary Banks camp. Lord Masham presented the site and some old buildings adjoining. The foundation stone was laid on Saturday 19 August 1911. A special train for participants was run from Masham to Breary Banks and back - without charge - by the kindness of Arthur Atkinson, possibly agent for the operation of the 2ft gauge railway at the period." The small building inscribed 'Wesleyan Chapel 1911' survives, apparently unused, though another author notes it has served as a Forestry Commission store.
Breary Banks: the military connection
"As early as September 1914 land at Breary Banks, below the road, was made available to the War Office for an army camp, which was promptly occupied by 'The Leeds Pals'. They were the 15th Battalion (1st Leeds), West Yorkshire Regiment, raised by Lord Brotherton."
"Arthur Pearson, then already enlisted in the 'Pals', has recalled that they travelled from Leeds to Masham in two special trains, and marched from the station to Breary Banks, on Friday 25 September 1914. They occupied part of the hutted reservoir village, with overflow accommodation under canvas, the officers living in 'The Bungalow'. Over one thousand men were in training here in Colsterdale during the winter 1914-15. Huts were erected below the road and a rifle range was created. The Battalion left Colsterdale on 25 May 1915, bound in that year for Egypt, going thence to France early in 1916. Disaster ensued in the Battle of the Somme, 1 July 1916, when the Battalion was tragically depleted, losing over five hundred officers and men in one day. Alderman Willey, chairman of Leeds waterworks committee for many years, lost his son and Captain Stanley Neil - still nominally resident engineer at Leighton and occupant of the reservoir house - was killed in the same calamity."
"As the constructional workforce ran down in 1914-15, and departed, every significant building of the waterworks village was leased to the War Office. In the year to 31 March 1916, reserves of the 15th (Leeds), 19th (Bradford) and 20th Battalions of the West Yorkshires had sojourned at Breary Banks and been succeeded there by the 15th Reserve Battalion of the York and Lancaster Regiment. During part of 1916, a Battalion of 'transport workers' were stationed at the camp but from January 1917 it was used for housing German officer prisoners of war, under War Office control but with Leeds Corporation supplying electricity and running the canteen -and using the railway for supplies. The War Office later manned the power house and added engine-driven generating plant. It was not until October 1919 that the last prisoners departed from the site. Leeds regained nominal possession from 28 November 1919, fully from early 1920, and put in hand during 1920-21 reinstatement of the village for their own prospective needs."
Breary Banks: after 'the occupation'
"During 1921-22, the waterworks village at Breary Banks gradually came back to life, with the provision stores let to Mr Watkinson, the canteen again under P.R.H.A. Ltd management and the Industrial Christian Fellowship (formerly the Navvy Mission Society) appointing a resident navvy missioner from February 1922. The school, closed in 1915, was brought into use, on the pre-war terms, from September 1922."
"By March 1923, 49 huts were in occupation and - as earlier noted - the workforce reached a peak in 1922-24, followed by rapid decline in 1924-27. A cinema (by March 1923) and a wireless set in the recreation room (by March 1924) were new refinements. Soon the maximum activity was over and the canteen closed at the end of June 1926, by which time sale and removal of buildings was taking place. Names, probably from this era, recalled by Eric Ramsden in Dalesman November 1974 included his father as schoolmaster, Wilson as village superintendent, Storey the policeman and Gore the canteen manager, also Thomas Legge the locomotive driver."
"Today, the war memorial of 1935 stands as a reminder of the lively navvies' village of Arnolds' day, the hopeful recruits of 1914-15 (and ensuing tragedy), the German era and the brief peak of life and activity in the nineteen-twenties. The village site was on the slopes behind the memorial and from here one may look across the valley to 'The White House', visualise Colsterdale reservoir that never was, and trace on the ground the railway layout which was part of Breary Banks."
it was then a couple of miles over to West Agra where a brew was in order