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Adrian Fletcher & Sons and Dom Paradox in Britain, September - November 2009


last updated 13 February 2010





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2. North East of England


4. West Midlands


3. North West of England (this page)





Time-wise, the earliest visits are at the top of this page







Tetramorph over the (locked) door of  St John the Baptist, Adel (West Yorkshire) - Luke's Bull, Matthew's Angel, God, John's Eagle and Mark's Lion.







Bolton Abbey, North West Yorkshire Dales






KEIGHLEY (Pron Keefly - ly as in the le of leg!)





This Mosque was the Keighley (pron Keefly) Wesleyan Methodist "Chapel" until the mid 1970s.  It was built in 1848 on the site of an earlier smaller chapel.  Not long after its completion, great great grandparents John Fletcher (28) and Maria Dixon (13 going on 15) were married here on Monday 29 December 1851.  The trek up from Uppertown (Oxenhope) to Keighley would have been a significant one. 


Brief History of Temple Street Methodist Church, 1742 - 2002           Link to a History of Keighley


After they were married, the Fletchers lived in Lowertown (later part of Oxenhope), were he was a plumber and gas fitter, before moving in the late 1870s to Scarborough, where John opened an ironmonger between a pub and a brewery in North Street.  Maria had 15 children, only one of whom did not live to adulthood.  John lived to the age of 71, and Maria died in 1911 (just after the census) at the age of 74.






My great great grandparents, John Fletcher (1823 - 1894 (71)) and his wife Maria Dixon (1837 - 1911 (74)), were a remarkable couple.


John was born into a family of wool combers, an occupation at the bottom of the feeding chain in what was a pretty marginal part of the world (the West Yorkshire moors).  He obviously decided to break out of this life, and learned a trade - described as tin and iron plate worker and gas fitter (plumber and welder?). 


On Monday 29 December 1851 he married the young (probably 13  or 14) Maria Dixon.  She was a local girl (Brooksmeeting Mill - see below) but they chose to get married in the massive (1500 seats) new Wesleyan Methodist "Chapel" in Keighley, long before the days of the Oxenhope to Keighley railway!  He had obviously also chosen earlier to be a (Wesleyan) Methodist.


After marriage they lived in Lowertown (now Oxenhope), which would have put him near to the big Lowertown Mill which was probably a good source of work.  There was another mill (Denholm) just up the hill and the Brooksmeeting Mill down Shaw lane, and no doubt several others within walking / working distance. 


Their first child, Mary, took nearly four years to arrive, but they made up for the delay with a vengeance.  By 1877 the Fletchers had 12 children aged between 0 and 22.  Then something decided them to move to Scarborough - a seaside spa resort on the distant East side of Yorkshire - in the final  years of the 70s.  Having sampled both Lowertown and Scarborough one can see their point, but it would have been a much bigger decision than breaking out of wool combing.


In Scarborough they lived in North Marine Road (both houses they lived in are still there) and John set up an Ironmonger shop at 20 North Street (no longer there, but the next door pub is), which T junctions off what is now the main (pedestrian) shopping drag - named Westborough (no "street" - they are very particular about that).  Maria had children 13 and 14 in Scarborough in 1881 and 1884 - by which time she was aged 47 and had been birthing for one year short of 30!  At no stage in the various censuses are they shown as having a servant.


John's North Street ironmonger business is listed in the Bulmers Directory of 1890 and the Hagyard Directory of 1892.  He died in Scarborough in 1894 aged 71.  Maria, 14 years' younger, lived on at 9 Trafalgar Square, just off North Marine Drive, looked after by a spare daughter or two.  She died there in 1911 aged 74.  They are both buried in the Manor Road Cemetery, Scarborough (grave P 18 - 25).


And if you think that a bit of get up and go is genetic, you will not be surprised to learn that their 6th child, Frank Edward (my great grandfather), married a well off Scarborough draper and silk merchant's daughter, Elizabeth Procter, and moved to Folkestone (Kent) as a "Music Professor".  As soon as he was set up in a house there he employed two servants.  Years later nobody in Folkestone ever talked to me about their Yorkshire roots!


Adrian Fletcher - February 2010 









The photo above was taken from just to the left of where Shaw Lane leaves the left side of the map below.  In the middle ground are the buildings of Brooksmeeting Mill  (which are located lower down than shown on the map).  Next stop going away up the lane is Cold Well (houses off to right of the lane), followed by Shaw (where most of the mill workers lived in the early 1800s) and Uppertown.  Lowertown is at the bottom of the hill on the other side of Uppertown.


In the 1851 census great great great grandfather William Dixon and family (including Maria - shown as aged 13 and to be married to John Fletcher by year end) were living at Brooksmeeting mill, quite possibly in the cottage shown on the right, which has been there since 1826.  He was described as a powerloom cam (?) cotton weaver, and son Joseph (16) was a power loom weaver (cotton) as were daughters Elizabeth (18) and Maria (13).  Two children aged 12 and 9 mixed being a scholar with the cotton weaving, whilst the three littlies aged 2, 4 and 6 did not have a proper job!


The tall mill building behind the cottage has a "1910" plate on the wall, so would have had a different form when the Dixons were there.


Family Tree Link









The 1841 census sheets for the Shaw Lane area show 4 Fletcher households (17 people) in West Shaw and Cold Well.  In October 2009 the Oxenhope postmaster told us that he did not know of any Fletchers living in the area then.



James Fletcher, 35, Woolcomber - possibly brother of Thomas below

Sarah Fletcher, 35, Stuff Weaver

Thomas Fletcher, 15, Woolcomber

Mary Fletcher, 15, Stuff Weaver


Thomas Fletcher, 40, Woolcomber - probably my G-G-G Grandfather

No wife - presumably already died

Hannah Fletcher, 19, Woolcomber

 John Fletcher, 17 - no occupation stated - my G-G-Grandfather

Mary Fletcher, 15,

Thomas Fletcher, 12,

Sally Fletcher, 6,



Thomas Fletcher, 72, Stuff Weaver - possibly my G-G-G-G-Grandfather

Grace Fletcher, 72 - possibly my G-G-G-G-Grandfmother

William Fletcher, 30, Woolcomber - possibly son of Thomas Snr and brother of Thomas and James

Ann Fletcher, 20, Woolcomber

Grace Fletcher, 1 month (presumably daughter of William and Ann)


Henry Fletcher , 25, Stuff Weaver - possibly another son of Thomas Snr

Mary Fletcher, 20, Stuff Weaver



The Parish Church of Saint Mary the Virgin preceded the railway (just - see below), being consecrated in 1849.  The small graveyard (on an impressive slope) has the tombs of two Fletchers there (probably father and son) who had not gone across to the Methodists.  We did not have time to look at the larger Wesleyan Methodist graveyard in Lowertown.



James Fletcher d1862 aged 60 (ie b1802) was probably the James Fletcher as in the 1841 census above (ie b1806) with census rounding being to blame for the discrepancy.




Thomas Fletcher d1895 aged 71 (ie b1824) was probably James  Fletcher's "15" year old son (ie b1826) - 1824 and 1826 are within the error limits one expects from early census stuff (and even some graves have errors!).





Oxenhope - a Railway Invention


History of Oxenhope


The 1841 census returns for Shaw Lane are marked "Township of Haworth" (the Bronte place and next town in the valley), because at that time Oxenhope did not exist.  It came into being when the new Keighley & Worth Valley Railway opened in 1867.  The railway's owners were persuaded to extend their original plans so the line terminated near Lowertown, where a new road was built to link the new station with the large mill there (the railway could not do the hill but horses could!).  The new station was called Oxenhope (before then the name of a farm), and the various hamlets like Lowertown, Uppertown, Shaw, Coldwell etc were grouped into a small town of the same name.


As a result there are no shops or "village centre" or indeed "village feeling" on the narrow "main drag" from old lower town to upper town - just clutches of houses and a pub.  There is a Coop on the "new" road linking the station and Lowertown.


The Worth Valley Railway now boasts a steam train run by volunteers which runs the whole distance from Oxenhope to Keighley - would be an attractive outing on a nice day.




Lowertown Mill (now apartments) and houses (including "Goose Green" (not) bottom right).  John and Maria Fletcher and their expanding family were living here for the 1861 and 1871 censuses, then they moved to Scarborough towards the end of the 70s.  The hamlet is in a depression and would have had a depressingly large amount of pollution when the chimney was going full blast in winter.




Lowertown / Goose Green, which is not the romantic village sight the words conjure up!





Test your real estate acumen - this is a small mill conversion project presently on the market - on the edge of the moors and a reservoir and with not enough garages to go round the six or so "town houses" with no town, just a village with maybe a shop - how much ?








According to the Mormon Family Search site, great great great grandparents Susan Sutcliffe and William Dixon were married in Thornhill by Dewsbury on the 27 June 1831.  So that probably meant here -  the Thornhill Parish Church of St Michael and all Angels.  A dark looking place - locked up and information free!  It says it's in the 1000 best churches guide, but what's the point of publicising that if there's no way of getting in!?










Team Paradox am probably the first people to drive from the Yorkshire Dales to Surrey via Anstey, but it is a very rewarding experience ... firstly you get some of the beautiful villages of Hertfordshire along Ermine Street, the Old Great Northern Road and later the B1386, and secondly you get a treasure that would normally require a trip to Aquitaine, the Auvergne or Puglia - an 1100s MERMAN FONT  (and in a most interesting old church including medieval graffiti)  -  JOY UNBOUNDED .......







1. East South and West of England


2. North East of England


4. West Midlands


3. North West of England (this page)








Adrian Fletcher's main website



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Bellatrovata is the original "on the road" site for Adrian (aka Adriano and Dom Paradox) Fletcher's European explorations.  Material relating to explorations in Italy (including Tuscany, Rome and Venice), Spain, France and Britain between 2004 and 2006 has now been transferred to Adrian's main web site - Paradoxplace - and Bellatrovata has been spring cleaned in preparation for the next road trips in England (Autumn 2009) and  Northern Italy and Burgundy (May 2010).



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