An old picture postcard of Boothtown Road in Halifax lands in my collection: a typical scene from the first decade of the twentieth century with tramlines and empty streets. If you look carefully at the photograph, you can make out part of the Akroydon model village on the left of the road and, in the distance, the Flying Dutchman pub on the right. A similar view today would be more colourful, but otherwise surprisingly similar … but without the trams.
The postcard was unused, so we have to do without that nugget of social history that is the brief message on the reverse. Perhaps we need to add a story to it, and send it on its way.
The story is quite an appropriate one, as it relates to the Flying Dutchman Beerhouse. The pub dates from around the same time as the construction of Akroydon village – the 1860s – and it would appear that the dreadful incident described in this report from the Bradford Observer of the 8th February 1866, involved workers employed on local building work. The report is as follows:-
HALIFAX : Dreadful Death and Alleged Violence : Monday, at the Infirmary, a bricklayer’s labourer named Moses Atkinson, aged fifty years, died it is supposed from violence at the hands of his master, Mr. Abraham Garforth, brickmaker, Akroydon. Halifax. Garforth has been taken into custody. Garforth was accustomed to pay his men’s wages on Saturday afternoons, at the Flying Dutchman beerhouse, Boothtown. On Saturday, the men assembled as usual. During the time they were together some words of unpleasantness passed between Garforth and Atkinson. It is affirmed that they retired into the back yard to fight, and it is further asserted that suddenly Garforth seized Atkinson by the shoulders and pushed him violently backward, Atkinson falling upon the back of his head on the pavement. He lay in state of insensibility for some time, then asked for some beer, which the landlady refused to supply him, and he managed to walk to another beer house in the same neighbourhood, where he remained in a state of stupor until closing time, and as he appeared unable to help himself, he was thoughtlessly removed to a damp brick shed, where he remained until noon of Sunday. Mr. Johnson, clerk of the works at Akroydon, hearing of the case, immediately went to the shed, and found the man shivering and in an insensible state. He was at once removed in a cab to the Infirmary, where he died, not having recovered consciousness.
And so I append the story to the card and send it to myself to remind me that the very streets and houses, pubs and yards of this home of mine resonate to the sound of human history.