Community spirit was foundation of the town

LEADING LADIES: This photograph shows a group of lovely ladies who worked so hard to raise money to buy bed linen for the old Dewsbury General Infirmary. They are members of Dewsbury Women's Linen Guild and the picture was taken in the 1930s in fields in Healds Road in front of what used to be the Cottage Homes. The picture was kindly loaned by Judith Ward, whose grandmother, Mrs Bella Smith, is pictured seated on the second row, fifth from the left, wearing a coat with a fur lining on the collar. Three of the other ladies in the picture are Mrs Speight, Mrs Lydia Brewer and Mrs Thornton. Unfortunately we do not have the names of the other ladies.
LEADING LADIES: This photograph shows a group of lovely ladies who worked so hard to raise money to buy bed linen for the old Dewsbury General Infirmary. They are members of Dewsbury Women's Linen Guild and the picture was taken in the 1930s in fields in Healds Road in front of what used to be the Cottage Homes. The picture was kindly loaned by Judith Ward, whose grandmother, Mrs Bella Smith, is pictured seated on the second row, fifth from the left, wearing a coat with a fur lining on the collar. Three of the other ladies in the picture are Mrs Speight, Mrs Lydia Brewer and Mrs Thornton. Unfortunately we do not have the names of the other ladies.
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ONE has to wonder what Dewsbury would have been like without the many voluntary organisations which once abounded in the town.

The names of some them tug at my heart like the ‘Boots for the Bairns’ charity which provided footwear for poor children.

Or the ‘Charity House of Help’, sometimes referred to as the ‘Refuge for the Friendless’, situated in Ashworth Road in The Flatts. It was run by a small group of charitable people, including mill owner Sir Mark Oldroyd.

There was another group, Dewsbury Women’s Linen Guild, which raised money to provide sheets and blankets for Dewsbury General Infirmary.

Although I had heard of this charity, I didn’t know what they did until this week when Judith Ward sent me a photograph of some of these ladies.

Judith knows little about the guild apart from the fact that her grandmother, Bella Smith, had once been its president and they held money-raising events for the hospital.

This was before the National Health Service when the people of Dewsbury had to run their own hospital.

Both Judith and myself would like to know more about this organisation.

HOW a town like Dewsbury could raise enough money to build a hospital and run it is difficult to imagine, but it is inspiring to read how they managed it and how the hospital turned out to be one of the finest in the country at that time.

Dewsbury people rallied to the call and every village appointed its own fundraising committee, and in 1930 the hospital was officially opened.

The town then had the burden of raising enough money to run it and pay the wages of staff.

It was remarkable the lengths to which everyone went to do this, and the highlight of the year was a carnival which lasted a week.

The carnival in 1933 gives us some idea of how public spirited the people of Dewsbury were.

The first day of the carnival was on Sunday with a Civic Service in Springfield Congregational Church, preceded by a civic procession from Dewsbury Town Hall, headed by Dewsbury Borough Band.

This was followed by an open-air concert in Crow Nest Park by Dewsbury Permanent Orchestra and Chorus.

EVERY village in the town put on a major event during carnival week. It started on the Monday with Earlsheaton who held a massive event in Chickenley Cricket Field with children’s sports, dancing displays, concert parties, band selections, community singing, dancing and numerous other attractions.

Also on Monday, Dewsbury Amateur Swimming Club held a Grand Swimming Gala, and Thornhill held their Effort in Thornhill Cricket Field, starting with a procession headed by Thornhill Brass Band, followed by maypole and folk dancing, a Punch and Judy Show, numerous side shows, and dancing with music provided by Thornhill Prize Band.

On Tuesday, Dewsbury Chamber of Trade and Dewsbury and District Butchers’ Association organised a cricket match between the Yorkshire County Cricket Club 2nd X1, under the captaincy of Colonel Chichester Constable, and a Dewsbury and District Team of Fifteen.

This was followed by a boys’ bicycle race, Punch and Judy show, sideshows and a fancy costume parade.

THE Ravensthorpe Effort, also on Tuesday, included a grand fancy dress procession, children’s sports, gymnastic display by the Boys’ Club, ambulance display, physical culture display, music and dancing by the Ravensthorpe Subscription Prize Band and side shows.

Wednesday at Crown Flatt there were Sheep Dog Trials, and on Thursday the Children’s Day was held at Savile Town Playing Fields with sports and entertainment, massed choirs, country dancing, physical exercises, maypole dancing, fancy dress parade and donkey rides.

On the Friday a grand carnival dance was held in Dewsbury Town Hall with the Piccadilly Dance Orchestra. Tickets were 3/- each.

SATURDAY was Gala Day at Crow Nest Park starting with a grand procession from Dewsbury Town Hall with prizes for best decorated motor vehicle, best decorated horse vehicle, best decorated cycle.

At the park there was entertainment on a grand scale with performing ponies, clowns, performing dogs, eccentric boxing comedians, trapeze artistes, acrobats, contortionists and gymnasts.

Music was provided by Ravensthorpe Brass Band and Dewsbury Military Band with dancing into the evening.

The grand finale was a delightful musical programme in the band stand by the Dewsbury Borough Brass Band. Chairs 2d each.

Thousands of people had been involved in organising these events on such a grand scale and they raised more £1,000 – a massive some in those days.

Sadly, the hospital they had all worked so hard to build and support was closed down in the 1980s and demolished, to be replaced by the present Dewsbury and District Hospital in Healds Road.

l Anyone with further details of the Women’s Linen Guild or who can provide names of the other ladies pictured can email Margaret Watson at tresham3@gmail.com or phone the Reporter team.