Lightning Strike

Lightning Strike

Known to have been taken by Crossley Westerman in 1910, Wainsgate Church remains an imposing presence on the hillside above Old Town. ALGC

Cedric Ashworth investigates a strange death

John Ashworth - my great great great grandfather - was killed by lightning on Mount Skip on July 8 1847.

The Halifax Guardian reported the event as follows: "We have heard of little or no damage in the immediate vicinity of the town but are sorry to report the fatal effects of the lightning near Hebden Bridge.

It appears that a man named John Ashworth, of Berry(sic) Bridge, left his house for the purpose of getting a fire poker repaired at a neighbouring smith's shop." (Revealed at the inquest as James Harwood).

"On returning home he was overtaken by the storm and he took shelter in an outhouse at a place called Mount Skip; the rain having partially subsided he was coming out in order to proceed homewards, when a flash of lightning struck him dead on the spot!

The hair on one side of his head was singed off, and one side of his body was severely burnt, that part of the body being completely black. The remains were placed in a cart and conveyed home.

The poor man was 70 years of age and has left a wife and five or six children. The same flash struck a man of the name of James Greenwood residing in the neighbourhood but he speedily recovered."

Mr Ashworth was buried at Wainsgate Baptist Chapel alongside his first wife, Sally nee Redman, who had died in 1827, and his son, James, who was born the same year and died in 1839.

Mr Ashworth reveals the anomalies which surrounded the inquest on his ill-fated ancestor - and where you can find his home, named as Bessy Bridge, in 1847.

Read the full story in Milltown Memories, issue 6. If this or other stories stirs a memory, we'd be happy to know - send us your memories and comments.