The Hinchliffes of Cragg Vale

Diana Monahan delves into the Hellowell Papers
and reveals some family secrets:

Hinchliffe Hinchliffe, the 19th century owner of several mills in Cragg Vale, was well known for his parsimony. Thomas Edwin Hinchliffe, who managed Victoria, Vale and Upper Mills for his demanding employer, as well as running his own mill, Gates End (also know as Church End) had to be in Mr Hinchliffe's bedroom by 8.30 every morning.

On one occasion a waste merchant called at the same time, prompting Mr H. to get out the whisky and cigars. The following morning he charged Thomas Edwin for his share of the costs!

As he grew older Mr Hinchliffe was looked upon as a man of considerable wealth, yet at heart he must have been very unhappy, worried about the future of his mills. Left with just one daughter, Helen, he spoiled her but she took advantage of her position, defying her father.

In 1902 her second husband died and soon after she met a handsome young bank clerk in Harrogate, named William Algernon Simpson. Within six months she had married him - but kept it secret for a further six months. The bride was 49 and her groom 22 years old.

Mrs Helen Simpson-Hinchliffe

Mrs Helen Simpson-Hinchliffe had her dresses made in Harrogate. To save her from having to call for frequent fittings a dummy model was made of her figure. HBLSS

Algernon Simpson-Hinchliffe

Known to his friends as Algy, or Wash, from his initials, William Algernon Simpson-Hinchliffe returned to Cragg Vale for the last time in June, 1963, when his ashes were scattered over Blackstone Edge Moor. HBLSS

We would probably describe William Algernon - known as Algy or Wash - as a toyboy, and the marriage certainly did not pass without comment. Local cynics said she had married him because, as Sam succinctly notes, "she was stricken with nymphomania and bought the treatment!"

The couple did, however, initiate a new social era in Cragg Vale for Algy (as he was now titled), and his wife spent lavishly, not least of which was the building of Cragg Hall, in its day recognised as one of the finest mansions in Yorkshire.

Note: Samuel Greenwood Hellowell spent 60 years compiling the definitive history of the area, "A Chronological History of Cragg Vale," a monumental achievement running into hundreds of pages. Sam died in March 1997, aged 90. A copy of his history can be viewed at Hebden Bridge Library, by kind permission of his son, Mr Roger Hellowell.

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.