Echoes of the past: Discovering the oldest cottages in the village

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Back in the 1950s while leaving Lightcliffe Junior School to walk home I would pass two cottages at the corner of Wakefield Road with Knowle Top Road.

Little did I realise then that one of them was where the local village postman lived before the First World War.

The cottages are two of the oldest properties in the village. In later years I had the opportunity of visiting the one in this week’s featured photograph and meet the elderly occupant Miss Hayles, who is probably the young girl stood in the gateway.

While today the ivy clinging to the wall may have gone and been replaced with eye catching white paint there is no doubt this is a very old property. What a history and story the house deeds would tell us.

This property was a letter receiving house and the postman would walk and deliver his letters each day. The postman in this rare old photograph is Henry George Hayles, who started working for the post office in 1897.

Prior to his appointment with the post office he was a coachman and collector for Dr William Charteris, who lived at Amisfield House, Leeds Road, Hipperholme. Dr Charteris had moved to Hipperholme from Annandale, in Dumfries, to take up the appointment of district health officer for Hipperholme district, of the Halifax Union in 1867, a position he held up to his retirement in 1911.

It was during the 1870s and 80s that John Lister was selling off parts of his Hipperholme holdings. When part of Roydlands Farm was offered for sale Dr Charteris bought it. He built a fine Victorian gentleman’s residence, complete with stables, coach house and numerous other out buildings. The house was built from local stone. Once the house was almost completed he proudly had installed his initials W.C.1879 in the entrance. The history of the house from this point on is for another day.

Dr Charteris was a member of the Hipperholme Local Board and later district council from 1877-1901. For 20 years he was a governor at Hipperholme Grammar School, a trustee at Hipperholme Infants School and a warden at St Mathew’s Church, Lightcliffe. He was a highly respected member of the community both as a doctor and as a local resident. He was known as someone who helped the elderly residents and those with little means.

It is likely Henry Hayles worked for Dr Charteris at Amisfield House from when the property was built in 1879, when he was 38 years old. He left the doctor’s employment in 1897. His first postal appointment was in Normanton as a night letter sorter and was then appointed as postman in Lightcliffe, a position he held for 20 years. It was during the harsh winter of 1917 that he became ill and passed away aged 61.

He left a widow and three daughters. He was interred at Lightcliffe old cemetery on May 3, 1917.