It is 200 years since Britain and her allies defeated the French led by Napoleon. We can claim at least one Elland veteran of that historic battle.
John Brook was born at Elland on 4th February 1797. His mother Alice Brook is mentioned on the baptism records. (Thanks to Loraine Lodge & David Glover). John did not choose to join the army. The ‘shilling’ was given to him amongst some chaff whilst at Elland Mill by the recruiting sergeant. He was compelled to go but decided that his service, entering the 1st Foot Guards at Halifax on 18th February 1813, should be an honourable one.
John went out with the army to Holland in 1813 and served through the campaign from 1813 to 1815; Merxem, the bombardment of Antwerp, Quatre Bras and Waterloo. In the latter engagement his knapsack was shot from his back by a cannon ball, which killed several of his comrades close to him.
John Brook rose to the rank of Quartermaster Sergeant and was discharged after 27 years of service with the Guards. He was present at the funeral of George IV, the coronation of William IV, the funeral of William IV and the coronation of Queen Victoria.
John Brook died in 1884 and is buried at Putney Cemetery.
A glorious day for Greetland’s celebrations eighty years ago. The procession was formed in Calder Street, the councillors leading at the front joined by a brass band from Bradford. There followed the Fire Brigade, representatives of youth groups, the British Legion, the Nursing Association, every church in the district – St. Patrick’s best represented with over 100 people – other societies and then the general public. This was the largest procession – 2,000 estimated marching from Rochdale Road to the Recreation Ground – in Greetland’s history. The line stretched from Stainland Road to Cross Hill. Younger children were taken to the Rec in a double-decker bus, which made several journeys along the decorated route.
At the Rec the National Anthem was sung and then four silver birch trees were planted to commemorate the King’s Silver Jubilee. The band played selections during the afternoon and evening. There was a Punch and Judy Show, juggling and a ventriloquist. All manner of sports for the children. Coffee, tea and buns were served.
At 10pm a huge crowd at The Mount saw Councillor Brook fire two rockets. Mrs Brook then lit the bonfire and soon 20 tons of dry timber were ablaze. Other bonfires could soon be seen in the distance – the Ainleys, Elland Rec, Rastrick, Beacon Hill and (very dimly) Marsden.
A Jubilee Dance was held at night in the Public Hall, West Vale. Over 100 people were present and they danced to music from Fred Hardaker’s Rialto Band.
David J. Glanfield
Greater Elland Historical Society
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