WORLD WAR I CENTENARY: The story of Drighlington’s fallen

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Over the coming months the Observer & Advertiser will be telling the stories of the men from our area who gave their lives in the Great War. Here we remember Harry Liley, landlord of the Malt Shovel pub in Drighlington.

In these days of fierce competition for pubs it is good to know that some of the long standing hostelries from more than a century ago still survive in our villages and towns.

Three such pubs in the village of Drighlington are the Spotted Cow, the Railway and the Malt Shovel. All are still open for business and were indeed open for trade long before the start of World War I in 1914. These three pubs have another thing in common though and that is that they all sent a man to fight and die in the fields of Northern Europe.

Their stories are poignant and remarkable, but sadly long forgotten.

Now ,however, thanks to research by a man who was brought up in Drighlington their stories can be told, all the more relevant perhaps in this year of commemoration of the start of the first world war.

The three men who left the pubs of Drighlington to fight were Harry Benton, who lived at what was then known as the Railway Tavern, Harold Hainsworth, who was the son of the landlord of the Spotted Cow and Harry Liley, who was the landlord of the Malt Shovel. All three joined the colours at different times and their roles took them to foreign fields to fight for King and Country. All three names are remembered on the newly refurbished memorial to the fallen in Whitehall Road Drighlington, quite near to the Malt Shovel public house that Harry Liley ran in the years leading to the start of World War I .

Liley was a common name in Drighlington at the turn of the century, many living in the Whitehall Road area of Drighlington. In fact another member of the Liley clan who went by the name of ‘Willie’ Liley was born in Drighlington and was killed in the Great War.

However, probably by virtue of the fact that he had moved to Morley by the time of his death he does not figure on the war memorial for Drighlington. His name is to be found on the Morley war memorial.

Both of the Lileys remembered on the Drighlington memorial went by the name of Harry and are on the memorial as jnr and snr. This was not because of their being father and son, as might be thought, but rather because one was a younger man and Harry Liley, the landlord of the ‘Malt’, as it is known locally, was from the next generation.

Harry was actually born as ‘Henry’ Middleton Liley in the summer of 1878. His father Middleton was at that time a rag merchant as well as a grocer and the family lived in a now long destroyed dwelling named Melbourne House. ‘Harry’ had three sisters and two brothers in 1881. His mother had been Grace Barraclough before marrying Harry’s father. She died in 1881 so Henry was left with just his father and siblings from a young age.

In the 1901 census Henry or ‘Harry’ was to be found working away from home in Nottingham as a painter. However, by 1911 he and his wife were shown to be living at the Malt Shovel Inn, in Whitehall Road, Drighlington. Harry was the publican and his wife Emily was ‘assisting in the business’. They had one servant living in the pub, the aptly named Thomas Tetley.

When Harry Liley married his wife, Emily Bradley, in 1906 there was another ‘pub coincidence’ in that Emily’s address was shown as being the ‘Railway Hotel Drighlington’. However, it is unlikely that she was a landlady or related to the landlord, but possibly worked as a barmaid there. Her father was described as a stone mason on the wedding certificate.

Harold Middleton Liley was 27 years old at the time and Emily was 25. Harry was a painter in 1907. Strangely, they were actually married at Birstall Parish Church on March 27 1906, rather than in Drighlington.

When and where Harry went off to fight in the war is not known. However, he became Private 203158 Harry Liley of the 1st/4th Battalion, Duke of Wellington’s West Riding Regiment.

Harry died on June 17 1918. He was in the Military Hospital in Endell Street in central London at the time. He had therefore been brought home from France either suffering from wounds or from influenza, or some other natural type disease, but more likely influenza, as this was the time of the great flu epidemic sweeping the world.

Endell Street Hospital was in central London and was actually the only one of the dozens of war hospitals needed to treat the wounded that was entirely staffed by women. Both doctors and nurses were female, with many auxiliary helpers coming from such establishment schools as Cheltenham Ladies College or Rodean.

Harry Liley was brought home to his family in Yorkshire and buried in Drighlington churchyard on June 21 1918. He left the sum of £393-14s-11d to his widow Emily. Sadly he is not buried under a soldier’s headstone, but rather in a family plot.

The stories of Harry Benton and Harold Hainsworth will be told in future issues.