Every family has a story to tell. I asked if anyone knew about the Wheatsheaf pub in Honley and heard a tale that connects its former landlord to a 17th century pirate and a missing fortune.
Graham Turton, who works for the Royal Voluntary Service, asked about the long gone pub because a lady, whom he escorts to Huddersfield Royal Infirmary, said it used to be run by a relative called Heap. Graham asked if anyone knew its history.
Dave McGregor of Deighton got in touch to tell me his great grandfather had run the Wheatsheaf in the early 1900s. Extended members of the family all lived in the cottages nearby. He thinks the pub closed before the Second World War. His great grandfather was Albert Stockwell Heap, and family tradition had it that he was named Stockwell after an ancestor who had sailed the high seas as a pirate.
My research uncovered Black Jack Stockwell (sometimes also known as Long John) who sailed with Captain Kidd.
He returned to England and invested in land around London before setting off to sea again, never to return.
Legend says he left a fortune worth an estimated £64 million by today’s standards. Distant members of his family from around the world have, apparently, tried to claim it without sucess over the centuries.
Pub owner Albert was related to the Heap family that had owned Lord’s Mill at Magdale, Honley, in the 19th century. Other Heaps were well known solicitors in Huddersfield.
“Albert had also run the Boot and Shoe at Scholes, The Allied in Honley, also I think The Coach and Horses in Honley, and the Shoulder of Mutton in Holmfirth,” says Dave.
Honley Cricket Club used the pub as their headquarters until 1926, which is where his grandfather, Herbert McGregor, met his grandmother, Isabella Heap, who was Albert’s daughter.
Which is where the story takes another twist.
Herbert was an accomplished cricketer of his day and winner of the Huddersfield League Rosebowl for topping the batting averages. It was a time, between the wars, when jobs were scarce, and Herbert was poached by Friarmere Mill at Delph. They offered him work as a joiner so he could play in their cricket team.
“They recruited a few lads like this,” says Dave. “Competition was keen in the cricket league. He lived at Brockholes and every morning would set off walking to get picked up by a horse cart, with the other lads, and taken to the mill to start work at six.”
Being a semi-professional cricketer was obviously different in those days.