This week we have looked back to 1899 to answer a question about accidents at Castle Hill.

The question drew the most online votes in our #AskExaminer feature which allows readers to ask a question on any interesting local topic.

To answer it, we must go back to November 1899, just five months after the opening ceremony of the Jubilee (Victoria) Tower which was witnessed by around 20,000 people.

Castle Hill Hotel covered in snow, 1954
Castle Hill Hotel covered in snow, 1954

On November 14 that year, a Mr Edgar North, 35, a cashier and general manager, called at the Castle Hill Hotel in the afternoon where he enjoyed two beers and three whiskies - “specials” at threepence each - before deciding to ascend the tower.

He had generously bought some stone masons half a gallon of beer before he went to climb the tower.

For reasons that will never be known, Mr North fell 104ft from the top to his death.

Castle Hill, Huddersfield, pictured in 1954. Copyright Huddersfield Daily Examiner

His last words, prophetically, were: “I shan’t be two minutes before I’m down again.”

Evidence at his inquest pointed to an accident, rather than suicide, which prompted the coroner to recommend that the north-west turret be fenced to prevent any further tragedies.

His death is believed to be the only one caused by a fall from the tower.

John Longson's drone video from Castle Hill

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But the Castle Hill area has been witness to many instances of extreme violence over the years.

At the nearby hamlet of Hall Bower, there was a minor battle way back in 1471 which involved the local families of Beaumont and Kaye who settled an old score which resulted in several deaths, including Nicholas Beaumont of Newsome. His widow was later awarded £20 compensation.

In July 1863 there was violence of a different kind when two prize-fighters named Mills and Smith went toe to toe for the sum of £50. At 4am on July 29, the pugilists and their supporters gathered on the plateau for a fight that went on for three hours and ten minutes - 14 round in total, according to archives.

In the end Smith was blinded and Mills declared the winner. Later, both ended up before magistrates for “inciting to disorder” but walked free when one of the “witnesses” said he had been offered money by the police to give evidence against the fighters.

View of the Hotel from the tower, 1960
View of the Hotel from the tower, 1960

Mills was later convicted of assaulting a PC Moore.

April 30 1855 saw a dog fight at Castle Hill between one from Almondbury and one from Huddersfield. Spectators scattered when police arrived, leaving behind the dogs which were taken to the police station.

More than 30 years earlier, on April 1 1820, rioters lit a beacon on Castle Hill as a signal to take possession of Huddersfield but were dispersed by troops.

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