Memories of Calderdale

Jim Smith


Geoffrey Siddall

When I lived in Ripponden, just after the war, there were still a number of the old fashioned tub toilets which required periodic emptying.

A task undertaken by Jim Smith, one of two brothers who farmed on the Soyland hillside,

Jim was a well known eccentric who was regularly seen about the area with his horse-driven flat cart.

From the smallest school boy to the most straight-laced Methodist he was always known as Shit Jim.

There were few houses connected to the main drains on Oldham Road after Slitheroe Bridge and into Rishworth so Jim was often seen on the Oldham Road.

The flat section of the horse drawn wagon held a number of 10 gallon and 5 gallon oil drums with the tops removed these were filled with the evil smelling contents of peoples' collected sewage. Jim usually sat on the left hand front corner. Because of his weight, and the light springing of the cart it caused the flat cart to tilt and spillage from the open top containers tended to slowly ooze to the front and found the lowest point where Jim sat in his old army great coat.

He tried to scrape the slurry back into the tins with his hands with little success.

Harry Wadsworth, the managing director of the firm, in his late 70s at that time, often had old friends visiting asking advice or for just a chat.

One day Jim parked the laden cart outside on Oldham Road and came to see Mr Harry.

There was a small private office attached to the main office and this October day Jim sat chatting. As Jim warmed by the Gas fire, the Army great coat also warmed and made its presence felt.

From time to time Mr Harry, tried to close the meeting but Jim, luxuriating in the warmth, did not take the heavy hints.

Eventually, Jim went, and Harry immediately dashed through into the toilets and returned with a large copper and brass professional sprayer and tried to swamp the stench with a spray of freesias.

The Oldham Road is relatively flat to Ripponden centre and the horse could make an astonishing speed, my personal opinion is that it was trying to leave the smell behind.

From the centre he then climbed the Soyland hillside to his farm to dispose of his load.

Jim invariably called at a Fish and Chip shop in Ripponden centre before continuing his climb.

He was never known to have to queue!!!

© Malcolm Bull 2021
Revised 10:26 / 30th May 2021 / 4194

Page Ref: M_27

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