At the turn of the 20th century Henry Fallas & Sons were Horbury's premier master builders. In addition to Horbury Town Hall, the firm also built Horbury Library, Methodist Free Church, St Mary’s Parochial Hall, Carr Lodge gate house and walls, Horbury Cinema, semi-detached houses on New Road, houses on Shepstye Road, Bank Street (behind the church), Medlock Road (backing onto Memorial Park), Sunroyd Hill, Dudfleet Lane and Manorfields.
Henry Fallas was born in Horbury and christened on the 24th December 1843. His parents were Joseph and Hannah Fallas (nee Coope) who had married at St Peter’s Church on Christmas Day 1834.
The 1851 census shows the Fallas family living in Daw Lane with Hannah’s father, Samuel Coope. Joseph Fallas is listed as a stone mason. Henry’s siblings were Sarah (15), Mary Ann (13), Joe (11), Anne (4) and Ellen (2). Ten years later, in the 1861 census, the Fallas family is living at Dawson Hill. Henry is now 17 and working as a stone mason like his father. By 1871, Joseph Fallas is a master builder employing five men and one boy. Their address is Ring O’ Bells Yard, Horbury.
Meanwhile, in 1866, Henry married Mary Ann Sowerby and in the 1871 census they had two surviving children, Ada (4) and Edric (7) months. A further son, Joe, was born in 1873. They also had a son named Joe who died 12th March 1869, aged 8 months. Sadly, Mary Ann died on 25th February 1875, aged 29. Henry married for the second time in 1875. In the 1881 census, 37 year-old Henry and his new wife Emma North, aged 44, are living in Cluntergate. Henry is now a master builder employing eight men and two boys.
The 1901 census finds Henry (57) and Emma (64) living alone on High Street. Their house forms part of "The Beauty Spa" today! Emma died aged 77 on the 28th September 1909. Henry was to marry for a third and final time to Mabeth Graham, a widow, on 7th June 1910 at the Primitive Methodist Chapel, Market Street, Wakefield.
Above: Henry Fallas and Sons were contractors for the construction of the United Methodist Chapel at the junction of Highfield Road and Westfield Road. The picture on the left shows the chapel being built in 1899, with the work being completed in 1900. This chapel was built to replace a chapel in Queen Street that was built in 1857, but was not big enough to cope with the increased size of the congregation at the height of Methodist religious fervour during the 19th century. The picture on the right is the same chapel in 2016, but now in use as Nettletons bed and bedroom studio. There are two foundation stones with inscriptions on either side of the main entrance. The stones on the left hand side of the door read "Laid by Mr. Albert Smith and Mr. Thomas Auty, both July 19th 1899." On the right hand side of the door, they read "Laid by Mr. John Bairstow and Mr. John Mitchell, both July 19th 1899."
Henry Fallas died on 9th January 1913, aged 68. He had been ill for one week with bronchitis, which developed into pneumonia. His sons, Edric and Joe, were his beneficiaries. They continued the family business together, retaining the name Henry Fallas & Sons. Joe died on 8th February 1943, followed only five months later on 1st July by his brother, Edric. As Edric had only a daughter, who died in infancy, the business had passed to Joe’s son, Arnold Varley Fallas who was the last of the Fallas family stone masons and master builders.
Above: Some of the Horbury landmarks and houses built by Henry Fallas and Sons. The house that Fallas and his family lived at in 1901 formed part of what is now the "Beauty Spa" on High Street, Horbury and is shown top right. Bottom right is Porter Lodge, at the entrance to Carr Lodge Park. Photographs by Helen Bickerdike, April 2016.
When Henry Fallas died, the "Wakefield Express" 1 published a long, detailed obituary from which we can get a real flavour of the man and his life. He was described as:
"Bluff, outspoken and kindly and shrewd witted and burly in appearance, he was a good specimen of a type of Yorkshireman often described but less often met with."
Henry was brought up a Primitive Methodist. Although he had little to do with the movement in later life, he had been a Sunday school teacher and choirmaster.
A lifelong Liberal, he nevertheless refused many attempts to persuade him to stand for the Urban Council. Instead he put his energies into the Temperance cause. In fact, he had been a total abstainer from all intoxicating liquids for the previous 40 years! As a younger man, Henry conducted a Temperance Guild at the parish church. There were many Horbury people whose Temperance training dated from the Band of Hope classes in which he so actively worked. Henry went on to be one of the founders of the Temperance Hall and Social Institute on Highfield Road; he was its president at the time of his death.
Henry’s other interests included the brass band, of which he had been secretary and treasurer. He was a member of the Wakefield and District Master Builders’ Association. He had been a president of the Wakefield Association and, at the time of his death, was president at the newly formed Ossett and Horbury Association. For many years he served as a delegate to the Yorkshire Federation.2
As a mark of respect the flags at Horbury Town Hall, the Temperance Hall and the Whitehall Club, to which he belonged, were flown at half-mast.
Above: The grave of Henry Fallas and family in Horbury cemetery.
Above: Henry Fallas was one of the founders of the Temperance Hall in Horbury, which can be seen on the left of this photograph, but now has become a part of the Nettleton furniture shop. Photograph by Helen Bickerdike, May 2016.
1. "Wakefield Express", Saturday 11th January 1913.
2. Christine Wigglesworth, the great-granddaughter of Henry Fallas
Helen Bickerdike, May 2016