In my attempt to visit as many pubs as possible before they all close down, I today went to the Beaumont Arms in Kirkheaton. In my attempt to drink as many excellent pints of beer as possible before I die, I had a pint of Timothy Taylor Landlord. If you want to find out about the pub or the pint take a look at my Great Yorkshire Pubs blog. But if you want to cross the lane from the pub and step back nearly two hundred years, stay where you are.
In the churchyard opposite the pub there is a monument to "the dreadful fate of seventeen children who fell unhappy victims to a raging fire at Mr. Atkinson's Factory" in February 1818. The monument is a stark stone column pointing towards the grey sky.
One of the panels contains a poem telling of "a parent's anguish for a suffering child". Perhaps it caused a tear or two when it was first erected but the poem somehow left me cold and unmoved.
Another panel states "Near this place lie what remained of the bodies of seventeen children, a striking and awful instance of the uncertainty of life and the vanity of human attainments". Uncertainty of life! Vanity of human attainments! I want to scream out loud. I have read the story of the fire at Atkinson's Mill. The fire started when a boy accidentally ignited some cotton with a candle. The mill doors had been locked by the overseer had gone home to bed, locking the children inside to get on with their work. This story - the truth about what happened in the mill - has not been carved into the fine stone panels. This murder is as unrecorded now as it was on that dreadful night in 1818. Read the names of those eighteen children and then shed a tear.