Monday, 12 August 2013



Mytholmroyd is about 5 miles from Halifax on the A646 through Calderdale in West Yorkshire and in the centre of the village there is an ancient hostelry,  The Dusty Miller Inn,  just opposite the A6138 which passes through the delightful rural valley of Cragg Vale.



An apt name for this pub would have been ‘The Coiners Den’ for this is where a gang of men, known as  The Cragg Vale Coiners,  used to meet back in the 18th century.    ‘Coining’ was the art of making counterfeit coins and this gang used a method of clipping or filing bits off coin of the realm and  melting down the accumulated gold or silver, which was then moulded and struck on a ‘die’ to produce a passable coin.  Coining, which  had been a problem for centuries, carried the ultimate penalty and the expert Cragg Valer’s were well aware of this fact.   Their leader was a man called David Hartley, or ‘King David’ as he was known and he lived at Bell House high up in Cragg Vale, where much of the coining was carried out.   The dies had to be made by a skilled craftsman and there were ways and means of bringing this about, and then all that was required was an expert ‘hammer man’ – he who could strike the die well enough to produce an accurate impression on the coin – and ‘ King David’ was Cragg Vale’s hammer man.

Things came abruptly to a head in 1769 when ‘King David’ and some of the gang were arrested at The Old Cock Inn in the centre of Halifax, by a government excise man, William Dighton, who had been sent to the area to investigate the gang.  Foolishly, some of the remaining members of the gang lay in wait for Dighton and shot him dead.   The upshot of the whole episode was that David Hartley and most of his gang were executed.

Hartley was buried in the old churchyard at Heptonstall where a simple gravestone marks his grave, and the original dies used by the gang can be seen in the little museum there.



Although the present parish church at Holmfirth in West Yorkshire dates from 1777, it replaced a former church on the same site dominating this small town.  Adjoining the church is an ecclesiastical lock-up dating from 1597 and known locally as T’owd Towzer.   The Rev. Edmund Robinson, vicar in 1688 probably saw more of the inside of the lock-up than he wished because he was caught ‘coining’, the crime of clipping or filing coins of the realm to make counterfeit coins.  He was convicted and hanged at York.

Holmfirth Parish Church

T'Owd Towser  lock-up


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