Ann's Places

Hipperholme Grammar School Clock & the Shibden Hall Connection

Hipperholme Grammar School
Photo ©Lightcliffe and District Local History Society

Did you know that Ann Walker & Anne Lister subscribed toward the Hipperholme Grammar School clock in 1835?

According to Anne Lister’s diary entry of 31 July 1835, both women contributed to the new clock.

“…then A- off to Cliff Hill – I wrote the last 2 lines of page 129, the whole of the last page and so far of this – then had Messrs. Charles Robinson and Henry to solicit subscriptions to the Hipperholm school clock – the trustees put down £10 and Mr Warburton £5 and A- desired that I should put down her name for £10 – I said I was glad they had gained her over – she had been surprised to hear the clock was already ordered – Messrs. R- and HC- did not know that it was – very well, said I, then on the faith that it is not ordered I will put £10 for myself as well as Miss W- and so I did observing that if the clock was ordered I would only give £5. Advised their writing to some leading clockmaker in London or Liverpool to ask if in his opinion a good clock could be made for the sum demanded by the man at Sowerby bridge (£60+ bell £15 + putting up £5) – I doubted this estimate very much…” 1

According to the Bank of England Inflation calculator Ann & Anne’s subscriptions of £10 would be £1,003.60 today, with £5 being half of that.

Hipperholme Grammar School History

The history of Hipperholme School stretches back to at least 1564, when a school existed at the chantry chapel at Coley. Hipperholme School proper was established in 1660, when the school at Coley was transferred to premises in Hipperholme by the first master, William Tong, and funded by bequests made by a Matthew Brodley in his will of 1647. Later, in 1671, the owner of the Hipperholme premises made the building over to the school.

A new schoolroom was completed in 1783/4. The school thrived, and according to Ann Walker’s cousin William Priestley, who was a pupil, by the 1790s there were 200 children being taught there. The latter half of the 19th century saw the school in decline until 1900, when improvements were made and new buildings constructed. In 1907, it was recognised as a secondary school by West Riding County Council.

In the 1920s the school’s future was called into question, as the County Council proposed merging Hipperholme,  Rastrick School, and Brighouse Girls’ Secondary School into an entirely new school. Negotiations continued through the 1930s until the plans were halted by the Second World War. By 1959, further improvements had been made, including the Lister Library, created in memory of John Lister who had been a long-term governor of the school until his death in 1933.2 Today the library is used as a Business Studies room where this plaque is displayed.

Photo of the plaque honoring John Lister, Chairman of Hipperholme 1906-1933
Image used by kind permission from Hipperholme Grammar School Foundation

Since the 1980s, it has been a co-educational, independent (fee-paying) school. Most students come from Halifax, Brighouse, Bradford and Huddersfield.4

The Original Hipperholme School Clock

In 1835, the Hipperholme School’s trustees opened a subscription to raise funds for a new clock and bell.5 We know that Ann Walker and Anne Lister became subscribers. From A History of Hipperholme School from 1660 – 1914 with a Biography of its Founder, Matthew Broadley, (1586 – 1648):

“From the bills the clock and bell was seem to have been installed in during the second half of 1835. There was, however, no record made in the trustees’ minutes. The clock was supplied by Titus Bancroft of Sowerby Bridge and the bell by the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, London. A new turret for the bell was made by Job Helm also of Sowerby Bridge. By December 1837 the subscription list had reached £99 19s. 0d. The clock came to £60 and Titus Bancroft promised to “uphold” it, presumably to guarantee and service it, for a year from 27 July 1835.  The bill for the bell, dated 10 November 1835, was for £16 10s. 0d. No account for the turret has survived but, since the clock and bell together came only to £76 10s. 0d., the remaining £23 9s. 0d.  would have been ample for it.”6

Again using the Bank of England Inflation calculator the clock by Titus Bancroft at £60 would be £6,021.60, the bell roughly at £16 would be £1,605.76 and the remaining £23 would be £2,308.28 today.

This document confirms that Titus Bancroft of Sowerby Bridge did in fact make the original clock.

Copy of the document from the trustees of Hipperholme Grammar School to Titus Bancroft of the cost of the clock.
Image used by kind permission of the Hipperholme Grammar School Foundation

Background on the craftsmen who made the original clock, bell and turret

ClockTitus Bancroft of Sowerby Bridge was a maker of watches and clocks from 1809 until 1838. Listed in Baines’s Directory and Gazetteer Directory of 1822 as a church clock maker, Bancroft made the clock at Holy Trinity Church, Halifax between 1822-1835.7 He died in 1839.

Bell – The Whitechapel Bell Foundry dates back to 1570, and was the manufacturer of Big Ben at Westminster in London, and the Liberty Bell in the United States. Unfortunately, after almost 450 years of operation, the foundry went out of business in 2017.8 Watch this interesting video about the Foundry here.

Turret – Job Helm of Sowerby Bridge was a local stone/mason listed in the 1841 Census.9 Helm died in 1868.

Renovations to the Hipperholme Clock

The bell of 1835 had been broken by a student ringing it too vigorously, and was replaced in 1847 with a new one bought from Francis Roper of Halifax. It is believed that the old broken bell was part of the exchange for the new one.10 Roper is listed in Pigot’s Directory as an Ironmonger.11

The school has undergone renovations and improvements over the years and much of the documentation has been lost. We have learned that the Titus Bancroft clock was replaced by W Potts & Sons, Leeds in 1902, and the dial was re-painted on stone.12 W Potts & Sons was acquired by Smith of Derby in 1933, who continue to maintain it to this day.13

Between 1988- 2005, under the tenure of Chris Robinson, Head of the Hipperholme Foundation, the clock dial was replaced. Chris adds  “I recall of our year 2000 concert for the locals within chime distance to celebrate the new clock face.  I recall a section of the school choir sang Rock Around the Clock!”14

Tour of The Clock Tower

The clock, bell and turret as they look today.

Photo of Hipperholme Clock dial, bell and turret
Photo used by Kind Permission of Sherridan Katarina Crompton

How does a Turret Clock work?

Photo and diagram showing a Posted Frame clock
Clock photo used by kind permission of Hipperholme Grammar School Foundation
W Potts & Sons Clock at Hipperholme on left, Illustration of Posted Frame clock from Antiquarian Horological Society /C.G. McKay 1998
Diagram from "The Turret Clock Keeper's Handbook" captions by Trish Rafa
Illustration from Chris McKay, The Turret Clock Keepers Handbook/ Captions by Trish Rafa

Here’s a wonderful glimpse inside the Clock Tower

Photos inside the tower used by kind permission of Hipperholme Grammar School Foundation 2022


Though there have been replacements for some of the components of the clock and bell, which have been necessary over time, it still functions. The bell, though temperamental, rings on the hour. Hipperholme Grammar School continues to thrive while honouring its rich history. In addition to learning of Ann Walker and Anne Lister’s subscriptions to this original clock and bell, we also learned that John Lister (Anne’s cousin and descendent who lived at Shibden Hall, and first cracked the code in her diaries) was a Governor of the school. The school honoured his service by naming a library for him. We continue to be amazed at the living connections to Ann Walker and Anne Lister in present-day Yorkshire.

** Our research is ongoing and so new discoveries may impact how we understand the events in the future. **


  1. 31 July 1835 Anne Lister Diary  WYAS SH:7/ML/E/18/0070, transcription by Martin Walker
  2. A Short History of Hipperholme Grammar School by Peter Facer, M.A. 7th April 1970 – Halifax Antiquarian Society
  3. Inscription from Hipperholme Grammar School Foundation
  4. A Short History of Hipperholme Grammar School by Peter Facer, M.A. 7th April 1970 – Halifax Antiquarian Society
  5. Hipperholme Grammar School
  6. From A History of Hipperholme School from 1660 – 1914 with a Biography of its Founder, Matthew Broadley, (1586 – 1648) by Peter Facer – Hipperholme Grammar School
  7. Bancrofts from Yorkshire blog
  8. Survey of London blog                                                            
  9. 1841 England Census Reference – HO 107 / 1304/3, (subscription required)
  10. A History of Hipperholme School from 1660 – 1914 with a Biography of its Founder, Matthew Broadley, (1586 – 1648) by Peter Facer -Thesis for degree of Master of Arts, University of London, 1966
  11. Information from 1834 Pigot’s Directory accessed through (subscription required)
  12. Information through correspondence with Michael Potts
  13. Smith of Derby
  14. Information from correspondence with Chris Robinson, former Headmaster of Hipperholme Grammer School Foundation.

Additional Resources

Lightcliffe and District Local History Society

Special Thanks

Thank you to Nick James, Head of Hipperholme Grammar School for sharing the historical documentation.

Matthew Betts, Creative and Communications Manager of Hipperholme Grammar School for taking the photos used in this blog.

Chris Robinson, former Headmaster of Hipperholme Grammer School.

Heather Whitworth (Director, Smith of Derby)

Michael Potts

Sherridan Crompton for exterior photos of Hipperholme Grammer School

David Glover, Halifax Antiquarian Society

Louise Godley

Martin Walker

In Search of Ann Walker’s research into Ann’s life is ongoing, therefore new discoveries may change the way we chronicle her life in the future.

How to cite this article:
Deb Woolson & Trish Rafa (2022) “Hipperholme Grammar School Clock & the Shibden Hall Connection”: In Search of Ann Walker [Accessed “add date”]

I'm semi-retired and live in the US. Between researching for ISAW and dabbling in politics, my time is well spent. I watched GJ S1 and was overwhelmed by the beauty of Yorkshire and the amazing story of these two women. (Months later I learned my ancestors came from Yorkshire!) I have such admiration for Ann Walker and am honored to work with the talented ISAW team to bring her story to the forefront.

I live in the US near Seattle and am a lifelong history nerd. Like many, I met the Ann(e)s through “Gentlemen Jack” and their story resonated with me on a deeply personal level. While Anne Lister’s story is unparalleled, I found Ann Walker's bravery and commitment in the face of so many obstacles extraordinary. I’m thrilled to be a part of honoring her story.