Silas Abbey

Yorkshire Evening Post, Friday 31 January 1896.

A very interesting gathering took place at the Masonic Hall, Great George Street, Leeds, last night, when Mr. and Mrs. John Simpson of Belle Vue Villa, Chapeltown Road, celebrated their golden weddding. About 80 relatives and intimate friends accepted the invitations to be present and after dinner the health of the couple was felicitously proposed by Mr. James Midgley and honoured with great heartiness. Mr. Simpson’s reply was appropriate and reminiscent. Subsequently dancing took place. 

Mr. Simpson came to Leeds from Hathersage. Derbyshire, in 1845; and on the 18th August of the same year he married, at the Leeds Parish Church, Mary Ann, daughter of John Ormonde Collon, manufacturer, of Bradford. 

It was not until 1853 that he commenced business in the Hunslet Road as a general contractor and builder; a business which, as Leeds people do not need to be reminded, has been wonderfully developed ever since. In 1865 Mr. Simpson and Mr. Silas Abbey entered into partnership contracting for the first sewage works at Knostrop on the A- B system, which contract was carried out to the full satisfaction of the engineer. 

The second contract was in connection with the Sheepscar Beck from East Street to Skinner Lane, and the third from Holbeck Bridge to Sheep Foot Bridge, Holbeck – this latter being considered to be the best and most satisfactory sanitary scheme introduced into Leeds. Then followed Corporation contracts for sewers, street paving, flagging, &c, after which the partnership was dissolved with Mr. Abbey; and since then Mr. Simpson has carried on the business himself, with Mr. Edwin Lee as his trusted manager. 

It is impossible to give here a list of the work done by Mr. Simpson for the Leeds Corporation. In about 25 years he has been entrusted by the authorities four times with the whole of the contracts for sewering, and he has now a contract running for the same, together with the kerbing of new estates, &c. 

Outside Leeds his men have carried out sewage schemes at Oulton and Woodlesford, Castleford, Pontefract, Idle, and Pudsey; he carried out a two years’ contract for the Llanidloes Corporation, North Wales, and besides other public buildings has been responsible for the erection of the tall chimneys in Leeds of Messrs. Donisthorpe & Croft, John Fowler & Co., John Marshall, Son, & Co., and Bray, Waddington, & Co. 

Mr. Simpson, indeed, may fairly claim to possess internal and external knowledge of Leeds which few people can boast of. In his private capacity as a citizen, it is interesting to learn that he has been 29 years chairman of the Hunslet Overseers, and for 20 years churchwarden of St. Jude’s, Hunslet. 

The years have slightly frosted his hair and beard, but there are no other apparent signs of “age creeping on apace,” and both he and Mrs. Simpson seem destined to enjoy one another’s companionship for many years to come.