Isaac William Hewitt White lived in Woodlesford for 17 years in the late 19th century establishing himself as a prominent mining and civil engineer. From 1876 to the end of 1878 he was the manager of the closest pit to the centre of the village, owned by the Waterloo and Woodlesford Colliery Company Ltd.
He first came to Yorkshire in about 1870 to become an apprentice with John Edward Mammatt and together they established the firm of Mammatt and White, based in Leeds. Mammatt had previously become well known when was involved in the rescue at the Oaks colliery disaster in 1866 in which more than 380 men died. Mammatt and White went on to have contracts across Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire and they were also engaged by foreign landowners such as Count Esterhazy to develop mines in Bohemia.
Issac’s sister Florence married Charles Frederick Hoyle from Bentley’s brewery in 1879 and another sister Gertrude also moved to Yorkshire. His younger brother, Arthur Hardcastle White, emigrated to the United States where his descendants still live in California.
In 1880 Issac married Margaret Day, the daughter of a “gentleman” farmer from South Hiendley, who he had probably met whilst working at a pit nearby. They had five daughters who were all born at Woodlesford – Margaret (“Margie”), Evelyn, Kathleen, Louisa (“Louie”) and Florence.
During the 1880s the White family lived at Highfield House on Stockings Lane near Woodlesford school. Twenty years earlier, then known as Woodlesford Villa, it was the home of colliery owner William Locke, whose father, Charles Locke, had been the mineral agent to the Duke of Norfolk and Lord Stourton, successive owners of the coal mined at Rothwell Haigh. Charles was born at Newburn near Newcastle and is believed to have been the brother of the railway civil engineer Joseph Locke who worked closely with Robert Stephenson building many of the country’s main line railways. Its therefore possible the house may have been visited by Joseph Locke and Stephenson.
After the Waterloo and Woodlesford company was closed down Issac W.H. White continued to work locally at the Bower’s pits on the north bank of the River Aire between Swillington and Allerton Bywater.
He also owned a quarry at Kippax and became the engineer for the East and West Yorkshire Union Railways established in 1883 to connect the collieries in the Rothwell area to the port of Hull via a line running through Woodlesford to Drax. There it would have joined the Hull and Barnsley Railway but, largely because of a lack of capital, it was never built. Instead a much shorter line was constructed from Lofthouse through Rothwell which eventually joined the Midland Railway at Stourton.
During his time in Woodlesford Issac W. H. White became a director of Bentley’s brewery and stood for election to the school board and local councils. Then in 1893, with increasing wealth, the family moved to live in Roundhay. After his death in 1899 Margaret moved to Bury St Edmunds and lived until 1940. The five daughters moved to different parts of England after they married but remained in close touch with each other and with their mother.
J.E. Mammatt and I.W.H. White’s company operated from offices at 1 Albion Place in Leeds and after White’s death the firm continued as Mammatt, White and Kay until at least the 1940s. (From research by Desmond Beauchamp Astley-Cooper.)
THE LATE MR. I. W. H. WHITE, OF LEEDS. Yorkshire Evening Post. Tuesday 26 December 1899.
The death of this gentleman, which occurred at his residence, Bedford House, Roundhay, on Saturday, and to whose career brief mention was made yesterday, was due to a painful internal ailment, symptoms of which first showed themselves about a year ago.
He consulted a specialist in London, and underwent two serious operations, but though these gave him temporary relief, it has for some months past been evident to his friends that a fatal termination of the malady was only a question time. It is almost literally true that until about twelve months ago he had never had an illness in his life – a statement which those who were familiar with his tall, robust figure will readily believe.
Mr. White enjoyed a high reputation in his profession throughout the West Riding. Having served his term as a pupil to Mr. J. E. Mammatt, of Leeds, he continued in that gentleman’s service for a while as assistant, and was soon taken into partnership. Personally, and as a member of the firm, he had very large experience as a mining and civil engineer. He was consulting engineer to the Allerton, South Kirby and other West Riding collieries.
Latterly he paid more attention to the civil side of his profession, and was associated with many large enterprises. The recent development of light railways afforded a good opening, and he was the engineer to a number of undertakings of that kind, including the Isle of Axholme and the Goole and Marshland light railways.
He also acted in a similar capacity in connection with the East and West Yorkshire Union Railway,the South Leeds Junction Railway, and the Dearne Valley Railway, the last named now in construction. He was a director the Gwaun-cae-Gurwen Colliery Company, South Wales, and also Messrs. Bentiey’s Breweries.
Up to 1893 he lived at Woodlesford, but since then has resided at Roundhay. His death in the prime of life will deplored by all who knew him, in professional and private life, and deep sympathy will be extended to his widow (who is the daughter of Mr. Richard Day, of Hodroyd, near Barnsley, and sister to Mr. Benjamin Day, solicitor, of Leeds), and to his five daughters.