1) A type of small boat which was in use on Yorkshire’s inland waterways from the fourteenth century at least.
In the accounts for St Leonard’s Hospital was a payment to men who had helped drag a catch down to the Ouse: 1371 quandam naviculum Hospitalis vocatam le cache and in 1423 Archbishop Bowet’s will lists income pro j cache usitat’, York. It is in Beverley though that most early references are found with a distinction drawn in 1359 between great catches [qualibet magna cach] and small catches [parvis cachis]: in 1412 they were conveying loads of thatch, straw, hay, sand, and faggots for use in the market place, and in 1467 it was ordered that caches should not be made or repaired on the banks of Beverley Beck. In Hull, in 1464-5, when repairs were being carried out to the great north jetty at Drypool, a catch was used for seven tides. They were used also along the east coast, for a Scarborough merchant named Peter Shilbotell made the following bequest: 1505 to John my sonne j quarter of my cache callyd the Marye. They were employed particularly though to carry goods far inland, notably plying between York and Boroughbridge. In 1476-7 William Carter conveid the Corn be cache to … Burghbrig and in 1578 Topcliffe chancel was repaired with lead taken in a catche to Burrowe brygge. There were shipwrights in several riverside locations, and catches were among the boats they built: in 1558 a York corn merchant left stores of wood and timber to his son, reserving sixty of the best bords … for the building of a catche. By that time the most popular vessel on the river was the ‘keel’ but the term ‘catch’ survived in use and an entry in the Quarter Sessions rolls in 1735 mentions damage done by the sinking of a boat or catch on the Ayer or Calder, presumably somewhere beyond Knottingley.
2) A conduit bringing water down from a reservoir.
In Lingards near Slaithwaite, an elderly man remembered having to visit an old lady called Betty Firth in the early 1900s, on his way to and from school. It was his task to fetch her water from the catch and she gave him a penny a week for that . This was the local abbreviation for catchwater, in this case one of the conduits which ran from the heights above Marsden to Blackmoorfoot Reservoir. It is a word which features regularly in the The History of the Huddersfield Water Supplies and by inference its history goes back to the creation of the moorland reservoirs of the early nineteenth century. These had large catchment areas which were fed by conduits several miles long. The author also used the terms ‘catchwater conduit’ and ‘catchwater drain’. The first reference in the OED is dated 1963.