Out & About Brighouse
Out & Around Brighouse
Hello and Welcome to the West Yorkshire Town of Brighouse which lies east of its controlling town of Halifax within the larger Metropolitan Borough of Calderdale Council.
Brighouse and surrounding areas were originally heavily involved in both open and deep mining with rich extracts in minerals, coal and stone in fact some remains to the deep mines still are visible with past mining bodies still involved with overseeing the safety and control of these old mines that they still remain in the area today, many now covered over with a never ending supply of new homes expanding this original once small village becoming a considerable town with several developed villagers surrounding this West Yorkshire town.
In the 18/19 centuries the fast flowing River Calder and the Calder & Hebble Canal helped Brighouse thrived in the textile and Industrial revolution bringing several large Carpet Makers, Die Companies, Cloth Blenders and Foundries, etc, including Firths and Cossitt Carpets, Sugdens Flour Mills, Blackhall Engineering Ltd and J. Blakeborough and Sons Ltd Valve Makers along with many more.
Sadly with an ever changing world most of these have now gone mostly replaced with more houses and smaller industrial units all making the most from Brighouse’s new river and canal the M62 motorway
Opencast Quarries still remain today and are still extracting the rich Yorkshire Stone that has been used not just locally but all around the world as it has a way of totally transforms any type of building into a light changing structure as the changing sun brings out the very best of these stunning stone colours.
Brighouse Town Centre sits in the bottom of the valley surrounded by its villages which apart from Bailiff Bridge and Brookfoot to a degree all are well elevated above the town of Brighouse,
The low position of this town along side of the fast flowing Calder River which the area of Calderdale took its name from, had an old wooden bridge joining the village of Rastrick with Brighouse was thought to be where the name Brighouse came from (Brig from the word Bridge and House as at the time Brighouse was a village of houses) although it was always pronounced in a broad Yorkshire dialog as Brig-a-us and in fact you still find many of the older locals still to this day call it Brig-a-us.
Later along came the Calder & Hebble Canal (later to be called Calder & Hebble Navigation Canal) which ran side by side with the River Calder stretching from Lancashire eventually reaching the North Sea this waterway provided the perfect solution to transport all the local minerals, coal, stone and produce Brighouse could produced, all this led way to a new boom for the small village that not only helped build the thriving town of Brighouse but along the side of the fast flowing river was an ideal place to build many new factories that the river could not only power these new factories but the rivers fast flowing water was used for washing and dyeing cloth as well as cooling the machines and in later years provided the water for the big boilers to produce steam to power the weaving looms 24 hours a day even when the river was flowing slowly.
With some of the mines constructed at the top of these hills which surrounded Brighouse before the railway was introduced, these mines had a big problem transporting the coal and other heavy produce down the steep tracks by horse and carts to the waiting canal barges not only taking a large toll on the horses and carts but was a very slow and time consuming task, so they built rail tracks down the steep hills to take the stone, minerals and coal down to the waiting barges to take it to the many growing towns in the north of England and beyond, the rail carriages were powered down the hills to the canal by the sheer weight of the goods, then the empty carriages would be pulled back up the hill with horses via a special winching system.
Travelling Around Brighouse
Entering Brighouse down the A641 Huddersfield & Bradford Road from Huddersfield as you approach the town passing the Woodhouse Lane where the Scout movement has held there activities for decades, as you make your way down Huddersfield road you cannot help noticing the very large houses on the left with their long imposing drives and structures most of these were built for the towns mill owners, then passing Daisy Road as you are crossing over the railway bridge you hardly notice on your left is Brighouse Rail Station showing a small sign and notice board with steps leading down the side of this stone built bridge to the platform below you almost get the feeling that they don’t want people to know this Railway Station is OPEN for business next to it is the Railway Inn & Station Cafe parps giving another clue there is a station near here?
At the junction traffic lights is a road to the right Birds Royd Lane leading to dozens of industrial units and factories many now occupying the former Massive J. Blakeborough and Sons Ltd Valve Makers Factory which not only exported valves all around the world but was one of the largest single employer within the Brighouse Area before closing due to world markets, unrest and takeovers, which many blame for its demise? Also in this area were several other large factories many now closed and replaced with more industrial units although one of the oldest fat refinery and soap makers Drury are still making soap products today. If you had taken the left at the station traffic lights past the front of the Railway Hotel and the Station Cafe this takes you up Gooder Lane to the area of Rastrick (please see Rastrick section), although if you continue straight through the lights down Huddersfield Road the first thing you notice is the impressive Brighouse Bridge originally built as a toll bridge in 1825 then abolished as a toll bridge in 1875 when the Government abolished toll collecting then in 1905 was widened and then again in 1999 to cope with the larger vehicles using the bridge along with increased volume of traffic (now a steel over twin stone arched bridge structure) spanning the fast flowing Calder River if you look ahead to your right you will see the former textile mill now converted to luxury apartments which is now quite visual each with their own balconies overlooking the river and beyond, the entrance to these luxury apartments is through security electronic controlled gates.
If you look to the left down Mill Royd Street at the lights you may see the remains of the old swimming and slippery baths on the right? (now 2020 an appalling eyesore what an end to such a impressive and historical iconic building shame on Calderdale Council for NOT saving our towns history) with the remains of the old Thomas Sugden’s Flour Mills beyond another large employer now gone forever,(now a climbing club) looking at the large former flour tower silos you may see an array of coloured gripers dotted around these towers as this is now one of the largest climbing centres in the UK.
As you pass over the stone Calder & Hebble Navigation Canal bridge on your left is a another former mill now an hotel (Waterfront Lodge Hotel & Prego Restaurant) with the Calder Bar next, which before it became a eating and drinking place was the Albert Picture House opposite this is one of the towns supermarkets on a former mill and bank site, if you turn left at the roundabout it brings you into Bethel Street with The former Brighouse Council Officers and former Savoy Picture House which is now a part used council office and hall with the Yorkshire Building Soc. On the corner with the old Bradford Road just a bit further on bethel street is The Richard Oastler Bar on your right which was a former Bethel Church and which still houses the old original organ on the balcony, as you pass the back of the old Albert Cinema is the old Salvation Hall (which is reputed to be one of the first places the Salvation Army Movement started from)then set back on the left is the Towns Market (another Calderdale Council death wish list victim?) with a new pub the Market Tavern which uses the former Pork Pie making building (the famous Yorkshire Brayshaws Pie Maker people used to come from miles away to sample these pies), on the right you cannot help notice a part wooden almost Tudor looking building now the Old Ship Inn formerly the Prince of Wales which used the wood for its construction from the former 101 gun ship called the ‘HMS Donegal built in 1858‘. past this interesting building and passing the Market Street on your right bring you into Briggate/Thornton Squire with a large flower displayed roundabout (the roundabout without any junctions) on your right is the imposing building with a clock on the top was the original and former Town Hall a bit more around and looking to your left you will see the Black Bull Hotel and beyond to the left is the old Rastric Bridge where it is thought it gave its name to Brighouse? On past Thornton Squire you now pass the so called super loos (another of the so called Calderdale Mess Ups) next is another supermarket original the towns first super market built by Hillards of Cleckheaton now owned by a large chain of supermarkets.
Turning right at the end of the road takes you into the town’s main street Commercial Street, passing an array of shops including its fair share of charity shops along with an increasing number of empty property, at the end of the road is the George Hotel as you cross over the now cut off Bradford Road (another bright idea from the council?) in to King Street which at one time was the old towns largest shopping row of Co-op Shops and Stores now hosting an array of different business’s (but now Brighouse Town does not even have one Co-op another sad changing fact) as you turn right in to Lawson Road with the current Salvation Army Centre to your left next to a former Round House Inn which was at one time another iconic pub now lost and tucked away on a small (council created split the town up again move?) cul-de-sac.
Turning down Lawson Road yet past another former council property and turning left in to the new bypass of Huddersfield Road with the M62 and Clifton Village off to the right before you reach the most dangerous roundabout in Brighouse (if not the world) with a large supermarket off to your right, if you turn to your left this brings you up the (twinned A643 Lüdenscheid Link with Germany ) with the New Brighouse Bus station on your left and the Brighouse Library off to the right, along with the village of Brookfoot straight across with the next Calderdale town of Elland beyond, although if you went straight across at the big roundabout to Bradford Road and almost immediately on your left is Bonegate with the former old Ritz Picture House (now Venue 73 ballroom) on the corner with Wellholme Park off to you right and Bailiff Bridge followed by Bradford Straight on.