Welcome to Brighouse

Meet Brighouse West Yorkshire

From a Mill Town to a Commuting Town

Hello and Welcome to the West Yorkshire Town of Brighouse Which Stands east of its Controlling Town of Halifax within the Larger Metropolitan Borough of Calderdale Council.

Dating back shows Brighouse as a Historical township with Hipperholme, within the parish of Halifax, although it also appears to have been part of the then larger parish of Rastrick at one point before it was absorbed within the new Brighouse Boundaries, this is also thought to be where the name Brighouse first originated from, a small wooden bridge that crossed the River Calder joining Rastrick and Brighouse, adjoined to this wooden bridge was (Bridge House)a very small wooden and brick house thought to be where this fine name of Bridge-House came from, known by locals as Brig-a-us followed by ‘Brighouse’ although some broad Yorkshire folk still call it “Brig-a-us or Brig-as”.

Some History especially local small villages and towns are almost impossible to authenticate and verify the real truth of how it was really hundreds of years ago and a lot of Brighouse and its surrounding villages firmly drop in to this category, also as many local villagers were true Yorkshire Folk and liked to tell the tails (as they leaned on the garden walls chewing the cud (talking) as they used to say) and improvise the bits they were not sure about thus many different tales and accounts became the norm.

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 are still visible with past mining bodies still involved with overseeing the safety and control of these old mines that 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.

One thing was sure about the early days of Brighouse was that no matter which way you enter the Brighouse boundary it was down a hill in to the town, (apart from Brookfoot and also partly true of Bailiff Bridge and Dewsbury) making it easier to get in to Brighouse than to leave the town, add to this a river running straight through the town and contributory beck and streams from the surrounding villages, made it the ideal place to build factories, weaving and blending mills along with the new industrial types of factories, not only to build their new factories but along the side of all these waterways they could power their mills and factories using the fast flowing water. As the constant changing colours of the water and the locals used to say certain company must be busy look at all that die coming down the stream.(a reference to the amount of die in the water as the cloth mills washed their newly coloured cloth).

Old photos ofBrighouse and some of the local villages you could not help notice vast amounts of mills and factories dotted along the edges of these rivers and streams, many of these were very high structures using the power of water to not only drive the mill machines but in many cases the sheer power of the fast flowing water was enough to pump high volumes of water high in to these mills into vast water tanks taking up a complete floor in many cases, then a second water power was produced to power other machines and cloth dying as the water made its way back down from the top of these tall mills and these water storage tanks, before returning the water back to where it came from,(rivers, streams and becks) ready for the next mill along the river bank to tap in to this free renewable water power.

Brighouse was now becoming a wealthy town producing high volume products and these now very rich mill owners built some spectacular large residential homes mostly on the top of the hills so the mill owners could not only look down at the poor workers they employed making them feel above these type of people but also in many cases they could also look down on their own mills and factories to remind them of their status and standing in the town which many helped to build, many of these mill owners even built parks, monuments and public buildings just so the people of the town knew exactly who was the top dog.

As you looked up any of the hillsides the slum’s of the day would be in the bottom surrounded by the large mills and more modest houses as the progressed up the hillside with the big mansions at the top to look down on everybody and ensuring the correct pecking order was always kept. There is an old saying in Yorkshire ‘you don’t get aught and naught’ (anything and nothing) these now wealthy mill owners often built some these public buildings and parks with a wink and a nod to the local councillors meaning when the time came and the mill owners wanted to build a house or mill it was a sure thing there would be no objection. This was not just true for Brighouse but the norm especially in the north. Looking at the landscape of most northern town you could get an instant picture of how well a town was doing.

In the 17-19 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 and J. Blakeborough and Sons Ltd Valve Makers along with many more.

Sadly with a 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 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 and 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 town 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.(see description of Hove Edge and Clifton for more details).

More on Brighouse to Come SOON?