Clifton stands only a stone’s throw from the centre of Brighouse but in a high elevated position overlooking Brighouse.
This truly historical village is oozes with historical interest and intrigue dating back to the 16 century and beyond it is also reputed to be the burial ground for Robin Hood?
Travelling Around Clifton.
As you climb the very steep Clifton Common A643 road out of Brighouse town centre you are greeted by the Armytage Arms at the brow of the hill turning right in front of this pub you enter the main street (Towngate) of the village as you approach the heart of the village you have to be impressed with some of the old buildings and features that are mixed among the more modern built houses.
As you travel on Towngate passing the Clifton Methodist Church on the left and on the right comes St John the Evangelist Church next to the village school (St John’s (CE) Primary Academy) you come to a crossroad with the very impressive Black Horse Inn on the right of this junction with Westgate The Black Horse is a historical land mark with the impressive Yorkshire Stone work standing proud as it has since the 18th century.
As you travel on through the village and its winding roads as Towngate which now becomes Deep Lane then in to Blake Law Lane opening up to the countryside and the fields that once formed part of the Armytage vast estate, before crossing over the M62 before reaching the boundary with Hartshead, looking down on the M62 motorway as it brings produce and goods from one side of the country to the other just like in the past when the Calder & Hebble canal did exactly the same job only much slower and sedate.
As we work our way back to the Armytage Arms and turning down Clifton Common about half way down is a road on your right (Thornhills Lane) turning on this ever narrowing and twisting lane brings you to the heart of Thornhills Village, (although not really part of Clifton I have included this village with Clifton because it possibly has more of its boundaries edging to Clifton than any other Brighouse village also a blink of the eyes and you have past the heart of this village). This village is possible one of the largest village by volume within the Brighouse boundary although it may be the lowest populated villages apart from the animals as Thornhills is mainly made up of small farms scattered across the hillsides of Thornhills giving some of the most spectacular views in Brighouse along with an abundance of Wildlife, travelling along this winding road and entering the small collection of houses when almost just as quickly you come to the end of the road and the main village street, turning right at this ‘T’ junction with Thornhills Beck Lane would take you to the A643 and Willow Hall Golf Course, as we turn left down the steep narrow lane with its banking almost looking like they want to re-claim this narrow lane which still has signs of its past the bridge arches of the old Pickle Line Railway and the remains of the once overhead cable way that carried the stone from the local quarries, as you reach the bottom of the lane you are met with Clifton Beck and a ford across the entire road (a ford is where a beck or stream flows over a road normally the road is built of sets and slightly raised to allow horse and carts to pass across the stream without the need to build a bridge although these day they are predominantly used by vehicles and cyclist as the hold their legs out to prevent the splashing water wetting them through) this ford has a small bridge to one side for pedestrians, there is a small rough car park to the left of the ford for Wellholme Park (Brighouse’s largest public parks) if you walk along the side of the beck to your left is the woodland and fields of Thornhills, a small bridge takes you across the bridge to the main part of Wellholme Park with its children’s rides and swings there is also some splendid plants, gardens and trees to keep most people busy for a while, exciting on the A641 Huddersfield-Bradford main road brings you almost to Brighouse town centre as you pass the famous Ritz Cinema which became a night club and dance hall although for legal implications changed its name?
It is said that Clifton still holds a vast amount of its past hidden away and if you look carefully you can find many signs of its past, including early “crop rotation”, in an age when crop farming was on the rise small farms or crofts as they were known, mostly leased from the big estates, these small farms or just a small field in many cases, at times were mostly the rough or steep bits of land the big estates did not really want, so let them off to these small holders, farmers and crofters, the crofters with limited means or money had to make the most of this inhospitable land and was often ploughed with horses or cultivated by hand in downwards in strips as they were often too steep for the horses to cultivate the land in any other direction, this was a very slow time consuming hard job, so after they had completed a small strip of land they would plant it with seed before moving in to the next strip.
Every year they would change the type of crop produced in each strip and this early way of growing became the most efficient way to grow crops with limited land, which also improved the crops yield without over using the limited lands natural resources.
Like most of Brighouse, Clifton was also a mining area thought to produce minerals, ore and coal with records dating back as far as 1307 they say Clifton still has the remains of its mines and rail tracks (known as the Gravity Rail Track) that were used in the early 1920s to carry the coal down the steep hills to the awaiting barges to carry the coal to the local gas works, this was carried out using carriages loaded with coal at the top of the hill and the weight of the coal was enough to take the heavy carriages down the track with a braking system on some of the carriages to slow them down and stop them at the bottom for unloading onto the barges, the empty carriages were then pulled back to the top with a type of winch powered by horses.
Clifton is another part of Brighouse that borders on other boundaries including Kirklees (Huddersfield) and Cleckheaton which is under Bradford City’s control, in its past it was part of the vast assets of the lord of the manor at Clifton Hall off Well Lane opposite The Black Horse Hotel. Highley Hall (formerly known as Crosse Hall) a former home of Richard de Hileagh the village constable in the 14th century. Kirklees Hall a Jacobean 16th grade 1 listed building century building set back on the left of the main village road where it is reputed to contain Robin Hoods remains within its grounds, Clifton like most of Brighouse has some amazing views, walks and wildlife making this an ideal place to visit and check out its past and present features.
The modern Clifton is home to two pubs, an junior and infant school originally built in the 1800s now a modern add construction called St John’s (CE) Primary Academy spanning a considerable site on the right of Towngate the main street. a village Hall, Village Church, general store, its own Golf Course (Willow Valley Golf Club). Cricket and Football Grounds (Clifton Rangers Youth Football Club), while not forgetting its very own Brass Band (Clifton & Lightcliffe) one of the oldest Brass bands in the area with its roots stretching back to 1838.