A brief history of Kirkheaton

A Brief History

People first began settling in the area of Kirkheaton in around the ninth century. The Anglo Saxon township of Heaton is recorded in the Domesday Book and was probably named after the De Heton family who lived in present day Upper Heaton. No church is mentioned at this time and the area is described as ‘waste’. But around 1200 the family is believed to have been a chief benefactor in the stablishment of a parish church. [There seems to have been an earlier thatched, wooden church in Anglo Saxon times which was destroyed]. The stone parish church was positioned on its present site and gradually the settlement moved from the high ground at Upper Heaton and spread down into the valley to a central position for the townships of Heaton, Dalton and Lepton.

A prominent family in the area for over 450 years was the Beaumont family of Whitley who became powerful as Lords of the Manor. By the fourteenth century they had become major benefactors to the parish church. They established a chapel and in 1486 Henry Beaumont of Lascelles Hall bequeathed 40 shillings for a bell tower and bells. [Both were the sole survivors of the terrible fire of 1886 which destroyed the medieval church]
In 1610 Sir Richard Beaumont and others erected a free grammar school near the church in Kirkheaton for the education of boys. Black Dick as Sir Richard was known, was knighted by James 1 and became a baron in 1628. His tomb can be seen in the parish church.The monument known as Black Dick’s Temple situated off Grange Moor Road on the old Whitley Beaumont Hall land seems to have been built along time after his death in 1631 and was probably a summer house for the family. The last Beaumont to live in the Hall before it was abandoned and eventually demolished, was Henry Frederick who lived there with his wife and eight daughters.

Kirkheaton in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century
Like many small villages in the area, Kirkheaton was a centre for domestic weaving during much of the eighteenth century and early nineteenth century. Many cottages had at least one handloom which produce a variety of cloth such as cotton and woollens, fancy silks and waistcoating. Even in 1841 according to the census 131 Kirkheatoners were fancy handloom weavers.
But already mechanization of the industry had superceded the home hand weavers. Levi’s scribbling mill had been built in the 1790’s on Laneside to card wool and later to spin. By 1810 children were beginning to work in the mills. This lead to horrific conditions. In February 1818 a boy accidentally set fire to some cotton with a candle at Atkinson’s Mill at Colne Bridge. Seventeen children [the youngest being 9 years old] died, trapped inside the mill. They had been locked in to work while the overseer had gone home. They were buried in St John’s churchyard where a memorial to the tragedy can still be seen.
In 1871 the census records that a mill owner, one Hefford Ainley, employed 46 people ‘on the premises’ and ‘about 50 outweavers’ (home workers). The mill later known as Broadhead and Graves and then Huddersfield Fine Worsteds, started life as a scouring room and dyehouse about 1830. Villagers brought their hand loomed cloth here for dyeing and finishing. But by 1879 they built a weaving shed to remove the need for hand loomers.
Some Kirkheaton’s residents would also have worked on the land or in the local mines. The 1853 map shows collieries or coal mining activities at Whitley Willows, Gawthorpe, off Highgate Lane, Gregory and Cowmes. There were also a number of sandstone quarries scattered around the area – Laneside, Carr Mount, Lascelles Hall, Nab Hall and many more, which provided employment for quarry men and stonemasons.
Life was hard for the majority of the local population as shown by the establishment of a workhouse on present day Moorside Road [then named Workhouse Lane] Poor families were housed in very harsh conditions. They were not allowed to be together although children under five could see their mothers.

Recent history
Broadhead and Graves was a very well known manufacturer of very fine worsted cloth which was exported all over the world. In its heyday it supplied some of the world’s greatest fashion houses – Vesace, Gucci, Prada as well as the prestigious tailors of Saville Row. A severe fire on January 10 1964 destroyed many of the old pattern books and much of the mill fabric. But rebuilding took place and it continued to export successfully for a number of years.
The mill, renamed Huddersfield Fine Worsted ceased manufacturing in 2004 with the loss of 240 jobs and demolition was completed earlier this year [2009]

Jarmains was a large wool scouring mill situated at the bottom of the village. It closed down in 1998 with the lost of 90 jobs when operations were switched to their Bradford site.The mill has since been demolished.

Transport

A former bus driver, John Hinchcliffe who lives in the village has compiled an interest ing collection of photographs of buses that have served Kirkheaton since the first one in 1921. Please follow the link to find  out more

http://jsh1949.co.uk/Kirkheaton%20huddersfield_passenger_transport.htm