A History trail around Kirkheaton
with acknowledgements to :
John Brooke [First Headteacher, Kirkheaton Primary School 1972 – 1983] whose original idea it was.
Gordon and Enid Minter whose book ‘Discovering Old Lepton and Kirkheaton’ has provided much of the historical information.
1. Kirkheaton Parish Church
The present church is mainly Victorian and was erected in 1886-7 after a fire destroyed an earlier church. The fire was caused by the overheating of the underfloor heating. Only the 15th century tower and Beaumont Chapel remain of this church.
A set of stocks was situated near Dead Man’s Gate [the name of the entrance to the church yard through which coffins are carried] The last time these were recorded as used was in 1836.
Also in the chuchyard is the memorial to the 17 young girls who died in a fire at Atkinson’s mill at Colne Bridge in 1818. The girls had been locked in while they worked and had been unable to escape.
The grave of John Horsfalll who died in 1624 is believed to be the oldest grave in the churchyard and it is located on the left hand side of the path in front of the church.
Click here to see Graveyard Trail
2. The Beaumont Arms
Known locally as the Kirk Stile or Steele, it has played an important part in village life for centuries. Originally it would have been in the charge of a minor church official who provided hospitality for parishioners who lived too far away from the church to go home between services.
During its time many organisations have met there. In 1797 the Kirkheaton Prosecution Society was formed there. This seems to have been a vigilante group formed to deal with the increase of crime in the village at a time when there wasn’t an official police force
It was also used as a court house by visiting local magistrates. Local offenders were chained to the cellars walls which stretched under the road.
In 1813 it played host to a number of soldiers who were billeted there to help supress ‘Luddite’ discontent in the increasingly mechanized textile industry.
One ancient custom that still continues in the field next to the inn, is the Yetton Rant – an annual fair held at Whitsuntide [now Spring Bank Holiday]
Turn up Church Lane to the main road
3. The Old Rectory
Reverend Thomas Clarke, former Headmaster of Wakefield Grammar School replaced an earlier rectory with this building in 1729. The inscription above the door reads:
C Alderson Renovie
As the inscription says The Reverend Christopher Alderson was responsible for additional building, new boundary walls and entrance to the Rectory in 1838.
A new rectory was built in 1986 and the old rectory has now been divided into two private houses and the older driveway is no longer used.
4.The Old Junior School
The old Junior school which closed in 1982, stands on the site of the old Grammar school which was established at the beginning of the seventeenth century by the then rector and Sir Richard Beaumont. In 1844 the Free Grammar school was replace by a new National School which later became a Church of England school. The staffing ratio in 1870 was one trained teacher to 85 children under 10 years! The school was extended in 1913. It catered for all ages. although most were between 7 and 11 years. The final group of senior pupils left in 1966. In 1970 the Infant class was transferred to the CE Infants school [now the Community Centre] At present the school is used as the Parish office and playschool but is due to be demolished in the near future.
Walk up the road towards the village to the corner. Look left onto the terraced houses above at Hillside
This row of stone cottages were built in 1756
Continue up the road for about 20 metres
6. Site of The Brown Cow Inn
About 8 yards before Furnbrook Gardens is a stone gatepost which may be the only remains of The Old Brown Cow pub which was demolished between the two World Wars to allow for road straightening. This was the birthplace and childhood home of George Herbert Hirst [1871- 1954] Hirst is believed by many to have been the greatest cricketer the world has ever known. He is said to have practised for hours on end in front of the inn and showed promise from a very early age.
Continue up Shop Lane
7. Site of the mill
It is believed that there has been some sort of textile related activity on the site since the 18th century. In 1869 Hefford Ainley and William Lord bought the land, dyehouse and cottages on Shop Lane. Probably the mill was built soon after as it is named in a deed of 1878. It was bought by Broadhead and Graves in 1909 on Ainley’s death.The new owners stated that the mill ‘heretofore known as Shop Lane Mills but intend to be known as Kirkheaton Mills.’ The mill kept up the local tradition of fancy weaving and specialized in superior fine worsted cloth which was exported all over the world. Disaster struck in 1964 when a fire destroyed all the old pattern books and design records from its earliest times. The roof collapsed and machinery plunged down through 3 floors. Parts were rebuilt in 1966.
Production ceased in 2004 and the mill was demolished in 2009. Only the mill house remains.
8. Animal Trough
This stone trough is situated on the right hand side of St Mary’s Lane just below the junction with Orchard Road. It must have provided a welcome stop for many horses after pulling up the hill from Dalton. The 1908 map of Kirkheaton also shows another trough slightly higher up – near where the bus shelter is now. This was built to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1897
Near here was probably the site of the village cucking stool [there was a farm situated at the top on the now Orchard Road called Cuckstool Farm] A cucking stool was a seat in which scolds or other offending villagers were secured so that they could be jeered at or even ducked in the pond. There is reference to Kirkheaton cucking stool in 1743 and in 1787 1s 6d [approx 7p] was paid for the wheels to be cleaned.
Turn right onto Orchard Road and then almost immediately left is the sign to Daw Knowle.
9. Daw Knowle
This building was purchased by John Brook in 1756 and let by his son to the Reverend John Sunderland to be used as a boys’ boarding school.
Continue up the hill and round to the right on to Town Road. No 14 is in the terrace immediately after the Conservative Club.