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Gomersal (West Yorkshire)

Gomersal shown within West Yorkshire
Population c.15,000
OS grid reference SE206266
Metropolitan borough Kirklees
Metropolitan county West Yorkshire
Region Yorkshire and the Humber
Constituent country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town BRADFORD
Postcode district BD19 4
Dialling code 01274
Police West Yorkshire
Fire West Yorkshire
Ambulance Yorkshire
European Parliament Yorkshire and the Humber
UK Parliament Batley and Spen
List of places: UKEnglandYorkshire

Coordinates: 53°44'10?N 1°41'18?W? / ?53.73623, -1.68824

Gomersal is a village in the county of West Yorkshire, England. It is south of Bradford, east of Cleckheaton, and north of Heckmondwike and close to the River Spen.

Gomersal was originally 'Great Gomersal' according to Historical Maps - neighbouring village Little Gomersal has, however, retained its diminutive.[citation needed]


[edit] History

Gomersal is known for the Luddite uprising of 1812 when rioters protested against the powerlooms. Many rioters were injured or killed and the ringleaders executed at York.

The riots provided Charlotte Brontë with material for her novel Shirley. Gomersal was the hometown of her friend Mary Taylor, who lived at the Red House which is called Briarmains in the novel. The house is now Red House Museum.

The Taylor Family also went on to live in Spen Hall, a former chemical works, which is a residence in the Lower Spen area of Gomersal on Spen Lane. Spen Hall is now split into several houses but still has many original features, such as a 16th century mullioned window, the original tennis lawn and a water spring which, according to myth, is a tunnel (now flooded) leading to the Old Saw public house cellar, further up Spen Lane. This cellar was apparently used to hide priests fleeing persecution and the public house has now been refurbished as bistro/bar and renamed 'The Saw'). The Old Saw itself used to be on further down Spen Lane (labelled on an Ordnance Survey map as 'Heygate'), which was renovated by its current owner due to instability of the property.

Clay pipes were found in the earlier Old Saw premises in the walls and chimneys but, once exhumed, disintegrated. A glazed drinking cup found in the foundations survives after being carefully reassembled and preserved by Harry King, the former owner of the cottage. The cup still requires dating. A hand-made brick-lined pit 2 feet (0.61 m) deep was also discovered on the site. Its uses are disputed, with suggestions that it was a cock fighting pit or meat storage vessel.

Gomersal also has many fine and historic houses which climb the hill of Spen Lane and along Oxford Road towards Birkenshaw. Houses such as Spen Hall, Spen House (now demolished and rebuilt, except the Coach House), High Rising (High Royd, another Taylor Household) now The Gomersal Hotel, Tanfield House, Firdene (currently on the market for £1.25 million), Hilltop House (now split into two homes with apartment buildings in the grounds), Gomers Hall (apparently, originally Gothmers Hall, which was demolished in order to build an electricity sub-station), Pollard Hall (home of the mill owner Thomas Burnley), Red House (now Red House Museum), Broadyards, Croft House, Sigston House, Gomersal Hall, Peel House, West House (the last three still privately owned).

The Roundhill Mill site in the Cliffe lane area of Gomersal is known for the sighting of the scratje (pronounced Skrayty), a legendary Norse spirit supposedly observed by a son prior to the death of his father and characterised by a cold and apparently sourceless light which moves erratically.The old name for Cliffe Lane was Scrat Lane.

Gomersal was heavily wooded up to the late 1800s with Swinley Great Wood, Lanes Wood, Scotland (Fusden) Wood containing the Taylor family burial ground, and Church Wood between the Hill Top and Monk Ings.

During World War II, Gomersal had a number of public air raid shelters, with quite a few remaining in 2007 at Birkenshaw roundabout Park, Gomersal First School, Hill Top. This was likely due to the semi-underground control bunker for the anti-aircraft guns in the West Riding, protecting Leeds, Bradford, Huddersfield and Halifax. The bunker was in the grounds of Oakroyd Hall, making this a target for the German Luftwaffe; Oakroyd Hall is now the headquarters of the West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service.

There was also a Royal Observer Corps 'Orlit' type surface observation post on the Popeley Fields around one third of a mile from the Gomersal Cricket ground. This was active throughout the war and manned day and night. In the 1960s on the same site a nuclear-blast-proof underground bunker was constructed as a monitoring post, one of over 1500 constructed in the UK, for use in measuring direction, strength of blast and fallout in the event of the UK coming under nuclear attack. The ROC stood down during the late 80s with the reduced threat of the Cold War and the bunkers were abandoned and sold or given back to the land owners.

[edit] Railway

The Lower Spen area of Gomersal had a railway station, Cleckheaton Spen on the LNWR railway line diversion loop linking Leeds and Manchester and improving the main line capacity between Huddersfield and Leeds. The line was constructed between 1894 and 1902 and opened fully to passengers in 1904. It had some spectacular civil engineering for the time, including rail viaducts at Mirfield and Heckmondwike, a 90-foot (27 m) high pedestrian road viaduct linking Cleckheaton town centre with the station and goods yard. The Gomersal Tunnel is 890 yards (810 m) long and around 30 feet (9.1 m) deep, directly under the Shoulder of Mutton pub in Oxford Road at Great Gomersal (the LNWR bought the pub in 1897 in case it fell into the tunnel workings) and then the line opened into Gomersal Station in Moor Lane, a four minute train ride from Cleckheaton Spen.

The railway closed to passengers in 1964 and goods in 1966, having had all the buildings and structures repainted and new track in 1963. Sir Winston Churchill, then Prime Minister, slept at Cleckheaton Spen sidings overnight in a special train with a heavy security corden in 1952 during election campaigning.

[edit] Places of Worship

Gomersal had quite a number of places of worship given the size of population, including Gomersal St Mary C of E Church (1851), the Methodist Wesleyan Chapel, Latham Lane 1827 (the famous pork pie chapel) the Grove Congregational Chapel in Oxford Road, the Methodist Free United chapel (off Reform Street), the Primitive Methodist Chapel in Moor Lane, and the Moravian Chapel in Little Gomersal. Most of thrse are still in use today.

John Wesley preached in Gomersal, one of his closest lay assistants John Nelson was involved with lay preacher Edward Brooke who initiated the construction in 1827 of the Wesleyan Chapel in Latham lane with an unusual bow front, which became known as the "pork pie chapel".

[edit] Street and locality names

Gomersal also has some interesting street and place names, for example Mazy Brook (Mazebrook), Drub, Birdacre, Bleak Street, Wood Nook, Throstle Nest, Egypt, Worlds End, Fusden Lane, Monk Ings, Nutter Lane, Muffit Lane, Garfit Hill, Nibshaw Lane to name a few.

Pubs include The Peacock (demolished for the M62 Motorway), The Scotland, The Bankfield, The West End, Shoulder of Mutton, White Horse, The Wheatsheaf, Bulls Head, The Old Saw (The Saw), and The California. Clubs include Gomersal Cricket Club, Spen Victoria Cricket and Bowling Club, and Drub Working Men's Club.

Gomersal also has a football club, Gomersal & Cleckheaton F.C., ranging from ages 6 to 17 and their traditional colours are red and black stripes.

Gomersal was once home to Burnleys Textile Mill, which was a landmark in the Spenborough area. However, this has been demolished to make way for a new housing development of up to 300 homes. Gomersal has two primary schools, and one middle school.

[edit] Location Grid

North: Birkenshaw
West: Cleckheaton Gomersal East: Birstall
South: Heckmondwike

[edit] External links

(Source: Wikipedia)
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