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Kirkburton (West Yorkshire)

Kirkburton shown within West Yorkshire
Population 1,984 (Kirkburton) 3,288 (Highburton)
OS grid reference SE198124
Metropolitan borough Kirklees
Metropolitan county West Yorkshire
Region Yorkshire and the Humber
Constituent country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district HD8
Dialling code 01484
Police West Yorkshire
Fire West Yorkshire
Ambulance Yorkshire
European Parliament Yorkshire and the Humber
UK Parliament Wakefield
List of places: UKEnglandYorkshire

Coordinates: 53°36'37?N 1°42'11?W? / ?53.610261, -1.703116

Kirkburton is a village, civil parish and local government ward in the county of West Yorkshire, England, lying five miles southeast of Huddersfield, in the borough of Kirklees. The township comprises the two villages of Kirkburton and Highburton together with several hamlets, including Thunderbridge, Thorncliffe, Storthes Hall, Burton Royd, Riley, Dogley, Common Side, Causeway Foot, Lane Head and Linfit. According to the 2001 census the entire parish had a population of 23,986.


[edit] History[1]

The origins of the village date back to the Iron Age when a settlement was believed to have been built on the site of the present church. A Saxon Fort is also believed to have stood on that site. The village is recorded in the Domesday Book as Bertone in Wachefeld. The entry reads (translated):

"In Wakefield , with 9 Berewicks... are 60 carucates of land 3 bovates and the third part of 1 bovate to the geld. 30 ploughs could plough this land. This manor was in the demesne of King Edward; now, in the king's hand, there are 4 villans, and 3 priests and 2 churches, and 7 sokemen and 16 bordars. Together, they have 7 ploughs. [There is] woodland pasture 6 leagues long and 4 leagues broad. The whole [is] 6 leagues long and 6 leagues broad... To this manor belongs the soke of these lands... Kirkburton, 3 carucates... in all, there are 30 carucates to the geld, which 20 ploughs could plough. Now they are waste"[2]

Kirkburton: Looking east from Riley towards Low Town and Turnshaws
Kirkburton: Looking east from Riley towards Low Town and Turnshaws

After the Norman conquest the village gradually grew from the wasteland description that was recorded in 1086. The two parts of the village were so named after the construction of the church in 1190, Kirkburton being the part of the village that housed the church whilst Highburton was built on the hills. In the Middle Ages the township remained part of the Manor of Wakefield and Kirkburton church was at the head of a 16,000 acre parish, which extended as far west as the Holme Valley.

During the First English Civil War the villagers supported the Parliamentary cause. The local priest, the Reverend Gamaliel Whitaker, angered his parishioners by openly supporting the Royalists. He was denounced to the government forces who attended upon the vicarage to arrest him in 1644. During the struggle the soldiers shot his wife Hester in the ensuing confusion. Local legend has it that her ghost haunts the old vicarage.

Kirkburton: Looking north from Riley towards Burton Dean and Highburton
Kirkburton: Looking north from Riley towards Burton Dean and Highburton

The population of the township increased rapidly with the growth of the textile trades. By 1800 the population was about 1400: 60 years later it was approaching 3700. After this, better job opportunities elsewhere led to a general decline in the population and for nearly a century the figure settled around the 3000 mark. By 1971 there were 2800 inhabitants, but following housing developments at Highburton the population is now nearer 5000.

The Huddersfield-Kirkburton Branch Line opened in 1867, serving the 2 terminal stations as well as Deighton, Kirkheaton, Fenay Bridge and Lepton. It was very unusual in that it was operated by the London and North Western Railway company in an area where the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway company had an almost monopoly. Plans to extend the line to Barnsley never materialised and so Kirkburton remained at the end of the line. It was primarily used for the transportation of goods, although passenger services ran until 1930. The line continued to be used to transport goods until the 1960s, when a combination of road haulage and a decline in industry around the village lead to closure of the station in 1965. Evidence of the railway remains in the area around Northwood Park, a housing development built on the old route. Parts of the station still remain, albeit in ruined state, whilst the bricked up tunnel can be clearly seen when travelling into the village centre from Penistone Road.

A psychiatric hospital operated at Storthes Hall from 1904-1991. It was founded as an asylum and was previously called the Storthes Hall Mental Hospital (1929-1938), the West Riding Mental Hospital (1939-1948)and Storthes Hall Hospital (1949-1991). After it was closed the land was sold to the University of Huddersfield and halls of residence built. Most of the former site is now home to the Storthes Hall Park Student Village, with the remaining acres due for further development as a retirement village.

Kirkburton thrived on a variety of industrial advances, particularly in wool and coal. The gradual decline of these industries gave way to the villages small but thriving shopping centre. Kirkburton remains the commercial heart of the township, whilst Highburton has become the residential centre.

[edit] Industry

The manufacture of woollen cloth was well established here by the time of Queen Elizabeth I. It expanded rapidly after the late 18th century. The first textile mill was built at Dogley about 1787 and used waterpower to prepare wool for spinning and for fulling the finished cloth. About 1800 another mill opened at Linfit, which used steam power to carry out the same activities. Both mills gradually took on other processes and developed into substantial businesses under the Kenyon and Hey families. By 1880 there were about 8 mills at work in the township.

The tanning of leather and exploitation of local coal deposits made valuable contributions to the economy of Kirkburton for several centuries. The last tannery closed in the 1830s. Coal mining grew in importance with the increased use of steam in the mills and by 1850 there were no fewer than 20 small pits in the township. The remains of a number of mines and bell pits can still be seen, including the former St Helen’s Colliery on Moor Lane in Highburton. In the latter half of the 19th century there were over 30 pits operating around Kirkburton employing over 300 men.The last colliery closed about 70 years ago. One old-established industry, which has only recently moved from the village, is the manufacture of edge tools and shovels, which was introduced in the mid 18th century. The last factory, Carters, moved to new premises a few years ago.

[edit] Sport

Football: Kirkburton AFC play in the 1st Division of the West Riding County Amateur Football League. Their ground can be found at the Gregory Playing Fields on Hallas Road. Kirkburton Junior Football Club have a number of youth teams and train at the artificial pitches at Kirkburton Middle School. The village is also the home to training facilities for Huddersfield Town, which are located at Storthes Hall.

Cricket: Kirkburton Cricket Club was founded at the Rose and Crown Inn on February 25, 1860. The public house was at the bottom of Slant Gate but is now a private residence. They initially played at Turnshaws until moving to the present ground at Riley in 1878. The club was one of the founding members of the Huddersfield and District Alliance in 1893. Former England cricketer Phil Defreitas played for the club in 1995.

Tennis: The Gregory Fields Tennis Club was formally the Fenay Bridge Tennis Club and was built on Burton Acres Lane following lottery assistance in 2000. The club has changing facilities which are also used by the football club, and 3 floodlit macadem courts.

[edit] Other Information

Kirkburton Rapier Dancers outside the Junction public house, Kirkburton, New Year's Day 2004
Kirkburton Rapier Dancers outside the Junction public house, Kirkburton, New Year's Day 2004

Kirkburton is the home to Kirkburton First School and Kirkburton Middle School. The Adult Education Centre and Special School on Turnshaw Avenue closed in 2006. The village has a partially manned police station, masonic hall, 6 public houses, purpose built health centre (opened October 2005) and dental surgery. The largest housing areas can be found in the areas occupying Riley, Low Town, Brickfields and Turnshaws. North Road and George Street form the main road through the village and houses the majority of shops and businesses.

Kirkburton has a Rapier Dance Team, who perform traditional longsword dances each New Year's Day at pubs in the villages of Kirkburton and Highburton in addition to their numerous appearances at festivals elsewhere in the country. Rapier dancing was a tradition in the village up to the beginning of the 20th century, and was revived in 1974. The team adhere to what is largely believed to be the original dress of clogs, blue waistcoats and trousers with ribbons down the side. The final tradition, that of blackened faces, is only adopted during the New Year performances.

[edit] Places of interest[3]


Kirkburton All Hallows Church
Kirkburton All Hallows Church

All Hallows Church: Dedicated to All Hallows, the church was built in 1190 and is a Grade I Listed Building. Most of the church is 13th century although parts have been rebuilt. The present tower was added in the 15th century. Inside the church is a late medieval nave ceiling, large wooden pulpit, stone font and Elizabethan and Jacobean Pews. A small window in the chancel may have opened from the cell of a hermit. A Restored 10th century stone crucifix can be found inside, supporting the belief that another church or Christian settlement may have existed on this site. The church has recently undergone extensive resoration. The churchyard has also undergone landscaping and is a designated wildlife sanctuary. Currently there is no vicar.

The Masonic Hall: Located opposite the police station and All Hallows Church on George Street. The Hall was built in 1889 in a mock Tudor style and was purpose built as a meeting hall for the local Freemasons. The Beaumont Lodge have met in the building ever since.

The George Inn: The oldest public house in the village, it was built in the 18th century and has operated as a pub ever since. It is located on George Street, next to the old blacksmiths, and is overlooked by All Hallows Church. In 1777 commissioners met in the public house to agree upon the creation of the Halifax to Penistone Turnpike, the forerunner for the present Penistone Road.

Salvation Army Citadel: The first Salvation Army Corps was established in the village in 1885. Their present headquarters were opened in 1964. The Salvation Army left the village in 2005 and the building has been unoccupied since, although is occasionally used for various charitable events.

The Royal Hotel: Victorian public house built in stone in 1870. The second largest pub in the village (the largest being the Foxglove on Penistone Road) it is located in the heart of the village on North Road.

Methodist Chapel: The original chapel was built at Ponty in 1816 but moved to North Road in 1845. This is located on the hill just off the main road that runs behind the old library. The chapel closed in 1987 and is a private residence.

Springfield Mill: The oldest part was built as a warehouse about 1830. The main building, in a similar style but larger, was added for spinning in 1834 and the weaving sheds opposite in 1849. After the church this is perhaps the most important piece of architecture in the village. Part of the mill has since been converted into flats.

The Town Hall: The owners of the nearby mill built Springfield House in the 1830s. It was bought by Kirkburton Urban District Council in 1935 and taken over as a Town Hall three years later. The council sold it in 1982. It is a Grade II Listed Building (1978) and a private residence with the grand, if inaccurate, name of "Kirkburton Hall".

The Foxglove: The largest public house in the village, it was built in 1868 in a mock Tudor style at the same time as the branch line. It was hoped that Kirkburton would become a junction to an extended line to Barnsley, hence the pubs original name "The Railway Junction", but this never materialised. The public house was more popularly known as "The Three Owls" up until 2000 when it adopted its new name. An extension was built in 2001 which is now the hotel part of the building.


Highburton Cross with the rear of The Smiths Arms in the background
Highburton Cross with the rear of The Smiths Arms in the background

Highburton Cross: Marking the site of the medieval market, the steps at the base probably date from the 14th century, the shaft and ball from the 18th or 19th. The cross stands at the top of Far Dene at its junction with Town Gate and Hall Lane.

Burton Village Hall: Formerly Highburton School, the Village Hall was extensively renovated in 1999 with funds raised by the local community and a grant from the National Lottery Fund. It is the home to Kirkburton Parish Council and a number of groups.

Highburton Co-op: Located on Towngate in the centre of the village, the Co-op can lay claim to being the world's oldest operating independent single retail cooperative outlet. The building was purchased from the church in 1856 and began trading in the same year. It has operated from the same site ever since.

The Smiths Arms: Located at the summit of Far Dene, the Grade II Listed Smiths Arms is the only public house in the village and occupies one of its oldest buildings. Built in 1669 in a Tudor/Jacobean style, it began trading as a public house in 1830. Whilst it is the oldest pub building in the township it is not the oldest public house. That honour goes to the George Inn in Kirkburton, which dates back to the 18th century.

Primitive Methodist Chapel: The primitive methodists built their chapel at the top of Slant Gate in 1832. A school, now demolished, was built in 1899 and the chapel was enlarged in 1926. Like the methodist chapel in Kirkburton it too closed, this time in 1973, and is also a private house.


Manor Mill: One of three former corn mills in the township, the others being at Dogley Bar and Smithy Hill. Dating from about 1832 this mill had one of the largest water wheels in the country, with a diameter of 50 feet: it was removed for scrap during the Second World War.


Main Hospital and Clock Tower
Main Hospital and Clock Tower

Storthes Hall Hospital: Most of the grounds of the psychiatric hospital were sold to the University of Huddersfield and little of the buildings remain. The one remaining is the most famous of the former asylum, the main hospital building with its clock tower. The building is in disrepair but is due for a massive facelift as part of a proposed retirement village on the site.

Storthes Hall Mansion: Built in the late 1800s as a private house for the Horsefall family. Taken over as an asylum in 1904 it became known as the Mansion Hospital and operated as a psychiatric institution alongside the main hospital further up the road until 1991. It too was sold to the University of Huddersfield in 1994 with the rest of the main site. The building became Grade II Listed in June 1965. It is now again a private residence "The Mansion".

Myers Wood: Recent archaeological excavations have uncovered the most complete iron working site in the North of England at Myers Wood. The Cistercian monastic site was in operation from 12th-14th century, using advanced techniques and water power for smelting and smithing iron.

[edit] References

  1. , Morehouse, Henry James: The History and Topography of the Parish of Kirkburton and the Graveship of Holme, H Roebuck, King Street, Huddersfield, 1861
  2. , The Great Domesday Book, Folio 299v
  3. , Kirkburton and District Civic Society/Richard Eddy/Robert Carter: Kirkburton Township Guide and Trail, 2006

[edit] External links

(Source: Wikipedia)
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