1990s - things must get better!

editorial image

AS part of the Echo’s 125th anniversary this month I am highlighting each decade from June 24 1887, the date when the first issue rolled off the presses. I will be looking back at some of the people, places and events the Echo has reported on throughout the last 125 years.

Could the 1990s be any better than the 80s which had its industrial strife, social unrest and an ever growing unemployment register? The introduction of the so called Poll Tax on April 1 would see even more civil unrest, things have to get better.

Brighouse has always been a town that has supported many charities both local and national. Even as the Echo was coming off the presses in 1887 the annual Pig Fair held on Black Swan Field (a large piece of open land behind the Black Swan in Briggate) was just about the largest community event in the town. This event was however, gradually fading into the history books to be replaced with a processional event through the town to Lane Head and similar to that of the present day Brighouse Gala.

Since the mid 60s the Brighouse Gala has been the largest community event in the town and has attracted thousands of visitors each year, and is still recognised as one most well organised events.

Each year there is a competition to find the Brighouse Gala Queen for that year, in 1990 it was Caroline White and her attendant was Andrea Rhodes.

The 50th anniversary to mark the end of the war in Europe was celebrated with street parties and many of the veterans sharing their memories with youngsters. The weekend’s events were closed by the lighting of a beacon at Beacon Hill which was the signal to light the one in Welholme Park.

But 1995 will be best remembered for the water shortages when by April Yorkshire Water was asking its customers to conserve water supplies. Over a period of time the then privatised water company became a laughing stock because of a series of blunders. By the middle of summer water supplies were down to critical levels and the very thought of standpipes were a distinct possibility.

What caused further outrage was the publicity stunt the managing director Trevor Newton did when he declared that he had not had a bath for over three months. It was not long after that he had to apologise when it became known he was taking his baths out of the county at his relatives. Even the shipment of tanker loads of water up to Scammonden Dam made little impression and as it became known that almost a third of the water shortage was caused by leaks on the pipe network.

In 1996 with the turmoil at the Ridings School in Halifax it was Rastrick High School who provided a ‘white knight’, head teacher Peter Clark to try and put the school back on track. For Peter’s efforts he was awarded the CBE and his book ‘Back from the Brink: Transforming the Riding School and the Future of Education’ - soon followed.

As we almost come to the end of the 90s we will all remember switching on our televisions and watching in stunned disbelief that on August 31 1997 Diana, Princess of Wales had been killed in a car accident in Paris, for quite a while after everything else seemed to pale into insignificance.

For many years the neighbours to the Crow Nest Mansion site area fought long and hard to prevent the whole of that area being turned into a building site the size of which had never been seen before in the Brighouse area. Local residents preferred to remain parochial rather than being all joined together, which the housing development would do. The land had been farmed by the Harrison family from before the First World War and their plans for a golf course stopped any future large scale building plans.

In the summer of 1995 the Crow Nest Golf Club was opened and attracted over 700 people who took the opportunity of looking round the new course before it was officially opened in the June. In this photograph from left to right is James Flower (10), Naomi Walker (seven) and Luke Gaunt (nine) who were amongst the visitors. Overseeing their putting skills is green keeper Jim Brown on the left and club chairman Richard Harrison.

As the clock was striking it out into the new millennium the big question was would the world come to an end – why, because the worlds computer systems might crash of course with the so called millennium bug. Companies were paying out fortunes to protect their systems. With so many things relying on the computer were we all doomed…..?

If you would like to contact me now that the Brighouse office has closed – 01422-205763 or enquiries@chrishelme-brighouse.org.uk