Changing faces in town

Opening of the new Brighouse Bus Station, with Chris Greaves chairman of Metro, John Wainwright and Jaon Wainwright.
Opening of the new Brighouse Bus Station, with Chris Greaves chairman of Metro, John Wainwright and Jaon Wainwright.

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.

The new millennium dawned and as people held their breath the much feared computer millennium bug never materialised and life as we knew it carried on.

In January Mrs Jean Heslop the long standing and highly respected head teacher at Cliffe Hill Community Primary School at Lightcliffe was seconded to failing Mixenden Junior and Infant School. Little did she know then that six months later she would be honoured in the Queen’s birthday honours with an OBE for all her years of work in the field of education.

Brighouse had its first railway station in 1840, and that was before Bradford had one, which does indicate the importance of the town in those days. But in 1972 the station closed leaving the site to the ravages of time. Many people fought hard and hoped one day the town would once again have a railway station.

It was a long wait but on Sunday May 28, 2000, those hopes came to fruition when the new Brighouse railway station was opened.

Could this event be a turning point in the town’s fortunes?

It was almost 10 years later when the town’s new bus station was opened which completed the overall of the towns transport system. Whilst some people did criticise its shape and style it was certainly better than all the previous bus stations there had been, even at a cost of £2.38 million.

In early 2000 a deal was struck between Tesco’s and the Brighouse Sports Club, which allowed for a massive new supermarket to be built on the sports club site and the club was relocated on Bradford Road. The existing branch of Tesco was closed and Wilkinson’s took over the site. Although for the first few years traffic on the new roundabout outside the store was chaotic with almost daily complaints about its layout it was gradually sorted out.

July 1, 2001, was the end of my 30 years in the police service, having served at Brighouse Police Station for 26 years. When it is time to leave work, yes you do miss all those people you have worked with but for me it was all the people I had worked for over those years that I knew I would miss even more.

Looking through a programme I have for the 2001 Brass Band March and Hymn Tune Competition little did the organisers, the Brighouse Lions, know then that event would be still going in 2012 and continuing to grow to the resounding success it has become. This event has developed over the last ten years into one of the highlights not only of the Brighouse town centre events calendar but in the brass band world calendar of events.

In late 2000 the weaving department was sold off at T.F.Firth’s, then in December Clifton Mills itself was sold off with the remaining Victoria Road site sold off in October 2001.

In 2002 work began demolishing the mills, the familiar face of Bailiff Bridge was now changing forever and by 2006 the whole site had been cleared. All that remained and still does is the 1909 building otherwise known as the old Firth’s offices and showroom.

Another event in the town centre that has helped many local traders has been the Brighouse Totally Locally Market. This was first started in October 2009 and has grown steadily since that launch date.

It is such as this event and others like it that will help to rejuvenate the town centre, keep it in a positive mood and continue to attract more visitors and shoppers.

This week’s first feature photograph is a reminder of some of the large crowds that gather to watch the annual March and Hymn tune contest – this year’s event will take place at 1pm Sunday, July 1.

Next week I will look at Brighouse over the last 125 years with the anniversary of the Echo falling on June 24.