Charity began on the doorstep

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OVER the years there have been a number of local organisations and charities which have worked for the benefit of our community.

Some date back as far as the 1600s. For example, records show that a William Birkhead in 1638 gave £5 which his will stated had to be used for charitable purposes in Lightcliffe and Hipperholme. A further £5 was to be paid annually to the poor people of Rastrick and Brighouse.

The money was looked after by his appointed trustees Samuel Hoyle and Robert Hargreaves. Using a conversion table supplied by the Bank of England £5 in 1638 would be worth £437.

In his will made in 1731 Michael Gibson, of Slead Hall, Brighouse, left one shilling (5p in today’s money) a week to be spent on bread which was distributed on Sundays to 12 poor people in Hove Edge.

This bread had to be distributed by the ministers and wardens at Eastfield Chapel, which was the church opposite the Sun Inn public house. Michael Gibson derived this money from his rents he was paid from property known as Pear Trees in Lightcliffe. This area was the site of Pear Tree Farm in Wakefield Road which was redeveloped for new housing a few years ago and now called Pear Tree Close.

In more modern times there was the Brighouse Crippled Children’s Society. I am not too sure when this was started but it is thought to have been after 1945.

This photograph taken during the 1960s shows, from left, Not known; Harold Rayner (the society’s secretary); Stanley and Jean Firth, who in later years were the Mayor and Mayoress of Brighouse; Carl Whitehead, who was the society’s chairman and had a long association with Hove Edge Old Folks’ Treat and Clifton and Lightcliffe Band. His family business was and still is on Bradford Road, Bailiff Bridge; next to him is his wife Mrs Alice Whitehead; Councillor Leslie Hulme, who was the Deputy Mayor in 1956/57 and the Mayor in 1963/64 with his wife Joyce as his Mayoress; Mrs West; Arthur Reeve, the former chairman of the society who was Mayor of Brighouse from 1933 to 1935; and Mrs Joyce Hulme.

The politically incorrect sounding Crippled Children’s Society took youngsters on annual Whitsuntide trips to the seaside. These included Bridlington, Cleveleys, Fleetwood and of course Blackpool. As a Christmas treat the children were all taken to Bradford to see the annual pantomime.

When did this society wind up? I understand that its name was changed to handicapped children around 1974, and now it has gone all together. In the photograph the A. & J.R. Davison’s coach has stopped at a café on route to one of the trips to the coast With the passing of so many years just where remains a mystery.

If any readers can tell me more about these events please get in touch.