Echoes of the past: The end of Brighouse’s town pump

The town pump in what is now Thornton Square
The town pump in what is now Thornton Square

Today, we all take for granted being able to turn on our kitchen or bathroom taps and as if by magic the water appears.

Today, we all take for gSome readers will recall the days not too long ago of the water shortages, droughts and standpipes with very little customer service communication from the water authorities.

How things have changed - in the last two weeks I have received two letters with advice about some forthcoming work that may for a short period of time result in discoloured tap water. But, the letters give all the appropriate advice. A clear sign of better customer service.

Now let us turn the clock back to 1914 to this week’s featured photograph - the town pump in what is now Thornton Square.

In this week’s rare photograph of the town pump are the men who removed it all those years ago. It is one of those kind of photographs you have taken just to be a reminder of that day. Never imagining that over a century later Brighouse people would be looking at it again as an interesting and unique piece of our local history.

The man with his hand on the big hammer is Jimmy Briggs who was the father of Ellis Briggs who up until his death in 1978 lived in Granny Hall Grove, Slead Syke. Ellis was born in 1899 and was the third generation in a family of builders. This family had been involved in many aspects of the changing face of Brighouse.

His first job was not in a building project but the demolition of the Rising Sun pub which was at the bottom of Bramston Street opposite the Star Inn. It has been written that much of the stone from the eventual pile of rubble was carried off to Bailiff Bridge and used on the building of Coronation Terrace, which forms part of Birkhouse Road off Birkby Lane.

It was after the clearance of the Rising Sun that he was next involved in the demolition of Holroyd Buildings which when cleared was to become Thornton Square. It was Ellis Briggs who had the job of installing ‘Owd Bob’, the clock and balustrade on top of the town hall given to the town by the Mayor Robert Thornton.

It was during the demolition of Holroyd Buildings that also saw the removal of the town pump. It was estimated to have been there for almost a hundred years. This was long before drinking water was carried through pipes.

There is a well in Bailiff Bridge behind some terraced houses, which is capped off now. This was the only water source for the working people of the village. Whereas the bigger houses had their own wells. Back in the days of my history trail walks from Bailiff Bridge to Lightcliffe I used to show the walkers where they would have had to take their buckets to get a daily supply of domestic water from. Thankfully we have moved on from those days.