Echoes of the past: The growth of Armytage Industrial Estate

Sir Titus Salt wanted to build his mill in Brighouse but was turned down by the Armytage family
Sir Titus Salt wanted to build his mill in Brighouse but was turned down by the Armytage family

This one is based on a theme of ‘Brighouse at Work’ which has to be finished for next June.

For the next few months I am going to be busy researching businesses that once thrived in the town but have long since faded into the history books. I shall also be looking at those businesses that have been replaced by the modern equivalent and the once busy factories that employed 300 to 400 employees but have now been turned into a multi-occupation business complex.

This aerial photograph was taken c1961and shows just how much the Armytage Industrial Estate had grown since that time and when it was first opened on a green field site.

But it could have been so different… Sir Titus Salt did want to build his mill and village here in Brighouse. If he had not been turned down by the Armytage family you never know instead of there being a Saltaire we might have had something like Saltcalder.

However, the land between the canal and the Brighouse and Elland Turnpike Road or Wakefield Road as we know it today was placed on the market to be sold as freehold land at public auction at the Royal Hotel on Monday October 8 1860. Whether any of the 40 lots were sold my copy of the auction catalogue does not say.

Little did they know then that with the prosperity the river brought, the improved transport links following the construction of the canal in the 18th century and the coming of the railway in the 19th century. Finally the motorway in the 20th century would all go towards making Brighouse an important area for those businessmen looking to either re-locate or set up a new business.

On my auction catalogue map it has a number of proposed new streets laid out. The main arterial road was named Armytage Road and the adjoining proposed street names to be called; Mill Street which we know today as Grove Street probably named after Grove Mills. George Street, Arthur Street, William Street and Harriette (a different spelling that we are used to these days) Street with these names probably being linked to the Kirklees Hall Armytage family.

It would appear that Harriette Street was not actually constructed but would have been roughly where Huntingdon Road is today and continuing through to Wakefield Road.

Just how many people are employed on the present Armytage Industrial Estate is difficult to say. It must run close to being one of the largest number of employees on a single site in Calderdale.

I am looking for retired people who worked in some of those old industries. Some may say now, ‘you mean those old fashioned businesses’, which Brighouse seem to have more than many other similar sized towns had. I would like to hear your interesting stories about businesses that made Brighouse a diverse industrial town. I can be contacted by e-mail enquiries@chrishelme-brighouse.org.uk or 205763.