Sweeping progress along street

Police Street, Brighouse, in the early 1970s
Police Street, Brighouse, in the early 1970s

Police Street, which was re-named Lawson Road after Alderman Gilbert Lawson MBE, is shown here forty years ago.

Many things have changed in this small area of the town centre with many of the old building having been demolished. All the buildings on the left hand side, which included the Co-op garage and St Paul’s Church, were swept aside in the interests of progress.

The church made way for the Co-op car park which now serves the customers of another large chain of branch operated stores - the successful M&Co.

In the distance to the left is what started life as the St Paul’s Church Sunday School but for many was the town’s courthouse until that was closed c1995 and local justice has since been administered in Halifax.

Today this property is used as the Brighouse Salvation Army Citadel, under the caring management of Lieutenant Claire Whybrow as commanding officer for the Brighouse Corps of the Salvation Army, who started her new role in August 2014.

The Round House to the right of the citadel is well remembered for its days as a local pub and can easily be traced back to the nineteenth century when it was first opened as a beer house.

Like many town centre hostelries it closed down, in this case 15 years ago. Since then it has been transformed into a computer shop but is now the home of Brearleys solicitors.

This is the interesting part of this photograph - between the solicitors’ office and Brighouse Health Centre is a cul-de-sac where the road was cut off to allow the new bypass through.

That “enclosed end”, according to my copy of the Brighouse town centre plan of the late 60s and early 70s, was going to be re-named The Court House Precinct.

Proposals in the plan show it was to have shrubbery, a seating area, screen planting to shelter the area from the bypass and it would be pedestrianised - wow.

This was also in the day when some people were saying the bypass would be a “white elephant” - a waste of money.

It is inconceivable to imagine what the town centre would be like today. Without it or to even consider it would be a huge financial step too far now.

The right hand side was all swept aside - the shops, the businesses and the few houses all demolished in the name of progress.

That side of the road has been in the news recently and it is just possible on this photograph to see one of the trees, as a sapling, that has now been sawn down.

Both of my Brighouse Borough Council plans and the Calderdale plans show just what might have been. Whilst some of the planned improvements were carried out, sadly they were not all.

No doubt a new plan in the future will materialise and bring up some more great ideas but like many “new” good ideas, by and large they are the same old ideas recycled.