Time of change for town square

Thornton Square  in the 1950s
Thornton Square in the 1950s

Last week I looked at the history of trams in and around Brighouse and mentioned that by the mid 1920s Thornton Square was at times over run with the new modern day bus style of public transport, ensuring the tram car era had almost come to an end.

In this week’s featured photograph are two buses in Thornton Square from the early days. The double decker complete with its outside staircase to the upper deck, which was the Brighouse to Halifax service, and the single decker behind, which was the Brighouse to Hove Edge service.

But let me take you back to Monday, November 9, 1914, it was the year Alderman Robert Thornton JP was appointed the Brighouse Mayor for the sixth time.

To celebrate the occasions he gave the town a new clock and balustrade which was to stand high above Thornton Square for all to see. It was on that day the Mayoress Mrs Atkinson, with a little bit of pomp and celebration, set the clock working. From that day on it was the timepiece by which all the Thornton Square bus passengers would have timed the arrival and departure of the service bus they wanted.

It was wartime when Mrs Atkinson set that time piece working and it would be another five years before the town would see the end of the dark days of war.

Thousands of miles from home in the South Atlantic the Royal Navy lost two ships - HMS Good Hope and HMS Monmouth - in the Battle of Coronel on Sunday, November 1, 1914. Among the Royal Navy crew who lost their lives on HMS Good Hope was SS/101411 John Henry Wogan Stoker First Class, who was from Chapel Street, Brighouse. His name is remembered on the Brighouse War Memorial and on the internet Coronel Memorial website, www.coronel.org.uk.

On November 24 six Belgian refugees arrived in Brighouse and a further seven arrived in Elland and were just 13 of the 250,000 Belgian refugees that had to flee their country when the Germans invaded. The exodus had started in August and the refugees continued to arrive almost daily for months, landing at other ports as well, including Tilbury, Margate, Harwich, Dover, Hull and Grimsby.

In some purpose-built villages they had their own schools, newspapers, shops, hospitals, churches, prisons and police. These areas were considered Belgian territory and run by the Belgian government and used their own currency. Most of the refugees were housed with families across the whole of the UK.

As these frightened visitors arrived in Brighouse other matters were in hand in Norwood Green and Coley on the same day. A meeting for the ratepayers which was well attended had been called at the Norwood Green school. The meeting had the pressing question as to whether Norwood Green and Coley should have street lighting installed. After the meeting, which voted positively for it, saw a scheme and suggestion submitted to the Rural District Council to get on with it.

On November 30, 1914, the death of Mrs Mercy Moody at the home of her son in Alfred Street, Brighouse, was reported. Mrs Moody was 93 and the oldest lady in the Brighouse borough. She was born the same year as Napoleon Bonaparte died in 1821, which puts time into context.