Town hall’s roots in the malt kiln

Old Malt Kiln town centre
Old Malt Kiln town centre

This very rare photograph of the late nineteenth century shows the middle of the town centre before a number of major changes took place.

The building on the left was built on the site of the old Manor House which for many years had been occupied by members of the Bottomley family who for generations were involved in the public affairs of Brighouse.

The old Manor House was demolished in 1875 and on the site the Halifax Commercial Bank established its first branch in what was John Bottomley, the Maltster (Maltster - Brewer, made or sold malts) home. Today, it is a branch of Barclay’s Bank and if you stand in Thornton Square and look at the top of the building the year 1875 is clearly visible.

Moving to the right is the old malt kiln which dated back to 1693 but was demolished (July 1885) to make way for the new town hall which was opened on March 16, 1887 and is now the Town Hall Dental practice. With the new bank and a new town hall the town was through one of its many makeovers.

The building across the cobbled road, which was known as Union Street, is ‘Skinny’ Joe Marsden’s fruit, veg and game shop. His nickname of Skinny had nothing to do with his liking for not parting with his money but it was the place where you would be able to call in and watch him skinning rabbits ready for sale.

His shop formed part of the triangular property known as Holroyd Buildings. This property had to be demolished following repeated complaints about traffic hold-ups on Union Street between February and March 1914.

On the lamp post is a sign advertising a gas exhibition in the town hall. It is possible from advertising elsewhere to date that event as July 1885. The event was billed as ‘Fuel for the Future..’

Reference to the town hall is what is now the Civic Hall, which was opened in 1866/67 as the then Brighouse Town Hall. That was only possible after the Brighouse Town Hall Company was formed through generous donations that ensured the work went ahead.