Looking back at the history of Bailiffe Bridge railway life

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Bailiffe (note the spelling) Bridge railway station with Birkby Lane in the background, a photograph we cannot accurately date but can certainly say it is pre 1929.

Bailiffe Bridge was opened on March 1 1881 but burnt down, being a wooden station in 1929, although it had closed for passenger traffic on April 2 1917. The devastating fire was not the only problem the station had experienced. It was only a short while before it was closed for picking up passengers in 1917 that a large part of the station was blown down in a gale.

This was the station where Sir Algernon Firth from Firth’s Carpets would have his butler contact the station and have the station master hold the London train until Sir Algernon arrived in his carriage from his home to take his First Class seat. Those were the days when a regular London service went from the area via Bailiff Bridge to Marylebone Station.

In June 1883 aged 14 Fred Field of Armitage Avenue, Brighouse started his railway career at the booking office at Cooper Bridge station. Those were the days when Sir George Armitage of Kirklees Hall and local business men used this station on a regular basis. In those days the Cooper Bridge staff had to ensure the carriage temperature was just high enough for Sir George, he was very particular about it.

In January 1884 Fred was transferred to Bailiffe Bridge station which at that time would have been barely three years old. The station master in charge of the station and his supervisor was David Stirzaker who lived in Rastrick and travelled to his Bailiffe Bridge work station each day. Employed at the station prior to Fred arriving was just the station master and one porter his arrival increased the staff to three. He worked from 8.30am to 8.45pm and received a weekly wage of seven shillings (or 70p in today’s money). Each day he would have travel to work to and from his home in Mirfield.

The daily ticket sales record had to be taken to Low Moor station and the accounts department always knew when the Firths had used the train. The takings would be almost £4 where as it would have only been a few shillings.

When Fred retired he recalled that regularly Sir Algernon would travel to London with his two sisters who lived at Baycliffe House, a detached house in Birkby Lane. This property was directly opposite the road from Birkby Lane leading to where the Bailiff Bridge club was. Baycliffe was demolished many years after the Firth’s sisters had left. To let the station know they were travelling that day they used to send a footman from their house to tell the station manager that he would have to hold the train until they got there.

Some readers may remember Bert Booth who for many years drove one of the council dustbin wagons, he lived at Baycliffe as a child and I remember him telling me that he could remember when it was demolished to extend the mill.

Today there is little evidence the stations at either Bailiffe Bridge or Cooper Bridge existed. It was reported by the station master at Cooper Bridge the very last ticket issued for a journey from Cooper Bridge to Brighouse was given to the Brighouse Echo to place in their archives. Now I wonder ever happened to that ticket?