Varied jobs of Brighouse’s past detailed in new book

Chris Helme with his eighth book, Brighouse At Work
Chris Helme with his eighth book, Brighouse At Work

From ship building to producing mint sauce, Brighouse has had a rich industrial past which is now written down in a new book.

Last year Echoes of the Past columnist, Chris Helme, was approached to write a new book. The book called Brighouse at Work is part of a series of books which look at the past industries of towns and cities across the UK.

With a six month deadline and a 12,000 word goal, Chris set to work and discovered a number of interesting and unusual job opportunities available for people in the past.

“The books starts in 1760 - the reason that’s when it started is because the canal came to Brighouse,” said Chris. “After the canal was built, mills were built and Brighouse became a boom town and a power of industry.

“A lot changed in 1840 when the railway came to Brighouse and made the canal obsolete. For such a small town, Brighouse began to grow because there were so many jobs.

“Brighouse was never a one industry town, very diverse across the board.

“If one industry was struggling, people always got a job in another place.”

When researching for the book, Chris discovered a few slightly unusual industries to make their home in a small town in Brighouse.

One in particular seemed a little bit odd.

Chris said: “Brighouse was once used for ship building, even though it is 65 miles from the sea.

“During the war, major cities were being bombed but landing crafts still needed manufacturing so they came to small towns and they came to Brighouse.”

The town was also home to Mellor’s Mint, a producer of mustard and mint sauce, for a number of years before selling on to multinational condiment company Colman’s.

The book explores the lives of the people of Brighouse and how the employment landscape has changed from the town’s pre-industrial beginnings to the present day.

Chris said: “I enjoy writing. This is the eighth book and it was a challenge but I like the opportunity of doing them and working to a deadline.

“I thought ‘have I got enough to put in a 96-page book?’ but I had to make an apology to those I couldn’t fit in.

“I would most certainly like to do another.”

The book, printed as part of a series by Amberley Publishing, is £14.99 and is available from Harrison Lord in Brighouse.

Books can also be bought from Chris Helme’s website, www.chrishelme-brighouse.org.uk and more information can be found on that website as well.