A year of changes for all . . .

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WITH the First World War another 12months away, 1913 in Brighouse was going to be the last full year when there would be more good times than bad.

At the start of the New Year there were many happy events affecting individuals, organisations and the town itself. The first wedding of the year was on the January 9 when Miss Edith Leach the eldest daughter of the late Harry Leach was married at St Matthew’s Church, Lightcliffe to Harry Baume.

The name Harry Leach may be familiar to some readers. He was the licensee at the Sun Inn, Lightcliffe, for a number of years.

Edith and Harry’s was not the only wedding of 1913, but sadly Brighouse also saw an equal number of deaths recorded as well. One of these included the wife of Jeremiah Gomersall, a name few will know unless you live in Ripley Street, Lightcliffe. It was Jeremiah who was responsible for building most of that street in the 1880s.

A number of notable openings took place – the first on March 17, 1913. This was when the tram route from Wyke to Bailiff Bridge was completed. The Lord Mayor of Bradford Alderman Fred Foster had the honour of opening the route with the Brighouse Mayor Alderman Robert Thornton JP.

The only problem with this route was that the tram track width was different from that of the track width of the Brighouse to Bailiff Bridge route. This meant that travellers had to get off and walk the short distance to the other tram terminus. But I am sure even for that minor inconvenience the public had their lives changed with the new route.

It was also a big day for Brighouse swimmers with the new swimming pool and slipper baths in Mill Royd Street opening on June 17, 1913.

Robert Thornton, before the end of his mayoral period in office (1909 – 1916), would be addressing even larger crowds and not for reasons of joy either. On those occasions it was to rally more of the young men of the town to sign-up and join their friends and neighbours in trying to bring the First World War to a swift conclusion.

Back on the sporting front Brighouse Rangers were making a comeback and in June the club was accepted into the Northern League Combination with the team’s first match being held in the September against Elland. Sadly this team would not match the achievements of the teams in the 1890s, which culminated with winning the Yorkshire Cup in 1895.

Lightcliffe Golf Club was a little over five-years-old in 1913 when three special people visited the club. Three household names from Yorkshire County Cricket Club visited: Wilfred Rhodes; George Herbert Hirst; Schofield Haigh and accompanied by C.W.Hodgson from the Brighouse Cricket Club.

The world of entertainment in Brighouse saw a new venture begin, which in reality was an old one give a new look under new management. The Empire Theatre in Atlas Mill Lane was re-opened for skating on Boxing Day 1912 by the Bunce family.

While the Bunce family of Sunny Vale fame had skating already at their pleasure gardens there was a consensus at the time something similar nearer the town centre was wanted. While its success and popularity was instant sadly it did not last long with changes available entertainment, notably the cinema by 1918.

In Rastrick the foundation stone for St John’s Church in Gooder Lane was laid, while a new pulpit was placed in Brighouse Parish Church thanks to Matthew Wood of Brooklands in memory of his wife. His home was later demolished when it had passed into the hands of Dr William Skeels. He decided the offer of it being purchased to be then demolished for the first purpose built cinema to be built on the site and called The Ritz was just too tempting.

Other parts of the town were also to come under the demolition man’s hammer. Holroyd Buildings which had been a triangular shaped property since it was erected in the 1850s was swept away because of traffic problems. The open space was left and is what we know today as Thornton Square.

Traffic problems were also a problem at the bottom of Bramston Street. To open up what was a busy junction in those pre First World War years, The Rising Sun a beer house for almost half a century was demolished. Today it is an even busier junction which has seen many serious road accidents since it was altered a century ago.

The year saw many changes just as each year does and as we look back on 2012 we will all cast a thought over what may or may not happen in 2013 – Happy New Year everyone.