Charting the changes . . .

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MY new book of Brighouse nostalgia is safely away to the publishers and I only have to wait a few more days to get the word from the publisher that there are no last minute snags.

Today’s featured photographs are an example of the format of the new book. The content will be a nice reminder to those who can recall times past while illustrating to younger readers what our town centre used to be like and how it has changed.

Both these photographs are taken from almost the same location, although to reproduce the older one exactly would probably have meant taking it from one of the upstairs windows in what is now Lloyd’s Bank. When it was originally taken in 1931 it would have been from one of the bedrooms of what was then the White Swan.

This was a very large gathering, but what is the reason for such a crowd?

I initially thought it was a celebration of the first tramway from Halifax to Brighouse in February 1904, or the first one from Brighouse to Bailiff Bridge in the October that year.

But too many things in the photograph obviously post date 1904. Could it have been the last tram car, judging from the age of the motor cars and style of clothes being later than 1904?

To find the real answer I sought a little help from Stephen Gee, the well known Northowram based author of local history books. The clue lies in the identity of the vehicle to the left of the tram car and a link with Halifax Rugby League Football Club.

The Halifax club was a founding member of the Northern Rugby Football Union in 1895. The following year the club lost out on winning the first Rugby Football League Championship and that was by just one point to Manningham who became the inaugural champions.

On-field success continued, producing one of their best ever teams in the early years of the 20th century. In 1902-03 they achieved the double by winning the Challenge Cup and finishing top of Division One. They won the cup again the following season, and were the first ever Championship play-off winners in season 1906-07.

In 1931 the club once again appeared in the Wembley Challenge Cup final, this time playing York. At half-time Haifax were losing 8-5 but after a storming second half they were runaway winners by 22 – 8.

This was the first time the club had won the cup since 1903. More than 100,000 people lined the route to a civic reception in Halifax. The team went on a district wide tour to show off the silver ware. This included a visit to Brighouse shortly after that famous win on Saturday May 6, 1931.

As Stephen Gee points out, the vehicle on the left of the tramcar is the team coach.

A few days after this event was celebrated came the end of trams travelling from Halifax to Brighouse, bringing to a close 27 years of this form of public transport.

The newer photograph shows The Print Shop as the last building on the corner. In earlier times that was the Royal Engineers, which had originally opened as a 19th century beer house. In 1965 the Priestley family pulled the last pint and the building was subsequently turned into a print shop.

Turning the corner you were on Hangram Street which in the early 1970s was like otherlarge parts of the town centre – swept away for the new transport route of the by-pass.