Echoes of the past: Brighouse’s booming mill industry

Looking over to Brighouse from Clifton
Looking over to Brighouse from Clifton

Brighouse during the 1950s, looking across the valley from the green fields of Clifton the number of tall chimneys stand proud like candles on a birthday cake. These were a sign of the town’s industrialisation that was to employ thousands of local and the not so local people for generations.

Those were the days when you could take a walk down Birds Royd Lane all the way down to the bottom of River Street and almost choose any job you felt confident enough to do. That journey would take you passed a multitude of industries everything from mill working, to dyeing, engineering, leather working and even brewing. A job for everyone and in those days if the economy stayed sound then most had a job for life.

Today, if you stand at the front of Sainsbury’s supermarket and draw a line all the way down to the bottom of River Street and half a mile either side of the line. During the last quarter of the nineteenth century that area alone had close to 10,000 mill workers.

Gradually as the mills went into decline new industries were started particularly on the new Armytage Industrial Estate. This was farmland that was developed once the borough council had compulsory purchased the land after the Second World War. And this was well before it came popular to build similar industrial complexes near to motorways. The industrial estate was well placed when the M62 was opened.