Echoes of the past: The changing appearance to Bailiff Bridge

Bailiff Bridge crossroads during the 1920s
Bailiff Bridge crossroads during the 1920s

Bailiff Bridge crossroads during the 1920s. It looks as though time has stood still, or was it just a quiet day?

The men standing at the front of the bus have time to chat whilst one of them leans on his bicycle.

Whilst many things have changed in Bailiff Bridge since Firth’s closed in 2000, there are some things in this view that many will remember. The Bailiff Bridge fountain with its two granite troughs still intact. This was given by Lady Janet Firth to the people of the community and was formally handed over on 31 July 1911. The fountain was as familiar to all the residents, as it was to all who passed through the village. Lady Firth gave a sum of money to the Hipperholme Urban District Council for its upkeep, she never wanted it to be a financial burden to the local ratepayers.

The fountain remained on that site until 1962 when it was removed - deemed as a road hazard. The Firth family when contacted about it suggested it might be moved and erected in the memorial garden opposite Co-operative Buildings, but it never happened. It was deposited on a depot on ‘Rookes Bend’ Norwood Green, the two granite troughs do still exist and are in two gardens in the Brighouse area.

Whilst the two walk-ways across Birkby Lane can be seen on this photograph they were taken down when Firth’s Clifton Mills were demolished. The showroom which now has multi-occupation by small businesses was built in 1909 as the new office and showroom block. It was one of the first buildings, certainly in this area to be built using pre-cast concrete. Interestingly precast panelled buildings were pioneered in Liverpool in 1905. The process was invented by city engineer John Alexander Brodie, a creative genius who also invented the idea of the football goal net.

The buildings below the towering office block was the Bailiff Bridge Institute and William Ward’s butcher’s shop, complete with his own abattoir at the back of the premises.

The large ground floor window on the right was the side window of Clayton’s the village grocer and corn dealer, with a front door overlooking the crossroads. Another interesting fact about that shop and the adjoining properties. Directly behind them was the village public well, today it is concreted over, but was the place where the whole village would have got their water from in those pre-piped water and tap days.

Back in the days I took small groups from Bailiff Bridge school on a guided walk round the village or a slide presentation of it. That well was one of the places I showed them. They were fascinated with the very thoughts of having to take your water home in a bucket before going to school....

Whilst the village may have changed in appearance the history and memories live on.