Pretty trees and not a car in sight

Wakefield Road, Lightcliffe
Wakefield Road, Lightcliffe

Wakefield Road, Lightcliffe, and not a car in sight.

St Matthew’s Church tower stands above the poplar trees that line this section of the road.

Today these trees have all gone, no doubt to the relief of the residents when they did come down, but from afar you can’t help appreciating just how nice they looked.

It is difficult to imagine what this road looked like pre 1741 but from that date it became a toll road and the tolls collected helped to create and maintain the road to a reasonable state of repair.

One of the earliest laws relating to roads dated back to Saxon times and stated that a highway should be broad enough for two wagons to pass each other, with room for the drivers to ply their whips freely and for sixteen soldiers to be able to ride in harness side by side.

The wall on the right hand side is part of the entrance to what was Pear Tree Farm, which many readers in this area will remember when it was farmed by Harold Walton and his son, David.

In recent years the farm was redeveloped for housing and is appropriately called Pear Tree Close.

Almost the whole of Lightcliffe was part of the Crow Nest estate and Pear Tree Farm was just one of a number of farms on the estate.

During the late 1950s I walked from home to Lightcliffe Junior School and remember seeing the letter ‘W’ on the barn’s frontage and wondered what it meant.

Once being bitten by the local history bug I discovered that the letter ‘W’ appeared in a number of places in Lightcliffe and represented the Walker family.

The Walker family lived at Crow Nest until it was sold by the then head of the family, Evan Charles Sutherland-Walker, in 1867.

The letters ‘ECSW’, another example of this family’s influence in the Lightcliffe area, can be found on the front elevation at my old school.

At the bottom of this photograph it says Greenhouses, which is a reference to a row of terraced houses behind the poplar trees.

These properties were built in 1868 and, according to the Calderdale listed buildings, Greenhouses have a Grade two listing.

Along with Grange Terrace on the opposite side of the road, these are two of the nicest looking rows of terrace houses you will find.

I don’t know who had the two terraces built - the Walker’s had gone by 1868 and, although Major Johnston Jonas Foster had bought Cliff Hill mansion at the Crow Nest auction when Evan Charles Sutherland-Walker sold up, he did not give his generous donation to have St Matthew’s Church built until the 1870s.

It has been suggested they were built by Brooke’s stone company family for some of their workers - a suggestion I doubt. Further research would be required to establish just who did build them and, more interestingly, why they were built.