Story behind an historic house

ONE of the oldest properties in the Lightcliffe area, in fact one of the oldest and most noted properties in Calderdale, Smith House, is the subject of both photographs featured this week.

The aerial view – thanks to Richard Lister of Lightcliffe for the use of this picture – goes back 40 years while the second is 126 years old.

Before delving into Smith House's long history take a look at the surrounding landscape. The houses on the top line of the photograph are a number of the properties in Aysgarth Avenue. This is part of the Stoney Lane estate which was built between 1949 and 1953 as part of a massive building programme to build new houses in both Lightcliffe and on the opposite side of Brighouse up at Field Lane after the Second World War.

The football pitch was where Firth's first and second teams played. On one notable occasion in 1956 the first team played Bradford City second team with the Mayor, Alderman Harry Edwards, having the honour of blowing the whistle for the start of the match and Mrs Edwards taking the kick-off.

It was also on this same area where the Stoney Lane Community Association held its annual gala in the days when all the children were presented with a commemorative mug with the name of the association stamped on the side. It might have been cheap and cheerful but every youngster on the estate got one. Mine has long since been lost – has anyone still got one tucked away in the dark corner of a cupboard somewhere?

I can also recall the early 1960s walking across the football field towards the wooden pavilion which is the single building to the left of the centre circle. Back in those days the right side of the pavilion had a wall that was in a state of disrepair and I was able to climb over it. This allowed access to an orchard and tall trees behind the pavilion to the large house immediately behind the pavilion.

I used to deliver newspapers for the Stoney Lane estate newsagents Jim Gaukrodger. I was up on Stoney Lane only recently shopping at the old Co-op, and noticed that the signage over the now boarded up newsagents was weathered and battered. Probably for the first time in over 30 years or more the weathering had exposed the names of the Gaukrodgers as the proprietors of the shop.

The large house where I delivered the evening newspapers was always shown as Lightcliffe House on the top of the newspaper, written on by Jim Gaukrodger. I recall the lady who lived at the house being what I would describe as the housekeeper.

The house, I believe, was owned or rented by T.F. Firth's and used by the company to accommodate visiting senior members of staff who would be attending a meeting or conference or special event at the mill in Bailiff Bridge.

I heard some years later that it caught fire and sustained serious damage and was subsequently demolished and cleared. Today the site of the house and the surrounding trees is where a new housing development was built called Windsor Walk.

The football fields also disappeared and the new development on that site was called Kenilworth Drive.

If anyone has any further information about Lightcliffe House or close up photographs I would be most interested to hear from you.

Turning to the older photograph which was taken in 1884 by George Hepworth, a founder member of the Brighouse Photographic Society. It was featured in his book 'Brighouse, its Scenery and Antiquities' and was published the following year. There were just over 100 copies of this book published and I have seen only two copies during the last 30 years in private hands and one other in a library reference section.

Smith House was once the home of the Smiths or Smythes, a family of note in the old Hipperholme cum Brighouse Township. The house, no doubt, took its name from this family who left the house about the time of the Civil War. In 1672 it was re-built on the site of the then existing property.

The property was in the possession of the Holmes family and it was Joseph Holmes who invited the Moravians in 1742 to take up residence there. In later years Mrs Holmes, joined the Methodists and John Wesley, William Grimshaw and other noted Methodists visited Smith House at her invitation and preached at the house.

Another family to live at the house was the Radcliffes who were a noted family from Huddersfield. The last member of this family to live there was William Towne Radcliffe, who was committed in 1835 to a lunatic asylum. He is interred at Lightcliffe Old Church cemetery.

The property was part of the Crow Nest Mansion auction of 1867 when the then owner Evan Charles Sutherland –Walker put his Lightcliffe estates up for public auction and Smith House was sold. Today the site of the house and the surrounding trees is where a new housing development was built called Windsor Walk.

The football fields also disappeared and the new development on that site was called Kenilworth Drive.

If anyone has any further information about Lightcliffe House or close up photographs I would be most interested to hear from you.

Turning to the older photograph which was taken in 1884 by George Hepworth, a founder member of the Brighouse Photographic Society. It was featured in his book ‘Brighouse, its Scenery and Antiquities’ and was published the following year. There were just over 100 copies of this book published and I have seen only two copies during the last 30 years in private hands and one other in a library reference section.

Smith House was once the home of the Smiths or Smythes, a family of note in the old Hipperholme cum Brighouse Township. The house, no doubt, took its name from this family who left the house about the time of the Civil War. In 1672 it was re-built on the site of the then existing property.

The property was in the possession of the Holmes family and it was Joseph Holmes who invited the Moravians in 1742 to take up residence there. In later years Mrs Holmes, joined the Methodists and John Wesley, William Grimshaw and other noted Methodists visited Smith House at her invitation and preached at the house.

Another family to live at the house was the Radcliffes who were a noted family from Huddersfield. The last member of this family to live there was William Towne Radcliffe, who was committed in 1835 to a lunatic asylum. He is interred at Lightcliffe Old Church cemetery.

The property was part of the Crow Nest Mansion auction of 1867 when the then owner Evan Charles Sutherland –Walker put his Lightcliffe estates up for public auction and Smith House was sold.