The 1920s

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AT the conclusion of the First World War Brighouse families were counting the cost of loved ones lost.

With local casualties estimated at 492 killed, 180 missing and 692 wounded placing these numbers in the context of a population of about 30,000 the suffering was to last for many years to come.

Education was set to change following the 1918 Education Act with some aspects of it finally coming to fruition in the early 1920s, notably July 1, 1922 when the practice of ‘half-time’ was abolished and all children would leave school at the age of 14. It was during the early 1920s that the building of a new school was being discussed, a school for pupils who would be described at that time as being ‘delicate’.

The school referred to as the Open Air School was built in Blackburn Road and the opening ceremony on July 17, 1926, was carried out by the Lady Mayoress of Leeds.

To illustrate the changes happening in local education the Borough Council organised the Brighouse Education Week in March 1925. The children in this featured photograph appeared in the special booklet that was produced for the event and shows some of the children from the St Joseph’s School mixed dancing team. The war time drinking restrictions lasted until the Licensing Act 1921 was introduced which fixed opening times from 11.30am through to 3pm and then 5.30pm to 10pm on weekdays and 12.30pm to 2.30pm and then 7pm to 10pm on Sundays.

It was going to take time for industry to pick itself up after the war and a coal strike in 1921 did not help. The money or dole as it was called received weekly by men was 15/- shillings (75p) and 12/- shillings (60p) for women. Something that was noticeable during these difficult times was as the number of unemployed increased the number of library books issues went up quite dramatically as well. In 1926 the problems were compounded by the 1926 General Strike – in Brighouse during the first few days 200 men were on strike. But it was not long before it seemed that all working men in the town were on strike. The strike came to an end on May 12 but a few days later the number of registered unemployed had risen to almost 3,500 and a further 3,000 on short-time.

By the end of the 20s there were a few bright spots which included Brighouse Co-op opening its 21st branch on the newly built Smith House Estate. In 1928 the Yorkshire Artificial Silk company was opened in George Street Mills but this was a false hope and never really got going. The ripples from the Wall Street crash of 1929 found its way across the Atlantic and did nothing to improve job prospects in Brighouse.

Entertainment was available with the Albert and Savoy cinemas – outside activities were plentiful. Local cricket, football teams and the workshop competitions. Bowls, tennis and golf were all being actively played. The second of our two photographs features those taking part in the Park Church Tennis tournament on 3rd 1926.

n Next week with the dark clouds of war beginning to hang over Europe the 1930s would once again here the talk of war.