Over the last 125 years the Echo has reported on many aspects of life in Brighouse and its surrounding communities; happy events, celebratory events, visits by royalty, reporting on those who bravely went to war and of course the weekly goings-on at the town’s Magistrates Court.
Over the next 12 weeks I will be taking you through some of the events that helped to shape Brighouse as we know it today.
Local events that have all been reported and photographed by the generations of reporters and editors. I will be looking back on each of the decades from that day in 1887.
John Hartley was someone who dedicated his life in the newspaper business. He had a passion for helping and encouraging new groups and organisations to thrive in the town.
He ensured there was always the editorial space to be able to report on their weekly activities, a tradition we are proud to continue today.
This tradition is something that is still part of today’s weekly Echo – some people have occasionally said to me ‘why does it matter, who went to such and such club on a given week …’
The simple answer is because they are the local people and what they are doing matters and the Echo is in business to report local events.
Looking back to 1887 what were the talking points at that time ? Just as we are this year preparing to celebrate Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee then it was another royal celebration – Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. Local events marking this milestone were all reported in those early copies of the Echo. While Clifton and Rastrick celebrated in fine style, it was also reported how the Brighouse Local Board (the forerunner to the Borough Council) had failed so miserably in its own celebrations.
In those days there were no cinemas, no radio and the television was even further away. The one thing that was available was the lantern slide shows which would be held in the Oddfellows Hall and the Town Hall which were both in Bradford Road in those days or the travelling showmen and circus or the local stage shows.
Then there was Sunny Vale, the playground of the north as it was described but better know to the local children as ‘Sunny Bunces’. This was a venue that in later years would see 100,000 visitors annually, but in 1887 it was still very much in its infancy.
Streets were still lit by naked flame gas lights, no cars not even a tram to get about in days, this was an era when walking was the ‘norm’, or by horse and cart.
Another local celebration involved Mrs Susan Sunderland, who was without doubt one of the most famous people born in Brighouse.
She was already 68 years old when the Echo was first issued and it was some 23 years earlier when she made her last appearance. When the paper was celebrating its first birthday she was celebrating her 50th wedding anniversary and moves were in progress to raise funds for a commemorative music festival which would bear her name.
The first ‘Mrs Sunderland Music Festival’ was held in 1889. Today this festival is still thriving and based in Huddersfield.
Next week I take a look at the 1890s when the town gained its Borough status and the dark clouds of the Boer War stretched out as far as Brighouse.