Echoes of the past: Back in time for the centenary

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Flat caps, braces for the boys and shawls for the girls, these outfits were not standard school uniform in the summer of 1995 when this photograph was taken. It was all part of a special year of centenary celebrations for St Chad’s school at Hove Edge.

The 1880 and 1890s Brighouse and Hove Edge was vastly different than the town and community we all know today - no electric street lights in those days. Yes, there were street lights but the gas to give the illumination had to be lit with a flame by a man who was employed as the lamplighter. He would be the same man who went round snuffing out the gas lights in the morning. Then with his long pole would double as the ‘knocker’ tapping on bedroom windows to make sure everyone was up getting ready for work in the mills.

Life for the children in this photograph dated 13 June 1995 would have been far different in the 1880s/1890s. It was likely they would be half-timers which meant an early start in the morning to work half the day at the mill and then off to school in the afternoons.

Getting to the mill meant walking to-and-from with no buses as we know them today not even a tram for the people of Hove Edge they were not seen until 1904.

The Brighouse Echo was not launched until Friday 24, June 1887 two years after St Chad’s had been opened. Not that the youngsters at the new St Chad’s School would have been bothered about it. They would have been more enthusiastic about the street partying for Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee celebrations. Or a visit to the fledgling new entertainment centre in Walterclough Valley which they would all become familiar with and call ‘Bunces...’ Lots of things have happened in the 100 years since the school gates were opened for the first time.

In September 1893 Brighouse gained its Borough status – there was great celebration and rejoicing throughout the town. This all came together when James Parkinson the new Town Clerk read out the Incorporation of the Borough on ‘Charter Day’ September 30, 1893 in what is now Thornton Square. The celebrations extended to many of the surrounding communities.

This was the start of some major changes in the town – things that these days we take for granted. The disposal of sewage was greatly improved with the construction and opening of the sewage and outfall works at Cooper Bridge in 1895. The construction of the Mill Lane gas works started in 1895 and the municipal electricity supply was started when the new council bought out the plant of Mr A.B.Brook in Hall Street at the back of the Public Offices (Brighouse Civic Hall).

With so much going on would the new Borough have the time and money to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1897? Of course it did and to commemorate that historic event the council sponsored a scheme by securing the Rydings Park and buildings to be used for a free library, museum and park which was bought by public subscription.

The Hove Edge quarries of Joseph Brooke would be a hive of activity and with the company about to be the first to patent and manufacture the nonslip flagstone in 1898. This company would see more and more people particularly local people being employed there during the generations to come.

But for these children (left to right) Matthew Noden, David Noble, Rachel Bradley and Carly Briggs who posed for this photograph 21 years ago. Taking part in the school’s centenary celebrations would have been an opportunity to be taught what life would have been like for children of their age during that late Victorian era. The centenary quilt was made by the children and teachers at St Chad’s School.