Ripponden E-zine

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History of Ripponden – John Henry Priestley, 1903

‘Rybourne’ means the crossing or ford of a river and ‘dene’ means a wooded valley. Rishworth means where the rushes are kept or stored. Barkisland means the land of the birch. Soyland means south lands in relation to Sowerby (from when Soyland was part of Sowerby).

Ryburn river from Blackstone Edge, joined by Booth Dean stream at Brook-Grains. A riverlet joins the Booth Dean stream at Ox-Grains bridge. The turnpike roads are the Rochdale to Halifax, including Elland Road (opened 1770s) and the Ripponden to Oldham (opened 1803).

First known flood 18 May 1722 which badly damaged Ripponden church. Another in November 1866, a woman and three children aged 16, 14 and 11 drowned when crossing a wooden bridge at the bottom of Billy Lane (beside the Besom). Stepping stones were then put there till 1900 when an iron bridge was built, called Pretoria to commemorate the fall of Pretoria, South Africa. Another iron bridge that replaced stones is at Kebroyd and is called Alexandra Bridge.

Springs in many places, eg. Swift Cross Spaw on Old Lane above Swift Place, and Booth Dean Spaw near the Rocking Stone in Rishworth.

Old Pack Horse road leaves main road just below the bridge above Baitings Gate. Before 1780, the old road was from Stainland through Barkisland village, Ripponden Old Bank, over the old bridge, through the vicarage garden, Back Lane, Netheroyd, Old Lane to Baitings and to the old pack horse road to Manchester. Pubs include ‘Ring O’Bells’ at Dagger Hill, Old Bank, one at Bank Bottom, Old Bridge Inn (or Waterloo), Blue Ball and Baitings. Oldham Road made at beginning of 19th century. Elland road from the Cross, where road goes left to Greetland, was raised to meet Halifax road and placed across The Holme where people were buried.

Railway line opened for luggage 15 July 1878, passengers on 5 August 1878 and extended to Rishworth 1 March 1881.


The area was part of the Brigantes tribal lands and several arrow heads found on Rishworth moor.

At Booth Dean is a group of stones, a few of which look to be laid one upon another, called the Rocking Stone. This was near the site of the later Spa Inn (above Spa Clough reservoir, the highest of the reservoirs feeding Boothwood reservoir and not far from junction 22 of the M62). Several stones now in the bridge a little further down. A little below is Castle Dean. Moors around include Catmoss and Lads Grave. Also on the opposite side of road are Good Greave and Linsgreave and near by is Way-pit, a deep pool fed by a subterranean spring. Also nearby are Way-stone, Waystone Edge, Waystone Slack, Waypit Green and Waypit Holes. This area is thought to have been sacred to druids.


Roads: descend by Lumb to Millbank, ascend Foxen Lane, left to Making-Place, cross the river at the old bridge, over ground at Bank Bottom, up the hill by Dagger Hill and across to Slack in Barkisland, along Slack Lane to Clough House Lane to form an angle at Steel Lane Head (called Fink Hill), descend Steel Lane, cross the brook and over Stainland Dean to Cambodunum (Slack at Longwood).

Also turn right at top of Foxen, then Lane Head, Blue Ball Road, White Gate Head to Baitings, Baitings Gate and then follow the pack horse road over to Manchester.

Also Barkisland, Abbotts Royd, Bank Cross, down Old Bank, up Old Lane, past Swift Cross Spaw to White Gate Head.

Also Barkisland, Firth House to left, through Meg-Dyke on left side of Dean Head Road opposite Clock Face Wood along Mosselden Height, south of Grey Stones, along Mosselden Gate, Featherteam End, down to Long Clough, over Hunger Hill and Burnt Moss, over an old single arch bridge, up Hell Bank, along Oldham Road behind Spa Inn, then right above Rocking Stone and over the hills to Doldrum in Lancashire.


Soyland is part of Sowerby, Rishworth and Barkisland are part of Elland. All is Crown land until just after 1100, when granted to Earl Warren. Shortly after, Halifax and Elland parishes are created.

The Manor of Wakefield

Owned by the Earls Warren of Surrey from 1116(?) to 1347 when if reverts to the crown. It then passed through several hands to the present owner – the Duke of Leeds.

One of the earliest recorded details is a water driven fulling mill in the 14th century (fulling is the pound out cloth to create ‘fulls’ of felt).

Oldest deed is agreement between Thomas de Thornton and Henry de Rishworth in which the latter gained part of Barkisland. When he died, Henry owned Barkisland and Rishworth. Through marriages, it passed, bit by bit to the Savile family.

Soyland was part of Sowerby and was a forest and free chase – the Earls Warren had a charter to hunt. The forest is often called Hardwic and extended over Rishworth as well. The current lord of the manor is the Earl of Yarborough.

Middle Ages

In the Civil War, Halifax stood for the Parliament and was ‘subdued’ several times by the Earl of Newcastle. Manchester stayed with Parliament. Colonel Rosworm fortified Blackstone Edge and Black Gate to prevent the Royalists attacking Manchester.

The Hortons of Howroyd and Gledhills of Barkisland Hall both Royalists. Gledhill was killed in battle at Hessey Moor, York, and Horton married Gledhill’s sister to also own Barkisland Hall.

Believed that Charles II escaped through Ripponden and over Blackstone Edge after battle of Worcester.

Church and School

Until the church at Ripponden was built in the 15th century by Royal Grant in 1464 (the only one in the Halifax area), Elland was the nearest. Ripponden was rebuilt in 1610. This was damaged in the flood and the third was granted licence 6 April 1729 and consecrated 9 September 1737.

In 1730, £500 was provided jointly by governors of Queen Anne’s Bounty, Mary Horton of Howroyd, Charles Ratcliffe, Elkanah Hoyle and Samuel Hill of Making Place. This was used to buy Blackshaw Clough and Crosswells in Soyland, plus a croft and 2 cottages adjoining the vicarage for the use of the Ripponden minister. These were sold by 1897 and the amount invested.

In the third church was a three tier pulpit half way down the nave: the top, rostrum, the middle, the reading desk and the bottom the clerk’s seat. The pews were high backed and centred round the pulpit. Pupils of Making Place College sat in the South aisle and pupils from Rishworth Grammar in the North aisle. Pews were mainly owned by private persons who did not live in the neighbourhood so were hardly used. A meeting on 12 May 1864 of the reputed owners was called to ask each to pay 20 shillings towards repairing the roof, but no response. So at a parishioners meeting on 11 May 1866, it was decided to pull down the church and build a new one, both better and without the high back pews. This one was consecrated 22 October 1868.

Vicarage was built in 1593, but was so ruinious by 1764 that it had to be rebuilt.

The church was part of Elland parish until 14 August 1878.

Ripponden National School – large central room built 1843, classroom nearest New Bank 1869 and classroom at other end 1879. Infant school built 1887. Playground created in 1910. The school was replaced by a new one at Brig Royd in 1980.

Bank Top Sunday School – land purchased 31 October 1834 at Bank Top. Two large schoolrooms over two small cottages.

Rishworth Church – services first held October 1849 in a schoolroom at Goathouse. 1890 when Rishworth get’s it’s own minister. Purpose built church built near Turner Wood 1890 called St Matthews and made of galvanised iron over a wooden frame. Nicknamed the Iron Church or the Tin Tabernacle. Still one service held at Goathouse each Sunday. St Matthews closed in 1927 and replaced by St Johns on Godley Lane. The school room at Goathouse is now the chapel for Rishworth School.

Rishworth National School – opened 5 January 1874. Prior to this, a Sunday school was held in a cottage at Godley.

Barkisland Church – consecrated 2 May 1854.

Barkisland Endowed school – originally founded in 1600 as a grammar school by the Hortons. This was demolished and replaced in 1867/8. It was extended in 1896.

Non-conformist worshippers started to go regularly to Steep Lane Methodist church around 1800, so…

Baptist Chapel, Rishworth – meetings were held in private houses in 1801. By 1802 these were every Sunday and 1803 a piece of land purchased. The chapel opened in the summer of 1803. Around 1812 two cottages next to the chapel were purchased and turned into a Sunday school and minister’s house. A new school was built next to the chapel and completed 28 November 1898. A new burial ground was purchased 1887 and a mortuary chapel built in 1891. A new minister’s house was built in 1887. A new Sunday School was built behind the chapel on Rishworth New Road and cost £550. A Mutual Improvement Society was formed in 1853.

Stones Wesleyan Chapel – meetings were held in a cottage in Hanging Lee. A chapel was started in April 1803 and completed in 1805. Around 1816, a meeting at Damside resulted in a split and some went to form other chapels. It was enlarged before 1840. In 1900 the chapel was pulled down and replaced. The new chapel is alongside the site of the old one. The government school next door was opened 1886.

Stones School – old school was originally 2 storeys and altered in 1850. It was a Sunday school until 1871 when it became a day school. The new school was built next to the chapel 1885.

Rishworth Congregational Chapel – in 1816, meetings started in a cottage next door but one to a barn at Parak Nook. A Sunday school started in 1818. In 1824, two cottages were built at Parak Nook and a chamber was used for services. A chapel was built 1833.

Ebenezer Methodist New Connexion, Soyland – opened by people from Stones. Started with services at Shaw Hill and in 1818 a chapel was opened in Soyland. A Sunday school opened at the same time and Mr Dove from Making Place College taught. It was replaced in 1880 at a cost of £16,000. Now gone and replaced with two houses.

Lighthazles Methodist New Connexion – opened by people from Stones, it started as a Sunday school at Clay House in 1816, linked to Ebenezer. A plot bought 1823 and whilst being built, the school used a barn at Clough Farm. The school became a chapel and opened ? A vestry was added 1862 and another 1879. In 1893 the two adjoining cottages were purchased.

Booth Wood Wesleyan Chapel – 1842, a Sunday school and services held in a cottage in Martin Row and were a branch of Stones. A chapel was built 1854.

Krumlin Wesleyan – services started in Krumlin Hall 1866 and a chapel built 1868 at Calf Garth by John Hoyle of Krumlin Hall.

Zion Congregational – services started 1868 in a cottage in Ripponden. A dispute at Rishworth at this time and together created Zion. Chapel started 1869 and also the school and was designed by Mr R K Lee of Kebroyd House. Chapel opened 7 September 1870 and the manse built next door in 1882. The school became a day school 1871 and an infant school added 1886. A Mutual Improvement Society started in 1870 and Ripponden Technical Institute started in 1891. Much fire damage 1902 and rebuilt same year at a cost of £564. A new organ from W Andrews of Bradford was installed and cost £350.

The first mention of a bridge in Ripponden is 1313. William Brigg, Field House, Sowerby paid for a stone bridge 1533 – cost 7/6 – thought to be the old packhorse bridge. This bridge was scheduled as an ancient monument in 1934 and as a listed building in 1966.

John Wheelwright in his will of 1724 left his property to three trustees – John Wheelwright of Norland, Ely Dyson of Clay House and Abraham Thomas of Dewsbury – to open a free school at Dewsbury and one at Rishworth for the tenants children. The original building was what is now the chapel Goathouse was used as a boarding house. It was also stated that when John Wheelwright died, either his heirs, or if no heirs, another person called Wheelwright should take his place. The school was replaced 1827 together with a preparatory school. The school at Dewsbury separated 1888. During 1921 to 1968, it was for boys only. Heathfield was bought in 1950 to be the preparatory school.

Trade and Manufacture

During 16th and 17th centuries, Kerseys was made and was exported to Hamburg and Holland amongst others. It was also used to clothe the British navy – mainly done on hand looms. Mills started late 18th century as did cotton and also silk and paper in the 19th century

Mills in order along the valley:

Kebroyd Mills – on a site originally owned by Samuel Hill, owned since 1800 by Hadwen estate. A silk mill owned by a limited company in 1901, but still under the name of John Hadwen and Sons after it went bankrupt. Burnt down 1868, then again in 1904. Taken over by Blackburn and Sutcliffe in 1939 as a dye works, requisitioned in the second world war, restarted in 1946 and closed in 2001. Burnt down again in May 2006, just before being converted into flats

Commercial Mill Company – cotton.

Worsted Mill – worsted, then cotton, empty since 1902.

Slitheroe – was cotton, but now paper, owned by Whiteley Brothers.

Ryburn House – now a country house.

Ripponden Wood – cotton, owned by Kaye and Company.

Ripponden Old Mill – cotton, burnt down in 1858 and 1876. Between Mill Fold and Elland Road, the mill reservoir is now the playing fields.

Chapel Field – cotton, owned by Ryburn Mill Company, next door to Ripponden Old Mill Burnt down in 1929.

Smallees Mill – cotton, partially rebuilt 187?

Stones – oldest called Lambert’s Mill, burnt down and rebuilt 1882.

Rybourn – owned by Ryburn Mill Company.

Ryburndale Paper – formerly Riverstick – started as cotton mill, burnt down 1860, rebuilt as paper mill, burnt down 1901, rebuilt 1903.

Bogden – cotton, burnt down 1882.

Dyson Lane Mill – cotton, last used 1889.

Swift Place – cotton.

Gig Mill – cotton.

Little Briton or Hanging Lee – cotton, now used by the Working Men’s Club Brewery Company.

Rishworth Mill – first mill was built on an old malt kiln as a flour mill, a new mill built 1862, water wheel said to be as big as Laxey Wheel in Isle of Man, cotton.

Booth Wood – paper mill.

Spring Mill – cotton.

Temple Mill – cotton, burnt down 27 April 1860.

Soyland Mill – cotton, burnt down 21 January 1880.

Poor House at Soyland was Flathead and at Rishworth above Rishworth Hall. Workhouse at Barkisland was Withens Farm, purchased 1795.

In 1802, the executors of the will of Ralph Hirstwood attempted to pull down the old bridge after claiming it as theirs. The vicar, Mr Webster, raised £10, the original sum used to build it to pay the executors off and then declared it public.

In 1832, Mr Hirst from Huddersfield gave a lecture on co-operation and as a result a co-operative was established on 1 December – 12 years before Rochdale. Oldest known rules are 1841 and the principles are:

‘The Objects:

The mutual protection of all it’s members against poverty and all it’s accompanying evils,

The attainment of a greater share of the comforts of life,

The attainment of independence by means of a common capital,

The means of obtaining these objects:

In a weekly subscription to a common fund,

In employing those subscriptions in a different way from what is normally done, namely: not in investments in the funds, but in trade; the profits of the same to be added to form an undivided stock,

By employing it’s members, as circumstances will admit,

By living in community with each other, on the principles of mutual co-operation, united possessions, equality of exertions, and of the means of enjoyment.’

First premises was the end cottage in Pleasant Row, then they purchased the whole row, then to premises now called Rose and Crown, which then became the boot and shoe department (now Villa Margerita). Then built Central Stores next door with a cottage at each end for the storekeepers – this is now ‘One Stop’. Branch shop opened in Rishworth 1892, 1901 a butchers shop and it started to deliver to members. Also a branch at Triangle in 1840 and a branch at Bolton Brow in 1847.

Making Place Commercial College opened 1837 by Mr Dove. He died 22 October 1865 and the school closed soon after in 1880. 12 pupils started in the first year and it grew to over 200 a year. One ex-pupil was Prime Minister Asquith.

Local Boards of Health first held in 1863 – Barkisland on 22 January, Rishworth 28 January and Soyland 2 February.

Prosecution Society established 12 January 1867.

Soyland streets and central Ripponden lit by gas 25 August 1882.

Conservative Association March 1872. First premises on Elland Road, current building built 1899-1900.

Liberal Association established 1887 and first premises on Rochdale Road. Current building opened 3 May 1903.

Working Men’s Club in Stoops Farm on Spring Street near Netheroyd 13 November 1880, moved to Rochdale Road 1887 (now the chapel of rest).

Soyland Waterworks 18 October 1902 – reservoir at Black House Farm and Upper Shaw Farm.

Ripponden abattoir behind Crowthers printers.

Black Lion Inn used to be where entrance to community centrecar park is. Further up, just before cobbled path was Canterbury Inn. The cobbles used to be Silver Street. Grassed area used to be buildings including Forester’s Hall where the local Chartists had their meetings. Alleyway next to what was Ryburn Farm Museum led to Cob Clough which used to be the main water supply – also known as the Parish Pump.

Co-operative also established the Commercial Mill Co.

Old part of Ripponden was part of Barkisland, the rest part of Soyland. Soyland, Barkisland and Rishworth known as townships. Barkisland and Rishworth became Local Boards of Health in 1863 and Soyland 1 year later. Soyland then became an Urban District Council in 1895. All three combined into Ripponden UDC in 1937. Ripponden became part of Calderdale MBC in 1974 and became a Parish Council.

West Yorkshire Constabulary had a police station on the right hand side of White Swan, now The Fox. Golden Lion had an extension where widest part of beer terrace is as stables with a reading room above.

Place names removed from all stone guide posts at start of WW2 so that Germans would get lost.

Flats next to Conservative Club used to be three wooden huts. One was a doctors surgery for a while in 1900s, another a tripe restaurant. Extension to right of Queens was a greengrocer and fish dealer. Village stocks were on Halifax Road against vicarage wall opposite Golden Lion. After extension was removed from Golden Lion, the car park was the cattle market on first Tuesday of every April. Chemist used to be Southwell’s drapery and millinery business.

Moodys built as toll house, then when tolls were abolished in 1873, Mitchells and Sons auctioneers. They added a second storey and it was nicknamed Crystal Palace due to number of windows. After WW2, it was the Labour party headquarters, then a branch of Bank of Liverpool.

Queen hotel was stopping place for Liverpool and Halifax stage coach. Shop to the left was the post office, then clockmaker. Tudor cladding added to Queen in 1920s.

Building of current newsagent building 1863 on an old smithy. Was Sowerby Bridge Industrial Society in newspaper part and WH Broadbent newsagent in post office part. Scobys was Fred Berrys baker and confectionery.

Other side in 1920s was Liverpool Bank, clock repair shop, Garside's ironmongers (Eclipse), Beaumonts service depot (parish offices), a clothing shop (fireplaces), Hollas fruiterer's, fishmongers and poultry (VGs), Lumb Pharmacist (café), post office, tobacconist.

Spring Street had buildings both sides.

History of Ripponden – John Henry Priestley, 1903

Pack Horse Bridge

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