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Towns of Calderdale: Brighouse - a brief history

The existence of a settlement at Brighouse dates back at least to the Roman period, when a road from York to Manchester traversed the district. In the Norman period, the area suffered for resisting the Normans’ progress in the North but throughout the Medieval era, life became more settled and local institutions became established.

From the 14th Century, the Brighouse district was made up of the townships of Hipprum cum Brighouse, Hartshead cum Clifton, Rastrick and Southowram. A certain amount of industrial development took place in this period, though the more significant growth came in Early Modern times with the rise of the woollen industry. At this time, what became the town of Brighouse was relatively unimportant and much less significant than its ‘partner’ Hipprum (Hipperholme).

It was the industrial era which gave Brighouse the key position in the district which it was to maintain. This started with the cutting of the Calder Navigation canal in 1759 and developments in transportation were completed with the opening of the railway in 1840. Brighouse in the 19th century was a town of multiple industries, including the textile branches of wool, cotton & silk, as well as engineering & other forms of manufacturing.

Diversification continued into the twentieth century. Industrialisation brought with it rapid population expansion, necessitating a range of social developments. In 1865, Brighouse separated from Hipperholme and the Brighouse Local Board was established, with responsibility for local improvements. In 1893 Brighouse attained borough status for the wider area of Brighouse, Rastrick and Hove Edge. It became part of Calderdale in the local government reorganisation of 1974.

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