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Towns of Calderdale: Elland - a brief history

Parts of the wider area around today’s town of Elland, particularly on the higher ground, were inhabited by prehistoric peoples, and the Romans also left their mark on the district. It was the Medieval period, however, which saw the area increase in significance. At this time, the chapelry of Elland formed part of the large Parish of Halifax, and included the eight townships of Elland-cum Greetland, Barkisland, Fixby, Norland, Rastrick, Rishworth, Soyland and Stainland.

The area's increasing significance was founded on the growth in the textile industry and when John de Eland was granted a charter in 1317, conferring the right to hold a market and two annual fairs, Elland became the first town in the area with this privilege. At this time, sheep farming provided the wool for small-scale cottage industry and by the Early Modern period, the area was prospering on account of this. The development of turnpike roads in the 18th Century, followed by the opening (after an initial setback) of the Calder and Hebble Canal in 1770 and later a station on the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway, vastly improved transportation, enabling the area to take full advantage of the opportunities afforded by industrialisation. With industrial growth in the 19th Century, the population expanded rapidly and working practices changed, as work in mills and factories gradually replaced textile manufacture in the home. In addition to the manufacture of woollen and cotton cloth, industries in the area over the years have included quarrying, coal-mining, brick-making, engineering and sweet-making.

Elland was governed by the Local Board of Health from 1853 until 1894, when the Elland Urban District Council was formed. At this time, Greetland and Stainland had their own Council bodies, but in 1937, these were brought together in the new Elland Urban District Council. This, in turn, became part of Calderdale in 1974.

Buildings of interest in the area today include the Church of St Mary the Virgin, New Hall and the Fleece Inn at Elland and Clay House at Greetland.

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