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Everything you need to know to enjoy village life


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Masons Arms Newbank

Many thanks to Eileen Connolly for this wonderful image. (date unknown) Eileen’s grandad is shown on a pub trip from Masons arms Newbank, he is John Edward Connolly.

Do you know? – Posted 14th April

Jean Hoggard has kindly forwarded this old postcard image. The question to everyone on our site is…’does anyone remember these cards being sent out during the either of the wars. 1 st or 2nd.?’  The church was built in 1913 so it could be either. Please reply via email to:

Current Updates – Posted 9th April

From Pauline Lancaster at Hx Library….We have an exciting new development. Because of the current closure of libraries throughout the country, access to Ancestry Library Edition (normally only available within library premises) has been temporarily expanded to library cardholders working remotely, courtesy of ProQuest and its partner Ancestry.
I have asked the Web Team to amend the instructions on our Digital Library page but while we’re waiting for that, I’ll tell you here what you need to do
·Go to the Libraries home page:
·Click Search the Catalogue
·You will see some Ancestry text and an instruction to log into your library account. (You need your library card number preceded by the R and also your library PIN. If by any chance, you don’t know/have forgotten this, please email:
·Once you are logged in, you will see the link to click to take you into the resource.

Also a posted one day later…. When I e-mailed earlier about Ancestry, I mentioned that Find My Past would hopefully be available to you soon too. Things have moved very quickly today  and Find My Past is also now ready to use. It is essentially in the same place on the website as Ancestry and you follow the same procedure except that when you get to the FMP home page, you will need to input the username and password that you’ll have been given having logged in with your library card.
So…..Go to the Libraries home page:

·Click Search the Catalogue
·You will see some Find My Past text and an instruction to ‘click here’. This will lead you to the library log-in page. (You need your library card number preceded by the R and also your library PIN. If by any chance, you don’t know/have forgotten this, please email:
·Once you are logged in, you will see a username and password. Remember this, then click the link to take you into Find My Past. Once on the FMP home page, log in with the username and password.

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Recall Your Memories

Many people have memories of times gone by in Northowram and Shibden that would be of great interest to other people.  Why not share them?   

Some suggestions could be:

  • What was your first day at school like?  Can you recall who your class teacher was? Who were your school friends and what did they do in later life? Any amusing stories would be very welcome.  Also, have you any pictures that you could share?
  • Can you remember your war days? Do you remember when the air raid siren was tested for the first time and it couldn’t be stopped? Did you house any refugees? What about the bombs that were dropped in Shibden Valley?
  • Which shops did you go to in the village?  What did they sell and can you name the shopkeepers?
  • Have you any tales to tell that would bring a smile to everyone’s face?

The list is endless.

Also, you may feel that your relatives or friends may have memories to share.  If so, please get in touch with them (at a safe distance) and help reveal their stories as well.  

Stories can be forwarded via the following:

  • Email to: 
  • Use the comment’s facility on this website

Alternatively, you could send them by letter to: 

Northowram Historical Society, c/o 14 Heywood Close, Northowram, Halifax HX3 7DJ

There must be a wealth of information out there to be captured. Do your bit and bring a smile to someone’s face.

Wanted – Photographs of Northowram and Shibden

Old photographs are a source of great enjoyment to many people.  Why not get all those old photographs out and see if there are any that would be of interest to other people?  We are going to be sharing some of ours over the next few weeks, why not add to this collection?

Also, relatives or friends may have photographs of interest.  If so, please get in touch with them (at a safe distance) and tell them of our request.  

Ideally, if you are able to scan them, then photographs should be forwarded via email to: 

NEW STORIES - added 6th April 2020


Our first photograph has been sent in by one of our members, Valerie Hobson.  It shows George Wilkinson, widower, and his family taken after he enlisted for the First World War in Brighouse on the 11th March, 1915.

He was a saddler and harness maker by trade.  His wife, Hannah Mary, died half an hour after giving birth to their daughter, Barbara, on 5th July, 1912, leaving seven girls and two boys.

George was born in 1867 but the birth date on his enlistment papers shows 1873, making him 6 years younger at 42 years of age.
He left his base at Chatham for France on 23rd August, 1915.  Initially, he was in the Royal Engineers but then transferred to the Royal Ordnance Corps.  Sadly, Val doesn’t know exactly where he was based.
He survived the conflict and came home to his family at 16, Landemere Syke, Northowram on 20th January, 1919.

Images (thumbnails) from our the Leslie Brayshaw collection.

When Leslie Brawshaw passed away he left an enormous collection of colour transparency slides to be held in the Halifax Antiquarian archive. I thought it would be interesting to share some of these images with everyone as they not only included many of his personal images taken of historical sites in and around Northowram but copies of older images he came into contact with. Below are some older images which he copied that show Benns garage and removal business at Godley together with a view of Stump Cross possibly around the 1940s? I will update with new images in the future. All images are stored with a higher resolution than the thumbnails I have included here and are available for purchase from the Halifax Antiquarian Society by request. Mike Beecham, Chairman.

UPDATE MAY 8th 2020

Here are some images relating to Scout Hall. A view from a higher position that shows the farm and house, possibly 1970s. And an image of John Michell who built the house. The older property ruins can be seen to the left of the main house. This painting hung over the fireplace in one of the many rooms in Scout Hall and is now at Bankfield museum. Mitchell was known to be a colourful character as he often organised horse racing events around the fields on Swales Moor which attracted many people to watch the spectacle. Also he featured in Oliver Heywood’s diary when he had music and too many courses of food when entertaining. Heywood thought of him to be closer to the devil than christ.



More images from our collection. Public Houses.

Old House at Home. Upper Northroyd, Green Lane.

(below) Brick Makers Arms, Newbank.

(below) Stocks Arms. Now 22 The Square restaurant.


Landslide at Stump Cross – 1856

Sunday night of December 6th 1856, was an alarming and an unenviable one for the few people then living at the foot of Shibden Valley where it merges into Stump Cross. After a heavy snowfall there had been a sudden thaw on the Friday, much rain had fallen since. About midnight on Sunday people were awakened by rumbling noises that brought most of them from their beds in panic. The upper part of the steep hillside began to slide towards the valley, gathering with it as it descended trees and large stones and a tremendous weight of earth and sludge.

Not until daylight could it be seen precisely what had happened during the night, nor the extent of the damage be discovered. It was then found that the wood on the upper part of the hillside had entirely disappeared, all trees having been uprooted and carried down under pressure of the slipping soil to the roadway at the bottom. Twenty yards of the road itself had been forced ten yards from its original position, but had remained more or less intact. Fences and walls had been torn down, and the whole locality looked as if it been the scene of an earthquake.

On the lower slope earth seemed to have been pushed upwards, reports stated, under the pressure from the slipping hillside; it was piled with trees, tree roots and blocks of stone. Streams of sludge were oozing down Brow Lane, and this collected near the Stump Cross Inn, a plank had to be laid to the back entrance.

There had been no serious injury to anyone, but several people had narrow escapes. Three young men, one of whom was the son of the toll-bar keeper at Stump Cross, were up on the hill when the landslide started. They sank up to their thighs in the wet soil and sludge as the ground gave way under them, and they had difficulty in extricating themselves from the slipping mass. A pedestrian on the road at the foot declared that he had to “run for his life” to escape from the descending mass.

The previous year there had been a minor landslide near the hilltop, which had left a crevice ten feet deep, and the accumulation of water in this long, deep hole, seeping under the soil, and the pressure of earth higher up, were believed to be the source of this 1856 landslide.

An extract from It Happened Here
By Arthur Porrit
Published 1955

The Question of Railways in the 1830s

The feasibility of constructing railways and the permanent value together with their usefulness was a major point of discussion in the 1830’s. Mr. Thomas Bradley, for many years the engineer to the Calder and Hebble Navigation Company, and the constructor of the canal from Salterhebble to Halifax, published his thoughts, that railways were never going to supersede the canals. The Stockton to Darlington Railway was completed in 1825, and the Manchester to Liverpool opened in September 1830.
One of the chief investors in the canals was Anne Lister. Her diary of the times feature various information to her families investment into the canals and the high value of these investments. By 1825 the canal was still being cut towards Halifax. Miss Lister comments on 9th July that when the improvements are completed the proprietors will make 25% on their stock. Navigation stock was difficult to buy at this time as it was deemed to be a good investment.
Six years later in 1831, Mr. Bradley comments that this ‘new fangled’ system is a speculation of capital and will have too many difficulties to contend with, besides managing the every day running of it.

His main objection is, that it can never be available to everyone on account of the great expense and the hilly and irregular landscape of the country. He goes on to say; that a speed of eight to ten miles an hour will satisfy the merchant, so why not employ them on the turnpike roads! There were a number of new lines being contemplated at this time that Mr. Bradley says will be beyond the skills of engineers. Looking back forty years with the construction of the canal network, he says, there is no need for the railways. He cannot believe that the many millions of ‘sterling’ spent on the canal system that ‘connects all rivers and gives a cheap and ready conveyance to almost every village and town in the kingdom,’ can possibly be swept away! A final statement concludes that the ‘aquatic medium shall maintain superiority,’ and that our navy will suffer the consequences of railway mania. ‘British seamen must continue to be protected and encouraged for the benefit and security of the empire.’
Strong words in the face of the impending changes that were soon to echo through time. We now know through further developments and inventions, that these changed our ancestors daily lives in a massive way.

Later in Anne Lister’s diaries we find that she too starts to ask questions about the shares she holds in canals. There are discussions in 1831 that the railway could carry goods cheaper than the canals. Anne says they will lower their costs if needed to beat them. Another diary entry at this time refers to the proposed Manchester to Selby railway, saying that it is cause for discussion, as the rich men of Todmorden think it a bad investment.

Eventually she rides on the railways. On September 11th 1831 she takes an omnibus (horse drawn transport) to the steam carriage station on the Liverpool Manchester Line. The train leaves from Edgehill Grand area, Liverpool, and travels towards Manchester. She gets in the last carriage, a German wagon (a covered top with glass windows all along the back), being able to see the line of the railroad. She writes; ‘it would be impossible to be surprised and gratified at the steam expedition; I would not have missed it on any account. We went twenty miles an hour.’ She says that when she arrived at Manchester, there was talk that the Manchester Leeds railroad had be ‘given up,’ therefore the canal was not under threat.

By October of 1834 there was a plan to widen the canal at Salterhebble for larger vessels. Miss Lister thinks her shares are worth £430 each. In 1837 Miss Lister tells the reader that a boat and horse are worth £250 and that the young man who owned the boat could carry 18 to 19 tons of stones from the area to Macclesfield, at a freightage of 1d. per ton per mile, or about £3 a trip and he could make three trips a fortnight. June 5th 1837 another comment at this time by Miss Lister to Mr. Rawdon Briggs, says the railways can’t hurt the canals, they will never pay.

In 1838 Miss Lister has sold some shares in the Navigation at £432, a good price. But by April 1839 there is some panic about Navigation stock! One of the gentlemen of Halifax, Mr. Lewis Alexander had ‘hawked some stock,’ which had a bad effect, no doubt having doubts about investments in the canals. Although Anne sold a few shares at this time, she still gets a good price of £434 per share.

There are no more entries that confirm whether Anne Lister had to sell more shares before her death in 1840. The railways established themselves and the canals declined.

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