holmfirth timeline 2

Holmfirth has a really rich history and proud heritage, here is a little “timeline” of our history so far……….
This work has been done by some of the wonderful students of the Huddersfield University.


Early stone age settlements existed in the upper south of the valley (Now known as Cooks Study Hill). Crafted flint buried in this area has been found, although it is not known if any of these ancestors survived.

Romans leave the wider area and leave little trace in Holmfirth, only native Briton highlanders remain on the upper hills.

Migration of Scandinavians to Britain. Anglo Saxons arrived in small, peaceful groups. It is believed that they intermarried with native Britons and created richer character, arts, education and power in the area. Areas such as Hepworth, Fulston and Austanley.

The Danes arrive in Britain, leaving little trace in the centre of Holmfirth, however evidence of their existence on the outskirts exists, such as the area of Denby, meaning Dwelling of the Danes.

The Norse settle in Yorkshire. They were already a mixed race by the time they reached Holmfirth and along their travels they had learnt many languages, including Gaelic and Celtic which made them adaptable to the existing settlement. They are believed to arrive peacefully and their skills in sheep grazing increased farming and agriculture activity. Many local place name phrases originate from Norse language, including Scholes (from Scali, meaning hut), Wooldale (meaning Ulfs Dale), ‘Thong’ of Thongsbridge, Upperthong etc. (from Thoac, meaning strip of land) and others such as Yate, Carr and Nab. They also had considerable influence on Yorkshire language.

The Normans invade England. Prior to this event, Holmfirth consisted of peaceful Anglo-British, Danes and Norsemen. The area was developing well and was considered to be in an agricultural golden age. The Normans however attempted to invade and in the process burned down houses, destroyed food sources and created widespread devastation in battle and rebellion with local people.

The Normans successfully gained power in the area after 3 years of rebellion from local settlers. The area was registered as Carthworth in the carucate agricultural tax system and surrounding hamlets such as Hepworth and Thurstonland were under the kings rule.


First proper recording of settlers in the area.

The Normans leave the area. People of Holne (now Holme village) survived due to a rebel known as Dunstan who held it from invasion. After this, it appears survivors who held out in upper areas of the valley attempted to re-establish.

First Mill recorded in within the Manor of Wakefield is a corn mill in Cartworth although its exact location is not known.

By late 1300, there were 175 taxable inhabitants recorded in Holmfirth.

Mechanisation of textile industry lead to first wool fulling mill in Cartworth.

The first stone church is constructed, although a wooden church possibly existed prior to this.

A chapel-of-ease is constructed. People no longer had to travel over four miles to Almondbury to worship.

Th’owd Towzer is constructed. The tower, existing behind the current Holy Trinity Church acted as a lockup however it has had many other roles over the years, including an ambulance station, a jail and a fire station.

Holmfirth sends 100 musketeers to join The Roundheads Army in the English Civil War.

A petition is started for the chapelry of Holmfirth to become a separate parish.

Holmfirth’s petition to become a separate parish is granted.

Holmfirth’s parish status is revoked and the area reverts to a chapel-of-ease. It could be considered to be a ‘punishment’ due to Holmfirth’s role in the Civil War against King Charles I.

The Plague broke out in the village of Hepworth. Locals isolated the area and created barricades to contain the disease, preventing loss of life in the rest of Holmfirth. The event is commemorated annually even today as a local feast.

The first ‘Holmfirth Feast’ takes place.

John Kay invents the ‘fly shuttle’, a weaving instrument which allowed much wider fabrics to be woven.

On May 7th the first ever flood was recorded, however there was no loss of life.

The Spinning Jenny, multi-spindle spinning frame is introduced to the area and thus impacting the social and economic climate of Holmfirth.

A thunderstorm causes the River Holme to burst its banks, resulting in the loss of three lives.

The Holmfirth Wesleyan Chapel is built.

The Holmfirth Holy Trinity church is constructed.

Th’wod Genn stone column is erected to mark the the Peace of Amiens (break of war with France). It was hoped that Holmfirth could enter woollen trade with France however the peace did not last.

Although the term ‘luddite’ wasn’t invented until 1812, the first destructive activity against machinery in West Yorkshire takes place at Ottiwells Mill in Marsden where frames are smashed with hammers before the Mill is burned down.

Luddite activity begins in Holmfirth and the surrounding area. They protested against machines introduced into the woollen industry as they saw them as a threat to craftsmanship and jobs. Holmfirth is searched for weapons but nothing is found suggesting that the town was in fact relatively inactive in terms of luddite rebellion.

Another storm causes flooding although no loss of life is reported.

Magnum Quarry Opens. Located in the upper south of the valley (now known as Hade Edge), the quarry was responsible for mining much of the sandstone now used in buildings around Holmfirth and the wider area.

The Holmfirth Parish Hall is built through public contributions.

The formation of the Holmfirth temperance band and the Holmfirth Old Band.

The Lancashire and Yorkshire company open the first train line in Holmfirth.

‘The Great Flood’. Claiming 81 lives and destroying over 50 buildings, including four mills, this tragedy is regarded as the greatest disaster of the Holme Valley. It occurred when the embankment of Bilberry Reservoir collapsed and let 86 million gallons of water loose during the night. The event made the front page of the London Standard.

The Holmfirth Choral Society is established.

Holmfirth Police Station opens.

Holmfirth’s parish status is restored after the population increases.

Victoria Bridge is built, allowing a new route into the town. As a result, Victoria St. began to develop as a central trading street for the town.

The railway line is shut due to viaduct collapse at Mytholmbridge.

The towns first newspaper, The Holmfirth Express is launched by Eli Collins. It later became the Holme Valley Express before being purchased by The Huddersfield Examiner and discontinued in 2009.

Bamforth & Co Ltd is founded by James Bamforth, first specialising in creating lantern slides. Later, the company began to produce silent films and postcards from which it was more well known from.

Over a thousands weavers went on strike.

Holmfirth’s male voice choir begins.

James Bamford Dies. He was described in a local newspaper as ‘One of Holmfirth’s most honoured townsmen’.

The Valley Theatre Opens (now The Picturedrome). Seating 1040 people and using hand-cranked projectors.

Cloth finishers B Mellor & Sons produce wagons to transport troops during the war.

Holmfirth Memorial Hospital opens. The Hospitals memorial commemorated the efforts of soldiers from the first world war.

‘The Forgotten Flood’. During a severe thunderstorm a flood claimed three lives and caused damage to 17 mills and over 100 smaller buildings. It was not widely reported due to the media blackout during the Normandy invasion. The cause is not completely known however Bilberry reservoir responsible for the flood of 1852 was proven not the cause.

The Holmfirth Tiger Fenella dies. The Overend family from Holmfirth were circus entertainers and toured South Africa in 1939. During their tour they were offered two newly born tiger cubs to rear and although one of them soon died, they successfully reared the remaining one, Fenella. At the outbreak of World War II, they brought her back with them to live in Holmfirth. After a spell in quarantine, Fenella lived with the family who took her on long walks around Holmfirth. Many people, including the pupils of ‘The Nabb’ school (Holmfirth J & I), remember meeting her and recall amusing incidents involving her.  Fenella also went on tour briefly in circuses and theatres across Britain.   Sadly, she died in 1950 but is still fondly remembered by her family and the people of Holmfirth.  Fenella went on tour briefly in circuses and theatres across Britain.   Sadly, she died in 1950 (taken from My Learning).

Holme Moss Transmitting Station Built. The radio transmitter is the highest in the country, reaching 228m above ground and 524m above sea level. It provides VHF, FM and DAB coverage to Derbyshire, Manchester and West Yorkshire.

Holmfirth’s passenger line closes however goods services continue for a further six years. The end of the war saw growth in the automobile and bus services which led to the dismantling of the lined due to visions of it being irrelevant in the future.

Local artist Ashley Jackson opens art studio. He has become nationally recognised as one of the most successful landscape watercolorists.

Longley Farm became the first dairy in Europe to make cottage cheese on a commercial scale, they are located above the south of the valley. It also was the first company in the UK to erect a commercial wind turbine.

The first pilot episode for The Last of the Summer Wine is premiered.

Holmfirth ‘Duck Race’ is founded by Huddersfield Pendragon Round Table to raise money for good causes. Annually on the 1st July, 10,000 numbered rubber ducks race down the River Holme. Over £250,000 has since been raised for charity.

The Picturedrome (known previously as The Valley Picture Theatre) reopens as a cinema.

Bill Owen who played Compo, one of the main characters in The Last of the Summer Wine dies and is buried in Upperthong.

The ‘Holmfirth Connection’ bus service is established by First Huddersfield to re-connect Holmfirth to the railway network.

Tesco propose plans for an ‘eco-store’ in the centre of the town which causes controversy. The plans are later declined in 2012 after four years of debate.

The Last of the Summer Wine ends after 31 series.

Holmfirth becomes one of the first towns in the country to be upgraded to new Fibre optic broadband technology known as FTTC (fibre to the cabinet) after a £17 million improvement plan.

‘Le Tour De France’ passes through Holmfirth, including the famous Holme Moss climb.


This great piece of work was pulled together for a project by the Univertity of Huddersfield BA(Hons) Architecture (Year 2). By Alex Malkin, Sam Eadington, Samantha Newman, Danae Michaelidou withe Tutor Carl Meddings.