BIRSTALL: Geographical and Historical information from the year 1829.


"BIRSTALL, a village, giving name to a parish in the same wapentake and riding as Gomersal, is 8½ miles from Huddersfield, and 6½ from Leeds. The woollen trade is the staple of the village. The parish church was erected about the time of Henry VIII. upon the site of a more ancient edifice; it is dedicated to St. Peter, and the living is in the gift of the Archbishop of York, and incumbency of the Rev. William M. Heald. Birstall does nut furnish the name of a township, but is one of the four villages constituting the township of Gomersal, i.e. Birstall, Great and Little, Gomersal and Birkenshaw. The population of the village is about 2,500."

"CLECKHEATON, a chapelry and village, in the parish of Birstall and wapentake of Morley, is about 198 miles from London, and nearly six from Bradford; finely situated in a valley stretching from north to south; the hills rising gradually on each side, are very fertile, and the valley is in a high state of agriculture, which, with the acclivities, abound with wood, that greatly improves the general scene. This village has undergone of late considerable improvement, and its consequence much advanced by the erection recently of many very handsome residences; and Cleckheaton may, at this period, be considered a flourishing and respectable place. The manufacture of machinery for carding and spinning wool is the most prominent feature of trade here; worsted is also manufactured, as are coarse woollen cloths, and the neighbourhood abounds with mines of coal, which are wrought to a considerable extent. The places of worship here are, a chapel of ease, under Birstall, called the White Chapel, and one each belonging to the independent Methodists and Moravians : the minister of White Chapel is the Rev. George Winter, and the curacy is in the gift of the Rev. W. Heald, vicar of Birstall. The number of inhabitants in the chapelry, in 1821, was 2,436, since which period it is stated an increase has taken place of about 200."

"DRIGHLINGTON, (and Adwalton) are two small villages, in the parish of Birstall, wapentake of Morley, and honour of Pontefract, in the west riding, 192 miles from London, about five from Bradford, and six from Leeds. In Drighlington is a small chapel of ease, of which the Rev. H. I. Bailey is the present incumbent. The living is a perpetual Curacy, in the of James Sykes, Esq. who, with his brother, Samuel Sykes, Esq. are joint lords of the manor. At Adwalton fairs are held every Thursday fortnight, and larger ones on the 6th of February, 9th of March, Easter Thursday and two following Thursdays, Whit Thursday, 5th of November, and 23d of December, all for horned cattle, horses and pigs. These villages adjoin to each other, and are as intimately connected in trade as they are in local situation, the woollen manufacture being the chief employment of their population, which, in 1821, was 1,719."

"GOMERSAL, Great and Little, forming one township, and manufacturing village, in the parish of Birstall and wapentake of Morley, in the west riding, is 8 miles from Leeds and Huddersfield, and about 5½ from Bradford. Blankets, woollen cloths, and worsted yarn are manufactured here to a considerable extent; and there are coal mines in the immediate neighbourhood. The village contains nothing of interest to distinguish it from other small places similarly circumstanced as to manufactures. The only places of worship area chapel belonging to the Moravians, and another to the Methodists. The country around here is hilly, and tolerably productive. The number of inhabitants in the township, in 1821, was 5,952."

"HECKMONDWIKE, a village and township in the parish of Birstall, and Morley wapentake, in the west riding, is two miles N.W. from Dewsbury. This place is of considerable importance on account of the very extensive blanket, carpet, woollen cloth and woollen yarn manufactories established in it, and there are, perhaps, but few villages more flourishing, their inhabitants more respectable, or their trade less affected by fluctuation than Heckmondwike. There is here a blanket hall, which is open for the sale of blankets every Monday and Thursday. On the first Wednesday after the second Sunday in June an annual religious festival is held here, called the 'Lecture,' which is attended by a great number of Calvinistic ministers, and people of that persuasion, from the surrounding country; the objects of which are the arrangement of certain matters relative to the ministry, and the promotion of religion, The population of the township according to the returns for 1821, was 2,579."

"HIGH TOWN, (and Little Town, Robert Town and Mill Bridge) are hamlets in the township of Liversedge and in the parish of Birstall. In Little Town is a handsome new church, of the Gothic order of architecture, founded by the Rev. Hammond Roberson, of Healds hall, in whom, and his heirs forever, is vested the patronage. This beautiful church was consecrated in 1816 - and it is worthy of remark, that its architect, the late Mr. Thomas Taylor, of Leeds, superintended the building-of nineteen churches within eleven years, the first being the one now the subject of remark, and the last he erected was consecrated in 1827. Besides the woollen trade in these places, which is extensive, High Town is remarkable for the number of concerns in the leather currying business, besides many for the making of wool cards, &c. The population returns for these places are made up with Liversedge township."
Note: The directory entry for High Town in Pigot's 1829 Directory is included with Heckmondwike, (in this parish).

"HUNSWORTH, a township and village, in the parish of Birstall, and wapentake of Morley, it is two miles and a half from Cleckheaton. Woollen goods are manufactured here. The population is about 900."
Note: The directory entry for Hunsworth in Pigot's 1829 Directory is included with Cleckheaton, (in this parish).

[Transcribed from Pigot's National Commericial Directory for 1828-29 ]
by Colin Hinson ©2007