BIRSTALL: Geographical and Historical information from the year 1834.


"BIRSTALL, is a village and a parish-town, within the limits of Gomersall township. The woollen trade is the staple of the village, as indeed it is of the whole parish of Birstall, which is very populous and extensive. The parish church was erected about the time of Henry 8th, 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 thr Rev. William M. Heald. Birstall does not furnish the name of a township, but is one of four villages constituting the township of Gomersall, i.e. Great and Little Gomersall, Birstall and Birkenshaw. The population of Great Gomersall, in 1831, was 1,760; Little Gomersall, 1,046; Birstall, 2,663; and Birkenshaw, 720, --- total 6,189. The entire parish of Birstall contained, at the same period, 24,103 inhabitants; and at the preceding census (1821) 21,217."

"ADWALTON, in the parish of Birstall, is a hamlet in Drighlington, nearly adjoining thereto, and its manufactures and trade are of the same nature as prevail in that chapelry. There was formerly a market held here, which has been for a long time discontinued, but the fairs, which are numerous, are still maintained. They take place on the 6th of February, 9th of March, Thursday in Easter week, and the two succeeding Thursdays, 5th of November, and 23rd of December, all for horned cattle, horses, and pigs: there are besides, fairs for cattle, which are held every alternate Thursday, from Whit-Thursday till Michaelmas. Population of the hamlet returned with Drighlington."

"CLECKHEATON, Hunsworth & neighbourhoods, Cleckheaton, or Clackheaton is a chapelry and village, in the parish of Birstall, West Riding, about 198 miles from London, nearly 6 s.s.e. from Bradford, and 9 s.w. from Leeds: 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 within these few years has undergone considerable improvement, and its consequence much advanced by the erection 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. Here are two chapels of ease under Birstall, one dedicated to St. John, the other called the White Chapel: the livings of both are curacies; the first-named being in the gift of the vicar of Birstall, whose curate is the Rev. John Seaton; and the benefice of White Chapel, in the presentation of Miss Frances Richardson Currers; the present curate is the Rev. George Winter. The other places of worship are a chapel each for Wesleyan methodists & independents. In 1821 the chapelry contained 2,436 inhabitants, and in 1831, 3,317.

Hunsworth is a township and village, in the same parish, wapentake and riding as Cleckheaton; about two miles and a half from that chapelry. The manufacture of woollen goods is carried on here to a limited extent. Population, at the last census, 878."

"DRIGHLINGTON, is a chapelry in the parish of Birstall, and wapentake of Morley, West Riding, 192 miles from London, 5 s.e. from Bradford, and 6 s.w. from Leeds. The manufacture of woollen goods, and the making of malt, are the principal branches of trade here. This was the birth-place of Dr. James Margetson, archbishop of Armagh, who built a school here in 1678, and endowed it with £60. per annum. In the reign of William and Mary, governors were appointed, with a common seal, to superintend the foundation, upon which twelve children are educated as free scholars, and taught latin if required. The chapelry contained, in 1831, 1,676 inhabitants."

"GOMERSALL, Great and Little, forming one township, and manufacturing village, in the parish of Birstall, & wapentake of Morley, West Riding; is 8 miles from Leeds, the like distance from Huddersfield, and about 5.5 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 are a chapel each belonging to the Moravians, Wesleyan methodists, and calvinists. The country around here is hilly, and tolerably productive. The township contained, in 1821, 5,952 inhabitants, and, in 1831, 6,189."

"HECKMONDWIKE, is a village & township in the parish of Birstall, and wapentake of Morley, West Riding ; in a most central situation, being nine miles s.w. of Leeds, eight e. of Halifax, the same distance n.w. of Wakefield, seven from Bradford and Huddersfield, and two miles n.w. of 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 & Thursday.

The places of worship are a handsome new chapel of ease, completed in 1831, two others for calvinists, and one for Wesleyan methodists. A commodious national school was opened in 1833 ; besides which, there are Sunday schools. 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 this township in 1831, was 2,793. High Town, Little Town, Robert Town, and Mill Bridge, are hamlets, in the township of Liversedge, which township forms part of the village of Heckmondwike. 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 for ever, 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. 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, which contained, in 1831, 5,265 inhabitants."

"TONG, is a small agricultural village, in the parish of Birstall and wapentake of Morley, about two miles from Pudsey and 7 from Leeds. Here is a small neat church, of which the Rev. William Hamerton is vicar : the living is in the patronage of Colonel John Plumbe Tempest, Esq. of Tong hall, who is lord of the manor. The population in 1831 was 2,067.
Please see Calverley Parish for the 1834 trades directory for this village (included with Calverley)."

[Transcribed by Steve Garton ©2000 from
Pigot's directory (Yorkshire section) 1834]