About Our Village

Early mention of Honley can be found in the Domesday Book, when the community was called Hanelia, but there has probably been a settlement here since Roman times.

Well Hill with its typical weaver’s windows

Cloth making has been a staple activity in Honley since the 11th Century, advantage being taken of the many springs of clean water in the neighbourhood.

The production of woollen cloth was originally in workers’ homes, the distinctive Pennine houses with rows of windows on the upper floor giving better light for spinning yarn and weaving cloth.

In the 1800s, clothiers began to install cropping frames in their mills, resulting in the transfer of work from cottages to mills. As machinery began to replace hand working with looms and cropping shears, many families found themselves out of work.

One Colne Valley mill owner, William Horsfall, was murdered in 1812 by George Mellor, a local cropper hero and three other Luddites. They escaped to spend the evening in the Coach and Horses in Eastgate, Honley.

Church Street and St Mary’s

In 1817, William Leigh’s property in Church Street was also attacked by Luddites.

A chapel was first established in Honley in 1503, St Mary’s Parish church being built in 1843. John Wesley preached in the district in 1772, Methodism being established soon afterwards.

A turnpike along the New Mill road to Brockholes was opened in 1825 and the railway arrived in 1850, when the Huddersfield to Penistone line opened.

In the mid 1880s, Honley had a population of 5,000 and extensive woollen mills, fulling mills, and a brewery.

Honley Local Board was the local authority body primarily responsible for public health in the township of Honley and was formed in June 1864.

The Bicycle Railway at Hope Bank

The Urban District Council which replaced it was established in 1894, lasting until 1st April, 1938, when it merged with Holmfirth and subsequently with Huddersfield.

Some residents may still recall the Pleasure Grounds and Gardens at Hope Bank, opened in the 189os by John Mellor and closed in the 1950s. It had several rides and staged concerts, sings and even ice skating contests in the winter.

Many of the old back-to-back houses in the centre of the village were demolished in the 1970s, although some remain and form the heart of the conservation area.

The present day Honley is a thriving, proud community of almost 6,000 people with three schools, three churches and many local societies.

The main streets are full of busy shops, cafes and restaurants and the People’s Park provides a quiet haven just off Westgate.

Pigot’s Directory August 1841

Honley is a populous chapelry, in the parish of Almondbury and wapentake of Agbrigg, West Riding ; situated about 34 miles south from Huddersfield, upon the river Colne.

Lord’s Mill, Magdale

Fancy and other woollen goods are manufactured to a very great extent, there are, besides, scribbling and fulling mills, and dye works — the entire furnishing employment to a great number of persons.

The Earl of Dartmouth is lord of the manor, and holds a court, by his steward, annually in October, when a constable is appointed, and cases of trespass and damage adjudged. The places of worship are a chapel of ease, and one each for Wesleyan methodists and independents : the living of Honley is a perpetual curacy, in the gift of the vicar of Almondbury ; the present curate is the Rev. Charles Drawbridge.

The chapelry contained, by the returns for 1831, 4,523 inhabitants.

Topographical Dictionary of England 1848

HONLEY, a chapelry, in the parish of Almondbury, union of Huddersfield, Upper division of the wapentake of Agbrigg, W. riding of York, 3½ miles (S. by W.) from Huddersfield; containing 5383 inhabitants. This chapelry, which is beautifully situated in the picturesque vale of the Holme, comprises 2441a. 2r. 12p., chiefly the property of the Earl of Dartmouth, who is lord of the manor; the surface is undulated, the higher grounds command extensive and diversified views, and the scenery is in many parts picturesque, and embellished with wood.

Honley Bridge and the river Holme

The village stands close to the river, and on the western acclivities of the vale, reaching to their summit. The inhabitants are principally employed in the manufacture of woollen and fancy cloths, for which there are several factories on the banks of the river.

Excellent stone for roads and buildings is procured in abundance at Scott Gate Head quarry; and coal of inferior quality is obtained in large quantities. The chapel, dedicated to St. Mary, was rebuilt by subscription, in 1842-3, in the early English style, and consists of a nave and aisles, with a tower at the west end.

The living is a perpetual curacy; net income, £180; patron, the Vicar of Almondbury. There are places of worship for Independents, Primitive Methodists, Methodists of the New Connexion, and Wesleyans.

Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1872)

Honley, a village, a township-chapelry and a subdistrict in Almondbury parish, Huddersfield district, W. R. Yorkshire. The village stands on the river Holme, one mile SSW of a station of its own name on the Huddersfield and Sheffield railway, and 4 S by W of Huddersfield; and has a post office under Huddersfield, and fairs on the first Wednesday of May, and the Wednesday after 23 Oct.

Children playing in Church Street

The chapelry contains also the hamlets of Deanhouse, Brockholes, Oldfield, Smithy-Place, Shady-Row, Hall Ing, Upper Hagg, Woodnook, and Woodbottom. Acres, 2,790. Real property, £14,061; of which £120 are in mines, £20 in quarries, and £25 in gas works. Pop. in 1851, 5,595; in 1861, 4,626. Houses, 987.

The decrease of pop. was caused by exhaustion of collieries, and by reduction of workmen at manufactories. The property is much subdivided. The manor belongs to the Earl of Dartmouth. There are extensive woollen mills, fulling mills, and a brewery.

The living is a perpetual curacy, united with the chapelry of Brockholes, in the diocese of Ripon. Value, £200. Patron, the Vicar of Almondbury.

The church was rebuilt in 1843; is in the early English style; consists of nave, aisles, and chancel, with a tower; and contains two handsome monuments to the Brook family. A chapel of ease is at Brockholes; and there are seven dissenting chapels, two national schools, a mechanics’ institute, and a workhouse.

The sub-district includes also the township of Netherthong. Acres, 3,640. Pop., 5,723.

Exchange, in the village centre. The Brooke family exchanged the first two houses (and perhaps even the stone) for their previous house in New Mill