Spen Fame Trail


Celebrating the famous and infamous characters of Spen Valley in West Yorkshire England this scheme, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, is a trail of 48 floor plaques. We want to make everyone aware of the very special, as well as some quirky, people who have come from Spen Valley and instil a sense of pride in our history and achievements.








If you have any comments to make about this scheme you can either call 01274 870072 or email plaques@svcs.org.uk.

Leaflet guides will be available shortly and publicised in the local press.



Click on a number to go straight to the plaque details



[1] Roger Hargreaves [2] John Wesley [3] Patrick Brontë [4] John Green

[5] Feargus O'Connor [6] Lisa Brambani [7] John Booth




[8] Shears Inn [9] Ken Mackintosh [10] First ever state school

[11] Old Yew Tree Inn – Headlands Hall [12] Leslie Heward [13] George Humble

[14] John Fozard [15] Hammond Roberson




[16] Arthur Wood [17] John Curwen [18] Thomas Cassidy [19] James Berry

[20] Sleepy and Dopey [21] Francis Popplewell [22] Hubert Houldsworth [23] Stanley Matthews

[24] Brian Tattersfield [25] Joseph Pinder [26] Thomas Redfearn and Samuel Wood

[27] Father Brown [28] Joseph Priestley




[29] William Cartwright [30] Wesley Barraclough [31] Plug Rioters [32] Rebecca Sugden

[33] Elymas Wadsworth  [34] Phelon and Moore [35] Philip Barton [36] John Wesley Hillard

[37] Abel Blackburn [38] Westgate Bridge crash [39] Edward Wadsworth [40] Poor Ben

[41] Cleckheaton Conspirators [42] Whitechapel Church [43] William Fenton

[44] Jeff Butterfield and John Bentley



[45] Sam Pearson  [46] Toffee Smith [47] Adam Hart-Davis [48] Mary Taylor






[1] Roger Hargreaves


Born, Charles Roger Hargreaves on 9th May 1935 the son of Alfred Hargreaves, then a woollen manufacturer, and Ethel Pickles.  The family home where Roger lived until the age of 4 was High Lees, 703 Halifax Road, Cleckheaton.  In 1971, while working on an advertising campaign for a client, Hargreaves doodled a character with exceptionally long arms, though an alternative story says he drew it after his son, Adam, asked: “What does a tickle look like?"  Either way Mr Tickle, with his long arms, was born. There are now 46 Mr Men and 33 Little Misses who have entertained children in over 22 countries. The Mr Men books have sold more than 100 million copies worldwide, making their creator the third best selling author in British history, outsold only by JK Rowling and Jacqueline Wilson.


Where: High Lees, 703 Halifax Road, Cleckheaton, BD19 6LJ  nr. Pack Horse 








[2] John Wesley


John Wesley, founder of Methodism, paid several visits to the Spen Valley, a hotbed of Non-Conformity. Even the smallest settlement has its Methodist chapel here. Wesley is said to have stayed at Lower Blacup Farm and to have preached at the Theyked Chapel in Hightown, then thatched. The Sunday School is now two houses.


Where: Opposite the post office in Halifax Road, Hightown









[3] Patrick Brontë


Father of the famous Brontë sisters, Patrick Brontë married Maria Branwell in 1812. They made their first home at Clough House, Hightown, from 1812-1815, whilst Patrick was the curate at Hartshead Church. Their daughters Anne, Emily and Charlotte were born after they moved to Thornton.


Where: Clough House, Halifax Rd, Hightown









[4] John Green


Quakers were considered dangerous and persecuted until the Toleration Act of 1689. John Green  (1596-1669), buried in the Sepulchre in Hare Park Lane, Hightown, refused to pay tithes to the Church or swear the oath of allegiance and was imprisoned. His family was the leading Quaker family in Liversedge in the later 17th and early 18th centuries.


Where: Buried in the Sepulchre in Hare Park Lane, Hightown



[5] Feargus O'Connor


The biggest political rally in England that was ever held took place at Peep Green, Hartshead in October 1838. A quarter of a million people gathered to hear the fiery orator from Leeds whip up sentiment in support of the People's Charter. So dangerous was O'Connor seen that among the huge crowd Government agents looked for weapons and signs of revolution. Other huge rallies with famous speakers were held at Peep Green as it was equidistant between all the main woollen district towns. In 1839 a march of 20,000 workers from Todmorden arrived led, all the way, by a brass band.


Where: The Common stretched from Liversedge cemetery over to Prospect Road and then into Roberttown (6) Lisa Brambani










[6] Lisa Brambani


Olympic cyclist Lisa was born on 18th August 1967 and has lived in Hartshead village since the age of nine months. She is a four times national road race champion and twice national 10-mile time champion. She represented Great Britian at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea, and won a silver medal at the Commonwealth Games in Auckland, New Zealand in 1990.


Where: Plaque in Hartshead Lane



[7] John Booth


The Star Inn (h), at Roberttown gave shelter to wounded Luddites after their attack on Rawfolds Mill. Local legend has it that a wounded man, John Booth, was tortured by the Rev Hammond Roberson to name his accomplices. On his death bed the mortally wounded man whispered in the vicar's ear "Can thi keep a secret?" to which the holy man replied he could. In reply John Booth said "So can I" and passed away. A street off Child Lane is named after him.


Where: Far Common Road, Roberttown






[8] Shears Inn


This pub was a drinking hole and base for croppers' meetings. Luddites plotted their revenge against mill owners and mechanisation in an upstairs room. John Walker used to lead the singing of the Croppers’ Song (see below) and was remembered long after being executed for taking part in the attack on Rawfolds Mill (see 29). Real place in Charlotte Brontë’s novel Shirley.


Where: Halifax Road, Hightown










The Cropper’s Song


Come cropper lads of high renown,

Who love to drink good ale that's brown

And strike each haughty tyrant down

With hatchet, pike and gun.


Who though the specials still advance

And soldiers nightly round us prance,

The cropper lads still lead the dance

With hatchet, pike and g'un.


And night be night when all is still

And the moon is hid behind the hill,

We forward march to do our will

With hatchet, pike and gun.


Great Enoch still shall lead the van,

Stop him who dare, stop him who can.

Press forward every gallant man

With hatchet, pike and gun.



Oh, the cropper lads for me,

The gallant lads for me,

Who with lusty stroke

The shear frames broke,

The cropper lads for me.




[9] Ken Mackintosh


Ken Mackintosh was one of Britain's most distinguished band-leaders of the 20th century accompanying singers of the stature of Tom Jones, Shirley Bassey and Matt Munro. He was born in Halifax Road, near Knowler Hill, in 1920 and devoted his life to music after buying his first alto sax at the age of 15. After a period in the army he went to London and joined various big bands such as Oscar Rabin. He then formed his own orchestra and toured extensively at home and abroad. Ken also wrote his own music such as The Creep and played regularly on the Music While You Work radio shows. Among his countless fans was the Queen Mother for whom he played twice at Windsor Castle. He died in November 2005. 


Where: Born in Halifax Road, behind Liversedge Town Hall in 1920


Sample of other music he played

Harlem Nocturne

Tin Pan Alley Ball featuring Beryl Reid in character as the brummie "Marlene"









[10] First ever state school


A legacy of the Rev Hammond Roberson, the National School was opened in 1812 and restored from ruinous condition in 2006. Roberson also secured the erection of a similar school in Birstall. The Rev. Mathew Helstone in Charlotte Brontë's novel Shirley is said to be modelled on him. (See also [7] and [15]).


Where: Halifax Road, Hightown








[11] Old Yew Tree Inn – Headlands Hall


This historic building stands opposite the old Toll House at the junction with the Roberttown bypass. In 1812 injured Luddites John Booth and

Samuel Hartley were first taken there after the abortive attack on Rawfolds Mill. When a crowd began to gather the authorities removed the men to The Star Inn.  See also [7].


Where: Junction Huddersfield Road and Roberttown Lane



[12] Leslie Heward


Talented conductor and composer Leslie Heward was born on 8th December 1897 at 15 Station Lane, Littletown - now Halifax Road. He was extraordinarily gifted as a child, becoming choirboy and organist at Lower Wyke Moravian Church before attending Manchester Cathedral Choir School and the Royal College of Music. He was assistant music master at Eton College, conducted the British National Opera Company, was musical director of the South African Broadcasting Corporation and conducted the Cape Town and Birmingham Symphony orchestras. Heward was "one of the brightest stars of the English musical firmament" but was dogged by ill health and died on 3rd May 1943 aged 45.


Where: 15 Station Lane, now Halifax Road, adj. Millbridge Park








[13] George Humble


George Humble was the landlord of the Globe Inn at Millbridge over 200 years ago and a racing fanatic. This important coaching inn stood on the highway between Leeds and Manchester facing up what is now Halifax Road but was demolished in the 1960s. Royal Mail coaches stopped there and people took their post to the pub. A lover of hunting and horse racing George organised the Peep Green Races at Hartshead in the 1780s. After 1800 he organised an annual mid summer big race meeting known as the Roberttown Races. The course went from The Star to the Gray Ox pub. The races ceased when a rider crossing the main road (Far Common Road) collided with a haulier’s wagon, killing the jockey.


Where: Almost opposite Millbridge WMC. Demolished in the 1960s



[14] John Fozard


This Heckmondwike Grammar School pupil became design chief for the Harrier Jump Jet from 1963-1978 via an apprenticeship as a draughtsman age 16. Once the design was complete and production of the vertical take off plane underway he travelled round the world selling it. The plane went on to see glorious service in the Falklands War . In 1987 he moved to Washington DC. (Lived 1928-1996)


Where: Holme Street, Millbridge





[15] Hammond Roberson


Arriving in the area in 1795 this irascible vicar bought Healds Hall where he set up a boys' boarding school. He lived there until his death in 1841. It later became the home of Samuel Cooke, owner of the biggest textile mill in the valley, just down the road, and is now part of Healds Hall restaurant and hotel. Roberson also built Liversedge Christ Church in 1812, at a cost to him of £7,474,11s 10 pence and 3 farthings, and the first ever state school, the National School in Halifax Road. All these buildings remain today. He is said to be the model for the thunderous Rev Mathew Helstone in Charlotte Brontë's novel Shirley. The National School was restored from a ruinous condition in 2006. (See 10)


Where: Entrance to Healds Hall Hotel, Leeds Road, Millbridge




[16] Arthur Wood



Mention The Archers to anyone and you'll be greeted with a rendition of "Dum di dum di dum di dum..."

But did you know it was composed by a son of Heckmondwike? The tune is Barwick Green from the suite My Native Heath by Arthur Wood in 1924. Wood was born at a tailor's shop near the Green in Heckmondwike on 24th January 1875. His father encouraged him to play the violin, flute and piccolo. After leaving school at 12 he became a church organist and at 16 was lead flautist, pianist and deputy conductor of the Harrogate Municipal Orchestra. In 1903 he became director of music at Terry's Theatre in London later conducting orchestras at the Apollo, the Shaftesbury, His Majesty's Theatre and the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. Comedian Billy Connolly once said The Archers theme tune should replace God Save The Queen as the national anthem.


Where: Plaque to be placed in Green Park Heckmondwike



[17] John Curwen


Without the brilliant inventive mind of John Curwen, there might never have been The Sound of Music!

Heckmondwike-born Curwen invented the tonic sol-fah method of teaching vocal music, made world famous in the film's iconic song Do-Re-Mi. He was born in 1816 at Hurst House in Oak Street, the son of Spedding Curwen and Mary Jubb. As a Sunday school teacher the young Curwen developed the system to help his pupils learn hymns and gave up full-time ministry to concentrate on music. In 1879 the Tonic Sol-Fah College was opened and later run by his son, John Spencer Curwen. He died in Manchester in 1880.


Where: Hurst House, Oak St. Plaque to be placed in Green Park Heckmondwike










[18] Thomas Cassidy


Poor drainage and filthy ashpits were responsible for much vermin, and rats in particular, were a menace. Thomas Cassidy claimed to be the champion rat catcher of the world.  His method was to drive the rats out of the holes with a preparation, the composition of which was a secret, catching them with his bare hands as they came out.  In 1908 at one Heckmondwike skin factory he caught 153 rats out of 155 in 13 minutes - using neither dog nor ferrets. Tom wasn’t daft either. He always made sure he left one or two behind so his services would be required again.


Where: Plaque to be placed in Green Park Heckmondwike



[19] James Berry


James Berry was born in 1852 in Heckmondwike, the son of a wool stapler. He joined the Bradford borough police and became an executioner in 1884 when he executed William Innes and Robert Vickers at Calton jail, Edinburgh. They were poachers who shot and killed two gamekeepers. Mary Lefley, who poisoned her husband with arsenic, was his first English execution at Lincoln County jail. Berry carried out 131 hangings in his eight years in office, including five women. He is best known for his attempts to hang John Lee - three times he pulled the lever and three times the trapdoor failed to release. The sentence was then commuted to life in prison. Berry's memoirs “My Experiences as an Executioner” is still available at libraries.


Where: Plaque to be placed in Green Park Heckmondwike








[20] Sleepy and Dopey



In 1868 gas fired illuminations celebrated the opening of the Market. Plumes, crowns and feathers decorated the town. In 1885 the gas illuminations appeared to celebrate Christmas, and a combination of gas and electric have ensured fantastic displays ever since.  In 1930 the first set pieces were added, based on pantomime characters and nursery rhymes. In 1953, “An illuminated bus, like a box of jewels on wheels, toured the town followed by the awestruck stares of children” (Guardian & Herald). “One Christmas Eve, a bloke fell out of a pub, quite merry, and was later chased by the local constabulary because he was carrying two of Snow White’s dwarves, one under each arm. They were presumed to be Sleepy and Dopey!" The lights deteriorated in the 1970s but in 1985, their centenary year, a huge effort was made to rekindle their former glory and 9,000 people came to witness the switch on. Green Park now has a permanent lights display, called the Crown of Lights.


Where: Plaque to be placed in Green Park Heckmondwike



[21] Francis Popplewell


White blankets were the staple of the handloom weavers of Heckmondwike. Francis Popplewell conducted trade in these blankets at the George and Dragon in the market place and the first Blanket Hall was built here in 1811. The second Blanket Hall was built where Woolworths now stands in 1839. In 1869 this was sold as the trade had gone to the new factories.


Where: Plaque to be placed in Green Park Heckmondwike



[22] Hubert Houldsworth


Sir Hubert rose from humble beginnings to become the chairman of the National Coal Board. He was left fatherless at 6 but won a scholarship to Heckmondwike Grammar and became a barrister. He served on the town's Council for many years, chairing its Electricity Committee. He was Controller General at the Ministry of Fuel and Power from 1944-1945 and in 1951 became chairman of the NCB. He died in 1956, less than 24 hours after he had been confirmed a baronet, in London.


Where: St James Cottage, James Street (now demolished) Heckmondwike



[23] Stanley Matthews


In its heydey Heckmondwike footwear company Goliath - the Co-op Boot Company - made football boots for the wizard of dribble Sir Stanley Matthews. Sir Stanley, who died in 2000, had a long and illustrious footballing career with Blackpool, Stoke City and England. Every year he went through several pairs of the special light boots which made him quick on his feet and he often made the trip to the Heckmondwike factory in Brunswick Street to see how they were made and meet the workers. He put his name to a special brand of boot also made in Heckmondwike.


Where: Brunswick Street, Heckmondwike










[24] Brian Tattersfield


Armani, Peugeot, Fendi - names you wouldn't necessarily link with the Spen Valley. But Heckmondwike-born Brian Tattersfield helped propel them to the forefront of design. Brian, born at Kilpin Hill, was co-founder, partner and creative head of Minale Tattersfield, which he launched with Italian designer Marcello Minale. They became two of the top designers in Europe with Harrods, Giorgio Armani, Nivea, London Transport and the Imperial War Museum among their client list. The artwork in the three subways connecting the central terminals of Heathrow Airport is that of the Minale Tattersfield studio.

Where: Kilpin Hill (at the junction with Halifax Road)



[25] Joseph Pinder


Joseph Pinder deserves his own place in Spen's history because, as one of the Kilpin Hill traditional handloom weavers, he was the last of his kind. In the 19th century there was an enclave of handloom weavers making blankets in Kilpin Hill. The cottages incorporated loom chambers and scouring places while tenter frames for drying the finished cloth were placed on adjoining plots of land. By 1850 when most handloom weavers had been reduced to starvation wages, the Kilpin Hill weavers could still enforce piece rates for their work. Joseph continued in this occupation until his death in 1910. He and his wife Mary lived firstly in Kilpin Hill and then round the corner in Occupation Lane.


Where: 39 Kilpin Hill, now used as a garage





[26] Thomas Redfearn and Samuel Wood


The census of 1891 shows these two “loyal Heckmondwickians” as neighbours on Eldon Street, Heckmondwike.  At the time Samuel had seven children and Thomas, five. The pair were determined not to be outdone by the Cleckheaton Conspirators in gaining a good school for Heckmondwike. They fought with the Cleckheaton Conspirators to gain a good school for Heckmondwike - the result being the building of both Heckmondwike and Whitcliffe Mount Grammar Schools.


Where: Heckmondwike Grammar School, High Street



[27] Father Brown


The distinguished writer G K Chesterton based his famous Father Brown detective books on his friend Father John O'Connor, parish priest at the Holy Spirit from 1905-1922  - and it was Father O'Connor who received the author into the Roman Catholic Church there.


Father Paddy Roche was parish priest at the Holy Spirit from 1963-1977. He was a keen golfer and chaplain to the Ryder Cup team. He also befriended the Apollo astronauts, watching the two moon landings in 1972. He gave them a blessing that they left on the moon - along with a prayer written by the children of the Holy Spirit School. In return he was given a golf ball that had been all the way to the moon and back. Father Roche was also a friend to Hollywood film stars - Bing Crosby being a golfing partner.


Where: Holy Spirit, Bath Road, Heckmondwike










Ode to Heckmondwike


In Spain the sad guitar they strike,

And, yearning, sing of Heckmondwike;

The Papal guard leans on his pike

And dreams he is in Heckmondwike;

Peru’s proud horsemen long to bike

But for one hour in Heckmondwike;

Offered a land bill, Pat and Mike

Cry "Give us stones - in Heckmondwike!"

G K Chesterton




[28] Joseph Priestley


The Old Hall, our most historic public house, was the childhood home of Joseph Priestley. Scientist and radical thinker, Priestley is most famous for his discovery of oxygen. A priest, his radical thought led to his eventual decision to seek a new life in America. There is a also a Blue plaque at this location.


Where: Old Hall pub, New North Road, Heckmondwike














[29] William Cartwright


This mill stood at the northern end of Primrose Lane, down which a throng of Luddites marched on the night of 12th April 1812 to attack the mill of William Cartwright where new cropping machinery had been installed. The mill was well defended and during the gunfire two attackers were killed and others wounded. Eight men were later hanged at York. See 8 also. Dramatised in Charlotte Brontë’s novel Shirley


Where: Bradford Road, Littletown










[30] Wesley Barraclough


One of Spen Valley’s greatest tragedies took place at the premises of Wesley Barraclough, flannel manufacturer. The 150ft chimney at Marsh Mills collapsed in February 1892, killing 15 people. The 500 ton chimney crashed through the roof of the four storey building burying workers under tons of rubble. Other workers remained stranded in the upper floors and were helped down by men with ropes. A plaque marking the spot was unveiled in 1992, 100 years later.


Where: Dewsbury Road, Cleckheaton





[31] Plug Rioters


Four local men, farmers and colliers, were among over 30 arrested for rioting outside St Peg Mills on 17th August 1842. Charles Leighton, Richard Thomson, Thomas Barber, and John Hey were taken into custody following a confrontation between 5,000-6,000 desperate men and women and hundreds of special constables and soldiers. The throng of people were calling at mills to shut them down as part of a northern rising of workers demanding better working conditions, cheaper food and parliamentary reform (the People's Charter). After drawing two of the three boiler plugs at the mill and closing it down they were challenged by the constables, a troop of Lancers and a detachment of the Yorkshire Hussars. Fighting broke out on a grand scale and the throng was eventually dispersed without loss of life.


Where: St.Peg Lane, Cleckheaton



[32] Rebecca Sugden



Rebecca Sugden was born on 3rd May 1873 and was a pioneer of health care. In 1926 she set up the Gomersal Nursing Association that paid for a nurse to look after the sick. But her greatest achievement was the creation of the Ellison Clinic. It began when she sent a souvenir of George V's coronation to all the disabled in Spenborough. The responses to the gift led to her and her friends forming the Cripples League of Love and engaging a physiotherapist. The name later changed to the Spenborough Cripples League and after 1924, and the gift of accommodation, the name became the Ellison Clinic in memory of her mother. It eventually employed three physiotherapists and a social worker, treating thousands of local people. In 1948 the NHS took it over and she set up a voluntary welfare committee becoming its president until her death in 1959 at the age of 86. She was awarded the MBE for her work with the disabled.


Where: Ellison Clinic, Brooke Street, Cleckheaton






[33] Elymas Wadsworth


Elymas Wadsworth established worsted spinning at Broomfield Mills, Moorbottom. In 1887, to commemorate the golden wedding of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, it was decided that a town hall would be built. Elymas was elected chairman of the committee and public subscriptions poured in. The foundation stone was laid in June 1890 and on 10th February 1892 the town hall was officially opened. Elymas had sadly died 9 months earlier.


Where: Spenborough Town Hall, Cleckheaton








[34] Phelon and Moore (P & M)


Joah Carver Phelon and Harry Rayner (Phelon's nephew) made their first vehicle in 1896 and by 1903 were producing P & R motorcycles at their Heaton Street premises. Rayner died in 1903 and Phelon took on a new partner, Richard Moore, and the marque then became P & M. Production grew and in 1910 they built Horncastle Mills. In 1914 they secured the exclusive rights to manufacture motorcycles for the Royal Flying Corps and the RAF, producing thousands of solo and sidecar machines that saw active service abroad. In the early 1920s they introduced the first model to be called a 'Panther' and had modest success in the Isle of Man TT Races. The recession which saw off many motorcycle makers in the 1930s was grasped as an opportunity when they produced their famous 'Red Panther' selling for £29 17s 6d. During the last war P & M produced precision components for Rolls Royce, Fairey Aviation and other aircraft manufacturers, but in 1946 resumed manufacture of motorcycles. The advent of the Mini car and more modern designs from abroad meant a slow decline for P & M until production ceased in 1967. General engineering including the manufacture of valves for the oil industry continued until the 1980s when the works were sold.

Where: Horncastle Mills, Horncastle Street, Cleckheaton



[35] Philip Barton


Philip Barton was an amateur gardener who achieved national fame by growing a cabbage weighing a staggering 115lb 11oz, earning himself a place in the Guinness Book of Records. This incredible feat was achieved at the Mann Dam allotments at the bottom of Valley Road in September 1977. He was presented with a certificate by Garden News magazine.

Where: Bottom of Valley Road, Cleckheaton



[36] John Wesley Hillard


John Wesley Hillard opened his first Lion Store in Cleckheaton in 1885. His first store, founded with a £50 loan, grew eventually to the Lion Stores chain. The chain, later known as Hillards, had 60 supermarkets in its heyday, and was eventually sold to Tesco in the 1980s. 

Where: Corner of Northgate and Serpentine, Cleckheaton


[37] Abel Blackburn


In 1904 Abel Blackburn turned heads with a new-fangled four wheeled vehicle known as an automobile. Abel was the founder of Abel Blackburn and Co Limited, card setting machine manufacturers, of High Street and Tofts Lane in Cleckheaton. But it was his 10 Horse Power Norfolk Car which became his most pioneering achievement. It had a two-cylinder engine and could reach 40mph. However the venture was short lived. Production ceased just a year - and 14 cars - later, thanks to a large order from Argentina for carding machines which meant they needed the factory space. Today's only surviving Norfolk was restored after being discovered hidden away in a foundry in 1933 by a Barnsley motor trader. In 2004 it made its 50th appearance in the London to Brighton vintage rally.

Where: Plaque has yet to be placed at Tofts Mill, Serpentine Road , Cleckheaton


[38] Westgate Bridge crash


Tom Fox, a wire drawer by trade, was the only person injured - and only slightly - when several railway trucks almost fell on top of him from Westgate bridge on the evening of 20th June 1928. He scuttled underneath the bridge and received a cut hand from a flying stone. He emerged covered in dust and looking like a chimney sweep. The wagons crashed onto and demolished a butcher's shop owned by John Woodcock. Until half an hour earlier the road had been busy with people going home from the Picture House in Albion Street. There is now a detailed plaque at this location.


Where: Bottom of Tofts Road, Westgate, Cleckheaton.






[39] Edward Wadsworth


Wadsworth was one of the country’s most respected 20th century artists and his paintings adorn art galleries and private collections across the globe. He was born on 19th October 1889 in Prospect Street, Cleckheaton, into the Wadsworth family of Broomfield Mills, later moving to Highfield House, Waltroyd Road. He studied at the Slade School of Art in London, became a fine tempera artist and was a pioneer of the progressive Vorticist manner - representing nature in straight and angular patterns. He helped decorate the Queen Mary liner and designed the initial letters used by Lawrence of Arabia in his book The Seven Pillars of Wisdom. He died in 1949 aged 60. His 1923 painting The Cattewater, Plymouth Sound fetched £165,000 at Sotheby’s in 1992. (See his grandfather [33])


Where: Highfield House, off Waltroyd Road, Cleckheaton






[40] Poor Ben


Founded in 1903 by Mr. Hardill, sugar boilers Lion Confectionery have signature lines of gums and pastilles. Their Midget Gems and Poor Bens have been famous for many years and sold worldwide. In 1988 the factory – still working – was  bought by Cadbury.


Where: South Parade/Westgate, Cleckheaton



[41] Cleckheaton Conspirators


The first sod for Whitcliffe Mount Grammar School was cut on 1st March 1909.  The school would never have come about but for the tenacity of John G Mowat, George Whitley, J Walter Wadsworth, Reginald Grylls and Will H Clough, known collectively as the Cleckheaton Conspirators, strong in their conviction of the need for a secondary school in Cleckheaton and determined that if Heckmondwike could have one, so could they. Whitcliffe Mount can be claimed to be unique as being the only school founded by the will of the people and not by any education authority.


Where: West End, Whitcliffe Mount, Cleckheaton



[42] Whitechapel Church


Whitechapel Church is an ancient foundation almost unique in that it has been Catholic, Church of England and Non-Conformist in its character. Known as the “Old Whitechapel of the North” its ancient font was rescued from the churchyard and has interesting decorations. Rose Ann Heslip, the niece of Patrick Brontë, is the only Brontë buried in Spen Valley. Her grave at Whitechapel was rediscovered in 2006.


Where: Whitechapel Road, Cleckheaton









[43] William Fenton


1901 was the year in which William Fenton and Walter Willson Cobbett brought the company, which was to become BBA, to Cleckheaton. This company made their patented twill belting and later the Mintex brand of brake linings and grew to cover 30 acres. BBA was the major employer of the Spen Valley until its decline in the 1990s.


Where: Bradford Road, Cleckheaton








[44] Jeff Butterfield and John Bentley


Jeff Butterfield was a Whitcliffe Mount pupil who played for Cleckheaton RUFC and for England, including captain for one of his six years. He won 2 Triple Crowns, 4 Five Nations Championships and 1 Grand Slam. He and team-mates Cliff Morgan and Tony O'Reilly were the stars of the British Lions' 1955 tour of South Africa. (Lived 1929- 2004).


John Bentley was the first Rugby League player to return to Rugby Union and during his playing career has achieved dual international status. When chosen to go for his England trial at Twickenham, he wore his Cleckheaton socks - the only time Cleckheaton colours have been worn on the "hallowed turf". Over the years he has played Rugby Union for Cleckheaton, Otley, Sale, Newcastle, Rotherham, Yorkshire, England and the British Lions (1997) on their tour of South Africa. In Rugby League he has played for Leeds, Halifax, Huddersfield, Balmain Tigers (Australia) England and Great Britain.

Where: Both: Sports Club, off Bradford Road, Cleckheaton













[45] Sam Pearson


The Pearson world-wide enterprise began with Scholes resident Sam Pearson who founded his first company in 1856. Pearson began an enterprise which expanded into publishing, oil, engineering and entertainment. He lived all his life in Scholes and died in 1886 at his house “The Elms”.


Where: Scholes Lane (near village centre) Scholes



[46] Toffee Smith


Walter Smith founded Toffee Smith whose famous toffee works were on Oxford Road, Gomersal. He began by selling 1d toffee bars to churches as fundraisers and to local miners outside the pits as they clocked off. He retired to Morecambe in 1937, but the firm continued until the 1990s. He is buried at the Pork Pie Chapel (Gomersal Methodist Church).


Where: Works were at Smith Court, Oxford Road, Gomersal



[47] Adam Hart-Davis


Born on 4th July 1943, Adam is a freelance journalist, photographer, author and radio and television broadcaster and presenter. In 1990 he was a producer at Yorkshire Television.  He bought a mountain bike and started to ride to work from his home in Norristhorpe. Whilst riding to work one day he noticed a blue plaque at Field Head Farm - the birthplace of Joseph Priestley. This led him to write Local Heroes; so he says Joseph Priestley changed his life. He now lives in the West of England with partner, Sue and her two children.


Where: Lodge Lane, Norristhorpe







[48] Mary Taylor


In the hard-fought battle for women’s rights, Mary Taylor of Red House (born 1817) was an early pioneer. Refusing to accept restrictions in law, employment, education and society she urged women to win independence and financial security. Mary wrote important feminist articles for a national magazine and published three books. Her extraordinary life included teaching boys (unheard of!) in Germany, leading other women mountain climbing in Europe and influencing her friend, Charlotte Brontë. Also lived at High Rising in Spen Lane and is buried at St Mary’s, Gomersal.


Where: Red House Museum, Oxford Road, Gomersal








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