Meltham and lower Holme Valley
|OS grid reference||SE099106|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|EU Parliament||Yorkshire and the Humber|
Meltham is a town and civil parish within the Metropolitan Borough of Kirklees, in West Yorkshire, England. It lies in the Holme Valley, below Wessenden Moor, four and a half miles south-west of Huddersfield on the edge of the Peak District National Park. It had a population of 8,089 at the 2001 census, which was estimated to have increased to 8,600 by 2005. The population assessed at the 2011 Census was 8,534.
The valley has been inhabited since pre-historic times and there are two Iron Age sites overlooking the town. Meltham also includes the small village of Helme which has its own school and church. Meltham is situated within close reach of several major cities. Bradford is 14 miles to the north, Leeds is 19 miles north-east, Manchester is 19 miles to the south-west and Sheffield is 21 miles to the south-east.
Meltham itself contains three primary schools, namely Meltham Church of England (C of E) School, Meltham Moor Primary School and Helme (C of E) junior and infant school. Secondary schools serving Meltham primarily include Honley High School, Holmfirth High School and Colne Valley High School, all of which are located in neighbouring areas.
Meltham has active teams in a variety of sports, including football, cricket and rugby league. The football team, Meltham Athletic FC, currently play in the West Riding County Amateur Football League Premier Division. Notable honours include the West Riding Challenge Cup in 2005, the Huddersfield and District League on two occasions and the Barlow Cup 4 times (including three in a row 2003-05). The cricket side, Meltham CC, has won the 1st XI Byrom Shield on 7 occasions and the Sykes Cup 8 times. The 1st XI and 2nd XI currently play in the Drakes Premierships 1 and 2 respectively. Notable ex-players include England international cricketer Ryan Sidebottom, Dilip Doshi (father of Nayan), Madan Lal and Shahid Mahmood. The rugby league side, Meltham All Blacks ARLFC, currently play in the Pennine League Division 4.
Meltham is home to the Meltham and Meltham Mills Band, which was established in 1846 as a brass band. They became the first band to win the British Open Title for three consecutive years, a feat only matched by 5 others.
Meltham has been used as part of the location for several television projects. The third episode in 1995's Coogan's Run was set in and around Meltham Parish Church Hall. In addition scenes of long-running BBC sitcom Last of the Summer Wine and ITV drama Where the Heart Is used some Meltham houses as character's homes. The scout hut has also been used as well as streets for shooting outdoor scenes.
Meltham Mills was the former site of Jonas Brook and Brothers, a silk mill complex that employed over 1,000 workers during the late 19th century. The Brook family originally came from New House Hall in Sheepridge, moving to Thickhollins towards the end of the 18th century. William Brook married Martha Smith at Bradford Parish Church - the daughter of a prominent Mirfield banker. Their sons Jonas, James and Joseph established their business in Meltham Mills, using a goat's head - the crest from the Brook's coat of arms - as their brand. The goat's head can still be seen on the old office building to the mill complex and their arms are emblazoned in St. James' Church, in Meltham Mills (which the family built) - a hawkes lure: motto "en dieu ma foy" (in God my trust). Meltham Mills Band also carry the Brook family coat of arms as their official logo. Edward Brook died in 1904 at Hoddom Castle, the house near Ecclefechan, south-west Scotland, which he had purchased in 1878. The Brook family were philanthropists and built housing in Meltham Mills for their employees, including the convalescent home. They also built Meltham Hall, Helme Church and owned an estate at Enderby in Leicestershire. William Brook is buried with his wife Martha in Meltham Church, but his descendants are buried in the crypt underneath St. James Church, Meltham Mills.
Jonas Brook and Brothers became United Threads in 1890 and Sir Hildred Carlile of Ponsonby Hall, Hertfordshire was a Director of the business. United Threads was closed in 1939 - the business was transferred to Paisley as part of J & P Coats - now Coats Viyella. The factory site was taken over by David Brown Tractors.
John Charles Brooke, who originated from the Silkstone branch of the Newhouse Hall family was Somerset Herald during the 18th century. He was crushed to death at the Haymarket Theatre in London following the crowd's clamour to see King George III in 1794. He is buried in St Benet Paul's Wharf in London.
Meltham Mills was also the former base of the David Brown Tractors factory opening in 1939 and closing operations on the site in 1988. The various building have now been converted into a diverse number of industrial units, one housing a Tractor museum and other large sections containing an indoor Kart racing track.
Durker Roods, the former home of Sir David Brown was converted into a hotel and the grounds were sold for private housing.
The town has its own joint Scouting and Guides Association buildings.
Notable people from Meltham
Meltham was the birthplace of Lance Sergeant James Taylor (25B/82) E Company 2nd Battalion, 24th Regiment (2nd Warwickshire), who fought at, and survived, the battle at Rorke's Drift in the Zulu war. Although born in the village, to parents also born there, he grew up in Manchester, but can still be regarded as a native of Meltham.
Australian textile magnate Godfrey Hirst was born at Royd Edge, Meltham in 1857. In 1890 he founded the Godfrey Hirst Woollen Mills at Geelong, Victoria, which in the early 20th century became the largest manufacturer of textiles in Australia. The company still operates, as Godfrey Hirst Carpets. Hirst died in 1917. 
Dora Thewlis, who gained brief national notoriety as a young suffragette when a photograph of her arrest appeared on the front page of the Daily Mirror, was born on Shady Row, Meltham Mills, in May 1890. Within a few years of her birth, the residents of the row had successfully petitioned to have the boundary redrawn so that the entirety of Meltham Mills was within the township of Meltham.
View of Meltham from Wessenden Moor, Huddersfield is in the far distance
The above grid is based on exact directions rather than close to.
- Office for National Statistics : Census 2001 : Parish Headcounts : Kirklees Retrieved 3 September 2009
- "Former (Pre 1974) Meltham Urban District, Metham Civil Parish - Area Profile 2008" (PDF). Kirklees Council. 2008. Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 May 2008. Retrieved 24 October 2008.
- "Civil Parish population 2011". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statics. Retrieved 25 February 2016.
- Meltham Cricket Club Honours Archived 9 May 2008 at the Wayback Machine
- The British Open Brass Band Championships past winners Archived 27 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine
- Groome, Francis H., ed. (1885). "Hoddam". Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography, Statistical, Biographical and Historical. Thomas C. Jack.
- Annals of the church and parish of Almondbury, Yorkshire - (page 29 of 57)
- The Roll of those present at Rorke's Drift 22/23 January, 1879
- Rorke's Drift, Adrian Greaves, Cassell, 2003, p. 246. Censuses 1861, 1871, 1901.
- "New bid to fight diabetes". Huddersfield Examiner. Retrieved 28 March 2011.
- Hirst, Godfrey. "Hirst family history". Woollen manufacturer. RootsWeb - Ancestry.com. Retrieved 14 June 2013.
- Australian Dictionary of Biography Website - Godfrey Hirst
- Prior to the boundary change in 1896, parts of Meltham Mills were within the township of Honley boundary. It seems likely that Dora's father, James Lindley Thewlis, organised the petition.
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