I’ve never been to Cleckheaton.

I won’t lie, I’m not certain that I even knew where it was until I realised that I had never been there.

Anyway, I thought that now might be the right time to take a look at this little Pearl of the… wherever it is and fill you in on whatever I eventually discover. 

I’ll be back in a minute…

Well, it appears that Cleckheaton is, as a matter of fact, the Pearl of West Yorkshire, occupying the gap that lies between Bradford and Huddersfield in the Spen Valley, by the picturesque banks of the M62.  It once lay on the Roman road between York and Chester, although there is no evidence that I can find that any Romans ever stopped there.  In the years through to the Industrial Revolution it was known mainly for textile production and religious non-conformity, with leaders such as Eli Collins (the Wizard of Wyke) and Alvery Newsome (The Wise Man of Heckmondwike).  In 1818, the Reverend Hammond Roberson secured government funding to build a church in the village and the local W.I. started making marmalade and knitting scarves.

The Twentieth Century saw little progress for Cleckheaton although, in 1903, the Lion’s factory did commence the manufacture of Midget Gems in the town where they are still produced today.  Consequently, there are few people in the UK of my generation who do not have a little bit of Cleckheaton in them.  The town also had a railway station that closed in 1969 and was, according to Wiki, stolen by a man from Dewsbury.  It currently has a bus station which, according to the same source, ‘has six stands’ and a school bus.

In case you are wondering, Cleckheaton was, in the past, famous for carding (No, me neither) which is apparently a process by which wool is pulled out into straight strands in preparation for spinning which took place, as far as I can see, in the far more glamorous metropolis of Wakefield (Some 10 miles to the west.  1 hour and 7 minutes by bus – provided all six stands are not full.)

I searched for ‘what to do’ in Cleckheaton and I discovered that you can ‘cycle, walk or run’ – clearly a unique combination of pastimes – never-the-less I decided that if I was going to make the most of my eventual visit I would need to find other things to do at times when I was not so keen on perambulation, so I searched for the five best places to visit in Cleckheaton and this is what I was told:

  1. The Town Hall – which boasts a theatre suitable for Am-dram performances and a selection of meeting and function rooms for hire.  Tripadvisor recommends I pencil in two hours for this diversion.
  2. Mill Valley Taproom & Kitchen – a trip to the pub with ‘a five barrel brewing system’ to fill the recommended 1-2 hours.
  3. The Old Silk Mill – which boasts two dance studios, a café and ‘downstairs toilets’.
  4. Terrier Antiques & Interiors Ltd – this is a shop that sells antiques for inside.  A welcome diversion for bored children who have had more than enough of availing themselves of the pleasures to be had using the downstairs facilities at the Old Silk Mill or glaring through the windows of the Taproom whilst the adults hover over the fifth barrel.
  5. The Treatment Room – where you can have your nails done.

Finally, in order to ensure that this really is a town worthy of a visit, I decided to check out the local news in case it should be a hotbed of vice or perhaps a main crossing point on the County Lines circuit and I discovered that Cleckheaton is very soon to have a new set of traffic lights, there are fears for the health of a cat stuck up a tree, up to 250 attended a city rock concert, and that a local football player saw what appeared to be a large black cat as he got changed after a match.  It does not say whether it had just got down from a tree.

I have absolutely no idea why my brain brought me to this place, but I guess that my body will one day have to follow it.  I’ll let you know when I decide to go, perhaps I can meet you there…

BTW, should you wish to know, all the ‘facts’ herein are completely true.

The brilliant hyper-talented cartoonist and illustrator Bill Tidy died on 11th March this year. I don’t know if he’d ever been to Cleckheaton, but hearing his name brought the place to mind. I don’t know why… R.I.P Bill Tidy.


35 thoughts on “Cleckheaton

  1. Ah, I love the Englishness of places like Cleckheaton. What other country could put together ‘Cleck’ and ‘Heaton’ and make it sound less than its two halves? I can only add that I’m aware of t’ place because , in my younger daze I purchased a Panther 350 single, a rusted black and grey iron-wrought oil decanting motorcycle that sounded like an asthmatic traction engine on the rare occasions it ran. After ten plus attempts to kick it over had left the sweat filled air ringing blue with my curses but otherwise silent I handed over to my brother and said ‘if you can kick it over, its yours.’ So he did. And it was his. Mind you, it took him ten minutes and a double hernia to haul that gross middleweight up off the ground though. I wasn’t going to help my smart ass clever Dick brother to raise that wretched heap. Besides my kick-starting leg was still trembling. Ah, happy days.

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      1. Oh I remember my niece had a Bonneville that had a nasty kick back. Once on the back, her long hair would whip my face like a good’n’, which nowadays the skidlid law would prevent from happening.

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  2. Oh dear. Could our Brains be related? I had never heard of Cleckheaton but it sounds like the sort of place that would suit me well, given that reading a book is the only excitement I require. I actually did know about carding as I have a friend who does sheep. But what exactly is Am-dram? The Old Silk Mill is not my kind of place but since they advertise it I feel one ought to check out their downstairs facilities. Treatment Room sounds so exciting. Such a let-down to learn it is only nails. I do hope the cats are sorted. Where will Brain take you next?

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  3. Someday we are going to cross the pond and visit the country of my fathers birth. I shall expect a full review of Cleckheaton with photos so I’ll know whether to include it.

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  4. Plum duff would be out of the question, and I’m afraid that the daily serving of gruel would soak through the gingham cloth. I could try to sneak it out in the pocket of my rain mac. I’ll bring two spoons, plastic obviously. We aren’t allowed metal cutlery!

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