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Shahid Malik Member of Parliament for Dewsbury and Mirfield
 

Mirfield

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History


Mirfield is situated below the confluence of the Rivers Calder and Colne and is on a major road link (A62) between Leeds and Huddersfield and on the main road along the Calder Valley between Halifax and Dewsbury/Wakefield. This helps explain its excellent transport links by road rail and canal.

Mirfield appears in the Domesday Book as “Mirefelt.” This is reflected in the former Mirfield Urban District Council motto “fruges ecce paludis” – behold the fruits of the marsh. Originally those fruits were a wide range of farm produce and the timber and bark (for tanning leather)  from “spring” woods like Gregory Springs Wood – a sustainable resource maintained by regular coppicing and pollarding.  

Mirfield outstripped many of its neighbours in its early years. Textiles was well established by the fourteenth century. In 1378 the Poll Tax in Mirfield produced fifty-nine shillings (£2.95) when Huddersfield produced only 19/4 (96.7p) and Halifax 12/8 (63.3p).  

Later industrial produce included cloth from Mirfield’s worsted and woollen (and cotton) mills and its eight (at least) malt houses. Mechanised industry was established against some opposition as witnessed in 1812 by a gathering at The Dumb Steeple, Cooper Bridge of Luddites, who fearing for their livelihoods, then attacked a mechanised mill in the Spen Valley. Later industry was served largely by the canal and the railway as well as by road. At one time Mirfield had three dry docks with a lively barge building industry and six railway stations within or on the edge of its boundaries.  

Mirfield also had several coal mines which supplied fuel to the mills, the railway, the canal and to domestic hearths as well to markets farther afield. Reminders of these pits may be seen at the NCB Gate to the screening yard at the junction of Hagg Lane with Granny Lane and Steanard Lane, in the street name of Kings Head Road near the site of Kings Head Pit and in the bell pit mounds near Lady Wood. The Ingham family, coal mine owners are also commemorated in street names north of Huddersfield Road.  

All the maltings are gone and textiles is a shadow of its former self. The textile industry is commemorated in Spinners Way. There is still industry in Mirfield, employment in which will soon be increased by developments at a new site for modern industry on Mirfield Moor. However, thanks to overspill from Leeds and other centres and to the proximity of the M62 and the M1, Mirfield is now a dormitory town with a large number of commuters. The town rather turned its back on the canalised river during its hey day but it is now enjoying a revival for angling and walking on the tow path and for boating. In the eighteenth century the river carried a wide variety of fish but they were wiped out by industrial and domestic sewerage. Recent improvements in water quality thanks to investment by the Environment Agency offer the hope of greater variety of aquatic wildlife in the future.

Mirfield was touched by wider historical events and well known personalities. The motte next to Mirfield Parish Church suggests the area was unsettled following the arrival of the Norman aristocracy after 1066. Robin Hood is reputed to be buried in the nearby Kirklees Park after shooting an arrow from the priory window at The Three Nuns. Plague visited the town in 1631 and is marked by a stone in Mirfield Parish Church, which states “it pleased God to correct ye Parish of Mirfield.” In 1642 local people were summoned to fight in the Civil War on the parliamentary side. In 1745 the rumoured approach of Bonnie Prince Charlie led the townspeople to hide their goods and themselves in the coal workings in Lady Wood. A great frost in 1772 produced ice thick enough to carry horses and carts on the Calder from Mirfield to Brighouse. John Wesley visited the locality five times in-between 1742 and 1784 and on one occasion “only a few pieces of dirt were thrown.” Charlotte Bronte visited Roe Head in 1831 and later taught there. The Community of the Resurrection in Mirfield produced Trevor Huddleston, who played a significant part in South Africa in opposing apartheid and helping bring it to an end. More recently it produced The Reverend Desmond Tutu, a force for unity and peace in today’s South Africa.

Compiled by Michael Hutchinson.

More Information


Mirfield Wikipedia entry

Aerial view from Google Maps

Local links


Mirfield Reporter - Local newspaper

If you know of a local community organisation who you think should be linked here then get in touch.

What your town means to you


Get in touch and let us know what Mirfield means to you, and what makes you proud to live there (no more than 100 words). Shahid will select the best entries and post them up here on the web site.
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