Walks Around Wakefield and Ossett Area
Wakefield City Walk Wakefield was an extremely important region, not only for textile production and trading but also for providing coal to power the mills in the local area and across West Yorkshire. This trail will help you explore the city centre and view some of the important buildings that help tell the story of the textile industry in the area. Wakefield City Walk
Ossett Textile Trail The growth of the wool textile industry in the 19th century transformed Ossett from a straggling village into a town, as its population rose from under 4,000 to over 10,000. At first the local textile trade was dominated by the manufacture of woollen cloth, but in the second half of the century the town was better known as a centre for the recycling of woollen goods, a process which involved grading and then grinding them into shoddy or mungo. Blended with new wool, shoddy and mungo were then spun and woven into new fabrics. Ossett became one of the country’s largest reclaimed wool or ‘shoddy’ traders and is still represented by the town motto ‘Inutile Utile Ex Arte’ which translates as ‘Useless Things Made Useful by Art’. The rise of synthetic fibres led to the decline of the reclaimed wool trade, although some textile recycling is still carried on in Ossett. Although many of the buildings associated with the textile industry have now gone, the town still has loomshops where cloth was woven by hand together with mills and warehouses. Ossett Textile Trail
This trail was kindly compiled by Ossett Historical Society. Visit their website here:
Calder and Hebble Canal walks
Stanley Ferry has been a crossing point across the Calder for at least a thousand years and before the road was built in 1971, it was only possible to cross by Ferry. From this point the river Calder is navigable so important to the story of textiles at it enabled raw materials and finished goods to be transported. The surrounding area had workshops for making and repairing lock gates, and for building and repairing boats that worked on the Calder and Hebble Navigation. A Viking era log boat, which is believed to have been a ferry boat, was found at Stanley Ferry during the building of the foundations for the aqueduct in 1838. Wakefield One is currently the home of this important Viking log boat, which is on loan ‘Courtesy of York Museums Trust (Yorkshire Museum)’. Visit here for more information.
Much of the industry has now gone from Stanley Ferry, which has left an interesting area to discover on foot with this walk.
Wakefield Waterfront Wakefield’s extensive waterway networks were made navigable from the eighteenth century and the town prospered as a trading centre for both raw materials and finished cloths. By 1704 the Aire and Calder Navigation had linked Wakefield to the Humber and the sea, but Wakefield merchants needed a route to the cloth producing areas of the Pennines and to channel the corn produce of the eastern counties to industrial Lancashire and Cheshire. The Calder and Hebble Navigation was complete by 1770, reaching Sowerby Bridge, and subsequently extended by canals to the North West. This Calder and Hebble Navigation Walk explores the area now known as Wakefield Waterfront which by the 19th century was a thriving industrial area with around 35 mills established on this site as well as the boatyard which is still in operation today
Brighouse A little further along the canal, Brighouse was a thriving textile town, and many of the mills can be seen on a walk along the canal. You can start your visit from the Smith Art Gallery.
Listers of Bradford
Over the first half of the 19th century, Bradford was transformed from a small market town into a major woollen textile centre, nicknamed ‘Worstedopolis’. The city centre boasts some fine buildings, including the Wool Exchange (now shops). Just outside the centre is Lister Mill in Manningham, once the largest silk mill in the world and now converted to apartments. There are organised walks around the area or you can use this self guided leaflet.
Dewsbury was at the heart of the heavy woollen district and the shoddy industry. The station at one time was used as a rag market and textile warehouses can still be seen in the town.
A walk that follows the route taken by Luddites protesting about the introduction of cropping frames, as they marched to Cartwright’s Mill at Rawfolds.
Spen Valley Luddite Trail
Huddersfield Town Centre
Huddersfield was an important textile centre, especially the worsted trade, and still houses a working mill, John Brierley’s, by the canal on Quay Street. Several of the buildings around George’s Square and the station were once textile warehouses and offices.
The Discover Huddersfield website has a number of guides to download. The Ramsden Town leaflet is particularly relevant.
Marsden and the Colne Valley
This area features spectacular countryside and several reservoirs. Check out the Colne Valley Museum in Golcar. Walks around the area take in the remains of various textile activities.
Guided by local artist Ashley Jackson, this walk takes in Washpit Mill, until recently a working carpet factory.
South East Kirklees – Denby Dale, Scisset and Skelmanthorpe
Old mill buildings, weavers’ cottages and mill-owner’s houses can still be seen in these villages which are all near to each other. Denby Dale is still home to a working textile mill and a former mill has been converted to shops. Skelmanthorpe was home to the Field family, whose different branches ran several mills. Output included plushes, rugs and shawls. There are a number of old weavers’ cottages in the village, one of which house Skelmanthorpe Textile Heritage Centre.