Having grown up in Birstall I have a fondness for this little market town in West Yorkshire, situated approximately 8 miles from Leeds and centrally placed for easy access to other major towns Bradford, Huddersfield and Wakefield.
Fifty years ago Birstall was a thriving village, where everyone knew everybody else (and their business!). There were several mills in the area, Birstall Carpet Company, Holton's, Charles Sheards to name but a few.
The shopping centre was busy and there was a variety of shops, unlike today when the centre seems to be full of beauty parlours, hairdressers and takeaways, with traditional shopkeepers struggling to earn a living.
In the market place stands a statue of Joseph Priestley, who discovered oxygen. He was born in Fieldhead. Birstall also has links with the Brontes, as Charlotte often stayed at Oakwell Hall and Brookroyd House and based her book "Shirley" on the area.
Until the 1990's not much had been written about Birstall. I then decided to write a booklet on Birstall in living memory, having written a regular column in the local newspaper for several years. The book, "Birstall where they ka quiet" sold almost a thousand copies in the first few years and in 2006 it was updated and photos of present day Birstall were added. This revised book is now available for sale at the local newsagent in Birstall, opposite the Co-op, and also on Amazon.
Several other local history books about the area have also been written in recent years, it is good that interest has been revived in our village.
There is a wealth of history here and lots of old buildings with interesting architectural features. I am proud of having been born in Birstall and still live not too far away, visiting the village centre regularly to patronise local shops.
A memory shared byon Feb 17th, 2007.
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