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Late Doors

Chapel Hill –Huddersfield

Officially the A616 South West out of Huddersfield Town Center off the Ring Road but known to everyone as Chapel Hill. If you follow it out of town through Folly Hall at the bottom of the hill you get to Lockwood Bar Lights where you can take the left road to Honley -Holmfirth - Summer Wine land, go straight through to the Netherton – Meltham or turn right up through Lockwood and eventually to Lower Crosland Moor, home of the  brave    .

For as long as i can remember Chapel Hill has featured prominently in the life of yours truly for a few different reasons and I’m guessing that’s typical for lots of Udders Folk.

This sketch by a mate of my Dads was on our wall at home for as far back as i can ever remember. It’s looking down the road from Town and I’m guessing it’s from about 1959.

The basic structures on the bottom left are still intact (in fact i’ll take a picture this weekend or soon to compare from the same angle) and on the hidden right until you get to the bottom of the hill (more about that later). The road was widened years back when the ring road was built so the top left terraces were demolished and an industrial unit built. Ugly as sin but that's progress

My first visits to the Hill were in the early 70’s to two fishing tackle shops on the right, Tony Briggs’ and the Angling Center. Briggs’ has gone but the AC is still running under the long time ownership of Chris who knows everything about fishing and perhaps even more about drinking in the Rat and Ratchet just next door on the right (again, more about the Rat later).

The Huddersfield Narrow canal passes under the road as does the River Colne and i spent many a summer day fishing the stretch to the left of the road in between the Mills of Firth Street and the Polytech from dawn till dusk.

The Hill in the mid ‘70s then featured prominently on the udders night clubbing scene as the legendary Changing Lights was at the bottom of it in Folly Hall and the even more legendary Amsterdam Bar was just off the hill on the left where coach trips from all over the North Of England used to come. Chapel Hill was also the birth place in town of the sophisticated continental delicacy known as the Donner Kebab as our first Kebab house sprung up just on the left on that sketch. It’s still there but nothing like the quality it used to be.

In the late 70’s it featured in the lives of loads of lads my age and indeed myself as it was the main road out of Town to many big engineering works and Mills including Sellars, Broadbent’s, Fred Lawton’s, Brook Motors, David Browns  and more. Sometimes there used to be about twenty of us walking together out of town slowly dispersing into our allotted satanic cells. (you can see the chimney stacks in the sketch)

Of course the upside of all that industry was the multitude of ace pubs that lined the road all along it right through to Lockwood Bar and to this day that stretch of Chapel Hill to Lockwood bar is still the best pub crawl going for my money anchored at either end by the superb Shoulder of Mutton at Lockwood (My Local   ) and the Rat and Ratchet (also my local )

Of course time marches on and things change, some for better, some for worse. The Lights, the Amsterdam and a few of the Pubs have gone, so too have a few of the factories and all of the Mills. However the Mills of Firth Street have been converted into superb apartments and student lodgings and indeed the University (the now upgraded and thriving old Poly) has absorbed some of the Mills into its web of learning.

The river has undergone a dramatic cleansing as a result of the  de industrialisation and Trout, Heron and the occasional Kingfisher can be seen, or should i say could following the recent tragedy of the fire and pollution spill five mile upstream a couple of years ago that we talked about on here. Things do seem to be picking up ecologically though I’m told and a full recovery is expected.

For the last decade or so Chapel Hill has become my artery into and out of town since i moved out West so it has now replaced Wakefield road as being “my road that i know so well” consequently the pubs have now become my locals. The fabulous Rat and Ratchet is the jewel of Chapel Hill, the only thing that stops it being the perfect town centre pub (although technically its outside the ring road so not a town center pub) is the lack of live music. Fabulous ales well kept and served, bar staff lovely, fit, capable and friendly, great juke box, no food, good regulars, well behaved transient mixed crowd, good outdoor area, comfortable seating and, well just sublime really.

Sometime in the very near future the whole area down Chapel Hill will be altered. That’s because of the riverside development that is currently underway and will soon be complete that has seen some of the industry i told you about being demolished to make way for it. The development will include apartments, retail, leisure and commercial space, Time will tell if it will enhance the area or not culturally. I think it will certainly improve it aesthetically from what the plans show. I’ll keep you posted.


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Tank Girl



LD, as you may remember I have visited Huddersfield on many occasions (never through choice of course) and if my visit was of an afternoon then I would take that road as the beginning of my journey home passing along the way Holmfirth, Crowden, Glossop, Hayfield, Chapel-en-le-Frith, Buxton, Hartington, Cheadle and then down to Stafford.

I was always struck, especially in the summer by the colour of the buildings.  They seemed to glow in the sunlight and I always felt well happy, especially with the thought of that journey home.

As LD knows I lived in Cleckhuddersfax for four years, and the area he's describing has bore witness on many occasions to my sorry drunken ass carousing up and down Chapel Hill and in between Chapel Hill and Firth Street, as I used to live near by. AS LD points out, its nice that they have turned the old mills into flats, but as I used to think as I'd stroll around there of a Sunday on my way to The Rachet that those mills should still be manufacturing stuff and it would fill me with a sadness everytime I walked passed these amazing buildings that had broken windows and steel shutters, pre- the new apartment developments.
Late Doors

You should watch out for the forthcoming BBC Documentary. The Historic Mills of the North, presented by Norman Tebbit  

I agree of course Dock but what they have done with them is better than other towns have done ie nothing. Have you seen Titanic Mills Linthwaite or Crowthers in Milnsbridge?  They were on my sight seeing list for the canal walk  Forum Index -> Strange plaices
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