Meltham Hall was built circa 1841 for William Leigh Brook (1809-1855) — likely following his marriage to Charlotte Armitage — and originally stood in around 25 acres of wooded parkland and formal gardens laid out by Joshua Major of Leeds.
Brook had moved into the hall from Thornton Lodge by 1843 and, following his untimely death abroad in 1855, his eldest daughter Clara Jane Brook (1841-1863) continued live there with some of her siblings.
By 1861, Charles Brook (1814-1872) had moved his family into Meltham Hall. A few years later, he purchased Enderby Hall in Leicestershire and retired there, where he died on 10 July 1872, aged 57.
In January 1865, Brook's coachman John Freeman Hirst was out riding a young horse when it bolted out of control through Meltham before stumbling near Meltham Mills. Hirst badly damaged his ankle.
By 1869, Edward Brook (1825-1904) was residing at the hall. He later purchased the Hoddom Castle in Dumfriesshire in 1877 for a reported £200,500 and retired there.
At around 11:30pm on the night of Wednesday 18 January 1871, Police Constable Booth spotted a fire had broken out in one of the greenhouses of Meltham Hall. The alarm was raised and the Meltham Mills fire engine was used to quickly bring the flames under control. Around £50 of damage was done and the cause was believed to be wood that had combusted after being left "near one of the fires to dry."
In February 1871, "professional tramp" William Harrison was charged with begging. He had gone to Meltham Hall and demanded to see Edward Brook. On being told that this wasn't possible, he demanded to see Mrs. Brook. This also being denied by the servant, Harrison "used disgraceful language" before walking on to the vicarage, "where his conduct was equally insolent." He was sent to prison for a month.
On 18 June 1875, a local elderly man named Allen Hollingworth stole two small trees from the greenhouses at the hall. He was caught and fined £5 5s. plus expenses.
On Whit Sundays it was traditional for the Sunday school children to process through the town, visiting the great and the good of Meltham to receive small presents. In 1876, around 450 children walked through the Pleasure Grounds to the house of J.W. Carlile at Thickhollins where they each received a penny. Later on they were led by the Meltham Mills Brass Band and visited the Brooks at Meltham Hall, where they again received a penny each, before proceeding to Harewood Lodge to received oranges from Miss Brook. Next they went to Wood Cottage before returning to Thickhollins to play games in the grounds.
In the summer of 1877, Edward Brook paid to have the path known locally as "The Roods" near the hall entirely rebuilt, as he felt it was becoming dangerous and slippery in winter. The path was used by a large number of workers "as a short cut from their homes to their work and back".
By 1882, Thomas J. Hirst (1851-1927) was in residence at Meltham Hall.
In 1893, Hirst carried out extensions to the building, including "alterations to the butler's pantry." It was noted at the September Meltham Local Board meeting that Hirst hasn't informed the local board of his plans, but it was felt no action needed to be taken. By the next meeting, plans had been submitted and they were approved. Further alterations were carried out in 1895.
In April 1894, the Local Board sent notice to Hirst "to repair the Roods footpath."
In April 1905, Hirst's 8-year-old daughter Dorothy Josephine Hirst was out riding from the hall on a pony when it stumbled and she fell off. Unfortunately her dress caught on the pommel of the saddle, "and she was dragged for half a mile with her head striking the ground." A group of workmen eventually managed to halt the pony and a doctor was fetched, but Dorothy had already died from her head injuries.
Charles Lewis Brook wrote to the Meteorological Magazine journal to report that on 17 June 1911 the hall was struck by lightning, causing a "globe of fire described as being about two feet in diameter" to briefly appear around "an ordinary electric light pendant from the ceiling". No damage was reported, apart from "the burning out of the safety fuse of the electric lights in the cellar".
The reception for the wedding of Helen Esther Hirst to Edward Lindesay Fisher (eldest son of Sharples Fisher of Helme Hall) took place at the hall in August 1913, following the wedding service at St. James, Meltham Mills. The Meltham Mills Brass Band played a selection of music during the afternoon.
Following Thomas J. Hirst's death in 1927, his wife Esther Frost Hirst remained at the the hall until her death on 9 April 1944. The contents of the hall were then auctioned a few months later in over 1,000 individual lots, including many oil and watercolour paintings, a Kodascope film projector, and silverware.
According to the Yorkshire Evening Post (22/Feb/1950), Mrs. Hirst gifted the hall Meltham Urban Council. They then advertised the lease which attracted interest from Huddersfield Corporation and from West Riding County Council, who both wished to use it as a maternity home. The formation of the National Health Service led to the abandonment of the plans.
In May 1950, Meltham Urban Council approved a plan to lease to the hall to David Brown Tractors Ltd at a rental of £300 per year for use as a staff dining room and social club. Other parts of the estate, including the cricket ground and Italian gardens, were retained by the Council for public use.
HUDDERSFIELD ROAD (south side). Meltham Hall. Large detached residence. 1841 with late C19 addition to east. Built for William Leigh Brook. Hammer dressed stone with ashlar dressings. Deep ashlar plinth. Hipped slate roof. Two storeys. 3-bay entrance and garden fronts, 4-bay side elevation. Bay divisions are marked by giant pilasters with capitals with anthemion decoration. The pilasters are coupled on the side elevation. Broad ashlar eaves band and cornce surmounted by balustraded parapet with dies over pilasters, rounded on entrance and garden elevations, and in the form of triangular pediments on side elevation. The garden front has central ground floor bow with balcony over. Sash windows with glazing bars, in architrave surrounds. Side elevation has similar windows to 1st floor, those to ground floor having paired pilaster surrounds. Entrance front has central door with later, very elaborate porte-cochere of cast iron and glass. Venetian window to 1st floor. The only interior feature to survive is the central stone staircase with decorative cast iron balustrade.
|1851||William Leigh Brook||41||head||Magistrate, Cotton Spinner firm of 2, employing Men 164, Woman 316, Boys 136, Girls 292. Landed proprietor farming 108 acres and 450 Moor Land employing 10 labourers.|
|Hannah Hampshire||44||servant||House Keeper.|
|Mary Ann Wilson||21||servant|
|George Nichol||35||gardener||Living at the Gardener's House with his wife Margaret (31), their children Robert (1) and Isabella (under 2 months), neice Georgina Young (7), and half-brother gardener Thomas Mitchel.|
|1861||Charles Brook Jnr||47||head||Sewing Cotton Thread Manufactorer, employing 1446 hands.|
|James W. Brook||13||nephew|
|Charlotte A. Brook||9||niece|
|Sarah Ellen Brook||8||niece|
|Catherine A. Palmer||37||servant||Governess.|
|Anne Fitton||28||servant||House Maid.|
|Lydia Brook||23||servant||House Maid.|
|Elizabeth Brook||17||servant||Kitchen Maid.|
|John Lockwood||38||gardener||Living at the Lodge with his wife Hannah (28).|
|John Flower||59||servant||Farm labourer living at the Lodge with his wife Sarah (54) and their three children.|
|John Hirst||28||coachman||Living on New Road Side with his wife Ann (34) and their four children.|
|1871||Edward Brook||45||head||Sewing Cotton Manufacturer employing 412 Males and 1111 Females.|
|Edward J. Brook||6||son|
|Frances M. Brook||2||daughter|
|Anne I. Brook||11m||daughter|
|John H. Grassham||25||servant||Butler.|
|Mary A. Firth||49||servant||Cook.|
|Annie Allatt||17||servant||Kitchen Maid.|
|Matilda Boulton||19||servant||House Maid.|
|Fanny Ancliffe||18||servant||Under House Maid.|
|Elizabeth Stoton||27||servant||Head Nurse.|
|Emma Taylor||18||servant||Under Nurse.|
|Edwin Raynor||28||gardener||Living nearby with his wife Louisa (27) and their daughter Emma (3).|
|Mary Ann Tindale||35||wife|
|Arthur Richard Tindale||7m||son|
|Robert Mountain||28||labourer||Farm labourer, living at the Lodge House with his wife Jane Ellen (30) and their two daughters.|
|1891||Thomas J. Hirst||40||head||Sewing Cotton Manufacturer (British Subject born in Germany).|
|Esther F. Hirst||33||wife|
|John S. Hirst||8||son|
|Mabel A. Hirst||7||daughter|
|Helen E. Hirst||5||son|
|Charles J. Hirst||3||son|
|Daisy M. Hirst||2||daughter|
|Alice M. Brook||28||second cousin|
|Robert Mountain||36||labourer||Farm labourer living at the Lodge with his wife Helena (38) and two children.|
|James Breward||45||coachman||Living nearby with his wife Sarah (50), their niece Rose M. Stannard, and groom Joseph Ridgard (21)|
|1901||Isabella Bolain||49||servant||Domestic Cook.|
|Elizabeth Robson||27||servant||House Maid.|
|Emma Ellis||20||servant||Kitchen Maid.|
|Pheoba Johnson||19||servant||House Maid.|
|Emiley Bowles||17||servant||House Maid.|
|Isabella McGregor||16||servant||Scullery Maid.|
|Robert Mountain||46||labourer||Farm yard labourer living at the Lodge with his wife Melina (48) and their two sons.|
|1911||James Henderson||68||gardener||Widower, living at Meltham Hall with his three daughters and one grandchild.|