[From the Huddersfield Examiner.]
The Sunday trams have come to stop, and the wisest thing to do is to make the best of them. If advocates of temperance and religion would go out into the highways and hedges, meet the people in the open air, and arrange services at the various termini, they would do more good than Paul Prying to see how many of the passengers enter public-houses, etc. Again, more might be made of them by persons having some information about the varied localities and their possibilities. All know the beautiful route to Outlane by way of the far-famed Pole Moor Chapel, on by Pleasant Pastures to the famous hostelry, “Nont Sarah’s,” and beyond to the hills about Buckstones. I wish to point out one of the beauty spots of the Colne Valley — the Slaithwaite Baths. In former years these were the exclusive right of the better class. The opening ceremony by the people outside the gates on the first Sunday in May will be well remembered by persons getting into years, when various things were done and said on those bright May mornings which need not be repeated. Not so the opening on the third Wednesday in the same month, when the ceremony was followed by the music of the cornet, harp, and violin, to which the young folk danced merrily. Now all is changed. A wise Urban District Council has purchased these baths and grounds for the benefit of the town, and they are, moreover, open to the public from all parts of the country.
Here a lovely retreat can be found by means of the Slaithwaite tram. A penny may be saved by stopping at Hoyle House and walking up by Lees Mills, or one may remain on the car to the Bath Hotel, and then down the road to the well-kept grounds. Here the traveller can have rest on the banks of the River Colne, which is nearly clear on a Sunday, and when hunger prompts they can have ample refreshment (without ale) by giving due notice to that hale and hearty Slaithwaite lad, Mr. Haigh, the manager, who with plain speech and kindly manner will attend to all the visitors’ wants. This over, the visitor can wander over a prosperous little town, admire the evidences of its public spirit, and wonder at its prosperity as compared with its past stagnation. Or (and trams were never intended only for those who do not attend places of worship) those religiously inclined can go to the Parish Church and hear an eloquent sermon from the genial Mr. Rose and a good sing from a special choir. Those who require stronger meat will find it at the Particular Baptist Chapel, where the sensible minister will preach all the good he knows: while you can get the same in a little milder form from Mr. Evans at the Zion, above the railway station. The Wesleyans have just enlarged their now beautiful chapel, and it is worth a visit. The same holds good of the Methodist Free Church, the members of which have within the last few months added a new organ, and those charitably disposed may give a few shillings to defray the cost, and to help a small body deserving of all support. In addition, there are three missions at Crimble and a Spiritualistic Church in Laith Lane. So there is ample choice in these directions. Then, after the ramble or after the service, there are the trams to take the wanderer home at the close of a pleasant and profitable day. Next week I will describe the Crosland Moor route to Blackmoorfoot, the reservoir, and the country around.
Last week, by your kindness, a promising route was laid to Slaithwaite, with a mention of Crosland Moor to follow. Though not so sylvan in its beauty, it offers many attractions, and will do anyone good by its breezy atmosphere and varied beauties. It beats, or otherwise, the other in this, that at the terminus (Crosland Moor) you have a nice walk before you get to Blackmoorfoot, which can only be taken on fine days with comfort or safety. Approaching Crosland Hill you find a great change going on. The lovely trees of the ancient old hall are unhappily dying off and being destroyed in the prosperous operations going on in getting up the valuable stone, which is its only interest to-day, and those who want more will find ample reward by reading up ancient history anent the feuds, jealousies, and battles of former days between the barons of Elland and elsewhere. These are not for this letter, so one must trudge on to “Hole in the Wall,” formerly a public-house, now in a dilapidated condition. A by-road runs alongside on the flat, at the end of which you meet one of the most striking views of the prosperous Colne Valley — the river running below in its winding course between two high ascending hills. What a picture, worth going a long way to see! All the wealth and prosperity of the wonderful district lies before you, and the chimneys of the numerous factories (as has been described elsewhere) rise high in the air like lofty minarets, and call the faithful to work if not to prayer. Come back again to the main road. Crosland lies low with its church at the foot of the moor, and far away and beyond the hills above, Meltham and Holmfirth stand off in the long distance, and these are beautiful objects to behold, and alone well repay for the trouble. In going along, very likely you will come across (and, if so, do not injure) one of the numerous, harmless, and innocent hares happily to be found in these parts, carefully preserved by Mr. Henry Lockwood (not to kill, if it can be avoided) during the winter months, when and where numerous friends find this one of the prettiest hunting grounds in the neighbourhood, where the best of good fellowship always prevails, and all are made welcome to this Mecca of the chase.
By this time you will be hungry. If so, there is no better place for reasonable refreshment than you will find at what is commonly called France’s and the Bull’s Head. Now you will be under the great embankment of a great lake — the “Blackmoor reservoir,’’ of 700 million gallons of good water. So well was the work done that it cost less money than “Butterley, in Marsden,” which is little more than half the capacity. Thanks to Mr. J. Brook, the then chairman, Mr. Alderman R. Hirst, and many other good men, most has been made of this charming spot by making good roads, planting numerous trees, making beautiful walks, and otherwise adorning nature’s own with nature’s art. I dare not advocate these well-kept grounds being open to the public, because, whatever else, the water must be kept pure for the people. Make as many visits as you like; they will always pay in pleasant weather, and now with the trams you have only to drop down to Hoyle House Clough to get home with the greatest ease, after what should always be a most enjoyable day up on the mountains, on the moor, and down into the valley again.
Slaithwaite Notes: Past and Present (1905) by John Sugden