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Stuart James Esq.

I was born and brought up in Farsley in the 60s. I have seen the village change, in the streets and it demolitions and developments.

I have always been facinated by the history of objects and places.

About 16 years ago i did some research about the village, but never got round to putting it up on my site.

So now i have decided to publish what i have and use it as a building block for more.

Gathering information on people and their lives came into the public domain in 1841, however at this time the information just listed people by name.

since then a census has been conducted every 10 years, and so the information is from the 1851 census, as it contains more information about the people living in the village, ie the relationship to the head of the household, exact ages, and occupations,place of birth.

The census tells us about the people living in the village on the night of Sunday 30th March 1851.

The Census was Administered through registration districts of which Farsley was in North Bierley, a sub district of Calverley.

The registrar responsible for the census was Jonas Foster, who was a baptist minister. He had 3 people who went out and collected the information, they were numerators and all had strong baptist connections. Jonathan Marshall was a Drysalter, and was a deacon, Richard Duffield was a shop keeper and was a trustee and John Foster who was a wool sorter.

All these people would have been known in the village at this time and they would have know about all the various trades going on in the village.

The enumerators recieved an income of 18 shillings , that was more than someone working a hand loom recieved in a week.

They got 1 shilling more for every 60 people they recorded over 300. They had to deliver a schedule to every household to be filled in with the details of those sleeping in the house on the sunday night of the 30th March 1851

On the 31st March they would go and collect all the schedules.

The enumerators would fill in any schedules not completed, this would have been a good amount , as the Calverley marriage registers show that at the time, a good half of brides and grooms could not sign their own names.

 All the information was returned into the enumerators book and had to be handed in to the registrar by the 8th April, or the enumerators would be fined 8 shilings, so it was a lot of work in a short time. by looking at the census return it seem apparent that some of the information enterered by the enumerators may have been inacurate. The instructions given to the enumarators set out the various occupations but this was, a little vague. The local variations in occupations although subtle may have been construed, ie 'cloth manufacturer', 'clothier',cloth maker', 'cloth weaver', it is most likeley that a cloth manufacturer was an employer of labour, a clothier was self employed and a cloth weaver was an employee. The status, filled out by people would be open to a bit of temptation ot confer they were clothiers.

The record books of the enumerators still survive in the Public records office in London.

Farsley sits mid way between leeds and Bradford, on a rising slope in the aire valley facing north.

With the parish of idle, and Pudsey it formed part of the parish of Calverley, and fron 1843 its status was perpetual curacy.

It was a minor constituent o Calverley- cum- Farsley.

The scattering of settlement were linked by ancient tracks and coach roads In 1740, the route from Leeds to Bradford and Halifax was turnpiked, and connected at the south end of Farsley lane ,now Old Road.

In 1777, the Canal opened up from leeds and passed through Rodley, joining farsley directley to the Aire and Calder navigation and then to the North sea.

When the the canal reached Liverpool in 1816, Farsley could enjoy cheap transport the both coasts.

In 1846 the railway opened and ran along the aire valley with the station being at Calverley Bridge , about a mile from Farsley beck bottom, eventually the railway through Stanningley opened in 1856.

The Building fabric of the dwellings and mills in Farsley were of good quality, all available locally from a sandstone quarry east of the village, near the present recreation grounds.

It was a coursly grained material called Stanningley Rock, a stratification found in the lower coal seams.

Many of the streets still bear the names of the local entrepeneurs of the woolen mills, and local businessmen, who would have owned the land and contructed the dwellings and mills, shops and workhouses.

Some of the names include, Turner Fold, Andrew Square, Wade hill and Hainsworth Square.

Others include, Paradise Street, Well Street, Ebenezer Street.

In Sandgate were a street of 30 mean cottages, overlooking the Dam, at Sunnybank Mills

In the oppsite direction, up the back of the current position of the Fleece Inn, was a place called High Street.

Thes consisted of a series of what looked like 4 storey houses built into the hillside, but were in fact double houses, each entrance opening onto a different level.

As of the 4 storeyed houses of middle town street, the top floor would have probably been used for the storage of wool, and for handloom weaving.

The majority of the weavers lived in 

Hainsworth Square.

There were 2 Inns in Farsley, they are both

still there.

One was the Bay Horse, and was kept by 

Charles Fewster, you can still make out the sign

on the side of the pub, although painted over

Fewsters Yard, (Go take a look)

Also the Fleece, or Golden fleece, which was kept

by Ruth Spence, a widower.

There was an additional beerhouse, in High street

at Cockhill Hall, in a tennament, by Thomas Grimshaw.

This would have been the original craft beer brewer.

The days of work were hard and long and any spare time would have been spent drinking, playing Knur and Spell, small game hunting a bit of fighting, cockfighting, and all would have been associated with the ale houses.

Young men who wanted a different path  were spoilt for choice when it came to worship, and in the battle to get the message to those, there were many things to do, associated with the baptist and Methodist establishments.

There was the young mens improvement society, reading and the literery societys. to name a few,and of course the temperence society.

In 1851, Farsley had 3 places of worship.

The Baptist Rehobeth Chapel at Bagley, originally from1777. The Methodists chapel built in 1844 in Back Lane, and a newly built  Farsley Church,1843.

There was much animosity in the village because most of the residents were non-conformists 

and the Anglican church bore the brunt of it.

The Village school at the time was originally a single storeyed building built in 1807, but was rebuilt in 1859.

it was used by the baptists as a day school and Sunday school and is still standing on the corner of Francis Street and Old Road, its been many things since, i remember it as 'Stockhills' Televison shop as a kid.

The mills in the village at the time were. Sunnybank, also known as Roberts & Ross, the nethercape mill which stood behind the Fleece Inn and Beck Bottom mill, later Broom. Broom was owned by John & Joseph Wood, who built most of the cottages at Beck Bottom. One other was Cape mill, however it was just over the Bramley border.

Street names in Farsley 1851.

District 4                                          

Wade Hill, Hainsworth Square,Turner Row, Prospect House,Chapel Lane, New Hill Square,Road Side,Gamble Hill, Town Street, Old Fold, Sunnybank, Lane Side House, Johnny it Hole, Church Hill

Turners Fold, Ebenezer Street, Well Street, Lister Street, Land Street, North Street, Water Lane, Turner House, Main Street, Andrew Suare, Providence Row, Red Royd House, Red Lane Top, Paradise Place, Cobblegate, Rd Lane Bottom, Paradise Place, Paradise Row.

District 5

Sandgate,Lane Top, Green, High Street, Low Street, Cockhill Hall,Beckbottom, Bagley,

Part of District 6

Providence Place, Melborne Place, Andrew Street, Lane End.


The rate of economic change gathered pace during the first half of the 19th century, with the population of England and Wales almost doubling.

The west riding was a big part of that growth and records show a growth rate of 140%, 1801/1851.

In the largest industrial towns the growth was greater than ever, and between 1821 and 1851 Bradfords population tripled.

In the Calverley and Farsley districts, the growth of the west riding conformed closely, although there was certainly more during the 1830s/40s which was masked, where the population almost doubled in 20 years.

By 1851 the population of the townships was 4892, 2260 of those from Farsley.

By 1851 Farsley was expanding rapidly as a community, see age pyramid 1

The growing Population with a high birth/death rate, mean't that there was a large population of children.

In 1851 over a quarter of those in Farsley were under 10 years old, compared with 12% in the 1981 census.

The  census shows that there would of been a new birth every couple of years in many of the familys, and this would have had great effect on perpetually pregnant women, and the nursing care which was needed.

Ill health and dangers in child birth ,  probably resulted in less women surviving to middle age ,despite the figuers of women to men of a younger age group.

Today there is a completeley different outlook as more men in the younger age groups , but by the age of 40 , it is women again in the majority. (see table 1)

Another consequence of of the growth in population and high death rate, is the low amount of old people

In 1851 less than a quarter of people were over 40, and today the equivalent is almost half.

by 1851 under 2% were over 70.

The Pyramid show a roughly symetrical pattern with only a few dips and bits on each side, and reflects a long established industry, without the need to rely on a sudden injection of outsider labour.

Employment was provided for all men and women within the village, so neither needed to move out to find work.

The 1981 pyramid reflects the changes to industry in the 20th century, as decreasing birthrates due to family planning and the 1939-45 war reflects.

Farsleys Wool Textile Industry.

Like many villages around Leeds & Bradford,

Farsley had a great history and tradition of cloth

making, especially for the domestic market.

Not much in the way of agriculture

took place in the village, as the small holdings

were used  by people to earn extra cash, or seen as

an additional source of income.

With the mechanisation of the textile industry

Farsley became ,naturally a centre. and a great


Traditionally Farsleys cloth Production was,

' Coloured', and involved dying the wool at the very

start of the cloth making process.

The clothe was known also as 'Peice', and was sold

at the Coloured cloth hall in Leeds.

In 1851 ,Farsley's wool production was still largeley

domestic,but was in a transition from employing all

its workforce and their familys from their homes,

to one of providing a workplace to come to, which

all the proccesses would be done within a

mechanised mill.

Cloth had been fulled by water powered mills since

medieaval times. and it was not until the late 18th 

century that the other processes of cloth 

manufacturing began to be mechanised.

The mills of Cape and Beck bottom in Farsley, 

were the first to have the new mechanised carding

and scribbling machines, used for the first stages of


These mills were refered to as 'scribbling and 

'fulling mills'

Sunnybank mills which was built in 1831 was the

third 'scribbling 'and fulling mill. It was known as

the ' company mill' and had 31 shareholders.

Third and fouth stage cloth production relied on

hand operated machinery. The manual slubbing

billies were also part of the scribbling and

fulling mills equipment.

The billies drew out the cardings, giving a slight twist, and wound them onto cone shaped bobbins, as 'slubbings'.

The slubbings were then taken by the 'clothiers',  to their own homes for the final stages  of spinning on hand operated jennies.

By 1851, the the mills were begining to install spinning mules, which made the old jennies a thing of the past.

The powered looms, used for the the maunfacture of cottons and worsted yarns were not brought into the Farsley mills until the 1860s, for weaving woolens,proir to that all the weaving was done by hand.

This was mainly done in the homes of the familys, who at best did not have much space.

The loom would have been the main thing in the room, the children would play round it, and even slept under it, in dusty cluttered conditions. 

Some manufacturers would have a small number of looms in a workshop, where weavers would operate them under factory conditions.

Some households had a room, that specifically housed the loom, and they would use the other low ceiling rooms to tenter their cloth.

The family would never get away from all the noise and dust and clutter.

Prior to 1851 the working conditions were poor.

In the 1830/40s the work would go from 6am to 8pm, until the 10 hour working act came into fruition in 1847.

This meant that children between 8 and 13 were only allowed to work, a six and a half working day, whilst 13 to 18 year olds 10hr days.

It was not a welcoming act, as employers were less able to respond to the market, and employees got less money.

After the weaving process the cloth was returned to the scribbling and slubbing mill where it was scoured to remove impurities and fulled, to felt up and thicken the cloth. This practise actually shrank the cloth , so it then had to be streched on hooks called 'tenter hooks', have you heard that saying on tenter hooks?, it where the cloth is stretched on a frame, called tenter frames.

In Farsley most would stretch the cloth in the open air, free, the place names Tenter Close ,croft or such, are narrow strips of ground where this would occur, this would have been in the area of upper town Street.

Many scribbling and fulling mills had their own tenter houses ,where clotheirs would pay to have their cloth tentered, away from the weather and the odd vagrant.

Marketing the cloth was an essential part of the process, and in 1851, marketing methods were changing

Where as before, small clotheirs would buy their wool from local woolstaplers,and then spend a couple of weeks making ito a peice of broadcloth, then going to the coloured cloth hall in Leeds,  selling it , and then starting the whole process again,the more entreprunarial clothiers  started buying the wool in bulk at the London and Liverpool sales, and have it delivered to the warehouses in Farsley.

They employed their own hand loom weavers. They would produce samples to show the merchants who then lay orders, a practise thats still used today.

Four of the Hainsworth brothers of cape mill, and upper mill in Stanningley, appear in the census, as employers living in the village.

Daniel, of 'Peter Hainsworth& co , employed 223 workers, probably handloom weavers, John, of ' John Hainsworth &Co, employed 90, George employed 17 and Joseph just 3.

Others were Richard Parkinson, 20 men and 10 women, Abimlech Andrews, 3men and 10 women and Abraham Keighley 3 men, table 2 above shows weavers formed the largest group.

Assuming clothier meant self employed cloth manufacturer , there denotes again from table 2 that there were 137 independant businesses in the village.. so by no means had the big manufactureres dominating the local industry.

The 34 men and 66 women who are denoted as 'Spinner', mat not be working on hand operated spinning jennies, or the new machine driven mules.

One thing worth noting is that the slubbers, worked the manual billies, were very well paid, compared to the weavers, and usually worked on peice rates.

They were renown for the heavy drinking and spending, they employed children of 8 years old, to twist the cardings together,and tying in the lengths, as they had little nimble fingers ,perfect for the job. 

The children could only work a 6 1/2 hr shift legally, so as the census shows, there were 4 times more of these peiceners working than slubbers, which indicates they were running a shift pattern.

The main tasks of the younger women was ,'burling, which involved picking out small specks or burrs in the woven cloth, before it ws fulled. Keen eysight was an must for this proccedure , and there were a few older women doing the job as the census shows.

Other proccesses in cloth manufacture can be gathered from the occupations shown in the census

Wool sorting, dying, drying,willeying,carding,sizing and fulling, tentering.

There were four men which worked as 'carriers' and part of the job was that every Tuesday and Saturday, they would load up the cloth on horse pulled carts and take it to Leeds Coloured cloth hall.

With at least 80% of the people in the village working in the textile industry, it was very vunarable, but as the depressions of the middle 19th century had abated, Farsley was to look forward to a new era of prosperity and the folk of farsley were able to continue the hard work of their ancestors who had worked for generations.

Farsley continues a long tradition in textiles and one of the main customers is H.M Government.

A rhyme called the t'weyver's Grunt after 1851 by John Middlebrook , about the the weavers lot and the fact that they were being pushed by ever increasing change.

                                        See How Good You Can Read It In Old Yorkshire Tongue