Rastrick - Calderdale District - West Yorkshire - Part 1

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Creative Commons Licence [Some Rights Reserved]   Text © Copyright September 2008, Humphrey Bolton; licensed for re-use under a Creative Commons Licence.

General Description


This is an attempt at describing a township that changed from being an agricultural community to an industrial one in the 19C, and is now a suburb of the neighbouring town of Brighouse. The aim is to use maps to investigate the history of each small area of land, starting with the township map of 1824 that is displayed in Rastrick Library and continuing with the various editions of the Ordnance Survey maps. The landscape is like a document in which old features are erased and covered by new ones, but now and again parts of the old features remain waiting to be discovered.

This article is divided into parts due to the limit on the number of image thumbnails. Part one starts with a general account of the geography and history of Rastrick, and then starts a detailed description divided into sections based on the grid squares and illustrated by the images in Geograph. This description can be followed in Get-a-map, in the 'bird's eye' view in maps.live.com and in old six-inch maps and current large-scale OS mapping in Calderdale.gov.uk (see 'Introduction' under 'Exploration' for details).


1:50,000 Modern Day Landranger(TM) Map © Crown Copyright
1:50,000 Modern Day Landranger(TM) Map © Crown Copyright

Rastrick occupies the part of the hillside to the south of the River Calder between Bradley and Elland, opposite Brighouse. Its central grid square is SE1321 and its area is 555ha. The lowest point is 53m above Ordnance datum (AOD) by the River Calder and the highest 204m on Pinfold Lane near Elland Upper Edge. The underlying rocks are Carboniferous (Lower Coal Measures), which slope down from west to east. Elland flags are near the surface in several areas, and there have been many quarries, one of which is still operating. The western boundary, with Elland, is at the top of an escarpment. The land then slopes down to a valley in the central part of Rastrick. Moving eastwards there is then another escarpment, with a spectacular quarry face where shale and perhaps clay have been dug for a brick and tile works. The land then slopes down again to the valley of Bradley Park Dike, which is the boundary with Bradley. At this eastern end of Rastrick there was the Anchor Pit coal mine. The northern boundary, with Southowram, Brighouse and Clifton, is the River Calder, and the southern boundary with Fixby is along roads and field boundaries (see History). The main land-use is housing, with some industry and farmland, and a small area of woodland.

The part of Rastrick to the south of the M62 is in Kirklees Metropolitan Borough, not Calderdale, because the motorway was adopted as the boundary between the two districts in 1974.


There have been two finds of Neolithic artefacts at Upper Cote, in Fixby just outside the Rastrick boundary. There are two possibly defended sites of unknown age: Round Hill (SE137207) is said to have been a natural hill enhanced by earthworks, and Castle Hill (SE138217) was a ringwork considered to have been Norman but, given its strategic position on a spur overlooking two valleys, may have had an earlier origin.

These are both near to the supposed route of a Roman road (Margary #712) from Tadcaster to Manchester, and Castle Hill was near to the junction with another supposed road (#720aa) that went over Blackstone Edge. Road #712 is assumed to have crossed the River Calder by a ford at Snake Hill (SE147225), and to have headed for the Roman Fort at Slack (SE084175). A Roman coin has been found at Castle Hill. It is surprising that the roads have not been found, considering the amount of quarrying, housing development and the construction of the M62 motorway. A paved road towards Fixby Ridge was found in the 18C in a field (Lower Hopper-take) near the top of Slade Lane, but there is no proof that this was Roman (Turner).

There is some evidence of British settlement: a 'Holy Well' (presumably the 'Holly Well' at SE149217 as shown on OS 1850), and a place name 'Walton Barrows'. No doubt the Angles settled here, and from the name the Danes probably had a settlement at Fixby. 'Rast' is thought to be a Scandinavian element, and 'ric' is Old English for a stream.


Rastrick (spelt Rastric) was a vill in the Domesday Book. It had been held by Earl Godwine and after the Conquest was held directly by King William. The cultivated area of the vill was half a caracute, possibly 60 acres (24ha), but in the list of the vills in Morley Wapentake it is one caracute. It later became part of the manor of Wakefield, held by Earl Warren from c.1100.

The number of houses in Rastrick was 15 in the Poll Tax records of 1379 and 24 (families) in 1605.

During the medieval period parts of the manor were sold, and a number of farms established., eg Lillands at SE128226, Woodhouse at SE151218, Firth House at SE152212, Toothill at SE143211, Lower Cote at SE136203 and Boothroyd at SE130219. In the 18C the estates held by the gentry Lillands (the ancient seat of the Rastricks), Toothill, Boothroyd and Thornhill.

During the 19C, the population grew from 2053 in 1801 to 3917 in 1851 and 9357 in 1901. The ratepayers established a Local Board in 1863 to deal with the severe problems of water supply, drainage and highway maintenance caused by the rapid increase in population during the 19C. A gas works was built by the Rastrick Gas Co. at Birds Royd in 1865. and 17 street lights erected. The ratepayers would not sanction the provision of a waterworks, so the Rastrick Water Co. was formed to buy and distribute water from Halifax. This company was taken over by the local board in 1890. A school board was established in 1881.
Rastrick Township was in the parish of Halifax and the Wapentake of Morley. It became a civil parish in 1866 and joined the new Brighouse Municipal Borough in 1893. Brighouse became part of Calderdale Metropolitan District in 1974, and the boundary with the Kirklees district was drawn along the motorway so that the part of Rastrick south of the M62 is in Kirklees.

Rastrick was in the chapelry of Hipperholme, and at the end of the 14C became a chapelry of Halifax Parish. However the chapel was closed in 1547 and used as a barn from 1578 before being restored and enlarged by the Church of England in 1605. Rastrick became a parish in 1720, but in 1724 joined Elland cum Stainland and Fixby parish, changed in 1739 to Elland with Greetland and becoming Elland parish in 1862. Rastrick again became a separate parish in 1881, and in 1916 it was divided to create Rastrick St John parish.


Ogilby's 'Brittania' of 1675 was the first set of maps to show the surveyed lines of the principal roads of England and Wales. It was a remarkable achievement; 20,000 miles of road were surveyed using a measuring wheel and compass. It has strip maps of two roads through Rastrick. One is from Brighouse Bridge (now Rastrick Bridge) up Rastrick Common (the road is here shown with pecked lines indicating that it was unfenced) to the village, shown near the present church; a 'Hall' is also indicated. The road continues to Lower Edge Road, and down to Elland. The other road is from Oakham to Richmond, and came up from the ford at Cowcliffe to Clough Lane, and along Clough Lane and Dewsbury Road to Elland Upper Edge, and down to Elland.

Warburton's map of 1720 shows Ogilby's roads and also one from Bradley. Jefferys's map of c.1775 is much more detailed, and shows also some local roads: Toothill Bank, Toothill Lane, Cote Lane, Pinfold Lane, Delf Hill and Slades Lane.

In the 18C and 19C the main roads were improved, and new ones constructed, by turnpike trusts. The first of these in Rastrick was the Dewsbury and Elland Trust, which in 1758-9 improved the road from Bradley to Elland via Upper Edge; this became the present A6107 and B6114. Around 1805 a branch of the New Hey Road was built by the Huddersfield and New Hey Trust. This followed the old road up from Brighouse Bridge up Rastrick Common and Ogden Lane to the village, then up Crowtrees Lane and on a new line (New Hey Road); this became the A643. The old main road from Rastrick village up Tofts Grove and over Lower Edge was improved by the Brighouse and Elland Trust in 1814-5. In 1823-4 a new road was built from Huddersfield to Bradford, including a new bridge over the River Calder, by the Huddersfield and Wibsey Low Moor Trust; this became the A641. (OS, 1850 and RCHM, 1984)

Crowtrees Lane was very narrow, and was widened in the early 20C to allow a tramway to be constructed. The central section was constructed alongside the old road, with a grass verge between the two. In the mid-20C the A643 was re-routed from the former turnpike road to Bramston Street and Thornhill Road.

Finally, the M62 was constructed across the upper parts of Rastrick in 1968-71 (Johnson, 1972).


1675 John Ogilby, Britannia, an atlas of strip maps of the main roads of England and Wales (in Halifax library)
1775 Thomas Jefferys, The county of York survey'd
1824 Township map (in Rastrick library)
1850, c.1895, c.1910, c.1940, Ordnance Survey maps at 6"/mile, Yorkshire Sheet 246. These can be seen online - there is a link at the start of the Exploration section.
1905 Ordnance Survey maps at 1:2500 for Brighouse and Elland, reprinted in the Godfrey Edition.

References and Bibliography

Eilert Eckwall The concise Oxford dictionary of English place names Oxford 1960
E Peter Johnson, M62 The Trans-Pennine Motorway, Dalesman Books, 1972
J Horsfall Turner, The History of Brighouse, Rastrick and Hipperholme, 1893 reprinted MTD Rigg 1985 [Rastrick Library]
R Mitchell, Brighouse: Portrait of a Town, 1953
R Mitchell, Brighouse: The Birth and Death of a Borough, 1976
John Ogilby, Britannia, 1675 (an atlas of strip maps of the main roads)
RCHM, Rural Houses of West Yorkshire 1400-1830, Fig.29, HMSO, 1984
I D Margary, Roman Roads in Britain, John Baker 1973
John Warburton, A new and correct map of the county of York, 1720
VCH - Ed. William Page, The Victoria County History Yorkshire, London, 1913
Frederic A Youngs Jr, Guide to the Local Administrative Units of England, Vol II, Royal Historical Society 1991.
Watson, History of Halifax
Kelly's Directory of the West Riding, 1901
Nikolaus Pevsner, The Buildings of England - Yorkshire West Riding, Penguin 1967



The exploration is arranged first by 1km grid square, then by road or other route, and lastly by centisquare (csq), ie 100m square. Field names are from the township map of 1824.

To open the 1:25000 map click on an image thumbnail to open the image page, then click on the map. A square of OS map will then open in a new window. This can be panned. The grid reference at the cursor is at the top left. You can zoom in to the street map.

Modern large-scale OS mapping can be seen on the Calderdale Council website. Open a new window and search for map.calderdale.gov.uk/connect/?mapcfg=Transport_Network. When the map of Calderdale opens, and pan and zoom in to the Rastrick area.

As a short way of indicating the approximate time window in which a feature appeared or disappeared I have used < for before, - for between and > for after with the date(s) of the map(s), eg something that appeared on the 1850 map but was not on the 1824 map, and was still on the 1940 map but is not on the 1999 map is shown as 1824-1850 to 1940-1999.

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