Holmfirth is a small town on the A6024 Woodhead Road in the modern civil parish of Holme Valley, within the Metropolitan Borough of Kirklees in West Yorkshire, England. Centred upon the confluence of the Holme and Ribble rivers, Holmfirth is south of Huddersfield and northeast of Glossop. It mostly consists of stone-built cottages nestled in the Pennine hills. The Peak District National Park is to the south of the town.
Holmfirth as a municipality
The large modern civil parish of Holme Valley in the Metropolitan Borough of Kirklees has a population of 25,049 (2001 census). Its administrative centre and predecessor is Holmfirth which was the centre of an urban district from 1894 until 1974. When it was established, the urban district included the civil parishes of Austonley, Cartworth, Netherthong, Upperthong and Wooldale in addition to Holmfirth itself. In 1921 these villages were absorbed into the civil parish of Holmfirth. Then in 1938, under a County Review Order, the urban district absorbed parts or all of the Holme, Honley, New Mill, South Crosland and Thurstonland and Farnley Tyas urban districts, maintaining the name of Holmfirth. Under the Local Government Act 1972, the Holmfirth urban district was abolished on 1 April 1974, but its area was retained as a single civil parish with a parish council. The council changed its name from Holmfirth Parish Council to its present Holme Valley Parish Council in 1975.
The town originally grew up around a corn mill and bridge in the 13th century. Three hundred years later Holmfirth expanded rapidly as the growing cloth trade grew and the production of stone and slates from the surrounding quarries increased.
The present parish church was built in 1778 after the Church built in 1476 was swept away in a flood the previous year.
Holmfirth was the home of Bamforth & Co Ltd, who were well known for their cheeky seaside postcards - although around the time of the First World War, they produced postcards of a more sober nature. The printing works on Station Road has now been converted into residential flats.
Bamforth's company were early pioneers of film-making, before they abandoned the business in favour of postcards. During the early 1900s Holmfirth was well known for film making; the West Yorkshire film industry, for a time, surpassed that of Hollywood in terms of productivity and originality. Interestingly ancient documents have the town's name spelt 'Holm Frith' which can be translated as 'Holly Wood', though the word "Firth" is an old English name meaning 'wood and woodland' indicating the name means Holme woods.
Local men who served and died in World War I and World War II are commemorated on the Holme Valley war memorial found outside Holme Valley Memorial Hospital.
There are a number of instances when flooding has occurred in the Holme Valley affecting Holmfirth and other settlements in the valley. The earliest recorded Holmfirth Flood was in 1738 and the most recent was 1944. The most severe flood occurred early on the morning of 5 February 1852, when the embankment of the Bilberry Reservoir collapsed causing the deaths of 81 people. Following a severe storm in 1777 the River Holme burst its banks, sweeping away people and property with the loss of three lives; the stone church built in 1476, was also swept away. A storm in 1821 again caused the river to burst its banks. The flooding on the night of 29 May 1944 was not nationally reported and it was then overshadowed by the D-Day landings the following week.