Horbury is a large village in the City of Wakefield, a metropolitan district of West Yorkshire, England and part of the West Yorkshire Urban Area. Historically in the West Riding of Yorkshire, it is situated north of the River Calder about three miles (5 km) south west of Wakefield and two miles (3 km) to the south of Ossett. It includes the outlying areas of Horbury Bridge and Horbury Junction. At the 2001 census it had a population of 10,002. Old industries include woollens, engineering and building wagons for the railways but the area is now largely residential.
The name Horbury is attested in 1086 as (H)orberie. It is derived from Old English horu 'dirty land' and burh (in its dative form byrig), which translates as 'filthy fortification' or 'stronghold on muddy land'. Other spellings include Orberie, Horbiry and Horberie. The name possibly referred to a fortification near an old fording point of the River Calder.
The settlement predates the Domesday Book of 1086 in which Horbury and Crigglestone, on the south side of the River Calder, were the only parts of the Manor of Wakefield not described as "waste". The survey recorded about 40 people and four ox-drawn ploughs in 'Orberie' and 'Crigeston' combined. About of land were in cultivation and much woodland. Horbury had a church dating from about 1106 which was a daughter church of the church in Wakefield and possibly replaced an earlier Saxon church. The Norman church had a tower, nave and chancel.
The Manor of Wakefield was given by the crown to the Earls Warenne in 1106 and was held by them until 1359. Sir Robert de Horbiry and Sir John de Horbiry were stewards to the Earl de Warenne, who granted Sir John the village of Horbury and its lands for life. After the death of Sir John de Horbury in 1306, it became one of the constituent 'graveships' of the Manor of Wakefield.
The oldest surviving house in the village is Horbury Hall in Church Street, built by Ralph Amyas, deputy steward of the Manor of Wakefield. It has been dated by dendrochronology to 1474. Other old buildings include the tithe barn. Theand in Horbury was divided into three great fields, Northfield, Southfield and Westfield, and remains of medieval ridge and furrow of strip cultivation are visible in Carr Lodge Park.
A wooden bridge spanned the River Calder on the road from Wakefield to Huddersfield in the 15th century. Money for its upkeep was left in local wills dated 1404 and 1492, a custom that continued into the 16th century. A stone-arched bridge that replaced the wooden structure in the 17th century lasted until it partly collapsed in 1918. A new bridge was completed in 1930 and was repaired in 1991 at a cost of £2 million. Horbury Bridge was flooded after heavy rain in 1946.
Wool spinning and cloth manufacture were important originally as cottage industries. At the start of the Industrial Revolution steam engines were installed at Race's Mill in Dudfleet and Foster's Mill on Engine Lane in 1795. Resistance to the implementation of new textile machinery and the factory system was shown when Luddites, who blamed the new factories for depriving weavers from earning a living in a time of widespread hunger and poverty, destroyed Fosters Mill.
Albion Mills and Millfield Mills were built in the 1870s. William Sykes's sports goods works which became part of Slazengers was established at about this time. Slazenger had four factories which produced sports equipment. Since the factories closed the name is preserved in Slazengers Sports and Social Club, which has facilities and floodlit grounds for many different sporting activities.
The works later became owned by Procor and then Bombardier Inc.. The last vehicles constructed at the site were Bombardier Voyager trains, the plant closed in 2005; the engineering company Eddison & Wanless now occupies the site.
In 1905, Richard Sutcliffe (1849–1930), who had worked as part-time manager at Hartley Bank Colliery across the valley in Netherton, opened his Universal Works on the site of the old dye house mill on the Horbury-Wakefield boundary in 1905 and started to manufacture conveyor belts and mining machinery. In 1972 the company employed 742 people at its Horbury site.
Historically Horbury was a chapelry in the parish of Wakefield, in the lower division of the Wapentake of Agbrigg and Morley and part of the West Riding of Yorkshire. Following the implementation of the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834, Horbury became one of the 17 constituent parishes of the Wakefield Poor Law Union formed in 1837. Horbury Urban District Council built the town hall. Its foundation stone was laid on Wednesday 30 July 1902 by Joshua Harrop. The architects and builders were Henry Fallas & Sons of Horbury.