Slaithwaite (locally Slawit) (from the Old Norse for a timber-fell clearing), is a village within the Metropolitan Borough of Kirklees, in West Yorkshire, England. Historically part of the West Riding of Yorkshire, it lies in the Colne Valley, lying across the River Colne and the Huddersfield Narrow Canal, approximately 5 miles (8.0 km) southwest of Huddersfield.
The village was part of the Earl of Dartmouth estates, a chapelry, in the parishes of Huddersfield and Almondbury, union of Huddersfield, Upper division of the wapentake of Agbrigg and included the township of 'Lingarths' (Lingards) and the Township of Slaithwaite.
In the early 19th century a local spring was discovered to contain sulphurous properties and minerals, similar to those found in Harrogate. Sometime after 1820 a bathing facility was built, along with a gardens and pleasure ground, with some visitor cottages. A free school was founded in 1721 and rebuilt twice: first in 1744, and again in 1842.
In the 1848 edition of 'A Topographical Dictionary of England', Samuel Lewis (the editor) wrote:- "the lands are in meadow and pasture, with a small portion of arable; the scenery is bold and romantic. In the quarries of the district are found vegetable fossils, especially firs and other mountain trees. The village is beautifully seated in the valley of the river Colne; the inhabitants are chiefly employed in the woollen manufacture, in the spinning of cotton and silk, and in silk-weaving"
Slaithwaite Hall, thought to date from the mid-15th century, is located on a nearby hillside. It is one of a number of cruck framed buildings clustered in this area of West Yorkshire. After many years divided into cottages, the building has been extensively restored and is now a single dwelling.
Legend has it that local smugglers caught by the excise men tried to explain their nocturnal activities as 'raking the moon from the canal' and definitely not as 'fishing out smuggled brandy'. A "Moonraker" is now the official nickname for a native of the village. Similar stories and nicknames exist for the neighbouring villages of Golcar ("Lillies"), Marsden ("Cuckoos") and Linthwaite ("Leadboilers"). The legend is also known in Wiltshire, where the locals are also known as 'Moonrakers'.
An apocryphal story associated with Slaithwaite is that in the 19th century, when tenants came to the village to pay their annual rent, The 5th Earl of Dartmouth would provide 'rent dinners' and that the shoulder of mutton was the most favoured with the tables of hot roast beef, mutton and tongue (cooked together in the set pot) being available there at that time.