Place:Kirkburton, West Riding of Yorkshire, England

Alt namesBertonesource: Domesday Book (1985) p 317
TypeVillage, Civil parish, Urban district
Coordinates53.601°N 1.711°W
Located inWest Riding of Yorkshire, England     ( - 1974)
Also located inYorkshire, England    
West Yorkshire, England     (1974 - )
See alsoKirklees, West Yorkshire, Englandmetropolitan borough covering the area since 1974
Agbrigg and Morley Wapentake, West Riding of Yorkshire, Englandwapentake in which it was situated.
source: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names
source: Family History Library Catalog
source: Family History Library Catalog
source: Family History Library Catalog
the text in this section is based on an article in Wikipedia

Kirkburton is a village and civil parish which, since 1974, has been a local government ward in the metropolitan county of West Yorkshire, England, south east of Huddersfield, in the Metropolitan Borough of Kirklees. Previously part of the West Riding of Yorkshire, the township comprises the two villages of Kirkburton and Highburton together with several hamlets, including Thunderbridge, Thorncliffe, Storthes Hall, Burton Royd, Riley, Dogley, Common Side, Causeway Foot, Laneside, Linfit and Shepley [all re-directed here]. According to the 2001 census the parish had a population of 23,986, while in 2008 it was estimated that the village had a population of 1,970.

GENUKI provides a description of the ecclesiastical parish of Kirkburton from a gazetteer from the 1820s. It was in the Morley division of the Agbrigg and Morley Wapentake.


the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

The area was populated in the Iron Age when a settlement was believed to have been built on the site of the church. A Saxon fort is also believed to have stood on that site. The village is recorded in the Domesday Book as Bertone in Wachefeld. The entry reads (translated):

"In Wakefield, with 9 Berewicks... are 60 carucates of land 3 bovates and the third part of 1 bovate to the geld. 30 ploughs could plough this land. This manor was in the demesne of King Edward; now, in the king's hand, there are 4 villans, and 3 priests and 2 churches, and 7 sokemen and 16 bordars. Together, they have 7 ploughs. [There is] woodland pasture 6 leagues long and 4 leagues broad. The whole [is] 6 leagues long and 6 leagues broad... To this manor belongs the soke of these lands... Kirkburton, 3 carucates... in all, there are 30 carucates to the geld, which 20 ploughs could plough. Now they are waste"

After the Norman Conquest the village grew from the waste recorded in 1086. Kirkburton was named after the church was built in 1190 and Highburton was built on the hill. In the Middle Ages the township was part of the Manor of Wakefield and Kirkburton church was at the head of a parish, that extended to the Holme Valley.

During the First English Civil War the villagers supported the Parliamentary cause. The priest, Gamaliel Whitaker, angered his parishioners by supporting the Royalists. He was denounced to the government forces who went to arrest him in 1644. During the struggle the soldiers shot his wife, Hester, in the ensuing confusion. Legend has it that her ghost haunts the old vicarage.

The population of the township increased with the growth of the textile trades. By 1800 the population was about 1,400: 60 years later it was approaching 3,700. After this, there was a general decline and for nearly a century the figure was around 3,000. In 1971 there were 2,800 inhabitants, but following housing developments at Highburton the population is nearer 5,000.

The Huddersfield-Kirkburton Branch Line opened in 1867, serving two terminal railway stations as well as , , Fenay Bridge and Lepton. It was unusual in that it was operated by the London and North Western Railway company in an area where the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway company had a virtual monopoly. Plans to extend the line to Barnsley never materialised and Kirkburton remained at the end of the line which was primarily used for goods traffic, although passenger services ran until 1930. The line continued as a transport goods until the 1960s, when a combination of road haulage and a decline in industry lead to closure of the railway station in 1965. Evidence of the railway remains in the area around Northwood Park, a housing development built on the old route. Parts of the railway station still remain, albeit in ruined state, whilst the bricked up tunnel can be seen when travelling into the village centre from the Penistone Road.

A psychiatric hospital operated at Storthes Hall from 1904–1991. It was founded as an asylum, the Storthes Hall Mental Hospital (1929–1938), the West Riding Mental Hospital (1939–1948) and Storthes Hall Hospital (1949–1991). After the hospital closed the land was sold to the University of Huddersfield and halls of residence were built. Most of the site is the Storthes Hall Park Student Village, and the remaining area due for further development as a retirement village.

Kirkburton's major industries were the woollen industry and coal. The village has a small shopping centre in Kirkburton but Highburton has become the residential centre.


the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

The manufacture of woollen cloth was well established here by the time of Queen Elizabeth I. It expanded rapidly after the late 18th century. The first textile mill was built at Dogley in about 1787 and used waterpower to prepare wool for spinning and for fulling the finished cloth. In about 1800 another mill opened at Linfit, which used steam power. Both mills gradually took on other processes and developed into substantial businesses under the Kenyon and Hey families. By 1880 there were eight mills at work in the township.

Leather tanning and the exploitation of coal seams made valuable contributions to the economy of Kirkburton for several centuries. The last tannery closed in the 1830s. Coal mining grew in importance with the increased use of steam for pumping water and by 1850 there were 20 small pits in the township. The remains of a number of mines and bell pits can be seen, including the former St Helen's Colliery on Moor Lane in Highburton. In the latter half of the 19th century there were more than 30 pits operating around Kirkburton employing more than 300 men. The last colliery closed about 70 years ago. One old-established industry, which has moved from the village, was the manufacture of edge tools and shovels, which was introduced in the mid-18th century. The last factory, Carter's, moved to new premises a few years ago.

In 2006 Shepley Spring Ltd acquired the former Whitley Willows Textile site in Kirkburton and set up a volume bottled water plant, utilising the vast high quality ground water sources in this area. Known as Shepley Spring Brookfield, the site operates 24 hours a day and produces tens of millions of bottles for UK supermarkets and wholesalers.

Research Tips

  • GENUKI on Kirkburton. The GENUKI page gives numerous references to local bodies providing genealogical assistance.
  • The FamilySearch wiki on the ecclesiastical parish of Calverley provides a list of useful resources for the local area.
  • A Vision of Britain through Time on Kirkburton.
  • A Vision of Britain through Time provides links to four maps of the West Riding, produced by the United Kingdom Ordnance Survey, illustrating the boundaries between the civil parishes and the rural districts at various dates. These maps all expand to a scale that will illustrate small villages and large farms or estates.
  • Ordnance Survey West Riding 1888. The "Sanitary Districts (which preceded the rural districts) for the whole of the West Riding.
  • Ordnance Survey West Riding South 1900. The rural and urban districts, not long after their introduction. (the southern part of Bradford, the southern part of Leeds, the southern part of Tadcaster Rural District, the southern part of Selby, Goole Rural District, and all the divisions of Halifax, Huddersfield, Wakefield, Doncaster, Barnsley, Rotherham and Sheffield)
  • Ordnance Survey West Riding North 1900 The rural and urban districts, not long after their introduction. (rural districts of Sedbergh, Settle, Skipton, Pateley Bridge, Ripon, Knaresborough, Great Ouseburn, Clitheroe, Wharfedale, Wetherby, York, Bishopthorpe, Keighley, the northern part of Bradford, the northern part of Leeds, the northern part of Hunslet Urban District, the northern part of Tadcaster Rural District, the northern part of Selby Rural District)
  • Ordnance Survey West Riding 1944. The urban and rural districts of the whole of the West Riding after the revisions of 1935.
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