Victoria Street

Deborah Wyles, Holmfirth Local History Group 

Taken in 2017, this photo demonstrates how busy Victoria Street is. Frequently the traffic is at a standstill, waiting for the lights to change.

Sometimes, by contrast, as this aerial view taken around 2014 shows, there is hardly anyone about. Presumably on a sunny Sunday morning.


Until 1844 Victoria Street did not exist as this 1802 map of Upperthong township shows.

In 1842 the Holmfirth and District Trust had plans to connect the two roads which today we call Station Road and Huddersfield Road.

Initially the plan was to turn right at the bottom of Dunford Road, proceed along the (then) very narrow road in front of the parish church and then across the river by means of a bridge from the position of the present day bus station car park, slanting in direction to join Huddersfield Road near Stable Court.

In 1843 these plans had been ditched in favour of a left turn at the bottom of Dunford Road, resulting in the layout we are familiar with today. This involved bridging the Ribble Dyke and river Holme with Victoria Bridge.

In the 1920s the bridge was widened and strengthened.

Victoria Street shops

Since the Civic Society presentation and this page’s first preparation the then Present has already, a few years later, become the Past and some new “Present” images have been added. By the time you read this they may also have become the Past.

The buildings on both sides of Victoria Street were always intended to be shops with living accommodation above.

One side of the street was built fully eight years before the other. In 1844 the right hand side as viewed from this photo was built. All these are now listed buildings.

The shops on the left date from 1852. In fact from November of that year. They are constructed from reclaimed stone reclaimed from other buildings which were destroyed in the disastrous February 1852 flood.

Another view of the former shops, on the corner of Victoria Street and Hollowgate which date from the late C19th. The corner shop is Richard Read’s drapers.

Gledhill and Brook were corn millers and were linked with Holmfirth Mill on Towngate. William Gledhill started the business in 1842, before Victoria Street was built. He was joined by Brook by 1899. The business traded under the same name into the C21st before becoming a restaurant and bar.

Today it is a charity shop. A survey of all the shops in Holmfirth in 2017 showed that, contrary to popular opinion, only 6% of Holmfirth’s shops are charity shops

Dawson, Birch were confectioners. Christopher Dawson started the business in 1858. His son-in-law, Walter Birch, joined him later.

In 1930 there was a cafe in the shop.

Today it is still a bakery and, remarkably, it continues the original trade.

A photograph from the early C20th shows the shop of James Haigh, draper. The busy window was typical of the layout for shops of this kind in that era. Haigh had been in business since the 1830s, but we do not know the exact location. Also on view in this photo is the Labour Exchange.

In 2017 it was a travel agent and had been since Haigh’s closed early on in the 21st century. Sadly the interior with its impressive layout of floor to ceiling drawers has gone. In March 2018 the travel agents closed and the shop is now the RSPCA charity shop.

Charlesworth’s is another shop that has remained at the same address and selling more or less the same goods for decades.

Arthur Charlesworth had been a woollen weaver but in his late twenties he became a stationer and newsagent. This dates the business on this site from 1891 and possibly earlier.

By 1920/1 he was the branch manager of the Labour Exchange (next to Haigh’s). He was also a printer, ran the circulating library, published the Holmfirth Almanac and was very involved in the Holmfirth Sing events.

Today the shop is still known as Charlesworth’s although you have to look closely to see the name on the front of the building.

When photographed in 2016 this iconic building was still the HSBC bank. The building now features six Venetian style windows (including the doorway).

Originally this was the London, City and Midland bank. Then it became the Midland and subsequently HSBC. It closed in January 2017.

A photograph of the early twentieth century shows that originally there were only three Venetian windows and they were lower in height.

Alterations to form two adjacent buildings into one took place around the 1920s and the building took on its later twentieth century appearance.

Its windows have been modified yet again by lowering the sills by replacing two courses of ashlar with extended plinths for the dividing columns. The new stonework is currently slightly lighter than the remainder. The property is now a bar.

Victoria Street was one of the procession routes for celebrations. This photo shows the parade for the coronation of King George V in 1911.

Gaining permission for such parades today involves lots of planning and in general only one half of the road is allowed to be closed off and for a very short time.

Market Walk

Market Walk AKA Victoria Market or the Picture Bridge is that short stretch in front of what we call the Picturedrome today. This photo shows the original building which dates from 1911 and was called the Holme Valley Theatre.

Note the weir, shown on the following map. This raised the level of the water and directed a supply into the mill.

The same view today. The present structure of the Picture Bridge today is a rebuild in concrete following the 1944 flood which destroyed the original structure.

The remains of the weir are visible in the foreground but the water level is now much lower.

The map from the 1890s on the left, shows interesting detail. Firstly there were no buildings on Market Walk. Also there were no buildings over the river at the junction of Victoria Street and Hollowgate. The map on the right of 1904, about ten years later, shows Market Walk had a row of shops but no theatre. The buildings over the river on the opposite side of the bridge were now built. These three buildings collapsed as a consequence of the 1944 flood. they included Wallace’s grocers and a bank.

Platt’s electrical shop is shown when it was on Market Walk.

It actually started trading on South Lane from 1928. In 1936 it re-located to Market Walk and eventually, in 1967, to Victoria Street.

The question is, which actual shop was Platt’s on Market Walk? As these modern day photos show, the windows are identical and unchanged.