This week Deceased Online adds records from three more cemeteries in its Calderdale Collection. The latest cemeteries are all market towns in West Yorkshire. In this week's blog I explore further the history of the area, touching on the collapse of the textile industry and its effects regionally.
View of Elland by Dave59 at English Wikipedia - Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons by Mtaylor848 using CommonsHelper., CC BY-SA 3.0,
As I wrote in my introductory post on the Calderdale Collection, this borough of former mill towns, moorland and waterways lies at the foothills of the Pennine Hills. Until the late 20th century, its economic life was dominated by textile industries. Calderdale comprises small towns whose cotton, worsted and wool mills were powered across the centuries by the fast-running waters of the River Calder. The latest additions to the Deceased Online database are for the cemeteries of Elland, Luddenden, and Rastrick near Brighouse. Dating back to the 1860s, the burial records include details of name, residence, age at death and also the rank, trade or profession of the deceased or next of kin. Besides the full scans of the cemeteries' burial registers, Deceased Online has also digitised section maps (showing grave locations) for the cemeteries at Luddenden and Rastrick.
Graves at Luddenden Cemetery (Credit: Alexander Knapp)
The largest of these collections is for Elland Cemetery. In 1860, when the cemetery opened, Elland was a township in the parish of Halifax, lying close to Greetland. 3 miles from the larger, insanitary town of Halifax, Elland was then a centre of wool production. By 1872, the township had a population of 3,643 with 760 houses. In 1888, Elland's Town Hall was built. Despite its grand Palladian style, the term "Town Hall" remained a misnomer as Elland never attained borough status. The Town Hall was opened by Sir John Savile, a significant figure in local life and owner of the Elland estates. In 1887, Savile donated a park and recreation ground to the people of Elland in honour of the Queen's Golden Jubilee. The townscape altered significantly as the 20th century progressed and there was a sharp decline in the fortunes of the woollen industry from the 1960s. Although many mills were demolished, some remnants of the textile industry survive, with the remaining mills being converted into residences and shops.
Screengrab of the website for Joseph Dobson's Sweets
Besides textiles, Elland became celebrated for its production of Gannex waterproof fabric products and Joseph Dobson's boiled sweets. Joseph Dobson, who founded of Joseph Dobson & Sons Ltd in 1850, died in 1885 at the age of 55 and is buried at Elland Cemetery along with Mary Dobson. While Dobson's Victorian sweets remain popular today, the tradition of food sales in the region has been re-invigorated in the 21st century with Elland housing Suma Wholefoods. This firm, the largest workers' co-operative in the UK, was established in Leeds in 1977 and sells ethical, fairtrade and organic products.

Elland may also be familiar to viewers of BBC 1's acclaimed drama series, Happy Valley. Scenes were filmed across Calderdale, at locations in and around Sowerby Bridge, Hebden Bridge, Luddenden, Greetland and Elland. The Parkwood Crematorium at Elland featured in Episode 2 as the location of the funerals for the fictional characters of Helen and the mother of Tommy Lee Royce. 

Besides the latest three additions, Deceased Online has already added records for Brighouse, Halifax and Stoney Royd cemeteries. Once complete, the full collection for Calderdale on Deceased Online will include records from all the following:

·         Brighouse Cemetery, Lightcliffe Road, Brighouse, HD6 2HH (1874 to 1996)
·      Elland Cemetery, Exley Lane, Elland, HX5 0SW (1861 to 1996)
·      Halifax General /Lister Lane Cemetery, Lister Lane, Halifax (1842 to 1962)
·      Luddenden Cemetery, Stocks Lane, Luddenden, HX2 6PR (1860 to 1996)
·      Parkwood Crematorium, Park Rd, Elland HX5 9HZ (1956 to 1997).
·      Rastrick Cemetery, Carr Green Lane, Rastrick, HD6 3LT (1884 to 1994).
·      Sowerby Bridge Cemetery, Sowerby New Road, Sowerby, HX6 1DY (1861 to 1992)
·      Stoney Royd Cemetery, Water Lane, Halifax, HX3 9HR (1861 to 1995)

Deceased Online hopes to add records for the full collection shortly. In the meantime, if you have ancestors from the Elland area and would be interested in learning more about its history, you may like to know that the Great Elland Historical Society has lots more information on its website and welcomes all those with an interest in local history.

We are always keen to hear about readers' connection to the collections. Have you found any ancestors in the Calderdale records? Did they work in the textile industry or were they influential in the development of the region's mill towns over time. Whatever they did, please let us know via the Comments Box below or on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Sources: Vision of Britain website

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