Five reasons to love Elland in the Calder Valley
- Credit: Alamy
There is more to the Calder Valley market town of Elland than most might think. Tony Greenway shows his appreciation
Elland is a great favourite with walkers because it’s easy to reach fine Pennine country from there but architecture fans are impressed by its significant historical landmarks too.
In fact, we asked the Greater Elland Historical Society — which celebrates its 40th year in 2014 — to choose its favourite Elland buildings. The first, says Tim Patterson, society chairman, has to be the church of St Mary the Virgin — the central part of which originates from 1180 — situated on a raised area known as the Cross, the site of an ancient preaching place. Then there is the town hall that never was. ‘Built in 1880, the rather imposing town hall building was never used for its intended purpose,’ explains Tim. ‘It eventually became a cinema in the 1950s then a gymnasium in the 1980s (and is) now a banqueting suite.’
Other things to see, says Tim, include Gog Hill and its steep stone setts, the old prison stocks in the council office gardens, the Boggart Stone, Long Wall and the Cat Steps, All Saints Church, the Wesleyan Chapel, the United Providence Chapel and the Hullen Edge War Memorial overlooking the Calder and Hebble from its viewpoint at Hullen Edge Park and not forgetting the medieval Elland Wood.
And here are five things you really shouldn’t miss..
The Rex Cinema
Here’s one for film buffs. The Rex in Elland is a pre-war cinema (and when I say ‘pre-war’ I mean the First World War) which shows the latest movies. Forget those soulless, modern multiplex movie houses; this is one of the oldest, purpose-built cinemas in the country which opened to the public in December 1912. The Rex also puts on special screenings of classics (for its 100th anniversary, for example, it screened The Smallest Show on Earth with Bill Travers, Virginia McKenna and Peter Sellers — and Laurel and Hardy movies are an annual favourite); plus organ concerts are held on the third Sunday of each month, and the organ is also played on Saturday evenings before the film and during the interval.
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Elland Silver Band
Elland Silver Band — the town’s very own brass band — is one of the best in Yorkshire and one of the oldest in the country, formed in the mid-19th century. Performing at events and in concerts around Yorkshire, it’s also made TV appearances in the series Last of the Summer Wine and Where the Heart Is. Its success hasn’t gone unnoticed. In 2010, Elland Silver Band was awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service — the MBE for volunteer groups — and it has a very strong youth section, with over 80 children attending weekly lessons. The band, with over 120 players, is raising funds for the rebuilding of its pre-war band room, which it hopes to open to the community, too.
Cromwell Bottom Nature Reserve
Located between Elland and Brighouse, Cromwell Bottom — a mix of woodland, wetlands and grasslands — is considered to be one of the most important wildlife sites in the whole of Calderdale. It’s certainly a breath-taking spot. The Calder runs through the reserve and it’s a location which features butterflies, moths, dragonflies and damselflies plus it’s a haven for bird-lovers who might spot or hear bullfinches, dunnocks, woodpeckers, robins, redpoll, kingfishers, oystercatchers and curlew, among others.
The Fleece Inn
If you take a trip to Elland, make sure you pull up a chair (and a pint) at The Fleece Inn. This is one of the oldest remaining buildings in the town, dating back to 1610 and it’s reputedly haunted. ‘It’s associated with Bonnie Prince Charlie,’ says Tim Patterson of the Greater Elland Historical Society, ‘although more famous for its ghosts and legends and the infamous Leathery Coit (a headless apparition in an old leather coat) and his carriage with headless horses.’
Joseph Dobson and Sons
Do you have a sweet tooth? Then you’re going to love Joseph Dobson and Sons makers of fine quality boiled sweets since 1850. Dobson and Sons also created the ultra-famous Yorkshire Mixture but, as legend has it, this was the result of a delicious accident rather than careful, calculated design. The story goes that Joseph’s son, Thomas John, was walking down the stairs when he tripped and dropped 18 different varieties of sweets onto the floor. ‘He collected them up and sold the mixed varieties as a one off’, says Tim Patterson of the Greater Elland Historical Society. ‘This proved so popular that he mixed up more sweets and these became known as Yorkshire Mixture... another legend born in Elland.’ The firm, operating in Victorian buildings, still manufactures sweets which are sold across the UK and don’t forget a visit to Dobson’s traditional shop on Southgate, near the factory which is a nostalgic trip back to a fabulous sweet-buying past.