The Colne Valley
The Colne Valley lies in the heart of the Pennines, in West Yorkshire and gravitates toward the town of Huddersfield. There are many reservoirs and past quarries which have ensured numerous tracks and footpaths widely used by walkers, horse riders and cyclists. Some of the finest walks in the area can be found around the reservoirs. The quarries provided Huddersfield Rough Rock, an excellent building material, which can be seen in many local buildings. The River Colne runs through the valley.
The central industry of the Colne Valley was, until recent times, the production of fine woollen cloth. In the early days, cloth came from the weavers’ cottages, many of which can be seen today. The Colne Valley Museum in Golcar is a fine example
The Colne Valley played a significant role in the development of the Industrial Revolution. Most of the population had been weavers for generations, so when water-powered textile mills were built on the many streams and small rivers in the area, as well as alongside the River Colne, the area was well set to become a major producer of textiles.
The Huddersfield Narrow Canal, key to the area’s wool industry, stretches for eight miles from the centre of Huddersfield to Tunnel End where it enters Standedge Tunnel. Standedge is Britain’s longest canal tunnel at 3.25 miles and was built more than 200 years ago. Barges were ‘legged’ through as their horses were walked across the Pennines to meet them at the other end. Parallel tunnels run through for the railway line which also goes to Manchester and Liverpool in one direction and Leeds and Hull in the other and was vital to the business of exporting cloth all over the world.
By the end of the Second World War, the importance of the Colne Valley as a centre of textile production had begun to decrease. The area is now primarily residential, its excellent transport links making it ideal for commuters. Tourism is being promoted: the Huddersfield Narrow Canal was reopened in 2001 and boat trips into Standedge Canal Tunnel are available; the National Trust advertises walks on Marsden Moor Estate; and television programmes such as Last of the Summer Wine and Where the Heart Is have been filmed there.
We are proud of the Colne Valley and its rugged beauty and it forms a key element in our school’s history and geography curriculum in every year group so that our pupils know their heritage.