Heritage Town

Historic Morley

Morley Town Hall

The Town of Morley was granted the Charter of Incorparation in 1886. The Charter allowed Morley to have it's own Mayor and Town Council. The new Town Council first met on 9th April 1886. They met in a room which had previously been used by the Local Board situated in Queen Street, which runs through the centre of town.

The need for a new building or Town Hall was obvious from the begining of the Town Council. The site of the new building had to be decided. The council agreed that the Civic building should be in the centre of the town. This proved to be quite difficult as Queen Street already had a large number of buildings leaving little space for a new one. By 1889 a site had been chosen. The Council agreed to demolish three buildings on Queen Street between Wellington Street and Albion Street.

In 1890 the Council launched a competition and sent out leaflets to local architects interested in the project describing the dimensions of the proposed site and a list of proposed facilities. The cost of the new building was limited to a maximun of £15,000. The Winner of the competition, Messrs H. Holtam & George A. Fox of Dewsbury won £100 for their design. Second and Third prizes of £50 and £25 were also awarded to companies in Morley and Bradford. The plans were adopted by the Town Council and only a few changes were made to the original plans. The most noticeable is the line of the roof.

Work began on the site in November 1891. During months and years that followed many obstacles were thrown into the path of its progress including strikes, bad weather and financial problems. On the 8th October 1892 a special ceremony was held for the laying of a memorial stone by the current Mayor, Alderman Thomas Clough, who had received the Charter of Incorparation. Another stone was laid on the 9th November 1893 by Councillor S. Rhodes to enable the installation of the Towns Clock. The towns only The The final drawing by the architects clock had been blown from the top of the Local Board Offices during a gale some twenty years previously and the people of Morley were very much in favour of the new clock, which would be seen for miles around. The clock was finally set going on 20th April 1895 and for years it would be known as 'Sam Rhodes Clock'.

The Town Hall was officially opened on 16th October 1895 by 'Morley's greatest son' the Rt. Hon. H.H. Asquith, QC MP (who later became Lord Asquith and Prime Minister). The Chairman of the Town Hall Committee, Councillor S. Rhodes presented the Rt. Hon. H.H. Asquith, QC MP with a golden key to unlock the main gate of the Town Hall from a specially built stage from where he made his opening speech. The council their wives and Mr. Asquith attended an enormous feast of ten courses in the Banquet Hall of the new building. There followed a further twenty speeches and ten toasts with a different wine for each toast.

The final cost was well over the £15,000 the Council had planned to spend. One of the reasons for this was that Morley did not have an electricity supply which meant that a generator had to be installed.

Crank Mill Station Road Morley

The 1790 steam engine factory was built by the Earl of Dartmouth, the first such factory in Yorkshire. The size of the woollen mill was vast, allowing it to house four billies with twenty four spindles each end, scribblers and carders to concur. The image shows part of the mechanism at the side of the building.

Crank Mill in 1969

Crank Mill in 2000

The poem "My Changing Town", written by a Morley lady, sums up the kind of memories which must not be lost.


Where are the little girls, dancing and skipping,
And those enamel bowls of pork fat dripping
In the new part of town?

Where run the dogs with saliva-moist bones
Over rain-washed, dark grey cobble stones
In the new part of town?

Where are the sparrows, chilled to their marrows
Through the streets broad and narrow
Of the new part of town?

Where are shop windows with little square panes?
Where are the curved and leafy lanes
In the new part of town?

Where are the rowdy, crowdy, and bawdy
Old drunks, spilling out of tap rooms tawdry
In the new part of town?

Where is the moustached old man with his cry of'Papers'
The finger-soiled bundles of candles and tapers
In the new part of town

Where wafts the smell of frizzling fish frying,
The tossing and blowing of soap-washed shirts drying
In the new part of town?

What happened to Nell with her long skirts and laces?
It isn't the same. You don't see the same faces
In the new part of town

One day came the monster machine and it spewed at our feet
The masses of concrete and glass by the sheet.
It made the new part of town

And with plenty of time and infinite trouble
It squawked and it screeched and it built on the rubble
The new part of town.

And under the site of the new 'Super-Mart'
Like the days long gone by, is buried, my heart
In the new part of town.

Margaret Watford