Coordinates: 53°37′23″N 1°52′48″W / 53.623°N 1.880°W / 53.623; -1.880
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

St James's church through the viaduct
Slaithwaite is located in West Yorkshire
Location within West Yorkshire
OS grid referenceSE079141
• London164 mi (264 km) SE
Metropolitan borough
Metropolitan county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Postcode districtHD7
Dialling code01484
PoliceWest Yorkshire
FireWest Yorkshire
UK Parliament
List of places
53°37′23″N 1°52′48″W / 53.623°N 1.880°W / 53.623; -1.880

Slaithwaite (/ˈslæθ.wt/, locally 'Slaithwaite' /ˈsl.ɪt/; Old Norse for "timber-fell thwaite/clearing")[1] is a town and former civil parish in the Colne Valley area of the metropolitan borough of Kirklees, in West Yorkshire, England. Historically part of the West Riding of Yorkshire, it lies in the Colne Valley, lying across the River Colne and the Huddersfield Narrow Canal, approximately 5 miles (8 km) south-west of Huddersfield.


The parish church of St James and the Shoulder of Mutton inn
Slaithwaite Town Hall in Lewisham Road

Between 1195 and 1205, Roger de Laci, Constable of Chester, gave the manor of Slaithwaite to Henry Teutonicus (Lord Tyas). It remained in the Tyas family until the end of the 14th century when it came into the Kaye family. It eventually joined the estates of the Earl of Dartmouth, a descendant of the Kayes, and was part of the upper division of the wapentake of Agbrigg.[2] It included the township of Lingarths (Lingards) and constituted the Chapelry of Slaithwaite, in the Patronage of the Vicar of Huddersfield.[3]

In the early 19th century, a local spring was discovered to contain sulphurous properties and minerals, similar to those found in Harrogate. Sometime after 1820 a bathing facility was built, along with a gardens and pleasure ground, with some visitor cottages. A free school was founded in 1721 and rebuilt twice: first in 1744, and again in 1842.

In the 1848 edition of A Topographical Dictionary of England, Samuel Lewis (the editor) wrote: "the lands are in meadow and pasture, with a small portion of arable; the scenery is bold and romantic. In the quarries of the district are found vegetable fossils, especially firs and other mountain trees. The town is beautifully seated in the valley of the river Colne; the inhabitants are mostly employed in the woollen manufacture, in the spinning of cotton and silk, and in silk-weaving"[4]

Slaithwaite Hall, thought to date from the mid-15th century, is located on a nearby hillside. It is one of a number of cruck-framed buildings clustered in this area of West Yorkshire. After many years divided into cottages, the building has been extensively restored and is now a single dwelling.[5]

Legend has it that local smugglers caught by the excise men tried to explain their nocturnal activities as 'raking the moon from the canal' and definitely not as 'fishing out smuggled brandy'.[6] A "Moonraker" is now the nickname for a native of the town. There are similar stories and nicknames for the neighbouring settlements of Golcar ("Lillies"), Marsden ("Cuckoos") and Linthwaite ("Leadboilers"). The legend is also known in Wiltshire, where the locals are also known as 'Moonrakers'.[7]

Slaithwaite Town Hall in Lewisham Road served as the municipal headquarters of successive local authorities in the area until the abolition of Colne Valley Urban District Council in 1974.[8]

Civil parish[edit]

Slaithwaite was formerly a township and chapelry.[9] from 1866 Slaithwaite was a civil parish in its own right,[10] on 1 April 1937 the parish was abolished to form Colne Valley.[11] In 1931 the parish had a population of 5183.[12]


Recent projects have seen a major restoration of the canal. That required a full re-excavation and new lock gates. Following the emergence of the railway network they were little used and closed down then filled in during 1956.

There are several significant local employers, including Thornton & Ross (a pharmaceuticals manufacturer), Shaw Pallets and Spectrum Yarns – one of a small number of remaining textiles businesses in the Colne Valley, once a major centre for wool and yarn.


The church of St James in Slaithwaite is the Anglican parish church; it is grouped with St Bartholomew's in Marsden and the mission church at Shred. The present church stands on high ground and was constructed c. 1789 to replace the original church which had suffered from flooding.[13][14] There is also a Methodist church.[15]

Shopping and entertainment[edit]

Silent Woman public house

There are several traditional public houses in Slaithwaite, including the Commercial, the Shoulder of Mutton, and the 'Silent Woman' which came to the attention of the world media on 23 September 2007, when a man walked into the pub and ordered a pint of beer a few minutes after he had murdered his son and attacked his daughter with a knife.[16] Alternative dining and drinking venues are the Little Bridge, Vanilla Bean, and Om Is Where The Heart Is. The town is included as one of the stops in the Transpennine Real Ale Trail, and the Commercial is the recommended pub.[17]

There are many independent shops, a post office, cafes in the centre of Slaithwaite. Shops include the community-owned cooperative the 'Green Valley Grocer', the workers' cooperative the 'Handmade Bakery,' and the Mystical Moments 'magic wand shop'.[18]


Slaithwaite Viaduct

There are direct trains to Huddersfield and Manchester from Slaithwaite railway station. The Colne Valley defines local geography by channelling the railway line, the canal and the A62: each of which has at one time been the primary means of transport across the Pennines. The small humpback bridge over the canal is called 'Tim Brig'; it is said to be named after a local innkeeper who used the bridge during smuggling operations with the narrowboats passing through.

There are bus links from Slaithwaite to several places in the Huddersfield area. Services run by First West Yorkshire and First Manchester go from Slaithwaite to Marsden, Oldham and Manchester and to Huddersfield. Other bus services are to Holmfirth, Blackmoorfoot and surrounding villages.


In February, on alternate years, Slaithwaite celebrates a 19th-century legend of Moonraking[6] with the Slaithwaite Moonraking Festival, with a week of lantern making and a programme of storytelling. The week-long celebration, which always takes place during the school half term week, ends with a parade of lanterns around the town, and a festival finale by the canal in the centre of the town. A heritage lottery funded project 'Wild about Wool', that is collating memories of the industrial heritage of the Colne Valley, is linked to the festival. 'Wool' was also the theme of the festival held in February 2011.[19]

Slaithwaite is also home to the annual &Piano Music Festival,[20] a classical chamber music festival started in 2018, that focuses on showcasing professional musicians with a connection to the North of England.

The Slaithwaite Philharmonic Orchestra[21] was founded here in 1891. An 80-strong amateur orchestra, the orchestra also plays an annual season of concerts in Huddersfield.

Slaithwaite Brass Band[22] have been making music here since 1892. They perform at many concerts and events throughout the year and have had many successes over the years including being the first band to gain the Grand Shield twice.


Cricket is popular in the town. Slaithwaite Cricket & Bowling Club, situated on Hill Top, during the summer becomes the heart of the community. It is a thriving club with many successful teams including winning Second XI Premiership Championship in the 2010 season.[23] The town also has its own running club named Slaithwaite Striders, which has a mixture of all abilities, meeting weekly to run and enjoy the surrounding roads, paths and of course the views.

Notable people born in Slaithwaite[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Slaithwaite". Key to English Place Names. English Place-Name Society. Retrieved 8 August 2013.
  2. ^ The Yorkshire Archaeological and Topographical Journal. Yorkshire Archæological Society. p. 27. Retrieved 26 January 2021.
  3. ^ Hulbert, Charles Augustus (1885). Supplementary Annals of the Church and Parish of Almondbury: July, 1882, to June 1885. Longmans. p. 128. Retrieved 26 January 2021.
  4. ^ "Slackstead – Slawston | British History Online".
  5. ^ "The rehabilitation of Slaithwaite Old Hall".
  6. ^ a b Slaithwaite Moonraking .org Archived 3 November 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ "".
  8. ^ "Colne Valley UD". Vision of Britain. Retrieved 9 May 2022.
  9. ^ "History of Marsden, in Kirklees and West Riding". A Vision of Britain through Time. Retrieved 11 August 2023.
  10. ^ "Relationships and changes Slaithwaite Tn/CP through time". A Vision of Britain through Time. Retrieved 11 August 2023.
  11. ^ "Huddersfield Registration District". UKBMD. Retrieved 11 August 2023.
  12. ^ "Population statistics Slaithwaite Tn/CP through time". A Vision of Britain through Time. Retrieved 11 August 2023.
  13. ^ St James, Slaithwaite with East Scammonden;
  14. ^ St James, Slaithwaite
  15. ^ Slaithwaite Methodist Church, Huddersfield Methodist Circuit
  16. ^ Hirst, Andrew (24 September 2007). "Dad held as boy 4 stabbed to death". YorkshireLive.
  17. ^ "Ales on rails: How to do Yorkshire's iconic Transpennine Real Ale Trail". Retrieved 8 March 2022.
  18. ^ Ballinger, Lauren (17 August 2016). "JK Rowling's tweet takes a swipe at Slaithwaite magic wand shop". YorkshireLive.
  19. ^ "Supporting the festival". Slaithwaite Moonraking Festival.
  20. ^ "&Piano Music Festival". Retrieved 16 July 2023.
  21. ^ "Slaithwaite Philharmonic Orchestra".
  22. ^ Slaithwaite Brass Band Archived 31 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  23. ^ Barrow, Pete (6 April 2010). "Amateur RL: Slaithwaite Saracens seize Holliday Cup". YorkshireLive.

Further reading[edit]

  • Charles Augustus Hulbert Annals of the Church in Slaithwaite 1864.
  • --do.--Extracts from the diary of ... Robert Meeke, founder of the Slaithwaite free school in 1721. To which are added notes, illustr. and a brief sketch of his life by H. J. Morehouse. Also a continuation of the history of Slaithwaite free school by C. A. Hulbert 1875.

External links[edit]