History of Wilsden

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19th to mid 20th Century

Some farmers diversified very early into home-based aspects of the textile business, the more prosperous ones converting barns into warehouses and eventually building mills. Wilsden's earliest mills depended on water power and so were located in the Hewenden valley. With the coming of steam power, Albion Mill was opened in Main Street in 1810, followed by seven more, and one at Birkshead. Local supplies of building stone and coal were factors in Wilsden's industrial development. The earliest reference to coal mining is to a death in a pit at Norr in 1594 and the last mine, New Holland, closed in 1926.

history2The population grew rapidly from 913 at the 1801 census to peak at 3,454 in 1851. This led to the rash of house building which gave the village its still recognisable shape and character.

The railway came to Wilsden, via the spectacular Hewenden viaduct, and the station (at Harecroft) opened in 1886. Necessities, from groceries to clothes and furniture, could be obtained without leaving the village. Before the second world war there were more than fifty flourishing shops. Social life was provided by the activities of various churches and chapels, a flourishing Mechanics' Institute, Wilsden Band and sports clubs.