Elland is Cross!
This silly tale dates from 1932 but fortunately has a happy ending. There were less than 4,000 telephone subscribers, business and residential, at that time in the Greater Halifax district. To make a call to another area meant telephoning the operator and requesting the town and number – Elland 100. The Post Office was proposing that customers should request ‘Elland Cross’ rather than Elland because operators, owing to phonetic difficulties, were connecting people to Irlam rather than Elland. Public opinion was aghast. How dare bureaucrats relegate our historic town to some upstart in Lancashire. David Garsed, Clerk to Elland Council, ‘We are absolutely indignant. It’s an abominable suggestion’. Sidney Thornton, Father of the Council, ‘Any telephone operator who confuses Irlam and Elland ought to be sacked’. Given this fierce response by our council the telephone authority in Leeds conducted a special operating test with the object of discovering how many times confusion arose...the proposal was quickly shelved.
Walter visits Blackley
A further celebration for this year is the 225th anniversary of Blackley Baptists. Obviously there are many events to recall for such an historic building that stands proud overlooking our town. In 1933 Walter Widdop, the eminent tenor, visited the chapel for an afternoon and evening recital. According to the press reports over 1,000 people were present and well over 100 people could not gain admission. Every seat was taken, the aisles were full and even the pulpit was used for overflow seating. Walter Widdop was on top form as he entertained the congregation with items that had made him famous. Mr GB Wilkinson (bass) assisted Walter and he was also well received. A collection for church funds raised £44 3s 3d. Few will recall this momentous and happy occasion but it would be akin to a top ‘pop star’ performing in Elland Park today.
Gone to the Dogs
The Ainley Top roundabout improvements are now finished. How different this area would have been if plans submitted in 1932 by a Blackpool consortium had come to fruition. The proposals included bowling greens, tennis courts, ballroom, cafe and a...stadium for greyhound racing! Elland Council was not amused; local churches, especially Methodists, were most unamused; and local residents were definitely unamused and concerned especially those who had just purchased the newly-built houses at Ainley Top. Considering the strength of local feeling it is somewhat surprising that Fixby councillors decided to give the scheme the go-ahead (although you may wish to draw your own conclusions). Anyway as often happens to grandiose schemes the plans fizzled away to nothing and the Fixby district was absorbed into Elland, Brighouse and Huddersfield by 1937.
David J. Glanfield
Greater Elland Historical Society
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