When we first started researching this impressive row of buildings, pretty much nothing was known about their construction other than they were probably built sometime around 1860 for Charles Brook Jnr (1814-1872) of Meltham Hall for his workers. Thankfully, we can now fill in some of the gaps!
By all accounts, Charles was an extremely benevolent man who cared deeply about his workforce. He reportedly knew all his 2,000 employees by sight and would ensure their families were cared for should anyone fall ill. As well as building housing for his workers he also built the nearby Convalescent Home in 1871.
We now know that the land here was purchased at auction in July 1853 at the Rose and Crown Inn in Meltham (which is now the Lloyds Pharmacy next to the Waggon and Horses). A newspaper notice for the auction described it as being 17 adjoining plots of land that “cannot fail to provide a safe investment to the small capitalist”. Although there was no newspaper report of the auction, we can assume that the “small capitalist” who bought the land was Charles Brook Jnr.
We have landscape gardener Joshua Major of Leeds to thank for providing us the details of the architect of Bank Buildings. In a letter he wrote in November 1858, he stated it was Charles Pigott Pritchett of New North Road, Huddersfield. He was the son of architect James Pigott Pritchett (perhaps best known for Huddersfield Railway Station).
Originally the row comprised 34 separate dwellings — 17 open out onto Mill Bank Road and the other 17 are under dwellings below which open out onto the Pleasure Grounds and an area of land which used to be known as the Bull Ring.
We can now be fairly confident that the Bank Buildings (named because the area of land above them was known as “Bank Bottom”) were built in 1857 and completed the following year. The first residents would have had a wonderful view of the laying out of the Pleasure Grounds below which we believed started in 1858 and was completed the following year, again at the expense of Charles Brook Jnr.
Did You Know?
- The 1861 Census shows a total of 183 people residing in Bank Buildings, with the majority working in the textile industries and over 70 with occupations specifically linked to the Brooks’ cotton mills.
Historic England Listing
- Grade II (27 October 1981)
MILL BANK ROAD (Meltham). Bank Buildings Nos. 1-34 inclusive.
A large terrace of 34 dwellings Nos. 1-22 to the rear, and Nos. 23-34 to the front as underdwellings, with Tudor detailing. Circa 1860 for Charles Brook (Jun.). Hammer dressed stone with ashlar dressings. Pitched slate roof with gable copings and stone stacks. Three storeys and attic to front, two storeys and attic to rear. Symmetrical composition with gables to the centre, ends and at intermediate points with gabled dormers between. Entrances are arched, ground, second floor and attic windows are 2-light, first floor windows are 3-light some with transoms, all chamfered. Many mullions have been removed. The central bay breaks forward and is gabled, with arched entrance to each side and four storey ashlar canted bay with arched lights. Large plaque with raised gothic letters reads: “Bank Buildings”. Rear elevation is similar with 2-light windows to ground floor and attic, and 3-light windows to first floor detailed as before. The central bay breaks forward with first and second floor canted oriel bay with arched lights.