Things to do in Batley, West Yorkshire
Batley is the Danish word meaning "home of bats". This could have been literally bats, or even, the local Batte family.
In the Domesday Book it was recorded as Bateleia when the manor was given to Ilbert de Lacy and later to the Battes.
The first church was built in the 11th century and the current parish church was built on the same foundations in the early 1400s.English Civil War although surviving unscathed, it gradually became derilect. Only ruins remain of the grand hall and cellars.
In the 16th century White Lee coal mine was opened and the area mined coal until 1973.
Batley Grammar School was established in 1612. Famous students include pottery founder Josiah Wedgwood, philosopher Joseph Priestley and industrialist Sir Titus Salt.By the 1740s Methodism was being introduced. The Mount Pleasant area was a staunch Methodist area and, being teetotal, the area was pub-free.
In 1796 the first water driven mill was built and soon the town was thriving, as employment in the mills attracted many immigrants to the area. A profitable toll road was built for transporting the wool products and by 1848 Batley had its own railway station.
In the 19th century Batley's main industry was the shoddy trade. This was the recycling of woollen goods, grinding down old clothes and re-spinning the yarn. Batley was the leader of this process and in 1860 it produced 7,000 tonnes of shoddy with 80 companies and 550 workers employed.
The owners were known as Shoddy Barons. There was even an unofficial Shoddy King and a Shoddy Temple, actually the Zion Methodist Chapel!
Michael Spedding's confectionery shop fared even better. It started in 1853 and later became Fox's Biscuits which is still in business today.
With the decline in general of the textile industry, Batley fell into decline and is currently an EU transformation zone.
Present Day Batley
Batley has a population of about 50,000 of whom 30% are Asian. It has a modest town centre with a market, retailers, supermarkets and banks. Some old mill buildings have been converted into factory outlets and shopping villages.
The 14th century Batley Parish Church is a local landmark and has eight bells; the oldest dating back to 1658.
Today the main employers in Batley are Tesco supermarkets and Fox's biscuit factory.
Things to Do Around Batley
Wilton Park has a butterfly house and an observatory where the local astronomy society meets.
The Bagshaw Museum is in the grand home of a former "Shoddy Baron", George Sheard. It features local exhibits and an Ancient Egypt display.
The Yorkshire Motor Museum is a small but interesting collection of vintage and veteran cars including local car marques.