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Heckmondwike (pronounced to rhyme with "like", and known locally by its nickname, Hecky) is a small town in the metropolitan borough of Kirkleesmarker, which is located geographically at the centre of West Yorkshire, Englandmarker, south west of Leedsmarker. Close to Cleckheatonmarker and Liversedgemarker, it is part of Cleckheckmondsedge, a name invented by J.B. Priestley to represent a West Riding mill town. It is currently in the Dewsburymarker parliamentary constituency, apart from the Stubley estate area and Gomersal Road, which are in Batley and Spenmarker, but will be entirely within the latter at the next election. It has a population of 11,291.


Only a small town geographically, with a surface of 1 square mile (c. 2.7 km²), the west/east boundaries are about apart - from Flush Mills (Liversedge) to Kilpin Hill (Dewsbury) on the A638. North/south boundaries are about apart, from the border with Gomersal on the A651 to the ends of Cawley Lane and Walkley Lane at the southern end of the town.

Located at the edge of the Pennine hills, the land rises both to the north, east and south of the town centre.

Heckmondwike has its own telephone exchange, north of the High Street and is part of the Wakefieldmarker 01924 dialling area, with numbers beginning 40, 41 and 235. This exchange also covers neighbouring Liversedgemarker, and small areas of Dewsburymarker and Gomersalmarker. Other telephone numbers in the area are from the cable supplier, where the number allocations 50, 51 and 52 are also used in neighbouring towns.

Heckmondwike is home to the famous DJ Paul Oakenfold and also was home to 80's tv stars Rod Jane and Freddy for a while - also tv star Jim Davidson had a house in Heckmondwike in the early 90's.


Like many of the towns in the West Yorkshire Heavy Woollen Districtmarker, Heckmondwike was formerly a mill town, and was famous for its blankets. In 1811 a Blanket Hall was built for the trade of the town's primary industry, and a second hall was erected in 1839, on the road now called Blanket Hall Street in the town centre. What was left of the first Blanket Hall was demolished in spring 2008, along with a number of other old buildings including the former Co-op buildings that had a short spell as the town's post office and former "George" public house - formally known as "The George and Dragon". Current redevelopment of this area is to include the building of a new library, bus terminus and improved road system.

In its heyday Heckmondwike footwear company Goliath, otherwise known as the Co-op Boot Company, made football boots for Sir Stanley Matthews, who had a long and illustrious footballing career with Blackpool, Stoke City and England. Every year he went through several pairs of light boots and he often made the trip to the Heckmondwike factory in Brunswick Street to see how they were made and meet the workers. He put his name to a special brand of boot also made in Heckmondwike . Another footballing connection was a visit by Pele to the Mileta factory.


Heckmondwike lies within the district of Kirklees Councilmarker. It hit the headlines in 2003 when it elected a member of the British National Party as its councillor. The councillor in question, David Exley, was elected after the then-serving councillor, Tim Crowther, left the Labour Party following an internal dispute, to run as an independent. In 2004 Cllr. Exley was re-elected with an increased majority. Then in 2006 a second BNP candidate, Roger Roberts, was elected with a majority of over 700. Roberts, a security guard, had also served as Councillor for the Conservative Party. Before defecting to the BNP in 2005 he had managed to come 10th out of 11 in an election in Heckmondwike. In May 2007, Heckmondwike's third councillor, David Sheard (Labour), was returned with a 644 majority. The Heckmondwike electoral ward also includes the Millbridge, Flush and Norristhorpe areas of neighbouring Liversedgemarker that are south of the A62 road. In the May 2008 local elections, Cllr. Exley lost his seat, as voters in Heckmondwike elected a second Labour candidate, Steve Hall, with a majority of 195 votes.

The people of Heckmondwike have a high sense of civic pride; recent reports by the Boundary Commission have talked of a "fierce independence" in the town, which makes it hard to link to any constituency.[61874].


Heckmondwike's weekly newspaper was the Heckmondwike Herald and was available until Friday 15 August 2008. From this date the title was merged into the Spenborough Guardian incorporating the Heckmondwike Herald, covers the settlements of the former Spenborough Urban District and Heckmondwike.

Other facts

  • In recent years the length of the name of the town seems to have caused problems on road signs in the local area where the town's name has been abbreviated to "Heck'wike" or even "Heckm'wike" although this in no way reflects local pronunciation of the town's name.
  • Heckmondwike derives its name from 'Heamunds Farm' in Old English. Although it is not mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086, the name suggests that there was a small settlement here long before the Norman Conquest.
  • The Poll Tax of 1379 records that there were only seven families living in Heckmondwike, (approx 35 people). Mostly they lived in small, isolated farmsteads such as Stubley Farm, on the high ground overlooking the marshy Spen Valley floor.
  • In 1684 there were around 250 people in the township, occuping 50 houses.
  • In 1894 Heckmondwike Urban District Council was established to deal with civic matters, and maintained independent control over local affairs until the local government shake-up of 1974, resisting requests from neighbouring Spenboroughmarker Council for Heckmondwike to become incorporated into their administration.
  • The town hosts frequent local markets. (Tuesdays & Saturdays)
  • Heckmondwike was the first town in England to have Christmas lights (illuminationsmarker) (see 'Lit up, by Heck' in the external links section below) these first started in 1885 (although lights for other events have been documented back to 1860) and celebrated their 100th anniversary in 1985, a fact seemingly lost on the local traders association when they held a second 100th anniversary for them in 2005, in actuality the illuminations 120th anniversary, it appears that this anniversary marked 100 years of using electric lights rather than the previous gas lanterns, but this was never made explicitly clear and has caused some confusion with, during the Christmas period only, an illuminated sign in the town incorrectly stating the lights as starting in 1905.
  • Heckmondwike Grammar Schoolmarker was the last state selective school in the area in 1973 and remains selective to this day.
  • Heckmondwike also acquired brief fame due to The Sun's headline "Madonna goes to Heckmondwike [Carpets] when she wants her underfelt". The town's name is deliberately misspelt as Heckmondwyke whenever it is mentioned in The Guardian
  • Joseph Priestley's aunt lived in Heckmondwike, in what is now a public house, and was often visited here by her nephew.
  • Elizabeth Gaskell's biography of the novelist Charlotte Brontë in 1857 described the inhabitants of Heckmondwike as "a chapel-going people, very critical of their sermons, tyrannical to their ministers and violent radicals".Though she was obviously referring to her own class the majority were much more sensible and remained heathens.
  • The Six Lane Ends area of the town today is a road junction of only 5 roads, the sixth, Little Green Lane was redirected to make the junction safer, but it is still there.

Famous people

  • Jeff Butterfield – England Rugby Union international.
  • John Curwen – developer of the Tonic Sol-fa system of musical notation: a street in one of the housing estates is named after him: Curwen Crescent. In summer 2007 a new housing development in the Westfield area of the town was named Curwen Park.
  • David Hand – curate of Heckmondwike from 1942 to 1946 who later became Archbishop of Papua New Guineamarker
  • James Berry - The hangman from Heckmondwike - Born in Blanket Hall Street in 1852. Between 1884 and 1891 working on piece rate he hanged 134 men and women. He resigned as a result of the execution of John Conway in Liverpool when his head nearly came off. He died in 1913.
  • Arthur Wood - in 1924 Arthur Wood composed a maypole dance called Barwick Green. Barwick Green is the theme tune from The Archers that Billy Connolly suggested should replace the current National Anthem.
  • Malcolm Merriweather - a fictional character played by Bernard Fox on "The Andy Griffith Show", a U.S. television series, was from Heckmondwike.
  • Dave Pybus - previous member of Anathema now current bass player of Grammy-nominated heavy-metal band Cradle of Filth.
  • Les "Lecter" Smith - previous member of Cradle of Filth now Anathama.
  • Mike Heaton - drummer of Yorkshire indie-rock band Embrace.
  • Thomas Cassidy, Ratcatcher - Poor drainage and filthy ashpits were responsible for much vermin, and rats in particular, were a menace. Thomas Cassidy claimed to be the champion rat catcher of the world. His method was to drive the rats out of the holes with a preparation, the composition of which was a secret, catching them with his bare hands as they came out. In 1908 at one Heckmondwike skin factory he caught 153 rats out of 155 in 13 minutes - using neither dog nor ferrets. Tom wasn’t daft either. He always made sure he left one or two behind so his services would be required again.
  • Hubert Houldsworth - Sir Hubert rose from humble beginnings to become the chairman of the National Coal Board. He was left fatherless at 6 but won a scholarship to Heckmondwike Grammar and became a barrister. He served on the town's Council for many years, chairing its Electricity Committee. He was Controller General at the Ministry of Fuel and Power from 1944-1945 and in 1951 became chairman of the NCB. He died in 1956, less than 24 hours after he had been confirmed a baronet, in London.
  • Craig Harper - Britains got talent 2008 contestant.

Location grid


  1. Office for National Statistics : Census 2001 : Urban Areas : Table KS01 : Usual Resident Population Retrieved 2009-08-26

External links

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