Magdale and Steps cover

Magdale and Steps, The Making of an Industrial Hamlet

The industrial heritage of West Yorkshire has been well researched, recorded and published, thanks to the efforts of many local historians. The wool trade itself has been covered in many forms, both academic and commercial.

However, the life and times of one small industrial hamlet in West Yorkshire has been revealed with a more personal account of Magdale four miles south of Huddersfield and now a bucolic dale adjacent to the textile village of Honley. Magdale and Steps has just been published, covering the growth and decline of the local mills, grand homes for mill owners and even an agricultural experiment which had important consequences.

Nature is not ignored with the inclusion of working men naturalists, some of whose specimens can be seen in Huddersfield’s Tolson museum.

Written by local man, Alan Brooke, the work was originally privately published around ten years ago, but has now been thoroughly revised and updated.

Printed in the A5 format of the Honley Civic Society imprint, the 88-page volume describes the evolution of the small community from the days of the handloom weavers through the industrial revolution to the heyday of textile manufacturing.

Alan Brooke’s family has lived in Magdale for generations which gives the text both a personal and a detailed accent. The lives of people from farm labourers to woollen manufacturers are depicted, sometimes in vivid detail, against the wider background of rapid social change.

Many more illustrations, some in colour, have been added from both the author’s collection and Honley Civic Society archives.

The book, costing £10.00, is published on 1st November and can be purchased through the Honley Civic Society website or email to

It is difficult to image that the present day tranquillity of Magdale was once a hive of activity, with bustling mills and busy farms.

Walkers along the banks of Magdale dam may conjecture how life must have been in the centuries past as the waters reflect the outline of the original Upper Steps Mill and the weavers cottages which border the one-time artery which is formed by the dam and Mag Brook.

However, they need wonder no more for a new book has just been published about the history of this industrial hamlet. There is so much to tell