The serious flood damage caused to Elland bridge sparked Huddersfield historian George Redmonds to look into its history.

He reveals that Elland bridge was one of the first of its kind when it was built of stone in 1579 – and flooding was a natural hazard through the ages.

George, of Lepton, said: “In the Middle Ages stone bridges were a rarity and in the Huddersfield region the crossings of the Calder, Colne and their tributaries were all by ford, ferry boat, or wooden structures that were regularly washed away in the annual floods.

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“Local people expected to contribute directly to their cost. In 1483, Henry Savile who was based in London nevertheless made three important bequests in his will, leaving 6s 8d each to ‘the reparacon of Eland brige, Cowfordbrigge (ie Cooper Bridge) and the new brigge called Mirfeld brige’. When John Savile of New Hall made his will in 1540 he left 10 shillings ‘to the making of the bridge at Elande’.”

Watch video of the overflowing River Calder below

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George adds: “Of course, there were some early stone bridges in Yorkshire, notably those built in places such as Fountains Abbey where several fine examples have survived. Those with rounded Norman arches are probably the most ancient the county has. Halifax records show that several bridges in that area were built of stone in the early 1500s at Sowerby and Ripponden, for example, but it was Elland Bridge which made the biggest impression.

Ancient stone bridge at Fountains Abbey

“When it was eventually made of stone in 1579 it impressed travellers and stonemasons alike, so much so that it quickly became the standard by which bridges in this part of the Pennines were judged. In 1601 Apperley Bridge near Bradford needed to be rebuilt and the contract with the mason Thomas Wallimsley was that he should ‘make, worke, builde and finish the same as sufficientlie in all points and respects and of such breadth height and in such good sufficient and substantial sort, manner and forme as the stone bridge at Elland now ys or last was builded framed and finished.’

“It was then, of course, on the major highway, with Elland Old Hall on the ridge facing it.”

George Redmonds