About - Cleckheaton

Being Yorkshire OR I am a ‘TYKE’

The culture of Yorkshire has developed over the county's history, influenced by the cultures of those who came to control the region, including the Celts (Brigantes and Parisii), Romans, AnglesVikings and Normans. Yorkshire people are said to have a strong sense of regional identity and have been viewed to identify more strongly with their county than their country. The Yorkshire dialect and accent is distinctive...

The Yorkshireman's Motto:

'Ear all, see all, say nowt;

Eyt all, sup all, pay nowt;

And if ivver tha does owt fer nowt -

Allus do it fer thissen.

Yorkshire people are immensely proud of both their county and their identity, embracing the popular nickname of God's Own County given to Yorkshire.


Folk music and dance.

Yorkshire has a rich heritage of folk music and folk dance including particularly Long Sword dance. Folk songs were collected in the region from the nineteenth century, and it probably had more attention than other northern counties, but its rich heritage of northern and industrial folk song was relatively neglected. It was not until the second folk revival in the 1950s that Nigel and Mary Hudleston began to attempt to redress the balance, collecting nearly 400 Yorkshire songs between 1958 and 1978.

Yorkshire folk song lacked the unique instrumental features of folk in areas like Northumbria and was chiefly distinguished by the use of dialect, particularly in the West Riding and exemplified by the song On Ilkla Moor Baht 'at, probably written in the later nineteenth century and using a Kent folk tune (almost certainly borrowed via a Methodist hymnal), but often seen as an unofficial Yorkshire anthem. Most Yorkshire folk songs were not unique and tended to be adapted to fit local geography and dialect, as with probably the most commercially successful Yorkshire song, Scarborough Fair, recorded by Simon and Garfunkel, which was a version of the Scottish ballad The Elfin Knight. One unusual piece of music is the unique choral folk song, probably derived from an 18th-century ballad, known as the Holmfirth Anthem or Pratty Flowers.

The most eminent folk performers from the county are the Watersons from Hull, who began recording Yorkshire versions of folk songs from 1965, and members of which are still performing today. ¬†Also famous is the Leeds-born musician the late Jake Thackray, who became famous in the 1970s for singing witty, often bawdy songs, many of which related to rural Yorkshire life, in a style derived from the French chansonnier tradition. His work led him to be described by some as the "Northern Noel Coward". Other Yorkshire folk musicians include Heather Wood (b. 1945) of the Young Tradition, the short-lived electric folk group Mr Fox (1970-2),The Deighton FamilyJulie MatthewsKathryn Roberts, and the Mercury Prize nominated Kate Rusby.

Yorkshire has a flourishing folk music culture, with over forty folk clubs and thirty annual folk music festivals.  In 2007 the Yorkshire Garland Group was formed to make Yorkshire folk songs accessible online and in schools.


The Wickham Cup has been keenly contested at Cleckheaton since the turn of the century - to use a good old phrase. Each year, sides from all over the country gather to dance at various spots around the town to entertain the public but, more importantly, they come to take part in a dance competition open to any style in the Morris Dancers' range. The side which makes the best presentation in terms of intricacy of steps, rhythm, musicianship, costume and crowd pleasing ability are judged winners and hold the main trophy for a year and are presented with an alternative cup to keep.

Previous winners of the competition have been:

2000     Rainbow Morris Dancers               2008    Thieving Magpie               

2001     Instep Research Team                  2009    (Stopped due to illness)

2002     Spen Valley Longswords               2010   Mortimers Morris

2003     Roll Back the Carpet                       2011   Wayzgoose

2005     Ironmen and Severn Gilders         2012   Dame's Rocket (from USA)

2006    Spen Valley Longswords                2013   Wayzgoose

2007    Wight Bells                                        2014   NYFTE

2015    Thieving Magpie                               2016   Thieving Magpie         

2017    Thieving Magpie                               2018   Jockey Morris

2019   Thieving Magpie                                2020   Festival Postponed

2021   Festival Postponed                           2022  Persephone

2023   Festival Cancelled                            2024  It could be you !!!!

(If your side would like to take part please get in touch)


Situated in the Metropolitan Borough of Kirklees, right in the middle of the West Yorks Conurbation, with Leeds, Bradford and Halifax, Huddersfield and Dewsbury all approx the same short distance away. Affectionately known by the locals (and regular visitors) as just plain Clecky, the name is a corruption due to J.B. Priestley (1894-1984) and his writings, Clekywyke being the setting for “When we are married”.

The Cleckheaton Town Hall, where the main concerts are held, was started in  June 1890 when the foundation stone was laid by William Anderton Esq, JP.

The site of the old British school and some adjoining properties on Church Street were purchased for 3550.00.

It was officially opened by Mr. Joseph Law, Chairman of the Town Hall Committee on 10th February 1892. The opening day was declared a half day holiday and the celebrations included processions, a football match, a lavish Ball and a magic lantern show in the Market Place,. The architects were Messrs Mawson and Hudson of Bradford, the final cost including the site, furnishings and electric lighting was 13900.00 of which was part paid by Cleckheaton Local Board and part by subscriptions. The clock was supplied by William Potts &Sons of Leeds, the chimes by Taylor Bros of Loughborough. The clock was presented to the town by Messrs  J Walter and Fred Wadsworth as a memorial to their father Elymas Wadsworth, the first chairman of the Town Hall Committee, who sadly died 9 months before the official opening.


Inspiration to many writers including the Brontes who lived on Halifax Road, Hightown before moving to Haworth. Clough House, in which the parents first lived and in which Maria and Elizabeth were born while their father was curate at Hartshead Church, is still standing. The Red House (1660’s and now a museum) and Kirklees Hall are both mentioned in Charlotte’s writings, the Red House being “Briarmains” and Kirklees Hall being “Nunwood” in her book “Shirley”. Robin Hood is reputedly buried in Kirklees Park, where the Hall sits, just over the hill in Clifton.


Several protestors were shot by soldiers in 1812 in Huddersfield at the mill owner’s request in reprisal for the famous Luddite uprising. This originated in the East Midlands but was at it’s fiercest on the banks of the Spen Beck. In 1812 the rioters attacked Rawfold Mill in our town. As a result of plotting at a nearby public house, The Shears, they set out to wreck the power operated cropping machines. 1842 brought more civil disturbances with the Boiler Plug Riots. 5000 marched to Peg Mill to draw the plugs out of the steam boilers. One of our local folk clubs has kept the name alive of The Croppers (held every Friday eve except at Festival time), The Cropper Lads being their theme song telling the historical tale of events.

2012, being the centenary, remembered the history of the uprising at the festival with a play by the Hammer and Shears Company.

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Background photo - Morris at Cleckheaton  

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