Family History Resources for West Yorkshire & the Holme Valley

Family History Resources for West Yorkshire & the Holme Valley

I have been researching family history in the Holme Valley area of West Yorkshire for many years, and hope that the following information will be of help if you are doing likewise. It is not intended to be a comprehensive list of resources, rather it is my own personal list of useful links and resources. Some is specific to the Holmfirth area; other entries are relevant to a wider area, especially my index to non conformist records (see side menu)

I would also like to recommend an excellent new book about the history of the Holme Valley Textiles Industry, which should be of interest to anyone whose ancestors have worked in that industry. Titled "Wool & Worset - A History of Textiles in the Holme Valley", by local author Michael Day, it is is an incredibly detailed and accurately researched book that covers not just the history of the mills themselves, but also has much information about the people and families who worked them, much of which has not been published before. Local historian Alan Brooke has published a review of the book on his own website Underground Histories

1) Huddersfield & District Family History Society (HDFHS). This is an essential starting point and the society, which has been established since 1987, has a mass of information and its own reference library at the Root Cellar in Meltham. They have produced some excellent publications including booklets & CDs with indexes to parish & non conformist records. These are still invaluable even though many of the parish records are now available online via The HDFHS indexes are very accurate, whereas's indexing could be improved! Here is a link to the HDFHS website.

2) Parish and township boundaries. Probably the biggest initial challenge if you are researching families in the upper Holme Valley is to understand the complex jigsaw of parish boundaries and historic townships that existed around 1850 and before. Holmfirth itself sits on the boundary between two ancient parishes, Almondbury and Kirkburton; and is also at the junction of three townships (Cartworth, Upperthong, & Wooldale). So two families living almost next door to each other could be in different parishes and different townships. The village of Holmbridge also sits on the boundary of the two parishes, and is split between three townships (Austonley, Holme, and Cartworth). This can be very confusing when you first look at census or baptism records. As an example, many properties close to the centre of Holmfirth appear in the census records with an address of "Upperthong", which is actually a distinct village a mile or so up the valley side. And many properties which today would be recognised as being in Holmbridge would appear in the nineteenth century censuses as being in "Cartworth" or "Austonley", places which today are just small hamlets on the upper valley slopes.

Understanding the geography of these parishes and townships is essential. HDFHS has a map of the townships as at 1851, which shows how they fit together, although it is not very detailed. The names of the townships are also shown on the 1854 Ordnance Survey 1:10560 map of the area. The most detailed maps of the old townships are the 1834 Enclosures Maps (see below) and show the exact boundaries in detail.

3) Parish records on  Parish records of baptisms, marriage, and burials in West Yorkshire have been available online on since 2011 and are incredibly useful. It helps to use them in conjunction with the HDFHS indexes, especially the burial records which are not well indexed by ancestry and may not come up in search results. Note that the records for Holmfirth church often have more information than the duplicate records contained in the registers for the parish churches of Almondbury & Kirkburton. (Note that an subscription is required to view these records)

4) Non Conformist Records for Holmfirth & Upper Holme Valley: Many of these are also now available on but there are a few omissions. The table below provides direct links to what I believe to be the most significant early non-conformist records for the Holmfirth area. Click on the links in the right hand column to go straight to the relevant pages on (NB you will need an ancestry subscription to be able to access these records). Note that Huddersfield & District Family History Society (HDFHS) publish booklets with indexes for most of these records, including some that are not available online


Records film & image numbers

Holmfirth Wesleyan Chapel

Baptisms 1792-1837

See link in left hand menu
(HDFHS booklet also available)


Baptisms 1837-1906



Burials 1814-1837

See link in left hand menu for free download


Burials 1849-1912


Holmfirth Lane Independent Chapel

Baptisms 1780-1880



Burials pre 1850

Not available. Some were recorded by HJ Morehouse


Burials 1850-1880


Lydgate Presbyterian Chapel

Baptisms 1743-1889

Not available online
(HDFHS booklet available)

Hinchliffe Mill Chapel

Baptisms 1839-1898



Burials 1839-1907


Netherthong Wesleyan

Baptisms 1787-1895



Burials 1862-1936


Hepworth/Jackson Bridge

Baptisms 1802-1837

Not available online
(HDFHS booklet available)


Baptisms 1837-1859

Not available


Baptisms 1859-1902



Burials 1852-1912


Hade Edge

Baptisms 1842-1905



Burials 1869-1913


Other chapels (eg for Honley) can be found on my full index to the West Yorkshire non conformist records

Note that the familysearch website includes some non conformist records which are not on There is a useful index to the records here, or you can search the familysearch catalogue

5) 1854 Ordnance Survey Maps, 1:10560 scale: These were the first detailed maps of the area and are really useful when trying to identify place names from the 1851 census, for instance. The coverage of the upper Holme valley is particularly interesting as it shows if as it was before the 1852 flood, so properties destroyed in the flood such as Digley Mill are still in place. It can be viewed online at British History Online, and this table provides links direct to the relevant sheets for Holmfirth & Huddersfield:

Links to 1854 1:10560 OS maps on British History Online
(use the Max/High/Med/Min buttons under the viewer to zoom in/out)


246 Huddersfield

247 Dewsbury

259 Marsden & Slaithwaite

260 Honley

261 Highburton


272 Holmfirth

273 Denby Dale

The 1854 OS base, and later versions, can also be viewed at which also includes a detailed 1851 town plan of Huddersfield. Enter coordinates 414360 416640, then click on "enlarge map" in the box labelled "1851 town plan" to see the areas around the old Cloth Hall

6) Enclosure Maps for the Graveship of Holme (circa 1834): These early maps are not available online but can be viewed at Kirklees local history library, Huddersfield, where it is possible to obtain photocopies of parts. They are probably the earliest maps of the area that show any great detail, and are split up into separate maps for each component township (ie Austonley, Cartworth, Fulstone, Holme, Upperthong, Wooldale. They are worth looking at for the base map detail alone, and also for showing the exact boundaries of these old townships, as well as their main function of giving information about land ownership.

7) "The History and Topography of the Parish of Kirkburton and of the Graveship of Holme including Holmfirth",  by H J Morehouse (1861): This lengthy and in places fascinating book was the first detailed description of the area. It has a vast amount of useful information about the area and its people in the mid 19th century, including some unique lists of monumental inscriptions including those at the original burial ground for Lane Congregational Chapel, Holmfirth, which no longer exists (it is now a private garden). The book is available as a free digital download as it is out of copyright.

8) "Annals of the Church & Parish of Almondbury, Yorkshire (1882)", by Charles Augustus Hulbert: Similar to the Morehouse text, this book covers the other ancient parish that included large parts of the  Holme Valley and is also available as a free digital download, It includes a full list of monumental inscriptions from Almondbury parish graveyard circa 1882 (pages 535-577).

9) A Complete Account of the Holmfirth Flood:   The 1852 Holmfirth Flood, caused by the bursting of Bilberry reservoir at the head of the valley, was undoubtedly the most dramatic and traumatic event in Holmfirth's history, leading to the loss of over 80 lives and widespread destruction to property and industry. In 1910 the local publishers Eli Collins produced a book to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the event, with much detail about the flood and the families and people affected. Most of the text from the book has been reproduced online at the Huddersfield One website

10) Other useful links

Here are some links to other miscellaneous sites that may be of use if you are researching families in West Yorkshire:

Coldwell family history

An excellent site dedicated to the surname Coldwell (or Couldwell). The Coldwell name is traceable back to the 14th C. in Austonley, near Holmfirth