It was once a small hamlet with one bridge.

The town of Brighouse in Calderdale grew rapidly with the building of the Calder and Hebble Navigation in the late 18th century, leading to the development of the town’s textile industry.

The canal basin was, in its heyday, a hive of activity, with barges queuing up to be loaded. Indeed, though many miles from the coast, the town’s waterborne traffic was such that it was referred to as an inland port.

Its expansion is documented in a new book Brighouse at Work by local historian and author Chris Helme, which examines the town’s people and industries throughout the years.

The informative book contains dozens of photographs and accompanying text, charting Brighouse’s early industrial history to the present day and the growth of leisure industries.

Brighouse grew from being half of the Hipperholme-cum-Brighouse Township, in the West Riding of Yorkshire. For generations this community had grown largely through an agriculture-based economy.

The industrial revolution was the beginning of the transition to new manufacturing processes from 1760 to sometime between 1820 and 1840, writes Chris.

Completed in 1760, the Calder and Hebble was constructed to navigate the un-navigable parts of the River Calder.

Brighouse and a number of its surrounding communities were to expand into a 19th century power-house of industrial diversity, with the opening of its railway station in 1840 bringing even more prosperity.

A downside of the canal’s success was the gradual deterioration of the local road network. Following the completion of the Halifax-Wakefield turnpike in 1741 and the Elland-Dewsbury turnpike in 1759, it was 50 years before any further major improvements and developments were made.

In 1830 the barge owners who worked the canal in Brighouse could not have imagined that the dawning of a new era in transport was about to start. The life they had known for the past 70 years was coming to an end. This major change was to bring the dependency on canal transport by businesses practically to an end. Next was the age of the train.

With the successful opening of the Manchester and Liverpool railway in 1830, a decision to connect Manchester with Leeds was proposed, which included the line coming through Brighouse.

The first train to reach Brighouse was on October 5. The new station was built to serve Rastrick, Brighouse and Bradford and was known as the Brighouse and Bradford station. The news service was seen by local businesses as a major boost and enabled Brighouse businesses to dispatch their goods to all the major industrial areas in the country.

The ability to send bulk deliveries at speed never previously imagined possible was the final death knell of the canals as a commercial transport entity, Chris explains.

The book delves into areas of trade including the wire and leather, the silk trade and the cotton, wool and worsted industries.

Over the decades, many farm labourers sought work in the new industries. Many worked for the new commercial coal mining and stone quarrying companies started during the mid-nineteenth century.

Cotton, silk, woollen and flour mills became principal employers of the generations who worked in the dark satanic mills of the industrial revolution in Brighouse. Today, these trades have gone, but industry still thrives in the town.

Toffee also offered employment for thousands of Brighouse people, through Turnwright’s - the Turner & Wainwright Toffee Company, a brand synonymous with quality.

Throughout the First World war every ‘comfort parcel’ that was sent from Brighouse to France contained a slab of Turnwright’s toffee – a welcome gift to the lads on the front, writes Chris.

Carpets, bedding, flour and grain milling, biscuits and brick making were among the many other industries that have over the years provided work for local people.

Many of the buildings referred to and pictured in the book have, as is common across West Yorkshire, found new life as sought-after dwellings, restaurants, hotels and home to multiple arts venues and businesses.

Thomas Sugden’s flour mills now form part of the smart Waterfront Hotel and Prego Restaurant.

A police officer for 30 years, Chris Helme was awarded the British Empire Medal in 1990 for service in the community. He has written/published seven local history books, written a weekly nostalgia column in his local newspaper for 30 years and has also penned articles for UK local and regional magazines.

*Brighouse at Work is published by Amberley priced £14.99; it is available from Harrison Lord, Bradford Road, Brighouse ; It is also available from Amazon.