Holmfirth is a small town located on the A6024 Woodhead Road in the Holme Valley, within the Metropolitan Borough of Kirklees, West Yorkshire, England. centred upon the confluence of the River Holme and the River Ribble, Holmfirth is six miles (10 km) south of Huddersfield, and broadly consists of stone-built cottages nestled in the Pennine hills. The Peak District National Park around Holme Moss borders the south of the town.
The town originally grew up around a corn mill and bridge in the 13th century. Three hundred years later Holmfirth expanded rapidly as the growing cloth trade grew and the production of stone and slates from the surrounding quarries increased.
The present Parish church was built in 1778, after the previous one built in 1476 was swept away in a flood the previous year.
In 1850 Holmfirth railway station opened, part of branch line built by the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway company. Holmfirth was the home of Bamforths, who were well known for their cheeky sea-side postcards - although around the time of the First World War, they produced postcards of a more sober nature. The printing works, on Station Road, has now been converted into residential apartments.
The Bamforths were early pioneers of film making, before they abandoned the business in favour of postcards. During the early 1900s Holmfirth was well known for film making, and the West Yorkshire film industry, for a time, surpassed that of Hollywood, in terms of productivity and originality. Interestingly ancient documents have the town's name spelt 'Holm Frith' which can be translated as 'Holly Wood', though the word "Firth" is an old English name meaning 'wood and woodland' indicating the name means Holme woods.
See main article: Holmfirth Flood. There are a number of instances when flooding has occurred in the Holme Valley affecting Holmfirth and other settlements in the valley. The earliest recorded one being in 1738 and the latest in 1944. The most severe flood occurred early on the morning of 5 February 1852, when the embankment of the Bilberry reservoir collapsed causing the deaths of 81 people. Following a severe storm in 1777 the River Holme burst its banks, sweeping away people and property with the loss of three lives, and the stone church built in 1476, was swept away. A storm in 1821 again caused the river to burst its banks. The flooding on the night of 29 May 1944 was not nationally reported and it was then overshadowed by the Normandy Campaign the following week.
Holmfirth (and the surrounding countryside) is the setting for the BBC's long-running comedy Last of the Summer Wine. Thousands of tourists flock to the area each year to enjoy scenery and locations familiar from the series. Filming of the TV Slaithwaite-based drama, Where the Heart Is, had also taken place in and around the area.
The former Lodge's supermarket building had been sitting empty in the heart of the town since the Co-op moved to new premises in Crown Bottom. Lodge's was built in the 1970s by the prominent local grocery company. It was opened by Radio 1 DJ Tony Blackburn and occupied an unusual location over the River Holme, beside the town's small bus station. Lodge's was bought in the 1990s by Co-operative Retail Services who eventually closed the store down in 1997, after investing in a brand new £2 million supermarket for the town. Local residents, led by the Holme Valley Business Association, campaigned for its demolition. Their campaign was featured in the 2005 Channel 4 documentary, Demolition. The building is now undergoing extensive modernisation into several smaller shops, with some planned accommodation on the top floor.
A regular farmers' market is held year round on the third Sunday in the month in the market hall and features local and organic produce.
See main article: Holmfirth Branch Line. Holmfirth used to have its own branch line, off the Huddersfield to Sheffield line (commonly referred to as the Penistone Line), this short, two-mile (3 km), line branched from the mainline just south of the village Brockholes. A viaduct took the line across the valley and into Thongsbridge where a station was sited. The line then went along the side of the valley coming to a halt just outside the town centre on Station Road. Plans did exist for the line to be extended up the valley and then tunnel under Black Hill to join the Sheffield to Manchester line near Woodhead. The line closed to passengers in 1959, with goods traffic lasting until 1965. The station building and platform still remain as a private house. Other sections of the line further down the valley have been sold off for private housing and the viaduct, crossing the valley between Woodlands and Brockholes has been demolished, though the small section spanning the A616 road, at Scar End, still remains.
The bus station is located in the centre of Holmfirth from which regular bus services take varying routes around the outlying villages and to Huddersfield Bus Station and Train station. Additional services run to the town, from Sheffield, Barnsley and Denby Dale via Penistone. Most services are operated by First Calderdale & Huddersfield. On Sundays and Bank Holidays services operate from Holmfirth to Glossop in Derbyshire. The service is operated by either Stagecoach Yorkshire/Chesterfield or Yorkshire Traction.
In October 2006, First bus services were re-branded as the 'Holmfirth Connection' following the re-routing of services from the Holme Valley to call at Huddersfield railway station. Integrated ticketing was introduced which makes it possible to travel to Dewsbury, Leeds or Manchester with a single ticket bought onboard the bus.
The Holmfirth Artweek is an annual event which showcases the talents of local artists, while also raising money for the Macmillan Cancer Support.
The Holmfirth Festival (Pennine Festival of Music and Dance) and the separate Holmfirth Festival of Folk usually take place between April and June.
The Holmfirth Choral Society hold classical choral music concerts, on a regular basis, in Holmfirth Civic Hall.
Holmfirth constitutes a town of its own almost seven miles (11 km) south of the larger town of Huddersfield. While the town Holmfirth itself is comparatively small, it is surrounded by several hamlets and villages. These neighbouring settlements are often collectively referred to as "Holmfirth" and include:- Austonley, Arrunden, Burnlee, Cinderhills, Cliff, Deanhouse, Gully, Flushhouse, Hade edge, Thongsbridge, Upperthong and Washpit, Many of which are located on Cartworth Moor.
Other villages and hamlets within the Holmfirth post town include:- Brockholes, Fulstone (New Mill), Jackson Bridge, Hepworth, Holme, Holmbridge, Honley, Meltham, Netherthong, New Mill, Scholes, Totties, Underbank and Wooldale.