A History of the Village Hall

The old Church of England school was purchased in 1976 by the Kirkburton Parish Council from the Wakefield Diocesan Council and leased to the Shelley Community Association to be used as the Village Hall.


Before this could happen a lot of conversion work had to be done and despite the Grants that were received the new Association had to find from somewhere its contribution of £2,500. A very large sum indeed in 1976. Although the newly formed Association had no capital the members set to and did indeed raise that money.


The Hall was officially opened on May 7th 1979 (May Day) by Lord Savile.

Since then the Association has not sat back but has continued with an ongoing programme of improvements to the Hall.

Village Hall

The Hall is now used on a regular basis by various groups, some of whom when they first started were actively encouraged by the Association until they became established.


Presently the Hall is home to the Shelley Over 60s Club, a Modern Sequence Dancing Club, Cubs, Line Dancing classes, a very successful Bridge Club, an Amateur Dramatic Society and a large number of social events both private and run by the Association.


In 2013 the Community Association signed a new 125 year peppercorn lease with the Council.

The Church School, now the Village Hall, was built many years before the Board School, now Shelley First School.


Tablets on the outside wall tell that the school was rebuilt in 1856 and then enlarged in 1878 when it probably became as it is now.

The school and school house have their origins in the Shelley Enclosure Act. This was an act to clear up the ownership of what was then “common land”. These several pieces of land and “waste” were used by everybody in the village, but belonged to no-one in particular.


A Commissioner was appointed to decide who had which pieces of land and under the terms of the Act he allocated land for a school and a school house. The land he gave for this purpose was described as:-


  • "that parcel of land situated on Town End Hill containing two roods and twenty seven perches and bounded Eastwards by Town Street Road, Westwards by Stringers Road, Northwards by Shelley Road and Southwards by Town End Hill Road."

The names may be unfamiliar but it was the plot of land on which the Village Hall now stands plus all the land upto Doctor Lane on which there are now two houses. One next to the car park and the other Rosemount at the foot of Doctor Lane.


With it went the sloping field containing two acres one rood and thirteen perches, now called The Bridle and, to provide a little extra income for the schoolmaster, three acres at Brookhouse between the stream in the bottom (the Dyke) and the present Barncliffe Mills area on the left of Brookhouse Road.


It took a long time to sort out the school affairs, raise money for the buildings and get them erected but the school finally opened in 1818. Most schools at the time were built and aided by the Church of England. Shelley at the time had neither church nor vicar and the land was given to the Vicar of Kirkburton whose large parish included Shelley.


Very little is known about the early days of the school. The Census return of 1841 shows George Bedford, aged 40, living in the school house, with a servant and 3 young boys who were probably lodging there and getting tuition from Mr. Bedford to help out his income.


The 10 years before the next Census might be called “eventful” for Mr. Bedford, for the 1851 Return shows him with a wife, 5 children, the same servant and 2 boys ages 10 and 13, described as “boarders”. Quite a busy house!


His name appears on the 1856 tablet

"This School rebuilt by subscription AD 1856.

Rev. R. Collins Vicar, John Kenworthy Churchwarden, Robert Haigh Constable,

Joseph Stephenson, Joseph Turner, Overseers,

George Bedford Schoolmaster".


The report of 1871 by the School Board on Education facilities in Shelley at that time gives the C.of E. school three rooms, one 13ft by 12ft, one 18ft by 18ft and a larger one 38ft by 13ft, and it is difficult to fit these sizes into the present building.


Going back to George Bedford, the 1861 census shows him still in the school house with his five children, three boarders and the same servant but, before the 1871 Return, George had died.


His widow moved down Woodhouse Lane, to the first house on the left past the church (Laburnum Cottage), and there she and her two unmarried daughters tried to establish a Boarding and Day School. Mary Coldwell, servant, was still with them.