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Copley and Copley Viaduct
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Copley was a built as a model village A model village is a type of mostly self-contained community, built from the late 18th century onwards by landowners and industrialists to house their workers. by Colonel Edward AkroydEdward Akroyd (1810–1887), industrialist, politician and philanthropist, was born at Brockholes near Halifax to Jonathan Akroyd (1782–1847) and his wife, Sarah Wright. in the Calder Valley to the south of Halifax in the West Riding of Yorkshire, England. He bought a disused mill on the banks of the River Calder in 1844,  demolished it and built a larger mill that was completed in 1847.[1]

To house his workforce Akroyd built a “model industrial settlement” of 112 back-to-back houses in three terraces with shops at the end. The first houses, described by Pevsner, as built in a “picturesque Pennine Vernacular” style were completed in 1849. They have two bedrooms and had “privies” in the front gardens. Rents proved to be high and the next two terraces were built more cheaply. Another row of through houses, one room deep, was built in 1865 after the back-to-backs were criticised in an article in The Builder.[1]

To attract and retain a workforce outside the urban area of Halifax, Akroyd provided not only houses but built a school, library and reading room, a co-operative store, the parish church, a recreation ground and cricket club and promoted the savings bank, burial and clothing clubs, allotment gardens and the horticultural and floral society.[2]

The school was built in 1849 and a year later a library. Akroyd also paid for much of the cost of St Stephen’s Church which was built between 1861 and 1865 on the opposite side of the river to the designs of W. H. Crossland.[1]

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Bibliography


Hargreaves, J. A. (2004). Akroyd, Edward (1810–1887). In Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online). Oxford University Press. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/48819
Harman, R., & Pevsner, N. (2017). Yorkshire West Riding: Sheffield and the South.