Low Moor Local History Group
Low Moor takes its name from its position. The low, lower or nether moor of the village of Wibsey. The higher moor was called Wibsey Slack, taking its name from the Norse word “slakki” meaning a small dell or hollow in the ground, or a bog or marshy ground. There was also Odsal Moor.
Before the ironworks came and changed forever the face of Low Moor it was moorland with scattered farms and cottages around its edges. The Chapel of Ease, Wibsey Chapel, was opened in 1606 and dedicated to the Holy Trinity in 1636. It was part of the Parish of Bradford and in the township of North Bierley. The Lords of the Manor were the Rookes family who lived in Royds Hall.
A new community – Low Moor, sprang up around the iron works of the Low Moor Company which was opened in 1790 by the partnership Hird, Jarratt, Dawson and Hardy. There was never a single village of Low Moor but lots of smaller connected communities, including Hill Top, Wesley Place, Moor Top and Carr Lane.
As workers came to live in the area the iron works rented out cottages and private speculators built houses. Public houses and shops followed along with non-conformist churches and as the population grew, another Church of England, St Marks opened in 1857.
The area was very sterile with dross heaps everywhere and permanently engulfed in smoke from the belching furnaces of the ironworks. Coke ovens, textile mills, the wire works and several local slaughter houses added to the stench.
This is what Sir George Head had to say in 1835
I descended from the coach, at a public-house on the turnpike-road, and walked about a mile to the works. In this region of iron and coal, the whole surface of the moor is rich in both, the approach to these magnificent founderies bears the type of universal combustion, as in the vicinity of the crater of a volcano: to witness a more awful picture, produced by the combined features of fire, smoke, and ashes, an individual must bend his steps at least towards Ætna or Vesuvius. For a long way the surface of the moor is covered with heaps of calcined shale and cinders, the collection of many years, upon which, here and there, plants of furze have spontaneously taken root: from these the eye, attracted onwards, rests on a cluster of low blackened buildings, containing numerous fires, for the purpose of charking the coal used in smelting the metal; and among the more massive piles of brickwork broad flaring flames crawling upwards from the main furnaces exhibit an awful appearance; for the mouth of each of these furnaces is near ten feet diameter, its form that of an ordinary lime-kiln, and on the summit, in the midst of the eager flames, strange-looking wheels recall to the memory a whole host of mythological images…….
Extract from "A Home Tour Through the Manufacturing Districts of England in the Summer of 1835" by Sir George Head. (1836)