‘Bailiff Bridge Beck’ (or Wyke Beck to give it its correct name although most locals call it Bailiff Bridge Stream), although not even noticed by most people and is seen by others as just one of those things that’s there, but it played a vital role in Bailiff Bridge’s history and how it helped to shape the village as we see it today.
Firstly it now has a complex three stone built bridges all joined which are built under the heart of the village as it carries the water down from Wyke Beck and beyond to join with Clifton Beck as it makes its way to Brighouse before joining the River Calder these vast bridges support the very busy A641 Bradford Road and the A649 Wakefield Roads (early records seem to suggest some kind of wooden structure called the Bradford & Huddersfield Turnpike Toll Bridge and was controlled from the Bailiff Bridge Toll House with a gate or chain to allow payment to be collected and operated from 1824 to 1875 when tolls were abolished by the acting government ) it is thought to be these bridges where the name Bailiff Bridge came from, along with the former Toll House which was on the corner of Birkby Lane as it joins Bradford Road where the people collected the fees these were commonly known as bailiffs or as some have suggested a person who built the original bridge William Bailiff? Either way there is also records that suggest the original name was in fact Bailibrigge in 1374. WHO KNOWS?.
Many textile mills were built on the side of Becks, Streams or Rivers so the water could be used in the textile industry to help with the cleaning and dyeing of the wools and cloths along with using the water to feed the vital constant supply of steam needed in these mills to power the weaving machines and cool vital moving parts to prevent overheating, some mills even used water to carry stock around their mills on a type of water conveyer system, without Bailiff Bridge’s Beck and its vital supply of water Bailiff Bridge may never have been built?
On Victoria Road behind the mill complex they built a large dam to keep the mill in constant supply of water even in dry summers, there are reports that the mill owners used to hold swimming competitions in the dam and allow fishing competitions in the dam to help keep the workers happy and even all those years ago was a form of bonding for the workers which is constantly a thing most modern companies strive to achieve.
The Bailiff Bridge Beck also helped the local farms with not only as a point to drain their lands but also for watering the stock and today still plays this vital role along with helping sustains Bailiff Bridge’s Wildlife that at the moment is excellent although it is very changeable by some polluting that occurs higher up the stream where a sewerage filter system uses this beck as an overflow and the smell at times can be very strong although at one time the beck suffered by illegal chemicals been released into the beck and killing the fish and other creatures that live in the beck.
Thankfully the beck today has many local visitors and inhabitants of the beck including Kingfishers, Ducks, Dippers, Wagtails, Trout, Crayfish, Newts, and many more. Unfortunately Bailiff Bridge’s Beck also has had a darker side in the past the main one is bringing too much water down from Wyke at times leading to local flooding, if you look at all the houses and businesses in the centre of Bailiff they all have high steps leading to their doors, although vast improvements have been made in recent years and the beck is now constantly monitored to avoid flooding. (Please see section on Bailiff Flooding)