In the nineteenth century housing was provided by coal miners and railway company workers for large numbers of their workforce and in many cases whole towns or new communities within an existing town or village grew up around the pit or the works. Managers or workers in a more isolated situation or role were often provided with a single property alongside the place of work. Co-op managers, reservoir controllers, cemetery superintendents and stationmasters are among those who benefited from such provision.
Locally, the Brighouse Co-operative Society, which covered the Hipperholme, Lightcliffe, Norwood Green and Bailiff Bridge area, provided houses for some of its workers. However, its chief impact on the local scene was the housing it built to be sold to the members. The Crescent, off Bonegate, built in 1880, and the long rows of terraced houses that were built in the mid-1890s in Rayner Road and in adjacent Harriet Street, are fine examples of the latter. The terraces are particularly interesting because of the way that they are stepped to accommodate the steeply sloping site. Each house was provided with a water closet but it was still outside the main property. Co-op housing had also been built at the same time as the store at Bailiff Bridge in 1876. Here, twelve back-to-back houses were erected at right angles to the main road. Other branch stores often had one or two houses attached, usually for staff use. Having a home next to the store, which was often the case with managers, was not always quite the benefit that it appeared to be. In 1866 there was concern about a robbery at the central store in Brighouse. Mr Abbey, the manager, who lived in the Co-op house, usually took the day’s money with him to his bedroom, and the committee decided that, in future, he should have a revolver for his protection. A further meeting decided that he should also have a dog, and one by the name of ‘Lion’ was purchased! There is no record of either being put to use but Mr. Abbey was paid an extra £5 in June for his ‘extra time and diligence’.
DN & JMB