Castle Carr Walk: A Hidden Gem for Nature Lovers and History Enthusiasts

Introduction to Castle Carr

Castle Carr Mansion and Castle Carr Fountain are set high amidst the lush green landscapes of Yorkshire; it’s a hidden gem that captures the hearts of nature lovers and history enthusiasts alike – located at the upper end of the valley of Luddenden Brook in Calderdale.

History and Significance of Castle Carr

Originally built in the mid-19th century, this grand castle built in a mixture of Norman and Elizabethan styles, was a testament to the wealth and power of its owners. It served as a home and a symbol of their social status. Over the years, the castle has witnessed a myriad of events and transformations, leaving behind a rich tapestry of stories for visitors to unravel.

Why and When was Castle Carr Mansion Built?

Castle Carr was built for Captain Joseph Priestly Edwards JP, mostly between 1859 and 1867. Captain Edwards was the fourth and youngest son of Henry Lees Edwards (1775 -1848) a wealthy cotton mill owner and director of Halifax & Huddersfield Union Bank.

Castle Carr Mansion with Fountain in the Foreground

Castle Carr Mansion with the Fountain in the Foreground

Born in Halifax in 1818 and baptised in 1821, Joseph Priestly Edwards was a Captain in the Second West Yorkshire Yeoman Cavalry, Deputy Lieutenant for the West Riding of Yorkshire and Lord of the Manor of Oxenhope. Captain Edwards was also a South American merchant, textile manufacturer, and a Justice of the Peace (JP).

Captain Joseph Priestly Edwards bought the land from the Enclosure Commissioners in 1852, when Saltonstall and other land were enclosed under the Warley Enclosure Act. In 1853, the estate was enlarged to approximately 1,500 acres when he acquired hunting rights and land at Saltonstall, Warley and Oxenhope. At the same time, Captain Edwards obtained angling and shooting rights, under the Halifax Improvement Act.

Captain Joseph Priestly Edwards married his cousin, Margaret Jane Norris in 1844(Joseph and Margaret were divorced in 1867, on her petition). In 1851, Captain Edwards bought the Lower Wat Ing Estate at Norland, a village above Sowerby Bridge. The house is dated 1664 and is now a magnificent privately owned 5-bedroom Grade II Gentleman’s Residence.

Captain Edwards also had Darcey Hey (part of the estate of Sir Henry Edwards of Wainhouse Tower dispute fame – the tallest folly in the world) a three-story house at Skirtcoat which was in closer proximity to the commercial centre of Halifax.

From 1861, Captain Joseph Priestly Edwards resided at the magnificent Fixby Hall, now the home of Fixby Golf Club, founded in 1891 and regarded as one of the oldest and finest championship golf courses in the north of England.

A previous owner of Captain Edward’s Fixby Hall was Richard Oastler (1789-1861) who devoted much of his life to the reform of child employment laws in Victorian Britain with the introduction of the first Factories Act in 1833 and the 10 Hours Act in 1847.

Fixby Golf Club Postcard. Previous home of Richard Oastler and Captain Joseph Priestley Edwards

A Fixby Golf Club postcard showing the previous homes of Richard Oastler and later, Captain Joseph Priestley Edwards, the original owner and builder of Castle Carr.

Castle Carr was designed by Thomas Risley a Manchester-based architect who also designed Manor Heath Mansion for John Crossley II (1812 – 1879) who was the son of John Crossley, the founder of Dean Clough Mills.

Construction of Castle Carr was started in 1859 and including Lower and Upper Lodge, took over 15 years to complete. The inspiration possibly came from visits to the Scottish Highlands as Capitian Joseph Priestly Edwards, for several years, leased the hunting lodge at Glenshera near Loch Laggan. Captain Edwards recruited 100 men for the work. From the start, Castle Carr’s Architect Thomas Risley was reported to be concerned for the future welfare of the various nationalities employed and therefore provided comfortable accommodation and facilities in ex-farm buildings for artisans and labourers including local, Scottish, Irish, French and Italian workers. Castle Carr’s Building work was supervised by William Pickles of Midgley, a local stonemason and builder.

Who Lived at Castle Carr?

There was a farm property known as Castle Carr in existence from at least the 1600s with the mention of John Farrar and then William Walker in 1649. The farm formed the core of the Castle Carr Estate and it was added to in two main stages under George Bischoff a merchant from Leeds, and there were several purchases of local farms from 1802 to 1840.

Captain Joseph Priestly Edwards never moved from the grand Fixby Hall to inhabit his Castle Carr Mansion because he and his eldest son, Priestley August Edwards, were tragically killed in a railway accident before the house was finished. The building was finally completed during the early 1870s by his younger son Lea Priestley Edwards, with later additions by Halifax architect John Hogg, who also developed the water gardens.

During 1895 the estate was purchased by John Murgatroyd. Although Lea Priestley Edwards lived there for a while, he never had the enthusiasm for it that his father had and its vast scale and weather-prone location made the house impractical for him as a permanent residence

Lea Priestley Edwards lived at Castle Carr from 1872-6 and then sold his Castle Carr Estate to Joseph Laycock, a Nottinghamshire gentleman. Joseph Laycock who had it for 16 years then sold it to William E Leppington. However Castle Carr was a huge residence with a remote location and large staff to maintain so he sold the estate in 1895 to local resident and landowner John Murgatroyd of Broadfold Hall in nearby Midgely, who’s family had built the splendidly located Oats Royd Mill complex lower down the Luddenden Valley, which when established in 1842, was steam-powered from the start. The Oats Royd Mill complex is now a magnificently converted residential complex.

Castle Carr was used for parties during the 1930s – in 1932 a ball was held to celebrate the 21st birthday of Ronald Murgatroyd, although it was later used as a hunting lodge.

Castle Carr fell into disrepair during the Second World War when it was used as a store by the government from 1941 until the late 1940s. In 1947 Castle Carr grounds were opened for the day on 26 May as part of the Whit Monday celebrations.

In 1949, some of the outlying land and farms were sold. In 1961 the estate was bought by Harold Gillings, Chairman of J & E Gillings & Co Ltd of East Ardsley and following the purchase of the estate, large sections of the mansion were demolished and some of the architectural salvage features were auctioned and later the grounds were purchased by a shooting syndicate.

Castle Carr’s oak panels were bought at the auction for the nearby Cat I’th Well pub on Saltonstall Lane and still adorn its internal walls to this day. The Cat i’th Well pub is open from 12 noon every day.

Who Owns Castle Carr Now?

As of 1977, Castle Carr Estate is now farmed by the Scholefield family who kindly allow access for the Rotary Club’s Fountains Walk, usually held on the first Sunday in July.

Castle Carr Mansion’s Vast Rooms

The Banqueting Hall was 62 ft long with moulded panels with oak-framed corbels to the ceiling. There were inlaid panels and a massive stone fireplace on marble pillars. The floor was sprung for dancing. Carvings in stone over the doors represented a boar hunt and a stag hunt, and antlered heads and other trophies of the chase adorned the walls.

The Grand Hall was 60 ft high and 40 ft square and had a Great Stairway with balustrades elaborately carved in white stone with a newel capped with a talbot hound. The Gallery to which this stairway leads had rails richly emblazoned with swords, shields and Norman arches formed the Gallery’s side walls.

Two carved stone crusaders stood at the head of another stairway and more stone hounds stood beside the massive fireplace in the 33ft Billiard Room and there was a 52 ft long Picture Gallery.

In the basement, there were three great wall ovens in the kitchen.

Castle Carr Gas Supply and Lighting

Coal gas for the mansion was manufactured on the estate near Castle Carr Lower Lodge by Luddenden Brook the carriageway and piped to the mansion.

Castle Carr Lower Lodge

Castle Carr Lower Lodge

The location of the gas plant at Castle Carr Lower Lodge was probably chosen because the process of making gas from coal produced steam, smoke and unpleasant odors. Coal gas was produced when coal was heated fiercely in the absence of air. It was also best to have a location at a lower altitude level than the Castle Carr mansion because the gas, being lighter than air, would naturally flow uphill.

The circular foundations of Castle Carr’s gasholder, also known as a gasometer, can be seen a little way up on the carriageway to Castle Carr. A gasometer is a large container in which the coal gas (formerly also called water gas) was stored near atmospheric pressure at ambient temperatures. The volume of the container followed the quantity of stored gas, with pressure coming from the weight of a movable cap.

Private gas supplies offered the opportunity to impress guests and visitors with the very latest technological innovations – despite the rapid growth o of town-based gas companies between 1823 and 1859, Castle Carr was too remote to be connected to the town gas supply. The building of Castle Carr Lower Lodge and the gasworks were completed in 1871.

There were no coal reserves on the Castle Carr Estate, the nearest being to the east side of Halifax around Beacon Hill and the Shibden Estate where Anne Lister (Gentleman Jack) had previously lived until 1840.

Castle Carr Floor Plan

Castle Carr Floor Plan

Castle Carr Floor Plan

Referring to the floor plan above and photograph below, the portcullis and the remaining shape of Castle Carr’s courtyard can be seen in the foreground.

Castle Carr Ruins

The water gardens and fountains were strategically positioned to be seen from the large bay windows of the drawing room. Also, the library and billiard room had views of the lawns and shrubberies as well as the fountain itself.

The Train Crash that Killed the Owner of Castle Carr

Captain Joseph Priestly Edwards was killed on 20th August 1868, along with his eldest son, Priestley August Edwards, when the Irish Mail train crashed at Abergele in Wales as they were returning from a weekend shooting party. It was the worst rail disaster up to that time – the Abergele Railway Disaster.

The heavy loss of life resulting from the accident was caused by the load of two runaway wagons which carried 50 wooden barrels, holding about 1,700 gallons (7,750 litres) of highly flammable paraffin oil. Captain Joseph Priestly Edwards’s body was so badly injured and charred that it could only be identified by his bunch of keys.

Just off the busy A55 North Wales Expressway in North Wales, in the peaceful setting of St Michael’s churchyard, there is the memorial to all 33 victims of the horrific Abergele Railway Disaster who were buried there in a mass grave during August 1868.

It was not until 1879 that any legislation was passed to regulate the carriage of flammable liquids by rail.

Castle Carr Open Day and Castle Carr Fountain

Annually in July, the Rotary Club of Halifax, with permission from Yorkshire Water and the current land owners, opens the Castle Carr Estate to the public for charity and provides a spectacular demonstration of the Castle Carr’s impressive gravity-fed fountain, the estate’s crowning feature.

Castle Carr Fountains Walk

The Rotary Club’s annual Castle Carr Fountain Walk allows the Castle Carr Estate to be open from 12 noon to 3pm. The walk is 2.5 miles each way from the Cat I’th Well pub and the fountains play for approximately 15 minutes at 2pm. The well-established walk is from Cat i’Th Well pub or for the less energetic a shorter walk from the end of Castle Carr Road. The Rotary Club arranges parking in a signed area just above the Cat i’th Well Pub and limited parking at the Castle Carr Upper Lodge.

Castle Carr Fountains Tickets

Castle Carr Fountains tickets are available generally from June local venues including The Cat I’th Well pub or online from the booking service Eventbrite

Castle Carr Fountains Walk Accessibility

The final access to the site of the fountain is by foot down a rough track that is not suitable for wheelchairs or people with mobility issues. Limited car parking is available at the Upper Lodge on Castle Carr Road, leading to a shorter walk to the fountains viewing area. However, the same rough track final access to the fountain is used.

Castel Carr Upper Lodge - construction was completed in 1874

Castle Carr Upper Lodge – construction was completed in 1874

Dogs on the Castle Carr Fountains Walk

Dogs are welcome and plentiful, but must be on a lead and under close control – there are fledgling moorland birds and wild and young farm animals around in addition to respecting the rights of other individuals and families for a peaceful right of passage.

Please Keep Dogs on a Lead Poster

Castle Carr Walk – Use of Drones

Photography is encouraged but please note that the use of drones is strictly prohibited.

Castle Carr Walk Litter

We note that The Rotary Club of Halifax is always grateful to the Scholefield family who farms the extensive private area around the Castle Carr Fountain and Estate and allows access to the land and to Yorkshire Water, who maintains the drinking water supply assets and the fountains. Please respect the land and others by using the bins and bags provided or taking your rubbish and dog waste home.

Castle Carr Fountain Walk Single Ticket Example. Castle Carr Open Day

Castle Carr Fountains Tickets – Single and Family Tickets are available

Castle Carr Fountains Walk Toilet Facilities

Portable toilets are available near Lower Dean Head Reservoir near the fountain viewing area entrance, along with a refreshments tent usually serving ice cream and water.

Castle Carr Fountains’ History

Castle Carr’s water garden was designed by Halifax architect John Hogg, who also contributed to the design of the Castle Carr Mansion. 

Castle Carr’s Victorian water features were funded by Halifax Water Corporation as compensation for building the nearby reservoirs on the Castle Carr Estate at Upper Dean Head and Lower Dean Head. Castle Carr Reservoir covers one acre and has a capacity of three million gallons (13.6 million litres).

Castle Carr Fountains Height and Castle Carr Fountains Display

The single jet fountain at Castle Carr is in the centre of a circular pool, known as the Compensation Basin, and is surrounded by lush viewing areas, rhododendrons and woodland.

The Castle Carr Fountain is gravity fed with 200ft of fall from a massive tank above Deep Clough Farm and the reservoir system above. Castle Carr’s spectacular fountain reaches a height of over 130 feet and is the highest gravity-fed fountain in Europe, an achievement better than the elaborate fountains at Chatsworth House in Derbyshire.

Castle Carr Fountain Display

Click here for our Castle Fountains Carr Youtube Video – The Highest Gravity Fed Fountain In Europe – Yorkshire Wins Again!

Originally there were four other fountains around the pool, but these are not currently fully operational because the cast iron pipes that supplied them with water were damaged by flooding in 1989 and subsequent work by Yorkshire Water left them incapacitated, according to locals.

Castle Carr Water Tunnel

On 13th October 1869, the Mayor of Halifax, J. D. Hutchinson, cut the first sod of the tunnel, a part of the Hebden Extension of the Halifax Waterworks scheme. The commemorative silver spade mistakenly engraved Castle Caw used for the event was previously on display and is reportedly now in the Calderdale Museum collections’ stores.

The Castle Carr Water Tunnel is 2,550 yards long and at an elevation of about 1,300 feet above sea level and carries water from Widdop Reservoir between Pecket Well and the Luddenden Valley.

There are 3 ventilation shafts for the tunnel and they are Grade II listed by Historic England. They are identified on our map seen below of Castle Carr Fountain, Castle Carr Mansion and Luddenden Dean.

Flora and Fauna at Castle Carr and Luddenden Dean

Luddenden Dean is home to the 13-acre Jerusalem Farm Local Nature Reserve, Education Centre and Campsite. The simple and informal 30-pitch campsite is set in a flat grassy area adjacent to Luddenden Brook and Wade Wood.

Castle Carr is set at an altitude of 990 ft (302m) above sea level. Jerusalem Farm Campsite by Luddenden Brook and Wade Wood is at an altitude of 525 ft (160m).

The Castle Carr Estate at Luddenden Dean in Calderdale is a haven for biodiversity, boasting an impressive array of flora and fauna. The diverse habitats found within the Castle Carr Estate and Luddenden Dean support a wide range of plant and animal species, making it a paradise for nature enthusiasts and wildlife photographers. From vibrant wildflowers to majestic birds of prey, every corner of the Castle Carr Estate and Luddenden Dean offers a delightful encounter with nature’s wonders.

Keep your eyes peeled and your camera ready, as you never know what hidden treasures you might discover along the way and you’ll find yourself surrounded by breathtaking scenery at every turn.

Bob’s Tea Room & Garden

During your day out in the Luddenden Valley, perhaps enjoy refreshments at Bob’s Tea Room & Garden located at Upper Hawksclough Farm, Jerusalem Lane, Halifax, West Yorkshire, HX2 6XB. Bob’s Tea Room & Garden is open on weekends and Bank Holiday Mondays.

Castle Carr Barrows

Joseph Savile Stott was a local Halifax antiquary and wrote about barrows and Bronze Age urns. He discovered tumuli at Castle Carr in 1842. However, these are presumed lost with the construction of the Castle Carr estate’s reservoirs. A tumulus (plural tumuli) is a mound of earth and stones raised over a grave or graves. Tumuli are also known as barrows, burial mounds or kurgans. Barrows of the Early Bronze Age (c. 1900 BC) were round in shape and were used to bury a single important individual, perhaps a chief or clan leader.

Castle Carr 19th Century Footpath Trial

Roads and paths across the Castle Carr Estate had long been used by the local people for access to the moor for peat gathering and for travelling through to Oxenhope and Haworth. However, in 1868, roads across the estate were closed off and some compensation was paid by Captain Joseph Priestley Edwards. The closures gave rise to a rumbling dispute amongst local users.

Events leading to the trial began with an incident on Saturday 24th October 1896 when a local man, Sam Murgatroyd of Peel House Mills on Luddenden Brook, met textile manufacturer John Murgatroyd and gamekeepers on a disputed footpath on the Castle Carr Estate. There was considerable sympathy with Sam Murgatroyd’s plight and Sam took the case to the High Court in London on 24th February 1898. However, much to the disdain of local people Sam Murgatroyd lost his case and had to pay huge costs of £1,001, 6 shillings and 3 pence to John Murgatroyd.

Wainstalls Orphans

From 1879, I. & I. Calvert, a textile manufacturing company based in Wainstalls, six miles to the north of Halifax town centre, started to transport children – mostly girls aged from 12 years old – from Liverpool to work in their mills. Many of the children were orphans, others were from large families who could not accommodate their children at home, or who sent their children to earn money for the family.

In 1890, The owners of I. &I. Calvert’s mills brought 70 orphan girls from Kirkdale Industrial School in Liverpool to earn their living working long hours manufacturing yarn.

The children were accommodated by orphanage masters at several orphan homes in Wainstalls, including Folly Hall, Kell Butts and Spring Mill. Tragically, many of the children from Liverpool died from disease & malnutrition.

The nearby Luddenden Dean Wesleyan Chapel graveyard located on Heys Lane, Halifax HX2 7TR between the Cat i’th Well pub and Castle Carr Lower Gatehouse, is where a gravestone recording the deaths of many of the mills’ orphan employees can be seen and bears silent witness to those who died while employed there and records their ages. The Luddenden Dean Wesleyan Chapel (1828-1979) at Saltonstall has been demolished, leaving only the graveyard.

Luddenden Dean Wesleyan Chapel Graveyard is located on Heys Lane, Halifax HX2 7TR between the Cat I'th Well pub and Castle Carr Lower Gatehouse

Luddenden Dean Wesleyan Chapel graveyard – the location can be found on our map, seen below, of Castle Carr Fountain, Castle Carr Mansion and Luddenden Dean.

Grave 183: Jonathan Calvert of Moorfield paid 10 shillings for this plot in 1876. Interred are:

  • Mary Ellen Clark orphan Spring Mill (reg 24 Jan 1877 aged 14 years)
  • Alice Devitt a girl from Jonathan Calvert’s Mill (died 11 Aug 1886 aged 12 years)
  • Elizabeth Edwards orphan Spring Mill (died 12 April 1887 aged 17 years)
  • Jane Johnson orphan Folly Hall (died 22 Dec 1887 aged 12 years)
  • Sarah Shaw orphan Folly Hall (died 17 May 1892 aged 15 years)
  • Maria Emery orphan Kell Butts (died 20 Jan 1895 aged 16 years)
Grave 183 at Luddenden Dean Wesleyan Chapel graveyard for which Jonathan Calvert of Moorfield paid 10 shillings for this plot in 1876

Grave 183 at Luddenden Dean Wesleyan Chapel graveyard for which Jonathan Calvert of Moorfield paid 10 shillings for this plot in 1876

Grave 184 Unmarked: I. & I. Calvert of Wainstalls purchased this burial site for 10 shillings on 8 March 1889. Interred are:

  • Annie Lockhart orphan (died 7 March 1895 aged 16 years, named on grave 183 headstone)
  • Mary Murphy orphan (died 4 July 1900 aged 16 years)
  • Margaret Butler —- (died 23 Sept 1901 aged 16 years)
  • Alice Jubilee Jones (reg 25 Aug 1902 aged 15 years)

Local stories tell that others were buried on the moors.

I. & I. Calvert’s 4-storey mill, New Mill at Wainstalls, Halifax, was originally called Lower Mill and was built in or after 1821. It was extended and renamed later. The company manufactured yarn through machine processes including drafting (straightening the individual fibres and making them more parallel), spinning, twisting and winding.

New Mill Wainstalls - Wainstalls Orphans from Liverpool Workplace

The Mill was powered by 2 water wheels, both had a diameter of about 36 ft. One water wheel was positioned above the other, with the lower wheel in a pit sunk in the solid bedrock. I. & I. Calvert’s mills were supplied with water from the adjacent Cold Edge Dams.

A water turbine and steam engine were installed later and smoke from the boiler was carried underground to a square stone chimney on the hillside. The mill complex had its own gas production plant.

I.& I. Calvert vacated the mill complex in 1897. which also included Old Mill, Upper Mill and Wainstalls Mill, when their 14-year lease ran out. It is believed that the I. &I. Calvert company was involved in textile products from 1821 to 1951.

New Mill on Kell Lane, Wainstalls, the only remaining part of the main mill complex, has since been converted into residential apartments.

Map of Castle Carr Fountain, Castle Carr Mansion and Luddenden Dean

Other Attractions near Castle Carr and the Luddenden Valley

If you’re looking to extend your adventure beyond Castle Carr, there are several attractions in the surrounding area that are worth exploring. Pay a visit to the nearby historic town of Halifax, where you can wander through its charming streets admiring the many examples of Georgian and Victorian architecture and enjoying the many local amenities.

The Piece Hall Halifax – Yorkshire’s Number 1 and Best Secular Building

Shibden Hall – the Home of Anne Lister (Gentleman Jack)

Beacon Hill – Spectacular Views of Halifax

A Great Day Out at Shibden Park

Shibden Hall Folk Museum

Happy Valley Countryside Pubs

Best Hebden Bridge Beer and Hebden Bridge Bars

6 Top Hebden Bridge Happy Valley Filming Locations

Explore Breathtaking Happy Valley Filming Locations with Sally Wainwright!

Halifax Town Hall

Dean Clough Mills Halifax

Halifax Town Centre Pubs – 6 of the Best

Halifax Pubs – BBC Radio 6 Music calls Halifax the Shoreditch of the North

Weekend in Halifax – ideas of what to do and where to go

And to Conclude about Castle Carr and the Luddenden Valley

Castle Carr is a hidden gem that beckons nature lovers and history enthusiasts to uncover its secrets. With its blend of natural beauty and rich history, it offers a unique experience that will leave a lasting impression. Whether you’re strolling through its historic grounds on the open day, immersing yourself in its storied past, or simply enjoying the tranquility that the Luddenden Valley provides, Castle Carr and the environs is a place where you can truly escape and connect with the wonders of the world around you. So, pack your bags, put on your walking shoes, and embark on a journey to Castle Carr and the Luddenden Valley – a sanctuary for the soul.

Discover the hidden gem of Castle Carr and the Luddenden Valley – immerse yourself in nature’s and history’s embrace. Plan your visit today and experience the magic firsthand!