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A Map of the Colne Valley Cloth District

  • Author: GILL, (Leslie) MacDonald (artist) - BENTLEY, Phyllis (author)
  • Publisher: Huddersfield & District Woollen Export Group (publishers)
  • Date: [1946]1947
  • Dimensions: 48 x 32 cms


MacDonald Gill’s unusual map of the Colne Valley in West Yorkshire, one of his last cartographic works [1947]

About this piece:

A Map of the Colne Valley Cloth District

Printed colour. Narrow left margin where originally bound in. Traces of old folds. A fine clean example.

This attractive small map of the Colne Valley was designed by MacDonald Gill for the Huddersfield and District Woollen Export Group and used as a map illustration for Colne Valley Cloth from the Earliest Times to the Present Day [Curwen Press, 1947]. Written by the famous Yorkshire Bronte historian & novelist, Phyllis Bentley, the book was issued as part of a post-war campaign to try and promote the export trade for cloth in the Huddersfield area of West Yorkshire. It was richly illustrated and included not only this colour-printed folding map but also several further black and white maps by Gill within the text, as well as wonderful plates by Harold Blackburn depicting scenes from the history of the cloth trade in this region.  The decorative endpapers & covers were designed by Barnett Freedman. The map itself shows the Colne Valley region to the south and west of Huddersfield. It extends to Saddleworth and Holmfirth in the South and Almondbury in the East. All of the principal mills and factories along the Rivers Colne and Holme are depicted pictorially, together with topographical features of the local landscape, including rivers, reservoirs, roads, tracks, woods, hills and valleys. A vibrant yellow sunburst fills the top right corner of the map, whilst a banded red border is decorated with attractive small circular views depicting historic local buildings and monuments. A scale appears between the roundels down the left side of this border. Gill’s imprint appears in the final roundel in the lower right corner. This was one of Macdonald Gill’s final cartographic works prior to his death in Jan 1947 and must, in fact, have been published posthumously in Bentley’s book, which first appeared in print later in 1947.

The author of the book, Phyllis Bentley OBE [1894-1977] was a well-known Yorkshire novelist, herself the daughter of a West Yorkshire mill owner from Halifax. Educated at Halifax High School for Girls and Cheltenham Ladies College, she worked in the munitions industry during the First World War. Returning to Halifax in 1918, she began a teaching career and commenced writing, her first collection of short stories, The World’s Bane, being published that same year. Limited success followed with her successive works during the 1920’s until the publication of her most famous & successful novel, Inheritance, which first appeared in March 1932. Drawing upon the history of the West Yorkshire textile industry as her inspiration, the novel received widespread critical acclaim and went through some 23 impressions over the next 14 years. This first volume was succeeded by two further books, The Rise of Henry Morcar [1946] and A Man of his Time [1966], which evolved into a trilogy and secured Bentley’s reputation as a latter-day “Thomas Hardy of the North”, given her writings’ powerful evocation of the West Riding region and its history. The book was later televised by Granada TV in 1967. Bentley was also a respected authority on the Brontes writing three books on the family between 1947 and 1960. She also wrote the original script for a 1945 documentary, entitled We of the West Riding. In this short 20 minute film directed by Ken Annakin, the life, work and daily routines of a typical West Riding mill worker and his family, the Sykes, along with the West Riding’s unique local topography and its centuries-old wool & cloth trade are evocatively portrayed.