Walking through the old Lightcliffe Cemetery one of the headstones that still manages to stand out above the overgrowth is the grave of Willie Brooke of Hill Top House, St Giles Road at Lightcliffe who was tragically killed in a railway accident at the Lightcliffe tunnel August 28th 1903.
Willie Brooke was one of the three sons of Joseph Brooke who was the founder of the
Brookes’ stone quarrying empire at Lightcliffe. It was Joseph who began commercial
stone quarrying in the mid-
As the business began to take shape it was expected that Willie as the eldest son would eventually take over the day to day running of it. In January 1897 then aged 20 Willie married Annie Sharpe who was the daughter of Abraham Sharpe a Rope and Twine maker in Brighouse and another successful businessman. Their first home was at Lane Ends Green which at that time was but a stones throw from the company offices at the bottom of Kirk Lane, premises which most will identify as the home of another successful local business The Cream Dress Agency.
On September 13th 1876 Joseph died which put Willie as the head of the family and effectively in charge of the business. His wife Grace lived on until November 1895 when she was interred in the family grave at Heywood Chapel in Northowram.
The close proximity of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway which had opened in 1850
was of great benefit to the company -
Whilst the business was growing and expanding all the time the major turning point
for the business came in 1898 when credit must be given to the Brooke brothers -
The stone waste chippings of Silex hard York stone were pulverised and reduced to their original state of sand. Since the crushing strain of this rock was 2,200 tons per cubic foot this figure will give some idea of the type and strength of machinery required to crush the material. Having completed this process the granulated chippings and other ingredients were poured into moulds, the enormous hydraulic pressure of well over 2,200 tons was then applied and almost before the operation could be realised in the mind a solid slab was ready to be carried out to the maturing ground.
With further expansion into Guernsey, Wales and Scandinavia the company was re-
Sadly Willie did not live to see the move in to their new offices following his untimely death it was then his younger brother Newton who then became the head of the family and effectively ran the company.
Death of Willie Brooke of Brookes’