Horbury is a large village, west of Wakefield and south of Ossett, in West Yorkshire, England. It has a population of around 10,000, and is listed by the census as part of the West Yorkshire Urban Area. Locals often refer to it as a "town", but it is not officially, as it never received a town charter from the Monarch, nor has it declared itself to be a town under the post-1974 rules. Horbury does however have a Town Hall. The foundation stone was laid on Wednesday 30 July 1902 by Joshua Harrop. The Town Hall's architects & builders were Henry Fallas & Sons.
It is known for being a pleasant and picturesque village. Its population is almost entirely white, with an above-average proportion of pensioners. Buildings are mostly residential with a small, central shopping district, and rather than having its own local paper it is served by local editions of The Wakefield Express and the Horbury and Ossett Observer. Stan Barstow, author of Joby and A Kind of Loving was born in Horbury, but lived most of his life in Ossett. In his autobiography, he said that Ossett and Horbury were the "border country" where the north-west of the coalfield merges with the south-east of the wool towns. Horbury was something of an anomaly in this part of Yorkshire in having a steel works.
The biggest act of damage that the Luddites ever did was at Horbury. (Kirkpatrick Sale, "Rebels Against the Future", p.120) Fosters Mill, close to the River Calder, was completely destroyed in retaliation for its use of machinery, which was blamed for depriving weavers of a means of earning a living in a time of widespread hunger and poverty.
Horbury has its own purpose built Carnegie Library on Westfield Road. The Wakefield District has five Carnegie Libraries, Castleford, Drury Lane (Wakefield), Horbury, Normanton and Pontefract, the first three of which are still in use as libraries. Building started in 1905, thanks to the generous donation from the Carnegie foundation, and Horbury Library celebrated its centenary in 2005 with the making of a community tapestry, which now hangs in the library.
During World War II, the factory of Charles Roberts made Churchill Tanks in the region of Horbury known as Horbury Junction, named for the railway junction (and previously, railway station) there. Charles Roberts' plant was credited with creating the nation's 'millionth bomb' during the war and was eventually taken over by Canadian firm Procor, who continued to build trains thereafter. The plant was subsequently acquired by Bombardier in 1990, who renamed the site 'Bombardier Prorail'. The bodyshells for the Class 60 and Class 92 locomotives were fabricated at the plant and the Bombardier logo can currently be seen on the London Underground carriages that were refurbished at the factory. Also built at the plant were the Class 220, Class 221 and Class 222 'Voyager' series of trains constructed in a joint operation with the Bombardier plant in Bruges. The Bombardier legacy ended in 2005 when the plant closed down making hundreds of workers redundant. A company called 'Eddison & Wanless' now resides in the plant's 'No.1 Shop', a large hangar type building where train manufacturing was carried out.
Also contributing to the war effort in Horbury was one of the four Slazenger factories, which in peacetime produced the world-famous sports equipment. Several local sports teams have spun off from or been named after the company. Today the name is preserved in Slazengers Sports and Social Club, which provides facilities and floodlit grounds for many different sporting activities.
Another division of the village is Horbury Bridge, named after the crossing of the River Calder there. This location is known as the home of Onward, Christian Soldiers, the hymn by Sabine Baring-Gould, one of the most notable and nationally recognised features of the area. Just beyond Horbury Bridge lies the National Coal Mining Museum, where visitors may take underground tours and experience something of the conditions miners worked in.
John Carr, the famous architect was born in Horbury. St Peter's Church, Horbury was designed, built and paid for in 1793 at a cost of £8,000, by John Carr as a gift to the people of Horbury. Carr Lodge, in the centre of Horbury Park was once the home of John Carr's uncle. The ridges & furrows of strip cultivation are still visible in the Park, which now serves as park area for the residents of Horbury. The park has in recent years been the focus of much local dismay due to the increasing number of under-age drinkers who reside therein.
The Domesday Book (1086) records about 40 people and four ox-drawn ploughs in 'Orberie' and Crigglestone combined.