The Rise and Fall of Crow Nest

The most obvious choice of photograph to illustrate the Crow Nest mansion would be the front elevation in all its glory in 1867.  In April of that year it was sold at a public auction by Evan Charles Sutherland Walker to Sir Titus Salt.  However, for a different perspective of the estate this photograph, taken on Tuesday 22 July 1919 by Greaves Photographers of Halifax, looks west from near the top of Coach Road, behind where the Scout Hut now stands.

The terraced properties on the right are Crow Nest Cottages, which were owned by the estate and occupied by members of staff.  The longer row of terraced properties behind the cottages is Brooklea, which was built c.1912 in stone from the nearby Brooke’s quarries. Looking at the brightness of the exterior, even after seven years, it is evident that the new stone has not yet been discoloured by discharges from the nearby tall chimneys.

This photograph was one of a large series that Greaves did for Newton Brooke when legal action was taken against Brookes Limited by the trustees of Richard Kershaw, who had owned and occupied Crow Nest until his death in 1917.  (Crow Nest was known as ‘the mansion’ to local children growing up during the two decades following World War Two, when its crumbling ruins proved an irresistible attraction.)

The trustees took the legal action because of what they believed was financial loss cause by sulphur emissions from Brooke’s works damaging the estate. The company had been involved in munitions work until the 1917 explosion at their wartime picric production site. The matter did go to court but Kershaw lost his case.

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