Monday, 2 September 2019

A Trip to Pudsey and Fulneck

The front elevation of the Fulneck Moravian Church

During one of my visits to Leeds in January 2019, to prepare a visit with the Sheffield U3A Geology Group the following month, I popped into the Leeds Tourist Information Centre to ask about tourist attractions that are within a 30 minute bus journey from Leeds city centre and, amongst others, the Fulneck Moravian Settlement was suggested to me.

A Google Map of the area around Pudsey

Having had a very busy April, including trips to Monsal Dale, various mediaeval churches in Barnsley and a very long day out in Nottingham, I decided to go and have a look at this very unusual village, which I had never heard about before. 

A  geological map of the area around Pudsey

Fulneck is set on the outskirts of Pudsey, a small market town 8 km of Leeds that was at the hub of a very extensive industry based on the quarrying and mining of the Elland Flags, a laminated Carboniferous sandstone from the Pennine Lower Coal Measures Formation

The Trinity Methodist Church

Entering Pudsey along Lowtown, I passed a few interesting looking old vernacular buildings but, after arriving at the bus station only to discover that there were no maps or tourist information to direct me to Fulneck, I had no time to look at these. Also seeing that its principal historic building, Pudsey Town Hall, was shrouded in scaffold, I set off to find the Fulneck Moravian Settlement. 

A view up the tower of St. Lawrence's church

After taking a quick look at the glasshouse in the Visitor Centre, where I eventually found someone who could direct me to Fulneck, I took a quick look at the exterior of the Victorian church of St. Lawrence – built of very coarse grained Rough Rock – before encountering the impressive Portland limestone Pudsey Cenotaph

Pudsey Cenotaph

Walking down to Fulneck, I encountered various sandstone built cottages and other vernacular buildings, including several terraces of back to back houses – a type of dwelling that was built from the late C18 to the early C20, but which was later condemned for its unsanitary and generally unhealthy nature. 

A terrace of back to back houses

These cheap, low quality houses were built in large quantities for working class people in the industrial cities of the Midlands and northern England, with Leeds City Council continuing to build them into the 1930’s. In most cities where they were built, they were swept away by periods of slum clearance but, in and around Leeds, very many still exist today. 

A terraced house roofed with Elland Flags

I don’t know enough about the geology around Leeds to say where the stone used for the construction of these houses came from – particularly since the Greenmoor Rock and Grenoside Sandstone also outcrop here – but the ubiquitous use of the Elland Flags for their roofs is so striking, especially since Victorian houses all around the country were usually roofed with Welsh slate at the time. 

A general view along Fulneck

At Fulneck, I didn’t have much time except to wander along the main street and back to make a quick note of the stone used here, which is marked on the British Geological Survey map viewer as Thick Stone, which I had never encountered elsewhere. 

Fulneck Moravian Church

Looking at the various listed buildings in Fulneck, the Grade I Moravian Church is outstanding, with its particularly fine interior, but it was the very large stones used in the retaining wall at the western end of the village that most caught my eye. 

A dry stone retaining wall in the Fulneck Moravian Settlement

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