Before moving to Thornton (where the Bronte sisters Emily, Charlotte and Anne were born at the house now known as The Bronte Birthplace), Patrick Bronte lived with his family in Dewsbury, just to the south east of the city of Bradford - first in 1811 as curate to Dewsbury Church and then as minister at St Peter's Church in nearby Hartshead.

In the industrial revolution Dewsbury was absorbed into the main part of the West Yorkshire conurbation (which includes the cities of Bradford and Leeds as well as the towns of Huddersfield and Wakefield). However, several buildings associated with the Bronte family still remain - including Clough House in Hightown (where Patrick and Maria Branwell Bronte lived just prior to their move to Thornton, Roe Head School (near Mirfield (where Charlotte, Emily and Anne were pupils, and where Charlotte also became a teacher) and Oakwell Hall and Red House (where Charlotte was a frequent visitor).

At the turn of the 19th century the area was associated with the Luddites and their campaign against increasing mechanisation in the mills. Their plight and the political climate at the time provided inspiration for Charlotte Bronte's novel "Shirley".

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