Skelmanthorpe, West Yorkshire, England Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

Skelmanthorpe, West Yorkshire, England

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Skelmanthorpe is really rather lovely. To find where it is, get a map of the UK, then draw a line pointing due East from Manchester until you're across as far as Leeds or Sheffield and it's in that vicinity, or near enough.

Emley Moor television mast overlooks the village. It was built after the earlier TV mast fell down in the late 1960s. Now, it broadcasts analogue and digital TV, analogue and digital radio, and a whole lot more besides. Fortunately it looks nice as it has a special hollow concrete design. It's run by a company called NTL, and its correct name is 'NTL Tower'.

The countryside around Skelmanthorpe is really very spectacular, with a lot of hills and consequently a lot of nice views. First called 'Skilmannathorpe', it was then called 'Skelmansthorpe' until a few hundred years ago, when it was realised that Skelmansthorpe meant something like 'Town of the Liar and Murderer' and it was changed to 'Skelmanthorpe'. Locals know it as 'Shat'. According to legend, when the DeLacy family who owned much of the land wanted tough soldiers, they sought them out in Skelmanthorpe. There was no stopping these men who were known as 'Shatters' (they used to shatter things), from where the word 'Shat' comes.

Two hundred years ago, Skelmanthorpe Feast was a riotous affair with bull and bear-baiting and organised dog fights. They knew how to have a good time in those days.

Handloom weaving thrived in the village during the 1800s, and many houses are still obviously weaver's cottages. You can tell these cottages apart by the large amount of windows on the top floor, to get as much light for as long as possible. As late as 1890, there were 200 handlooms in cottages in Skelmanthorpe.

Skelmanthorpe also boasts its own steam railway, the Kirklees Light Railway. This very pleasant, if completely pointless, trip involves going through the longest rail tunnel in the UK that's not owned by Railtrack (the new name for British Rail's track people) or London Transport who own the Underground.

The high street contains a few shops, notably a small local supermarket run by the Co-op which opened in 1834. Also in the high street is a bakery, a sports shop, a video store, a few newsagents, an insurance agent and a tile shop. Food in the town is catered for by an Indian restaurant and takeaways serving nice Chinese, worrying-looking (but very tasty) curry, and cheap-looking pizza - as well as quite tasty fish and chips. A nice Asian bloke called 'Baz' runs the fish and chip shop, as well as one of the newsagents. You may recognise some scenes, if you've a long memory and a dreadful taste in television - the sitcom Oh No It's Selwyn Froggett was filmed there.

There are four pubs in the town; The Windmill is quite a long way out, The Three Horseshoes used to be really rather good but seems to be full of kids these days, The Chartist is not particularly cosy but okay, and The Grove is down the other end of town but warm and cosy and does food, of sorts.

The village has its own cricket ground, which is a great focal point for the village in the summer. The nearest football team is Emley AFC who are just a mile away. People thereabouts support Barnsley FC rather than Huddersfield Town.

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