Not to be confused with The Rydings, the grand building nearby in which Brighouse Library and the Smith Art Galley are currently located, Rydings Hall is located on Church Lane below the old church school and now forms part of a doctors’ surgery. However, it was originally built in 1926 as the former St. Martin’s Parish Hall, with money donated by local landowner Richard Woodhouse.
The building was not given the name Rydings Hall until the 1970s upon its acquisition by the Brighouse and Rastrick Brass Band, when alternative premises were sought following the demolition of Odd Fellows Hall to make way for the construction of the Ludenscheid Link ring-road. The establishment was formerly rededicated and opened by the Mayor of Brighouse in September 1971.
Rydings Hall served not only as a rehearsal space for the band, but they also renovated it to include a auditorium with the capacity to hold five hundred people, in which to stage their own concerts. The facilities were also rented out to other local groups including Brighouse Children’s Theatre and Brighouse Light Opera Society. By the 1980s, however, dwindling membership and attendance led to the sale of the hall.
Following its conversion into a doctors’ surgery, district nurse Barbara Green recalls that medical staff working in the building out of hours were plagued by disturbances such as doors and windows slamming shut of their own accord when there was no draught, whilst both the balcony of the former auditorium and the cellar kitchen were noted for their unnerving atmosphere. None of the nursing staff would enter the latter room alone.
A number of stories circulated to explain the occurrences, including the unfortunate death of woman on a toilet in the building, and even the ghost of Lancastrian variety performer Jimmy Clitheroe, who was supposed to have once performed at the hall. More sinister, especially considering the building’s use, are tales of the apparition of a black dog, which in British folklore has long been regarded as a harbinger of impending death.