Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Changing the pastoral landscape for ever: road plan opens the way for 1,000 homes to be built on farmland near Swartha 
Plans have been drawn up for a new road to be built from Bolton Road, on the stretch towards the reservoir, across Brown Bank Lane and through fields like these to Hawber Cote Lane where Silsden's new primary school is to be sited. The road will serve 500 new homes. A second phase would link Bolton Road to Hawber Lane with 400 more houses being built.

The plan (above), if approved by Bradford council, will enable some 500 houses (served by the road) to be built on the adjoining farmland. Bolton Road is in red with the proposed new road outlined in pink. The council has designated the fields for housing with a potential final total of 1,000 homes.
The road will cross fields from Bolton Road just beyond the 30mph 'island' uphill and cross Brown Bank Lane below Raikes House Farm (pictured above and below). It is not known at this stage how the road will cross the lane.
Above: three public footpaths cross the outlined site of the new road. They give popular countryside walks to and from Brown Bank Lane, Swartha, Drabble House Farm and Hawber Cote Drive. The owners of the land earmarked for housing are named in the application to build the road. They are Mr G Mountain, of North Rigton, and three Silsden residents: Mrs D. Jackson, Mr D. Winstanley and Mr K. Foster.
The applicant is the Silsden Development Company Ltd., whose sole director and shareholder is Geoffrey Mountain. The agent is David Hill, chartered surveyors, of Skipton.
The view towards Swartha from near Hawber Cote Drive. Handsome trees, sturdy hedges and dry stone walls could be bulldozed.

The view from Hawber Lane. Out of frame to the left of the barn hidden by the trees is the Hawber Cote Lane entrance to the fields where the new school will be sited. Ultimately all the fields between Hawber Lane and the Banklands area towards Brown Bank Lane stand to be built on.




Sunday, 10 June 2018

Silsden hosts major championship egg showCraven Poultry Keepers Club staged its 'Guineas' Championship Egg Show at Silsden Town Hall on Sunday, June 10th. The new venue was judged to be a big success, attracting some 400 entries. The 'best in show' winner received 100 guineas and the reserved 'best in show' 50 guineas.
Judge Roz Boothman, of Silsden, cracks a goose egg in the 'waterfowl contents' class. The show, held under Poultry Club of Great Britain rules, is usually held at Skipton Town Hall but was unavailable due to refurbishments.
Edward Dickinson shows three eggs produced by his Black Oakworth hens. Edward has developed the breed over the last 10 years in a quest to produce a hen that lays dark brown eggs more prolifically than the traditional types.
Geoff Lockwood, from Huddersfield, was last year's Guineas winner for the third time. Goose eggs have brought him all three triumphs.
Judge Colin Clark studies entries in the class for three large light brown eggs.
Judge Leon Smith weighs a contender in the class for three bantam distinct colours.  
Karen Millard (left), Roz Boothman and Craven Poultry Keepers Club secretary Jayne Gillam ponder entries in the classes for painted and decorated eggs. Karen also judged the photographic classes. Her partner's firm, Chris Wright Haulage, sponsored the 'best in show' award. 
Craven Poultry Keepers Club chairman Edward Boothman, of Howden Park, Silsden, is a former chairman of the Poultry Club of Great Britain. One of the UK's leading suppliers of pullets, he has been renowned in the poultry world for many years.
The Marans breed, famous for laying richly dark brown eggs, is particularly associated with Silsden, which for generations was noted nationally for its poultry breeding and expertise. Silsden farmer Maurice Jackson, who died in 2016, was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Marans Club of Great Britain for 77 years devotion to the breed, which his uncles were credited with introducing to this area. Mrs Ruth Jackson, Maurice's widow, is president of the Craven Poultry Keepers Club.
Craven Poultry Keepers Club president Ruth Jackson (left) presents the cheque for 100 guineas to Adele Beard, from Ossett, who won the Best in Show and Poultry Club of Great Britain gold award with three distinct colour bantam eggs. Adele also won the Reserve Best in Show (50 guineas) and PCGB silver award for three goose eggs. Nobody has done the double before. Photograph by Jayne Gillam.  

Saturday, 9 June 2018

Library celebrates first year as a community-run asset

MP John Grogan cuts the cake marking the first year of Silsden Community Library. With him are library chairman Peter Cannon and secretary Caroline Whitaker. Volunteers stepped in to save the library when it became a victim of Bradford council spending cuts resulting from the government's austerity measures.  

Another guest at the anniversary event, at Silsden Town Hall, which is the library's home, was Bookstart Bear (Katie Whittingham), who delighted young readers. Mr Grogan said the volunteers had made a great job of running the library, which has hundreds of users each month.
Among the families enjoying the occasion were Ania and Noah and mum and dad Steve and Deborah Bacon.

The activities included an opportunity to learn about chess. Mia Winowiecki, five, and mum Rebecca played against dad Daryl.
Emily Whitley showed mum Melissa her colouring skills.
 Bookstart Bear was given a big welcome by young members of the Elizabeth Phillips School of Dance. Their class at the Town Hall coincided with the library celebration, which was held on Saturday, June 9th.

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Take a seat: courtesy of Friends of Silsden's Green Places

Above: in another valuable addition to community pleasures, the Friends of Silsden's Green Places have replaced two old and dilapidated seats in Hainsworth Road, better known as Gasworks Lane. Paul, from Cobbydale Park, particularly welcomes the new seat as it's a convenient stopping place on his daily convalescing walks from home to the Brunthwaite canal bridge and back. Also taking a breather are Sarah Morton and sons Noah and Seth, who were engaged in a Silsden Rocks hunt. Sarah and her husband James own Hills Bakery. 

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Silsden's young cross-country star shines for England

Above: Silsden runner Sam Smith capped an outstanding season by earning a place in the English Schools Cross Country team and taking part in the Home Countries Championships at Wollaton Park in Nottingham last month. Sam, who attends South Craven School and runs for Wharfedale Harriers, finished fifth out of the 32 elite junior runners representing England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. His performance helped England win the team event. Sam, who is only just 14, was selected for England after coming fourth in the English Schools Cross Country Championships at Temple Newsam in Leeds. 
Above: Sam is pictured with his dad, Michael, mum Louise and sister Mollie, who is also a Wharfedale Harrier. Louise, who used to run for Bingley Harriers, is Sam's coach and has overseen his meteoric rise -- from 158th in last year's English championships to fourth this time. With the cross-country season over, Sam is turning his attention to the track and chasing 1500 metres glory. Meanwhile, he will run for Yorkshire in the London Mini Marathon on April 22nd. Michael is a well-known local farmer, supported by the family at busy times like spring with 100 ewes to lamb.  

Monday, 9 April 2018

Trustees hold key to Town Hall's future as a community asset

Sign of the times: Silsden Town Hall, which opened in 1884, is officially a new-style community asset run by seven trustees on behalf of the town. They take over from Bradford council, which is offloading public facilities to cut costs as part of government-imposed austerity measures. 
The Magnificent Seven: these public-spirited volunteers came forward to manage the Town Hall. From left to right are Simon Holland (secretary), David Jessup (operations manager), Pat Colling, John Peet (treasurer), Ray Colling (chairperson), Graham Arrowsmith and Paul Kilgallon. The leasing arrangements are being finalised. As well as a major venue for a wide range of events, the Town Hall is home to nearly a dozen organisations, from winter bowls to zumba, who meet there regularly.

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Purcells pay homage to famous forebears
Descendants from Ireland have been in Silsden to retrace the footsteps of the town's most celebrated doctor. Dr. John Purcell arrived here in 1880, from the village of Feakle in County Clare, to join a small surgery in St. John Street, and very soon established himself as a larger than life character who introduced team sports into the community. He served the town for over 40 years, visiting his patients on horseback and never losing his thick Irish brogue. The Purcell family still live at Feakle and, on the right of my picture, is 95 year old Denis (Dun) Purcell, great nephew of Dr. John, who has never before left his native village. Next to him is his own son, also Denis, who runs the family farm at Feakle, and his grandson Matthew, aged 15. On the far left is Dr Purcell's great grandson Clive Greenwood; third from left is Clive's sister Sarah Richards and between them is Jacci Higgitt (nee Purcell), granddaughter of Dr Mattie Purcell, who older Silsdeners still fondly remember.
Above: Family members pictured at Flesher's Cottage - where Dr. John's medical life began in Silsden - alongside Barry Thomas (right), president of Silsden AFC, who is researching the life and times of this renowned doctor. It was Barry's enquiries which led the way for the Purcell family visit.
Above: farmer Mr Matthew Purcell of Feakle (1819-1891), father of Dr John Purcell.  

Above: Dr John Purcell, who remained in Silsden until his death in 1927, married a local girl, produced one son and five daughters, and moved his home and surgery to what is now Carmel House, Wesley Place.
Above: Dr John's daughter Hannah (later Mrs. Greenwood) takes a ride on her father's thoroughbred horse, which was almost certainly brought over to Silsden from Feakle.
Dr John Purcell is pictured third from left in the middle row of this Silsden team of handball players in the late 1800s, after introducing the game of handball to Silsden and the surrounding villages. In 1883, Dr. John also launched a local football team, which used the handling code (more similar to today's sport of rugby).
Dr Purcell, wearing a bowler hat (second row from back), is pictured with Silsden FC after 1904 when the town adopted Association football rules and elected him as president. The team colours were blue and white, the same as those of the defunct rugby union club. The doctor also played cricket and bowls. This photograph is from the late Neil Cathey's collection.
When Dr. John died in 1927, he was succeeded as local GP by his nephew Matthew "Mattie" Purcell, who also hailed from County Clare, Ireland. He continued the family's sporting interests and is pictured here, soon after his arrival in the town and looking dapper in a bow-tie, with members of Silsden Rugby League Club founded in 1920.


Dr Mattie Purcell, like his uncle, was a Silsden GP for some 40 years, with a practice just off Skipton Road. He died in August 1969, having given up his practice two years earlier. His granddaughter Jacci Higgitt (daughter of Mattie's only son Michael) met her Irish relatives for the first time at the gathering organised by Barry Thomas. She attended Hothfield and South Craven schools.