Friday, 15 September 2017

Reservoir's replacement role that started 155 years agoSilsden’s picturesque reservoir performs today the same role for which it was built in the late 1850s. Pictured above is Yorkshire Water resource engineer Dave Driver, who in effect is the reservoir keeper. He and his team of seven engineers maintain the reservoir and the local dams and water-supply networks. The Silsden compensation reservoir, situated between Great Gill Beck and Fish Beck, holds 550,000 cubic metres of water (about 120 million gallons) from a catchment area of 7.85 kilometres square (3 miles square). At its maximum, it is 24 metres (78 feet) deep. The reservoir’s purpose is to replace water that is taken from rivers and streams elsewhere to supply domestic drinking water. 
Commissioned 155 years ago, the reservoir was part of a major expansion by the new Bradford Corporation to supply clean water to the fast-growing city. Silsden's job originally was to compensate mill owners on the River Aire for the loss of tributaries, which powered their machinery. The reservoir was formed by damming a deep ravine. The dam has a clay core within an earth embankment 34 metres (111 feet) high. The picture above shows the crest of the dam, which is the original construction. Known as a Pennine dam, it was cutting-edge engineering in Victorian times. All of Yorkshire Water’s dams are inspected three times a week.
Above: engineer Dave Driver in the draw-off (or valve) tower. The reservoir is a landmark feature familiar to all travellers on the A6034 road at Cringles. Silsdeners feared for their lives and homes with a reservoir being built above their village. The early years of the reservoir are described in a Silsden Local History Group paper by David Mason, based largely on research by Brian Sunderland. 
A plaque marking the opening in 1974 of the treatment plant at Silsden reservoir, which had always been a Bradford Corporation facility. Yorkshire Water took over later in 1974 when regional water authorities came into being. The treatment plant closed about 15 years ago.

The 28-acre reservoir site previously had been home to a mill manufacturing quality high-backed chairs, washing dollies and hayrakes. The mill, owned by the Laycock family of Fishbeck Cottage, closed and was submerged when the reservoir was built. The ruins of the mill and the outline of the mill pond were revealed when the reservoir dried up in a severe drought in 1959.The photograph above is believed to show the empty reservoir at that time. Silsdeners flocked to see the mill ruins.

Four men and their boats. These would-be sailors are pictured at the reservoir probably in the 1930s. Sailing model yachts was a popular pastime in the days when parks had boating ponds. Second from right is Oswald (Ozzy) Firth, a larger than life Silsden character, who ran a pies, peas and tripe shop in Kirkgate in the first half of the 20th century. 

Fishing rights at the reservoir for years have belonged to the Bradford Waltonians Angling Club. This photograph taken in 1941 shows Scottish music-hall star Will Fyffe fishing at the reservoir on a day off from an engagement in Huddersfield. Will wrote the famous song "I Belong to Glasgow."
Above: William Lambert, who died in 1944 aged 83, was one of the best known local anglers and had fished at the reservoir with Harry Lauder, Will Fyffe and several other celebrities.
Mr Lambert, who travelled thousands of miles to fish in contests, is pictured with some of the numerous angling trophies and medals he won. He was a member of Silsden Urban Council and chairman of the Fire Brigade Committee.

Friday, 4 August 2017

Ancient and modern: a quaint clash along Sykes Lane

The Banks development of three, four and five-bedroom houses on the former timber yard between the canal and Sykes Lane has sparked fears for one of Silsden's oldest hedgerows. Developer Harron Homes' marketing suite borders part of the treasured lane, which was known to exist in 1565 and possibly long before then, giving access to early field systems. 
It appears from newspaper reports that Harron has permission to remove parts of the Sykes Lane hedgerow in order to install boundary fences of new homes. The clash between old and new can be seen above where the lane borders Albert Square. Harron is building right up to the old hedgerow.  
MP John Grogan and district and town councillors have stepped in to try to find a compromise that will save threatened parts of the hedgerow. Leeds-based Harron, which in its marketing material described Silsden as a "quaint town," has been quoted as sharing residents' desire to preserve the heritage of The Banks area. 
 Just under 50 homes are being built at The Banks.
The route in and out of the development is from Keighley Road between Mill Banks on the left and Albert Square on the right opposite the old corn mill.
 The Banks site viewed from the canal.
More new housing has been completed on the former Grouse pub car park between Keighley Road and Sykes Lane. 
The old pub itself has been converted into homes as part of the development. Plans for some 400 new homes, including The Banks, could swell Silsden's population to more than 9,000. It is around 8,000 at the moment. The population was 1,300 in 1801 and had grown to 4,960 by 1911. It was relatively static over the next 50 years but has accelerated since the 1970s. Plans for new housing were outlined in my posts of April 10th, 2016.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Open all hours: long live the long-lived corner shops 

Residents in the Howden Road area have had the convenience of a "corner shop" for nearly 90 years. My pictures show the present-day Cobbydale Stores (above) and owner Mr Tony Cavaliere (below) and then the shop in the early 1950s when it was J. G. Lamb's grocery.
Moving to Silsden from Bradford, where they were both born, Mr Cavaliere and his wife, Gill, took over the business from Mick and Liz Craven in 1996. Typical of small but amazingly well-stocked and characterful corner shops, Cobbydale Stores is open from 7am to 9pm five days a week and from 8am to 9pm at weekends. Mr Cavaliere runs the shop while his wife works full-time as a head teacher's personal assistant.

Above: the shop in the early 1950s when it was J. G. Lamb's grocery. John Green Lamb, popularly known as Jack, and his wife Elizabeth owned the grocery from 1947 until around 1965, when ill health forced Mr Lamb to retire. The photograph shows (left to right) customer Margaret Town, Jack Lamb, Alice Heaps (also a customer), Elizabeth Lamb and John Lamb, the youngest of Mr and Mrs Lamb’s three sons, who loaned me the photograph. Jack Lamb served his apprenticeship locally with the Co-op, which for many years operated several shops in Silsden, and took on the Howden Road grocery from Eric Clarkson, who emigrated down under. The three Lamb sons, Harry, David and John, all became successful businessmen. John is also well-known in golfing circles, having been president of Silsden Golf Club from 2005-2013.
Above: the view today from the same perspective as the 1950s photograph. Over the years, only two neighbourhood grocery/off licences, Cobbydale Stores and Aire View Stores, and the main street Kirkgate News, have withstood intense competition from supermarkets, discounters and, now, online shopping with home deliveries. Many Silsdeners can recall the days when there were more than a dozen such small shops dotted around the town. All three survivors have long histories: the Cobbydale Stores property (No 36 Howden Road) was built in 1929 and has always included a grocery shop; Aire View Stores (featured in my post of October 2013) opened in 1900; and Kirkgate News, at No 71 Kirkgate (see my post of November 2013), goes back to 1880.

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Afternoon tea treat for senior citizens

Fifty guests aged over 75 were entertained to afternoon tea at Silsden Town Hall on July 1st. It was the fourth in a series of social events organised by the Friends of Silsden Town Hall, in a move to revive the tradition of community hospitality for the most senior citizens and made possible by funding from the Harry Beverley Tillotson Trust. Sandwiches and cakes were made and served by volunteers under the direction of Ray and Pat Colling. Entertainment was provided by soloist Sarah Halstead, with Terry Simpson at the piano, and there was a free competition on the theme of The Golden Age of Cinema. Transport was arranged for the less mobile. There will be a “Scones in Autumn” gathering on Wednesday September 27th  when all residents over 75 will be welcome to drop in for a cream tea. A Christmas tea and entertainment, by invitation only, will be held on Saturday December 9th.

Saturday, 1 July 2017

A grand family day out in the park

Above: family fun was to the fore at the Grand deParty at Silsden park on July 1st, opening a month of events to celebrate the community spirit triggered by the Grand Depart of the Tour de France in 2014. 
Above: Ace Workshop's Lucy Thornton (right) and assistant Lizzie Lee, who run forest schools and outdoor education, showed how to make a camp fire. 
Above: Nathan and Amy Gibson and Leah Saunders (right) received tuition from bowls club members.
Above: Keith Davies, a former deputy head at St Mary's School, Riddlesden, entertained children with a traditional Punch and Judy show. He also judged the dog show.
Above: sisters Edie and Mabel Marriott and Mason Sellars were among Punch and Judy's attentive audience.
 Above: Ellie Woodhead with her pet Jack Russells Pip and Paddy (foreground). Paddy won the 'most handsome' award in the dog show.
Above: Silsden AFC's under-8s for next season were put through their paces by coach Paul Rance.
Above: Lucy Hope became an RSPB member at the society's promotional stand. The Hope family's pet lurcher Tizzy was chosen as the prettiest bitch in the dog show.
Above: Neil Whitaker (centre), who heads the organising committee, was MC for the day's events, which included Silsden Brass Band, Silsden Singers, running races, tennis, bike trials and children's cycling.

Friday, 30 June 2017

History Group invites you to meet the ancestors

Silsden Local History Group is to run guided tours of the St James' Church graveyard. The "Meet our Silsden Ancestors" sessions will enable the public to hear stories behind some of the gravestones and memorials.The tours, seven in all, on July 15th, 16th and 17th, will be conducted by History Group chairman David Mason, who is pictured above on the right with committee members Geoff Foster, Val Carroll and Margaret Bishop Green.  
The tours, among July's Grand deParty events, are due to include the graves of mill owners and workers, a farmer's son who drowned trying to rescue sheep in a storm, a clog-iron maker, a pioneering educationalist and the patriotically named innkeeper Albion Hargreaves. Attendance (limited to eight people per tour) is by ticket only, obtainable from Twiggs newsagents from July 8th. The charge of £1, payable on the tour, will go to the Grand deParty. Aspects and photographs of Silsden's past will also be featured at the History Group's coffee morning on July 15th at the Town Hall.

Monday, 26 June 2017

After 110 years, Post Office moves to a new home in Kirkgate

Above: a smart new frontage and access ramp mark the move of Silsden Post Office from the opposite side of Kirkgate at No.64 to Twiggs Newsagents at No. 39. The layout of the newsagents has been cleverly adapted to accommodate the post office.
Above: newsagent Martin Twigg is the new postmaster. He is pictured with his wife, Adele, who is helping run the business. Having been approached by the post office, Martin agreed to refurbish the newsagents to retain the service for the town following the end of the Cathey era as postmasters at No. 64. There has been a newsagents at 39 Kirkgate for more than 100 years. Martin acquired the shop from Martin Lampkin in 1994. The history of the newsagents and photos over the years were featured in my blog of November 2013.
Above: Rosemary Wallbank serves a customer at the post office counter at Twiggs. Rosemary was one of the team at the post office at No 64 Kirkgate where Andrew Cathey had been in charge since 1990 until his recent retirement. The Cathey family had run the post office since 1955. It had been the hub of the community at No 64 since 1907, as reported in my blog of November 2012. The service, one of the oldest in Yorkshire, opened at Twigg's on June 9th 2017. The shop continues to stock all lines as normal, including stationery, gifts and toys.