Thursday, 29 November 2012

It was in place for less than a year but this willow wolf in baying stance near Windgate Nick was much admired by walkers on the moorland path between the Nab and Ilkley. No one knew who the artist was and the creation disappeared as mysteriously as it had arrived.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

GROWERS' GALLERY (3): This the third picture in my occasional series featuring local allotment-holders shows that gardening isn't always about outdoor work. Bob Thomas (left) and Bob Bentley are both former West Yorkshire fire officers, for whom retirement has prompted the question: "How on earth did we find time to work"? 

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Seven-year-olds Rose Cameron (left) and Isabel Price are pictured above enjoying a roundabout bus ride at Silsden’s annual Christmas Market on November 25. Shops open included Cafe Cake, in Briggate, where outdoor sales were run by Lisa Shackleton (pictured below) while her mother and father, owners Norman and Pauline Pickard, were busy inside. All the pastries, pies, cakes and other goodies are made on the premises.

Former overlooker Peter Mitchell is pictured above operating a Dryad floor loom at his tiny weaving shed (pictured below) off New Road. Peter returned to weaving after running the Dogsbody and Friends pet shop in Kirkgate from 1995 until 2008. He then converted a cold store at the rear of the pet shop, which for many years had been Morrell’s greengrocery, into a weaving shed. It measures 3 metres by 3 metres but is big enough to accommodate the floor loom and a table-top loom. Peter makes anything to order, as well as offering tuition in this traditional skill.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

P. J. Spencer, motor engineers, has been established in Mitchell Lane, between the beck and the park, since 1976. The business was started in a former mill workshop cum weaving shed by Mr Peter Spencer, who died in 2001, since when it has been run by his son, Richard (pictured above), who joined his father after leaving school in 1985. The garage expanded with the addition of new premises on the same site in 1990. Richard’s mother, Jean, partners him in the business. Her parents, Richard and Beatrice Bradley, farmed at Beck House, in Low Lane. Peter Spencer’s father, John, was licensee at the Red Lion in Kirkgate.
A familiar Silsden street scene since 1976 has been a colourful collection of antique and second-hand goods at the Keighley Road shop of Mrs Julie Russell, pictured above, whose late mother, Mrs Marjorie Dyson, worked there until the age of 98. The property was coal merchant Herbert Calvert's office and then a betting office before Mrs Russell purchased it 36 years ago and turned it into a popular antiques business.

Nothing unusual in seeing a mown field except that these Low Woodside hectares between the canal and the river were cut on the last weekend of October – exceptionally but not unprecedentedly late and a consequence of Airedale’s wettest summer in living memory, which has brought havoc to livestock farmers. Dairy herds have been inside during the summer, depleting silage stored for winter, and feed costs have soared on the back of weather-inflicted grain shortages.
Other seasonal distortions include curlews flying over the Hutter Hill and Tar Topping fields in November, by when normally they would have returned to the coast, a primrose in flower in December in Snowden Ghyll Wood and hyacinths still in bloom in a Kent Avenue garden in late September. And who has seen any field mushrooms this autumn?

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

The Post Office in Kirkgate has been at the hub of the community in its present premises since 1907. The Cathey family has run the post office since 1955, when William Cathey became postmaster. His younger son, Andrew, above, has been postmaster since 1990. Andrew is pictured with two of his assistants, Rosemary Wallbank (left) and Judith Throup. One of the oldest in Yorkshire, Silsden’s postal service started around the time postage stamps were introduced in 1840 and occupied several different locations before 1907 when a row of Kirkgate houses was converted into shops.
 Kirkgate in about the 1970s before traffic congestion and road markings.   
Kirkgate scene in the early 1900s, probably before 1907 and certainly before 1914 when the first telephone box was installed alongside the post office. Note the shack in the foreground (left) by the the Stakes Beck dam.