Thursday, 29 August 2013

August 29: After the summer heatwave, we see the first hints of autumn with the leaves on this rowan tree in the parish churchyard starting to yellow. Lit by the sun, red and orange rowan berries are one of nature's many seasonal  sensations.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

No. 55 is one of the most distinctive frontages in Kirkgate. There has been a shop at this junction with Nicolson Place for more than 120 years. For much of that time, No. 55 was a grocery and for several decades since the Second World War was best known as Holgates (below). Over the last four years the premises have become immensely popular as Bilalúci's café bar (above).  
William and Mary Holgate gave the shop its fondly-remembered post-war name, which was retained by subsequent owners after the Holgates retired. Before the Second World War the shop had been Redmans grocery. This picture is by courtesy of Silsden Camera Club.
The present owner is Mr Bilal Kanat, who is pictured above with assistants Leanne Rampling (right), who is Mr Kanat's niece, and Emily Williamson. Mr Kanat came to the UK from Turkey, where he had been in the catering and hotel trades. His wife Helen, who has her own business, is from Silsden. 

 Nicolson Place, alongside and to the rear of Bilalúci's, is named after Angus Nicolson, who came to Silsden from Stornoway, in the Isle of Lewis, in 1871 and founded Airedale Shed, which became a major textile mill and extended along Shed Side (New Road). A directory of 1913 lists four worsted manufacturers at the premises with a combined total of more than 1,000 looms. Most of the mill was demolished to make way for houses off New Road while part of the building was retained and converted into flats, as can be seen in the background of the above photograph.

Red paintwork added to Holgates' distinctive presence at the junction of Kirkgate and Nicolson Place. The mill and cottages are shown in this photograph before  manufacturing gave way to housing in the 1980s.  
 A late 19th-early 20th century photograph of Kirkgate, where what is now Bilalúci's café bar was No. 51 and occupied by John William Jowett, selling groceries and other provisions. He was trading there at the time of the 1891 census. He was born in 1861 and died in 1905. By 1911 Joseph Henry Saville, aged 32, was the grocer. The Savilles later ran a bakery on the opposite side of Kirkgate.

Friday, 23 August 2013

7.15am August 23: the tower of St James' Parish Church breaks through the early-morning mist. This view looks across the park and up to Rivock Edge. Preparations are being made in the park for the Bank Holiday weekend's Silsdenbury Festival. 

Thursday, 15 August 2013

The £300,000 refurbishment of Silsden Town Hall has uncovered a possibly original handsome wooden roof structure that has been hidden for decades by a suspended ceiling. The feature, above what used to be the ballroom on the top floor, will be renovated to enhance the main hall. Bradford council is funding and carrying out the top-to-bottom upgrade, which is due to be completed by October. Silsden Library will be moved to the Town Hall, which will also have improved and new facilities for community groups. A lift to the first floor and a street entrance ramp will make the building more accessible to elderly and disabled people.   
The olive-coloured line of plasterwork indicates where the suspended ceiling had been installed, completely hiding the wooden roof structure.
Removal of the suspended ceiling also means the upper section of the arched window, mirroring the three arches of the exposed roof feature, can be seen from within.  
A wide-angle view of the main hall on the top floor. 
The Town Hall has been a landmark in Kirkgate since 1884.  The foundation stone was laid 130 years ago, in December 1883, and the building opened as the Mechanics Institute the following  October. Its aim was to encourage villagers "to meet and employ their thoughts on high and noble subjects". In 1909 the trustees handed management of the institute to Silsden council, which renamed it as the Town Hall.
Kirkgate and Road End about 1800. The thatch-roof cottage on the left was on the site of the Town Hall until 1883 and was the home of the village pinder, who rounded up stray animals and put them in the pinfold (near what are now the Methodist Church grounds opposite) until they were collected or slaughtered. This delightful depiction was drawn by local historian William Cowling in 1951 as a result of his researches.

Silsden Local History Group is suggesting that the town's Coat of Arms (pictured right) should be incorporated into signage for the upgraded Town Hall. The arms, portraying the town's history, were presented to the Urban Council in 1955. The council had applied for Armorial Bearings to commemorate the Queen's coronation in 1953. The chevron on the shield of the Coat of Arms is taken from the Jennings family, who held the Manor of Silsden as early as 1487. The double cross is of the Knights Templars, who held land in Silsden from 1122 to 1312, when the Order was disbanded and the land transferred to the Order of St John of Jerusalem, from which St John Street derives its name. Either side of the cross is an arrangement of three "Sparrow Bills", relating to the nail-making industry, which specialised in small nails, or "sparrow bills", for shoes. The earliest reference to nail-making was in 1761. The last forge closed in the 1930s. The ram's head at the base of the shield typifies the woollen industry and local farming. The rose is the Yorkshire emblem and the rays of the demi-suns represent rayon manufacture in the town's textile heyday. The early experimental work on the production of rayon material was carried out in Silsden. The wyvern, or two-legged dragon, on the crest is holding a flax flower. Records show that in 1732 flax was being grown extensively on Silsden Moor to meet the expanding Royal Navy's demand for cordage and sail. The wyvern is adapted from the arms of the Clifford family, of Skipton Castle, who were the ancient lords of the manor, Silsden being one of the most important manors in the Honour of Skipton.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

The number of small tortoiseshell butterflies has declined nationally by 75% since the 1970s but August has brought good sightings in local lanes, particularly on thistles. They can also be seen flocking around buddleias and sedums in gardens. Small tortoiseshells live through the winter as butterflies and often enter houses to seek refuge. 
The wings of Speckled Wood butterflies are an ideal camouflage in the dappled areas of woodland margins. The Speckled Wood would not have been seen in this area 20 or so years ago: it has gradually extended its range northwards since the 1980s. The males are highly territorial and will defend their positions in brambly sunny glades if other butterflies encroach. A few Speckleds have been on the wing in Spring Crag Wood this month (August). 
Probably our most glamorous butterfly, the peacock scares off predators with its distinctive eye spots. Peacocks live and breed in patches of stinging nettles, and in late summer and autumn can be seen feeding on buddleias, sedums and rotting fruit. This peacock in a local garden has lost one of its two antennae, the organs of smell.