Monday, 3 November 2014

Mills, mayhem and tolls: a quarter-mile stretch

of Keighley Road steeped in history

Above: Silsden's oldest fish and chip shop has been run for the last 18 years by Philip and Jean Done, who took over from Barry Henderson. They had previously worked at Omeda at Steeton and bought Bridge Fisheries in Keighley Road when the factory, a large employer, folded. The chippy has withstood the closure of nearby mills, whose workers were valuable customers.  
Above: Bridge Fisheries is the town's oldest surviving chippy. It has been in business since at least the late 1800s/early 1900s. The former Briggate fish and chip shop, shown in one of my recent posts, was founded around 1908. Apart from the smartness, today's frontage of the Keighley Road premises is little changed compared with the early days of the 20th century (below). 
Above: at one time the chippy included a small restaurant. In 1904 proprietor Tom Summerscales complained that police were harassing him if they found customers there after 10pm while only a few months previously he had been staying open fuss-free until midnight. Other shops were open late as usual and he demanded the same privilege. Eventually a compromise closing time of 11pm was reached.
Above: the Old Corn Mill. The earliest building recorded in Silsden is the water-powered corn mill, which according to historian Tom Steel was granted by Cecilia de Romille to the prior and canons of Embsay in 1122. The original corn-mill buildings, fed by Silsden beck, have been reconstructed over the centuries but the West Yorkshire Archaeological Advisory Service says the general layout of the water courses may be of considerable antiquity. 
Above: this 1950s/1960s photograph from the late Kevin Bower's collection shows the Old Corn Mill before alterations which lowered the roof line.
Above: what is now called Corn Mill House occupies the site of the original corn mill. The premises, with the historic water wheel in situ, were for many years the HQ of Herbert Wass, builders and plumbers merchants. Herbert Wass revived corn-milling in 1905 but switched to the building trade 20 years later. This photograph from the late Kevin Bower's collection shows an ivy-free frontage of Corn Mill House, which is a late 19th century building. 
Above: by the early 1970s, Corn Mill House was covered in ivy. Green Shield stamps (a loyalty scheme which ran from 1958 to 1991) could be earned when motorists filled up with National petrol. The Triumph Herald has an H registration, which was for vehicles new in 1969. The view has a wistful charm about it compared with the bravado we see today (below).
Above: Herbert Wass gave way to building-supplies group Naylor Myers, which more recently became Myers. The new storage building is a 2014 development. 
Above: today the forecourt roof of the Jet petrol station dominates the view. In a 2006 appraisal, it was stated that development which had taken over the area between Keighley Road, the town's main industrial area, and the beck "is not always complementary to the character of the conservation area but testifies to the needs of modern living."
Above: a further major change is on the way with the building of an Aldi food store ("spend a little, live a lot") adjacent to the Habasit factory. 
Above: the telephone exchange on the west side of Keighley Road marks the start of the district known as "The Becks," which contributed greatly to Silsden's colourful heritage, although much of the housing, built to house mill workers, was demolished in the 1960s. The telephone exchange occupies the site of the old police station (below).
Above: the police station was built in the 19th century and was the scene of a famous riot in April 1911, when an angry mob protested at the arrest and imprisonment of a young Silsdener alleged to have assaulted an unpopular constable. The picture shows the police station the morning after the attack. All the windows were smashed.The incident made national news. The prisoner was Ben Hodgson, who became the first Silsden soldier to be killed in the First World War. Photograph by courtesy of Silsden Camera Club. 
Above: this single-storey property fronting Keighley Road was the toll bar, which stood at the end of John Square. The toll bar, or turnpike, was built in 1826 when the road from Steeton to Addingham through Silsden was built. Tolls were abolished in 1850. John Square along with James Square and James Place formed an E-shaped block of mill workers' "two up and two down" houses on the south side of Becks Mill. Unfit by modern standards, the housing was demolished in the early 1960s.
Above: houses built for workers at the mill, the high elevation of which can be seen to the right. Photograph by courtesy of Silsden Camera Club.
Above: Becks Mill was Silsden's first steam-powered textile mill. It was built on this site in 1837/1838 by three local men, Joshua Fletcher, James Gill and Henry Mitchell, to manufacture worsted cloth. Wool combing and hand-loom weaving had been part of local life for centuries. Becks Mill was rented to a succession of tenants and about the 1860s/1870s the main manufacturer was James Stocks, whose family were associated with the mill until it closed more than 100 years later. Photograph by courtesy of Silsden Camera Club.

Above: another view of what had become Stocks' mill. Photograph by courtesy of Silsden Camera Club.
Above: these Keighley Road houses (now demolished) on the north side of the mill abutted Thanet Square. The picture was taken in 1974. 
Above: Thanet Square, pictured here in 1972, formed with Walker's Place, Mill Banks and Albert Square an integral part of The Becks community north of the mill. Thanet Square was demolished in the 1970s but the other three streets are still in place with the houses modernised. They are in the conservation area.
Above: this tobacconist and sweet shop was at the Keighley Road end of Thanet Square. In the early days of The Becks, Joshua Fletcher, one of the founders of the mill, lived modestly in this cottage, where he kept a small general shop, according to Silsden Primitive Methodism, a collection of records and reminiscences edited by the Rev W. J. Robson and published in 1910.
Above: demolition of the huge mill fronting Keighley Road revealed the old two-storey building, which before it too was demolished had various textile occupants, latterly including Belmont Silks.
Above: the unusual three-storey building on the left, at the junction with Walker's Place, was once a Co-op grocery as can be seen in the photograph below.
Above: the Co-op grocery pictured more than 100 years ago. In recent times, an aquatic-supplies shop occupied the ground floor before being converted to residential use. Corn Mill House can be seen on the opposite side of the road. Photograph from the late Kevin Bower's collection.
Above: possibly the manager outside the Co-op.The St John Ambulance kiosk alongside the shop held supplies. First-aid classes commenced in Silsden in 1898. This Co-op venue closed around the early 1960s. Photograph from the late Kevin Bower's collection.
Above: the Grouse started as a beer shop, which grew into an inn to serve the new mill workers of The Becks. Attempts to make a go of it as a smart bar and restaurant after the Grouse closed as a pub have not succeeded and there are now plans to convert the premises and build houses on the car park at the rear.
Above: the Grouse around 1910 with licensees Fred and Clara Dewhirst on the steps.
Above: an annual charity pram race used to start at the Grouse. This was the 1973 send-off. The gathering includes Eric Robinson (right), the last chairman of Silsden Urban District Council, MP Joan Hall (next to Councillor Robinson), Bert Wigglesworth (third from right), chairman of the Licensed Victuallers Association and licensee of the Bridge pub, Meg Wigglesworth (left) and Councillor J. J. Barker (centre in glasses), a former UDC chairman.
Above: Mill Banks. The single-storey building with the red door was once a nail-making forge and is one of only three known surviving structures from the local industry. The other two are in Stirling Street. The first mention of nail-making in Silsden was in 1761. At its peak in the mid-19th century, the industry employed more than 100 people. But as a domestic or semi-domestic enterprise it was overtaken by mass-production methods and ceased in Silsden in 1919. The vacant land in front of Mill Banks was once the site of the Oddfellows Hall (pictured below on the left).
Above: the impressive hall built by the Society of Oddfellows in 1851 was taken over by the Roman Catholic Church. The lower floors were converted into five cottages and worship took place on the top floor. In 1956 a visiting bishop described it as "by far the ugliest and most deplorable church in the whole of the West Riding." The building was demolished in 1962. The Oddfellows were a mutual-help organisation formed to provide sick pay for workers. The above photograph from the late Kevin Bower's collection shows a Silsden Motor Omnibus Company vehicle en route to Steeton in about 1907.
Above: Albert Square, which used to comprise three terraces, was among the housing built to rent to mill workers as Silsden's textile production took off. By the beginning of the 20th century Silsden was one of the busiest places in the West Riding.
Above: No. 33 Keighley Road has an 1838 date stone, the same time that Becks Mill opened. The house, which curiously was known as Pennypeck Hall, fronts Albert Square, the entrance to which is alongside.
Above: a yesteryear photograph of No. 33 Keighley Road from the late Kevin Bower's collection.
Above: now a warehouse and offices, the Bethesda Church opened in 1871 on what was a farming croft. The caretaker was allowed to operate a nail-making forge at the rear of the building to boost his wages. The Bethesda closed when Silsden's three Methodist chapels united in 1956 to form the present church in Kirkgate.
 Above: the Bethesda in its chapel days.
Above: No. 41 Keighley Road is now an office but in the past has been a shop (see picture below). The entrance to Sykes Lane between the terraces affords informative views of the industrial past. The setts and small workshops give Sykes Lane a distinct atmosphere. The lane has medieval origins and was a route to early field systems as well as being the way to Silsden from the Aire Valley via a ford and footbridge on the river.
Above: Mrs Janet Smith (nee Wade) sold tobacco, sweets, groceries and even bicycle parts at No. 41 Keighley Road. She was born in Albert Square and ran the shop with her stepson, Alan, until just before the outbreak of the Second World War. The photograph, which is from the late Kevin Bower's collection, is dated around 1916/17.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

When you hit the wrong key and the screen goes blank......

Above: Computer Universe, which opened in Briggate in April 2011, is owned by IT specialists (left to right) Tristen Vasey, Kevin Jackson and Darryl Bell, who formed the company after being made redundant. Services include PC, laptop and Apple sales and repairs, and advice on all aspects of computers. As a start-up business they were guided by Airedale Enterprise Services. Computer Universe has become a welcome addition to the shopping diversity of Briggate, which as my previous posts show has played a distinctive part in local commerce for more than a century.  

Friday, 17 October 2014

Medlars in abundance

Above: attention was drawn on in September to this splendid medlar tree, which hitherto had probably been largely unnoticed by passers-by in Chapel Street. But it is a remarkable specimen. Relatively uncommon these days, medlars were known in ancient times. They have a gnarled bark and crooked trunk and are generally found in old cottage orchards or growing wild in south-east England. They sprawl and reach a height of 20ft.
Above: the medlar's unusual-looking fruits need to be over-ripe before they can be eaten raw. They do not fall from the tree after ripening but can be gathered in October and stored until they become soft. Enjoyed by the Greeks and the Romans, the fruit was a delicacy for centuries. It can also be made into jelly.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Briggate grocer and corn dealer who supplied the local farmers

Above: Harold Wade is pictured at No. 20 Briggate, a grocery which he ran with his brother Joe. The shop (which is now Paul's DIY, see below) was started by their father, Herbert, and continued for many years until the 1960s. They supplied corn and were well-known in Silsden's farming community. The photograph belongs to Harold's daughter, Betty Crabtree, herself a noted local resident, being a former chairman of the old Silsden parish council. Her late husband, Bill Crabtree, was a Briggate butcher for many years, at the premises which are now Cafe Cake.
Above: following the Wade era, No. 20 Briggate had three changes of ownership before it became Paul's DIY in 1979, run by Paul Waddington. The premises were expanded in 1985. My focus on Briggate over the years can be viewed in a post earlier this month.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

After Le Tour, Le Togetherness

continues with a

community showcase

Above: voluntary organisations took part in a community showcase at St James' Church on October 11.The aim was to continue the momentum that brought the town together for the Tour de France in July. Groups represented covered activities and interests from allotments to music, from history to theatre and from photography to community care. The first meeting of Le Post Tour Group will take place at the King's Arms on Thursday, October 23 (7.30pm).
Above: town mayor Councillor Chris Atkinson and deputy mayor Keith Savage with some of the nearly 750 baby jumpers that were knitted for town-wide Le Tour display, adorning shop windows and streets. The jumpers were presented during the community showcase to Mission Direct for distribution in Africa.
Above: some of the bikes decorated for Le Tour have been collected by the Bradford-based Margaret Carey Foundation, which sets up workshops in prisons. Offenders voluntarily restore scrapped cycles and wheelchairs for sending to people in need abroad. The foundation has 200 bikes in store, 131 of which were donated at a recent collection point in Ilkley.The picture shows foundation CEO David Brown (centre) with Eileen and William Jowitt, who presented a cheque on behalf of Silsden Methodist Church. The foundation was one of the charities to benefit from the church's Le Tour bike festival.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Businessman's 80th birthday and a look at Briggate over the years -- the street that started out as Skipton Road

Above: well-known Silsden businessman and former City Hall councillor Eric Waddington celebrated his 80th birthday on October 10. He and his wife, Mary, were members of two of the UK’s most prominent fairground families but they quit the travelling life to run a fish-and-chip shop in Briggate in 1962 and went on to become a highly successful local business partnership. Married in 1959, they had known each other since childhood. Fairground fame had been in their respective families for generations but Eric and Mary decided to look for a settled and more conventional living when their son, Paul, was born with health problems.

Above: the Briggate fish and chip shop in the 1960s. Note the cigarette-dispensing machine on the wall. Eric and Mary Waddington had not been to Silsden before they came here from Bradford to take over Herbert Rennison’s chip shop, which they ran until 1983. A portion of fish and chips sold for 10 pre-decimal pence in 1962, when you could buy a pint of beer for the same outlay in a club and for one shilling in a pub — a portion and a pint traditionally were similarly priced.
Above: the Waddingtons memorably served free fish and chips (one portion per customer) on their last day in 1983. This slightly blurred photograph shows the queue. Eric and Mary sold the shop to Keith and Pat Chapman, who were followed by the George’s Place Chinese takeaway. In 1977 Eric and Mary had bought Snowden’s opposite the chippy and converted the premises into a DIY shop for their teenaged son Paul, who continues to run it to this day. Eric and Mary went on to transform the cottage at No. 7 Bolton Road into Waddy’s wine bar, which became immensely popular. They sold it two years later, subsequently expanding Paul’s DIY shop and developing property interests in Ilkley.
Above: Harry Gordon (right), who was born in Keighley in 1875, opened a "fish and chip saloon" in the early 1900s on the same Briggate site as the later chip shops. Previously he had been an eating-house assistant in Keighley and boarded with a family in Tufton Street when he came to Silsden. There was also a blacksmith's forge in Briggate and the photograph shows Harry Gordon with Fred Jackson, who is shoeing a horse. Fred was described in the 1901 census as a blacksmith and in the 1911 census as a shoeing and jobbing smith.
Above: early 1900s scene and view of Briggate, which was actually called Skipton Road until the 1940s. Pre-Briggate, the present Skipton Road was named Skipton Road West. W. Smith's shop on the left is now Kirkgate News (the address is 71 Kirkgate) and has been a newsagent's since around 1880 when William Smith, a nail-maker and local preacher, started as a seller of books and newspapers.
Above: John Lund, born in 1847, ran a butcher's shop on the Briggate corner opposite what became the Conservative Club. He was certainly trading there from the 1890s and possibly before then. He was a son-in-law of retired Methodist minister the Rev James Bootland and lived with his family in Wesley Place. Dick Ashton opened his electrical and radio shop here around the 1920s and was succeeded by Leonard Dyer's electrical shop in the 1960s.The premises have also been a snack bar and, as now, a hairdresser's.
Above: the 1901 census shows that Thomas Holmes Spencer, who was born in 1868 and came from Eastburn, was already a greengrocer at 13 Skipton Road (now Briggate). He was eventually followeed by his son, Eric, born 1908, who ran the shop until his death in 1963. The business then became Busfield's and continued as a greengrocery until the 1990s.
Above: two advertisements from a 1910 brochure. John Tillotson is serving peas and pies every evening at a saloon next to the Conservative Club and Thomas Spencer describes himself as an English and foreign fruiterer.
Above: Thomas Spencer's daughter Bessie, who was born in 1905, is pictured at the greengrocery in the 1920s.
Above: brothers Jonas and Leonard Clarkson are pictured in the late 1920s or early1930s at their draper's shop at 17 Briggate, which, as shown in my May 2014 post, is now an optician's.
Above: three advertisements from the official Silsden guide of 1953/1954. Dick Ashton was widely known, not least because in the 1960s he supplied BBC 1 and BBC 2 transmissions to local subscribers by aerial relay from his premises for one penny a week per channel.
Above: in the 1960s, Mary Sharp served lunches in the front room of her cottage next to the Yorkshire Electricity Board showroom (now Knowles' estate agency).
Above: the Yorkshire Bank late 1950s/early1960s with the Yorkshire Bank prominent opposite the roundabout, the first of which was built in 1936. Leonard Dyer occupies the premises previously run by Dick Ashton at 7 & 9 Briggate.
Above: Dennis Knowles has replaced the Yorkshire Bank, supplying decorating materials before becoming a full-time estate agent. We no longer see street lamps like this one by the roundabout.
Above: Dyer's electrical shop has become a snack bar in this late 1960s photograph, which is also shown in my earlier post about Kirkgate News.
Above: red buses operated by the Keighley West Yorkshire Road Car Company used to travel along  Briggate when, as in this 1960s photograph, the street was two-way and parking was prohibited on both sides.
Above: this historic property was known as the "band 'oil", from the days when Silsden Brass Band practised there. Keighley historian Ian Dewhirst recorded that the new band formed in 1872 by the renowned Edward Newton sometimes would spend six nights a week practising, in rooms adjoining a grocery and corn store in Briggate. From the late 1950s to the mid-1990s, the shop area on the right opened for the sale of Sunday newspapers, an outlet run by Alan Mason and his son Brian. The wholesale business, which supplied South Craven and parts of Wharfedale, was actually started by Brian's grandfather in Addingham some years before Alan acquired the Briggate shop. In those days the regular newsagents did not open on Sundays. As one of the following present-day photographs shows, the premises are now the head office of L'Arche, a charity which supports people who have learning difficulties.

Above: taken in the 1980s, this photograph shows another change of business on the right facing Bolton Road. This time it is Pandora's Box, which was run by Eric and Mary Waddington's daughter Lisa as a health food and gift shop. Lisa lives locally and helps at her brother Paul's DIY shop at the other end of Briggate.
Above: permanent and popular -- Paul Waddington, of Paul's DIY, has completed 35 years as a Briggate trader. He is featured in my October 2012 post.
Above: the modern aspect of the Briggate junction with Kirkgate and Bolton Road End. With distinctive white on blue signage, Aire Valley Financial Services occupies the prime spot in the Conservative Club premises, which were built in 1901.
Above: Occupying the old band 'oil and Sunday-paper shop, L'Arche runs communities in the UK and abroad where people with and without learning difficulties live together. 
Above: Briggate today from the Skipton Road junction.
Above: Briggate as it is now looking towards Skipton Road.