Saturday, 30 December 2017

Death of Brenda Hayes ends link to era of local rule

The death shortly before Christmas of Mrs Brenda Hayes, aged 89, severs one of the last links with the old Silsden Urban District Council, which ran the town throughout the 20th century until disbandment in 1974 when local government was controversially reorganised. Mrs Hayes is pictured above with her husband, Councillor Tom Hayes, during Tom's UDC chairmanship in 1969/70. Wearing their chains of office, Mr and Mrs Hayes are pictured with senior citizens prior to a day out. The picture was taken in Elliott Street, from where coach outings traditionally departed. Tom and Brenda ran the newsagents at the corner of Kirkgate and Briggate. The shop (then known as Dewhirsts and now Kirkgate News) was owned and run for many years by Brenda's father, Arthur Watson, a long-serving councillor who was chairman of the UDC in 1952-55. Brenda and Tom succeeded him at the shop and became one of Silsden's best-known couples. Tom died in 2012.
This photograph was taken at a social gathering of councillors and their wives and UDC officials in 1970/71. Mrs Hayes is sixth from the left at the back, with Tom Hayes next to her. Council chairman William Cathey is pictured on the left at the front with his wife Mary. On the right at the front is Councillor J. J. Barker, chairman in 1959/62 and 1971/72; next to him is his wife Norah. Other leading councillors pictured include Nurse Catherine Herbert (chair 1963/66), Bert Mole (1966/67), Harold Kellett (1967/68), Dorothy Robinson (1972/73) and Eric Robinson, the last chairman, who served in 1973/74. Also in the photograph are councillors Brian Brockbank and Alan Townson; council clerk Eric Gration; town surveyor John Mitchell; and Roy Mason, the Keighley News and Craven Herald journalist who covered the council's doings. 
Silsden UDC gave way to Bradford Metropolitan District Council. Nationwide parish and town councils were created as a relatively powerless form of local government. In the early years, Silsden's parish council comprised a wealth of experience as seen in this photograph by Will Baldwin. The chairman is Richard Binns. Seated next to him are Betty Crabtree and J. J. Barker. Standing left to right are Tom Hayes, John Auchinleck, not sure who this is, Eric Robinson, Neil Cathey, Ernest Hoare, Edna Egerton and John Twigg. Seated far right is the clerk Mr Hodgson.   

Friday, 29 December 2017

Down Memory Lane to the Big Freeze of 70 years ago

The morning of December 29th, 2017, brought a fair covering of snow but it swiftly melted and gave way to a rainy afternoon. The two most prolonged perilous post-war periods of snow and freezing temperatures gripped Silsden and the rest of the country in 1947 and 1963. The above photograph shows the scene in Bradley Road, near the Raikes, in 1947. This and the following five photographs of that winter are from the late Kevin Bower's collection. 
 Lane House farm on the back road from Silsden to Kildwick.
The frozen canal at it passes Harwal Works on the left towards the boat yard and Keighley Road.
The frozen canal from the opposite direction with the wharf on the right. 
 Hard graft clearing the Addingham-Silsden road at Cringles.
The road from Silsden at the top of Cringles. The milk churn on the left is by the junction with Cringles Lane.  
The scene near Far Ghyll Grange in December 2010. 
The view from Tar Topping towards Hole Farm and, beyond, Heights Lane in January 2013. 
A snowy scene on a private driveway in January 2013. Silsden's sole reminder of the old red telephone boxes is privately owned. 
Snow came again in March 2013 and on the moors beyond Tar Topping produced drifts as high as the dry-stone walls. Drifts were still a feature of the Nab road in April 2013, as can be seen in my blog of April 3rd that year. 

Monday, 11 December 2017

Spotlight on Donald and Mary at a traditional treat
for the town's senior citizens
Pictured above are Donald Fowler and Mary Greenwood, who were the oldest man and woman at a Christmas treat on Saturday, December 9th, for Silsden's senior citizens. The event continued a community tradition of providing a Christmas tea for the elderly. The Friends of the Town Hall treated 60 senior citizens over the age of 75 to a splendid buffet and music by the Swing Cats Trio. The provision of a gift for the the oldest man and woman at the party also revived a tradition. These honours went to Mary, who is 98, and Donald, 97, who pipped Norman Akeroyd by less than six months.
The organisation of a Christmas get-together for local pensioners began after the Second World War and by the 1960s the community catering team were serving 230 teas and taking out a further 130 treats, plus a bag of coal, to elderly residents who were too frail to attend. This photograph by the late Will Baldwin shows the chairman of Silsden Urban District Council, Councillor J. J. Barker, and his wife, Norah, at the top table in the 1960s. They are wearing the chains of civic office.
This photograph, also by Will Baldwin, shows another Christmas tea in the 1960s. The festive event disappeared in the 1980s but was revived last year by the Friends of the Town Hall with generous funding from the Harry Beverley Tillotson Trust.
As a postscript I am repeating a Will Baldwin photograph from my blog of November 8th, 2016, showing members of Silsden's Harassed Housewives Club. I am doing so because the women include, third from left kneeling in the front row, Mary Greenwood, who at 98 is the subject of the first picture above. Next to her, fourth from left, is Mary Jane Smith, whose daughter Ivy is 87 and attended this year's Christmas tea. The photograph also includes Mrs Rose, Mary Sharp, Joan Hill, Ada Brooks, Miriam Parker, Alice Heaps, Mrs Tillotson, Violet Inman, Mrs Roberts, Mrs Rush, Elizabeth Lamb, Mrs Shackleton, Mrs Robinson, Mrs Moorehouse, Mrs Baldwin and Kitty Gledhill.

Sunday, 19 November 2017

New stage and sound system boost Town Hall's

status as a prime community asset

Haworth Ukulele Group are pictured entertaining a capacity audience following the official opening, on Saturday November 18th, of a new stage and sound system at Silsden Town Hall. The boost to performance arts has been provided by the Friends of Silsden Town Hall through a £10,000 grant from the National Lottery. The Friends are applying to take over management of the Town Hall when cash-starved Bradford council ceases to fund the building in April. A public meeting to explain the campaign to save the venue will be held on Thursday, December 7th (7pm).
Well-known local figure Mike Carey, a retired head teacher, is pictured cutting the ribbon to officially launch the new stage, watched by John Peet, vice-chairman of the Friends of Silsden Town Hall. Mike's late wife, Brenda, took a leading role in the campaign to restore a stage to the town and was a founder of Silsden Community Productions.   

Sunday, 12 November 2017

At the going down of the sun and

in the morning we will remember them

Silsden's Remembrance Day parade and service took place at the memorial gardens on Sunday, November 12th.
With the sun shining, more than 30 wreaths were laid by representatives of regiments, civic authorities, emergency services, local groups and businesses.
Armed Forces wreaths were laid on behalf of Normandy Veterans, Royal Marines, 4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards, Coldstream Guards, Royal Artillery, Royal Norfolk Regiment, Royal Corps of Signals, Parachute Regiment, Mercian Regiment, Royal Air Force and Royal Air Force Regiment.
The Silsden Royal British Legion wreath was laid by president Douglas Boulton.
Silsden mayor Peter Robinson waits his turn to place the town's tribute on the war memorial.  
Hymns accompanied by Silsden Town Band and prayers preceded the laying of wreaths.
Wreaths were laid on behalf of Silsden's three churches: Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Methodist and St James'. 
The 1st Silsden Scouts and Brownies and the 3rd Keighley and Steeton Scouts laid wreaths.
 Some of the many people who attended the Remembrance Day service. 
The attendance seems to increase each year.
Wreaths were laid (left to right) by Friends of Silsden Green Spaces, Co-op food hall, Co-op Funeral Care and Silsden Local History Group.
The Rev David Griffiths, Vicar of St James' Church, read war poet Wilfred Owen's "Disabled", which includes the lines:
Some cheered him home, but not as crowds cheer Goal.
Only a solemn man who brought him fruits
Thanked him; and then inquired about his soul.
Scout Matthew Watson (right) recited "In Flanders Fields", probably the best-known poem of the First World War, written by Canadian military surgeon John McCrae as he tended the wounded on the Western Front. Pictured with Matthew (left to right) are Father Michael McLaughlin, parish priest of Our Lady of Mount Carmel; Graham Iliffe, representing Silsden Methodist Church, whose Minister the Rev Ruth Crompton was jointly conducting the service at Keighley Shared Parish Church; and the Rev David Griffiths, Vicar of St James'.
These poppies were pictured growing in a Flanders roadside a few years ago. Poppies eternally symbolise the sacrifices of all those killed in two world wars and in numerous other conflicts.
Jean Bower, chairman of Silsden Royal British Legion and parade commander, said the increasing attendances on Remembrance Sunday were heartening.
Nelson Holmes, of Aire View, was the youngest Silsden soldier to die in the First World War. Aged 18, he was killed in a trench at Ypres just before Christmas of 1915. His grave, at Talana Farm Cemetery a few miles outside Ypres, is pictured above by Beth Liddle Photography.

The name of Nelson Holmes can be seen on this section of Silsden war memorial.

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Town Hall's Big 1940s Night Out

goes with a scintillating swing

The Airedale Swing Dance Community and locals stepped back in time for a stunningly successful Big 1940s Night Out at Silsden Town Hall on Friday, October 27th. More than 100 people attended. 
Star of the show was the incomparable Kitty LaMare, the vocalist with a verve for versatile vintage entertainment. She is pictured at the Town Hall entrance.  
The Airedale Swing Dance Community holds classes twice a week at Silsden's Sunnybank Social Club. They turned out in costumed force for the 1940s Night Out, which was held by the Friends of Silsden Town Hall as part of an autumn season of events to keep the building going as a prime community asset.
As well as Kitty's cool classics, the swing era was perfectly captured by Company B, the jitterbugging DJ who doubles as Jeff Walbank, the local barber of nearly 50 years renown.  
Dancers came from near and wide, including (left to right) Linda Giles, from Batley, Carolyn Howell, of Silsden, and Sandra Smallwood, from Harrogate.
Servicemen and women made the most of their wartime leave as portrayed here by Peter and Alison Cannon. Peter is chairman of Silsden Community Library.  
Kathryn Willis (centre) was chosen as the dancer whose outfit most closely captured the style of the 1940s. Making the difficult decision, Dave Mason, chairman of Silsden Local History Group, noted that more than 70 years ago regular wartime dances were held at the Town Hall to lift spirits and boost morale. Kathryn, from Bradford, is pictured with Sandra Smith (left) of Steeton and Halyna Cumiskey from Halifax.
The driving force of the Airedale Swing Dance Community is Mark Lunn, of Oakworth. who is pictured here with Tracy Baldwin (left) and Hollyann Grice, both from Riddlesden.   
Kitty LaMare is pictured with Heather Cockcroft (left), of Halifax, and well-known Silsden personalities dance-school proprietor Elizabeth Phillips, who is a member of the Town Hall events committee, and Barbara Hetherington, who is secretary of the Silsden Local History Group.  
Ray Colling, chairman of the Friends of Silsden Town Hall, and his wife Pat lapped up the amazing atmosphere at the Big Night Out.
 Jeff Walbank and his wife Gill are widely known on the 1940s re-enactment scene.
Over here and overjoyed: Army Air Force lieutenant Allen Artley and his wife Marjorie travelled from Dewsbury. (The fag is fake.)
Ian Banyard, from Burnley, and Lillian Lawton, from Halifax, danced the night away.

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.