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.


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.