Category Archives: News

Looking Back and Looking Forward

November is usually the month when we hold our Annual General Meeting, but at an online meeting the History Society committee decided that it was more practicable to postpone this until Wednesday 13th January 2021. We will be holding the meeting online and anyone will be welcome to attend although only paying members will be allowed to vote on any matters that require a vote. More details will be published nearer the time.

As we announced back in April, anyone who paid for 2020 membership of the History Society will have that membership extended to cover 2021 as well. This will also apply anyone who takes out a membership before the end of December 2020. We have discussed several ideas about how we can operate differently in the future, to be more effective in the “new normal”, and would like to get feedback from existing members and people who perhaps just follow us through our website and Facebook pages.

Although we only managed to hold three of our monthly meetings in Keighley Library at the beginning of the year, the History Society has not stood still during the rest of the year. The Committee has been holding monthly online meetings, but the situation always changed too fast to put our ideas in place. But in the meantime the Facebook group has grown by over 600 people (that’s nearly double what we had last year), and the number of images added to our Flickr page has grown from 9,700 to over 12,000 (that’s over 40 new images every week). We have also seen a lot of questions and queries come through the website.

Covid looks likely to be affecting all our lives for many more months to come. So even though it is our aim to get back to having in-person group meetings, we also want to look at other ways of carrying on such as online guest speakers and meetings. If people want to share ideas about what else the History Society can be doing, please send us a message or comment below. Similarly, if anyone wants to help us run things please get in touch.

Twelve Thousand Plus!

A new album of Keighley photographs taken by Roy Dean Willoughby in the 1980s means we now have over 12,000 images for anyone to view on our Flickr site. The photographs were donated by Roy’s grandson Billy Stride.

Take a browse and explore the History Society’s albums. As well as photographs there are postcards, newspaper cuttings, documents, adverts and more.

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The Picture House Reopens

Welcome back to Keighley’s Picture House cinema which reopens this Friday (30th October) after over seven months of closure due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Picture House Cinema opened in 1913. It originally had an iron and glass porch the front of the cinema. The venue hosted live shows and pop concerts as well as film showings. In 1954, it was bought by the Essoldo chain of cinemas and became the Keighley Essoldo. In the 1970s the cinema was restructured and what was the original cinema balcony became a second smaller screen room, as it remains today. In the 1980s the building was acquired by Bradford Metropolitan Council and it reverted to The Picture House. The cinema closed in 1991 and reopened in 1996 run by the Northern Morris Cinemas.

See the cinema’s website or Facebook page for details on some of the classic movies being shown from this Friday. Images from the History Society’s archive on Flickr.

The Picture House, Keighley. Images from the History Society archive. Montage created by Tim Neal.

Cliffe Castle Reopens

Welcome back! Cliffe Castle Museum in Keighley reopened to the public this week. The museum will be open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays from 11am to 3pm. Please be aware there are various social distancing measures in place to ensure public and staff safety. Details are available on the museum’s website (https://www.bradfordmuseums.org/venues/cliffe-castle-museum)

Driveway to Cliffe Castle Museum. Photograph taken by History Society committee member Tim Neal on 22nd August 2018.
The Dining Room or Tapestry Room, Cliffe Castle, Keighley. The portrait on the left is of Maria Louise Roosevelt Burke, Henry Isaac Butterfield’s wife, painted by Roberto Bompiani around 1880. Many of the original pieces of furniture and ornaments were taken away or auctioned by Henry Isaac Butterfield’s granddaughter, Countess Manvers (1889-1984), when she inherited the house in 1943 and sold it in 1950. The rooms were faithfully restored in various stages from the late 1980s onwards. Photograph taken by History Society committee member Tim Neal on 22nd August 2018.
Timmy Feather’s Workshop, Working Landscapes Gallery, Cliffe Castle, Keighley. The last reported handloom weaver in the area was Timmy Feather. He lived and worked in Buckley Green, Stanbury. He died in 1910 at the age of 85. This is a recreation of Feather’s loom shop in the upper storey of his cottage, including the last known handloom of the district. Photograph taken by History Society committee member Tim Neal on 22nd August 2018.
The Bracewell Smith Hall, Cliffe Castle, Keighley. When, in 1950, Cliffe Castle was purchased by Sir Bracewell Smith for the people of Keighley, he appointed architect Sir Albert Richardson to reconfigure the entire building. The Bracewell Smith Hall was the magnificent centrepiece that came out of this work. It was designed as a picture gallery and public hall. The octagonal shape of the room was inspired by Brighton Pavilion and is echoed in the original wooden lantern that hangs from the ceiling. The room was restored to its 1950s appearance in 2013. The marble statue in the centre is by German artist Carl L. H. Muller and is called ‘The Minstrel’s Curse’, based on a poem by Ludwig Uhland. Photograph taken by History Society committee member Tim Neal on 16th February 2020.

Keighley Library Update

Because of coronavirus, Keighley’s Public Library is still closed to visitors, but from Wednesday 8th July they will be operating a new Order & Collect service. See the Bradford Council website for more details.

Keighley Local Studies Library (upstairs in the Library) also remains closed to visitors, but it will be offering an email and telephone enquiry service from Monday 6th July. Email keighleylocalstudies@bradford.gov.uk or telephone 01535 618 215.

Keighley Public Library, viewed from the top of Cavendish Street. Postcard published by Millar & Lang Art Ltd. circa 1940, from the personal collection of Tim Neal.

On this day…

The Keighley and Worth Valley railway line reopened as a passenger-carrying line on the 29th June 1968. The Mayor of Keighley, Alderman James Henry (‘Harry’) Waterworth cut the ribbon at a ceremony to mark the occasion. Bob Cryer, chairman of the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway Preservation Society (and later MP for Keighley) and the Mayoress, Mrs Harriet Anne Waterworth, were also in attendance. The line had originally been built between 1864 and 1866, financed by local mill owners, and opened in 1867. By the 1960s the line was managed by British Railways and the decision was made to close the line to passengers in December 1961 and to close the line fully in June 1962. A preservation society was formed and after many years of struggle the line was reopened and remains open to this day.

The Mayor of Keighley, Alderman James Henry (‘Harry’) Waterworth cuts the ribbon at a ceremony marking the reopening of the Keighley and Worth Valley railway line between Keighley and Oxenhope, on the 29th June 1968. He is observed by Bob Cryer (1934-1994), chairman of the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway Preservation Society and later MP for Keighley (far left) and the Mayoress, Mrs Harriet Anne Waterworth (immediately behind the Mayor). The photograph was donated to the History Society by Daniel Waterworth (grandson of Harry Waterworth) in May 2020.
The Mayor and Mayoress of Keighley, Alderman James Henry (‘Harry’) Waterworth and his wife Harriet Anne Waterworth, attend the ceremony marking the reopening of the Keighley and Worth Valley railway line between Keighley and Oxenhope, on the 29th June 1968. Stood immediately behind the Mayor is Bob Cryer (1934-1994), chairman of the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway Preservation Society and later MP for Keighley. The photograph was donated to the History Society by Daniel Waterworth (grandson of Harry Waterworth) in May 2020.

On this day…

Devonshire Street Congregational Church opened for worship on 25th June 1856. It had capacity for over 1,000 worshippers and cost just short of £4,000 to build. It was frequented by some of the most influential families in Keighley. Apparently coachmen would sit on the back row of the church in order to slip out during the last hymn and bring the carriages around to the front door. In May 1948, an architect reported an outward bulge in the north wall caused by a fracture in an arch. Extensive repair work was undertaken and the church reopened in 1949. Dry-rot then set in, in the roof beams and the wooden friezes. Despite celebrating its centenary in 1956, the building was subsequently declared unsafe and was demolished in 1964. The site is now occupied by the New Devonshire House office building. This Reliable Series postcard from around 1905 and the photograph taken in 2018 are courtesy of Tim Neal.

Devonshire Street Congregational Church. A Reliable Series postcard from the start of the 20th century. From Tim Neal’s collection.
New Devonshire House office buildings on the site of the old church. Photographed in 2018 by Tim Neal.