Category Archives: News

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 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.

8th May 1945 – V E DAY

This day was meant to be a day of Nationwide Celebrations, as it was in 1945 (see post below).

Sadly we cannot do as we had all planned, so we must do it differently because of the current war we are fighting.

Just remember WW2 did not finish with V.E.Day. The fighting continued until V.J.Day, 2nd September 1945. We will have get another chance to celebrate the end f the war.

We are all fed-up of Lock-down and just imagine that if we had been released yesterday how many impromptu parties would have taken place and the advantage our enemy, Covid-19, would have taken of this.

Keighley, as in WW2, has not suffered as badly as some area’s or communities but some families are grieving, our thoughts must be with them and our troops in the NHS and other key workers.


We can do our own thing and join in any singalongs, watch what went on in 1945 on T.V., put up bunting,or celebrate within our house-hold. But because things are muted we have been given the opportunity to be more thoughtful and can think of those who didn’t make it to V.E.Day.

By 2nd September 2020 we will be further down the road to beating our own enemy and should ALL be able to hold proper celebrations then.

V. E. Day

The 8th of May 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of VE (Victory in Europe) Day, when the Germans signed an unconditional surrender that brought to an end six years of war across Europe. World War II finally came to an end a few months later when the Japanese surrendered in August 1945.

Sunday 13th May 1945 saw many services of thanksgiving at the churches around the town. Some street parties and pageants followed soon after VE Day, although many were held back to after VJ Day.

Photograph taken of children with bonfire in Worth Village on V.E. Day, 8th May 1945. Featured in the photograph are brothers Geoffrey Dobson (second from left) and Brian Dobson (third from right). The photograph was donated by History Society member Brian Dobson in 2017 and was scanned on behalf of the Society in June 2017. The actual photograph is retained in the physical archive.

People had already sensed that victory was on the horizon. As early as March 1945, Keighley and Craven Holiday Fellowship was putting plans in place for a victory dance, and in April Prince-Smith & Stells Ltd. committed to pay a bonus to every employee in the firm when victory was announced. Evacuees who had come to the town were already returning home. The munition works at Steeton Dump closed a week before VE Day as there was no need for the munitions any more.

Photograph of workers at the Royal Ordnance Factory at Steeton, taken in 1945. The Royal Ordnance Factory started producing munition components, including shells and cases, for use in the Second World War, in 1941. At its peak it employed more than 4,000 people, two-thirds of whom were women. Its workforce was brought in by special trains and buses from 62 towns and villages in Yorkshire and Lancashire. The factory was commonly known as The Dump. It also housed a 1,000-seater canteen which hosted an ENSA (Entertainments National Service Association) concert every fortnight. The photograph was donated by Jackie McGinnis. Additional information from the Keighley News.

Keighley had played its part during the war: many Regular Army units were stationed in and around the town at various times; empty mills were used to store tons of food and medical stores on behalf of the whole country; the town handled over 10,000 evacuees; the Keighley and District Spitfire and Hurricane Fund raised £10,000; men served in the Home Guard; women workers at Prince-Smith and Stells Ltd. produced bayonets for use on rifles; over a million pounds was raised during War Weapons Week; the National Switch Factory manufactured parts for radios used by the Resistance in Europe; and so on.

The names of 296 men of the borough who gave their lives during the Second World War are engraved on a brass plaque in Keighley Library.

Victory Party, 25th August 1945. Moss Street. Photograph taken by local photographer George A. Shore. Visit no 50 of his photos of end of War celebrations in Keighley. Shore simultaneously ran his photography business alongside a carpet and linoleum store in Keighley market.

Captain tom’s family business in keighley

William Normington Hird was the great grandfather of Captain Tom Moore (now honorary Colonel). Hird, with his son John Crossley Hird, ran a Hairdressing & Shaving Saloon at 67 Church Street in Keighley in the 1890s. The business was also described as a Newsagents & Tobacconist. John Crossley Hird’s daughter was Isabella who married Wilson Moore at Lane Ends Primitive Methodist Chapel during April 1916. Wilson and Isabella Moore were the parents of Captain Tom Moore. (Research provided by Eddie Kelly.)

Captain Tom Moore, PA Media photograph.
Photograph from the Keighley News of 1st January 1955. Shows the Hairdressing & Shaving Saloon of William Normington Hird (far right) & his son John Crossley Hird (far left) photographed outside their shop at 67 Church Street Keighley taken about 1892. The two members of staff in the middle of the group are Ernest Waterhouse (assistant) & Fred Burrows (apprentice). Image provided by Eddie Kelly.
Advert for W. N. Hird Hairdresser, Bookseller, Newsagent and General Dealer. From the History Society archive.

Covid-19 Impact Update

The History Society committee managed to get together last night via a video conference. In addition to the statement issued by chairperson Joyce Newton last month, we have cancelled June’s meeting (a visit to Pennine Weavers). Obviously future meetings will be reviewed dependent on what government guidelines are saying nearer the time.

Also we have agreed that anyone who has paid the membership fees for 2020, that that membership will also cover 2021.

In the meantime we will continue to post items that we hope are of interest on our online channels: Facebook, Flickr and our website.

Best wishes to everyone – stay safe and healthy.

The Committee: Joyce, Anne-Marie, Paula, Sarah, Steve, Tim, Christine and Gerald.

Cliffe Castle Gallery

Right now we can’t visit the house at Cliffe Castle (but the grounds are still open for fresh air and exercise – just stay a safe distance away from each other).

If anyone needs a reminder of how lucky we are to have this museum in our town, take a look at this album the History Society has just uploaded to the Flickr site.

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