On this day 100 years ago…

This cutting is from The Commercial Motor paper dated 18th July 1922. According to the caption, the photograph shows “A Leyland double-deck petrol bus, with driver over the engine, running in competition with a trolley-bus on the Utley to Eastburn route of the Keighley Corporation, where an experimental service of petrol vehicles is being tried.”

This decade was a transition period for public transport in the town. The electric powered tram service had been in operation since 1904, running between Utley, Stockbridge and Ingrow. But services beyond these terminals required either trolleybuses (powered still by overhead cables but running on tyres rather than tracks) or the experimental (and somewhat unreliable) petrol-driven buses that were introduced in the 1920s.

In 1924 (two years after this photograph was taken), the tracks were taken up for the trams, but trolleybuses continued to run until 1932.

The cutting is from a scrapbook of clippings kept by George Crowther of photographs he took and articles he wrote for various publications. Crowther (d: 1960) spent 50 years with the Bradford and District Newspaper Company until his retirement in 1956. He started out as a press photographer in the 1920s and ended with six years as editor of the Keighley News (1950-1956). He was active in the St. John Ambulance Brigade and served on the Council of the Bronte Society. Scrapbook donor to be identified.

The background image is from a 1905 Valentine and Sons postcard showing the tram service terminus at Utley. Utley Congregational Church is on the left. The last service at the Church was held in November 1964 and the church was subsequently demolished.

Longlands Hall up for sale…

Longlands Hall was put up for sale by Mary Merrall on 16th July 1919. It was the former home of industrialist Edwin Robinson Merrall whose family owned Lees Mill and Ebor Mills in the Worth Valley which the house overlooked. Edwin was the second son of Michael Merrall. It was the last of four houses owned by the Merrall family. The house was designed by Keighley architect J. B. Bailey and was built between 1882 and 1884. The architectural style is Northern Manor House, a mixture of classical and exaggerated Jacobean styles.

It was occupied by the Merralls with their seven children up until the start of the First World War. Following the death of Edwin and his son Philip, it was sold by Mary Merrall in 1919. The sale included 25 acres of grounds, a lodge, and a yard well away from the house with washing shed, carriage shed, coach house, harness room, a Dutch barn, the groom’s cottage and a petrol store.

The property was bought by a Mr Inglis for personal use in the early 1920s, and then sold to a Mr Paley in 1939, who had plans to turn the house into a hotel. After the war it was sold to textile producers the Heald Brothers for use as a hostel for Italian immigrant mill girls. In the 1960s, housing was built on the surrounding land and the house fell into disrepair. It was sold as a retirement home around this period before the Youth Hostel Association purchased the hall for £23,500 in 1974.

The house had been brought to the attention of the YHA by local policeman Jens Hislop and the house was vested in the YHA on the 18th October 1974. It was bought and developed through a combination of grants from The Countryside Commission, West Yorkshire County Council, and the Department of Education and Science.

The Youth Hostel was officially opened on the 8th May 1976 by Councillor J. S. Bell, Chairman of West Yorkshire County Council. It is located on Longlands Drive, off Lees Lane in Cross Roads with Lees, just outside Haworth.

Although it officially opened in May 1976, the hostel was active from earlier, possibly even late 1975. The first wardens were John and Sue Page and there were 90 beds. Many of the ground floor rooms, including the ballroom and lounge, were converted to staff quarters. Extensive modernisation began in 1994, including adapting some of the ground floor staff rooms into dormitory and guest rooms, and sub-dividing some of the large upstairs dormitories into smaller dormitories. Further redevelopments and improvements followed in 2009 and 2012. In 2020 the hostel boasts 89 beds across two single rooms, two double rooms, one three bedded room, three four bedded rooms, six six bedded rooms, one seven bedded room and three eight bedded rooms.

The main image shows Central Park in Haworth with Longlands Hall on the hill in the distance, and is from a Lilywhite postcard. The inset image is a John Arthur Dixon postcard for the YHA from around 1980.

On this day…

Acclaimed Keighley-born violinist John Tiplady Carrodus died on 13th July 1895. He was born in Braithwaite on 20th January 1836. He was initially taught the violin by his father and in January 1845 made his first public appearance at Keighley Mechanics’ Institute. He was then tutored by German violinist and composer Bernhard Molique who Carrodus followed to Germany.

According to the Keighley News of 10th September 1932: “In 1853 he was engaged in the orchestra of the Royal Italian Opera at Covent Garden, and was subsequently leading violinist at His Majesty’s Theatre. The introducer of the public violin recital, Mr Carrodus was heard at many of the leading concerts, and for some years he was the principal professor of the violin at Trinity College, London, and president of the College of Violinists. He had often obeyed Royal commands to perform.”

According to biographer Nicholas Sackman: “Throughout his professional life Carrodus suffered acutely from a highly-strung nervous temperament, and his ever-increasing responsibilities for teaching and performing created great anxiety, deep depression, and a level of insomnia which meant that, on occasions, he did not sleep for a week at a time.”

He was made the first Freeman of the Borough of Keighley on 28th December 1894 and the actual presentation was made on 5th February 1895 when he revisited the town. Just a few months later he died in London and is buried in Highgate Cemetery. A memorial plaque is hung at the top of the stairs in Keighley Library.

Forthcoming at the Hippodrome…

A new season of plays was launched at the Hippodrome Theatre on Monday 11th July 1949. The plays were performed by the Lawrence-Williamson Company, taking over from a run of plays by the Winwood Players.

The first production was ‘The Last of Mrs Cheyney’ by Frederick Lonsdale (1881-1954), chosen for its wide appeal following its recent London revival: “Mrs Cheyney was once a shop girl. She yearned for luxury and beauty and so persuaded an accomplice to teach her how to get it. She takes up Robbery as a profession and thereby a means to reach the Set and good things of life which money secures – but Nemesis awaits the charming crook. A grand play written in the best Lonsdale manner and which should ensure crowded houses.”

The following plays were ‘The Patsy’, ‘Baby Mine’, ‘Miranda’, ‘The Poltergeist’, ‘Michael and Mary’, ‘Dangerous Corner’ and ‘Jane Steps Out’. Players included Miriam Raymond, Frank Pemberton, Mary Quinn, Leigh Knight, Doris Richmond, Robert Hollyman, Joan Harding, Donald McClay and Donald Nithsdale.

The Queen’s Theatre became the Hippodrome in 1909, although both names remained on the front of the building, and many programmes and adverts continued to refer to the ‘Hippodrome and Queen’s Theatre’. Impresario Francis Laidler (1867-1955) took over the theatre in 1913 – he also ran the Prince’s Theatre and Alhambra Theatre in Bradford, and the Theatre Royal in Leeds. He was managing director up until his death when his widow, Gwladys, took over until the theatre closed in October 1956.

The theatre was demolished in 1961 and in its place now stands the Airedale Shopping Centre multi-storey car park. Keighley Local Studies Library holds various records relating to the theatre including a scrapbook belonging to founder Abraham Kershaw, a box office notebook, a theatrical postcard album covering 1906 to 1929, autograph books and various photographs, programmes, and posters.

The original programme was donated to Keighley and District Local History Society by Tim Neal in August 2020. It is held in the History Society’s physical archive.

Bronte Guest Speaker

It’s been a number of years since the History Society has had a talk on the Bronte family – so we’re making up for that on WEDNESDAY 13th JULY 2022 by having Nick Holland talk about ‘Anne Bronte and her siblings’. Nick is the author of ‘In Search of Anne Bronte’, ‘Emily Brontë – A Life In 20 Poems’ and ‘Aunt Branwell and the Brontë Legacy’.

This talk will take place upstairs at the Library. Doors open at 7pm for a 7.30pm start. Anyone is welcome to attend. There will be a charge of £3 on the door for non-members.

PLEASE NOTE: Due to Covid affecting two of our committee members, we will not be able to run this meeting on Zoom.

Books on the Brontes by Nick Holland.

WH Smith’s to close

After nearly 35 years, it was announced this week that the town’s branch of W. H. Smith’s would be closing on 3rd September 2022.

A spokesperson for W. H. Smith was quoted in the Keighley News online on 9th July 2022: “We can confirm that the WH Smith store in Keighley will be closing in September. Unfortunately we are unable to continue to trade viably from this location and the decision has been taken to close the store as a result of the forthcoming lease expiry. We are currently in discussion with Post Office Limited, so it has time to find a suitable franchise partner to ensure continuity of post office services within the town. We are disappointed to be losing our presence in Keighley and we would like to thank all our customers for their support and for shopping with us. We are also extremely grateful for the commitment of our in-store colleagues who we will support with this transition and redeploy to nearby stores, where possible.”

The store had opened in the Airedale Centre on 4th December 1987, with an advert announcing the fact in the Keighley News of the same day: “There’s a new shop in town. The name’s familiar, but it looks and feels completely different. Of course, when you see the exciting stationery, books, cards, newspapers and all the other things for which we’re famous, you’ll realise you can’t be anywhere other than W. H. Smith. Just a word of warning about your first visit to our new shop: make sure you’re not in a hurry. The temptation to browse could well prove irresistible. Because when you’re in a stylish shop, you can’t help shopping in style.” (With thanks to Eddie Kelly.)

Top images taken in 1987/88 from slides donated to the History Society by Steve Seymour. 1987 Advert provided by Eddie Kelly. Bottom photograph taken by Tim Neal in July 2022.

Broomhill Co-Op

The Broomhill branch of the Keighley Industrial Co-operative Society Ltd. officially opened on Co-operators’ Day, 7th July 1928. It was built to service the Broomhill estate, Keighley’s first council housing estate, which was begun in 1920. The store contained grocery, butchery, fruit and confectionery departments.

It was the Co-Op Society’s largest store apart from its headquarters on Brunswick Street. The store was designed by the CWS Architectural Department. The store was issued with the branch number 20. This replaced the original branch number 20 which was Oakworth Hall, which had closed and so the number was available to be reassigned. The store is located on Broomhill Avenue and is still open as a Co-Op store today.

The original photographs were taken around the time of opening and are part of the Keighley and District Local History Society digital archive. The colour photograph was taken by Tim Neal in 2018.

Shopping Centre 1969

These four photographs showing progress on the new town centre shopping precinct were taken on 1st July 1969 by Robert Long.

The plans for the town centre redevelopment were drawn up by The Murrayfield Real Estate Development Company Ltd. and were agreed by the Town Council. The development of the shopping precinct mainly took shape in the second half of the 1960s. Cook Lane, Queen Street, Brunswick Street and College Street were bulldozed but at least preserved within the structure of the shopping centre by becoming Cook Way, Queens Way, College Walk and Brunswick Arcade. Adelaide Street was bulldozed and forgotten.

The work was staggered, with many shops and businesses opening up as soon as the opportunity arose. The first section to be completed was Brunswick Arcade with some of the first shops being Holmes’ Ladies Wear, Adams Coffee Bar, Graham Men’s Wear, Lakewell Ltd., Halford’s Cycles, Wilds, Boots and Currys. The Boots store can just be spotted in the bottom left photograph. Most of the shopping centre was open to the elements until the late 1980s.

Photographer Bob Long (writing on Facebook in April 2021): “I took these photos of the town centre re-development. There should be about 200 photos in all. They were taken for Seymour & Harris architects in London. This was a three year contract I had with them, from foundations to finished shop fronts. I was 19 when I started and just starting my photographic business. A friend of mine, a Mr Bill Cusker, was the site supervisor for Token Construction Company and got me the job of photographing the redevelopment site. I had to climb up scaffolding onto top of the rooves to get the best shot required. The contract was to take photographs once a month to show the progress of the construction for the architects. I did this for about two years until the shops were ready for occupancy.”

Original prints of the photographs are held in the Keighley and District Local History Society physical archive. They are all available to view on the History Society’s Flickr site.

On this day…

There is a plaque on the wall inside St. John the Evangelist Church in Ingrow, dedicated to the memory of John Leech who died on Wednesday 30th June 1937. Leech had served the church for nearly twenty years, first as a Sidesman from 1919 to 1922, then as Churchwarden from 1922 until his death at the age of 54.

The plaque was unveiled on the evening of Sunday 8th January 1939, and was dedicated by the then vicar of St John’s, the Reverend John Charles Theodore Baker (vicar from 1936 to 1942). It had been erected by William Roper & Sons of Oakworth.

The photograph of the plaque was taken by Anna Neal in 2019. The postcard of the exterior of the church is a Lilywhite Postcard from around 1930 from the personal collection of Tim Neal. The photograph of the interior of the church is a photograph by Keighley-based photographers Hall & Siggers and is from the church’s own archive.

Destination: Morecambe

Day trips (or longer if you were lucky) from Keighley to Morecambe were regular features of the summer season from the 1930s to the 1970s. From 1936, one of the major attractions was the Super Swimming Stadium, home to Aqua Shows and Miss Great Britain pageants.

The story of the Stadium is told in ‘In the Swim: Morecambe’s Super Swimming Stadium’ by Barry and Lesley Guise, published earlier this year and available directly from the authors. Telephone 01524 824300 or email bandlguise@btinternet.com if you are interested. It costs £20.00 including postage and packaging and needs to be paid for by cheque.

The History Society is hoping to arrange a talk about this popular destination for next year.