Jeff Naylor

At the entrance to Lund Park in Keighley there is a memorial to firefighter Jeff Naylor who died tragically as a result of trying to save the lives of five children in a fire at Broomhill Walk on Wednesday 27th April 1983. The memorial was erected thanks to the Fire Brigades Union, the Firefighters 100 Lottery, City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council and the West Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service.

The crew on duty at Keighley Fire Station responded to a call about a fire in a house on Broomhill Walk in Keighley on 27th April 1983. Five children were trapped inside the house. Firefighter Jeff Naylor mounted a rescue, entering the burning house, and managing to find one girl, before blasts knocked him back and set his uniform alight. He had to be helped by the other firefighters out of the building. All five children were rescued but sadly two died later as a result of the fire. Jeff’s burns were treated at Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield, but sadly he lost the fight to live. Jeff died on 10th July 1983 as a result of his burns injuries, he was just 31 years old.

Roughly 1000 firefighters from around the country attended his funeral service at St. Joseph’s Church and he was buried at Utley Cemetery. His bravery was recognised posthumously with a commendation from the Queen, and the town’s fire engine was named in his honour. What happened to Jeff directly led to improvements in the uniforms worn by firefighters. The memorial to Jeff in Lund Park was unveiled in 2019, with an official dedication ceremony on Sunday 7th July 2019.

Portrait of Jeff Naylor from the History Society’s Keighley News Archive for January 1982. Memorial and plaque photographed by History Society member Tim Neal in 2022. Researched and collated by Tim Neal.

Memorial to Jeff Naylor in Lund Park, Keighley.

Rev. William Grimshaw

The Reverend William Grimshaw, who encouraged the local growth of the Methodist movement in the eighteenth century, died at his home, Sowdens, off Dimples Lane just outside Haworth, on the 7th April 1763.

Brochure and Guide to Haworth, A. H. Preston (John W. Parker, Haworth, 1950): “The ministry of William Grimshaw in the mid-eighteenth century proved another great epoch in church history at Haworth… Although the people had Puritanical tendencies, their code of living embraced a throwback to their Norse ancestors, and their religion did not work downwards into their lives. They drank and gambled, spent their Sundays in frivolous fashion… Such was the Haworth to which, in 1742, the Rev. William Grimshaw came to minister. His earnestness of purpose, combined with stout arm and ready horse-whip, did much to offset the riotous living of the time.

“Although an Anglican, William Grimshaw attended Methodist Conferences, and actually became first Superintendent of the Haworth Circuit… He allowed the large kitchen of his house at Sowdens to be used for Methodist preaching and was instrumental in building the first Methodist Chapel and preacher’s house in West Lane in 1758…

“In the Spring of 1763, Haworth was afflicted by a putrid fever which was highly infectious. Grimshaw caught the infection in visiting his sick parishioners… he succumbed to the epidemic after twenty-one years devoted service at Haworth. He was interred at Luddenden Church, near he remains of his first wife…

“Grimshaw was the means of bringing to Haworth, John and Charles Wesley, George Whitfield, John Fletcher, and many other notable preachers of the day, and these visitors certainly left their mark, for after Grimshaw’s death, Haworth seems to have settled down to a period of quiet, although the sturdy independence of the natives frequently asserted itself.”

Sowdens was occupied by Grimshaw from 1742 to 1763. The house can still be seen today and is now a Grade II listed farmhouse. It includes a reused datestone of 1699. The end gable holds a stone tablet, installed in 1963, that reads: “Sowdens Parsonage, William Grimshaw, 1742-1763. Here stayed John and Charles Wesley, George Whitefield, John Newton, Henry Venn.”

The Lilywhite Photograph post card was published in the 1930s and is from the personal collection of Tim Neal. The modern photograph was taken by Tim in 2022. Researched and collated by Tim Neal.

Rev. William Grimshaw and Sowdens.

This Month’s Meeting…

April’s History Society meeting is transport expert Graham Mitchell talking about his time as a student conductor on the Keighley buses during the summer holidays of 1962-65. Anyone is welcome to attend. The meeting is upstairs in Keighley Library on 12th April 2023. Doors open at 7pm and the meeting starts at 7.30pm.

We will also have a few copies of the new booklet on the History of Ingrow St. John’s Church available for sale for £3 each (cash only).

Admission is free to paid-up History Society members and £3.50 for non-members. Paid-up members of the History Society also have the option to join this meeting via Zoom. Details are sent out to members a few days before the event is due to take place. You can join the History Society on the night for £15 for the rest of the year.

In March forty years ago…

The History Society has just published the latest Keighley News Archive on its Flickr site – almost 700 photographs taken by Keighley News photographers in March 1983. Anything or anyone you recognise from forty years ago?

A big thanks to Billy Stride who scanned and processed all the negatives for us. Now we need to find time to visit Keighley Library to research old copies of the Keighley News to find out the stories behind the pictures!

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Church Open Day on Sunday

St. John’s Church, Ingrow, is being made ready today for its special services and open day tomorrow (Sunday 12th March). It will be celebrating the 180th anniversary of the church serving the community.

Tim and Steve from the History Society have been working with a team from the church to create a visual history of the church. All the hard work will be on display in the church, along with the opportunity to purchase a new 36-page all-colour booklet about the church (£3).

The day starts with a special church service at 11am to which all are welcome, then the history display is available to view inside the church between 12.30pm and 4.30pm. Finally there will be a service of Evensong at 4.30pm.

Winners in White

A big thank you to Pam Brook who gave her fascinating and richly illustrated talk on “Morecambe: Beauty Surrounds, Health Abounds” in the library last night. One of our takeaways – white stilettos and a white bathing suit (possibly knitted) were the secret to winning Miss Great Britain!

And a big thank you to the 18 people who braved the wintery onset and joined us in the library, plus the 14 society members who joined us via Zoom.

Next month (always the second Wednesday of the month) is Graham Mitchell with “Two T’T’Cat Park: Life on the Buses in the ’60s”.

Morecambe Talk This Month

A reminder that this month’s meeting is upstairs at the Library on Wednesday 8th March. The meeting will be writer and researcher Pam Brook giving a talk entitled “Morecambe: Beauty Surrounds, Health Abounds.” The title is taken from the motto used by the town in its heraldic crest. The seaside resort has always been a popular destination for the residents of Keighley, as it is within easy reach courtesy of the direct rail line between both towns.

Pam says: “Between 1930 and 1938, 180 lidos were built in Britain to support the health and fitness of the nation. Sunshine and heliotherapy were all the rage and knitwear manufacturers competed to produce the most streamlined knitted swimming costumes. Morecambe’s Super Swimming Stadium opened in July 1936 and provided high diving, entertainment, displays and beauty competitions until its closure in the 1970s. My talk charts the pool and the bathing costume from the interwar period to the decline of Miss Great Britain.”

A limited number of copies of “In The Swim: Morecambe’s super swimming stadium” by Barry and Lesley Guise, to which Pam contributed, will be available on the night. The book costs £18 and is cash only if you are interested.

The meeting is on Wednesday 8th March at Keighley Library. Doors open at 7pm. Anyone is welcome to attend. It costs £3.50 to attend, unless you have joined the History Society (entry is free for members). Members can also choose to attend via Zoom if they prefer. You can join the History Society on the evening, membership costs £15 and covers the rest of this year.

Future talks include Graham Mitchell talking about life working on the buses in Keighley in the 1960s (12th April) and Andrew Heaton giving a talk on the Dockroyd graveyard project (10th May). For more details see the History Society’s website or Facebook pages.

Percy Taylor, 1871-1953

Percy Taylor, Managing Director of Timothy Taylor’s Brewery and former Chairman of the Committee for the Keighley Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society, died on Saturday 28th February 1953.

He was born in 1871 to parents Timothy and Charlotte Taylor, who lived at Knowle Spring House. Timothy Taylor was the founder of Timothy Taylor’s Brewery. Percy Taylor lived his whole life at Knowle Spring House. The house had been built by his maternal grandfather, printer and publisher Robert Aked. The brewery was founded on Cook Lane in Keighley and operated from there throughout Timothy and Percy’s lifetimes.

Percy and his brother Robert Henry took over the running of the brewery following the death of their father in January 1898. They oversaw a considerable extension to the brewery in 1911. Robert died in 1931 but Percy continued as chairman until his death in 1953. According to ‘The Centenary Year of Timothy Taylor & Co. Ltd. (1858-1958)’: “Percy Taylor was an accomplished flautist, a good tennis player and chairman for many years of the Keighley Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society.” His wife, also, was a musician and sang with the Amateurs.

He was a founder member of the Keighley Orchestral Society in 1898, took part in the formation of the Keighley Music Club and was involved with the Keighley Clef Club. According to the Keighley News of 7th March 1953: “Few people had done more for the advancement of music in the district or for the development of the amateur dramatic movement than Mr Taylor. He became associated with the Keighley Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society on its re-formation in 1913, and held the chairmanship continuously for 23 years up to 1949. Much of the success of the Amateurs could be attributed to his enthusiasm and endeavour to give the public the best of shows. In 1938 he received the long service silver medal of the National Operatic and Dramatic Society. Since he resigned the chairmanship of the Keighley society in 1949 he had continued to serve as a member of the permanent committee.” His loss was noted on a page in the programme for the Amateurs’ production of ‘The Dancing Years’ in November 1953.

Percy’s funeral took place on Tuesday 3rd March 1953 and a service was held at Keighley Parish Church, attended by his widow and his son John Aked Taylor, licensees from various pubs owned by the brewery, business associates, and representatives from Keighley Orchestral Society, Keighley Music Club, Keighley Amateurs, Keighley Conservative Association and Keighley Lawn Tennis Club. Knowle Spring House was sold following Percy’s death. The brewery was relocated from Cook Lane to Knowle Park in the second-half of the 1950s.

Images taken from ‘The Centenary Year of Timothy Taylor & Co. Ltd. (1858-1958)’ and the KAODS programmes for ‘Florodora’ (1926), ‘The Rebel Maid’ (1932) and ‘The Dancing Years’ (1953). Researched and collated by Tim Neal.

Percy Taylor, 1871-1953

New Vicar for St. John’s in 1968

The eleventh vicar of St. John’s, Reverend Martin Wells Bull, was inducted on 29th February 1968. The institution was performed by the Right Reverend Michael Parker, Bishop of Bradford. Rev. Bull had become an ordained priest in 1964. Immediately before his appointment at St. John’s, he had been the assistant curate at the United Benefice of All Saints’ Church in Horton, and before that he was assistant curate at Blackley near Manchester.

He arrived with his wife and two children (Priscilla and Timothy), but initially they had to live about a mile away from the church because the old vicarage had been demolished and a new one was still being built.

He inherited a church in much need of repair and his time in post oversaw repairs to the church tower and roof, rewiring and a new lighting system, and work on the churchyard.

Rev. Bull preached his last service at St. John’s on Sunday 9th April 1978. After the service there was a short presentation in which Rev. Bull was presented with a cheque for £210 as a thank you, and his wife was given a vase of flowering plants. He left to become the vicar of All Saints Church in Bingley.

Researched and collated by Tim Neal. Images courtesy of the St. John’s Church archive.