St. John’s Hospital Closed

St. John’s Hospital on Fell Lane closed on 9th August 1970, its remaining patients transferring to the newly opened Airedale General Hospital. These photographs were taken by Jack Cawood around that time.

The hospital on Fell Lane that became St. John’s Hospital was founded as the Keighley Union Workhouse Infirmary in 1868. It was built originally to serve the Keighley Poor Law Union. It became known as Fell Lane Infirmary and served as an Auxiliary War Hospital during the First World War, housing 185 servicemen’s beds and treating 1,052 military cases. It moved on to specialise in maternity and geriatric cases.

According to Ian Dewhirst, writing in the Keighley News of 31st May 2002: “Early twentieth-century additions included convalescent, infirm and female imbecile blocks, phthisis pavilions to accommodate consumptives, and steam cooking apparatus. Nevertheless, a report of 1930, after its acquisition by the County, thought its atmosphere was “rather that of a Poor Law Institution than that of a modern hospital,” its Nurses’ Home of 1927 being considered its most satisfactory feature.”

The hospital was the subject of an exchange in Parliament on 1st April 1963. Sir Marcus Worsley, MP for Keighley from 1959 to 1964, asked Lord Bernard Braine, Parliamentary Secretary to the Department of Health, if he knew how long the huts, then being used as geriatric wards at the hospital, were expected to last given they had been built as temporary provision during the Second World War. He was told they would have to suffice until the building of the new district general hospital (which arrived seven years later).

St. John’s Hospital closed down in August 1970, and it was demolished three years later and the area is now occupied by housing.

Jackie Earle (August 2022): “The photos were taken by my dad, Jack Cawood. He worked at the Victoria Hospital, and then he moved to Airedale when that opened. He loved taking photos. My parents both worked at Victoria Hospital. My dad was a van driver delivering to all the different hospitals (Victoria, St. John’s, Menston, Morton Banks etc.).”

The original photographs were donated to Keighley and District Local History Society in 2022 by Jackie Earle.

Library Foundation Stone

The foundation stone for Keighley’s new free public library on North Street was laid on 9th August 1902 “in a workmanlike manner” (according to the press) by mill owner Sir Swire Smith. It was Smith’s friendship with American industrialist Andrew Carnegie that had secured funds for the new premises to be built. Carnegie was unable to attend the ceremony but the American flag was flown in his honour.

The event was deliberately scheduled to coincide with the town’s celebrations of the coronation of King Edward VII, hence the large crowds.

The Library took two years to build and opened in 1904. It cost twice as much to build as Carnegie was originally planning on. 10,000 books were donated from across the road at the Mechanics Institute. It included a newspaper reading room upstairs (now the Local Studies Library) that seated 150. Within one year it had 3,000 borrowers including 10 policemen, 2 window cleaners and 520 “married women, spinsters and juveniles”.

The stone can be seen today to the right of the library’s entrance. Main photograph taken by Keighley photographer Alex Jennings and published in Ian Dewhirst’s book ‘More Old Keighley in Photographs’ (Hendon Publishing, 1973). Photograph of foundation stone taken by Tim Neal in 2019. Postcard from the History Society’s archive on Flickr.

This Wednesday’s Guest Speaker

This Lilywhite Ltd. postcard of Devonshire Park in Keighley was posted on 8th August 1952.

The card is one of those featured in Tim Neal’s History Society talk ‘Lilywhite Postcards – Then and Now’, where modern photographs have been taken of the same view captured in postcards from the 1920s to the 1960s. The talk will be held upstairs in the Library on 10th August 2022, admission is £3 (free to paid up members) and doors open at 7 pm.

On this day 110 years ago…

This Schofield & Co. Publishers postcard of The Cross area of Keighley was posted to Mansfield on 3rd August 1912. The Cross is the area of Keighley where High Street, Low Street, North Street and Church Street meet, and was the area where the original market cross was erected (would have been slightly to the right of this picture). What is fantastic is that the quality of the photograph means we can zoom in an see a lot of detail about the shops and businesses at the time.

Local historian Eddie Kelly has stepped in with a wealth of additional information (July 2022): “I would date the image as between 1905 to 1908. Bottomley’s Sugar Confectioners (on the right) are at 3 Church Street and adjacent at No. 1 is the Public Benefit Boot Co. This was not a Co-operative type enterprise but a normal trading company headquartered at Hull with numerous branches all over the North & Midlands.

“Both businesses were forced to move in 1911 as a result of the buildings new owners the London City & Midland Bank deciding to install their new banking hall on the ground floor. Bottomley’s moved to 3 North Street and the Public Benefit Boot Co. moved to 41 Low Street. The Boot Co. would later emerge as Lennards Footwear Co, an original tenant in the 1960s shopping centre.

“The upper floors of the building were occupied as offices & clubs, visible are the windows of accountant Francis Stirk Pearson on the first floor and the floor above was occupied by the Keighley Building Trades Club & Stone Exchange, a social club for the building trade employers and masters, and a trading exchange for stone used in their profession.

“Around the corner adjacent to the Boot Co. store is the Keighley branch of tea dealer Abraham Altham who also had to move in 1911. They moved to 22 Low Street and are still there albeit as travel agents nowadays.

“The three shops below Althams were occupied by Thomas Bannister tailor and outfitter, Whitham & Co. tobacconist and on the corner of the Market Place, Newboulds Ltd. (men’s outfitters and clothiers).

“On the corner of North Street and Low Street (or Changegate) are the premises of upmarket drapers and ladies’ outfitters Keighley & Wilkins who traded here from the building being new in 1894 continuing for sixty years until closure in 1954.

“Opposite on the corner of High Street and North Street is the wholesale and retail tobacconist business of Joseph & Thomas Whitworth. This was continued after 1911 by Slater & Co. tobacconist who remained until about 1928.

“The adjacent vacant store with the To Let poster in the window (near left) would later be occupied during 1910 by John Mills Watchmaker & Jeweller. The Mills store remained here until July 1982 when then owner Jack Greenwood retired. The shop far left with the blind down & only partially visible was about this time a branch of James Nelson & Sons Ltd, Glasgow based importers and purveyors of cheap American frozen meat.”

The Midland Bank building (as it became commonly known) was demolished in the 1980s. Postcard from the personal collection of Tim Neal. Modern photograph taken by Tim in 2021.

Nah Then!

The Yorkshire Dialect Society is kicking off a weekend of activities for Yorkshire Day in Keighley with something unique and special about Yorkshire people – how we talk! The way we speak is unique and helps define us – it’s part of what makes us Yorkshire!

Speakers will include Ian Stevenson on The Story behind Yorkshire Dialect; Rod Dimbleby, Chairman of YDS, on the prolific 19th century Halifax dialect poet and storyteller John Hartley of Clock Almanac fame; and Eric Scaife on Tyke Talk – readings and recitations of dialect poems and prose.

There will also be an exhibition of books and pamphlets by the noted Keighley librarian, historian, writer and dialect poet, the late Ian Dewhirst who sadly died in 2019.

Yorkshire Dialect was, and hopefully still is, the language of the ordinary people of Yorkshire. So come along to Keighley Library for a day of celebration of this wonderful living part of our Yorkshire heritage.

Tickets (£5 each) can be bought through Eventbrite on the Library’s website:…/celebrating-the…/

or contact the Library direct:

Keighley Local Studies Library
Tel: 01535 618215

Please note this is not a History Society event, but we are happy to promote it and it is a great way to support the Local Studies Library.

Herbert Hugill (1872-1919)

Herbert Hugill, a memorial plaque for whom hangs in Keighley Library, was born on 27th July 1872. He served as Secretary of the Keighley War Savings Association during the First World War and as Secretary of the Keighley Literary Society for 10 years.

Stone plaque commemorating Herbert Hugill, on display in the stairwell of Keighley Library, 9th July 2022. The plaque reads “In memory of Herbert Hugill M.B.E. born July 27th 1872, died February 21st 1919. Death opens unknown doors, it is most grand to die.”

Keighley was proud of its money-raising activities during the First World War. According to the Keighley News supplement of 10th September 1932: “Keighley distinguished itself… in money-raising movements for the national need the War Loan campaign of 1917 realised £2,214,089; the submarine appeal in Business Men’s Week, in March 1918, £556,089; Howitzer Week, of July 1918, £259,390; and Thanksgiving Week, of January 1919, £672,878. The Victory Loan effort yielded over £831,000, and War Savings certificates over £811,000, bringing the total for the town to over £6,000,000, or £140 per head of the people.”

Hugill was awarded his Member of the Order of the British Empire (M.B.E.) in the 1918 Birthday Honours given by King George V, for his work with the War Savings cause. The list of honours recipients was published in The London Gazette in early June 1918. He died on 21st February 1919.

Ian Dewhirst, ‘A History of Keighley’ (Keighley Corporation, 1974): “Two months later the (post-Great War influenza) epidemic recurred for the third and last time and claimed, among others, the Secretary of the Keighley and Craven Building Society, Herbert Hugill M.B.E., who had pushed the local War Savings movement: he died on the day he should have been guest of honour at a dinner celebrating the Borough’s raising of £5,000,000 in war loans.”

Following his death, a trust fund was established in January 1920 to provide an annual prize (The Herbert Hugill Prize) for the Best Student of Mathematics at Keighley Boys’ Grammar School.

The photograph of the memorial plaque, which hangs at the top of the stairs to the Local Studies Library, was taken by Tim Neal in July 2022. The postcard is postmarked 1918 and shows the Town Hall Square before the War Memorial was erected in 1924. The Library is on the far left, with the Temperance Hall alongside. The Mechanics’ Institute with its clocktower, which was also home to Keighley Boys’ Grammar School, dominates the picture.

The Vine Pub

These photographs of The Vine Tavern, Hope Place, Greengate Road, were taken by Andy Wade on the 24th July 2012, shortly before the pub closed for good.

Keighley historian Eddie Kelly: “The Vine was purpose built as a beer house by a Holmes Emmott and opened upon completion during late 1863 or early 1864. Taylors Brewery who had probably supplied the beer prior to their ownership subsequently purchased the beer house from Holmes Emmott, conveyed during January 1873. A Full License was granted to the beer house 7th November 1961 following two previous refusals. I have 30th August 2012 as the final day of trading.”

The pub had been acquired by the Timothy Taylor brewery in January 1873 and was closed by the brewers in 2012. The property remained vacant until it was sold by Hayfield Robinson Property Consultants in 2020 for residential or commercial use.

A Day in the Life of Yorkshire Bank

The newly-built branch of the Yorkshire Bank officially opened at 73 North Street on Monday 22nd July 1968. It was built on the site previously occupied by the Vickers Store, opposite the original branch on the corner of Bow Street. Vickers was demolished in 1967 and it took around a year for the new building to take shape.

It remained as the town’s Yorkshire Bank branch until the bank was taken over and the building was rebranded as Virgin Media in 2021. The branch was closed down in January 2022 and remains vacant at the moment.

Images left to right: The new building photographed in July 1968, with the original branch in the foreground; Yorkshire Bank at night, photographed by Roy Willoughby circa 1987; (inset) Photographed by Christopher M. Kelly circa 2000; Virgin Money branch in April 2021, photographed by Tim Neal; Vacant offices in July 2022, photographed by Tim Neal.

Sutton Park opens…

Sutton Park in Sutton-in-Craven was officially opened on Saturday 20th July 1912. Much of the land for the park was a bequest in the will of John William Hartley, owner of Sutton Hall, who died in 1909, with some additional land granted by the Chairman of the Parish Council, James Bairstow, in 1911. It was his wife who performed the opening ceremony.

The war memorial cross in the park was officially unveiled on 19th March 1921. Initially it commemorated local soldiers who fought in the Great War. The names of soldiers from the Second World War were added in 1950.

The colour photographs of the park were taken by Laurence Brocklesby in August 2005 and the Lilywhite Ltd. postcards were donated by Laurence.