Today we are remembering local historian Ian Dewhirst who sadly died two years ago. He made an invaluable contribution to preserving, cataloguing and recounting the history of the town. During his life he wrote many articles and books on the town, and gave thousands of talks and tours to various societies and groups, including the History Society. He was born in Keighley in 1936. He went to Keighley Boys’ Grammar School and graduated from the University of Manchester in 1958 with a degree in English. He started working at Keighley Library in 1960 and was promoted to Reference Librarian in 1967, a role he fulfilled until retirement in 1991.
He wrote over a dozen books on Keighley and Yorkshire, including ‘A History of Keighley’, published by the Keighley Corporation in 1974, and reprinted several times since. Ian began writing the popular ‘Memory Lane’ column for the Keighley News in 1992 and carried on doing so right up until his death. In February 1999, he was awarded an MBE by the Queen for his services to local history. In 2009 he had a Northern Rail 158 diesel train named after him. In 2018, the Dalesman awarded him the W. R. Mitchell Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his prolific work as a local historian and public speaker. He spent almost his whole life in Keighley, living in his parents’ former home on Raglan Avenue, off Fell Lane. He died on 20th January 2019 and his funeral service was held at Trinity Church, Fell Lane, on 15th February, followed by a private cremation.
The History Society was recently given a copy of Ian’s collection of local tales ‘The Haworth Water-Wolf and other Yorkshire Stories’, published over 50 years ago. The booklet has been scanned in full and added to our Flickr site (see the link below).