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 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.

Robert Holmes, Mayor of Keighley

Robert Holmes, J. P., who served as Mayor of Keighley between 1886 and 1887, died on 21st June 1904, just short of being 77 years old. Holmes was the fifth Mayor of Keighley, and had been born in July 1827.

The mini-biography of Holmes, published in the Keighley News’ Borough Jubilee publication of 10th September 1932 reads: “One of Keighley’s earliest chancellors of the exchequer, Mr Robert Holmes, who was the son of Mr Thomas Holmes, a grocer and yeast merchant, High Street, Keighley, entered public life in 1877, when he was elected to the Local Board of Health. He continued a member of that body and its successor, the Town Council, down to the time of his death, occupying the chairmanship of the Finance Committee for 25 years. He was appointed an alderman at the first meeting of the Town Council but was ousted in 1898 by a Tory-Socialist compact. As chairman of the most important committee Mr Holmes had the reputation of being an economist. He was not opposed to expenditure if it could be shown to be reproductive and not reproductive merely in the material sense. Showy and spacious schemes likely to entail heavy rate charges frequently encountered his opposition. He was a Borough and a West Riding magistrate, and among his many other interests were the Keighley and Craven Building Society and the Keighley Temperance Society. His efforts were chiefly instrumental in enabling the Temperance Society to take over and to hold the old Mechanics’ Institute – a purchase that afterwards proved to be remunerative. His Mayoral year coincided with the Queen’s Jubilee, and, being a widower, the duties of the Mayoress devolved on an unmarried daughter.”

As noted above, Holmes was involved with the Keighley and Craven Building Society, serving as Vice-President in 1882. The building society was established in 1851, and for more than half of the 20th century had its head office on Cooke Street in Keighley, overlooking the Town Hall Square. By the 1930s it had branches in Cowling, Cross Hills, Haworth, Oakworth, Oxenhope, Steeton and as far away as Morecambe. It merged with The Provincial Building Society on 31st August 1966. Engraved stonework can still be seen on the Cooke Street building today.

Portrait of Robert Holmes taken by William Cooke’s Studio on Earl Street, Skipton Road, Keighley. Town Hall Square photograph is a detail from a 1938 Valentine & Sons Ltd. postcard, with the Keighley & Craven Building Society head office on the left. Modern photograph taken by Tim Neal in 2019.

Running for the hills

A big thank you to Colin Kirkham who delivered an insightful and amusing talk on Zoom last night about how he started running while at Keighley Boys’ Grammar School – mainly as a hobby to have something to talk about in any university interviews! How he worked as a groundsman at Marley fields and trained at the same time. All of which led to competing on behalf of GB and England in Olympic and Commonwealth Games. Even while living and working in Coventry, he would return to Keighley to practice running on the hills!

Images from Colin Kirkham’s talk on his running career.

On this day 100 years ago…

The inauguration of Keighley Hall in Poix-du-Nord, France, took place on Monday 5th June 1922. The event was attended by Councillor James Longton (Mayor of Keighley 1921-22), Alderman Albert Smith, Councillor W. A. Brigg, Councillor G. A. Calverley and Samuel Clough. The building was designed by Keighley architects W. H. & A. Sugden.

Keighley established links with Poix-du-Nord after the first world war. In 1920, under the scheme of the British League of Help for Devastated Areas in France, Keighley ‘adopted’ Poix-du-Nord and raised over £4,000 by public subscription for a civic hall, which opened in 1922 and was named Keighley Hall.

There is also a street in the town named after Alderman Ferdinand N. Binns (Rue Ferdinand Binns), a former Mayor of Keighley (1918-20), who was awarded the Order and Cross of the Legion of Honour for his efforts to promote good relations between the two towns.

Regular visits between the two towns were exchanged by the branches of the International Brotherhood Alliance (founded in 1905) up until 1938. The town was visited again by the Mayor and Mayoress of Keighley (Mr and Mrs J. E. Brownbridge), the town clerk (Mr J. A. Caesar), the borough architect (Mr. B. A. Waddington) and Councillor David Seeley and his wife Judith Seeley (Judith was the daughter of Mr and Mrs Brownbridge) between Friday 30th May and Sunday 1st June 1969.

All the items shown here are from a collection that records the Mayoral Year of Alderman John Edward Brownbridge and his wife, Councillor Alice Gertrude Brownbridge, as Mayor and Mayoress of Keighley, from May 1969 to May 1970. The collection now belongs to their granddaughter and was loaned to the History Society for scanning in July 2019 by David Seeley.

Keighley Hall in Poix-du-Nord, France. Images from a scrapbook loaned by David Seeley in 2019.

June’s Guest Speaker Talk

This month’s History Society guest speaker talk is “Running Through the Streets of Keighley”, to be given by Society member Colin Kirkham. Colin grew up in Keighley in the 1940s/50s and took up running as a way of having something to talk about at his interviews for university! Ultimately this led to competing for GB in the Olympic and Commonwealth Games in the early 1970s.

Colin’s talk will be split into two parts. The first part is next Wednesday (8th June) and is subtitled “Part One: My Story”. The second part, on the town’s running clubs of the early 20th century, will be presented early next year.

The meeting is on Zoom only this month (NOT at the Library) and is for paid-up members of the History Society only. Members will receive their emails with details on how to join the meeting in the next few days.

Royal Visit over 100 years ago

A Royal Visit by King George V and Queen Mary to the works of Prince Smith & Son in Keighley took place on Wednesday, 29th May 1918. The visit took in the Burlington Shed site (now the area largely occupied by Keighley’s Asda store).

There the Royal Party witnessed the manufacture of wool combing and worsted spinning machinery, vital to the thriving yarn industry of the West Riding, and the additional repurposing of some manufacturing to serve the war effort. They met management staff, veteran employees and women working on the munitions lines.

According to the account in a commemorative booklet produced shortly after the visit: “Her Majesty the Queen expressed pleasure and admiration at the sight of a large group of munition girls in their smart khaki-coloured uniforms, whilst a group of old employees, most of whom could claim from fifty to fifty-five years’ continuous service in the firm’s employ, excited the lively interest of Their Majesties, who graciously shook hands and spoke a few words to each of these faithful old servants.”

The four sets of photographs shown here are from the commemorative booklet which was printed by The Tillotson Press. Copies of the booklet are held in the Keighley and District Local History Society archive. The full booklet is available to view on the History Society’s Flickr site.

Royal visit to Keighley by King George V and Queen Mary on 29th May 1918.

On this day 70 years ago…

This postcard of The Cross and Low Street was posted to Bridlington on 28th May 1952. The area is known as The Cross because it was the location of the original Market Cross for the town. The top of the original cross is now in the Cliffe Castle Museum while a copy was relocated outside the Parish Church just along Church Street.

The photograph was taken around 1950 and is looking from High Street to Low Street. The main building on the centre right is at the corner of Church Street and is the old Midland Bank building, demolished in 1977 along with one side of Church Street (now a grassed pedestrian area). Chadwick’s Stores are on the left (“Uncle Chadwick always serves you well”). The Tetley’s pub on the right is The Devonshire Arms, which opened in the 19th century, became The Grinning Rat in the 1990s and then the K2 night club.

The postcard was published by Valentine & Sons Ltd. The modern photograph of The Cross was taken by Tim Neal in July 2021.

The Cross in Keighley – 1950s and 2020s. A Valentine & Sons Ltd. postcard and photograph by Tim Neal.

St. John’s Church part of KTF

St. John’s Church in Ingrow is celebrating its connections with the trains and the trams as part of In-Motion: The Keighley Transport Festival next week. The church is open on Thursday and Friday (2nd/3rd June) from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. There are two exhibitions for visitors to look at – on the history of the electric trams that ran through the town in the early 20th century and on the history of the church itself. It is also an opportunity to see inside this historic church that will be celebrating its 180th anniversary next year. And the church will be serving tea, coffee and cake from its new kitchen.

There is a free bus service running between the different venues of the Transport Festival and it drops off right outside the church. You could also visit Rail Story Ingrow at the same time which is on the other side of the road from the church.

St. John’s Church in Ingrow (photograph by Tim Neal) with two early 20th century postcards showing the railway and electric trams at Ingrow.