History Society goes Zoom

The History Society is going to start holding its monthly meetings online via the Zoom facility. The first meeting, on 10th February, will be exploring our online archive and the meeting is open to all (although you have to register your interest). The March and April meetings are for paid-up members only (see the Support Us link on the left to see how to join). Click on the links to our Facebook page below to find out more.

10th February – Exploring Our Online Archive
https://www.facebook.com/events/2513690565605997

10th March – Why Stanbury Never Got a Railway Station by Graham Mitchell
https://www.facebook.com/events/174116887455372

14th April – Criminal Lunacy – From Dock to Asylum in 19th Century Yorkshire by David Scrimgeour
https://www.facebook.com/events/420499989169634

On This Day…

This Tuck’s Post Card of Cavendish Street was sent across the border to Lancashire on 1st February 1909. Crowds had gathered for what was still the novelty of having their photograph taken and the overhead wires of the electrified trams can clearly be seen.

The postcard is from the personal collection of Tim Neal. Over 450 of Tim’s postcards of Keighley and the surrounding area can be seen on the History Society’s Flickr site.

Cavendish Street postcard, posted in February 1909.

Ian Dewhirst Remembered

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).

Images of local historian Ian Dewhirst from a copy of the Keighley News dated 31st January 2019.
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On This Day…

The Lawrence Williamson Players’ production of ‘Jane Eyre’ opened at the Hippodrome in Keighley on 19th January 1948. Charlotte Bronte’s novel was adapted by Helen Jerome and starred Enid Irvin as Jane Eyre with Donald Morley as Mr Rochester.

In 1876, Abraham Kershaw had built a five-storey wooden theatre on Queen Street, designed by architect J. B. Bailey, that opened at Easter 1880. The theatre was not a financial success and the wooden theatre was pulled down. A new improved theatre, called the Queen’s Theatre was built instead and opened on 26th August 1889. But even this new theatre was deemed inadequate, and in its place was built the new Queen’s Theatre. This was designed by acclaimed theatre architect Frank Matcham.

The Queen’s Theatre became the Hippodrome in 1909, although both names remained on the front of the building, and programmes and adverts continued to refer to the ‘Hippodrome and Queen’s Theatre’. The Keighley Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society’s production of ‘Oklahoma!’ was the last play performed at the Hippodrome before it closed in October 1956. The theatre was demolished in 1961 and in its place now stands the Airedale Shopping Centre multi-storey car park.

Programmes part of the History Society’s archive on Flickr, donated by Tim Neal in 2020.

On This Day…

Programme cover and cast list for a Keighley Little Theatre production of ‘Dr Angelus’ by James Bridie. The production was staged from 16th to 20th January 1951. It starred and was produced by Eric B. Broster. At this point the President of the Theatre Group was Keighley Mayor, Alderman Ernest Hutchinson.

Keighley Little Theatre was formed in June 1947 when Frederic W. Pye got together with seven like-minded people in a house in Oakworth and discussed the viability of forming a small amateur company to stage plays. In the early months of 1949, the Theatre Group was offered the lease on Devonshire Hall, originally part of the Liberal Club on Scott Street, which had been erected at the very end of the nineteenth century. Devonshire Hall had been used for lectures, functions, dances and so on. A stage and proscenium had to be built with an appropriate new lighting rig.

1951 was a busy year for the Theatre Group. It marked the Festival of Britain, and alongside producing six plays in Devonshire Hall, they also put on two plays as part of the Bronte Festival, performed in Haworth Church School.

The original programme was donated to the History Society by Tim Neal in September 2020. It is held in the History Society’s physical archive. More programmes can be found on the History Society’s Flickr site.

Online AGM and Meeting

The History Society is holding its first online meeting since we are still not able to meet face-to-face. The first meeting will be a combined Annual General Meeting and future planning meeting. It will include a review of 2020, the treasurer’s report, the election of committee members, and then an open discussion about what else the History Society could be doing as we move forward. The meeting is open to both paid-up members and non-members, although only members will be able to vote where appropriate.

The meeting will be on Wednesday 13th January 2021 and will be hosted on Zoom. The meeting will be from 7.30pm to 8.30pm but we will open the ‘doors’ of the meeting at 7pm so that we can make sure people have logged in okay etc.

In order to join the meeting, we will need your email address. Please DO NOT type your email below. But if you would like to join in with the meeting please write a comment below (like “I would like to join in”) and Steve Bown (the Vice-chairperson of the History Society) will get back to you in a private message with the details you need. Or if you have any questions please post them below.

Happy New Year

Happy New Year everyone – and here’s hoping 2021 is a much better year than 2020. The History Society would love to hear your thoughts for the Society in 2021, so we are hosting a meeting on Zoom on the evening of 13th January. More details and information will be posted next week.

To mark the new year we have just published the scans of a 1954 Official Guide to Keighley. The scans were donated by Billy Stride at the end of 2020 and have just been annotated by Tim Neal. The publication carries a history of the town with local photographs and many adverts for local businesses. Click below to see more.

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