May Guest Speaker

The History Society’s guest speaker this month is Kathryn Hughes giving her talk ‘Mr Pybus and Bradford’s Munition Factories – How Bradford took the lead in engaging female munitions workers’. The talk is on Wednesday 11th May.

This talk is happening upstairs at Keighley Library and is open to both members and non-members. The charge for non-members is £3, payable on the door. To reserve a place, please email

If members wish they can join in by Zoom instead (this option is only available to paid-up History Society members). Members will receive their Zoom invites by email from Anne-Marie a few days in advance.

Doors open at 7pm for a 7.30pm start. Please check social media or our website nearer the time for any updates.

Women workers at the Burlington Sheds factory of Prince-Smith & Stells Ltd., producing bayonets for use on rifles during World War Two. Photograph donated by Joyce Wood.

70 years ago today…

Saturday 3rd May 1952 was closing night of Keighley Little Theatre’s production of ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ by Oscar Wilde. It starred Eric B. Broster, Ken Everett, David Brown, Morag C. Moorhouse, Norma Feather, Joyce Reeder, Ray Dewsnap, George Scull and John Harker, and was produced by Eric B. Broster. At this point the President of the Theatre Group was Keighley Mayor, Councillor David C. Hudson.

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. The Theatre Group included Doreen Mary Hillary (known as Mary) who acted and was involved in productions for over three decades, and Eric B. Broster, who went on to direct many of their plays.

In the early months of 1949, the Theatre Group was offered the lease on the premises in Devonshire Street that became home to the amateur theatre company. Those premises were 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 (and continued to be for hire through Keighley Little Theatre). Having been looking for a permanent home, the lease was taken up. A stage and proscenium had to be built with an appropriate new lighting rig. The theatre remains the home of the Theatre Group to this day. In 1969, Keighley Little Theatre re-branded as Keighley Playhouse.

Keighley Playhouse with pages from the programme for ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’, staged in 1952. The original programme was donated by Tim Neal in 2020. The photograph of the Playhouse was taken by Andy Wade in 2012.

Bronte Museum Opens

The original Bronte Society Museum opened on the first floor of the Yorkshire Penny Bank building at the top of Main Street in Haworth on 1st May 1895. It remained the venue for the museum until the Society took over the parsonage in 1928.

The building housed the village’s Mechanics Institute from 1877 before it was bought by the Yorkshire Penny Bank in 1894. They altered the entrance and first floor, and extended the building upwards with the addition of the turret. The framed rectangular space above the first floor window used to hold a stone engraved ‘Yorkshire Penny bank’. It was an antique shop in the 1960s and for many years, up until January 2019, it housed the Haworth Tourist Information Centre. It is now occupied by the Pretty Penny gift shop.

Views of the old Yorkshire Penny Bank building at the top of Main Street in Haworth. The top postcard is a Wrench Series postcard from around 1900. The bottom postcard is a Francis Frith postcard photographed in 1958. Both postcards are from the personal collection of Tim Neal. Main photograph taken by Tim Neal in 2019.

Bronte Vintage Gathering 2022

The History Society has a stall at next weekend’s Bronte Vintage Gathering just outside Cullingworth. Please come down and see us on either Saturday 7th May or Sunday 8th May. We will have a sneak preview of some of the “Ten Tales of Transport” we are telling as part of the Keighley Transport Festival in June, as well as details about what the History Society gets up to and how to join.

You can find out more about the Bronte Vintage Gathering, which is run to raise funds for Sue Ryder Manorlands, on their website:

History Society members Joyce Newton and Steve Bown at the Bronte Vintage Gathering in 2017. Photograph taken by Tim Neal.
Bronte Vintage Gathering 2017. Photograph by Tim Neal.
Bronte Vintage Gathering 2017. Photograph by Tim Neal.

One Tale of Transport

‘In Motion’, the Keighley Transport Festival, is happening across the town on Thursday 2nd and Friday 3rd June 2022. It is free entry to all the participating sites and events run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The History Society is mounting an exhibition featuring “Ten Tales of Transport”. One of the stories we are telling is “Postcards from an Electric Avenue” which tells the tale of the electric trams that ran between Utley, Stockbridge and Ingrow between 1904 and 1924, illustrated by dozens of picture postcards from that time. You can see the exhibition upstairs at the Civic Centre, but this particular Tale will also be available to view at St. John’s Church in Ingrow on both days.

One of the History Society’s “Ten Tales of Transport” being told at June 2022’s Keighley Transport Festival is “Postcards from an Electric Avenue”.

100 years ago…

This newspaper cutting is taken from the Keighley News of Saturday 29th April 1922. It talks of the arrangements for the opening ceremony of Keighley Hall, built in the French town of Poix-du-Nord, in gratitude for the support given by the people of Keighley following the First World War.

“At Poix-du-Nord – the little French town in the war-devastated region, for which Keighley has undertaken to stand as a sort of godmother – great preparations ae going forward for the opening of the Keighley Hall, the public building which is being paid for out of the adoption fund specially subscribed by Keighley people. The opening takes place on Sunday, June 5, and a number of representative Keighley citizens, including the mayor and some of the members of the Town Council, have accepted invitations to be present and participate in the proceedings.”

The building was designed by Keighley architects W. H. & A. Sugden. In the end, the inauguration 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, amongst others.

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) between Friday 30th May and Sunday 1st June 1969.

The clipping is from a scrapbook of cuttings covering the mayoral year 1921-22 which is held in the History Society’s archive. The illustration of Keighley Hall is from the cover of the programme for the opening which was loaned to the History Society by David Seeley in July 2019.

Keighley Hall in Poix-du-Nord, France, built after the First World War from funds raised by the people of Keighley.

Haworth 1900

This postcard of Haworth was posted to Aylesbury on 26th April 1905. The photograph was taken in the early 1890s. We estimate this because there is no sign of the school buildings built on Butt Lane in 1896. Ivy Bank Mill with its chimney is in the foreground, just over the bridge. Haworth Parish Church is on the crest of the hill in the distance. The postcard was published by A. E. Hall of Haworth.

The colour image shows a similar view from roughly eighty years later and is taken from a postcard published by the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway Preservation Society, photograph taken by R. Higgins.

Both postcards are from the private collection of History Society member Tim Neal. Tim’s entire collection of approximately 600 postcards can be seen on the History Society’s Flickr site.

Postcard of Haworth postmarked 1905, with a similar view from a 1990s postcard. Colour photograph taken by R. Higgins.

Stan Boardman Talk

History Society committee member Tim Neal is giving his talk on local artist Stan Boardman at the Methodist Church Hall, Greenside Lane, in Cullingworth this Wednesday (27th April). Stan grew up in the Fell Lane area of Keighley in the 1920s and committed many of his memories of that time to canvas fifty years later in the 1970s. He also worked as a sign painter in the town (amongst many other jobs!).

Visitors are welcome to attend and there will be a charge of £1.50 on the door. The talk starts at 7.30pm with doors opening a short while before. Please note this talk is organised by Cullingworth Local History Group and is not a Keighley and District Local History Society event.

Artist Stan Boardman with examples of his work.

The Co-Op on Brunswick Street

The purpose-built Keighley Co-Operative Society Central Stores on Brunswick Street were officially opened on 24th April 1886. The new stores succeeded the shop on Low Street as the Society’s main Central Stores. Brunswick Street, which used to run parallel to Hanover Street, was demolished to make way for the new town centre shopping precinct in the 1960s.The idea of the new Central Stores started a few years earlier and their creation meant buying up and demolishing fifteen cottages, a van house, a large workshop and a yard – at a cost back then of £2,650.

The architect was David Weatherhead of Keighley. The building was 32 feet high, with a frontage of 46 feet and a depth of 36 feet. The Tailoring and Shoemaking Departments had moved onto the site as early as 1884.The opening was celebrated with a lantern lecture (the PowerPoint of the day!) given by Hargreaves Jackson on ‘Co-operative Thrift, as Exhibited in the History of the Halifax Flour Society’. At various points the Central Stores included the selling of groceries, meat, fish, fruit and vegetables, boots, shoes and clogs, clock, watches and jewellery, and furnishings; as well as housing a restaurant.

The illustration is from ‘Half a Century of Co-operation in Keighley – 1860-1910’ by Joseph Rhodes, published by the Keighley Industrial Co-operative Society Ltd. in 1911. The black and white photograph is a queue for margarine outside the Central Stores in 1917, from the Bill Parker collection held at Keighley Local Studies Library and released in 2004 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Keighley public library.

The two colour photographs are of Brunswick Arcade, part of the Airedale Shopping Centre, that was built over Brunswick Street in the 1960s. The photographs were taken in 1986 and are from a set of slides donated to the History Society by centre manager Steve Seymour.

The Co-Op on Brunswick Street and Brunswick Arcade in Airedale Shopping Centre.