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.

KHS_P_518_ (1)

Christmas Countdown

A Christmas party for employees of Smith Bros. & Foster Ltd., held in the Weaving Shed of North Beck Mills. Smith Bros. was established by John Arthur Smith in 1913. The company had a checkered history, including voluntary liquidation in 1958, but ultimately survives to this day in the form of Pennine Weavers Ltd. Photograph donated by Betty Smith.

On this day…

The unveiling and dedication of the Keighley War Memorial in Town Hall Square took place on 7th December 1924. It was erected by Keighley Municipal Borough to commemorate the 900 men of the Borough who were killed in the First World War. It was paid for by funds raised from public subscription at a cost of £5,000. The bronze figures were sculpted by Henry Charles Fehr (1867-1940). The memorial was unveiled by General Sir Charles Harington, a distinguished First World War staff officer, and dedicated by the Reverend S. Howard-Hall, former chaplain of the local 6th Battalion of the Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding) Regiment. The War Memorial has been categorised as a Grade II listed site since 1986.

The War Memorial Keighley

Looking Back and Looking Forward

November is usually the month when we hold our Annual General Meeting, but at an online meeting the History Society committee decided that it was more practicable to postpone this until Wednesday 13th January 2021. We will be holding the meeting online and anyone will be welcome to attend although only paying members will be allowed to vote on any matters that require a vote. More details will be published nearer the time.

As we announced back in April, anyone who paid for 2020 membership of the History Society will have that membership extended to cover 2021 as well. This will also apply anyone who takes out a membership before the end of December 2020. We have discussed several ideas about how we can operate differently in the future, to be more effective in the “new normal”, and would like to get feedback from existing members and people who perhaps just follow us through our website and Facebook pages.

Although we only managed to hold three of our monthly meetings in Keighley Library at the beginning of the year, the History Society has not stood still during the rest of the year. The Committee has been holding monthly online meetings, but the situation always changed too fast to put our ideas in place. But in the meantime the Facebook group has grown by over 600 people (that’s nearly double what we had last year), and the number of images added to our Flickr page has grown from 9,700 to over 12,000 (that’s over 40 new images every week). We have also seen a lot of questions and queries come through the website.

Covid looks likely to be affecting all our lives for many more months to come. So even though it is our aim to get back to having in-person group meetings, we also want to look at other ways of carrying on such as online guest speakers and meetings. If people want to share ideas about what else the History Society can be doing, please send us a message or comment below. Similarly, if anyone wants to help us run things please get in touch.

Twelve Thousand Plus!

A new album of Keighley photographs taken by Roy Dean Willoughby in the 1980s means we now have over 12,000 images for anyone to view on our Flickr site. The photographs were donated by Roy’s grandson Billy Stride.

Take a browse and explore the History Society’s albums. As well as photographs there are postcards, newspaper cuttings, documents, adverts and more.

KHS_P_512_ (48)

The Picture House Reopens

Welcome back to Keighley’s Picture House cinema which reopens this Friday (30th October) after over seven months of closure due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Picture House Cinema opened in 1913. It originally had an iron and glass porch the front of the cinema. The venue hosted live shows and pop concerts as well as film showings. In 1954, it was bought by the Essoldo chain of cinemas and became the Keighley Essoldo. In the 1970s the cinema was restructured and what was the original cinema balcony became a second smaller screen room, as it remains today. In the 1980s the building was acquired by Bradford Metropolitan Council and it reverted to The Picture House. The cinema closed in 1991 and reopened in 1996 run by the Northern Morris Cinemas.

See the cinema’s website or Facebook page for details on some of the classic movies being shown from this Friday. Images from the History Society’s archive on Flickr.

The Picture House, Keighley. Images from the History Society archive. Montage created by Tim Neal.

Cliffe Castle Reopens

Welcome back! Cliffe Castle Museum in Keighley reopened to the public this week. The museum will be open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays from 11am to 3pm. Please be aware there are various social distancing measures in place to ensure public and staff safety. Details are available on the museum’s website (https://www.bradfordmuseums.org/venues/cliffe-castle-museum)

Driveway to Cliffe Castle Museum. Photograph taken by History Society committee member Tim Neal on 22nd August 2018.
The Dining Room or Tapestry Room, Cliffe Castle, Keighley. The portrait on the left is of Maria Louise Roosevelt Burke, Henry Isaac Butterfield’s wife, painted by Roberto Bompiani around 1880. Many of the original pieces of furniture and ornaments were taken away or auctioned by Henry Isaac Butterfield’s granddaughter, Countess Manvers (1889-1984), when she inherited the house in 1943 and sold it in 1950. The rooms were faithfully restored in various stages from the late 1980s onwards. Photograph taken by History Society committee member Tim Neal on 22nd August 2018.
Timmy Feather’s Workshop, Working Landscapes Gallery, Cliffe Castle, Keighley. The last reported handloom weaver in the area was Timmy Feather. He lived and worked in Buckley Green, Stanbury. He died in 1910 at the age of 85. This is a recreation of Feather’s loom shop in the upper storey of his cottage, including the last known handloom of the district. Photograph taken by History Society committee member Tim Neal on 22nd August 2018.
The Bracewell Smith Hall, Cliffe Castle, Keighley. When, in 1950, Cliffe Castle was purchased by Sir Bracewell Smith for the people of Keighley, he appointed architect Sir Albert Richardson to reconfigure the entire building. The Bracewell Smith Hall was the magnificent centrepiece that came out of this work. It was designed as a picture gallery and public hall. The octagonal shape of the room was inspired by Brighton Pavilion and is echoed in the original wooden lantern that hangs from the ceiling. The room was restored to its 1950s appearance in 2013. The marble statue in the centre is by German artist Carl L. H. Muller and is called ‘The Minstrel’s Curse’, based on a poem by Ludwig Uhland. Photograph taken by History Society committee member Tim Neal on 16th February 2020.