Sunday, 14 January 2018

Fraternal greetings: local Buffs of 50 years ago

Among the flourishing organisations that made up community life in the past was the Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes, which nationally was founded in 1822 and became one of the largest fraternal orders in the UK. Silsden had a few lodges (branches) over the years and one survives, albeit with a handful of members. Their charitable purpose continues. This photograph is thought to have been taken at a local Lodge gathering in the 1960s to mark the initiation of Fred Benson. Back row (left to right) Sid Barnes, Laurence Driver, Tom Bancroft, David Wigglesworth, Jimmy Bardgett, Roy Moorhen, Henry Bentley. Middle row: Tommy Megan, Jim Emmott, Colin Wainright, Dennis Chapman, Colin Waterhouse (to whom I am grateful for supplying the names), Arnold Mitchell, Sunyi Polyhos, George Heaps, Basil Wasuta, Fred Benson, Richard Chapman, David Cooper. Front row: Bill Scaife, George Smith, Joe Megan, Bill Welbourn, Gary Thornton.

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

The days when coach trips were a big part of community life

Coach trips were a regular feature of community life up to the 1970s or so when car ownership allowed for independent travel and membership of groups started to decline as families made their own entertainment. Social changes and the decline of shared experiences were hastened in the 1980s as textile mills closed and workers had to look farther afield for employment. This photograph shows members of Silsden Camera Club and their wives on an outing. The photograph was taken by the late Will Baldwin, whose wife, Brenda, is pictured third from left. Brenda died last year. Will's photographs form an important record of local life, as does the work of other Camera Club members. They include Dick Roberts, who is pictured centre (holding a brown packet) with his wife (in the white jacket) and, on the right, Brian Sunderland, who is a prominent member of Silsden Local History Group and closely involved in archiving local photographs. 
 This may have been a trip to Southport in 1969. Photograph by Will Baldwin.
Gargrave was the destination of this outing in 1967. Pictured at the front is Emily Rawson, a characterful Silsdener. On the left, accompanying the senior citizens, is Sylvia Kitchen, whose husband, Harold, was a celebrated entertainer who compiled a major collection of historic local photographs. Photo by Will Baldwin.
 No date and no identification of the occasion but a holiday outing nonetheless.
A civic send-off for this trip. Wearing the chain is Councillor Arthur Watson, who was chairman of Silsden Urban District Council from 1952-55. At the front on the left is Steve Wallbank, who was chairman of Silsden Old People's Welfare for 13 years until 1968 and a mainstay of local initiatives for senior citizens.
Members of Silsden Liberals' ladies section. On the left is Bernard Wilkinson, the coach owner-driver. 
An earlier group of Liberal Party ladies pose for the camera before their outing.
Members of Silsden Labour Party's women's section at a stop for teas during an outing.
Elliott Street was the main starting point for outings. Councillor Arthur Watson is on duty again for this exodus. On the right by the junction with Keighley Road/Kirkgate is Joe Whitham's electrical shop (now Arabesque kitchens).

 The Primitive Methodists' choir enjoying an outing, possibly in the 1920s.
Proving that the Outing Tendency goes back at least 100 years, these Parish Church bellringers are pictured before the First World War on a horse-drawn trip with the Vicar, John Berry.

Saturday, 30 December 2017

Death of Brenda Hayes ends link to era of local rule

The death shortly before Christmas of Mrs Brenda Hayes, aged 89, severs one of the last links with the old Silsden Urban District Council, which ran the town throughout the 20th century until disbandment in 1974 when local government was controversially reorganised. Mrs Hayes is pictured above with her husband, Councillor Tom Hayes, during Tom's UDC chairmanship in 1969/70. Wearing their chains of office, Mr and Mrs Hayes are pictured with senior citizens prior to a day out. The picture was taken in Elliott Street, from where coach outings traditionally departed. Tom and Brenda ran the newsagents at the corner of Kirkgate and Briggate. The shop (then known as Dewhirsts and now Kirkgate News) was owned and run for many years by Brenda's father, Arthur Watson, a long-serving councillor who was chairman of the UDC in 1952-55. Brenda and Tom succeeded him at the shop and became one of Silsden's best-known couples. Tom died in 2012.
This photograph was taken at a social gathering of councillors and their wives and UDC officials in 1970/71. Mrs Hayes is sixth from the left at the back, with Tom Hayes next to her. Council chairman William Cathey is pictured on the left at the front with his wife Mary. On the right at the front is Councillor J. J. Barker, chairman in 1959/62 and 1971/72; next to him is his wife Norah. Other leading councillors pictured include Nurse Catherine Herbert (chair 1963/66), Bert Mole (1966/67), Harold Kellett (1967/68), Dorothy Robinson (1972/73) and Eric Robinson, the last chairman, who served in 1973/74. Also in the photograph are councillors Brian Brockbank and Alan Townson; council clerk Eric Gration; town surveyor John Mitchell; and Roy Mason, the Keighley News and Craven Herald journalist who covered the council's doings. 
Silsden UDC gave way to Bradford Metropolitan District Council. Nationwide parish and town councils were created as a relatively powerless form of local government. In the early years, Silsden's parish council comprised a wealth of experience as seen in this photograph by Will Baldwin. The chairman is Richard Binns. Seated next to him are Betty Crabtree and J. J. Barker. Standing left to right are Tom Hayes, John Auchinleck, not sure who this is, Eric Robinson, Neil Cathey, Ernest Hoare, not sure, and John Twigg. Seated far right is the clerk Mr Hodgson.   

Friday, 29 December 2017

Down Memory Lane to the Big Freeze of 70 years ago

The morning of December 29th, 2017, brought a fair covering of snow but it swiftly melted and gave way to a rainy afternoon. The two most prolonged perilous post-war periods of snow and freezing temperatures gripped Silsden and the rest of the country in 1947 and 1963. The above photograph shows the scene in Bradley Road, near the Raikes, in 1947. This and the following five photographs of that winter are from the late Kevin Bower's collection. 
 Lane House farm on the back road from Silsden to Kildwick.
The frozen canal at it passes Harwal Works on the left towards the boat yard and Keighley Road.
The frozen canal from the opposite direction with the wharf on the right. 
 Hard graft clearing the Addingham-Silsden road at Cringles.
The road from Silsden at the top of Cringles. The milk churn on the left is by the junction with Cringles Lane.  
The scene near Far Ghyll Grange in December 2010. 
The view from Tar Topping towards Hole Farm and, beyond, Heights Lane in January 2013. 
A snowy scene on a private driveway in January 2013. Silsden's sole reminder of the old red telephone boxes is privately owned. 
Snow came again in March 2013 and on the moors beyond Tar Topping produced drifts as high as the dry-stone walls. Drifts were still a feature of the Nab road in April 2013, as can be seen in my blog of April 3rd that year. 

Monday, 11 December 2017

Spotlight on Donald and Mary at a traditional treat
for the town's senior citizens
Pictured above are Donald Fowler and Mary Greenwood, who were the oldest man and woman at a Christmas treat on Saturday, December 9th, for Silsden's senior citizens. The event continued a community tradition of providing a Christmas tea for the elderly. The Friends of the Town Hall treated 60 senior citizens over the age of 75 to a splendid buffet and music by the Swing Cats Trio. The provision of a gift for the the oldest man and woman at the party also revived a tradition. These honours went to Mary, who is 98, and Donald, 97, who pipped Norman Akeroyd by less than six months.
The organisation of a Christmas get-together for local pensioners began after the Second World War and by the 1960s the community catering team were serving 230 teas and taking out a further 130 treats, plus a bag of coal, to elderly residents who were too frail to attend. This photograph by the late Will Baldwin shows the chairman of Silsden Urban District Council, Councillor J. J. Barker, and his wife, Norah, at the top table in the 1960s. They are wearing the chains of civic office.
This photograph, also by Will Baldwin, shows another Christmas tea in the 1960s. The festive event disappeared in the 1980s but was revived last year by the Friends of the Town Hall with generous funding from the Harry Beverley Tillotson Trust.
As a postscript I am repeating a Will Baldwin photograph from my blog of November 8th, 2016, showing members of Silsden's Harassed Housewives Club. I am doing so because the women include, third from left kneeling in the front row, Mary Greenwood, who at 98 is the subject of the first picture above. Next to her, fourth from left, is Mary Jane Smith, whose daughter Ivy is 87 and attended this year's Christmas tea. The photograph also includes Mrs Rose, Mary Sharp, Joan Hill, Ada Brooks, Miriam Parker, Alice Heaps, Mrs Tillotson, Violet Inman, Mrs Roberts, Mrs Rush, Elizabeth Lamb, Mrs Shackleton, Mrs Robinson, Mrs Moorehouse, Mrs Baldwin and Kitty Gledhill.

Sunday, 19 November 2017

New stage and sound system boost Town Hall's

status as a prime community asset

Haworth Ukulele Group are pictured entertaining a capacity audience following the official opening, on Saturday November 18th, of a new stage and sound system at Silsden Town Hall. The boost to performance arts has been provided by the Friends of Silsden Town Hall through a £10,000 grant from the National Lottery. The Friends are applying to take over management of the Town Hall when cash-starved Bradford council ceases to fund the building in April. A public meeting to explain the campaign to save the venue will be held on Thursday, December 7th (7pm).
Well-known local figure Mike Carey, a retired head teacher, is pictured cutting the ribbon to officially launch the new stage, watched by John Peet, vice-chairman of the Friends of Silsden Town Hall. Mike's late wife, Brenda, took a leading role in the campaign to restore a stage to the town and was a founder of Silsden Community Productions.   

Sunday, 12 November 2017

At the going down of the sun and

in the morning we will remember them

Silsden's Remembrance Day parade and service took place at the memorial gardens on Sunday, November 12th.
With the sun shining, more than 30 wreaths were laid by representatives of regiments, civic authorities, emergency services, local groups and businesses.
Armed Forces wreaths were laid on behalf of Normandy Veterans, Royal Marines, 4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards, Coldstream Guards, Royal Artillery, Royal Norfolk Regiment, Royal Corps of Signals, Parachute Regiment, Mercian Regiment, Royal Air Force and Royal Air Force Regiment.
The Silsden Royal British Legion wreath was laid by president Douglas Boulton.
Silsden mayor Peter Robinson waits his turn to place the town's tribute on the war memorial.  
Hymns accompanied by Silsden Town Band and prayers preceded the laying of wreaths.
Wreaths were laid on behalf of Silsden's three churches: Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Methodist and St James'. 
The 1st Silsden Scouts and Brownies and the 3rd Keighley and Steeton Scouts laid wreaths.
 Some of the many people who attended the Remembrance Day service. 
The attendance seems to increase each year.
Wreaths were laid (left to right) by Friends of Silsden Green Spaces, Co-op food hall, Co-op Funeral Care and Silsden Local History Group.
The Rev David Griffiths, Vicar of St James' Church, read war poet Wilfred Owen's "Disabled", which includes the lines:
Some cheered him home, but not as crowds cheer Goal.
Only a solemn man who brought him fruits
Thanked him; and then inquired about his soul.
Scout Matthew Watson (right) recited "In Flanders Fields", probably the best-known poem of the First World War, written by Canadian military surgeon John McCrae as he tended the wounded on the Western Front. Pictured with Matthew (left to right) are Father Michael McLaughlin, parish priest of Our Lady of Mount Carmel; Graham Iliffe, representing Silsden Methodist Church, whose Minister the Rev Ruth Crompton was jointly conducting the service at Keighley Shared Parish Church; and the Rev David Griffiths, Vicar of St James'.
These poppies were pictured growing in a Flanders roadside a few years ago. Poppies eternally symbolise the sacrifices of all those killed in two world wars and in numerous other conflicts.
Jean Bower, chairman of Silsden Royal British Legion and parade commander, said the increasing attendances on Remembrance Sunday were heartening.
Nelson Holmes, of Aire View, was the youngest Silsden soldier to die in the First World War. Aged 18, he was killed in a trench at Ypres just before Christmas of 1915. His grave, at Talana Farm Cemetery a few miles outside Ypres, is pictured above by Beth Liddle Photography.

The name of Nelson Holmes can be seen on this section of Silsden war memorial.