Saturday, 17 May 2014

Above: Silsden's swish new medical centre is up and running after a 14-month building programme, during which health services were provided temporarily in cabins on what is now the car park. The previous health centre dated from 1980 and had become more and more cramped. The new building, which admirers say looks like a small hospital, houses nine GPs, seven nursing staff, a practice manager and assistant practice manager, plus a pharmacy.  Silsden is one of 17 GP practices in a clinical commissioning group covering Airedale, Wharfedale and Craven, details of which were given in my blog of March 2013.

Friday, 16 May 2014

Above: No. 17 Briggate is now home to Silsden Opticians, run by Hamed Saddique (left) and Nazakat Hussain, whose business opened in March. The town has been without an optician since the closure, around 10 years ago, of Brooks' in Kirkgate opposite the entrance to Elliott Street. The knitted yellow jerseys in the windows are part of a town-wide celebration of the Tour de France, which will pass through Silsden on Sunday, July 6.


 Above: No. 17 Briggate in the late 1920s or early 1930s, when the shop was a draper's owned by brothers Jonas and Leonard Clarkson. Senior Silsden citizens recall that Jonas used to take goods bundled up round the streets on spec. Photograph from the late Kevin Bower's collection.

Thursday, 15 May 2014


Above: Swartha Wood in spring offers beguiling floral glories. The sensational scent
of bluebells accompanies the walk from the hamlet to the beck.
Above: beyond the beck masses of ramsons fill the air with the aroma of garlic.
Above: Tess takes time out to fathom the contrasting fragrances as the path nears the exit stile from the wood.
Above: the ancient hamlet of Swartha can be seen from the field path out of the wood towards High Brunthwaite. There are also splendid views across the Aire valley. The name Swartha means 'dark ravine'. Agricultural settlement here goes back 800 years.  More recently,  upmarket houses, near the entrance to the wood, have attractively replaced farm outbuildings.
Above: picturesque Brunthwaite Lane, known as Murder Mile to athletes undertaking the uphill challenge, leads down to the delightful hamlet of Brunthwaite.
Above: Brunthwaite, viewed here from the approach from Hawber Lane, was one of the five medieval manors of Silsden and was noted in the Domesday Book.

 Above: the same spring-time scene in the 1950s. The lilac tree, on the right, may or may not be the same one we see today.
Above: a peaceful Brunthwaite scene of the 1960s.
Above: no longer a route for cows -- dairy farming in Brunthwaite itself ceased several years ago.
Above: Brunthwaite's rural splendour has been carefully conserved and the hamlet comprises some fine properties.
 Above: this house was once at the heart of Brunthwaite's farming activities.
Above: an attractive row of properties overlooking the green.
Above: these houses include one of the oldest buildings in Brunthwaite.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

At this uplifting time of year, a walk of a few hundred metres by Snowden ghyll yields a profusion of wild flowers, bird song at its richest and, on the first day of May this year, an advance flight of 10 swallows swooping fast and low to feed on airborne insects. Above: primroses bedeck the banks where the footpath crosses the ghyll.
 Above: bluebells carpet the wood upstream from Throup's bridge. 
 Above: dandelions turn the Tar Topping field into a festival of yellow.
 Above: wood anemones are among the first spring plants to flower.
Above: pink purslane is an uncommon plant of damp woods and shady places in the west and north of England but is abundantly present near the ghyll. 
Above: the lesser celandine, about which Wordsworth wrote an admiring poem, closes up in dull weather, unlike the unrelated greater celandine. The lesser celandine was a medicinal herb in the 16th century.
Above: the cuckoo flower, which is also known as 'milkmaid' and 'lady's smock', is a food plant of the orange-tip butterfly. Apparently, the leaves can be eaten in salads as a substitute for water cress.
Above: the daisy's name is derived from 'day's eye', a reference to the plant's sun-like centre. The daisy has been popular with poets through the centuries but sadly less so with gardeners whose lawns it invades.
Above: the stems of greater stitchwort are weak and snap easily, thus leading herbalists of old to believe the plant could help heal broken bones. The common name refers to its use in treating stitches and similar pains, as a remedy for which it was prepared with acorns and taken in wine.
Above: wood-sorrel flowers droop in rain and at night to protect the pollen but despite their abundant nectar attracting bees very little seed is produced. Reproduction is by way of a second sort of self-pollinating flower carried prolifically in summer on a short stalk close to the ground. 
Above: common dog violet is the scentless variety, the 'dog' title being used in wild flowers to distinguish an inferior form from relatives that are superior in some way. 
Above: dog's mercury is extremely poisonous to animals and humans. It grows profusely under hedges and in woods and has a fetid smell to attract midges, which pollinate the female flowers. 
Above: opposite-leaved golden saxifrage colonises the banks of small streams.
Above: marsh marigolds with their brilliant golden flowers and glossy green leaves are not widespread locally but this clump makes a luxuriant spectacle in the shade of a ditch in Hole Lane.  
Above: apple blossom in a Bradley Road hedgerow of predominantly hawthorn, holly, blackthorn and elder.
Above: in Skipton Road a solitary but outstanding whitebeam tree will soon reveal its froth of creamy-white, sweet-scented flowers.