Saturday, 28 February 2015

Gasworks site that became a valuable piece of real estate

Above: attractive canal-side homes. It is difficult to imagine this Hainsworth Road setting as the site of the old municipal gasworks. 
Above: the same scene post-war. The landmark gas-holder (gasometer) can be seen between the retort house on the left, where coal was heated to generate the gas, and the manager's house on the right. The photograph is from the late Kevin Bower's collection.
Above: Demolition of the retort house opened up the view of the gas-holder. Photograph from the late Kevin Bower's collection. Silsden's gas supply was originally provided by a local firm until about 1880 when the Local Board (the Urban District Council's predecessor) entered into an agreement with the Kildwick Parish Gas Company for bulk supply. This arrangement continued until 1903 by when the UDC had built the Hainsworth Road gasworks.
Above: an earlier view showing the tower that would have been packed with coke, down which water was trickled to remove ammonia and ammonium compounds. Photograph by the late Will Baldwin.
Above: demolition of the tower and chimney. Photograph by the late Will Baldwin. Silsden council operated the gasworks until nationalisation in 1949 when the plant became the responsibility of the North Eastern Gas Board.

Above: the former manager's house, Valley View, has been a distinctive feature of Hainsworth Road for more than 100 years.
Above: the rear of the house about 50 years ago. Hainsworth Road is still referred to as "gasworks lane" by older Silsdeners. Photograph from the late Kevin Bower's collection.
Above: nine stylish houses have been built on the old gasworks site, seven of them overlook the canal. The development was completed in 2008. Houses that have come on the market since then have carried prices in the region of £300,000. 
Above: the four-bedroom houses form a cul-de-sac, which is named Canal Side, as shown below. The field beyond the development was the home of the Silsden Amateur Rugby League Club from its inception in 1921 until 1963. 

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Tannery Corner and the once-quiet

lane that continues to change

Above: still referred to as Tannery Corner, the junction of North Street and Bolton Road is at the head of the lane from Thornber Brow. Airedale Factors occupies the site of the old tannery, which was part of Lane Farm, where commercial processing of hides had been carried out since before 1840. Tanners were recorded locally as far back as the 1740s. 
Above: the photograph shows Lane Farm, which was the home of the Thornber farming family, after whom the nearby Brow is named. The tannery and farm buildings extended to the Bolton Road boundary. The 1841 census lists Thomas Thornber, 61, and his two sons, 25 and 20, as tanners. The tannery was eventually taken over by William Laycock and Sons, of Keighley, who at the end of the 19th century employed nine men. The work of the tannery was filmed in 1945 and the eight-minute documentary, by Sam Hanna, is now in the North West Film Archive.
Above: the site previously occupied by Lane Farm and the tannery has been used for industrial purposes for at least 175 years, which must be a local record. In modern times it has been the headquarters of electrical plant and machinery merchants Airedale Factors, which has been a family-run business for more than 60 years.
Above: the stretch of historic North Street between Bolton Road and the Brow is undergoing substantial change with the conversion of two substantial barns (one of which is pictured here) and a new detached property in the course of construction.
Above: the view towards the Brow showing the gable end of the new detached house on the left and the gable end of the recent barn conversion in the centre of the picture.
Above: the detached house and garage under construction.
Above: the front of the more recent of the two barn conversions, which have transformed the lane after years of neglect. This property adjoins the picturesque old Town Head farmhouse, which is hidden behind the hedging on the left.
Above: plans to build 62 houses in these fields between Breakmoor Avenue and North Street have been turned down.
Above: looking across to North Street and beyond from the Bolton Road allotments. 

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Aspects of Silsden from the walk
between Thornber Brow and Hayhills
Above: the Millennium Way stretch between the bridge at Thornber Brow and Hayhills affords panoramic views of Silsden and the Aire Valley towards Utley and Keighley. Thornber Brow is accessed by a stile from Breakmoor Avenue. The path crosses the bridge and rises in the fields beyond the beck to skirt Brow wood on the way to the Hayhills farms.  
Above: the chimney of Waterloo Mills in Howden Road makes a focal point in this view. 
Above: the clock tower of St James' Church stands out in this aspect. Steeton can be seen in the distance.

Thornber Brow: a popular and picturesque

picnic spot for more than 150 years

Above: the bridge over Hayhills Beck at Thornber Brow is modern but otherwise the scene has changed little since the 1800s when families came here for weekend picnics and for Sunday School celebrations and services. In 1884, religious leaders held a united open-air service and an estimated 1,500 villagers gathered in the beckside field to sing hymns such as "Shall We Gather at the River?"
Above: Hayhills is among the several becks that rise on Silsden Moor. It flows through Brow wood near the reservoir, eventually joining Stakes Beck and thence into the River Aire. Thornber Brow is named after a 19th century local farming family. They owned the land as well as the old tannery which used to be at the North Street junction with Bolton Road.
Above: as well as being a much-used picnic area, the bridge and beck served as an al fresco location for family photographs. This impressive line-up is from the late Neil Cathey's collection. The sole gentleman is Albert Boyes, whose wife, Susie, is fourth from the left. She is holding a dog. Between her and her husband are Miss Minnie Bradley (on the left) and Mrs Eleanor Wadsworth. On Mrs Boyes' right is Mrs Hanson Bradley. The names of the next three women are not known. On the left in the foreground is another Mrs Wadsworth, who became Mrs Birkbeck. The photograph is undated. 
Above: also from the late Neil Cathey's collection, this photograph has no details. Perhaps the two couples here are with a chaperone, as would have been the order of the day.
Above: another striking view of the pastoral scene. This photograph, from another source and also without details, is later than the Neil Cathey pictures -- hemlines have moved up to reveal ankles.
Above and below: two more illustrations of the Brow bridge's popularity as a place to pose. These two photographs are from the late Neil Cathey's collection. Both are without names and dates.

Above: the sign by the stile into the field from Breakmoor Avenue suggests that, after 150 years of enjoyment, picnics by the beck are now frowned upon.

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Swartha's sunlit splendour
Above: overnight freezing temperatures in the first week of February were followed by crystal-clear sunlit days, highlighting the charms of local locations and offering uplifting walks along popular lanes. Here an almost blue hue has been cast on the road through Swartha, looking up to the Nab.
Above: the hamlet's handsome row of houses looks at its best beneath a deep-blue sky.
Above: the unmade lane more than 90 years ago. The message on this postcard is dated September 1924.
Above: farther along Swartha Lane is a picture-book terrace of three old cottages which at the front look across to High Swartha Farm. No. 2 Swartha Cottages has been newly extended.
Above: the refurbished and extended No. 2 is named Bob's Cottage, after the late Bob Bell, a fine amateur organist, who lived there for many years. 
Above: older residents will remember this yesteryear view of No. 2 Swartha Cottages. The photograph was taken by the late Will Baldwin.
Above: the row of cottages today. It can be seen that No. 6 at the far end has also been extended, although some years ago. The photograph below shows the three cottages in the early 1900s. Swartha means "dark ravine", which would have described the setting of the nearby wood. There has been an agricultural settlement at Swartha for around 800 years.
Above: an undated postcard from around the 1950s. 

Tuesday, 3 February 2015