Thursday, 31 March 2016

Jet propulsion for cars from a leisurely motoring era

Above: three Austin 7s on their way from Bristol to the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway at Haworth stopped to refuel at the Silsden Jet garage in Keighley Road on March 31. Austin 7s were built between 1922 and 1939.    

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Great grandson of Town Hall builder donates
ceremonial trowel for permanent display

Above: Arthur Tillotson is pictured by the ceremonial trowel he has donated for permanent display at Silsden Town Hall. Arthur's great grandfather Joshua Tillotson built the premises, then known as the Mechanics Institute, in 1883/84, and the trowel was used to lay the foundation stone. The Friends of Silsden Town Hall have restored the trowel, which bears the name of Lord Hothfield, who opened the building in December 1883. Arthur, 89, is life president of Silsden Football Club, for whom he starred in his playing days. Tillotson Street is named after his great grandfather, whose firm also built Hothfield and Tufton streets and the lower stretch of Skipton Road.

Above: as well as unveiling the trowel, Mr. Tillotson declared open a new history panel telling the story of the Town Hall and its continuing role as a community asset. The panel has been funded and produced by Silsden Local History Group. Attending the ceremonies on March 21 were committee members of the Town Hall Friends and the Local History Group and representatives of Bradford Council. Ray Colling, chairman of the Town Hall Friends, is pictured second from left and David Mason, chairman of the Local History Group, is fourth from left.

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

New licensees at historic inn on the hill that
was a community focal point

Silsden’s landmark Punch Bowl pub, closed for several months, has reopened with new licensees. Chef Sam Middleton and his partner Linzi Harper (pictured above) have taken on the tenancy. Sam has been a chef since leaving school 17 years ago, most recently at the King’s Arms in Silsden, where he ran the kitchen for six years. He has also worked at the former Grouse Inn in Silsden and jointly ran a pub in Ilkley.
Linzi, who has lived in Silsden since the age of three, worked at the Skipton Building Society’s head office, and also has experience in the licensed trade, having served behind the bar at the former Bridge pub in Silsden and at the Punch Bowl during David Smart’s tenancy.

The Punch Bowl, dating back more than 230 years (a datestone says 1784 but that may only indicate when the then landlord arrrived), is part of the Enterprise Inns portfolio of 5,500 leased and tenanted pubs.
Punch Bowl Hill in front of the pub was a community hub in Victorian and Edwardian times, being popular for meetings and functions because it was the centre of Silsden. It was also the starting point and terminus for horse-drawn and early motor-bus services. This photograph, from the late Kevin Bower's collection, was taken before the Conservative Club was built in 1900. 
Spring and autumn sheep and cattle fairs were held on Punch Bowl Hill until 1914. The livestock pens also filled both sides of Kirkgate and Bolton Road.
Political rallies and the carnival fair used to be held at the Hill. The photograph above shows the half-yearly meeting of Skipton Conservative Association in 1912. In those days, Silsden was part of the Skipton parliamentary constituency. 

This picture from the late Kevin Bower's collection shows the Punch Bowl Inn and Road End probably shortly before the outbreak of the First World War. 
Looking towards the Punch Bowl in 1927. The war memorial was unveiled on its original site near the Conservative Club in 1921. To the right, partly obscured by the bus, are the former fire station and Tom Wade's garage. 
Motor bikes and sidecars: those were the days. This 1950s photograph is also from the late Kevin Bower's collection.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

From Lovers' Lane to Middleway Meadows and Wayside Mews: Banklands' new identity

Above: a view from across town of the housing development on land between Daisy Hill and Banklands Lane. Two well-known local firms are developing the site. Snell Developments Ltd. are building 26 homes at what the company has named Middleway Meadows. Adjoining the Snell properties is Wayside Mews, next to the playing fields, a development of 14 homes by Croft Building Ltd.

Above: a fine view, again across town, from the 1970s showing on the upper right the field now occupied by the Snell and Croft houses. Heartache was caused there in 1967 when Norman Waterhouse, one of the country's top pigeon racers, and his wife Isobel, and Jack and Margaret Culley were forced to move from their homes because the old Silsden Urban District Council wanted to build a road through their smallholdings to link Daisy Hill and Banklands Lane. The field was untouched for 50 years after the Waterhouse and Culley families had left.
Above: 1960s view of the fields beyond the Primitive Methodist Chapel before Craven Drive and Craven Avenue were built. The Methodists now have a new chapel on the site of the Primitives' handsome edifice. Photograph by Will Baldwin.
Above: Banklands Lane about 100 years ago. Until housing development began in the 20th century, the lane, which borders the Snell and Croft site, was a quiet, tree-shaded pathway known as Lovers' Lane or Lovers' Walk.

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

What a relief: removal of the beck barrier

that blighted an iconic setting

The Stakes Beck barrier that brought floods of complaints when it was installed 18 months ago was removed on March 1st, thus bringing to a close a bizarre episode involving disputes, denials and dismay. 
This is how the barrier, supposed to prevent the beck overflowing when in spate, spoiled the look of a picturesque and historic corner of Silsden. Bradford council ordered and implemented the removal of the barrier, which was engraved with the name of Silsden Town Council and stated "Built by M. O'Dwyer". The barrier had been installed voluntarily under the leadership of town councillor Michael O'Dwyer as a member of the Silsden Environmental Group. The group and Silsden Youth Council had been awarded public funds of up to £3,500 for materials and to clear the beck of flow-obstructing rubbish. (See my Blog post of September 2014.)