Above and below: the first lambs I have seen this season. Photographed in a field at Swartha on February 27th, the lambs were born during a particularly wet and soggy period. They belong to Silsden farmer David Gray, whose first lambs were born on February 22nd. His flock mainly comprises Texel and Beltex sheep.
Swartha scene among Hildred Harpin watercolours that have come to light
Above: Michael Purches holds a watercolour by Hildred Harpin, a noted painter, teacher, writer and priest, whose home was at Swartha from 1936 until 1957, when he left to study for the priesthood in Rome. Michael has lived for nearly 50 years in the Swartha cottage that belonged to the artist, and the newly-purchased work looks towards the Nab from the back of Swartha Cottages. A textile designer, Michael worked locally for Stocks's, where he met his late wife Marian, but went into teaching after the mill closures of the 1970s. He joined Greenhead School in 1979 and became head of French until retiring in 2002.
Above: another Harpin painting. This view of the gable end of No. 6 Swartha Cottages looking towards Swartha Farm is dated 1944. It is one of six Harpin paintings collected over the years by Michael Purches, whose latest acquisition, with which he is pictured in the first photograph, was among 62 Harpins recently offered for sale online by Sulis Fine Art (www.sulisfineart.com) along with two works by Hildred's father, Edgar. Sulis bought the paintings at auction. It is not known why so many suddenly became available. Sulis was offering the unframed works for between £9 and £34. Nearly half were swiftly sold.
Above: Hildred 'Harry' Harpin pictured aged 80 at St Peter's Gate in Assisi in 1987. He died in Assisi on October 5th that year, the day after celebrating the feast of St Francis. Born at Marsden, near Huddersfield, in 1907, Hildred was a graduate of the Royal College of Art. He taught art at Keighley Boys Grammar School and became acting principal of Keighley School of Art.He was elected to Silsden Urban District council in 1955. From a nonconformist family, he had converted to Catholicism in 1928. After studying for the priesthood at Beda College in Rome, he was ordained at Carmarthen in Wales in 1961. He later became a chaplain in Assisi, where he spent the last 18 years of his life. Information about Hildred and other artists from the Bradford district can be viewed at notjusthockney.info, a website run by Colin Neville, of Silsden. Aspects of Swartha featured in my posts of January 22nd 2017 and February 7th 2015.
Please be seated. But you'll need astonishing stamina if you're trying to put the world to rights
Above: Silsden may have only a couple of centrally placed seats but they have been affectionately used and regarded for many years. Regular occupants of the beckside seat opposite the Red Lion in Kirkgate are (left to right) Doug Grainger, Brian Wood (with his border terrier Hamish) and Graham Clymo. Above: this photograph by the late Will Baldwin was taken after the revamp of the scenic setting by Stakes Beck. The seat (not new) had been provided by Silsden Civic Society.
Above: this new seat in another Will Baldwin photograph (of his grandchildren) did not make it into recent times.
Above: for years the Elliott Street seat by the boatyard was a renowned meeting place for older residents to put the world to rights. Few indeed were the men who went out cap-less or tie-less.
Above: this could almost have been a moment of women's local liberation -- occupying the blokes' bench. Probably this fearless foursome were awaiting the departure of a charabanc: coach outings in the 1950s-1970s traditionally left from Elliott Street.
Above: the seat was a fixture beneath the Silsden Labour Party rooms, which had opened in January 1936 with a talk by Mr Lister Dawson on "the international situation". The poster on the building advertises the Labour Weekly newspaper with the slogan "Gets to the heart of matters that matter". One of the founders of the Labour Party in Silsden was nailmaker William Dawson of Tufton Street. Born in 1851, he did not learn to read until he was nearly 50 and then became absorbed in social and political history. Although a seat has survived the demolition of the building and the development of the boatyard, the modern bench is hardly ever used, having fallen victim to the constant stream of traffic and fumes at the junction with Keighley Road. This photograph was taken by the late Kevin Bower.
Above: Sarah and James Morton are the new owners of Hills Bakery in Kirkgate. They are pictured with their sons Noah, seven, and Seth four. Working from home, Silsden-born Sarah, a member of the famous Lampkin families (her parents are Alan and Eileen), has built up a substantial reputation with her Homemade Heaven business, supplying shops, cafes, pubs and other catering outlets in the district.
Now she and James, a printer, are expanding the business by taking over Hills Bakery, which they will run together. They will retain the long-established and renowned Hills name and plan soon to install their own bakery on the premises, in order to underpin and develop their home-made credentials. Bread was last made at Hills some 25 years ago when production was moved to Ilkley. Sarah and James also intend to introduce a delicatessen section.
Hills was started in 1969 by Paul and Wendy Harding-Hill, who bought Roy Biltcliffe's bakery at the top of Aire View as well as the Kirkgate business. They transferred the oven and equipment to the Kirkgate shop, and baked there until 1991 when they acquired The Loafer in Ilkley. In the 1980s, they also ran a baker's shop at the former Co-op in Dradishaw Road.
Above: Hills Bakery has been a mainstay presence in Kirkgate for nearly 50 years. This picture from a few decades ago is by courtesy of Silsden Camera Club. Paul and Wendy, who still live in Silsden, retired after selling the Kirkgate business in 2005 and helping the new owner for a couple of years. The shop has had four owners since the Hills, including now the Mortons, who have taken over from Jane Henry. Interestingly, Wendy Hill was a student at Keighley Technical School when Sarah's father was a prefect there.
Above: Kirkgate in the early 1900s, before the house at the junction with Aire View became a shop. Later photographs of the Kirkgate shops between the Aire View and New Road junctions feature in my post of January 6th, 2013.
Stephanie Calvert-Smith and her husband Patrick, who live in Silsden, have taken over the Dogsbody & Friends business in Kirkgate. It is a new venture for the couple. Silsden-born Stephanie has opted for a lifestyle change after 30 years working in offices, the last 15 as operations manager at Hallmark Cards in Bradford.
Stephanie will be full-time in the shop while Patrick will continue his job as a systems developer for medical equipment manufacturer DePuy International. The Kirkgate shop, which includes dog grooming, will operate as before. It had been run since 2008 by Emma and Andrew Stead, who are continuing their pet and grooming business in Skipton. The Kirkgate premises have been in retail use since the late 1800s and became a pet shop in 1957 -- see my post of December 7th, 2012.
Lumb Clough bridge: a romantic setting for picnics and proposals (prior to the placing of the pipeline)
Above: For centuries the Lumb Clough bridge stretch of Holden Beck was the most popular of all local destinations for Silsden walkers. It was also favoured as a place for proposals of marriage.
Above: the romantic reputation of this rural idyll was somewhat spoilt in the 1950s when Bradford Corporation placed a huge water pipe over the clough. It looks as if the largest artillery piece of the Second World War has been embedded in the hillside below Ghyll Grange farm.
Above: a bridge has stood over the stream for at least 400 years. To the right of the present bridge is the farm ford where animals can cross just before the beck tumbles in a picture-postcard waterfall.
Above: a group of smartly-dressed visitors at Lumb Clough bridge in 1906.
Above: this centuries-old arched packhorse bridge was swept away by a storm in July 1900. The photograph is published in both of the late Neil Cathey's books.
Above: Holden beck, or Howden Gill as this postcard has it, rises near Far Ghyll Grange and enters the River Aire in the Low Holden vicinity. In the 17th century the beck powered a watermill at Upper Holden (see my post of November 27th, 2015).
Above: picnics and posing for pictures were a popular pastime. As far as we know, selfies were unknown.
Above: this rudimentary bridge might have been a makeshift measure.
Unfortunately dates are not known for the photographs with and without vegetation, nor for when the temporary and stronger wooden bridges were installed. The photographs above and below are from the late Neil Cathey's collections.
Above and below: these two photographs by the late Will Baldwin were taken not long before the unsightly water pipe was installed.
Above: Will Baldwin probably was one of the first local photographers to picture the pipe in place.
Above: I took my Lumb bridge photos on January 29th 2017.
Above: downstream of Lumb bridge the beck thrashes through deeply-ravined Jacob's Wood where there is also this Yorkshire Water sluice.