Keighley in old picture postcards

Keighley in old picture postcards

:   Ian Dewhirst
:   Yorkshire, West
:   United Kingdom
:   978-90-288-4594-7
:   80
:   EUR 16.95 Incl BTW *

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Fragmenten uit het boek 'Keighley in old picture postcards'

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The basic history of a town like Keighley is soon told. In 1780 it was a modest market town, whose geographical position - in the Aire Gap, on the North Beck and the River Worth, near the Lancashire border, with developing road and canal communications - ensured its leap ahead with the Industrial Revolution. Between 1801 and 1901 its population rose from 5,745 to 41, 564. A wide variety oftrades and industries centred round its staple textiles, first cotton then worsted, its manufacture of worsted machinery, machinetools, mangles, washing and sewing machines.

In the earlier and middle phases of this growth, parts of the older town, unable to cope with sheer numbers of population, deteriorated; there was overcrowding and squalor, illhealth, and early deaths of children. But Victorian virtues and civic determination eventually struggled back towards a balance. A Local Board of Health, formed in 1855, grappled with such necessities as water supply, whilst more especially after 1882 aBorough Council developed Keighley along ambitious lines.

The years between the inauguration of the Borough Council in 1882 and the outbreak ofthe Great War in 1914 were vital. Councillors tended to be educated, energetic and influential, drawn largely from the dominant mill-owning class, and in three decades they transformed Keighley from

a narrow workaday place to a spacious town, still of necessity industrial but imbued with that indefinabie sense of graciousness which we now vaguely describe as Edwardian. Streets were widened, ornate stone banks and public buildings erected, avenues of trees planted. To this era belong many of the amenities we now take for granted: parks, library, museum, public transport ...

The following photographs show a town in this process of changing from the busy, homely early Victorian to the proud late Victorian and Edwardian, symbolica1ly a shifting of the general centre of gravity from Church Green and the High Street to North Street and Cavendish Streel. This transformation was never complete. Smoking mill-chimneys continued to rear above the rooftops, and factories remained interspersed among even some of the best new streets. Horse and cattle fairs occupied at least the side roads into the present century. Hills were always visible in one or more directions, from the very heart ofthe town. Housing, to some extent, lagged behind civic developments, for not all the working classes managed to make the step into the decent stone terraces and suburbs which were proliferating by the turn ofthe century. Westgate and Eastwood Square and the Club-Houses survived for a further generation as reminders of a mid-Victorian past, and it

would take the 1930s to fulfil a Council housing ideal, Victorian development is marked by distinctive buildings, many of which were erected in a spirit of competition. It may not he coincidental that the Parish Church was rebuilt at the same time as the great Temple Street Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, that Dalton Mills followed very soon on the model of nearby Saltaire, that Henry Isaac Butterfield's Cliffe Castle came hard on the heels of his neighbour Isaac Holden's Oakworth House, that the mighty stone banks along North Street are virtually contemporary with one another. Notabie, too, is the speed with which the Victorians and their immediate successors worked: whereas the Church Green/High StreetiLow Street part of town had grown over centuries, the improved layouts of North Street and Cavendish Street, including nearly all their associated buildings, were accomplished in less than twenty years. The Great War, though it left Keighley physically intact, tested every aspect of the community. Men went into the forces, and women replaced them in jobs. Industry geared itself to meeting new demands, for shells and field-kitchens, engines for powering searchlights, disinfecting apparatus. The organising ability which manifested itself, as it were naturally, was nothing short of prodigious. People threw themselves into an endless variety of worthy causes

and the raising of many funds, under which impetus, despite the exigencies of the time, social life boomed. The town which emerged at the end of 1918 was fully equipped for the advancing twentieth century.

The latter history of Keighley has not been an alto ge th er happy one - but this lies outside our period, and we need not discuss it here. To look back can feel more comfortable.

This collection of photographs could not have been brought togetherwithout the kindness and co-operation of many individuals and several organisations. The considerable Local Collection of Keighley Reference Library has provided the backbone with 3, 5, 6, 7,8,9,11,14,15,23,26,37,40, 48,51,53,66,67,72 and 75. I am also indebted tothe Cliffe Castle Art Gallery and Museum, Keighley, for 31 and 33, and to the 'Keighley News' for 76. The remainder are from the author' s collection, accumulated over the years through the generosity ofvery many people. Special thanks must go to Mr. N.K. Howarth, A.B.LP.P., who supplied 36 and who for nearly three decades has been bringing out the 'latent image' in so many of my faded originals.

1. Dedicated to St. Andrew, Keighley Parish Church was built between 1846 and 1848. With seating for 1,400 and designed by the architect of Leeds Parish Church, R.D. Chantrell, this was the third church in less than half a century to occupy its central site, its predecessors having been demolished in 1805 and 1846 respectively. The clock in the tower was presented by parishioner Joseph Greenwood in 1903, and set going on the occasion of his seventy-fifth birthday. This postcard probably dates from 1904, during the Iaying of electric trarn-Iines in Church Street or, as it has become more popularly known, Church Green. The inn on the right, the Lord Rodney, is KeighIey's oldest public house. Original1y the Old Red Lion, its name was changed to commemorate Lord Rodney's victory over the Spanish fleet in 1780.

2. Church Street in 1890, the traditional heart of Keigh1ey from its earliest known days. On the right, hailed in its time as 'one of the most important and extensive schemes for street improvement', is the new crescent built by Alderman Richard Longden Hattersley. This formed a handsome frontage to his foundry, and was intended to comprise ten shops, eighteen upstairs offices and a re-constituted Crown Hotel. In the event, fourteen 'lofty' rooms were occupied by the Keighley Conservative Club (Alderman Hattersley being a leading Conservative), complete with a mahogany bar and facilities for billiards, card playing and smoking. The tracks are for horse-trams, which commenced operations in 1889.

3. The old Crown Hotel in Church Green. This and adjacent properties were bought up by Keighley Corporation in 1884, when the carriageway was a scant ten feet wide, the buildings being demolished and Church Green widened five years later. The taU elaborate drinking-fountain on the left was presented to the town in 1869 by Miss Butterfieid of Cliffe HaU, as a means of innocently quenching the thirst of some who might otherwise have been tempted by the plentiful hostelries in this locality! The fountain (which had occupied the approximate site of Keighley's former stocks) was transferred into the new Devonshire Park on its opening in 1888.

4. An unknown local postcard producer cashes in on a topical event, capturing a blurred because mobile General Booth being driven down the High Street on 12th August 1905. The leader of the Salvation Army spent a weekend in Keighley during his 'great northward motor-car tour'. People thronged the streets to cheer as he passed, and for two days the town was given over to Salvation Army activities. 'The familiar 'Blood and Fire' uniform was met with everywhere,' observed tbe local press. The General was given a civic reception at the Municipal Hall, and the Queen's Tbeatre was placed at his disposal for two packed Sunday meetings, proceedings at which were 'very enthusiastic' .

5. The High Street, as its name suggests one of Keighley's older streets, about the turn of the century. The imposing four-storey premises on the corner at the right - Centra! Buildings of 1898 - ilIustrate the contrast between Keighley's late Victorian development and an earlier , more modest yet stylistically pleasing townscape. Beyond Centra! Buildings, the junction of High StreetiLow Street and Church Green/North Street, still colloquially calJed the Cross, used to mark the centre of Keighley parish, which comprised a one-mile radius from this point. Notabie among businesses in this scene are the Exchange Vaults and Simon Billows and Co., newsagents and stationers who doubled as agents for the British and Foreign Bible Society.

6. This comparatively open space at the upper end of the High Street was commonly known as 't'Top o't'Town', Isaac Emrnott, the fruit and potato merchant, was also a wholesale dealer in 'rough salt, rock salt, and salt for domestic purposes' . This photograph, taken about 1890, is interesting because of its bystanders, including a polieeman striking a pose. Keighley's police, like those of many towns, had a chequered history , through parish constables and night watchmen to a force recruited by the Local Board ofHealth. The Superintendent of the latter was rather dauntingly 'held responsible for the peace of the district, and for the Jives and the property therein'. In 1857, the inauguration of the West Riding Constabulary had transferred police duties into the understandably more capable hands of a regular force.

7. In common with many towns involved in the Industrial Revolution, Keighley's population grew rapidly. lts 5,745 inhabitants of 1801 (when, even then, antiquarian Thomas Dunham Whitaker had complained of 'the din of recent population'), had become 18,258 by 1851, and 33,540 by 1881. Inevitably, overcrowding affected such residential areas as Westgate, originally a not unpleasant district with gardens and orehards alongside the North Beek. 'Formerly Westgate, with the North Beek meandering through it,' wrote one commentator in 1903, 'was one of the beauty spots of the town, but alas! Utilitarian ideas have sadly changed its aspect. ' This photograph shows Quebec Bridge, at the very crux of old residential Keighley. In 1867 it had been estimated that the North Beek had raised its bed by four to five feet with rubbish accumulated during the previous 35 years! The whole area was demolished between the wars.

8. The Ginnel, near Quebec Bridge. This scene illustrates the type of dwellings, sometimes crowded as many as 66 to the acre, replaced by Corporation houses - twelve to the acre - from the later 1920s. In 1908 a journalist was describing 'windows where paper and rags have replaced some of the panes, and ... doors with panels broken and the beading stripped off. Some of the doors bear visible signs of vicious blows or kicks'. Some dwellings had 'hardly any furniture, boxes, etc., being of ten utilised'. Victorian and Edwardian death rates in such areas could be nearly double those of the town as a whole.

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