In the basement of Bradford’s Local Studies Library are collections of nineteenth century pamphlets (and some of earlier date). Ranging from sermons and programmes of royal visits, to reports, articles, obituaries and regulations, they are a treasure-trove of local history. What follows is an account of one of these treasures. To consult any of these items please ask the staff. Card catalogues of these collections are located in the Local Studies Library.

JND 245/4 + 5 (Please quote this number if requesting these booklets)

C.F. and W.F. A Ramble on Rumbald’s Moor among the dwellings, cairns & circles of the Ancient Britons in the spring of 1868. Part II Counterhill & Castleberg.
20 pages. (Wakefield: W.T.Lamb, Printer and Publisher.)

C.F. and W.F. A Ramble on Rumbald’s Moor among the rocks, idols & altars of the Ancient Druids in the spring of 1869. Part III. 26 pages. (Wakefield: H.Kelly, Printer and Publisher.)

What delightful titles have these two pamphlets! Sadly the first of these three ‘parts’ is missing, though since only one hundred copies were printed this is no surprise. This, their age, and the fragile nature of the paper they were printed on, must make any remaining copies pretty scarce.

Our first pamphlet opens: “Who, after rambling among British dwellings, cairns and circles on that part of Rumbold’s Moor which extends from Burley Wood Head to Ilkley, could hear reports of Roman Camps on Counterhill and Castleberg, and not wish to visit them?” As indicated by the titles, these slim volumes give an account of early relics of past peoples, though an account of Addingham fills much of the first volume. A newspaper cutting inserted into the second volume here makes the point that the authors “drew attention to the sculptured rocks … recently discovered on Ilkley Moor.”

And who were C.F. and W.F.? A newspaper cutting inserted into the second volume here gives the authors as Charles Forest and William Grainge.


Charles Forest

Some of the early historians, or ‘antiquarians’ as they were often called, have a bad reputation for making unsubstantiated assertions and promoting theories in the face of contradicting evidence, but not C.F. and W.F., according to the newspaper account, an obituary of Forest. It makes the point that he was careful in his research, and the text of these pamphlets bears this out, for the authors were often critical of other antiquarians.

There are a number of line drawings. These pamphlets are an early account of these remarkable relics on the moors. Though do take care if using them, else these scarce ‘relics’ will crumble to dust, unlike the relics they describe!


Map of the Week: Allerton Stone Extraction

The minerals exploited within Bradford were ironstone, coal, fireclay and sandstone. At one time there was also a small lime industry, in Bingley and elsewhere, based on the excavation of glacial limestone deposits brought by the ice from the Dales. After the Shipley to Skipton section of the Leeds-Liverpool canal was opened in 1774 there was a more direct means of access to the Skipton limestone quarries.  Ice movements would presumably have left substantial quantities of hard stone on the surface. This would need to be removed before ploughing in any case, but in regions where drystone walls were the traditional field boundaries there must have been a ready use for such material. Elsewhere resistant outcrops of rock protruded through the top soil from which potential wall stone could be removed with a hammer or crow bar. On some common land, or waste, local people may have had the right to remove such surface stone deposits. In Northcliffe Wood in Shipley there are a number of undated shallow excavations by means of which a band of sandstone called Stanningley Rock was accessed.

In many parts of Yorkshire it would have been possible to rob a Roman fort or the ruin of a dissolved monastery to obtain building stone, but not here.  In Bradford ‘delvers’ could obtain a good quality, honey coloured, sandstone. Quarrying is thought to have begun in this area in the seventeenth century and continued until the twentieth. The need for stone was perhaps greatest in the period 1860-1900 although the walls of many stone buildings in that era would have had an inner skin made from locally produced brick, which was cheaper. Stone winning processes are illustrated in these two plans of Allerton from the LSL’s reserve map collection.

The first plan is of Allerton Grange Quarry. The dated workings are from 1875-76. Towards the bottom of the plan you can see an extraction track. On the full map the track leads to Grange Lane. This name has been crossed out and ‘Dog Lane’ substituted in pencil. Dog Lane it remained until the post-war housing development of the area. The quarry seems to be marked as Upper Grange in the second OS map of the area (surveyed 1891). In 1905 a cricket pavilion was sitting on the site but by the 1930s it was fields again.


The second plan shows an area south of Allerton village & Allerton Road, east of Hill Top Lane and north of Dog Lane. An extensive area of stone exploitation is indicated which not present on the first or second OS maps, but is present on the 1908 map. This plan was drawn by J Hindle, a well-known Bradford surveyor in partnership at various times with Charles Gott and Thomas Dixon. It is undated but is probably from the last decade of the nineteenth century. The important feature is that this is a stone mine, not a quarry. You may just be able to make out four ‘old shafts’ and a single ‘present shaft’. The pink areas represent stone already won or ‘got’, and evidently the land-owner has imposed a strict boundary to the exploitation. Good stone was not infrequently mined. Recently I was shown round some old mining sites in Shropshire where limestone was obtained in this way.


What rock was exploited in Allerton? The local geological guides record Elland Flags being mined there. This is a sandstone stratum consisted of several bands of varying thickness and quality which were located under the Better Bed coal seam, itself extensively mined in south Bradford. The maps include no evidence of ownership although nearby Allerton Grange Farm was on Atkinson-Jowett land. Contemporary trade directories list many stone merchants situated in Allerton any of whom could have been involved with these sites.

Derek Barker, Local Studies Library Volunteer

Keighley’s Neglected Poet: a talk by Ian Dewhirst MBE

To celebrate National Poetry Day on October 6th, well-known author and historian Ian Dewhirst MBE will be giving a talk ‘Gordon Bottomley, Keighley’s neglected poet and playwright’ in Keighley Local Studies library.

Born in Keighley in 1874, Gordon Bottomley was an important figure in the poetry movement before and during the First World War and one of the most influential literary figures to have been born in Keighley.

Over the years, Mr Dewhirst has made a special study of Gordon Bottomley, for whom he has a great deal of admiration, and we are fortunate that this renowned raconteur has agreed to share his knowledge in this unique talk to be held at Keighley Library.

The talk starts at 11.00am. Admission is free and all are welcome.


Gordon Bottomley (1874-1948)
Keighley’s poet, writer, playwright, art collector

Gordon Bottomley is one of the most important literary figures to have been born in Keighley.  Despite the limitations he faced in society due to illness, his cultural reach extended into the national arts scene including drama, poetry and fine art.  As well as honorary degrees, Bottomley was a Fellow and Benson medallist of the Royal Society of Literature and Vice-president of the British Drama League.  In 1994, a blue plaque, similar to those for famous London landmarks, was put up to mark the site of his birth in Keighley.

Born in 1874, the only child of Alfred Bottomley, a Keighley accountant and his wife Maria, a Scot, he was initially educated by his mother. He then attended the Keighley Trade and Grammar School, part of the Mechanics’ Institute building which later became Keighley Boys’ Grammar School. Gordon Bottomley credits the school as a major influence on his literary development and Keighley Library holds the records of the school which reveal to some extent the kind of education and facilities available.

At the age of 16, he became a junior clerk at the Craven Bank in Keighley. In 1891 he was transferred to the Bradford branch but ill health (haemorrhaging of the lungs) left him an invalid for long periods of time. When he was 18 years old, the family moved to Cartmel area on the Cumbria-Lancashire border. Bottomley stayed in the area for the rest of his life, moving to The Sheiling, in Silverdale near Carnforth in 1914 with his wife Emily. Here they entertained friends such as Paul Nash, the artist, and Edward Thomas, the poet, and his correspondence with both these influential men has since been published.

Gordon Bottomley began writing poetry in earnest in the 1890s and became a leading figure in the Georgian Poetry movement before, and during, WW1. He had seven collections of poetry published and his works appeared in anthologies of the time.
He was also a playwright, mainly of one-act verse plays and he also championed the experimental theatre of the 1930s. He loved art, and became a dedicated collector. Greatly influenced by William Morris and the Pre-Raphaelites, he acquired a nationally important collection which also included the work of influential contemporary artists such as Paul Nash, Stanley Spencer, William Nicholson and Bradford’s own Sir William Rothenstein.  In 1949, he left over 600 paintings, drawings and prints to the Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery in Carlisle. Details of his collection are available in archive BK60.


Keighley Local Studies Library Resources

Gordon Bottomley’s works are out of print now but Keighley Library has an important collection of his publications, photographs and published and original correspondence housed in the Library’s Yorkshire Authors’ Collection and in the archive.

The library also holds news cuttings and biographical articles, including some written by local historian and former Keighley Reference Librarian, Ian Dewhirst MBE.

A leaflet has also been produced outlining Gordon Bottomley’s life, works and original archive resources stored in Keighley Local Studies Library.

100 years since The Somme remembered at Eccleshill Library

Bradford Libraries World War One Blog

The next in the series of free events will take place in Eccleshill library.

Richard Coomber from the organisation will be at the library on Saturday 24th September between 11.00am and 3.00pm  with a database of local men who served in the First World War. Anyone who has photos or stories of family involved in WW1 is encouraged to bring them along on the day.

The event will launch a display in Eccleshill library commemorating the local men who were killed, missing or wounded in the Somme.

The display will run from 24th September – 8th October. It will include coverage of the First World War from the Shipley Times and Express from 1914-18. The research has been collated by


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Family History Courses Starting Soon!

Courses run by Bradford College will be starting soon at Bradford Local Studies Library and Keighley Local Studies Library including blogging and websites for all.

Wednesdays 10.00am-12noon for 11 weeks starting 21st September at Bradford.

Tuesdays 10.00am-12noon starting 20th September or Thursdays 10am-12noon for 11 weeks starting 22nd September at Keighley.

Researching family history can be a rewarding and exciting experience and these events can help to guide people to the unique resources they need to investigate the past and provide a fantastic opportunity to learn new skills.

The fee for an 11 week course is £75.00 including an administration fee of £15. Concessions may apply. Contact Bradford College on 01274 436300 for more details or Bradford Local Studies Library or Keighley Local Studies Library to book a place.


Treasure of the Week #1 – Sir Henry Mitchell

In the basement of Bradford’s Local Studies Library are collections of nineteenth century pamphlets (and some of earlier date). Ranging from sermons and programmes of royal visits, to reports, articles, obituaries and regulations, they are a treasure-trove of local history. What follows is an account of one of these treasures. To consult any of these items please ask the staff. Card catalogues of these collections are located in the Local Studies Library.

 JND 290/4 (Please quote this number if requesting this item.)

Sir Henry Mitchell of Bradford – A Biography. c.1880. 8 pages


Sir Henry Mitchell

The fourth of the seventeen pamphlets bound together in volume number 290 of the J N Dickons Collection is a slim eight-page account, plus portrait, of Sir Henry Mitchell of Bradford. The pages are taken from a book of which neither title, nor author, nor publisher, nor date (1880s?) is noted. Two other biographies accompany Mitchell on JND 290 from the same anonymous source. One is on The Worshipful Mayor of Bradford, Mr Angus Holden, and the other is on Lawrence Game, a prominent lawyer and MP for East Leeds (number 3 and 5).

Opposite the Local Studies Library at the bottom of the Manchester Road is Sir Henry Mitchell House, currently the base of some of Bradford Council’s staff, but few people know who Sir Henry Mitchell was, or did. But in the book store in the depths of Margaret Macmillan Tower, is the answer. Although brief, the account is concise and fact-filled, lucid and fulsome.

Henry was born in 1824 at Esholt and aged fourteen he commenced learning the different processes of wool sorting, combing, spinning and weaving. In 1842 he was  appointed Manager for Messrs William Fison & Co., of Bradford, of which  W E Forster, M.P. was a partner. 1848 finds Mitchell as a Buyer for Messrs A & S Henry & Co. of Bradford, becoming a partner in 1852. In the next few years Mitchell becomes a leading figure in the commercial life of Bradford. He was elected a member of Bradford Town Council in 1870 and was a councillor for 21 years, being made an Alderman in 1874. He was also an influential and active member of the Bradford Chamber of Commerce, being elected President on four occasions. In 1876 he was the English Judge for woollen and silk fabrics at the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition. Two years later he was Vice-president of the jurors selected to adjudicate upon worsted yarns and fabrics at the Paris Exhibition of 1878.

Education as well as textiles was a passion in Mitchell’s life. He was a member of the first School Board elected for Bradford, Vice-President of the Bradford Mechanics’ Institute, and a Governor of Bradford Grammar School. But his greatest work was in connection with the Bradford Technical College.

‘He saw clearly that if England was to retain her supremacy in the production of worsted fabrics, it was necessary that a higher and more systematic training should be adopted on the part of those whose lot it would be to carry the trade forward in the face of foreign competition; and he set his heart upon the establishment of a Technical College in Bradford which should at least equal anything of the kind attempted abroad.

The College was erected at a cost of £40,000, of which Sir Henry subscribed £10,000. The College was opened by The Prince of Wales in June 1882, with Mitchell appointed President. He was made an Honorary Member of the Worshipful Company of Clothworkers in honour of his work in promoting textile education, and a member of the Board of Governors of the City and Guilds of London Institute.

Respected by workers and employers alike, Mitchell was employed to arbitrate in trade disputes, notably in the great dyers’ strike. He was chairman of the local Conservative Party, but resisted frequent attempts to persuade him to stand for Parliament. He was a prominent member of the Wesleyan Church in Bradford. He was knighted in 1885 and made a Freeman of the Borough in 1889, the year of his death.


Heritage Open Day, Keighley Local Studies Library

On 10th September as part of the Heritage Open Days Festival, Keighley Local Studies Library will be host to a variety of local societies and groups and will be exhibiting some of the treasures from their archives and collections.

This is a great opportunity not only to see some of the hidden gems of the Keighley archives, but also to meet local groups, see displays and exhibitions on the history of the local area, and to get help with your family tree and research.

It is also an chance to bring along your own stories, memorabilia and pictures to help celebrate the rich and diverse history and heritage of the Keighley District.

Amongst the groups exhibiting will be Keighley and District Local and Family History Societies, The Airedale Writers Circle, Silsden Local History Society, Oxenhope historians and local authors.  

The event will feature the exhibition from Men of Worth about the men of Keighley and District in the Battle of the Somme and Keighley’s Military Hospital along with a showing of the film ‘The Battle of The Somme’.

This is a free ‘drop in’ event and will run from 10.30am until 4.00pm. All are welcome.