Tracing Your House History Freely Online – A Brief Lockdown Guide

At this time of continued lockdown for popular public spaces such as libraries and archives, it’s good to know what’s online and apparently many of you are still keen to pursue your local history research or are inspired to make a start in this fascinating area. Following the posting in the recent newsletter, it’s clear that many of you are particularly interested in tracing your house history or maybe just that of a particularly interesting building in your area. The attached leaflet guide and the following leaflet list addresses for you to explore that offer free online access.


A general overview of the property location is probably the best initial way to start and, for the Bradford MDC area, check out the sites recommended for local mapping. Local authorities have also addressed conservation area  issues and free access to Bradford’s conservation area assessments can be found at just search ‘conservation area assessments’ for a list available online. These reports include maps and details of building materials with some local history, your street or property may well be highlighted. If not, you will at least get a reasonable idea of the age and development of your local area. If your property is a listed building, then look at the listed building sites recommended on the leaflet.

Photographs can reveal the age of your property and building/land additions, as well as the development of the local surroundings and land usage. They sometimes even show you who once lived there if you are very lucky. As well as the sites noted on the leaflet, many local history sites are a wonderfully rich source of postcards and photographs available online.

Photograph of the Hall from the Keighley Photographic Society Collection showing the opening of the Mansion House with a day of celebrations, 6th July 1893, the official handing over of Eastwood House and grounds (Victoria Park) to the public.

Maps of Yorkshire that show historical details such as wapentake, parish and riding divisions can be found on sites such as  and the National Library of Scotland web site and that of the Ordnance Survey have free access to old maps and township plans for the mid 19th and early 20th Century.

People and trade

If you are not living in an ancestral pile, then you may wish to start looking at who lived in your property. Believe it or not, quite a few customers have come into libraries simply to research supernatural phenomena or to try and discover more about family papers found under floorboards or left in attics.

The first port of call would be Ancestry or Findmypast, available freely in all Bradford Libraries but fortunately during this lockdown period, Bradford Libraries is providing free access to Ancestry for all customers with a library card, follow the instructions below.  On here you can use the census records 1841-1911 and the special 1939 England and Wales register is also available on the web site free of charge.

To access Ancestry Library you will need a Bradford Libraries membership card.
Go to and log in to your library account with your card number and pin.
Remember to input just the numbers. Next, click on the special link to Ancestry Library Edition.

Maybe the former inhabitants or your property were involved in trade or your house was a former shop or even church. Trade directories are useful as they list local traders and in some editions their introductions give a useful overview of the township as a whole and of its main families, religious buildings, prominent houses and other services and amenities and local farms. These supplement the census records and although you will usually get a more comprehensive collection in your local studies library or record office, you can find a few relevant directories online. Check out this handy leaflet produced by Bradford Libraries’ staff:  and try the addresses shown on the leaflet.

You may also want to look at if you live in a mill conversion and you can try for local industry and engineering research.

Probate and Wills

Once you have names for owners/occupiers you can then trace death years through your free access to Ancestry, looking at births, marriage and death certification years and/or any church or chapel records to verify identities, with many available on this site. Click on the Search tab on the home page and look at UK record listings, if applicable, for your chosen subject area or click on the card catalogue for a full listing of all types of available records that are included. If you are lucky with this search, you may well then be able to trace probate and will records on the National Archives’ web site. There are also appropriate leaflets explaining such records in more detail on this site:

Conveyancing documents and title deeds

These can be difficult to trace outside of lockdown and would involve, for the Bradford area, a trip to Wakefield District Archives, Registry of Deeds, for the period before 1970 in most instances and contacting The Nottingham (West)District Land Registry, for property built after 1974.  However, records are not accessible freely online so the next best thing for properties built before 1970 is the available study of tithe maps.   The location manorial records such as tenancy lists, rentals, survey maps and estate documents to search outside lockdown can be discovered at and for enclosure awards by searching local archive catalogues online. It’s also worth noting that land registration was not compulsory until 1990 and that voluntary registration began only in 1863. The National Archives has information guides for tracing deeds, see:

Early records: tithe awards

Tithe maps produced after the Tithe Commutation Act of 1836, together with the Tithe Award, give information about the township at the time and the tithes due from it to the Church. From the related apportionments you can get the owner/occupiers’ name, description of land and premises, extent and use of land. Some local tithe maps are available at

Other tax records

For other land tax and window tax (from 1696) assessments see the National Archives web site. Also see Hearth Tax online at  . When searching these you need to know the wapentake for your house location. Bradford was in Morley, Bingley in Skyrack and Keighley was in East Staincliffe,  for a full listing see the following: . Genuki holds a lot of   information that will prove very useful in your research , including a number of links to other useful sites.

Local Newspapers Online

Yes, they are available online and many are on the 19th Century newspapers from the British Library through Bradford Libraries digital library now available to all Bradford Libraries’ card holders from home. You may even find a report of a relevant court case or an obituary. Local publications include The Bradford Observer 1834-1875, The Leeds Mercury 1807-1900 and The Northern Star 1838-1852. The text is searchable in a variety of ways including keywords or topics.

You can access it from home via the Bradford Libraries website. Go to, click on Digital Library and scroll down to ‘Nineteenth Century Newspapers’. You will then need to enter your library ticket number without any letters.

Here’s hoping this short outline has been of help and inspires you to further explore this subject area online and in fact all the information available for local historical research on the Bradford Libraries’ web site.

New TV Programme

 If you would like to simply enjoy watching someone else do the work, the award-winning history format, A house Through Time, is returning to BBC2 this month with David Olusoga, historian and presenter.

Good luck and stay safe.

Gina Birdsall and Angela Speight

Treasure of the week no. 31: The hermit of Rumbold’s Moor – the story of old job senior

Old Job Senior, the Rumbold’s Moor Hermit. An account of his Eccentricities & Remarkable Life. Printed and published by Thomas Harrison, Queen Street, Bingley. c.1880. 14 pages. No author is given. The account includes a verse ‘Elegy by Silas Cryer. (Reference: JND 116/4)

Old Job is dead, that droll old man,

   We ne’er shall see him more;

He used to wear a drab old coat.

   With buttons and bands before.

A low crowned hat, with brim much torn,

   To keep his old head warm;

His clogs were made of blocks of wood;

   His stockings straw and yarn.

So opens this account of Old Joe Senior, the Hermit of Rumbold’s Moor. The poem continues with another seven verses describing Job’s ragged appearance.  Here we content ourselves with the accompanying engraving, which is graphic enough!

            Job was not always so scruffy, or a hermit. “When young, he was a good-looking and spruce young man, employed amongst the famers in the neighbourhood, driving the plowing team, &c, and afterwards became a regular farm servant about Ilkley.”

            He later went to Whitkirk, near Leeds, where he courted a young woman, the result of which he became a father. The Parish authorities made him ‘pay the smart’, which cleared him out of money. The young woman later refused to have anything to do with him, probably because Job “… had already acquired indifferent habits, losing his sprightliness of appearance, and becoming careless and unsteady.” He returned to Ilkley, and continued as a farm labourer, and in winter, wool combing.

[He later] became acquainted with an old widow, living alone in a cottage near Coldstone Beck, Burley Wood Head, on the borders of Rumbold’s Moor … her little cottage stood within a small garden, she also claimed an adjoining field which had been left by her husband, and which he had taken from the common. Old Job again fell in love – if not with the widow, probably with her property.

Job and the widow, Mary Barret, married; she was eighty, he about sixty. After Mary’s death, catastrophe struck. Mary’s relatives determined to rid the old man off the property. Job resisted, but one day he returned to the cottage to find it in ruins. Job then built himself a sort of kennel with the largest of the stones from the rubble. “Here he lived for many years, forlorn, and poor, and miserable, in a place scarcely fit for a pig, and here he remained nearly to the time of his death.” He grew potatoes and other food on his land.

            Job, however, was a fine singer, able to sing ‘in four voices’ – alto, treble, tenor and bass – which he claimed to have learnt at the Leeds Parish Church. He went about the country in the winter season and sung at such places as Headingly Gardens, the Woolsorters’ Gardens in Bradford, and was once fetched to sing at the theatre in Leeds. Athough he was generally well supported, he would sleep in any outbuilding or smith’s shop.

Old Job died aged 77 and was buried in Burley churchyard.


A walk with Sidney Jackson #4

How old does graffiti have to be before it stops being wilful damage and starts being a work of art, or a significant part of the historical record? In the Archaeology Group Bulletin of May 1964 Sidney Jackson included his drawing of a rock from the Silsden area which he had seen on the road between Silsden and West Morton. Does anyone recognise it? The figure that looks, to me, rather like a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police was seemingly a boy scout, or perhaps General Baden-Powell himself. The image was on a large, flat, gritstone rock and SJ commented that ‘one needed a helicopter to do justice to such a subject’. He believed that the rather enigmatic inscription at the bottom were letters worn away by weathering and defacement by passing feet. He was keen to hear the full story of the carving.

Several correspondents later contacted him to confirm that the carving did show Lord Baden-Powell together with the Scouts’ motto ‘Be Prepared’. Remarkably they stated that the work was effected with a nail and a stone by a boy called Randolph Churchill Longbottom of Jay Tail Farm, who grew up to be the sculptor of the lions in City Square, Leeds. It is many years since I lived in Leeds but to me City Square is the area between the railway station and the post-office. It contains several fine statues including nymphs by Alfred Drury, and Edward the Black Prince by Thomas Brock: but no lions. To the best of my knowledge, the lions outside Leeds Town Hall (which since they are of Portland limestone are suffering from serious stone erosion) were created by William Day Keyworth in the 1860s, long before the Boy Scouts were thought of.

Ancestry UK is very helpful in such circumstances and could normally be accessed free in the Bradford Local Studies Library. A Randolph Longbottom existed and was born in Silsden around 1886-87. He did live with his parents at Jay Tail Farm and was still there, aged 14, at the time of the 1901 census, his father having died. It seems that he moved to Leeds and in the 1911 census is recorded as being a stone carver. He later married Carrie Gaunt in Leeds and died there in 1933. On his death probate was granted for substantially more than £1000 so he must have made a success of the stone carving. The story that SJ reported would seem to be at least partially confirmed. Does anyone know more?

A walk with Sidney Jackson #3

If you had participated on one of Sidney Jackson’s walks across an upland area near Bradford he certainly would have pointed out to you any cup and ring marked stones (petroglyphs or inscribed stones) that you passed. In this article I have included a beautiful drawing SJ made of such a stone on High Moor, near Keighley and two of my photographs of well-known examples on Baildon Moor. I must be honest and say that I am in a minority but I don’t share the enthusiasm that many people evidently feel for these objects. My main interest is in Industrial Archaeology so that I visit Baildon Moor for its treasure house of quarries and coal shafts rather than insights into pre-history. There is an inscribed stone quite near in Northcliffe Woods but its main value to me is to indicate that a glacial erratic gritstone boulder has been on the surface in this position for 4000 years.

Inscribed stones, which are still commonly called cup and ring marked stones, are founded all over upland Britain. There must be scores in the Bradford area alone and I have personally seen them as far north as Shetland. They are certainly found in most other parts of Atlantic Europe, and also in Italy and Greece. Whether they were ever found in lowland areas I am not sure. Perhaps in such locations they would not have survived several millennia of agricultural practices. The dramatic changes to the landscape means that stones found on bleak upland areas today might well have been created in warmer wooded conditions. Dating unreadable inscriptions clearly presents difficulties but inscribed stones are generally regarded as Neolithic or Early Bronze Age in date, say 4000-2000 BCE.

Creating them by ‘pecking’ out material from the naturally occurring rock faces would not have been too difficult but remember that we may not be seeing the stones in their original form. There would be a degree of subsequent natural weathering in any case. SJ reports moving one on Baildon Moor to protect it, and one of his correspondents reports using modern tools to make the marks more obvious. Please never undertake either of such actions. The meaning of the carvings is not known although there have been many speculations: territory markers, memorials, star-maps? Could they really have had the same meaning throughout the extensive areas of Europe in which they are found?

The meaning of the carvings is not the only mystery. The great archaeologist Sir Mortimer Wheeler spent part of his boyhood in Bradford. In his autobiography, Still Digging, he mentioned being taken by his father to see a cup and ring marked stone in Hirst Wood, Shipley. He even wrote to the Archaeology Group Bulletin in February 1964 to confirm his memory. This would have been before the Great War but it is disappointing to report that nobody, including Sidney Jackson, has ever been able to find it since. But the truth is out there.

Treasure of the week no. 30: Quit rents, happy money and Queen Elizabeth’s dole: Bradford charities get a visit from Arthur

The Charities of Bradford. Government Inquiry by Arthur Cardew, Barrister at Law. 1894.

(Information reprinted from the Bradford Observer newspaper by William Byles and Sons.)

JND 18/15 (Please quote this number when the Local Studies library reopens if requesting this item.)

At ten o’clock on Tuesday, January 23rd, 1894, Arthur Cardew, Esq., Barrister-at-Law, Assistant Commissioner, opened an inquiry in Bradford’s town hall. This was on behalf of the Charity Commission who had been asked to look into all charities within the County Borough of Bradford, under the Charitable Trusts Acts 1853 to 1891, and the Charities Inquiries (Expenses) Act, 1892. The inquiry was instigated by the Bradford Council so as to ensure that local charities conformed to recent legislative changes.  Among those in the large attendance were the Mayor of Bradford (James Whitley), two aldermen (Smith Feather and William Lister), the Town Clerk, the Deputy Town Clerk, and two MPs (A. Illngworth and W .P. Byles).

The Town Council had originally thought to examine a few old-established and parochial charities, but the Charity Commission wanted all charities included so that the result would be a complete report valuable for future reference. [Like now!] The charities included large ones such as the Infirmary and the Grammar Schools which had from time to time had endowments given to them as sums of money to be invested and treated as capital. There were also many smaller charities. Over the years practice had varied and there had been occasional suspicions of financial malpractice and partiality. The Town Clerk took it that this inquiry was just to collect information and embody it in a report. The Commissioner assented. [The meeting must have breathed a sigh of relief to hear this, though some charity trustees were given a rough ride!]

Forty-eight charities were examined, ranging from the Grammar Schools, with benefactors such as John Crosse, Henry Brown, Titus Salt and S. C. Lister; the Bradford Infirmary; orphanages, convalescent homes, places of worship, and The Organists’ Charity. Information about their foundation, financial information and management were all investigated. For the information of researchers today, all 48 charities are listed here. Collectively they indicate how much education, health and social welfare in Victorian Bradford owe to charitable activity.

The term ‘Happy Money’ came from the fact that the collector of rents for ‘The Poors’ Estate and Quit Rent’ (No. 3 below) was Mr Henry Happy! Of interest to local historians is that one of the council officials much involved in this inquiry was Thomas Empsall, whose large collection of books on local history was acquired by Bradford Libraries after his death.


  1. The Free Grammar School, including the scholarships of John Crosse, Henry Brown, Titus Salt, and S. C. Lister.
  2. The Girls’ Grammar School, including the scholarships of Henry Brown and Titus Salt.
  3. The Poors’ Estate and Quit Rents.
  4. Richard Pollard’s Charity.
  5. Mary Ann Jowett’s Charity.
  6. William Field’s, or the Black Abbey Dole.
  7. Thomas Farrand’s Charity.
  8. Elizabeth Wadsworth’s Charity for Bradford Township.
  9. John Appleyard’s Charity.
  10. The Rev. Dr. Jobson’s Fund.
  11. The Organists’ Charity.
  12. Susannah Stott’s Charity.
  13. The Bradford Lectureship.
  14. William Wilson’s Charity.
  15. Benjamin Illingworth’s Charity.
  16. Mechanics’ Institute: Brown’s Endowment.
  17. General Infirmary: Endowments of Musgrave, Semon, Leather, and Brown.
  18. Fever Hospital: Nutter’s Endowment.
  19. Eye and Ear Hospital: Semon’s Endowment.
  20. Woodlands Convalescent Home: Nutter’s Endowment.
  21. Orphanage for Boys: Nutter’s Endowment.
  22. Orphan Home for Girls: Nutter’s Endowment.
  23. Nutter’s Scholarship Charity.
  24. Tradesmen’s Benevolent Institution: Nutter’s Endowment and Brown’s Endowment.
  25. Tradesmen’s Home: Brown’s Endowment and Wright’s Endowment.
  26. Spinsters’ Endowment Fund: Brown’s Endowment.
  27. John Harrison’s Charity for the Blind.
  28. Samuel Broadley’s Charities.
  29. Bailey’s Endowment for Minister of Westgate Baptist Chapel.
  30. Endowment of Old and New Wesleyan Chapels at Bradford Moor.
  31. Endowment of Manchester Road Primitive Methodist Chapel.
  32. Endowment of Salem Congregational Chapel in Manor Row.
  33. Endowment of Kirkgate Wesleyan Chapel.
  34. Endowment of Eastbrook Wesleyan Chapel.
    34A. Holling’s Charity for Friend’s Meeting House.

Township of Allerton

  1. James Sagar’s Charity.
  2. The British School.

Township of Bowling

  1. Endowment of Dudley Hill Wesleyan Chapel and School.

Township of Horton

  1. John Ashton’s Charity.
  2. Elizabeth Rand’s Charity.
  3. Dixon’s Charity for Chapel Lane Chapel.
  4. Endowment of Great Wesleyan Chapel.

Township of Manningham

  1. Elizabeth Rand’s Charity.

Parish of Calverley

  1. Queen Elizabeth’s Dole.

Township of Pudsey

  1. Lipton’s Charity.
  2. Gibson’s Charity.
  3. Neville’s Charity.
  4. Simpson’s and Hay’s Charity
  5. Elizabeth Wadsworth’s Charity for Calverley Township.


A walk with Sidney Jackson #2

SJ would certainly have told us that during a walk you can never look too hard at the constituent parts of a dry-stone wall. Most readers will know that Bradford once had two great iron works at Bowling and Low Moor. The blast furnaces were fed by local iron ore found in the roof of the Black Bed coal seam, and coke made from the deeper Better Bed coal. As the mineral resources in the neighbourhood of the iron works were worked out great networks of tramways, or mineral lines, grew up to transport the precious commodities from further and further afield. Naturally the lines rested on sleepers which in this area are likely to have been made of stone. I have never been lucky to locate any of these myself but most of my walking is done in north Bradford where mining was uninfluenced by the iron works. In the Archaeology Group Bulletin of March 1964 SJ published his drawing of stone sleepers from East Bierley which seemingly had been found on a wall top. He gave approximate dimensions of 20 by 12 by 8 inches and described the rails themselves, long vanished of course, as being of cast iron and approximately one yard in length. Cast iron was brittle and consequently wrought iron, and then steel, were preferable for railway tracks.

Stone Sleepers

In the article it is suggested that pits at East Bierley supplied Low Moor ironworks but it seems that this wasn’t the case. At the time SJ wrote Derek Pickles was already working on his very detailed study of Bowling Iron Company’s mineral tramways, now curated by Bradford Industrial Museum.

East Bierley tramways

He recorded that ‘in 1839 the company leased 1200 acres of land in Toftshaw and Hunsworth from the Earl of Scarborough, and began to work pits in the area’. Bore hole reports available from the British Geological Survey suggest that Shertcliffe Coal was at 30m depth in this area, and was widely exploited. The fact that there were also ironstone miners and ironstone pits in East Bierley suggests that the ironstone containing Black Bed Coal seam was also being accessed about 67m below the Shertcliffe Coal. Derek Pickles reported that the Bowling Iron Company already had shafts of 95m depth to reach the Better Bed coal but when it ‘extended its operations into Hunsworth, Toftshaw and Tong much larger and deeper pits were sunk’.

Treasure of the week no. 29: A free library for Bradford

Report of the Finance and General Purposes Committee as to the operation of the Free Libraries Act.1868.  Printed by M. Field of Bradford. 23 pages.

JND 1/12 (Please quote this number if requesting this item when we reopen again.)

At a meeting of Bradford’s Finance and General Purposes Committee, held on 6th March, 1868, it was ‘Resolved that the Report of the Sub-Committee on the proposed Free Library, now read, be and the same is hereby approved, and adopted, and that the same be presented to the Council at their next Meeting … . (W. T. McGowen, Town Clerk.)’ The Council did approve the report and Bradford’s ‘Free’ (i.e. ‘Public’) Library opened in 1872.

The Sub-Committee was appointed ‘to inquire into and report upon, the working of the Free Public Libraries Act, in those Towns in which the Act is now in force.’ The Chair was John V. Godwin, an active proponent of Free Libraries. The public library is now very much part of the social landscape, but before the Public Library Act of 1850 people had to pay a subscription to use a library, either by becoming a member of an organisation, such as the Literary and Library Society, or by using a commercial ‘circulating’ library. The move to provide libraries ‘on the rates’ was hotly contested, especially by the limited number of those wealthy enough to pay for them! So the acceptance of the report was a momentous event.

The Sub-Committee had contacted 13 of the 28 towns in England and Scotland which had adopted the Act. To a list of twenty-one questions, “replies were furnished in the most cheerful and courteous manner.” The report had three tables. One gave the dates when the Act was adopted, composition of the management body, whether both Lending and Consulting (i.e. Reference) libraries were established and what other libraries existed in their area. Second: the amount produced by the rates, cost of land, buildings and books, and how met. Third: Opening hours, number of volumes, issues, security and loss. There were also statistics on art galleries.

The libraries consulted were Bolton, Cambridge, Oxford, Blackburn, Liverpool, Sheffield, Cardiff, Birmingham, Airdrie, Manchester and Salford. Much can be learned from these tables about the concerns people had about how a ‘free’ library would work, and about the early history of public libraries. Particularly interesting are the occupations of users, and what sort of books libraries stocked. Liverpool had a reading room that held 600 people, and the most consulted reference source were Patent Specifications.



View more historical images of Bradford Libraries across the years here:



VE Day

In the small hours of the morning of 7 May 1945, General Alfred Jodl signed an  unconditional surrender. The lack of any official confirmation or announcement left some uncertainty about when VE Day would be held. Nevertheless, there was a steady demand for flags and flags went up on various prominent buildings. The 9 o’clock news of that evening announced that the next day 8 May was to be the VE Day holiday.

Although relief from the immediate threat was apparent, it was fully realised that this was only one stage in the end of the war. Many people celebrated with bonfires and for the younger children it was the first time they had seen a bonfire.

At 3.00pm people gathered to hear Mr Churchill’s announcement. The King’s speech came at 9.00pm.

In Bradford there was a parade in the morning followed by a service of thanksgiving at the cathedral. In the evening the Town Hall was illuminated with a sign 1939 – 1945 and an illumination of Churchill.

In Keighley a battalion of the Durham Light Infantry who had been stationed in the district for some months held a thanksgiving service in Victoria Park. After the service a wreath was laid on the cenotaph in Town Hall Square by two officers of the battalion.

In the afternoon drenching rain sent everybody indoors but the weather cleared towards the evening.

In Ilkley a bonfire was lit in the Holmes field at 10.00pm by four men who had recently returned from prisoner of war camps. Before the fire was lit, the chairman of the UD Council, Mr Milnes, speaking from a loud-speaker van said: ‘Generations to come will read the records of our country’s achievements with wonder and admiration…after nearly six years of bitter struggle and achievement, it is fitting that on this day of victory we should rejoice that bloodshed has ceased in Europe and in this country, but our rejoicing should be tempered by the  knowledge that our men are still fighting in the East, and neither must we forget on this day all those who have suffered and those who will not return.’ (Ilkley Gazette)

Take a look at this fascinating short film from the British Film Institute here:

V.E. Day Civic Service, Bradford

Images thanks to Keighley News and Ilkley Gazette

Caroline Brown

Keighley News 5th May 1945: Keighley Plan for VE Day

The second in our features to mark VE Day focuses on the Keighley News edition of 5th May 1945. The paper starts with all of the regular small advertisements, public information and local minutiae. The Hippodrome is showing ‘the great thriller Dr Jeckyll and Mr Hyde’ with The Picture House offering ‘Dark Victory’ starring Bette Davis.


It is not until page 5 that the article ‘Keighley Plan for VE day’ appears: ‘Service of Thanks and Decorations’.

Kly News 05 May 1945 service of thanks and decorations shortened version

Two proposals were approved by Keighley Town Council for recognising VE Day – a public thanksgiving service and an expenditure of £40 to cover the cost of decorations in the centre of the town.

The general mood of the time was that this was only one stage in the end of the war and that it would be a mistake to celebrate prematurely. ‘Mr E Rollinson said he felt there was a ground for a quiet sober rejoicing, but he did not want to see celebrations extend to junketings’. Alderman J Denby remarked that he had a son, a son-in-law and a nephew serving in India and the Far East and said he could hardly rejoice while they were still facing death and ‘Mrs McNulty said she thought there was ample cause for thanksgiving when VE Day came, but celebrations and rejoicings ought to wait until all hostilities ceased’.

Nevertheless at Keighley Borough Court, the Chairman Mr Frank Waller made an announcement affecting licensees on VE Day: Extensions from 10pm to 11pm on VE Day were granted to all licensees on applications being made to the Clerk but ‘no application will be granted for the afternoon break or for the day following VE Day’.

Kly News 05 May 1945 VE Day food 1

In Bingley a bonfire was planned on Druids Altar followed by an impromptu programme of children’s sports with tea and buns.

You can read the whole edition of the Keighley News from 5 May 1945 here (PDF)

Images Reproduced by kind permission of Keighley News.



VE Day Celebrations: Food in WW2

 This week we are featuring a series of posts about food during WW2, a subject very close to our hearts especially in these times of Covid-19.

Please join in by sharing with us your favourite wartime recipes and photographs of your home cooking to our Facebook page:

We start with an extract from the book ‘Ilkley at War’ by Caroline Brown.

Children’s War: Communal Feeding Centres

In the months before the outbreak of war, plans were made for the establishment of feeding centres to provide meals for large groups of evacuated children, schoolchildren and their teachers. The general view was that these canteens were providing a National Service because to cook for a greater number of people would amount to less cost per head. A mid-day meal was provided at 6d per head for children and 8d for adults. Householders who had received evacuees were not obliged to send the children to the communal feeding centres. The responsibility for these canteens was placed by the Ministry of Health upon the Urban and Rural District Councils on whose behalf the WVS organised the arrangements and provided the staff. The centres served a 3 course meal; a sample menu might consist of soup followed by fish pie and boiled beetroot or stewed steak and onions. The meal would be finished off with a pudding such as jam tart or queen pudding. Burley’s Communal Feeding Centre was organised in Salem Church Hall. At Menston a canteen at Kirklands, catering for 60 children, opened in October 1939.

Initially, a feeding centre had been established at Ilkley in the Winter Garden but the hall was in demand for a variety of other uses, including a reception centre for evacuees and a children’s clinic. There was some feeling locally that the arrangements for the evacuees were taking precedence over those for local people. In October 1939 some of these issues were raised at the meeting of the Ilkley Urban District Council including complaints that: ‘they were going to give clinic treatment on one floor with the smell of Irish stew coming from down below.’ The Winter Garden was abandoned as a feeding centre and later in the month Ross Bros. Garage on Wharfe View Road was requisitioned for communal feeding. The centre opened in November with provision for feeding over 300 schoolchildren, evacuees and teachers. There was also a canteen for adult evacuees and any government workers such as ARP, WVS and the Fire Brigade. In July 1940, the Dowager Marchioness of Reading, Chair of the WVS, inspected the Ilkley communal feeding centre and declared that it was the best feeding centre she had seen anywhere in the British Isles. On another occasion another appreciative comment was made by one of the diners at the centre: ‘You get plenty to eat and it is good but we don’t like tin plates. For sixpence it is a fine meal.’ However, the WVS kitchen workers were less happy with the experience and asked that more responsibility should be shouldered by the women evacuees: ‘few have as yet helped with the cooking, serving and washing up. Most of them appear to take things for granted and sit comfortably back with their cigarettes while their hostesses do the work.’

By July 1943, as a result of the easing of local Civil Defence duties, the feeding centres were closed to all but evacuees, school children and teachers and at the beginning of January 1945 the administration of the feeding centres was handed over to the West Riding Education Authority.

‘Ilkley at War’ by Caroline Brown, Tempus, 2006, 9780752441914. All rights reserved.


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