Map of the week: The Bull’s Head Inn, Westgate

It is relatively unusual to be able to match plans with a surviving drawing. The first image is a map in the Local Studies Library reserve collection which plots a strip of land extending from Westgate, near the city centre, down to the old goit which once supplied the Soke Mill (or Queen’s Mill) with water. Very helpfully it unmistakably identifies a building called the Bull’s Head Inn.


In the second map from the same collection I have hatched the buildings concerned to place them in a more general view of this part of Bradford in the years 1870-80. The creation of new thoroughfares, and extensive building redevelopment, results in a very different street pattern today.


William Scruton, in his Pen & Pencil Pictures of Old Bradford included an illustration of the Bull’s Head itself. In this third image you may just be able to make out the design on the tavern sign. Neither drawing nor plans can be later than 1886 by which time the inn was no longer in existence, but it is likely that they are approximately contemporary. I know that there were other Bull’s Heads in Great Horton, Baildon, Thornton and Halifax and for this reason it is important compare images to check that everything matches up. The prominent features in the drawing are the projecting windows on either side of the door and the arched passageway which gave access to the rear of the property which was known as Bull’s Head Yard. These features are replicated in the plan, so there really can be little doubt that we are looking at a single building.


Scruton says that at one time in front of this inn was a ring for bull-baiting, which presumably provided its name. Close-by was the town pillory in which offenders were manacled while being subject to the abuse of passers-by who could hurl eggs or fruit at them. I have seen a watercolour print which places the pillory on a wooden stage just about where the figure is sitting. This form of punishment was outlawed in 1830 and bull-baiting was forbidden after 1835. The Victorian historian William Cudworth, in his own account of the inn, doesn’t mention ball-baiting but says that in front of it was a market with rows of butchers’ stalls; another possible source for the name then. Whatever the truth there is not much doubt that Scruton was thinking of the situation in the late eighteenth century. At that time the Bull’s Head was used by merchants, manufacturers and woolstaplers. The first Bradford Club was founded there, according to Cudworth, in 1760. By the early nineteenth century a Mrs Duckitt was the host. She was apparently famous for her rum punch, which isn’t a beverage that I have ever tried. An Act of Parliament in 1805 appointed commissioners for levying rates and improving Bradford roads and lighting. These commissioners, a sort of primitive town council, met at the Bull’s Head. In some ways it was our first Town Hall. Apparently 60 years before Scruton’s book was published, which would therefore be in the 1830s, the inn was also a rendezvous for town and country musicians.

Inns are usually easy to trace in other Local Studies  resources such as trade directories and newspapers. I only wish I had more time for a more detailed study. The 1818 and 1822 commercial directories place Jeremiah Illingworth in charge at the Bull’s Head. It seems then to have then doubled as an Excise Office. In 1829 Hannah Illingworth, perhaps Jeremiah’s widow, ran the establishment which was clearly a large one since on one occasion in 1834 no less that fifty friends of Airedale College dined there together. On the other hand there are reports of fights in the street outside, and in 1837 a licenced hawker, Henry Stephens by name, was fined the huge sum of £10 for trying to sell a watch and razors in the bar parlour. Later that same year Joseph Sugden, who was now in charge, was reported as providing another excellent dinner, this time for 56 members of the Ancient Order of Oddfellows. Acceptable early Victorian dinners always seem to be described as ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ for some reason.

At the time of the 1850 Ibbetson directory Joseph Sugden was still the host. Manufacturers from outside Bradford would attend an inn on a regular basis so that they could be easily found if you wished to transact business. Among textile men at the Bull’s Head you could find John Anderton, manufacturer of Harden, and Samuel Dawson of Wakefield. Other visitors were Messrs Pilling, corn millers, and John Hirst, land agent, who attended on Thursdays. The LSL offers free access to the family history site Ancestry.UK and using this site it is not hard to find Joseph Sugden (47) in the 1851 Bradford census. He lives with his wife Sarah and two children, together with a charwoman, an ostler, and three servants. I assume he would also have non-resident staff. His immediate neighbours are: booksellers, druggists, drapers and plumbers.

Some of Sugden’s patrons must surely have come from the surrounding streets where wool-combing was a very common occupation. This trade was on the verge of being destroyed by the mechanical wool-combs developed in Bradford by Samuel Cunliffe Lister and Isaac Holden. The habits of those patrons is hinted at by the fact that in 1869 Thomas Burrows was arrested in Bull’s Head Yard in possession of two spittoons, thought to be the property of Thomas Waterhouse, then of the Inn. It remained a significant local building and in 1874 the Bradford Musical Union dined there, inviting the Mayor and local jeweller Manoah Rhodes as guests. I have followed entries for the inn in the Bradford Observer up to 1875, when it was being used for election candidates’ addresses.

The Bull’s Head is on the same alignment as Westgate, as indeed are all neighbouring premises. The rear yards however are aligned as an angle to the thoroughfare. This is also true in the much older 1800 map of Bradford. The yards and properties are running south-west following even earlier field boundaries. You may be able to see that the first map has been annotated in pencil. The annotations are not generally legible but they would appear to indicate the types of premises found in Bull’s Head Yard. The only proprietor I can be certain of is a Mrs Smiddles who ran a tripe shop, but there are also sheds and stables. I haven’t been very successful in tracking down any other businesses based there. In 1850 John Hebden, fishmonger, gave this address but the 1851 census shows he was actually living nearby in Reform Street which is clearly shown in the second map. Perhaps he had a shop in the yard combined with a house entered from the next street. In 1857 Tennand, Hall & Hill of Manchester, who were tanners and curriers, advertised that they visited Bull’s Head Yard weekly.

The Bull’s Head at 11 Westgate was still run by Joseph Sugden according to a 1866 trade directory. It is listed under the name J Halliday in the directory of 1879-80. In the directory of 1883 the inn is missing. The Lord of the Manor had the medieval right to a corn-milling monopoly at the Soke Mill, which had stood above Aldermanbury for centuries. Bradford Corporation bought out this right in 1870. In the mid 1870s clearance of much of the property in this area began, and modern Godwin Street was created. At the top of the first plan the elevation of various points is related to Sun Bridge Road. This would have been relevant during such a period of development. Does any of this area survive? I would imagine that everything was destroyed when Godwin Street was brought up to intersect with Westgate. Walking along Godwin Street and Sackville Street today, both in reality and using Google Earth, I cannot persuade myself that any of the mapped buildings are still present. But I should so very much like to be proved wrong.


Derek Barker, Local Studies Library Volunteer

Book Review – Alfred John Brown, Walker, Writer and Passionate Yorkshireman

Alfred John Brown: Walker, Writer and Passionate Yorkshireman,
by John A White (Author)

Readers of our blog may recall that in August 2015 we featured an exhibition in Burley library about local poet and writer Alfred John Brown. Now a new book about ‘AJB’ as he was affectionately known, has been published by John A. White.


The author, John Anthony White was born in 1945 in Bradford where he attended St. Bede’s RC Grammar School. He took retirement from an academic career in 2003 when he developed an interest in the Yorkshire topographical writers, discovered Alfred John Brown and spent several years investigating his life and works, which culminated in this biography. He now has a renewed interest in rambling, an activity he first enjoyed in his former scouting days, and has often toured around Yorkshire in his renovated VW camper van to follow in the footsteps of ‘AJB’.

Alfred John Brown, ‘Yorkshire’s Tramping Author’ was a Bradford businessman living in Burley who began writing while recovering from illness during the First World War. He is best known for his classic topographical books about walking in the Yorkshire Dales but he also wrote semi-autobiographical novels, personal stories and verse.

Bradford Local Studies library has a good collection of his books including ‘Tramping in Yorkshire’, ‘Striding through Yorkshire’, ‘Poems and Songs’ and ‘Broad Acres’ as well as ‘Four Boon Fellows’ about a 100 mile weekend walk one Easter weekend from Barnard Castle to Ilkley.

This biographical account tells the fascinating story of this prodigious walker, prolific writer and passionate Yorkshireman who became a cult figure with iconic status in his day. It portrays the details of the intriguing life events which influenced his literary works and describes the complex character of one of the most widely read authors about his beloved Yorkshire.

Below is an extract from the book:

‘Alfred regarded ‘God’s Own Country’ of Yorkshire as more of a kingdom than just a country, and was of the opinion that: ‘If you took all the best parts of every country in England, and put them together, you would have something resembling Yorkshire.’ He was the most robust of walkers and covered almost the entire length and breadth of his beloved country on foot.’

 Finally a few words from ‘AJB’ himself:

‘…always one must keep one’s eyes fixed sharply on some directing point on the horizon, and reach it, or risk being benighted in the high secret places. In these wild delectable places, the difficulty is not where to go, but where not to go, once you are in the high places. As like as not, you will find yourself torn asunder with doubts and conflicting desires; like me, you will want to walk north, south, east and west at the same moment, and in such crisis the best way out is to shut your eyes and let your legs decide.’  (Alfred John Brown, Twin Joys’)

Keighley and District Family History Society – Programme of Talks 2017

All talks are held in the Keighley Local Studies Library and begin at 7.30pm

Admission fees; Members £1; Non Members £2.50

Date Subject Speaker
January 9 The Great War on the Home Front Ian Dewhirst
February 6 The English Woollen Industry 1500 – 1750 Edgar Holroyd – Doveton
March 6 Annual General Meeting + Tips and problem Solving  
April 3 Murder in the Victorian family Martin Baggoley
May 8 Searching Surnames; Challenges Pitfalls & Downright Ridiculous Kirsty Gray
June 5 Transport in Keighley Graham Mitchell
August Summer Evening Meal  
September 4 The Golden Age of Postcards Graham Hall
October 2 The Murgatroyds of East Riddlesden Hall Patricia Atkinson
November 6 Off At A Tangent Mary Twentyman
December 4 The Ferrands of St Ives Bingley Susan Hart




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.

Brief History of the Bradford Institution 

JND 193/5 (Please quote this number if requesting to consult this leaflet) 

Pamphlet volume JND 193 is titled ‘Bradford Tracts 1875-1885’. It contains 38 items ranging from booklets of 76 pages to several leaflets of only four. Item number 5 is one of the latter, well, just three pages actually. Yet it contains much useful information on the history of an important Bradford institution, the Mechanics’ Institute.

The Institute was founded on the 14th February, 1832, though an earlier attempt had been made in 1825. There were three objectives:

  1. The provision of an extensive and well-selected library for the use of all members and subscribers [Bradford’s public library was not founded for another 40 years];
  2. The supply of popular and attractive instruction through the medium of public Lectures;
  3. Foundation of Classes under well-qualified masters, in which every facility should be afforded for pursuing the various branches of useful knowledge.

The growth of the Institute was rapid. Purpose-built premises were opened in 1840 at the junction of Well Street with Leeds Road, with an extension added in 1852. A much larger building was opened in 1871 bounded by Tyrrell Street, Bridge Street and Market Street.

The building, which stands upon an area of 1,000 square yards, contains elementary class-rooms for study of the sciences and higher branches, capable of seating upwards of 700 students, a School of Art … for 200 pupils; a large Reading Room supplied with telegraphic intelligence, 20 daily papers, 37 weekly papers, and 40 monthly and quarterly periodicals; a well-selected Library containing 12,000 volumes; a Lecture Hall seating 1,500. 

This fine building was demolished as part of the post-war re-development of Bradford.

There are many other sources of information about the ‘BMI’, but one feature of particular interest in this slim leaflet is a list of the classes operating in 1876, together with the teachers and average attendances. The classes were:

Elementary Grammar
Elementary Geography
Phonographic Shorthand
Grammar and Composition
Plane and Solid Geometry
Machine Construction
Building Construction
Acoustics, Light and Heat
Magnetism and Electricity
Inorganic Chemistry
Organic Chemistry
Animal Physiology
Elementary Botany

There were sub-divisions of some of these classes, and some exclusively for females.

(The Library of the Bradford Mechanics’ Institute still exists, one of only two in the country – the other is at Epworth – and is located on Kirkgate.)


Local Studies Library Volunteer

Map of the Week: Bailiff Bridge



Map of the week: Bailiff Bridge

Local history is so much easier to study if you are equipped with local knowledge. Unfortunately, even close to Bradford, there are communities which I scarcely know at all. Bailiff Bridge’s name presumably partially derives from the bridges built over the Wyke Beck at this point. It was notable, over many years, for the presence of Firth’s carpet mill but a lovely map from the LSL’s reserve collection long pre-dates this period. Like the previous plan of Manningham the first problem is how to orientate the map. North is not at the top and the Wyke Beck drawn here in reality runs approximately north-west, not due west as the map appears to suggest. If you rotate the map 45° clockwise the Wyke Beck is in the correct position and now at the bottom right of the map there is a prominent V made by the turnpike to Huddersfield and what is now Wakefield Road. The only problem is that this manoeuvre displaces the road from Bradford and Wyke (Wike) which is already in approximately in the correct position.

The presence of the ‘new turnpike road to Huddersfield’ is helpful for dating purposes. The Halifax, Bradford, Leeds turnpike was being planned and constructed in the mid-1820s. Clearly this, and the section to Huddersfield, was completed by the time the map was surveyed, which probably dates it to the early 1830s. We can reasonably assume that the collection of stables and farm buildings in the centre of the map preceded the roads since they are not at all on the same alignment. There is a public house drawn although not named. I made some progress with its name after computer searching nineteenth century newspapers, an electronic resource that Bradford Libraries provides. The Leeds Mercury reports that on various occasions in the period 1813-16 those executing the Wyke Inclosure Act met at the house of James Pollard, The Bailiff Bridge Inn, township of Wyke, in the parish of Birstal. Five years later similar reports of property sales in the area indicate that they took place at the ‘Punch Bowl Inn’. I assume that these two places are the same. At any event the Punch Bowl Inn must be correct because this features at the right location in the first OS map of the area, surveyed in the late 1840s.

I assume that the reservoir mentioned here is the mill dam (or pond on the OS map) and the mill itself is clearly marked as you can see. Clearly this is a water powered corn mill, and an on-line resource (Malcolm Bull’s Calderdale Companion) states that one Jonas Wright was a corn dealer here in 1822 and further that the mill was owned by the notable Richardson family of Bierley Hall, Bradford. Our map shows the tail race or goit, called here the ‘tail goight’, returning water to the beck. The second detail from the map shows another goit conveying water to the mill dam. Among other features of this delightful map are an overflow from the mill dam to the watercourse, an ancient fence, and an area of disputed land. Adjacent to the mill is a kiln. What is this: a brick kiln, a pottery kiln, a lime kiln, or a malting kiln? A malting kiln, drying germinated barley into malt, seems most probable. There would be a ready use for this commodity if the pub did its own brewing. Again the Leeds Mercury is helpful. In 1832 there is an advertisement concerning ‘Bailiff Bridge near Brighouse’ where at the Punch Bowl Inn there was a sale of land by auction. Lot 2 consisted of a dye-house, bleaching works, and a close of land. There is a comment to the effect that ‘this lot may be turned into a malt kiln and brewery’. Perhaps it was. Incidentally at this early date bleaching involved spreading damp cloths outside to be exposed to the sun. ‘Bleach fields’ were employed for this purpose.

By the time of the first OS map our corn mill seems to have remained while Holme Mill (woollen) and Bailiff Bridge Mill (woollen & cotton) have been newly constructed. But there are a few other events in the history of Bailiff Bridge that I must record. In 1839 there was a steeplechase held there. Four horses competed over a 3¼ mile course, and 14 subscribers invested 5 guineas in the event. Mr E. Dyson’s ‘Sir Mark’ won. Mr Wheatley a veterinary surgeon, presumably overcome by the excitement of the event, mislaid a brown bull and a terrier dog called Crab. He advertised for their safe return in the Leeds Mercury, and I do hope he got them back. Finally in ‘the year of revolution’, 1848, the Bradford Observer reported that HW Ripley had erected a school-room in Bailiff Bridge. Sir Henry Ripley (1813-82), as he became, was the principle partner in the Bowling Dyeworks and was eventually a very wealthy man. Some years after the gift of the school he constructed the workers’ village of Ripleyville, which has a good claim to be Bradford’s own Saltaire. When the school was opened Rev J Glyde addressed a celebratory meeting on the subject of education. Jonathan Glyde was the minister of Horton Lane Chapel with an enviable record of concern for society’s less advantaged. The school was just erected in time to feature on the first OS map and must have been roughly where the upper hatched block is on the road to Wyke. If any reader knows this area well I should very much welcome further information.

Derek Barker, Local Studies Library Volunteer

Bradford Family History Society – A list of talks for 2017

Bradford Family History Society hold a programme of talks at:

Glyde House

Talks are held on Monday evenings, 7.00pm (tea and coffee), with a 7.30pm start, and Thursday mornings from 10.00am (tea and coffee) with a 10.30 start.

There is an admission charge of £1 for members and £2 for non-members.

Date Month Description Speaker
Thu 5 Jan “The Turnpike Road System in England for Local & Family Historians” – A general history of the Turnpike Road system in England, with connections to information and sources for the family historian Edgar Holroyd-Doveton
Mon 16 Jan A Mormon Pioneer – How did John Croft born in Bingley in 1836 become one of the leading Mormon pioneers of the time? From his ordinary start as the son of a husbandman to Salt Lake City, Utah. Gaynor Haliday
Thu 2 Feb “Returned to the Regiment” – The life story of Lt. Col. Sir Gilbert Mackereth M.C. who was one of the commanders of the 17th Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers in WW1.  In addition, the exhumation of his remains from his threatened grave in Spain and return of his cremated remains and medals to Bury Terry Dean
Feb Lies, Damned lies & Registration – This talk looks at some of the “mistakes” – deliberate or otherwise – that have occurred on birth, marriage and death certificates. Knowing the sort of lies that informant’s make might help you to work out what the truth really is. Barbara Dixon
Thu 2 Mar Speed leaning in the Local Studies Library – Come and learn about various sources for family history research. Committee
Mar Hats & Huts – An illustrated account of the YMCA civilian volunteers who travelled to France to run the canteens and recreation huts provided for the use of the ‘Tommies’ when they were away from the front line. Sue McGeever
Thu 6 Apr More Deadly than the Male – Unusual Roles performed by Women in 20th century Conflict – The talk spans both First and Second World Wars with references to post-war conflicts, and covers roles on land, at sea (and undersea), in the air, in clandestine roles and on the home front, with examples of roles which many will find impossible to believe. Phil Judkins
Apr AGM followed by ‘Adoption – an overview and guidance for the family historian’. Lorraine Birch
Thu 4 May Classic Yorkshire Crimes – The talk includes a number of murders from across the county including Eugene Aram, Mary Bateman, the Luddites of 1812-13 and the case of Jonathon Martin. Martin Baggoley
Mon 15 May An introduction to Heraldry for family historians – Often wonder what those patterns on knights’ shields are? Now is your chance. Gillian Waters
Thu 1 Jun Visit – Borthwick Institute and York – All day trip setting off at 9am, cost £5 for members and £10 for guests. Drop off at Borthwick Institute and York centre. Please book in advance.
Mon 19 Jun Quaker Origins in the North – The former President of Friends Historical Society, will talk about Quaker origins in the North in 17th century England, and will explain the various Quaker sources for family historians. David Boulton
Thu 6 Jul Early Asylum Life – The lives of just some of the patients admitted to the West Riding Pauper Lunatic Asylum in Wakefield, Yorkshire between 1818 and 1869 David Scrimgeour
Mon 17 Jul Visit – Undercliffe Cemetery – Meet at the Lodge, Undercliffe Lane Entrance at 6.30pm Neil McLellan
Thu 3 Aug Visit – Fulneck – Meet in the Car Park at 10:30am
Mon 21 Aug The Golden Era of Postcards – the late 19th century Graham Hall
Thu 7 Sep Juvenile Crime in Victorian Bradford – young boys and girls in Bradford, in the early 1870’s,who had been sent to reformatories all over the north of England. Janet Senior
Mon 18 Sep Origins of surnames – Where did your name come from? Peter Watson
Thu 5 Oct The Chartist Land Plan in Calderdale & Queens Head – Chartism was a working class movement, which was most active between 1838 and 1848. This talk concentrates on the Chartist Land Plan with reference to subscribers in Calderdale, Queens Head, Mountain & Great Horton Anne Kirker
Mon 16 Oct Jowett Cars – Pride of Bradford – The early history of the company, models through the 1920’s and 1930’s, Wartime activity, the post WWII models and the demise of the company. Paul Beaumont
Thu 2 Nov Copyright – An interesting talk, with examples, of what copyright means for the family historian by the expert at West Yorkshire Archives. Stefanie Davidson
Nov DNA for Family Historians Carolyn Huston
Thu 7 Dec No place Like Home – the many and varied institutions that housed Britain’s children Peter Higginbotham
Mon 18 Dec How we did the research for the Low Moor Explosion – 21st August 1916. Including how we found Ronald Blackwell. Mary & Geoff Twentyman & Barbara Reardon

Battle of the Somme: historical film showing in Keighley Local Studies library

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Bradford Libraries World War One Blog

There will be a final opportunity to see the extraordinary and moving film ‘The Battle of the Somme’ in Keighley Local Studies library on Saturday November 19th at 10.00am before the DVD is returned to the Imperial War Museum.

The Battle of the Somme documentary was seen by millions of people across the world in 1916. At that time, film was a relatively young media. However, the government realised the power of film in controlling the war news. The film was released on 21st August 1916 by the War Office. This was a ground breaking British documentary film now accepted to be an early example of film propaganda, as well as a historical record of the battle.

On September 11th 1916, the film was first shown in Keighley. For the audience to see images of the war as it was happening, unfolding on the screen was a…

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