Tribute to Ian Dewhirst MBE

Staff in Bradford Libraries but most especially Keighley Library, are deeply saddened by news of the death of Ian Dewhirst MBE, himself a former Keighley Library Reference and Local Studies Librarian.

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Ian Dewhirst MBE 1936-2019

Ian began his career in Keighley Library when he left National Service in the army in 1960 and soon became a popular and much respected Reference Librarian. His local knowledge became unsurpassed due to his dedication to and love of local history, including local dialect, in Keighley and Yorkshire generally. People were impressed and many consequently donated to him a growing archive of documents that together now comprise a unique and much valued collection of Keighley town and its local area.

However, Ian also had a rare talent for delivering the most entertaining talks and for making people laugh and all just a bit surprisingly from local history. He was the Footlights of Keighley, the stand alone raconteur who could bring the house down in just a few words. His talent was spotted by local journals, newspapers and television on which he made a number of rewarding appearances. Once retired from libraries in 1991, his diary was always full and, such was his reputation that rarely a week went by in the library even in 2019, when enquirers didn’t ask to be referred to him or ask for a contact number. He was a living legend in every sense of the word. A kind, patient and generous spirited man, he would always help front line staff in Local Studies if they had a particularly awkward query. He was a true inspiration and a champion of Keighley Library and especially Local Studies to which he would make regular visits to research his Down Memory Lane column in the Keighley News and articles in a variety of Yorkshire journals.

Ian was sceptical of some library developments, especially the growing use of IT and staff could never get him to sign up for email or to use a computer. He remained a determined upholder of traditional communication. Nevertheless, in the last months of 2018, he did use the scanner when all other methods became unavailable. He even posed for a photo when we mischievously asked him to pose because let’s face it; Ian Dewhirst on a computer really was local history in the making. Unfortunately, his final verdict was, “If that’s the future, I’m not impressed!”

id scanner copy

Pop music in the library was another matter, however. The thought of live music shattering what was left of any quiet time (silence no longer applicable) was initially anathema to Ian, an “Edwardian” style librarian as he proudly thought of himself. However, seeing how Janet Mawson had linked the pop to local music heritage in the form of bands and local memories of gigs, he not only altered his opinion but proceeded to give a great introductory talk at the June event in 2018. Nevertheless, he insisted on wearing a colourful tie sporting well laden book shelves that he drew attention to whenever the opportunity arose during the course of the afternoon. Janet was pleased to let him know that following the event a number of local music books were loaned or requested. He was pleased to hear it.

Ian Dewhirst MBE brought real life and energy to local history with an enviable lightness of touch that fronted great dedication, knowledge and scholarship. He was a one-off and we library staff are privileged to have known him and to have occasionally worked alongside him.

He will be greatly missed by us all.

I had the privilege of knowing Ian for almost 34 years through working at Keighley Library and there were many occasions where I was able to work with him upstairs which was then known as the Reference Library.

Ian would always go the extra mile when helping the public with their enquiries and also helped staff like myself if we were unsure about certain questions asked of us.

One of my most treasured memories of Ian was the lunch break. Every week he would have a bowl of soup and pour in a packet of ready salted crisps. I found it so funny but Ian thought it tasted exceptionally good. Our lunch breaks were never boring as he would chat away and always have an interesting story for us, whether it was from the past or present.

I will remember Ian as a kind gentleman. I used to see him most weeks and he always went out of his way to talk to me in the library or whenever he spotted me in town. He was a bright star in Keighley and will be sadly missed.

Ann Watkin
Customer Support Assistant
Keighley Library



Just 4 words, END OF AN ERA. They were not even my words, but were spoken by Steve Wood, the local historian for Haworth to sum up the sudden passing last week of Mr. Ian Dewhirst MBE. Never will such words ring more true.

I’m afraid I was guilty of taking Ian’s presence for granted, he was a constant in my day to day life in the library. He first came to my attention some 40 years ago when he was drafted onto the panel at the last minute when I attended a job interview for an assistant in the lending library. From then on I saw him virtually every day in his capacity as Reference Librarian. Much has been said already about Ian’s enormous presence, enthusiasm, dedication and of course his endless knowledge.

When Ian took early retirement in 1991 our paths still crossed all the time. I would bump into him around town or else he was always in the library, be it one of his talks, an opening speech for an event, a book signing or to do his own research. It wouldn’t be most people’s idea of retirement, in fact he was in more demand than ever, but I’m sure he would not have wanted it any other way. Some 28 years after his retirement we are still receiving a steady stream of letters and e-mails from people all over the country wanting to be put into contact with Ian, to do a talk for their society or for the answer to some obscure query or other. We duly passed them all onto him and they always received a reply. Anyone expecting Ian to e-mail would have a long wait though as he NEVER embraced modern technology, no mobile phone or computer. I don’t blame him, he had no use for the internet as all the information and knowledge was in his head!

In June, 2018 I was tasked with putting on a 1960s rock ‘n’ roll music event in the Local Studies Library. I had already got 2 bands lined up to perform. One was ‘The Presidents’ who were Keighley’s first rock ‘n’ roll band and the other ‘The Doveston Brothers’ who had twice reached the dizzy heights of the London Palladium. Now I just had to find a compere to hold the show together, a crucial job! I started by compiling a list of possible candidates, I’ll be honest and admit that Ian was not top of that list. Ideally, I was looking for someone who had been a part of the local 1960s music scene themselves. I knew from previous chats with Ian that he did not like that sort of music and I feared he probably took a dim view of whatever else went on around it. He once told me that he had been a guest on some chat show on the radio and they asked him to choose a record. I was amazed when he said his choice was ‘Allentown’ by Billy Joel. ‘Allentown’ is an anthem to blue collar America, representing both the aspirations and frustrations of America’s working class during the decline of the manufacturing industry in the late 1970s;

‘’Well we’re living here in Allentown
And they’re closing all the factories down’’

Wow, good choice Ian, I get why he chose it now given that much the same decline was going on in his own hometown.

My quest to find my compere was proving frustrating, would love to do it but on holiday, too ill, too old now for that kind of thing etc. Part of me was thinking just ask Ian Dewhirst, whilst the other part was clouded by something else I remembered. With the onset of records, videos and later compact discs and the library counter starting to resemble a ‘shop’ (Ian’s words) selling carrier bags, maps and children’s badges amongst other things. Ian had said that ‘it was becoming less a place of peace and quiet and more like a market place!’ Furthermore, it seemed all very well attracting young people into a library by putting on a Punch and Judy show and getting them to shout ‘he’s behind you’ at the top of their lungs, but then it becomes difficult to persuade children that the library should be a reasonably quiet place. I also knew that Ian was inclined to speak his mind and that I could be handing him the perfect public platform on which to ‘vent his spleen’. The devil in me wanted to know what might happen when two different worlds collide, I concluded that whatever happens, you could be sure that Ian would be entertaining. There was another reason I was veering towards asking Ian and that was that I was well aware he would guarantee me an audience as his loyal supporters followed him everywhere. I decided to give Bruce Russell from ‘The Presidents’ a phone call for a second opinion. I hardly had chance to read the names on my dwindling list when Bruce said ‘Janet, go for Ian Dewhirst, I’d pay good money to see him’!! I replied ‘yeah, but Bruce, he has no interest in rock ‘n’ roll whatsoever and will probably only be able to speak about dance bands at the Mechanics Institute’. Bruce assured me that it didn’t matter and I agreed.

When I asked Ian if he would do the honour of being my compere, he looked bemused and said ‘oh, good heavens, are you sure?’ I replied ‘I’m sure, I’m sure’. The poster to advertise the event was another matter. When I showed it to people they looked at the acts, nodding their approval. Then when they came to Ian’s name at the bottom (which had a speech bubble by his mouth saying ‘miss it, miss out’) they said ‘oh, oh Ian Dewhirst’. This was usually followed by a raised eyebrow and a ‘that’s a strange choice!’

Come the day of the ‘Showtime 1960s’ event , I made sure I briefed the Doveston Brothers beforehand that they must not take it personally, but if we start counting, we probably won’t get very far before Ian says something along the lines of ‘of course none of this would have happened if they had not abolished National Service’. Ian also insisted on starting bang on 1 o’clock as stated on the poster despite the fact that folk were still piling in. ‘Cometh the hour, Cometh the man’. Ian was a total star from the word off, he had the audience which had swelled to over 200 eating out of the palm of his hand in no time. He did indeed acknowledge that rock ‘n’ roll had passed him by in a flurry of 2 years National Service and helping out in his dad’s newsagents shop. The only song he liked was ‘Peggy Sue’ by Buddy Holly , but he died and that was that!! He made fun of songs with ridiculous titles like ‘Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavour on the Bedpost Overnight?’ and ‘How Much Is That Doggie In The Window?’ If Maurice Chevalier had been alive today and brought out a song called ‘Thank Heaven for Little Girls’, he would have been locked up! He related a story from his teens when he was riding in the countryside with his dad on a tandem and requested some information about sex. His dad didn’t fall off the bike but apparently it all went quiet and after a couple of miles his dad simply said ‘both the man and the woman have to agree, Son’ which brought the house down!

After the Doveston Brothers performance, Ian did indeed acknowledge that he must have absorbed more of the burgeoning culture than he thought because he did indeed recognise some of the songs.

When I looked back at the visitor’s book, amongst the many comments people have written expressing how much they enjoyed the show and the wonderful memories it evoked, two stand out for me. Someone had written ‘loving the two bands and the comedian!’ I remembered back to when I had first started working in the library and one day I took a phone call from a chap asking for Ian who informed me that ‘he is the funniest man I have ever come across’. I was a bit puzzled because at that stage I had only ever encountered Ian working in the Reference Library and had never attended any of his talks, so just replied ‘is he?’ That chap turned out to be none other than Jeremy Beadle!! The other comment was a bit odd; it simply said ‘Ian in a suit and tie?’ Funnily enough, it had not escaped my notice that Ian was sporting quite a natty tie for the occasion with little books printed all over it.  Another subtle nod I guess to times long past.

Me, I found out that day what can happen when two different worlds collide. It’s called magic!!!

Brian Doveston e-mailed me a couple of days later to let me know how much the day had meant to him and to express regret that he had not come out singing ‘ How Much Is That Doggie In The Window?’ He ended his e-mail with the words, ‘Mr. Dewhirst, what a lovely man’.

My colleague and I watched a precious two minute clip of Ian’s performance last Tuesday night through sad eyes. Oh, how I wish now that we had recorded the whole of Ian’s part in the show for posterity and to look back on. It was an 82 year old Ian in full flow, pulling out all the stops. He was still at the top of his game, as sharp and witty as ever. I’m sure as the years pass I will watch that clip and it will make me smile and bring back happy memories.

I will conclude my tribute by adding that there will never be another Ian Dewhirst, moving forward this town will miss him so much in ways that we do not realise yet. I was looking at the Book of Condolence in the foyer of the lending library and the first entry was so poignant, from some children, the next generation, it read ‘sorry we never got to hear you talk, we bet you were really good’. He will always be here in spirit and his legacy will always live on, but it is still END OF AN ERA.

Janet Mawson.
Customer Support Assistant – Keighley Library.
Friday, 25th January, 2019

What a genuine and generous man Ian Dewhirst was, always happy to
help you if you were ever stuck with an enquiry, willing whenever asked
to give his time. His talks, always popular, brought many people into the
library to hear him speak on may subjects. Branwell Brontë, Women &
the Vote, Gordon Bottomley, Keighley Music, are just a few I have heard
him talk about over the years working at the library, such a vast
knowledge he had and so willing to share it.

Ian would come into the library regularly to do his research, or to collect
an enquiry that someone had left at the library counter for him to pick up,
knowing he would be in to do so. Over the last few years he would more
often than not bring us something, be it a map, a pamphlet, or old
minutes from a disbanded society, we were always more than happy to
receive it. In essence his contribution to the Keighley library archives is
beyond measure, and he will be very much missed.

Angela Speight, Customer Support Assistant, Keighley Library

Back in 2000, as a new Keighley Reference and Local Studies Library Assistant, I knew little about the library contents and local history of the area coming from t’other side of
Bradford. My Managers recommended reading Ian Dewhirst’s History of Keighley and it wasn’t long before I met the author and local celebrity himself. Since then, Ian Dewhirst MBE has never failed to offer help and advice with difficult enquiries and never once been patronising or impatient with me or any customer who waylaid him on a busy day of research in the library. His love for history, its better understanding and dissemination, both popular and academic, has been an inspiration and all freely and generously given. What’s more he was totally unique – a Reference and Local Studies Librarian who could bring the house down with laughter in a talk about local history. He will be greatly missed indeed.

Gina Birdsall, Customer Support Assistant, Keighley Library


Ian Dewhirst MBE

We are very sad to hear the news that Ian Dewhirst has passed away:

‘He will be greatly missed by all those many, many people who had the delight of his company, his knowledge and enthusiasm for local history and his constant support for those of us working to collect and share the local history of Keighley and the district of Bradford.’

Maggie Pedley Libraries, Museums and Galleries Manager

‘If you are a native of Keighley you probably don’t think of a Keighley without an Ian Dewhirst. It seems somehow that he was woven into the very fabric of the town itself.

Keighley has not only lost its greatest authority on its own history but also one its most exciting and entertaining  public speakers, a dedicated custodian and protector of its heritage and a valuable source of knowledge for the local historian. He was a man generous with his time and expertise and a man with a great sense of humour.

It has been a privilege to hear him speak over the years and all us Keighlians owe him an immense debt of gratitude for what he has done for not only Keighley but also the library and its archives in his long and remarkable career.’

Rest in Peace Ian.’

Simon Rourke, Team Leader, Keighley Library

“Ian Dewhirst was a true historian and a joy and inspiration to all who had the privilege to know him. He showed us how our history is shaped by personalities who live on by virtue of what they leave behind. His legacy will live on through his wonderful life and work.”

Caroline Brown, Keighley Library 

Please click here for more tributes

‘With the help of Keighley Library, I have arranged for a condolences book to be placed in the entrance of Keighley Library for anyone who wants to write a few words in remembrance  of the late great Ian Dewhirst MBE. It will then be kept in Keighley Archives as a lasting tribute to Ian.

 If you have been inspired, helped, educated or entertained by Ian Dewhirst over the years please come along to the library and share your memories of him and offer your condolences so that future generations can learn first hand from the people of Keighley what an important contribution he made to Keighley, to its history and to its people.’


Charlie Bhowmick M.B.E.

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New Map Website

Bradford Libraries are pleased to announce the launch of a new website, focusing on the hidden histories within maps and plans in the Local Studies Library

Maps and plans, especially when used in conjunction with other documents, are one of the most valuable sources of information for the local historian and geographer.

In this continuing series of regular posts, the author of our ‘Map of the Week’ feature, local historian Derek Barker, explores the hidden history within a selection of the maps and plans from the collection at Bradford Local Studies Library, focusing in particular on the 19th Century.

You can visit our new website here

Map of the Week: Shipley and the Good Templars, 1878

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This map originally accompanied a sale by Messrs. Best & Crewe of various freehold properties in Shipley, and elsewhere in West Yorkshire. Fortunately the sale was advertised in the Leeds Mercury on April 9th 1878 so we have a good deal of information concerning the auction lots involved. John & Joseph Denby, Worsted Manufacturers, were ‘trustees for the sale’ although it is not made clear who the original owners are or were. Not shown on the plan were three farms in Haworth, Oxenhope and Kippax that were also offered for sale.

Among the lots surveyed was Ashley Mill (then occupied by J Crowther) together with the adjacent builder’s yard occupied by John Ives. There was a timber yard, also occupied by John Ives, and a substantial dwelling called Moor House, then lived in by Fred Ives a son of John born in 1845. John Ives & Son were a firm of Shipley builders and contractors active in the late nineteenth century; the firm employed several hundred men. John Ives himself was born around 1814 and in 1871 he and his wife Grace lived at 11 Commercial Street, Shipley. Their most famous construction was Bradford Town (now City) Hall (1870-1873), but they were also one of the contracting firms who worked for Sir Titus Salt at Saltaire.

On the plan there was also a house and shop in Saltaire Road, and a vacant lot next to a complex of three quarries complete with ‘the ungotten stone therein’. Determining the owners and operators of quarries is never easy. Operators may change quite frequently and quarries might work or ‘stand’ depending on the prevailing economic situation. This plan, and the  OS map of 1889, certainly show extensive evidence of quarrying in this area. The Earl and Countess of Rosse are mentioned as neighbouring landowners on the plan. In the early 1870s their agents produced a definitive map and list of Rosse Estate quarries. The two in this immediate area were operated by John Learoyd (died 1874) and Mr E Butterfield. How you distinguished between their quarries and the stone bearing land for sale, on the ground, I am not sure.

The solicitor handling the sale was George E Mumford. Mumford’s chambers were in Piece Hall Yard, Bradford and then at Bradford Yorkshire Bank Chambers. He was solicitor for Samuel Cunliffe Lister of Manningham Mills and also secretary to the governors of Bradford Grammar School. The surveyor was William Booth Woodhead who I assume drew up this plan.

The sale was to be held at ‘The Good Templars Hall’, Shipley. The Independent Order of Good Templars (IOGT) was an American institution founded in 1851 and introduced to the UK in 1868. The Templars were described as ‘secret and mystic’ (Bradford Observer January 1873) and were evidently concerned with promoting teetotalism. Angus Holden was a noted local member. They had lodges, regalia and officers, in which respect they seemed to have resembled Freemasons who numbered Fred Ives among their number. Unlike the Masons both men and women could be members of IOGT. They had at least 16 lodges in Bradford and several thousand members. The Licensed Victuallers Protection Society considered that they needed to ‘combat the actions’ of the Good Templars who they regarded as aggressive teetotallers. How IOGT differed in outlook from the Band of Hope or the Rechabites I am not certain.

Templars Hall is often mentioned in contemporary newspapers but without a postal address being given. Where was it? In Shipley the Templars seem to have gathered in an old Primitive Chapel at Briggate, which had been bought by Edward Holden. Perhaps this was the Templars’ Hall.

There is a 25 inch OS map of 1889, that is about a decade after the sale. Ashley Mill survived and has extended into the builders yard. In fact the building is still standing today. The timber yard became a wharf. Moor House looks unchanged and in the 1881 census Fred Ives still seems to be living there; however the quarry has extended into its garden. The adjacent Shipley House, not part of this sale, has been demolished and replaced by new housing. On the other side of Moor House, Crow Gill quarry has become a small public park.


Derek Barker, Local Studies Library Volunteer


Noise of the Valleys


Gary Cavanagh, the author of ‘Noise of the Valleys’ and expert on the local pop and rock music scene will give a talk in Bradford Local Studies Library on Saturday 26th January at 2.00pm.

The talk will feature the stories of local bands, local and social history and highlight some of the livelier characters from Bradford’s music scene of the last 50 years.

The event will be accompanied by recordings of their music.

This is a free event and all are welcome….




Treasure of the week no. 25: ‘Iron lungs’ Ferrand and Disraeli’s last (wicket) stand – who c’d a’thou’t it?

FERRAND, William.   Memorable Speeches of William Ferrand, Esq. Reprinted from The Devonport Independent and Plymouth and Stonehouse Gazette of April 21st 1860.  16 pp.

(Please quote this number if requiring this item: JND 196/5)

It seems odd that a collection of memorable speeches by a prospective Member of Parliament for Devonport and Plymouth on the south coast of England in 1860 should have been collected by a Bradford historian. And also odd that the candidate should be heir to an estate in the Aire Valley 300 miles distant! But William Ferrand was no ordinary person.

William Busfeild Ferrand, Esq. (1809-1889), was heir to a prosperous Airedale estate of over 2,000 acres centred on Harden Grange (St Ives), Bingley. He entered politics as a right wing Tory, upolder of the rights and virtues of the English squirearchy, yet a supporter of Richard Oastler’s ten-hour movement and the campaign to reform factory conditions. He was an outspoken champion of the working classes, favoured economic protection, and was opposed to the new Poor Law. After failing to get elected as Bradford’s MP in 1837, he succeeded at Knaresborough in 1841, but lost his seat in 1847. After two failures in Devonport, he finally succeeded there in 1863.

william ferrand

Ferrand was a formidable speaker, both in open air public meetings (‘Iron Lungs’) and in Parliament. There he promoted the interests of the industrial and agricultural workers, notably in his ‘Bill for the Allotment of Waste Lands’. In this he wanted land that had not been enclosed to be given to the poor for them to cultivate, land we now know as ‘allotments’. The Bill never became law, but Ferrand’s support of the working classes earned him the epithet of ‘The Working Man’s Friend’. It had also attracted the attention of Benjamin Disraeli, who was to become Prime Minister in 1868.

In October 1844, Disraeli and Lord John Manners stayed at Harden Grange. These two were members of the’ Young England’ group of dissident Tories, who had ideas in common with Ferrand.  Of particular interest is that some local Bingley and Aire Valley locations and characters appear in Disraeli’s novel, Sybil, published in 1845. Writes Robert Blake in his biography Disraeli:

Much of Sybil is devoted to the conditions of the working class in the great manufacturing capitals. Disraeli probably obtained a good deal of local colour in the course of a prolonged stay in the north … He … visited … William Busfeild Ferrand, M.P., at Bingley. Ferrand, a man of most intemperate language, was a stout alley of Young England and a great expert on the malpractices of manufacturers and millowners.

st ives, bingley

Harden Grange (St. Ives)

While Disraeli was at Bingley, there was a ceremonial opening of some land given by Lady Ferrand to the community as an allotment in Cottingley. Part of the celebrations was a cricket match in which Disraeli, a future Prime Minister of Great Britain, partnered the local shoemaker in a winning last wicket stand! This event does not appear in Ferrand’s Memorable Speeches, but is a local event of interest.

Five of Ferrrand’s speeches are reported in this pamphlet. In his ‘Speech at the Dinner’:

He said he brought that notorious system [the truck system] before the House of Commons, and though the cotton lords first denied the truth of his representation, yet when he produced an enormous packet of ‘abatement tickets’ they all sat as mute as mice with a cat in the room. (cheers). He convinced those men of the atrocious cruelty, and the truck system was put down by the legislation. (cheers)

Ferrand also covered the evils of the long hours worked by children in the mills and factories, and much else. These ‘Memorable Speeches’ are worth reading for those wishing to learn more about nineteenth century social and industrial history. And for learning more about this remarkable local celebrity.


Temporary Closure of Keighley Local Studies

UPDATE 1pm 2nd January

Keighley Local Studies is currently closed to the public due to a structural assessment and repair to the stone cantilever staircase on the Albert street side of the building.

On the advice of our Building and Technical Services, Local Studies is closed to accommodate the work. The matter is being treated as a priority by the aforementioned Service.

In the meantime Local Studies materials will, where possible, be made available to the general public on request in the main Library. However, some notice may be required to allow for resources be brought to the ground floor for viewing .

We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.

Regular updates will be provided via our website, social media and notices displayed in the Library.

Map of the Week: A ‘village in uproar’ and the war of Bower’s dog

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Recently a map introduced me to another strange unknown fragment of local history. Legal actions seem to be the explanation of several depositions in the Local Studies Library reserve collection, but after the passage of many decades it can be very difficult to establish what such actions were about, or who won, or why anyone ever thought the issues were important enough to spend a small fortune on lawyers’ fees. I am in a slightly better position with the case of Ferrand v Milligan (1845) since I believe I can provide answers to the first two questions at least, and possibly the third.

The whole map, of which this is a detail, is additionally marked ‘Plaintiff’s plan No 1’ and so it was evidently once used by Mr Ferrand or his legal team. No railway lines are marked which would suggest a date prior to 1847. In fact it closely resembles the Fox map of the area from 1830 which presumably was redrawn for the purposes of litigation. It is immediately obvious that St Ives is not in its present location. The valuable website of the Friends of St Ives confirms that this house swapped names with Harden Grange a decade or more later, in 1858. The importance of this fact is that the name ‘Harden Grange’ that was used in reports of this case, and which appears on the maps or in my account, was the building we think of today as St Ives. Aside from maps my other researches have been in the pages of contemporary local newspapers.

I am certain that the plaintiff in Ferrand v Milligan was William Busfeild Ferrand (1809-1889), landowner, magistrate, and at this time the Conservative MP for Knaresborough. He lived at Harden Grange and was a friend of Richard Oastler. William’s mother was called Sarah Ferrand. As often happened in the nineteenth century William adopted her surname in 1839 in order to receive a large estate from his maternal uncle. This bequest was ultimately transmitted through his mother when she herself died in 1854. The estate he obtained included both St Ives and Harden Grange, where he was living at the time of the action. The principle defendant is variously named as Mr Milligan or Robert Milligan: who was he? Evidently he must have had at least a modest competence to undertake the expense of litigation and the 1851 census suggests he was Robert Milligan, aged 32, of Harden Mill, worsted spinner. A man of this name had certainly been operating the water and steam powered worsted mill since 1842. There was also a Walter Milligan, aged 57 and born in Scotland, a worsted & alpaca manufacturer of 38 Myrtle Place, Bingley. I think that the two men were probably son and father. Walter Milligan & Son are listed as the proprietors of Harden Mill in many reports until 1861. I should add that Robert Milligan is quite certainly not the contemporary ‘travelling Scotchman’ and Liberal MP of that name who was also Bradford’s first Mayor. This important figure in Bradford’s history had his estate at Rawdon. If Robert Milligan of Harden Mill was indeed the man then he and William Ferrand had been acquainted in happier times. From 1842 there is a pleasant story concerning the properties of both men being visited by children from a Wesleyan Sunday School outing.

William Busfeild Ferrand does not always seem to have been popular with the editors of local newspapers. This should be taken into consideration when reading the initial account of events, published by The Bradford Observer and Halifax, Huddersfield, and Keighley Reporter under the title of ‘a village in uproar’, on 18 May 1843. It describes how a certain James Bower walked, with a terrier dog at his heels, along a road through Harden Grange Fold. There he was allegedly seized by Mr Ferrand and his servants while the terrier was ‘worried to death’ by their dogs. I’m relieved to say that, despite the title I’ve adopted, the poor terrier shed the only blood spilled in these events. Because of local indignation the whole episode was reported to Mr R Milligan, who was then Surveyor of the Highways, and he it was who insisted on the right of the public to use the road concerned.

After that things got rapidly out of hand. Robert Milligan proceeded to break down the gate that led on to the road, and to walk ostentatiously down it with a crowd looking on. Mr Ferrand, it was said, hired men to guard what he evidently considered to be his own property. If necessary his rights were to be protected ‘by force’. An emergency meeting of the ratepayers of Harden was summoned and held in Bingley churchyard. Mr Milligan’s conduct was cordially approved by the gathering. Mr Holden of Cullingworth (the future Sir Isaac Holden but then merely the manager of Townend’s Worsted Mill) proposed a motion empowering Milligan ‘to take such steps in law as may be found necessary for defending the right of the public to use the said road’. An attempt by Mr Middlebrook, a recent Highway Surveyor and friend of William Ferrand, to put any expenses involved squarely on the shoulders of Milligan, rather than the ratepayers, was defeated. The newspaper report was very partisan to the inhabitants of Harden who were praised for resisting ‘oppressive encroachments’.

The inevitable legal case was heard at York Spring Assizes in March 1844 before Judge Coltman; bizarrely William Ferrand JP MP had already been sworn in as a member of the Grand Jury for these assizes. It is clear from reports that the action was for trespass against Milligan, and others, in order to try whether the road which went through the grounds of Harden Grange was indeed a public highway or not. Mr Baines represented the defendants and examined no fewer than 31 witnesses! Mr Knowles for the plaintiff admitted that some local residents and their carts were accustomed to use the road, which ran through a considerable portion of the Harden Grange estate, but he disputed that they had a ‘right’ so to do. He explained that the road had been created in Major Ferrand’s time (c.1797) when he was a tenant, and also that William Ferrand was not actually the owner of Harden Grange but ‘entail expectant on his mother’s death’. He further stated his belief that Mr Milligan was animated in his actions by some private feeling, and finally he demanded in excess of 40 shillings damages. The unfortunate jury were then locked away from 7.00 pm until 4.00 am the following morning! With nice judgment they found that there was indeed ‘no carriage road or public foot road’ in existence, but rather than £2 or more the plaintiff (William Ferrand that is) was awarded only the derisory sum of one farthing in damages.

This was not quite the end of the matter. In another bizarre twist there was an associated criminal case, against Milligan and his servants, which saw him hauled up for ‘riot and assault’. The plaintiff and his barrister seem to have understood that Milligan honestly believed he had a right of way past Harden Grange. Mr Ferrand stated that he wished to live in ‘peace and goodwill with his neighbours’ and as a result offered no evidence against him: consequently the prosecution failed. Rather ominously Mr Milligan said that ‘nothing had occurred yet that had shown him that he was mistaken’ and so unsurprisingly, a year later, he tried to renew the action. The legal point at issue was under what circumstances the road had been repaired in Major Ferrand’s day and whether repair was at his own expense, or that of the parish. There was also some doubt over whether this evidence was really admissible: a rather a complicated point for a non-lawyer like me to follow. In any event a further action was not allowed by the court. That didn’t restrain the Bradford & Wakefield Observer who reported that ‘in this weather’ it was dangerous to cross the path of William Ferrand on the moors about Harden Grange.

033 B

The original map identified in red the trackway which, I assume, the defendant was using without permission. This extended west from the ‘Lodge’ towards Harden Grange and Cuckoo Nest. It is interesting to note that the Fox 1830 map of the roads between Bingley and Keighley also shows the thoroughfare at issue.

033 C

Finally the first OS map of the area which was surveyed around 1847, after the action and the same year that William Ferrand lost his Knaresborough seat, does not mark the trackway as a private road but scarcely shows it at all. The triumph of local landed interest over geography perhaps?

Derek Barker, Local Studies Library Volunteer



Charlie Bhowmick MBE presents his recently published book ‘From Calcutta to Keighley’ to Keighley Local Studies Library

On Friday December 7th Keighley Local Studies Library was very pleased to formally receive copies of the book ‘From Calcutta to Keighley’ presented by the author, Charlie Bhowmick MBE.

Charlie is a well known character in Keighley. He was born in Calcutta and in 1954 at the age of 17 he followed his older brother to Keighley, where he was given a job at George Hattersley’s engineering business, now Mantra House. He served an apprenticeship with the company and studied mechanical and electrical engineering and later building construction at Keighley Technical College. Charlie went on to study planning and became a town planner with Bradord Council until his retirement in 1994.

Over the years, Charlie has been involved with many local initiatives and organisations including

  • Airedale Hospital Radio
  • The annual Temple Street Edwardian Fair
  • Community Personality of the Year
  • Keighley Community Cricket
  • Governor of Parkwood School
  • Temple Street Methodist Church and overseas movements Community Harmony Award, Bradford Council Marathon running for Keighley Disabled

In 2005 Charlie received the MBE for his work with the Keighley Inter-Faith Group.

Here is an extract from the book:

‘I discovered Keighley Library in 1955, a year after I arrived in Keighley. I met Mr Dewhirst in the Reference Library section on the first floor. He gave me a warm welcome and showed me a desk in the Reference Library where I could undertake my studies. This was very welcome given the cold conditions in my lodging house in Beechcliffe.

I found all the various books I needed for my course at the library and soon became a regular visitor, so much so, I got to know the staff there very well – Ian and also Molly Boulton (Ian Dewhirst’s deputy). I enjoyed the facilities of Keighley Public Library (and its warm temperatures) for about 6 years until I got married and moved into a warm flat on Devonshire Street.’

The book is a great read and reflects Charlie’s irrepressible character with proceeds going to Yorkshire Cancer Research.