Map of the week: A track into history

I’m not really a railway enthusiast so I must start with an apology to those readers who are, and say that I would welcome your guidance. I don’t find the early history of Bradford’s rail links an easy topic since the companies involved seem to change their names, and move the location of their stations, quite frequently. Naturally the creation of early railway lines generated maps and plans, many of which have survived. Even here I have a problem since tracks appear on maps which are notionally of an earlier date. Despite these difficulties I want to describe the early lines entering Bradford from the south because of  the interesting light they shed on the city’s industrial past.

Map of the Week 30 A

The first image is a detail from the 1852 Ordnance Survey map. It shows Bowling junction, although this is not named. Two, seemingly single, rail tracks, are mapped. The first is the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway line which connected Halifax to Bradford, and its terminus Drake Street (later Exchange) Station which opened in 1850. The second line moving off to the right went from Bowling junction to Leeds, via Laisterdyke, and was opened a few years later in 1854. It was operated by the same company and, I presume, allowed trains to travel from Leeds to Halifax direct, by-passing Bradford completely. The track no longer exists but the line is visible on aerial photographs.

I am interested that at the junction a ‘limestone quarry’ is mapped. Limestone strata do not reach the surface in the city area but there was nonetheless an early lime-burning industry based on the extraction of boulders from glacial moraines in the Aire valley. Boulder pits were certainly established in Bingley by the early seventeenth century. It looks as if glacial erratic limestone boulders were found elsewhere, being exploited in the same way. In this case the digging of a railway cutting presumably exposed the valuable mineral. Plausibly these boulders were taken to the nearby Bowling Iron Company where crushed lime was used as a flux in iron smelting. Slightly further north is Spring Wood. The name has almost certainly nothing whatever to do with a water supply. ‘Spring’ was applied to a tree that had been cut off at ground level for coppicing. So Spring Wood was presumably an area of old coppice woodland. William Cudworth records that there was once also a Springwood Coal Pit, but the wood itself soon disappears from maps.

Map of the Week 30 B

The next plan is from the Local Studies Library reserve collection. If you imagine it turned 90º  clockwise it is clearly the same view as before. You can easily identify the two railway tracks and also the Bowling Dye works. The name of the company involved here is West Riding Union Railway. As I understand it this title was only employed for a brief period around 1845-47. This and other evidence suggests that this map is a few years earlier than that of the OS map we have examined. This map shows the Bowling Iron Company colliery tramway very clearly. This took coal to the Bowling Depot on Queens Street where I assume it was available to local merchants. The Bowling Dye Works and the Bowling New Dye House were both parts of the Ripley family enterprises (Edward Ripley & Co). What are obviously missing are the large reservoir and dye pits which are such a prominent feature in the OS map. When were these created? The Bradford Observer reports a large sale of land in this area, including that piece accommodating the Dye Works, in 1850. The vendor isn’t stated but might well be the Bowling Iron Company. Probably the dye works boss, the famous Sir Wm. Henry Ripley, purchased land at this time to allow for the expansion of his business and the assurance of adequate soft water supplies, which included a reservoir. Cudworth records a 100 acre purchase by the Ripley company and also states that a contractor called Samuel Pearson constructed reservoirs for Bowling Dye Works and Bowling Iron Works at a date ‘early in the fifties’. We shall hear more of Samuel Pearson shortly. Marked on this map are marked a variety of planned new streets. Were these streets ever constructed? Presumably not. After 1863-64 Ripleyville, consisting of 200 houses with schools, was constructed by Sir Henry but the alignment of these streets on the 1887 borough map looks quite different.

Map of the Week 30 C

This third map shows an area slightly further north. There have been additional train track developments. The Great Northern Railway had opened its service to Leeds from Adolphus Street station in 1854 but the rival Midland Railway service, via Shipley, ended at a station more convenient to the town centre depriving GNR of customers. In consequence, around 1867, a track loop was constructed connecting the GNR line to the L&Y track at Mill Lane junction and allowing passengers from Leeds access to Exchange Station. Nearby St Dunstan’s passenger transfer station was also opened. The loop is clearly visible on the map north of Ripleyville. In describing the work involved in taking the GNR railway line from the Exchange Station towards Leeds, Horace Hird (Bradford in History, 1968) again mentions the activities of Samuel Pearson & Son who took over responsibility for the material excavated from the necessary cutting. The cutting spoil created a ‘great mound’ and for 15 years 60 men were employed making drain pipes, chimney pots and bricks from this material. Their Broomfield brick works is clearly indicated on the map above the loop. The line seen curving away to the left edge of the map, opposite the brick works, services a series of coal drops which are still visible, in a ruinous state, off Mill Lane today.

Samuel Pearson was a Cleckheaton brick-maker who founded a contracting dynasty. His contracting business started in Silver Street, off Tabbs Lane, Scholes, in 1856. By 1860-63 Messrs. S. Pearson & Son were established at the Broomfield Works, Mill Lane (near St Dunstan’s) for the manufacture of building bricks, sanitary tubes and terracotta goods. The works can be identified on the 1871 map of Bradford but closed shortly before the 1887 map was published, the ‘spoil bank’ being exhausted. The site is described as a ‘disused brick-works’ by the time of the 1895 OS map. Within a generation Pearson’s had became an international contractor and was particularly associated with Mexico during the dictatorship of Porfirio Diaz. Canals, railways and oil were among the company’s many interests. After being created a baronet Samuel Pearson’s grandson, Weetman Pearson, became the first Viscount Cowdray in 1917. The family seat became Cowdray House and park, near Midhurst in West Sussex.


For the final plan I return to the LSL Reserve Collection. Essentially it shows the same area as the last. The plan is undated but the railway companies have their pre-nationalisation names, so it is earlier than 1948. Wakefield Road is referred to as the A650 and local historian Maggie Fleming suggests that this nomenclature makes the plan later than 1920. St Dunstan’s Station is still present, and in fact had another thirty years of life before closing in 1952. The site of Broomfield brick works is blank, and is today a car park. The purpose of this plan seems to have been to show the course of a new road joining Bolling Road to Upper Castle Street. This is another thoroughfare that was never constructed.



Derek Barker, Local Studies Library Volunteer





Celebrating Women’s Suffrage in my Mother’s Family’s Home City!

It was an emotional occasion when I visited the Bradford Local Studies Library on March 10 to join with others in learning about and celebrating women’s suffrage in my mother’s family’s home city!

I had travelled from Shropshire to hear Helen Broadhead’s illustrated talk on The Bradford Suffragettes and to look at some of the records held by the Library. It was particularly moving to see the historic 1918 Electoral Registers containing the names of my maternal grandmother, great grandmother and great aunts as first time registered electors for Parliamentary Elections. Also listed for the first time were my grandfather and great uncles. All of them qualified either in their own right or through their husband’s property occupation qualification. It felt momentous and of course it was.

I wanted to learn from Helen what sort of activities my grandmother Maud Brear might have taken part in, since, before her marriage in 1912, Maud had been an active supporter of the WSPU in Bradford.


Maud Brear on her wedding day Aug 1912 at Tong Parish Church to Edward Williamson combing overlooker at Joseph Dawson’s Mill.
Maud who worked at Cawthra’s Mill until her marriage, made her own outfit including the hat. She had taken dressmaking and millinery evening classes. 
They set up home together in Blanche Street, Laisterdyke, where Maud lived until her death in 1963.

She was not one of the heroines who were arrested or imprisoned, not an organiser or a speaker at meetings, probably not one of the activists who poured purple dye into the Chellow Dene reservoirs or daubed the green, white and purple of the suffragette’s flag onto the green of Bradford Moor Golf Club (No Votes No Golf!) or set light to letter boxes; but, rather, a young woman who felt sufficiently strongly to risk the disapproval of her neighbours and employers and support events as a rank and file member. One such event, her most daring, was to join a march in the centre of Bradford with a girl friend. She carried hidden in her clothing a brick wrapped in a Votes For Women poster, intending to lob it through the window of Hulme’s Department Store (later Brown Muffs).  Until recently I believed that she HAD thrown the brick, running away to evade the police; but barely ten years ago my mother put me right. In fact when she saw the police presence in the area, Maud lost her nerve, quietly put down her brick and quickly walking away! So a myth was exploded!  But clearly the window smashing action was pre-meditated, probably organised by the local branch of the WSPU and at least for a while she was prepared to contemplate risking arrest. We have not yet found a newspaper report of the march so further research is needed to confirm my grandmother’s story.

Almost certainly Maud attended some of the many rallies and meetings organised in Bradford and the surrounding area.   So she probably heard Emmeline and Adela Pankhurst speak at the Shipley Glen mass rally on “Yorkshire Suffrage Sunday” in 1908. Her fiancée’s family were Pudsey ILP members and friends of the future ILP MP for Bradford Fred Jowett, so she possibly was at the meeting in Pudsey in 1908 where Adela Pankhurst and other speakers were barracked and pelted with rotten oranges!   On many of these occasions Maud was joined and encouraged by her brother Fred, listed in the 1901 Census as  ‘a hewer in a coal mine’, a life long socialist who  ‘took the Daily Worker all his life’. She took up the wider causes of the women’s movement of vegetarianism and healthy living, attending lectures and reading pamphlets. She retained a thirst for knowledge and education all her life.

Yet hers wasn’t a good beginning. Born in Bradford in 1885, starting as a half timer aged 11 in a woollen mill, the first 15 years of Maud’s life were hard in the extreme. Her mother Hannah, born in Bradford in 1863, was a worsted spinner and single mother at the age of 17. She had a further 2 children: a single parent and juggling work and child-care, she was frequently moving. A disastrous marriage to a petty thief, more often in than out of prison, left her with a fourth child. But she soon found herself abandoned altogether, with 4 children and no support.  So bad was it that she had to turn to the Bradford Union Workhouse and suffered the humiliation of it being reported in the local paper. Up till now my husband and I had painstakingly uncovered the details of the family using online resources but at this point we enlisted the help of Local Studies Library staff member Sarah Powell who searched the records of the Bradford Union and concluded that Maud probably received Out Relief: there being no record of Hannah and her children being admitted to the Horton Workhouse. Sarah was also able to also confirm our fears that Hannah’s mother had not been so lucky and had entered the Union on at least four occasions eventually dying in the Horton Workhouse.

Hannah went on to have two more children alone before eventually finding stability and ‘respectability’. The 1901 Census lists what appears to be a typical working class family unit of husband and wife and their six children aged 3-20.  But Hannah had reinvented herself. The ‘’head of the household’ was not the father of the six children and Hannah was not his wife (divorce being unaffordable for working class women, she was still married to the thief). And they all took the surname Brear!!  The 25 years from 1901 until her death in 1926 were the most stable of her life. My great grandmother became a respected member of the Cutler Heights working class community in Tong: acting as unofficial midwife, medical herbalist and layer-out of bodies for her neighbours. The 1911 Census records her as head of the household and a ‘widow’. How wonderful, therefore, to see her name recorded in the Electoral Roll of 1918 qualifying in her own right through renting a house valued in 1910 at £6 !!

Hannah Brear

Hannah Brear   1920’s.  She died in 1926 aged 63

Thank you to the staff of the Local Studies Library who are friendly, welcoming, efficient; generous of their time, expertise and resources. Not easy in these days of ‘austerity’.

Ann-Marie Hulme

Women of Bradford: Heritage walk

Manningham Library

001Manningham Library

Manningham Library was the start of this fascinating guided heritage walk by Helen Broadhead on 21st April.

This historic building was first opened in 1910. Four decorative stone works on the front of the building feature great writers: Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton and Wordsworth.

Today as part of Bradford Library Service this library offers the full rage of library services including books in a range of languages, children’s activities, free internet access, daily newspapers and access to local and family history information.

Manningham Tradesmen’s Homes

Nowadays these houses provide retirement accommodation. However these beautiful houses and chapel that form a peaceful oasis in the centre of this bustling area of Bradford were built for a special purpose: to house ‘decayed tradesmen’.

The charity commission website states:


The plaque reads:

Tradesman's homes 3


Lilycroft Primary School


The plaque reads:

‘Miriam Lord 1885 – 1968 Champion of the Nursery Children. She was the first head teacher in 1921 of the Lilycroft Open Air Nursery School with its emphasis on outdoor play, visitors came from across the world to see the new nursery movement in action. The school is behind the primary school. Erected 2007.’

Her work was influenced by Margaret McMillan who worked on the Bradford School Board and aimed to get free school meals and milk into schools.

Bradford Local studies Library is now sited on the side of the building now known a Margaret McMillan Tower.

Manningham Mills

Manningham Mills strike centenary

The plaque reads:

‘Manningham mills Strike Centenary 1890-1990. At this place in December 1890 began the Manningham Mills strike which lasted until April 1891. This led to the founding of the Bradford Labour Union which in turn saw the formation of the new national independent Labour Party in Bradford three years later.’

Manningham Mills was otherwise known as Lister’s Mill. This was once the largest silk factory in the world. It was built by Samuel Cunliffe Lister to replace the original Manningham Mills that were destroyed by fire in 1871. At its height, Listers employed 11,000 men, women and children.

The chimney of the mill is 249 feet (76 m) high, and can be seen from many areas of Bradford

Manningham Mills

Bradford Children’s Hospital

Bradford Children’s Hospital on St Mary’s Road, Manningham, the hospital first opened in October 1890.

The hospital, with its distinctive round wards, touched the lives of many Bradford families over the generations.

Now this fine building has found a new purpose as a Shia Mosque.

Thank you to Helen Broadhead for this journey of discovery around the streets of Manningham and for sharing her thorough research and knowledge of the local area. Helen’s guided walk around these iconic locations in Bradford was full of the stories of inspirational women and men who lived, worked and campaigned in the city for social improvements and justice.


New E-Newspaer and E-Magazine Service

Featured Image -- 1730

Our subscription to the  Zinio E-Magazine service has now expired and has been replaced by Pressreader

PressReader provides access to over 7000 daily newspaper and magazine titles from more than 100 countries, in over 60 languages while connected to the Internet.

Read a newspaper or magazine in its original or screen-friendly format, print articles, listen to audio narration, and translate content from around the world in up to 17 languages.

PressReader gives you:

  • Free instant same day access to thousands of newspapers and magazines worldwide.
  • Including UK national daily and weekend titles.
  • Free to all library members.
  • Available 24/7.
  • Download and read offline.
  • Dedicated Apple and Android apps. Just search for Pressreader in the AppStore or Google Play.

How to access

There are two ways to access PressReader:

  • Access PressReader on any Bradford library computer or library Wi-Fi without logging in or creating a PressReader account. Simply visit and you will automatically gain access.
  • Create a PressReader account with your library card, either on your PC at home/office or via the app. This will allow you to access the newspapers and magazines collection remotely:
    1. Visit the PressReader website
    2. Click Sign In, and select Library Card
    3. Select Bradford or type Bradford in the search box
    4. Enter your Library card number (if this ends in an “x” please change “x” to a random number)

The Sporting Heritage of Bradford

During the second half of the nineteenth century Bradford established a proud reputation as a leading centre of sport and was known for the enthusiasm and prowess of its sports clubs.

However, after the end of World War One, Bradford became increasingly associated with sporting failure and ultimately, in 1985 with tragedy. The proud heritage of the nineteenth century tended to be overlooked and forgotten.

The origins and early development of sport in Bradford has hitherto been neglected by local historians.

In 2016 John Dewhirst published two books, ROOM AT THE TOP and LIFE AT THE TOP that narrate the history of Bradford sport from its beginnings through to becoming commercialised in the final quarter of the nineteenth century. His books explain how Bradford became a rugby centre and of how the intense rivalry of Manningham FC and Bradford FC dominated sporting passions, later extended into soccer through Bradford City AFC and Bradford Park Avenue AFC. He also offers an alternative explanation for the breakaway Northern Union in 1895.

On Saturday 19th May he will be talking about his research findings and answering questions from people interested in Bradford’s sporting heritage at the Local Studies Library, Bradford 10:30am – 12pm.

For further details, and to book a place please contact Bradford Local Studies Library
on 01274 433688 or email:

Local Studies Library
Margaret McMillan Tower (side entrance)
Princes Way
Bradford Council BD1 1NN

Bfd Local Studies Library 19-May-18-DESKTOP-MQLEL95-1

Treasure of the week no. 20 – Decayed tradesmen, fags of the family & stained glass windows

JND 194/14 (Please quote this number if requesting this item)

jnd 194 14 001

BRADFORD TRADESMEN’S HOME. Lily Croft, Manningham21st Annual Report, with list of Donors and Subscribers.  Bradford: W. Byles and Sons, Printers. 24 pages plus 10 engravings, 1889.

Caring for the elderly has ever been with us. Before state pensions, the National Heath Service, and local authority Social Services, the problem concerned many of Bradford’s leading citizens. Many Benevolent Societies were established and the success of the Tradesmen’s Benevolent Society charted here, in building houses for pensioners, is an inspiring story.

‘The idea of a Home for decayed Tradesmen was suggested by the administration of the affairs of the Tradesmen’s Benevolent Institution. Very early in the history of that Charity it became painfully evident that the mere annuity was insufficient to relieve the necessities of the recipients. With the most frugal management it could barely supply the means of sustenance, so that, with respect to what is equally important for the aged and the careworn – a peaceful home – they must shift as best they could. The pensioners must either be lodgers in the poorest and most unhealthy localities, exposed to every disturbance likely to destroy that calm so necessary for man’s final preparation, or they must dwell with their married children, where there may be equal annoyance, and a sense of dependence – where the grandfather is often made the fag of the family, the grandmother the incessant nurse, – and where in bad times the first resource is to forestall the pensioner’s annuity.’

A proposal was made to erect thirty houses, to be tenanted, free of rent, rates, and taxes, by pensioners of the Tradesmen’s Benevolent Society and others, to be elected by the donors to the fund. A site for the building was purchased at Lilycroft, Manningham, plans of the houses were prepared and adopted,  and in due time the foundation stone was laid by Sir Titus Salt, who donated two thousand guineas. The thirty houses were all occupied by 1870 and during 1877 and 1878 another block of thirteen houses were erected. There was a lofty hall that could seat 300 persons, a hall that was beautifully enriched with memorials in stained glass of several departed friends of the Institution.


“Our Criminal Ancestors”

Do you have a criminal ancestor?

Police constable or prison officer in the family?

Victims or witnesses of crime?

Find out more about the history of crime and criminal records…

Meet leading experts and uncover the secrets of finding, interpreting and using criminal records at this FREE introductory workshop.

Wednesday 18th April – 11am– 1.15pm

Bradford Local Studies Library
Old Central Library, Princes Way, Bradford

Please contact the library to book: 01274 433688 or local.studies@bradford

This event has been organised by the Bradford Police Museum and supported by Bradford Local Studies Library


Map of the week: Old Frizinghall

Bradford local historians are most fortunate in having the Local Studies Library and the West Yorkshire Archives (Bradford) under the same roof, each with helpful and dedicated staff. To illustrate the value of this I shall trace the history of a single building starting with the Local Studies Library reserve map collection which provides a detailed plan of the area between Bradford and Shipley. The plan is completely unlabelled but field boundaries and properties are meticulously drawn. A detail is included here which shows the canal and Bradford Beck at the bottom. A continuous line (red in the original) near the map centre must represent the railway to be opened by the Leeds & Bradford (later Midland) Railway Company in 1846. The discontinuous lines lines on either side were presumably an estimate of the land needed to be acquired by the company. The date of the map would be the early 1840s. From comparison with the first OS map of the area, surveyed a few years later, the track did follow exactly this route.

Map of the Week 029 A

You would need to know this area very intimately to recognise the hamlet in the upper centre of the map as Frizinghall. This is now considered to be part of Heaton, which was not incorporated into the Borough of Bradford until 1882. To orientate yourself imagine you are standing in Bolton Woods: the direction of Bradford is to the left and Shipley to the right. The course of the beck has since been straightened and between it and the railway is the modern Canal Road, at roughly the position of the lower interrupted line. The thoroughfare drawn crossing the canal is Gaisby Lane. The next plan is a detail from a lovely Frizinghall map which is approximately contemporary with the first image. It is available in the LSL main collection.

Map of the Week 029 B

There was to be extensive house building over the next 50 years, probably after Frizinghall train station was opened in 1875, but many features on this map are still visible today. The three buildings in the lower third certainly still exist. The only one with public access fronts the turnpike road. This is the Black Swan public house; the triangle of land on which it sits was once called Swan Hill and is well above road level. The Black Swan must predate even this map by several centuries and is well worth a visit. From its car park the housing which looks like a laterally inverted L is also visible. The third building in the cluster is a private house then called the Old Hall.

 My personal favourite is the building in the middle of the blue coloured land opposite the ‘turn’ of turnpike; this is still easily visible from the road. Although latterly called ‘The Old Barn’ when it was a pub-restaurant, the property was known as ‘The Poplars’ for much of the twentieth century. Earlier than that it was ‘Carr Syke Farm’ or ‘Lower Carr Syke Farm’. The Carr Syke was a watercourse, the name deriving from the Norse meaning ‘the stream in the marshy ground’. In the late eighteenth century the Carr Syke Farm seems to have formed part of the estate of Benjamin Hird of Frizinghall which was sold to a Dr Joshua Walker of Leeds in 1795. The estate passed to Dr Walker’s daughter Margaret, and then by marriage to a well-known Quaker, William Leatham of Hemsworth Hall, Wakefield. I believe it was owned by his family for the next 80 years. In 1883 the property was then sold to Bradford Corporation by William Henry Leatham and others. Two years later the property was purchased from Bradford Corporation by the Clockhouse Estate who retained it well into the twentieth century. Much of this portion of the estate eventually became the location of Bradford Boys Grammar School.

If you wish to learn even more a distinguished local historian, Lillian Robinson, wrote a detailed account of Frizinghall (the place of her birth) in the years 1973-75. This work does not seem to have been published but typescript copies are available in the Library (B942 ROB). The notes on which this work is based are available in the Archives (WYB140) and are as useful as the completed work itself. Earlier still M. Blundell Heynemann had written an account for The Heaton Review in 1931. She had this to say: ‘on the right, down a paved path, is the entrance to the Poplars, the residence of Mr Wilkinson, the Clock House Estate Agent. A farm, now demolished, formerly stood facing the road and only the old barn and stables still remain. It was farmed by a Mr Greenwood who went there in 1877’. The Bradford historian Cudworth clearly mentions, without directly naming, Lower Carr Syke Farm because of its association with William Wilson who once leased it: ‘another old homestead at Frizinghall, enclosed in its own grounds, was for some time the residence of a most exemplary Quaker family, named Wilson, originally of Esholt. One of the members of this interesting family, named Willie or ‘Quaker’ Wilson (1767-1849), enjoyed a reputation throughout the entire kingdom for his many eminent qualities as a philanthropist.’  Wilson was apparently able to retire at fifty years of age (that is in 1817) with a fortune of many thousands of pounds. This he methodically gave away to the poor over the next 30 years. He died, much lamented, in November 1849, aged 82, and his remains were interred in the Friends’ burial-ground, Bradford.

With the next two images the Archives comes into its own. Both are rotated 90° anti-clockwise from the first two. We have moved back a generation to Joshua Walker Sr. (1713-1801) who was also a Bradford Quaker, and an apothecary; he seems to have been an amateur architectural enthusiast who drew many house plans. It was his son, Dr Joshua Walker (1746-1817) physician at Leeds Infirmary, who had bought the Carr Syke estate. One of his father’s undated plans, available in the Archives, is labelled ‘Lister Patience’s Farm’; Heaton & Manningham’. The field boundary pattern fits Lower Carr Syke Farm. In this plan the present building would appear to be originally a barn which has two cottages (now missing) in front of it.

Map of the Week 029 C 

Another of Joshua Walker’s productions, WYA(B) 85D90 plan 45, is described as showing a ‘laithe house and yards’. There’s not much doubt that Lower Carr Syke Farm would have appeared very much like this when first arranged for human habitation. It is quite possible that the drawing does actually represent Lower Carr Syke Farm itself. The two cottage-like structures in the foreground could easily be those marked on the map of ‘Lister Patience’s farm’. I have not been able to trace ‘Lister Patience’, nor Patience Lister which sounds a more probable name. Can anyone help?

Map of the Week 029 D



Derek Barker, Local Studies Library volunteer


SITUATED around three miles north of Bradford, Greengates  is unfairly known by many as no more than the busy Bradford to Harrogate and Leeds to Keighley crossroads.  Its boundaries, however, spread beyond this busy junction. The actual parish boundaries show that Greengates includes parts of the Thorpe Edge and Ravenscliffe estates and Apperley Bridge.


Map of Greengates, 1908


Greengates is not an ancient village with its roots going back to Saxon times. It is simply a village of the Victorian era, built with the grey Yorkshire stone of early Victorian prosperity.  In fact little of Greengates nowadays is more than 60 years old.

The village, like many others in Bradford, has now been swallowed up by the city.  However, some of the prettier and more interesting qualities of the place still exist.  Take, for example, the row of cottages in Stockhill Fold.  They were built for weavers and some date from as early as 1786.  They were renovated in 1979.  The builders and architects ensured that many of the original features were retained.   In fact, Methodist pioneer John Wesley is reputed to have stayed in one of the cottages. They are all now listed buildings.

Stockill Fold

Weavers Cottages in Stockhill Fold, 2002


Another of the village’s most famous landmarks is its war memorial, situated at the busy crossroads. The imposing angel statue was erected in memory of the men of Greengates who died in World War One.

War Mem

War Memorial, 2002


Some older people may still remember with affection Greengates’ mills, or the acres and acres of green fields that surrounded the village before the arrival of the large housing estates in the area. Some people may also remember some of the district’s characters.  There was the hermit who lived on the moors of Thorpe Edge,  before the estate was built there.  He was known as ‘Pit Dick’, living in one of the old mines that used to be dotted all over the moor. His real name was Richard Bolton. Local lads used to tease him and pinch his possessions.  The girls, though, were scared stiff of him.

Then there was Greengates’s own ‘Wee Willie Winkie’, Joshie Cockey.  He was employed as a ‘knocker up’, by the local mill owners.  Some may remember the time when he knocked everyone up an hour early.  When he realised his mistake he had to to go back on his rounds letting folk know that they could have another hour in bed.

Greengates was a real centre for Methodism in Bradford. The first group met there in 1781, the year Wesley was supposed to have stayed in Stockhill Fold. Methodism prospered and meetings were held in a building in Haigh Hall Road. This building eventually became Greengates Library as well as a burling and mending workshop.

Today Greengates can certainly be a bottleneck.   The busy junction at its centre, known as New Line, is now under more pressure with the arrival of supermarkets and retail parks.  Next time you’re doing your weekly shop in Sainsbury’s, or travelling between Shipley and Leeds or  Bradford and Harrogate, spare a thought for what used to be a small, quiet village, with superb views over  the Aire Valley.

New Line

New Line, Greengates, in more peaceful times

Taken from The Illustrated History of Bradford’s Suburbs, 2002