Late to the Game

robgrilloOn Saturday Bradford Local Studies Library hosted a talk by Rob Grillo, author of several sporting histories. His new book ‘Late to the Game’ covers the introduction to and early years of football in Bradford as it took over from rugby as the main winter sport. However it took the round ball game a long time to come to the West Riding and to Bradford in particular. The book is the sixth in a series of volumes in the Bantamspast series published by John Dewhirst who introduced the talk.

In his talk Rob explained how Bradford had many early failed attempts to create a successful soccer team in the late 1880s and how the current Bradford City AFC was founded in 1903. In the book there is a section on the women’s game and the reporting of early exhibition games before the FA banned women from playing on FA grounds in 1921. The book covers the successful Bradford schoolboys team, English champions in 1916 as well as details of all of the teams around the city including Bingley and Shipley.

A big thank you from Local Studies to Rob Grillo for a great morning and for sharing his expert knowledge and detailed research in this often neglected area of Bradford’s social history.

‘Late to the Game: The origins of association football in Bradford and the story of its pioneering clubs’ by Rob Grillo (bantamspast 2019) 9780956698490


‘The Origins of Soccer in Bradford’

‘The Origins of Soccer in Bradford’

A talk by Rob Grillo with an introduction by John Dewhirst

Bradford Local Studies Library,
Margaret McMillan Tower (side entrance), Princes Way,

Saturday 8 June
10.30am-12.00 noon

All welcome

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

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. Bradford City and Bradford (Park Avenue) football clubs need no introduction, but over the years there have been a myriad of amateur football teams that have strived to better themselves.

Rob Grillo is the author of several sporting histories. His most recent book ‘Late to the Game’ covers the early years of association football in Bradford.

late to the game book cover 3

He will speak about his research findings; the early teams and league and cup competitions in the city as well as the early pioneers of the sport. He will also explain how the growth of soccer in the West Riding in the early years was affected by the region’s professional rugby league clubs.

John Dewhirst is well known for his interest in the history of Bradford sport in particular football and Bradford City AFC. He was co-founder of the City Gent fanzine and has authored several books in the BantamsPast series.

Come along and meet these two experts. Hear about the remarkable story of Bradford’s sporting history and there will be the opportunity to ask questions after the talk.

There will be a display to accompany the event which will remain in the Local Studies library until the end of June.

team photo 2the art of dribbling 4


Gary Cavanagh and Noise of the Valleys -Bradford Local Studies Library

Earlier this year, Gary Cavanagh one of the co-authors of Noise of the Valleys books, gave a talk at Bradford Local Studies Library on the music scene in Bradford and surrounding areas. He focused upon musical acts from the 60’s to the 80’s and mainly upon the more mainstream and ear friendly artists which included a band called Three Good Reasons  from Keighley that reached no 1 in the Dutch charts with a cover version of the Beatles ‘Nowhere Man’!


He also charted the history of the hidden musical gems of the area whilst giving the backstory to better known artists like Kiki Dee and her history with Motown and even Bingley’s Rodney Bewes with the single for the theme tune from his first sitcom, on which he performed the vocals. Gary outlined his quest to seek out these and other rare tracks for his ‘Noise of the Valleys’ project which now comprise of 14 CDs worth of music from the local area and two volumes of books.

It was an informative and entertaining talk and Gary’s enthusiasm for and knowledge of the local music scene and its history and importance shone through and some  members of the audience remembered going to the old venues and clubs he mentioned in association with the artists and bands. The talk was interspersed with snippets from rare tracks including a song from Keighley’s own Linda Russell and former Shipley based American soul star Tommy Hunt!

The Noise of the Valleys books and CDs are a real labour of love for Gary Cavanagh and Matt Webster and an important preservation of the rich spectrum of local music heritage for the people of Bradford and surrounding areas.  Volume three of the books which will cover the era 1999-2009 is currently being compiled and written. You can support this project here:




Peaceful Women

Bradford and Keighley Local Studies Libraries celebrated International Women’s Day with a series of events over the week featuring ‘Peaceful Women’  by local author, playwright, actor and historian, Irene Lofthouse.

Irene Lofthouse took on the role of ‘Mrs Norton’, an ordinary working class woman actively involved in the campaign for social reform who is given just a few lines in a Bradford newspaper of the time and then lost in history until now.

Over the week, we were pleased to welcome school classes from Worth Valley Primary, Fagley Primary and Beckfoot Allerton Primary as well as Keighley Association for Women and Children, Keighley Women’s network and a great turnout from the general public on the mid-week performance.

‘Peaceful Women’ looked at the era following the end of WW1 and the efforts to use peaceful methods for change.

The performance explored the stories of local women of the time who campaigned for peace during WW1 or for rights following the end of the war. ‘Mrs Norton’ characterised each person through voice and props. The interactive performance raised awareness of known and hidden histories of local women and their impact locally and nationally through an entertaining and educative piece of theatre.

Some of the women included, campaigned for peace in WW1 such as Fanny Muir and Esther Sandiford from Bradford Women’s Humanity League/Women’s Peace Congress.

Also included were those who campained for social reform after WW1 such as Julia Varley, Ethel and Philip Snowden, Margaret McMillan, Bradford MP Muriel Nichols and Barbara Castle. Margaret Wintringham from Silsden was the first British born woman to take her seat  in the House of Commons.

Local archive materials and Electoral Registers from the local studies collections were on display. Bradford Local Studies Electoral Registers began in 1848 and Keighley’s registers began in 1882 when the town was incorporated.

Pictured below are some of the items from the Local Studies collections on display at the event.

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….




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.

“Be-Bop-A-Lula” -Yeh!

Over the past 12 months Keighley Local Studies Library has held a series of very popular  events celebrating the local music scene featuring bands, musicians and speakers but nothing could have prepared the Library for the huge crowd of music fans who turned up on Saturday,  8th December. It became standing room only quite quickly as nearly every chair in the building was commandeered for the burgeoning audience.

The afternoon  featured a rock n roll reunion with a band called the Elderberries,  whose lead singer is the legendary show business entrepreneur Garth Cawood and the event was more than ably compered by the equally legendary Small  Town Saturday Night author, former referee  and local celebrity, Trevor Simpson, making a return visit to Keighley.  The event almost literally raised the roof. Many had attended previous events but the word had spread and the library was soon humming and bouncing to the foot tapping and even impromptu jiving of some of these music lovers.

Garth Cawood’s experience as a music promoter and entertainer really showed in a spot-on performance with his band, despite Garth initially confessing to being “a bit nervous now” at performing in a library to such an unexpectedly large and enthusiastic audience. One member of the band confided that they had expected a quiet afternoon gig in a library – but this is Keighley Library!

Trevor Simpson was compère for the afternoon, back by popular demand, to start the show with a talk about the music of the 1960s in the Yorkshire area. Trevor also interviewed Garth about his career and the time he  purchased Keighley Variety Club at the end of the 1970s and changed its name to the Funhouse. Garth has been friends with many music and T.V. personalities throughout the years such as Tom Jones, Gene Vincent, Billy Fury, Jess Conrad, Diana Dors. The Rolling Stones actually supported Garth’s early band, The Dingos, in concert and Garth had introduced The Beatles on stage in Leeds in the early 1960s. Entertaining stories followed, such as the time Tom Jones (then in the charts at No 1 for Not Unusual) sang for Garth for the price of 4 pints and we loved the fact that Diana Dors, despite being a blonde bombshell in a more chauvinistic era, always managed to manage her manager and herself and even took the troublesome PJ Proby under her wing. All this made for a fascinating hour of music chat and entertainment and that was before the band even started playing!

This whole event was also enhanced by the talented work of local artist David Ingham with some magnificently skilled portraits of Buddy Holly, Johnny Cash and David Bowie, some large scale, which added a certain gravitas to the library as a music venue extraordinaire. The children of the Keighley area were also not forgotten with a special Musical Rhymetime with Martin Henderson of Keighley’s Jamba community band which enabled children to share in the playing of a variety of musical instruments finishing with a rhythmic rendition of Jingle Bells.

Jill, Nina and Denise manned the very busy refreshment stand and managed to raise £121.46 for the Lord Mayor’s Appeal in support of Sue Ryder and Bradford Nightstop. All in all, the event proved the most popular to date. Questionnaires had been distributed to gain very useful feedback. The importance of such events to local people is indicated by the fact that 95% of the forms were actually completed and handed in (a record in itself). The comments were 100% favourable with the express wish for more such events, including future suggestions. Janet Mawson, event organiser, as Tom Jones himself might say – keep your thinking hat on and definitely those blue suede shoes!!

Charlie Bhowmick MBE was also in attendance on the ground floor of the library signing his newly published autobiography which has been going like hotcakes out of this building. It covers his journey from Calcutta to Keighley and has received wonderful reviews. The book is not for sale but a request to donate to charity on receipt of a copy has so far successfully realised £1188 in donations to Yorkshire Cancer Research, together with another £71 raised from the book signing on Saturday 8th December.  Copies are still available in Keighley Library; get your very own before stocks run out.

Gina Birdsall, Keighley Local Studies

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House History at Keighley Local Studies Library

Gina Birdsall and Angela Speight who delivered our recent courses on the subject of House History agreed to write a blog for us about the course.

Following the recent popularity of television programs like ‘A House Through Time’  on BBC 2 that aired earlier this year which looked into the social history, occupants and architecture of a house throughout different periods of history we decided to embark on delivering a course on that often neglected and sometimes difficult area of research: the history of your house.

Condensing such a wide area of research down into a manageable two hour course was a bit of a challenge. Ultimately, we opted for an introductory level course with a one hour talk and slideshow divided into three main areas possible to research: Site, Building and People. There was a small fee for this course which included printing and hand-outs, some concessions applied.

After addressing these research options we then embarked on trying to help get people started or further their research.

Some people opted to look at the computerised resources and used and   to look at the Census and 1939 Register. These websites can be used free of charge in all Bradford Council libraries.

With some help people did have some success in finding who had lived in their properties. Others took a look at some of our vast resources that we had on display including the conservation area assessments and the Tithe Awards for the local area.

With such a wide range of properties and different areas to cover, time seemed to fly and we soon had to finish up, with most people keen and inspired to continue their research. Still the course seemed to be a great success so much so that we hope to run the course again sometime during the New Year.

Gina and Angela

Many thanks to all who have been on courses and left such useful feedback.

‘An excellent session thanks’, ‘Really enjoyed it’ were a couple of comments received.

For more information about further courses contact Keighley Local Studies Library on 01535 618215 or email

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Keighley Library Heritage Open Day 2018

Keighley Library celebrated Heritage Day on Saturday 15th September 2018 with a feast of history and culture celebrating local heritage, community and history. The day was a roaring success with something for everyone in the mix.

Billy Barton from legendary Keighley band Dawnwatcher took us back to the 1970’s and the new 1970’s Musical Heritage exhibition was launched.

Billy Barton talk 4

Billy Barton

Malcolm Hanson told the story of  the Civil War  and local people’s heroic stand. It is a most uplifting story!

Malcolm's talk 3

Malcolm Hanson

Historian Robin Longbottom gave a fascinating and  informative talk about the boundary stones based on his new publication.


Robin Longbottom

History Societies exhibiting included Keighley and District Family History Society, Keighley and District Local History Society, Men of Worth project and Keighley Model Railway Club all with a wealth of information about the local heritage.

The highlight of the day for many was live music from Keighley band ‘Howlin’ Johnny and the Devil’s Rejects’ who had the audience on their feet and the building rocking to the rafters.

A comment from the Visitors book:

Comments book

‘Howlin’ Johnny brought the house down, people stood, clapped and sang to give a good time feel to Keighley. Skiffle, Rock and Blues mixed to perfection; and to end with thunderous applause.’

The 1970’s exhibition will be up in the library until the end of October.

There are still  opportunities to hear Malcolm Hanson’s Civil War talk in libraries on the following dates:

Saturday September 22nd, 2.00pm, Denholme Library
Saturday September 29th, 2.00pm, Eccleshill Library
Saturday October 6th, 2.00pm, Bingley Library
Saturday October 13th, 2.00pm, Shipley Library
Saturday October 20th, 2.00pm, Bradford Local Studies Library
Saturday 27th October, 2.00pm, Ilkley Library
Saturday 3rd November, 2.00pm Wyke Library

October 1642. ‘When the battle began, the Royalist Commanders laughed at Bradford’s rabble army, but help for Bradford was at hand.’ Join Local historian Malcolm Hanson as he  brings to life this story of great heroism. These are free events. No booking required.