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