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.
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.
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.
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?
Derek Barker, Local Studies Library volunteer