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.

Small Town, Saturday Afternoon

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On Saturday 14th July, Trevor Simpson by-passed the defenders: Wimbledon, the World Cup and a hot, blue sky day in Yorkshire to strike gold for Keighley Library in a talk about – you’ve guessed it – local music heritage. He was as hot as Billy Fury and music events’ mogul, Janet Mawson, was as relieved as Gareth Southgate when an audience of upward of 70 people turned out.  In fact the Library was very lucky to get Trevor because, as a former referee, if his talk had been scheduled for the afternoon of the previous week, when the dream was very much alive and England was taking on Sweden, he would probably have shown us the red card.

Trevor Simpson has two passions in life: football and music, or is that music and football? As a referee, he officiated for the football league at the highest level for every club except West Ham United. He even put Gaza in his place during a Tottenham versus Manchester United match at White Hart Lane. He was also a linesman at a World Cup qualifier but enough said on that score.  Musically, Trevor started out as a mobile disc jockey and moved on to hospital radio in December, 1981 and is still a DJ after some 37 years. He reckons it is well worth breaking a leg to get in to hospital to listen to his show. One of his more amusing requests was for Johnny Cash’s Ring of Fire from a chap who was recovering from a haemorrhoid operation. However, it was in the days after the war when music began to change again and youth culture began to grow, along with Saturday night culture, that Trevor, with a real feel for social history and a recognition that those days marked unique and exciting change, began to collate and collect memorabilia and information about the local music scene that he so loved.  He used this information and first-hand experience to write and illustrate two original, bestselling books. Both called Small Town Saturday Night, the first volume is a musical journey through the 1960s, chronicling the development of the popular music culture in the next town from Keighley, Halifax. The second volume continues with the story of the dance halls, groups, the Champion Jack Dupree and the two local music festivals, looking at the period 1954-1970.

These two books formed the basis of the talk and although the focus was on Halifax, it translated well to a love affair with the music scene in virtually any 1960s Northern town.  In fact, some in the audience had been to the same venues and gigs as Trevor,  including Keighley’s musical heritage volunteer, Malcolm Hanson, who remembered trips to Halifax, especially to the Princess Ballroom, with his friends, often walking there and staggering back in the early hours to Denholme. We heard about the acts such as Dusty Springfield, Cliff Richard, Marty Wilde, Rod Stewart, Shirley Bassey and the time the Jackson Five were given a sound ticking off for being tardy about their second set after a brotherly bust-up before the show. Stories of colourful entrepreneurs were of equal interest from the young, ambitious dance instructor, Pearl Paling of the Princess Ballroom; the three huge wrestlers, Shirley Crabtree (alias, “Big Daddy”) and his brothers, to the budding entrepreneur who refused to book, “the Be-attles” with “someone called Cilla Black” because in true Yorkshire fashion, they were, “How much?!!..”. Trevor also illustrated these stories and anecdotes with a film he made of all the venues he spoke of. We also heard a cassette of some of the stars that had kindly recorded “hello” to the patients for his hospital radio show, including that someone called Cilla Black. All this really made the history come to life and the whole experience was an enjoyable and memorable one to match such a major sporting day. Let’s hope for a return visit please.

The next Keighley Musical Heritage event will be held on Heritage Day, 15th September and will be a celebration of the 1970s hosted by volunteer, Malcolm Hanson, who is still gathering memorabilia from bands and fans. Malcolm can be contacted for this at the following:

Email: or call Malcolm on 01756 798730

Sadly, the two great books by Trevor Simpson packed full of information, photographs and memorabilia are now out of print but we do hold reference copies in Keighley’s Local Studies Library.

Small Town Saturday Night by Trevor Simpson (Milltown Memories Publications, Hebden Bridge, 2007), ISBN 978-0-9548960-2-7

Small Town Saturday Night (Volume Two) by Trevor Simpson (Milltown Memories Publications, Hebden Bridge, 2008), ISBN 978-0-9548960-3-4

From the Mill to Monte Carlo: The Working-Class Englishman who Beat the Monaco Casino

Many thanks to Anne Fletcher for sharing the wonderful story of her great-great-great uncle Joseph Hobson Jagger in her fascinating talk in Bradford Local Studies library at Bradford Festival on Saturday.

Based on her newly published book, Anne told the story of a man who went from Bradford mill worker to Monte Carlo millionaire. Amongst the men ‘who broke the bank at Monte Carlo’, Joseph Hobson Jagger is unique. He is the only one known to have devised an infallible and completely legal system to defeat the odds at roulette and win a fortune. But he was not what might be expected. He wasn’t a gentleman or an aristocrat, he wasn’t a professional gambler, he was a Yorkshire textile worker who had laboured in the Victorian mills of Bradford since childhood.

Joseph Jagger was an exceptional man who travelled nearly a thousand miles to the exclusive world of the Riviera in a time when most people lived and died within a few miles of where they were born. The trains that took him there were still new and dangerous, he did not speak French and had never left the north of England. His motivation was strong. Joseph, his wife and four children, the youngest of whom was only two, faced a situation so grave that their only escape seemed to be his desperate gamble on the roulette tables of Monte Carlo. Today Jagger’s legacy is felt in casinos worldwide and yet he is virtually unknown.

In  this true-life detective story, Anne uncovers how he was able to win a fortune, what happened to his millions and why Jagger should now be regarded as the real ‘man who broke the bank at Monte Carlo’.

‘From the Mill to Monte Carlo’
By Anne Fletcher



‘From the Mill to Monte Carlo’. A talk by Anne Fletcher

Come and meet Anne Fletcher on Saturday 14th July at 12pm on the first floor of City Library, Bradford, and then come and join her for a free talk and chat at 2pm in Bradford Local Studies Library, Margaret McMillan Tower (side entrance).

This is the story of the man from Bradford who beat the casino. Anne Fletcher is his great-great-great niece and in this true-life detective story she uncovers how he was able to win a fortune, what happened to his millions and why Jagger should now be regarded as the real ‘man who broke the bank at Monte Carlo’.

Free event, all welcome



Small Town Saturday Night

Trevor Simpson is the author of two books telling the story of a love affair with the local music scene in a Northern town.  Join Trevor to hear the story of rock n’roll at its peak in the 1950’s and 1960’s, told with humour and shared memories.

The talk will be accompanied by a display of photos and memorabilia from the 50’s and 60’s.

Free event, all welcome.

For more details contact Keighley Local Studies Library:
01535 618215