International Women’s Week in Keighley Local Studies Library

International Women’s Week in Keighley Local Studies Library was celebrated with another popular talk by Irene Lofthouse in full costume. Over 50 people ignored any remaining difficulties of ice and snow to hear about some of the inspirational women of Keighley at the turn of the century.

Margaret Winteringham (first British born female MP in Parliament, child and family welfare campaigner); Rachel Leach (early Dalton mill owner and business woman); Lady Ethel Snowden (campaigner, speaker for women’s rights, ILP member, BBC Board of Governors); Frances Smith (mill worker, councillor, champion of child welfare and public health and first woman director of the Co-op Society Ltd); Margaret Pickles (a Keighley Guardian, a member of the Keighley Union Relief Committee who championed better conditions for the poor and taking children’s upbringing outside the workhouse environment) were just some of the women brought vividly to life by this entertaining actor-historian Irene Lofthouse, who, we are proud to say, does much of her research here in Keighley using our renowned Local Studies’ collection. Our holdings include the Lady Ethel Snowden Library, Down Memory Lane articles by the late Dr Ian Dewhirst MBE, news cuttings, local histories and archives, including a large collection of resources on local mills and their owners. Please see our leaflet guides on this site.

Women in Publishing

Keighley Local Studies also put on a display about women in publishing with reference to an excellent online article on the British Library website by Dr Margaretta Jolly, Professor of Cultural Studies at the University of Sussex. This examines the progress made by women in the world of publishing, alongside women’s suffrage and rights’ movements that inspired publications such as the Spare Rib magazine and the establishment of Virago press whose archive is now held at the British Library. The article also notes the emergence of greater diversity in the industry to be inclusive of the working class and also minority ethnic representation with a look at Margaret Busby OBE Hon. FRSL, the youngest and first black woman director of a publishing company. There is plenty online about Margaret Busby who is a patron of Independent Black Publishers and was appointed Chair of Judges for the Booker Prize in 2020. Her latest book New Daughters of Africa (ISBN: 9780241997000), an international anthology of writing by women of African descent, is available from Bradford Libraries.

There is a great reading list attached to this article but check out the following sites for more information:

We also featured the emergence in Bradford of two female Asian publishers at Bradford based Fox & Windmill, Habiba Desai and Sara Razzaq.

This is the first independent book publishing company for British South Asian writers, established in 2021. Their inspiring collection of short stories and poetry from British South Asian writers, Into the Wilds, bridges the gap in the publishing industry for writers from a different background.

Women in the Printing Industry

The printing industry itself was also covered with reference to another article about women’s experiences in the printing industry today but also the first woman to have her own printing press and to employ and to train the first young women in the industry, Emily Faithfull (1835-1895). Emily, a vicar’s daughter, trained as a printer and typesetter and launched the Victoria Press in London in 1860. Its aim was to promote women’s rights to skilled and decently paid employment. The Press printed The English Woman’s Journal, considered the first British feminist periodical, edited by activist-poet Bessie Rayner Parkes. Emily was appointed publisher-in-ordinary to Queen Victoria in 1862. The full article can be read at the following site:

Keighley Local Studies also holds a small selection of 19th century broadsides (single sheets of commentary, song or poetry) and previously has collaborated with Piston, Pen & Press an AHRC-funded project that aimed to “understand how industrial workers in Scotland and the North of England, from the 1840s to the 1910s, engaged with literary culture through writing, reading and participation in wider cultural activities”. Check out their web site for more information please:

It just goes to show that inspirational women are everywhere, should be celebrated and their struggles and achievements recorded. We are pleased that Bradford Libraries and Archives on their bookshelves, displays and in their Local Studies’ departments can share in their journey past, present and future.

Gina Birdsall, Local Studies & Archives Assistant

The anniversary of the birth of the Independent Labour Party (ILP) in Bradford, its connections across the district in Keighley and with Philip Snowden, one of the most talented and charismatic of Labour’s leaders

It is true that local history is only a second behind national current affairs. Given today’s volatile political climate and workers’ unrest, an examination of early 20th century history, is not the antiquated process that the notion of progress might lead us to hope for in 2023.

Keighley Library holds a small but important collection of ILP records (BK11) and also the Snowden collection that includes the libraries of early ILP members: Lord Philip Snowden and his wife, Lady Ethel Snowden, so we thought that we would look into these important and still very relevant local connections for this anniversary year.

The national Independent Labour Party was led by Keir Hardie who became its first chairman and had its inaugural meeting in Bradford at Laycocks’ Temperance Hotel, Albion Court, off Kirkgate on 13 January, 1893. Its foundations were rooted in the turmoil in the Bradford textile trade which was facing competition from France and rising foreign tariffs on British goods. This had led to greater local competition and an intensification of machine led production with pressure to produce more by fewer workers for the same wages. The Manningham Mills strikes of 1890 and 1891 saw powerful links forged between the ILP and local trade unions that the Liberal and Tory parties had failed to make. However, most importantly from an historical perspective, the ILP’s critical eye, focused as it was on established politics in such challenging times for lower paid workers, helped to lay the foundations for the growth of the “working class” affiliation with the less radical Labour Party that was emerging under Ramsay MacDonald and ultimately that party’s much greater political success in replacing the Liberal and Tory norm at both local and national levels of government.

In Bradford today, the founding meeting of the ILP is still marked by the large mural on the north side of Leeds Road near the city centre on the wall of the Priestley Theatre in Little Germany.

The ILP in Keighley

Keighley is joined with Bradford in its reputation as being part of the heartland of Labour politics at the Party’s time of emergence. In fact, in the 1890s, Keighley had one of the largest ILP branches in the country. Nevertheless, it seems that the politically dominant Liberal elite in Keighley was able to deter the political success of the ILP in the town.

The 1880s-1890s were full of discontent for working men and women in Yorkshire but despite this, the established party of choice, the Liberal party, still won elections – the largest single group on the Borough Council from 1882-1908. Furthermore, in spite of early electoral successes by 1900, consisting of four ILP town councillors and three School board members (both including Philip Snowden), ILP representation on the Council declined so that from 1904 to 1912 there were no Keighley town councillors for the ILP.

One argument could be that the successful influence and patronage within other areas of the town’s community life: employment, culture, education, religion and temperance were such, that voters could not ultimately be persuaded to embrace the ILP’s more radical politics.  Liberal leaders such as Sir Isaac Holden, Sir John Brigg and Sir Swire Smith had brought much success to Keighley, both as employers in successful and expanding industry but also socially and culturally. They were instrumental in the establishment and success of the Mechanics’ Institute, its popular and nationally successful technical education for young working men and women and also the establishment of a Carnegie Public Library for all in 1904. Keighley’s sizeable Irish population also backed the Liberals at a crucial time in Keighley because of the staunch Liberal Home Rule policy. It is also worth remembering that the ILP in Keighley had fewer funds than either Bradford’s ILP branch or Keighley’s Tory and Liberal parties that relied less on the coffers of lower paid workers. One more point is that voting was still restricted to women who were ratepayers and heads of the household and that excluded many potential radical votes from single working women, paid little within poor working conditions, many in the textile trade. Lady Ethel Snowden was to do much to support women’s suffrage and Philip Snowden also became a champion of this cause.

Another argument might run that as a smaller town than Bradford, there was perhaps less room for independent opposition in such an economically, socially and culturally interconnected town. The Liberal elite were employers, sometimes landlords and held good standing within Keighley’s Non-conformist and temperance led community. Minority radicals would have had to have the mesmerising charisma of John Wesley to pull in supporters who would be going against the grain of such family and communal loyalties. Keighley, as a small town, also appears to have had some class fluidity for the educated and skilled working men. David James, former Bradford District Archivist and Labour historian, points out that some Chartist sympathisers had also been able to do well and gain influence within various organisations in Keighley and that this had also subsequently somewhat clipped their radical wings, (David James, “Local Politics and the Independent Labour Party in Keighley” in Keith Leybourn and David James (eds), The Rising Sun of Socialism 1991), p.106.

However, despite the ultimate failure of an early political conquest in Keighley, the influence of the ILP, as in Bradford, was still a pervasive one. It endured and promoted an alternative political option to Liberalism and Toryism in frustrating times for those working people, particularly with skill and education, and it offered a means of publicly active criticism, not least through its growing relations with developing trade unions. Finally, and again in the words of David James, above all, “…it sowed the seeds of a successful independent working-class political party, though it was the Labour Party that was to reap the harvest.” (ibid., p.118).

Lord Philip Snowden, Chancellor of the Exchequer for the first Labour Government

Although he never became Keighley’s MP, it was in Keighley that Philip Snowden was to cut his political teeth.

Born in Cowling in 1864 to cotton and worsted weavers from Ickornshaw, his parents were staunch Methodists and members of the Temperance society. It was an upbringing that was to shape his later political career.

“I was brought up in this radical atmosphere it was then that I imbedded the political and
social principals which I have held ever since”

Philip was one of three children but unlike his two elder sisters, due to the shrewd saving of his father, he did not enter the local mill to work at the aged 10. Instead, Philip who was a bright child stayed on at school and attended the newly established board school from 1874, becoming a pupil teacher in 1877.

His interest in politics started when his family was forced to move to Nelson on the closure of Cowlings mill in 1879.Taking up a job as a clerk in an insurance office in Burnley. His early leaning however, were to favour the Radical Liberal ideals of his father.

In 1886 he won a competition to join the civil service and started to work as excise man. Over the next few years he travelled the country working in Liverpool, the Orkneys and Aberdeen.   However, his civil service career was cut short when in 1889 whilst at Plymouth he sustained a back injury that that left him paralysed. He returned home to Ikornshaw to be nursed by his widowed mother and over the next few years he learned to walk again but walked with a stick for the rest of his life.

Whilst convalescing he put his frustrations into reading and began to read widely on the subject of socialism. Between 1892-1995 his leaning went from the Radical Liberal to moving over to the Socialism of the Independent Labour Party.

His contribution to local politic in Keighley was a significant one, he joined the Keighley ILP in 1895 only a few years after its formation and he became editor of the Keighley Labour Union Journal in 1898. By 1899 he was a Labour councillor and School Board member. His journalistic abilities along with his fine oratory skills made him popular figure and he drew large crowds to his speeches. At the Labour Church and he went on to tour the nation giving talks on socialism.

Philip was now making a name for himself with in the Labour moment, one of the big four alongside Keir Hardie, Ramsey MacDonald and Bruce Glasier. He served as chairman of the National Administrative Council of the ILP.

The early 1900s saw his gradual withdrawal from the Keighley political scene and his attentions tuned first towards Leeds and then west to the Lancashire. Local politics had shown its limitations, and he became of the belief that real social change could only be achieved through entry to parliament. His attempt to stand as the ILP candidate in Keighley in 1895 had been thwarted by lack of funds. He did not give up and after two failed attempts at Blackburn in 1900 and in Wakefield 1902, he was eventually elected as Labour MP for Blackburn in 1906.

It was also around this time that he met Ethel Annakin a young school teacher, feminist and socialist. Like minded and both ambitious for their political causes they married in Otley in 1905, against his mother’s wishes. A leading suffragist it was Ethel that was to convert her husband to the cause. He was also becoming a recognised expert on economic issues and advised David Lloyd George on his 1909 peoples budget.

The couple were travelling when war broke out and they found themselves on the other side of the Atlantic. Snowden’s opposition to the Fist World War was contrary to the Labour Party’s patriotic support and he found himself once again aligned with the left and the anti-war ILP. Such views were against the grain at the time, saw him defeated at the next general election in 1918.


In 1922 he was elected as the Labour MP for Colne Valley. Only two years late in 1924 the first Labour Government was formed, and he was appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer under Ramsey MacDonald. He went on to reprise his role as Chancellor in 1929 as part of the second Labour government.

It was when he continued as chancellor 1931 under the National Government that he met with controversy. After he introduced a budget that had been rejected by the previous labour cabinet, he was expelled from the Labour party.

Struggling with ill health he did not stand in 1931 instead he given a peerage. They became viscount and Viscountess Snowden of Ikornshaw. Philip turned to journalism in later years, but he suffered from increasing ill health and died on 15th May 1937.

The town had obviously made an impact on her husband for it was to Keighley library that Lady Ethel Snowden gave his 3,000 strong collection of books along with his writing desk. Her books joined those of her husbands on her death in 1951.

Census 2021 – history in the making

Another first is about to happen in March with the digital-first census in 2021 but when was the first census, why was it taken and what use has it served and will serve in the future?

The census is a head count of everyone in the country on a given day. A census has been taken in England and Wales, and separately for Scotland, every ten years since 1801, with the exception of 1941, due to WW2.

In 1801 to 1831, the government basically wanted to know the number of people in each area, their sex and age groups. The government was not bothered about personal details, just statistics. Sometimes the enumerator took down more details but this is a rare occurrence. This changed in 1841, when the names of people in each household were included together with information about each person.  Thereafter more information was added each decade.

How the census was taken in the past?

In the week preceding census night, the appointed enumerator delivered the forms to all households in an Enumeration District (approximately 500 people). Censuses did not strictly follow county boundaries. The first page of each District states the route taken. Everyone who slept in the house that night had to be included, even if it wasn’t their permanent home. No person absent was included so salesmen, for example, were included in the census where they lodged on their journey. Census dates are important and vary but they were taken on a Sunday as the night when most people would be at home. Earlier in the year is preferred, since 1851, because many people helped with harvesting in the summer and daylight was always needed for enumerators to carry out their rounds. Forms were filled in for anyone who was unable to read and/or write and there are often many spelling mistakes and some names spelled differently.

On the Monday the forms were collected. The information was then transferred to the Enumerator’s books. The General Record Office compiled the statistics. The date for our 2021 census is Sunday 21 March. For more information, please follow these links:

The Release of the 1921 Census

There is a 100 year closure for freedom of information and data protection reasons for the full household census returns so that the last census to be released was the 1911 in 2012. In 2022 the 1921 census will be released on Findmypast to which Bradford Libraries already have a subscription.

However, a Register was taken in 1939 and this provides some householder information. It is not a full census.  

To obtain free access to historical censuses and the 1939 Register, Bradford Libraries have provided free use of Ancestry from your own home during lockdown. Please follow these instructions:

To access Ancestry Library you will need a Bradford Libraries membership card.

Go to  and join the library and/or log in to your library account with your card number and pin. Remember to input just the numbers. Next, click on the special link to Ancestry Library Edition.

How useful is the information collected?

Census returns can be used for social and economic historical research for the Victorian period. As they also give place of birth, they can be used for the study of migration, for trades and occupations, and of course for household and family structures. They are a must for family history and house history researchers and can be used in the study of town and village growth and development.

Why we should take part most especially in 2021.

As a thorough analysis of population the census helps determine social needs and future development. Census information helps plan and fund services in your own area including healthcare, education and transport. It is also used by charities for funding arrangements and businesses for market research and start-up and so impacts on job opportunities. After Covid,  the 2021 census will have particular importance.

To learn more about the census in 2021 please follow these links:

In Bradford:


Initiative for Bradford Secondary School Students to contribute

Gina Birdsall, Keighley Local Studies Library

Captain Sir Tom Moore

We were all saddened to hear of the passing of Captain Sir Tom Moore earlier this month.  A truly remarkable man, whose determination and show of ‘true Yorkshire grit’ during an incredibly difficult year, proved a beacon of hope to us all during lockdown. Raising over £32 million for the NHS he was an inspiration to us all.

A ‘Son of Keighley’, Sir Tom was presented with the Freedom of the Borough last summer on a visit back to his hometown, where a plaque was unveiled in his honour. Here is a look back at Captain Sir Toms’ Keighley origins.

Tom was Born on the 30th of April 1920, to Wilson ‘Wilfred’ Moore, a Mason, and Isabella Hird, a Headmistress.    

Tom’s paternal grandfather, Thomas Moore, came to Keighley in the 1870s after his marriage to Hannah Whitaker. Originating from a farming family in the Yorkshire Dales, seeing no prospect in farming, Tom set out to become a Stone Mason. Having trained in Bradford, Thomas took up building work in Keighley and an early job of his was the building of the impressive wall which surrounds the Cliffe Castle estate. Tom became quite successful and contributed to building many prominent buildings in and around the town. These include, Keighley Town Hall, shops down Cavendish Street, as well as the family home ‘Club Nook, at Riddlesden. Most notably Keighley’s War Memorial, The Cenotaph, situated in Town Hall Square was also Thomas’s firm’s work.

Keighley War Memorial unveiling 1924 (Keighley Photographic Society vol)
W. N. Hird The family shop

Tom’s grandfather on his mothers’ side, John Hird, worked as a barber in the family hairdressing and barbers on Church Street.
During his early childhood Toms’ family lived at 14 Cark Road, a small but modern terrace near to the Town Centre. However on the death of his grandfather Thomas, Wilfred inherited the family home and moved to ‘Club Nook’. Situated in Riddlesden on the edge of Rombald’s moor, it was an idyllic spot for a young Tom, who enjoyed the outdoors and spent much time up on the moors with his pet dog.

Club Nook – the family home

An active and bright lad, Tom entered ‘Keighley Grammar School’ in 1933.

Keighley Boy’s Grammar School. (Keighley Boys Grammar School Archive BK 211)

Although he did not consider himself academic, Tom did well at school and was a member of the debating club of which, Sir Asa Briggs, notable Historian, was also a member.

Tom’s love of machines was spurred by Tom’s Uncle Billy, a motorbike trials rider in his spare time. As a child Tom would watch his uncle take part in races and help him work on his bikes. Tom got his first motorbike at the age of 12, a Royal Enfield, which he proudly restored to working condition himself with no help. This love of motorsports stuck with him and Tom himself took part in motorcycle racing in adulthood. One of Tom’s old bikes from the 1950’s, a Scott Flying Squirrel, was even found at the Bradford Industrial Museum.

Photography was another family pursuit enjoyed not just by Tom’s father Wilfred, but Tom himself, both were Members of the Keighley Photographic Association.

Page from Keighley Photographic Association membership book 1935-1945 (BK83)

Wilfred once had aspirations to become a professional photographer but a complete loss of his hearing unfortunately put an end to any idea of a career.  An excellent photographer, he contributed to the Keighley Photographic Association, with many fine images of Keighley and the surrounding area, some of which appeared in the Keighley News at the time.

Having gained a good education Tom left school at 15 matriculating in, French, English, History, Maths, Chemistry and Physics. He took up an apprenticeship with the Keighley Water Engineer for three years, then at 18 he started a course at Bradford Technical College to study Engineering.  When War came in 1939, Tom a young man of 19 was still studying, but war service was mandatory for all men aged 18-49, so Tom’s War Service started just after he had turned 20, when he was conscripted and joined the 8th Battalion of the Duke of Wellingtons Regiment.  Tom was soon selected for officer training. Having achieved the rank of Second Lieutenant Tom was posted to India. As part of his service he ran a training programme for army motorcyclists. In 1945 now promoted to temporary Captain, Tom returned to England to become a Tank training instructor.         

Post war Tom returned to Keighley to work as a sales manager for a roofing materials company in Yorkshire. A successful career in business ensued and he went on to become general manager of Cawoods Concrete Products Ltd, manufacturing concrete pipes, Cambridgeshire. 

Tom married Pamela in 1968 and the couple went on to have two children, Lucy and Hannah. Sadly Tom lost his wife to Dementia in 2006. So in 2008 Tom went to live with his daughter Hannah and her family in Marston Moretaine, Bedfordshire, where he lived until his death.

His visit back to his hometown in August last year for the unveiling of his plaque was met with much excitement and delight. Here are some of the picture of Captain Sir Tom’s visit. 

The Autobiography, ‘ Tomorrow Will Be A Good Day: My Autobiography by  Captain Tom Moore’ is available with proceeds going to supporting  the  ‘Captain Tom Foundation’  set up in his name.

Copies are also available free to borrow at Bradford Libraries and also via ebook on Borrow Box, the free online ebook and audiobook available through your library membership.      

Keighley Local Studies Library was asked if we could help provide details of photographs for the documentary on Sir Tom’s life, showing the Keighley of Tom’s childhood. The documentary about his life ‘The Life & Times of Captain Sir Tom’ is still available through the ITV hub.

Written by Angela Speight, Keighley Local Studies, with thanks to Eddie Kelly, Gina Birdsall, Rachel Shearer, Amy Moore for providing photographs.

‘Gentleman Jack’ and a first same-sex wedding ceremony

In this LGBTQ+ History Month, we celebrate the life and love of one of Yorkshire’s greats, Anne Lister of Shibden Hall and the first person in the Yorkshire area to have a same-sex wedding ceremony in 1834.

Anne Lister (1791-1840) was part of the famous mill owning Lister family of Bradford and as such was related to Samuel Cunliffe Lister of Manningham Mills.  Anne, however, lived at Shibden Hall, Halifax where that branch of the Lister family had lived since 1615.

Anne was not born at Shibden but moved there as a child to live with her aunt and uncle. She became co-owner in 1826 and, following the death of her brother, inherited the estate in 1836. She became a keen businesswoman, undaunted by the sometimes openly hostile male chauvinism in her local business and political world, and was an adventurous traveller abroad.  She was also the only woman co-founder of the Halifax Literary and Philosophical Society.

Anne Lister assiduously wrote diaries and journals, 24 in number. They listed her daily social, political and business life and travelling exploits but at least one sixth of them were handwritten in code. This coded text later revealed the extent of Anne’s romantic affairs and sexual encounters with women, when they were finally decoded from a mixture of Greek letters, numbers and symbols. Apparently, it was not until the women’s liberation movement of the 1970s and 1980s that it was felt that uncensored editions of her sometimes explicit diaries could be published (Gentleman Jack:  a biography of Anne Lister by Angela Steidele, p.Xi)

Diary extracts and samples of code can be viewed on the excellent web pages of the West Yorkshire Archive Service, that hosts a full exhibition about this remarkable woman, please follow this link:

In 1832, Anne Lister struck up more than her earlier acquaintance with Anne Walker (1803-1854) who, through inheritance with her sisters, had become joint owner of the neighbouring substantial Crow Nest Estate in Halifax. The two Annes became lovers and exchanged rings on 27 February 1834. However, it was on Easter Sunday, 30th March 1834 that they sealed their union when they took communion together in Holy Trinity Church, Goodramgate, York. This building now displays a commemorative rainbow plaque.

Anne Walker and Anne Lister lived together as a married couple at Shibden Hall and also travelled a great deal. It was on one of their journeys in Georgia in 1840 that Anne Lister died. She was only 49 years old. Sadly, Anne Walker, who had always suffered with mental health problems had a severe relapse and was removed to York from Shibden Hall in 1843 having been declared of ‘unsound mind’.  Although she returned to Shibden, she later moved back to her family’s estate Cliffe Hall in Lightcliffe,  where she had been born. She died there in 1854.

There is a wealth of material online about Anne Lister, her life and diaries,  Anne Walker, Shibden Hall and about the making of the most recent television series Gentleman Jack, filmed in Halifax and using Bradford popular film locations, and now into the filming of a second series. Bradford Council also has a number of events to celebrate LGBTQ+ History Month.  Please follow the links below.

Gina Birdsall, Keighley Local Studies

Events in Bradford this month:

To borrow (hard copy or ebook) the acclaimed book that the TV series inspired, Gentleman Jack A Biography of Anne Lister: Regency Landowner, Seducer & Secret Diarist by Angela Steidele, translated by Katy Derbyshire (Serpent’s Tail, 2019)

The diaries:

Shibden Hall:

Filming the series in Yorkshire:

Bradford and District Mills – a continuous contribution to cultural growth and diversity

Photograph of merchants on the main floor of the Wool Exchange, Bradford 1954.
(C.H. Wood, Bradford Museums and Galleries)

By the 1850s it’s estimated that Bradford processed two thirds of the country’s wool production and was generally known as the wool capital of the world. People sought work in Bradford as local rural employment declined but eventually they came from all parts of the world. In 1974, Bradford became a metropolitan district and absorbed other areas such as Keighley that had also experienced early economic and population growth due to its textile trade and related engineering industries.

Despite this propitious beginning and rapid production and success, the District’s textile industry has declined over the years and now the local economy relies on a diversity of industries and technologies. Nevertheless, much of the industrial landscape remains but far from being predominantly the “dark satanic mills” of dereliction and waste, today very many of the old mills have been re-purposed in unique and creative ways so that they can continue to contribute to the social, economic and cultural development of the District. Today we see mills playing a role in pioneering digital technology, film, performance art and culture and they will be an essential consideration in the “Northern Powerhouse” agenda for the District.

Architectural innovation and majesty

Fabric Huge by Mark Keighley

The early mill owners built grand houses that we still admire such as Heathcote, Ilkley (John Thomas Hemingway, Richardsons’ wool merchants);  Cliffe Castle, Keighley (Butterfield family, worsted manufacturers and merchants), Eastwood House, Keighley (William Sugden, worsted spinner);  Lady Royde Hall, Bradford (Henry Illingworth, worsted spinner, manufacturer). However, they also built their mills on a grand scale too, continuing to use the best architects around. Amongst the most splendid mill examples still standing today are Lister’s (Manningham) Mills, Bradford built by Samuel Cunliffe Lister to replace the original Manningham Mills, destroyed by fire in 1871. Built in the Italianate style of Victorian architecture (listed Grade II), the architects were a local firm, Andrews & Pepper who went on to design many fine buildings in Bradford. For all architect details, please see:  Salt’s Mills built by Sir Titus Salt and designed by Bradford’s Town Hall architects Lockwood & Mawson,  is also now Grade II listed and in it floor size at the time was the largest industrial building in the world. It has been described as an Italianate palace as the architecture is after the 15thcentury Italianate style;  Dalton Mills , Keighley (Grade II listed 1134129 ) was built for J. and J. Craven, worsted spinners and manufacturers the complex originally consisted of 3 ornate mills in an eclectic classical style (minarets style towers included) round a small courtyard, Tower Mill, Genappe Mill and New Mill. They were designed by William Sugden of Leek, Staffordshire who also built the Secular Hall in Leicester  All these mills can be examined in more detail individually on the English Heritage Listed Buildings web site:

As well as this grand architecture, mill owners built houses for workers, public buildings such as Institutes, offices and warehouses, some similarly ornate such as in Saltaire Model village and Little Germany in Bradford.  In the last century, mills themselves that were structurally still sound began to be refurbished to produce flats and apartments. These were also popular because of their location near scenic waterways, such as in Saltaire at Victoria Mills and in Bingley. Another of Bradford’s main developments is that of Lister’s Mill. Once the largest silk factory in the world, the Grade II listed buildings have now been converted by Urban Splash into apartments, penthouses and commercial units. The following site shows the transformation with excellent photographs:

Conditioning House, Bradford, is another large and prestigious building development and won the UK Property Award for best residential development in Yorkshire 2018/19. Smaller mills all over the District have also been converted such as Hewenden Mill, Haworth, and others such as Baildon Mills are in the pipeline, so maintaining Bradford’s unique industrial architecture.

Technical Education

The Great Exhibition of 1851 exposed weaknesses in Britain’s manufacturing and industrial educational policy and pinpointed deficiencies in technical drawing skills of students going into industry and manufacturing. Subsequently, the Department of Science and Art was created to raise standards, together with the National Art Training Schools of South Kensington to provide specialist instruction in drawing, designing and modelling. A system of national scholarships was also established. In the late 19th century, students of Keighley Mechanics’ Institute particularly benefited and won many scholarships, encouraged by Swire Smith of Fleece Mills. He travelled through Europe examining different educational methods and skills, gave lectures, served on the Royal Commission on Technical Instruction (1880) and contributed papers to the Technical Education Bill (Technical Instruction Act 1889) and its committee. He received a knighthood in 1898. Keighley Local Studies library holds his archive and a collection of pamphlets.

Digital Technology

Salts Mill, small industrial unit, sculptor, Andrew Orlowski, who came to England during 1980 after studying at the famous Academy of Sculpture, in Poland. (BHRU, Bradford Museums and Galleries)

The repurposed Salt’s Mill played a role in training and employment when it opened new units for crafts but also in new technologies when it gave space to Pace Electronics, a British company pioneering digital technology for satellite receiving equipment. Today the mill houses the Advanced Digital Institute (ADI).

Into the future, Bradford’s mills are set to play an important role in developing the use of drone technology and smart city management. Dalton Mills, Keighley has already been noted in the report findings of the first phase of the pioneering “Flying High” programme. Bradford is one of only five areas designated “drone cities” for this leading project for the drone industry. For details follow the following links:  (page 56 for Bradford District)

Immigration and Diversity

Illingworth, Morris PLC. Employee of the spinning mill on Thornton Road, Bradford.
(BHRU, Bradford Museums and Galleries)

Since the Industrial Revolution, Britain’s population has been on the move to find work as rural employment became scarcer. Bradford District witnessed large Irish migrations and the use of orphans from as far away as London to be employed in the textile trade. The German worsted merchants built Little Germany warehouse area and also became cultural philanthropists, supporting buildings such as St George’s Hall. The composer Frederic Delius and the painter William Rothenstein came from such families in Bradford. After World War 2,  Displaced Persons were given European Volunteer Worker status and recruited to work in the mills in the Bradford District. By 1987, there was upwards of 10,000 people of Austrian, Italian, Baltic and Eastern European origin living in Bradford, many working in textiles and its related industries (Wool City by Mark Keighley, G. Whitaker & Co. Ltd., 2007, p.143). The largest recent migration, however, was that from the new Commonwealth and Pakistan. Most of the new Commonwealth workers became employed in textiles as well as public transport and the Health Service, making valuable contributions to the local economy and its diverse cultural development. In the late 1960s, textile firms relied so much on workers from India and Pakistan for combing and spinning processes that without them it is recorded that textile production and profit would have seriously faltered. (See also Textile Voices edited by Olive Howarth, BHRU 1989 and Here To Stay, Bradford’s South Asian Communities, BHRU 1994)

Arts, Culture and Heritage

The move to re-purpose rather than demolish mills, championed by such schemes as the Prince’s Regeneration Through Heritage initiative has led to some becoming social, retail but also performance art and cultural hubs.

Aerial view of Salt’s Mill, 1973 (Bradford Museums and Galleries)

Amongst the first in the country, and the most outstanding in Bradford, is Salt’s Mill whose wide ranging contribution has led to Saltaire village becoming recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  The original vision of entrepreneur Jonathan Silver (1949-1997) as a retail and leisure scheme, Salt’s Mill became a major cultural centre as it was progressed from Bradford Festival productions in the mill to the exclusive 1853 Hockney Gallery in the former spinning mill. Today it still houses the largest continuous exhibition of art works by the world famous English artist, David Hockney. You will also find there today a large book shop, antiques centre, craft and outdoor retail, cafes and restaurants and the Early Music Shop, (See Salt & Silver A Story of Hope by Jim Greenhalf, Bradford Libraries, 1998) Other mills have also been adapted to the benefit of the local community and encouragement of the Arts.  Dalton Mill complex in Keighley, has also been refurbished in part and now has an arts centre and thriving Business Park. Melbourne Mills opposite Dalton, and like Salt’s Mill, has also contributed to the long tradition and progressive link between mills, music and Yorkshire bands. In the mid-19th Century this consisted of one of the first Yorkshire mill brass bands, Black Dyke Mills band being created, today there are pop and rock bands using recording and rehearsal studios as launched by “Jam on Top”. The mill also houses a radio station.

Examples of smaller conversions also include Antiques at the Mill, Cullingworth; Ponden Mill B & B, Stanbury and Albion Mills business centre, Greengates.

Film and Television

Because of their impressive and historic architecture, and it has to be said because of some dereliction, Dalton Mill in Keighley and Saltaire’s mills and village have frequently been used as film locations. Dalton Mill most recently was filmed for the popular television series Peaky Blinders.

Dalton Mills, Keighley (Keighley Local Studies)

This availability of impressive film locations has contributed to Bradford marking its tenth anniversary in 2019 as the world’s first UNESCO City of Film and helped it to highlight how Bradford is leading the way in film literacy with a programme that is regarded as one of the best of its kind in the UK, promoting new ways of learning in primary schools (Emma Clayton, T&A, 12 Feb 2019 pp. 2-3).  Bradford has now launched a unique FilmMakers 25 project to spot and nurture talent and to teach skills of film making to students across the District.

It’s good to see that Bradford District’s mills not only continue to contribute to the local economy but now also to the District’s cultural development and progress, with a key role to play in the development of some of the most advanced technology in the world. The regeneration of textile mills in the area is now a key part of the “Northern Powerhouse” agenda. This is a fine testimony to Bradford District’s diversity and spirit of hard work and enterprise as Bradford now makes its bid for the title of UK City of Culture 2025.

Bradford and Keighley Local Studies Libraries hold a wealth of books and archive records and resources if you would like to find out more about mills and the textile industry. Bradford is also fortunate to have its own Industrial Museum that hosts regular widely acclaimed exhibitions.

Gina Birdsall, Keighley Local Studies

Belle Vue Studio collection: a unique collection based in Bradford’s Museums and Galleries. The studio became a popular destination in the 1950s for those coming to work in Bradford from other parts of the world. Digitisation of the photos is almost complete:

See also Bradford Museums Photo Archives:

Bradford’s Oral History collection is housed in Bradford Local Studies Library. It consists of 800 tape recorded interviews with local people’s memories including subject areas such as textiles, health, war, immigration to Bradford.

Other useful sites:  traditional and modern mills’ repository of records and photographs  online illustrated guide to Britain’s industrial history

The Mother of the Brontës

A large audience at Keighley Local Studies Library on Saturday 18th January was treated to a wonderful talk by author, journalist and screenwriter Sharon Wright about her recent publication: ‘The Mother of the Brontës.

Sharon Wight display


It was a joy to welcome Sharon back to Keighley where she started her journalistic career at the Keighley News.

Sharon Wright library steps

In the talk Sharon shared her journey of discoveries about the mysterious Mrs Brontë through her thorough original research which took her to many locations from Cornwall to West Yorkshire. The historical detail and the compassion for the Cornish gentlewoman who fell in love with the poor Irish curate Patrick Brontë and gave birth to 6 children was enlightening. The joy of finding new discoveries in the story of Maria Branwell was an inspiration.

Sharon wright talk

‘The Mother of the Brontës: when Maria met Patrick’ is published by Pen and Sword, ISBN: 978-1526738486


Undercliffe Cemetery and Nancy De Garrs

The article here was kindly sent in by Steve Lightfoot, Undercliffe Cemetery Volunteer and author of the recent publication ‘The remarkable story of Nancy De Garrs Charlotte Brontë’s nurse’

Recently the Undercliffe Cemetery Charity have been building a team of volunteers to research some of the more well known occupants of the cemetery. The first task was to install QR codes on the six listed monuments so that visitors to the cemetery could find out more about the people to which the monuments were dedicated. The volunteers then moved on to the so called Bradford Worthies, of which there are many. These were some of the most important people in Bradford’s history, including more than twenty of Bradford’s Mayors, who are buried at the cemetery. As new research is completed the information is posted on the Undercliffe Cemetery website under the history section. So far approximately thirty of the Worthies have been researched. Some of the grave sites have magnificent monuments but others are unmarked. Regular tours of the cemetery take place to raise funds for maintenance. The volunteer guides take visitors to some of the most interesting grave sites to tell the story of Bradford’s history and the people who made Bradford the place that it is. At one time of course it was the wool capital of the world.

During the research the location of Nancy De Garrs grave was finally found, underneath some undergrowth, and unmarked. Nancy was Charlotte Brontë’s nurse, she served the Brontës for eight years and helped to bring the Brontë children up at Thornton and Haworth. It was known that Nancy was at Undercliffe but nobody knew where. She died in the Bradford workhouse and could have well have ended up in a paupers grave. After some research it was found she was buried as Nancy Malone. The records showed the plot number and the maps showed the location of this, but who were the other people buried with her, Mary Stocks, James Scholey and John William Scholey. We just had to find out, and why was the grave unmarked? The last twelve months have revealed some fascinating detail about the life of Nancy De Garrs. Having found just how important Nancy was in the life of the Brontës the Charity have decided to launch an appeal for funds for a headstone to be erected and for the area to be made safe. Future visitors to the cemetery will be able to find out more about Nancy and her life with the Brontës and after. A booklet has been compiled and is currently being sold in bookshops in Haworth, in the tourist office in Bradford and in other locations in Thornton and elsewhere. All money raised will go towards paying for the work required to get Nancy a headstone and to make the area safe for visitors. So far we have had good publicity from the Telegraph and Argus, the Sunday Express and the Times but more funds are needed. Donations can be made through the Undercliffe Cemetery website or by purchasing one of the booklets. A provisional date has been fixed for the 9th May  2020, by which time, providing enough funds can be raised, the stone will be in place and a service will be conducted. See website for details of forthcoming events.

Steve Lightfoot
Undercliffe Cemetery Volunteer

undercliffe cemetery (2)

A Review of the Book

The Remarkable Story of Nancy de Garrs, Charlotte Brontë’s Nurse. By Steve Lightfoot. 2019. 32 pages.

Nancy Garrs was born in 1803, the oldest in a family of twelve children. Her father, Richard De Garrs, was a shoemaker of French descent who had a shop in Bradford. Nancy and a younger sister Sarah (b. 1806) went to the Bradford Industrial School where they learnt housekeeping and childcare skills. In 1816, aged 12, Nancy went to work in the Brontë’s Thornton home to look after the three young Brontë children. Three more children later, sister Sarah came to assist, with Nancy promoted to be cook and assistant housekeeper. In 1820 the Garrs twosome accompanied the Brontë family in their move to Haworth. Here they experienced the sad early years there and the coming of ‘Aunt Branwell’ (‘cross like and fault findin’). After serving the Brontës for eight years, Nancy left in late 1824, shortly followed by Sarah, when the oldest Brontë children went to Cowan Bridge School.

Nancy then worked as a dressmaker, marrying John Wainwright in 1830. They had two children, Emily Jane and Hannah. Significantly, Nancy signed her wedding banns with ‘her mark’ (which I found a surprise, Nancy having lived in such a literary household). Husband John, a wool comber, later an engine tenter, died after a horrific accident at work in one of Titus Salt’s Bradford mills. He was buried in the Dr Garrs family plot in Bradford where four of Nancy’s sisters were buried. The 1841 census shows Nancy and a daughter living with sister Sarah and her children, just a few doors away from their sister, Martha, who had married Benjamin Hewitt. Clearly the families were supporting each other, with their parents also nearby. In 1844, Nancy married Irishman John Malone, a warehouseman. After John’s death in 1881, Nancy fell into poverty and three years later she was taken in at the Bradford Workhouse, where she died in 1886 aged 82.

Of her years with the Brontë family, author Steven Lightfoot highlights a number of incidents and myths – of Mrs Gaskeill’s hurtful remarks in her Life of Charlotte Brontë; of the confusing comment of Patrick’s about Nancy leaving the parsonage to marry a ‘Pat’ – not in 1824 she didn’t! And there is new information about the Brontë mementoes that Nancy had, of how they were displayed in a public bazaar in 1885, acquired by John Widdop, a son of Mary, another of Nancy’s sisters, and how they may have been sold to alleviate Nancy’s penury.  Other members of the Dr Garrs family are briefly featured, notably her brother Henry, and sisters Ruth (who married John Binns) and sister Sarah, who married William Newsome in 1829, had five children, and eventually settled in Iowa, USA.

This focus on Nancy and her family circle does a good job of widening our knowledge of the social context of the time.

Bob Duckett
Past Editor Brontë Studies and The Bradford Antiquary.

Book (2)

Christmas Day and the Keighley Stagecoach

By the nineteenth century, stagecoaches in England had been a vital part of its
infrastructure for nearly two hundred years. Though the steam train, at least in the south, was replacing the need for coaches by the 1830’s, they still remained an important mode of transportation and mail in the north.

Through donation, the Keighley Local Studies library has been fortunate to obtain the
records for the Keighley stage coach covering the years for 1841-1843. Opening the ledger a curious researcher will find the lined and long dried inked pages remarkably preserved.  Within its leaves, a pink piece of blotting paper remains where the clerk left it when it was closed nearly two hundred years ago.



The ledger for the stagecoach Invincible reveals that Keighley ran an active stagecoach
business running every day of the week, except Sundays, including Christmas Day.  One can imagine a jolly Dickensian coachman bundling his Keighley passengers into the Christmas coach and on to their holiday destinations. It is left to us today to wonder who they were, but there are clues in the ink:

25 December 1841 ‘Burnley, Wilde Ballet’…1842 ‘Leeds, Firth in’…1843 ’Blackburn, 1, Lady out.’


A look at the William White’s History, Gazetteer, and Directory of the West-Riding of
Vol. I reveals that in 1837, Keighley was running seven coaches: Union, Invincible, Airedale, Alexander, Tradesman, Wonder and Cars (690). All of these coaches had different departure points. The Union and Invincible, which the ledger is for, departed from the Devonshire Arms Inn.

Devonshire p2
devonshire photo

In order to learn about one’s family history, or lay groundwork for a period drama or novel, one might check records such as birth certificates, marriage licenses, censuses, or diaries, but what about stagecoach records? The study of such a resource would give valuable historical information about who may have lived and traveled through an area, where they traveled to and from or even where they sent their mail. This opportunity is not often possible because very few have survived until the 21st century; however, this rare insight is available at the Keighley Local Studies Library.

A perusal of its leaves reveal names still familiar in Yorkshire, such as Hargreaves, Ibbotson, Firth and Laycock, and those not as locally known, as Lomax, Mulligan, Brookslaw, and Critchley. There are surnames that we associate with the Brontës – Nichols, Earnshaw, Taylor, Greenwood, and Heaton – and names with famous or infamous associations, such as Grimshaw, Turpin, Shuttleworth and Dickenson. And what Lister rode to Bingley on Saturday the 12th of November, 1842?


The titles and labels of the passengers given by the ledger keeper are also of interest. The
‘Sheriff for Colne’ rode on 30
th of June 1842. If the passenger was known, or perhaps
prominent, they might be titled, as Mr. Butterfield or Mrs. Hinchcliff were; but, if they were not, they might be labeled simply as ‘Lady’ , ‘Gent,’ ‘boy,’ or even ‘poor woman’ or ‘poor old man’.

The stagecoach places of originations or destinations to and from Keighley are impressive. These include the expected Yorkshire towns and villages, such as Cross Hills, Skipton, Harrogate and Wakefield, as well as Barrowford, Chorley, Colne and Preston in Lancashire.  Haworth is also mentioned (e.g. Monday 1st November 1841), but, alas, we are left to ponder who the passengers may have been. The places listed take in the cities of Leeds, York and Lancaster and extend as far west as Liverpool and east as far away as Scarborough. There is even a mystery destination called ‘Dolly’s’ the location of which is yet to be discovered (10 May, 23 June, 30 June 1842).

Keighley appears to have been quite a transportation hub in its day!

Miriam Adamson, Keighley Local Studies Library volunteer


Celebrating Louise Carnegie

Thank you to Irene Lofthouse for her wonderful portrayal of Andrew Carnegie’s most trusted confident, his wife Louise Carnegie, in Keighley Local Studies library on Saturday 12th October, given to a packed audience. This event in our historic Carnegie library marked Libraries week and 100 years since the death of Andrew Carnegie in 1919.

Here are some photographs of the event and a short biography of Mrs Carnegie.


Louise Whitfield was born in Manhattan on March, 7, 1857. Her parents, John and Fannie, descended from families that emigrated from England in the 1600s… Louise’s father was a textile merchant. As he prospered he moved the family from Chelsea to Gramercy Park (where one of Louise’s playmates would be Teddy Roosevelt) and finally to a comfortable brownstone uptown on West 48 Street and Fifth Avenue—two blocks away from the Windsor Hotel. Andrew met John Whitfield through a mutual friend and enjoyed his company. He made frequent visits to the Whitfield home; during one of those visits, he met Louise.

Mrs Carnegie

Louise Carnegie

They shared a love of riding horses and he invited her often to Central Park. During these rides, she let it be known she didn’t want to marry someone who was already successful, but rather help a husband to succeed. He let it be known that he had no intention of holding on to his fortune, but rather wished to give it all away…

…Louise realized that Andrew would not marry while his mother was alive; four years after their meeting, the engagement was called off. But not the friendship. After nearly a year of corresponding, they decided to renew their engagement, but kept it a secret from Andrew’s mother.

Mr Carnegie

Andrew Carnegie

In the fall of 1886, Andrew contracted typhoid fever; inconceivably a week later, his brother Tom became ill with pneumonia. While Andrew’s condition fluctuated, Tom’s rapidly deteriorated and he died on October 19 at the age of 43, leaving behind a wife and nine children. Margaret, already ailing, could not bear the news of the illnesses of her two sons and died three weeks later on November 11 at the age of 77. She was not told of Tom’s death and Andrew was not told of his mother’s death for nearly three weeks until he was fully recovered.’

The couple married in 1887 and, unusual for the time, they signed a pre-nuptial agreement, in which Andrew stated that he wanted to give away the bulk of his fortune. They were married for 32 years, had one child named Margaret, and Louise was an influential member of the board of The Carnegie Corporation until her death in Manhattan on June 24, 1946, at the age of 89.

Outstanding community benefits for the time

Significantly, the Carnegie Institute in New York City hosted events and meetings for the American Women’s Suffrage Movement. Similarly the Carnegies’ libraries were accessible to both sexes, all classes and all ethnicities. In fact, the Carnegie Library in Washington was the first public building that was non segregational.

Keighley’s Carnegie Public Library


Mrs Louise Carnegie was also ever present as a guiding hand with the arrangements undertaken with Sir Swire Smith for the gift of £10,000 for the building of Keighley Carnegie Public Library. This was the first library in the whole of England ever to be financed by Andrew Carnegie. The money was gifted to the people of Keighley by the Carnegie family because of the wonderful achievements of Keighley’s students, from all backgrounds, studying at Keighley’s Mechanics’ Institute. In the above photograph, Mrs Carnegie is seated with Andrew on her right and Sir Swire Smith, the champion of Keighley Mechanics’ Institute on her left. Mrs Louise Carnegie later attended the ceremony with her husband for the conferring of the Freedom of Keighley to Mr Carnegie and it was she who distributed the prizes to the students on that day, 25th September 1900.

Keighley Library view c1929corespondence 1899

The Carnegie Corporation of New York

Andrew Carnegie established this in 1911,

“to promote the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding,” it is one of the oldest and most influential of American grant-making foundations

“The Corporation has devoted unremitting effort toward the two issues Andrew Carnegie considered of paramount importance: international peace and the advancement of education and knowledge.”

The Carnegie UK Trust

Established in 1913 by Scottish-American philanthropist Andrew Carnegie:

“We have sought to deliver this mission in a number of ways over the past 100 years – investing in libraries, public space, further education, social work, children’s rights, rural development and many more…”


Gina Birdsall, Keighley Local Studies Library