Keighley Local Studies Library Celebrates Libraries’ Week with Local Crime Fiction

On Saturday 8th October, Keighley Library will be bursting with activity, not least Keighley Local Studies with a major investigation into local crime fiction, past and present.

At 11 am, please join us as local literary super sleuths and authors, Ann Dinsdale (Principal Curator of Haworth Parsonage) and Sharon Wright (journalist, speaker and author) thrash out the mysterious twists, turns and crimes in the life of the Revd. Austin Lee who was one of Keighley Library’s most borrowed crime authors in the 1950s with a curious fascination for Haworth and the Brontës.

In the afternoon at 2pm, dust down for finger prints with the popular crime author Frances Brody, whose Kate Shackleton mysteries reach their 13th challenge, this time set in the grounds of the mysterious Milner Field and Saltaire Village. Find out what inspires crime story writing that is set in  Yorkshire locations and investigate the creative impulse, as well as the challenges of local history research for fiction.

Both events are free but seats are limited so please telephone us on 01535 618215 to book a seat.

Keighley Library will also be hosting events for the Keighley Arts and Film Festival with a Create, Connect and Make Festival and the popular local history speaker, Irene Lofthouse, will be taking a walk around Keighley: Past and Present. Details for this to be released in the press and on social media.

Play resumes for Keighley Library’s Heritage Day

The first Heritage Day in Keighley Library was held on Saturday 10th September. Everyone seemed shocked at the sad news of the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and the general mood felt was that by holding and attending the event, we were following an example set for 70 years of continued service even in difficult times.

For Keighley Library, Keighley Local Studies in particular, the day had some important successes, in large part because this was the first “Heritage Day” of events held at the library since Covid and in fact it became clear as the day progressed that we had achieved a return to the popularity enjoyed pre Covid, a popularity that we hope to build on and increase into the future.

All the heritage stands reported busy times during the day. Colin Neville from Not Just Hockney, who has another new book out on popular local artist Joseph Pighills, had interest as well as sales.

Airedale and Wharfedale Family History Society were very happy with their reception and one fortunate member of the public even had a large portion of their own family tree discovered.

Keighley & District Local History Society had several displays covering trams, the train and bus stations, pubs, historic buildings and businesses. They also created some items honouring Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Staffed by Joyce and Melissa, the day is reported to have been amongst the most successful yet, with plenty of interest and several people making offers of donations and assistance.

As ever, the Queen’s Award winning Men of Worth volunteer project, that is at the forefront of digital archiving, reported movingly of families seeing photographs of grandparents who had served in the wars for the very first time.

The Patients’ Register was on display from Keighley’s War Hospital at Morton and volunteers have been busily transcribing and digitising their fragile pages. Please come into the library to see the book and further information on this project on Keighley Library’s ground floor.

Andy Wade and Ian Walkden of MoW reported a great turnout and were busy for most of the day. Their volunteers have now been researching service women in the wars for some time and there were some interesting biographies on display, with an appeal for any further details of women in Keighley and the Worth Valley area who served. We hope to write further pieces on the Men of Worth and about some new projects that they are pursuing in October as we come up to Remembrance Day. Thanks to their volunteers Kat Hyde and Laura Goodchild.

Ex professional footballer, Keighley’s own Mike Hellawell’s talk had received a red card before it even started by having to be suddenly sent off the Local Studies’ pitch to be relocated to the Lending library area on the ground floor due to a broken lift. Inconvenience of seating rearrangements and some noise aside, the event went very well with an audience of over 100 people who, despite the changes, managed to enjoy the afternoon. Mike’s question and answer session at the end was particularly lively as Mike had been a popular local cricket player as well as footballer and had also run his own grocery shop in Keighley. There were a lot of questions and funny banter from Mike’s contemporaries and friends in the audience that gave us a glimpse of Keighley and local society in the past.

The sense of Keighley in the late 20th century was enhanced by David Kirkley’s very popular (even days after) photograph display of some local schools’ sports teams of the past and by the library’s own displays of Keighley in the 1950s, Keighley Galas in the Past and of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s coronation times.

The refreshments and a Spot the Ball competition managed to raise £65 for Keighley’s Lord Mayor’s charity Dementia Keighley. Thanks must go again to the Keighley Lions for the competition prize and to Morrisons’ Supermarket for their kind donation of refreshments to the Friends of Keighley Library who manned the tea and coffee pots with their usual professional calm and efficiency. A big thank you to Julie Evans and Lynn Hibbert for that and also to Denise Wilson for collecting for Dementia Keighley.

Keighley Library staff can now look forward again hopefully, to even more successful Heritage Days. Thanks to all for coming at a difficult time. Please come again next year. We shall leave you with some more thanks again to local star Mike Hellawell written in our Visitors’ Book and echoed by all the library staff.

“Really enjoyable, and a pleasure to meet a local international footballer! ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone!’” Shaun Roberts

“Great stuff from Mike about the old days. Lots of fun.” Jean Mitchell

“Fabulous talk. Very entertaining! Catherine Kelly

“In the same room as a legend.” M. Hibbert, Burnley Fan since 1962

“Let’s have lots more of these talks and bring back the music sessions, we all loved.” Mrs Prett

“A popular speaker with lots of friends in Keighley.” Ronnie

Keighley Local Studies

Friends of Keighley Library     

Keighley Lions                          

Heritage Day at Keighley Library

Keighley Library will be hosting Heritage Day again on Saturday 10th September after a two-year pandemic break so please come along from 10.00am.

Wharfedale & Airedale Family History Society will be on hand to help you with your family history and Keighley & District Local History Society will be exhibiting some of their photo archive collection.

The award winning Men of Worth Project will also be there to help you with any enquires and showing off their work including The Morton Banks War Hospital records project.

Volunteers have been working hard to transcribe and digitise the Patient Register from the First World War. The original War Hospital Register is archived at Keighley Library (BK39) and contains 13,214 names of servicemen who were treated there. It also contains the names of German prisoners of war who were being held locally and required treatment from time to time, notably from the influenza epidemic.

There will also be a display on the Women of Worth with compelling documentation on the roles of local women in wartime.

Come and see old photos of 1950s Keighley including school photos from David Kirkley’s collection and of Gala Days gone by. 

Along with the amazing and interactive Heritage Open Day events the library has planned, there will also be a couple of rare artefacts on display to promote an exciting and forthcoming “Pink Floyd in Keighley” library exhibition.

And if that isn’t enough to tempt you at 2.00pm local footballing (legend/ star/) Mike Hellawell will be talking about his career and life growing up in 1950s Keighley. Going from playing non-league to playing top flight football for QPR, Birmingham City, Sunderland and Huddersfield Town, gaining two England Caps. 

The talk is free but seating is limited so booking is advisable, contact Keighley Local Studies Library on (01535 618215).

Reminiscences and Writings of a once Keighley News roving reporter

It is not that often that an enquirer of Keighley Local Studies Library on a Keighley history subject, comes ‘right back atcha’ with a casual, “I am researching an autobiographical work coming out soon” but occasionally they do. Don Chapman enquired earlier this year about Keighley baths and his new book that includes sketches of the Keighley he came to know and love, surprisingly as an in-comer from Oxford and its University, is published now and in due course will be in Keighley Library.

When he became a graduate trainee with the Bradford and District Newspaper Company in 1956, it was the landlord of his first digs in Keighley who took the tops off the bath taps. He went to the public baths down the road fearing the worst. Hence the title of his tongue in cheek memoir featuring some of the wackier articles he wrote in a 40-year career in journalism, A Tenpenny Dip in Paradise and other flights of fancy. In it, Don Chapman hopes that he has captured some of the “banter and bonhomie I shared with my colleagues at the Keighley News”, that he remembers most fondly.

Just a few of his Keighley memories are quoted here:

“I’m not sure I even knew where Keighley was when the Westminster Press told me I would be starting my career as a graduate trainee reporter there in September, 1956. Before I took up the post, I decided I’d better take a look.

I arrived by train from Oxford shortly after 2pm. The hotel at the bottom of Cavendish Street had stopped serving lunch and everywhere else was shut. It was early closing day. Eventually I stumbled on a workmen’s café and a satisfying plate of bacon and eggs, served with a large mug of Yorkshire tea, somewhere in the back-street.”

“I quickly grew to love Keighley. The flowers in the front windows of those who hadn’t got gardens. The washing in the streets between the back-to-back houses. The rich array of cakes and savouries in the bakery shop.”

“The war years and the period before them had left their mark on the town. Sooner or later, chaps I met in the pub would start rueing the privations of the 1930s Depression: an economic downturn Lord Nuffield’s Cowley car factories had protected Oxford from.

Although premier Harold Macmillan was telling people they’d never had it so good, many in Keighley were still struggling. At the Mechanics Institute Saturday night hop, on more than one occasion the manager said to me: ‘See that couple there, Don, they’re on their honeymoon!’”

The book is out now and available online and from bookshops. It will also be in Keighley Library soon.

Gina Birdsall
Keighley Local Studies

Left to right: Don Chapman (bottle of Taylor’s Yorkshire Ale in hand!), Peter Cook (Yorkshire Post), Eric Lund (Keighley News reporter), Jack Broadley, Keighley News reporters: Eric Walker, Brian Smith, David Waterhouse and holding my hand Trevor Atkins.

Local Studies are open as normal

The Local Studies service offers Local and Family History resources for the Bradford Metropolitan District and the West Yorkshire region.

The two specialist Local Studies libraries in the district are in Bradford and Keighley, and libraries across the district can also provide local information and help with accessing online sources.

The Local Studies centres at Bradford and Keighley welcome visitors to use the collections for study and research.

Bradford Local Studies Library welcomes visitors to use the Local Studies and Archives collections for study and research.

We are now open as normal to the general public, although you are advised to phone up and check opening hours as these can be affected by circumstances beyond our control

Researchers can still make an appointment in advance of their visit.

To make an appointment, please contact the library by email or telephone to book a session.

Requests for items from the collections required for use on your visit made in advance will enable library staff to have the items ready for your visit.

Please note that we require at least 72 hours’ notice for Archives.

On booking your appointment via telephone or email, our team of library staff will help to search the catalogues to identify appropriate items as required.

Celebrating the Yorkshire Dialect

Yorkshire Day Weekend event with the Yorkshire Society and the Yorkshire Dialect Society

Keighley Local Studies Library
Saturday 30th July
10.30am – 4.30pm
Admission £5 (See ticket details below)

The Yorkshire Dialect Society is kicking off a weekend of activities for Yorkshire Day in Keighley with something unique and special about Yorkshire people – how we talk! The way we speak is unique and helps define us – it’s part of what makes us Yorkshire!

Speakers will include Ian Stevenson on The Story behind Yorkshire Dialect; Rod Dimbleby, Chairman of YDS, on the prolific 19th century Halifax dialect poet and storyteller John Hartley of Clock Almanac fame; and Eric Scaife on Tyke Talk – readings and recitations of dialect poems and prose.

There will also be an exhibition of books and pamphlets by the noted Keighley librarian, historian, writer and dialect poet, the late Ian Dewhirst who sadly died in 2019.

Yorkshire Dialect was, and hopefully still is, the language of the ordinary people of Yorkshire.  So come along to Keighley Library for a day of celebration of this wonderful living part of our Yorkshire heritage.

Tickets can be bought through Eventbrite at:

Keighley Local Studies Library
Tel: 01535 618215

Discover Bradford and District’s untold stories this Summer when #StoryTrails comes to town

Bradford District is delighted to be one of 15 locations across the UK taking part in Storytrails, a one-of-a-kind experience where untold stories from the past are brought to life using augmented and virtual reality and the voices of the local community.

As the UK’s largest immersive storytelling project, it will change the way we tell stories about ourselves, animating public spaces across the UK.

Come down to Bradford Library on Friday 22nd and Saturday 23rd July to discover a range of exciting augmented and virtual reality experiences for all the family to enjoy.

Explore untold stories and forgotten histories from Bradford and District through a virtual map made up of 3D models and audio recordings of people from local communities from across the Bradford District.

Or try out cutting-edge virtual reality headsets to see history come to life before your very eyes.

Back outside, take part in immersive StoryTrails walking tours, where a free app will guide you around key historical places in the City, bringing history to life before your very eyes.

Events take place between Friday 22nd July at 11.00am – 19.00pm and on Saturday 23rd July 10.00am – 18.00pm.

StoryTrails is part of ‘UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK’, a ground-breaking UK-wide celebration of creativity in 2022.

To find out more about StoryTrails, visit

Tricia Restorick – The Role of the Mechanics Institute

Established in 1832, The Mechanics Institute Library was part of a national initiative to provide adult education, especially in technical subjects for working men. During this illustrated talk hosted by Institute President Tricia Restorick, we aim to find out how crucial this institute was in imparting  knowledge to the workers of Victorian Bradford.

Follow the link for more information….

Local Studies Lunchtime Lectures

Celebrating the 150th Anniversary of Bradford Libraries 1872 – 1922

A week of lunchtime lectures during the celebration week 13 June – 17 June featuring aspects of Bradford’s history in the collections at Bradford Local Studies Library and West Yorkshire Archives, Bradford.

All are welcome to join in these free events which will appeal to everyone with an interest in the history of our great city.

The Federer Collection of Victorian literature: A rare treasure at Bradford Libraries

By Simon Ross Valentine

Dr Valentine showing the Federer Collection card index

Bradford Library – celebrating its 150th anniversary this year – has several book Collections of national importance.

One of these, the Federer Collection, consisting of 8,000 books and pamphlets, purchased by the city library on the death of the owner Charles Antoine Federer in 1908, provides a fascinating window into Victorian Bradford.

Federer, born in Switzerland in 1837, on coming to England twenty years later, worked as a teacher in Derbyshire, and East Yorkshire, then at Low Moor, Bradford.

Having a passion for languages, and being fluent in Latin, Greek, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Danish and Dutch, Federer later gained employment as a lecturer at the Bradford Mechanic’s Institute and the Technical College.

Federer had an interest in all aspects of Yorkshire life. With Thomas Empsall, J. Norton Dickons and other local worthies, he founded the Bradford Historical and Antiquarian Society, later becoming President and editor of its journal, the “Bradford Antiquary”. He was also active in the Yorkshire Dialect Society, the Brontë Society and as editor of the Yorkshire Magazine.

Formerly a Roman Catholic, Federer converted to Methodism and became a member of the White Abbey Wesleyan Chapel.

Charles Antoine Federer 1837-1908

Federer‘s vast library now forms the Federer Collection of Yorkshire Ephemera, kept in the Local Studies Library on the ground floor of the Margaret Macmillan Tower, Princes Way.
The Colllection covers a multitude of subjects. Unsurprisingly, Federer being a Nonconformist, many items relate to Christian theology and the Bible.

As a Methodist he took a scholarly interest in the history of his denomination collecting early biographies of John and Charles Wesley; and the Lives of many ministers and Lay Preachers. These included not only Wesleyan Methodism but also material on Primitive Methodism; the Wesleyan Reform Church and Protestant Methodism.
Federer, ecumenical in attitude, also collected material on Anglicanism as well as various Nonconformist Churches such as the Baptists, Moravians, the Quakers (Society of Friends), Congregationalists, Unitarians and lesser-known groups such as the Swedenborgians; Southcottians and the British-Israelites.

Official tourist guide, c. 1868

Many items in the Collection are non-religious covering the political, economic, social, legal and municipal aspects of Victorian Bradford. Of particular interest are the Reports of Bradford’s Chief Constable’s in the 1880s and Yearbooks of the Bradford Trade and Labour Council. Various leaflets refer to Chartism and the Independent Labour Party (founded in Bradford in the 1890s).

As a Nonconformist Federer had an interest in matters such as the anti-gambling league; the Temperance movement; Church rates, dis-establishment of the Anglican Church and state education.

The Collection contains Reports on the National Census 1851 and the local religious Census undertaken by the Bradford Observer in 1881 “with press & pulpit comments”.

 Other books and leaflets cover local topography, geology, fossils, archaeology, astronomy, dialects as well as poetry and literature.

Certain items relate to Patrick Brontë and his famous literary daughters such as Abraham Holroyd’s “’Currer Bell’ and her sisters”, 1855, and Reports of the Brontë Society & Museum, 1896.

A Temperance tract 1874

The Collection has beautifully illustrated Guide Books to places such as Whitby and Scarborough; Bolton Abbey, Cleckheaton, and Castleford. Railway enthusiasts can enjoy looking at Crowther’s Penny Railway Guide, 1875.

Various books focus on Titus Salt and Saltaire. There are several papers relating to Edward Baines, proprietor of the Leeds Mercury and William Byles, owner of the Bradford Observer.

Federer, possibly a keen sportsman himself, collected publications on Amateur Athletics; Angling, Archery and cricket. A very rare item in the Collection is the Yorkshire Owl Cricket Annual, illustrated cricketer’s guide, of 1896.

The Federer Collection has much material on medicine such as Reports on the local Fever Hospital; Bradford Children’s Hospital and the Hospital for the Blind. Invaluable primary sources include the 1904 Report on Diphtheria in Bradford and the 1849 Report on Cholera in the West Riding.
Educational material includes not only grammar and other text books, but also class lists relating to Bradford Grammar School; Burnsall Grammar School; Ackworth School, and minutes of the Bradford School Board.

Several items are quirky and controversial such as the temperance tract titled “A lecture on a pint of ale: what it is and what it’s not, what it’s worth and what it costs” and a leaflet on “Capital punishment: Hangman’s thoughts above the gallows”.

The Collection contains rare periodicals such as the Babbler, or Weekly Literary & Scientific Intelligencer; the Bradford Chronicle of the 1850s & ‘60s; the British Spiritual Telegraph, 1859; and the Eastbrook Herald, 1889 to1894.

Building on the work previously done by Bob Duckett, a former senior Bradford librarian, I am in the process of putting the catalogue online making the Collection known, and accessible, worldwide. So far about 40% of the Collection is catalogued and can be viewed on the library website.

Enquiries are welcome. If you see something of interest in the online catalogue please ring the library and book an appointment to see the item chosen.

Alternatively, an appointment can be made to look at the card index at Local Studies and request any item of interest. Many of the pamphlets have been microfilmed. Please remember however that items from the Federer Collection are reference only and cannot be borrowed.

As part of the anniversary celebrations, a series of lunchtime lectures will be given at Local Studies in June. In one of these lectures I will talk on Charles Federer and his amazing Collection.

For more information about the Federer Collection or any of the other library Collections of books, photographs and maps of “bygone Bradford”, please contact Local Studies on 01274 433688; or email