Remembrance Day in Keighley

As everywhere today, people came together to mark the day that World War One ended on the 11th day of the 11th month at 11am in 1918. It’s a day marked by towns and villages all over the country as a day for communities, families and individuals to remember the great loss of life that war brings, not least the lives of service and military personnel.

Keighley Local Studies Library hosted a family history morning session for local people to trace the members of their families who have served in the war and on the Home Front through the archives available and we were fortunate enough to get the help of the Queen’s Award winning volunteers the Men of Worth, led by Andy Wade and Ian Walkden, who as always gave of their helpful best. Library staff also displayed the many library books on local and family history specific to the session and copies of original records from the unique library archive collection held in Keighley.

It was a successful morning and we hope that everyone gained a better knowledge of their own families’ history and of the local history of the Keighley area as affected by war. Keighley’s Town Mayor, Councillor Luke Maunsell and Consort, Debbie Maunsell, also visited and this added to the occasion. Events like this particularly emphasise the value of local archives to the community as a whole and of the essential contribution they make to the wider bank of knowledge that is our national history as it unfolds. We are all inevitably touched by national and international affairs and 2022 has proved no small exception.

Andy Wade also took the opportunity to present to Keighley Library a copy of the Oakworth Roll of Honour 1914-1919 and 2014-2019.

Many thanks to everyone who attended.

Another Keighley Local Studies Archive Treasure

What’s in the Box?

BK15, The 1763 Keighley Methodist Records.

When, in 1763, William Grimshaw, the famous perpetual curate of Haworth died, John Wesley sent in some quite capable preachers to take control of the Methodist Circuit built around him. The superintendent he chose was William Fugill, who, although of a dissolute character (he was sacked shortly afterwards for drunkenness and immorality), was an extremely capable organiser. The circuit, based on Keighley was enormous, stretching from Elland through north west England to Longtown at the Scottish Border. In total there were 63 societies and 1804 members. Fugill followed Wesley’s instructions and the preachers visited each society every quarter and interviewed the members, recording their names, marital status, occupation, residence, and their spiritual attainment, which the superintendent copied into a register. That register is held in the Keighley Local Studies Archive and is the earliest full record in existence in the country holding more than simply members’ names. This is a gold mine for researchers and has been used several times in the past to understand something of what Methodism meant to the ordinary people in the mid eighteenth century. A treasure indeed!

A workshop, illustrating these records will be held via Zoom at the Really Useful Show of the Federation of Family History Societies on Saturday, 12th November.

Robert Schofield,
Editor, E-Bulletin, Family and Community History Research Society.

Armistice Day in Keighley Local Studies – 11th November 2022

Keighley Local  Studies Library has a unique and quite extensive archive of World War 1 and WW2 records. These include national and local memorabilia and archives. The Keighley War hospital records are particularly interesting and of national importance as they are a rarity. They include the Dr Scatterty collection which has a Patients’ register, archive BK39, that contains 13,214 names of servicemen who were treated at the local Morton War Hospital. The register also records the names of German prisoners of war who were being held locally and who required treatment from time to time, notably from the influenza epidemic.

The Queen’s Award winning Men of Worth Project are documenting the men and women of Keighley and the Worth Valley who served the country in wartime and volunteers have done a lot of research into Keighley Library’s unique collection. Volunteers have also been working hard to transcribe and digitise the Patient Register.

On the 11 November, we hope to combine the two archives and, with the award winning assistance of Men of Worth volunteers, we hope to be able to help local people trace the service men and women in their families from Keighley and the Worth valley area. It is a short session this year and will be broken by the two minutes’ silence in Keighley’s Town Hall square. Please join us if you can.


An amusing and informative mixture of dialect storytelling and talk on Yorkshire dialect and the Yorkshire Dialect Society. A talk by Rod Dimbleby.

Tuesday 18th October

2.00pm – 3.00pm

Free event. Booking essential.

Rod Dimbleby is chairman of the Yorkshire Dialect Society, Yorkshire dialect storyteller and author.

Please telephone or email Wibsey Library to book a place


Tel: 01274 435446

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