KEIGHLEY: Geographical and Historical information from the year 1834.


"KEIGHLEY, formerly written Kighley, is a parish in the wapentakes of Staincliffe and Ewcross, and is a respectable market-town, 202 miles from London, 39 from Manchester, the like distance from York, 12 from Halifax, 12 from Otley, and 10 from Bradford and Skipton ; situated in a beautiful deep valley, at the junction of the Worth and Laycock waters, two considerable rivulets, which empty themselves into the river Aire, about three quarters of a mile below. Although this town cannot boast the most rapid increase of population, which has so signally characterised others in the same county, yet it is one of considerable interest in the page of history, and furnishes ample materials to the chronicler. The town gave name to, and was the residence for nearly four centuries of, the knightly family of Kighley. One of the daughters of Henry Kighley was married, in the 2nd of Elizabeth, to Lord Cavendish, from whom the present Duke of Devonshire is lineally descended. During the reign of Charles 1. this town being occupied by the parliamentary troops ; in the month of February, 1645, a party of the King's horse, about 150 in number, came from Skipton, and taking advantage of the absence of Colonel Brandling, who commanded the parliamentary forces here, suddenly fell upon their quarters and surprised their guard, got into the town, and took nearly one hundred prisoners, sixty horses, and other booty. Colonel Lambert's party, however, who happened to be quarteredin the neighbourhood, hearing the alarm, came to their relief, and recovered all the prisoners and most of the booty. The town is rather irregularly built, principally of stone, of which the neighbourhood affords an ample supply : it is furnished with water, under an act of parliament obtained in 1816 ; and lighted with gas under the improvement act, procured in 1824. In 1833 a neat and commodious court house was erected by the commissioners of the court of requests, for obtaining debts under 40s.: the building is an ornament to the town ; and connected with it are cells for the reception of offenders, and a convenient house for the bailiff of the court. A manor court, under the Earl of Burlington, is held, by the steward of that nobleman, on the Thursday of every third week, for the recovery of debts under 5., and for the presentation of nuisances, &c. Keighley is one of the stations appointed by the new Boundary Act, for receiving votes at the election of members for the West Riding of the county. Besides being the neighbourhood in which the manufactures of low stuffs and worsted yarns are carried on to a great extent, and principally conveyed to the Bradford market, it has some very respectable and valuable cotton manufactories, and furnishes a considerable proportion of the materials and the machinery necessary for the manufacturing commodities belonging to both branches. The Leeds and Liverpool canal passes within a mile of the town, affording, by its means, a cheap and expeditious conveyance for the manfactures of the town, and other heavy goods, benefiting the adjacent districts through which it passes, and forming a communication between the Atlantic and the German oceans.

The church is supposed by some authorities to be dedicated to St. Peter, and by others to St. Andrew --- Miles Gale, rector, in 1713, says that the former is its patronymic saint, from the fast of the town being kept on St. Peter's day. The edifice was probably erected in the reign of Henry 1., and was given at a very early period to the priory of Bolton, by Ranulph de Kighley, and the grant afterwards confirmed by Richard his son. It was rebuilt in 1805, and is a spacious and handsome structure, with a steeple containing eight bells of superior tone, and a clock of exquisite workmanship, made by J.Prior, of Nestfield, the celebrated Yorkshire mechanic. In the church are two remarkable grave stones, one of which, with the date 1203, covers the remains of Gilbertus Kighley, one of the ancient family before mentioned. The living is a rectory, in the patronage of the Duke of Devonshire, and incumbency of the Rev. Theodore Dury : the Rev. James Bardsley is his present curate. The other places of worship are for Wesleyan, primitive, and the new connexion of methodists, independents, Swedenborgians, baptists, and a meeting house for the society of friends. All the places of worship, except that of the latter sect, have Sunday schools attached ; besides which there is one upon the national plan, another for infants, and a free grammar school : the last named establishment was founded and endowed by John Drake, in 1713. A mechanics' institute was formed here in 1825, the members of which have hitherto held their meetings in the free grammar school ; but a commodious building is about to be erected in a conspicuous situation, on land offered to the society by the Duke of Burlington, who has great possessions in the town and parish. this extensive parish, which is about six miles in length by three in breadth, furnishes only a small plain, which was at one period occupied as a race ground ; it is now the site of Eastwood House, a beautiful mansion, the residence of William Sugden, Esq. in the immediate vicinity of the town is ' Knowle,' the seat of John Greenwood, Esq.: about a mile distant is ' Cliffe Hall,' a beautiful specimen of architecture of the Elizabethian style, built by the celebrated Mr. Webster, the residence of C. Netherwood, Esq.; and about the same distance is ' Aireworth House,' a neat specimen of modern architecture, the family residence of S.B. Clapham, Esq. The appearance of the town, as viewed from the summits of the adjacent hills, is strikingly picturesque, and the general scenery is of a most varied nature --- the blue heath and the rugged mount being contrasted with the fertility and beauty of the valleys, which form outlets to its barricade of hills ; while the serpentine winding of the Aire, on the margin of which stands the town, and the murmuring rivulets which issue from the mountains, combine attractions of no ordinary character to the admirers of nature. In November, 1833, a very commodious and spacious new market place was opened ; it was built by subscription, on a site of ground leased by the Earl of Burlington, on advantageous terms to the town. The weekly market, which is held on Wednesday, is abundantly supplied with all necessary commodities. The annual fairs take place on the 8th and 9th of May, and the 7th, 8th and 9th of November. The parish of Keighley (which includes no dependent township) contained, according to a census taken in the year 1695, 1,704 inhabitants : in 1801 the returns to government stated the population to amount to 5,745 ; in 1811 to 6,864 ; in 1821 to 9,223 ; and in 1831, to 11,176 persons."

"LANE ENDS, is a small, irregularly built hamlet, in the parish of Keighley, about 3 miles from Keighley, and 11 from Halifax. The spinning of worsted and the manufacture of stuffs are carried on here. The primitive methodists have a chapel in the hamlet. Population returned with Keighley parish.
Please see Oakworth (in this parish) for the 1834 trades directory for this hamlet."

"OAKWORTH, is a hamlet, in the liberty of its name, and parish of Keighley, two miles and a half from that town. The inhabitants are, for the most part, employed in spinning and weaving. The only place of worship is a small chapel, belonging to the Wesleyan methodists. Population included with the returns for Keighley parish."

[Transcribed by Steve Garton ©2000 from
Pigot's directory (Yorkshire section) 1834]