KEIGHLEY: Geographical and Historical information from the year 1837.


"KEIGHLEY, is a market and parish-town, built chiefly of stone, and picturesquely seated in the bosom of a deep valley, at the confluence of the Warth and Laycock rivulets, which here form a considerable stream, and empty their waters into the Aire, about three quarters of a mile below. Though at the north western extremity of the clothing district, Keighley participates largely in the worsted manufacture, and also enjoys a portion of the cotton trade. In addition to the numerous mills and factories employed in these branches, there are in the parish two paper mills, and several corn-mills, and a great part of the spinning and other machinery used here is manufactured in the town, within a mile of which passes the Leeds and Liverpool canal, opening a direct communication, through Yorkshire and Lancashire, to the Eastern and Western seas; but the worsted stuffs manufactured are chiefly conveyed to the Bradford market, and pass through the hands of the Leeds merchants. By the Reform Act, Keighley is appointed a polling place in the election of the parliamentary representatives of the West Riding. It is in the east division of the Wapentake of Staincliffe and Ewcross, in the Deanery of Craven, in the Liberty of Clifford's Fee, and on the high road from Bradford to Skipton, 10 miles N W of the former, 10 miles SE of the latter, 20 miles W N W of Leeds, 4 miles W N W of Bingley, 12 miles N by W of Halifax, and 202 miles N N W of London. Its Parish has no dependent townships, though it is about six miles long and four broad, and comprises 10,160 acres of land (including a peaty moor of about 2000 acres,) and a population which amounted, in the year 1801 to 5,745; in 1811 to 6,864; in 1821 to 9,223; and in 1831 to 11,176 souls, who have since augmented to upwards of 12,000 of whom more than 9,000 reside in the town, and the remainder in the small and scattered Hamlets &c of Oakworth, Ingrow, Braithwaite, Exley Head, Ponden, Utley, Eastwood, Hare-Hills, Hollins, Laycock, Newsholme, Bog-thorn, Knowle, Slitherey ford, Sykes, Dobroyd and Fell lane, extending from 1 o 3.1/2 miles N, S and W of the town. In 1831, there were in the parish 2265 houses, of which four were then building, and 119 unoccupied. The appearance of the town, when viewed from the adjacent heights, is strikingly picturesque, and the surrounding scenery is of the most varied description; the blue heath and the rugged summits of the hills, being strongly contrasted with the fertility and beauty of the winding vallies, through which several rapid moorland steams flow to the serpentine channel of the Aire on the N E boundary of the parish. The geological features of the neighbourhood are those of the coal-measure standstone, in which are imbedded many interesting antediluvian remains of plants, the lepidodendron-dichotomur, &c. In the alluvial soil, near the town, are found, deeply buried, large blocks of sharp pile granite, and blue Skipton limestone, the latter of which appears in regular formation, about 6 miles N W of the town. The Earl of Burlington owns a great part of the soil, and is lord of the manor of Keighley; but Mrs Busfield is lady of the manor of Oakworth; and Joseph and John Greenwood Chpr. Netherwood, and Wm. Sugden, Esq, have estates and handsome seats in the parish, as also have Messrs, Marriner, Mrs Wright, and some others, all enumerated in the subjoined directory. The Keighley Union, as formed in 1837, under the New Poor Law, comprised the six townships of Keighley, Bingley-with-Micklethwaite, Haworth, East and West Morton, Steeton-with-Eastburn, and Sutton, under the control of a Board of 16 Guardians, of whom six are appointed for Keighley, four for Bingley, 3 for Haworth, and one for each of the other places. Mr. Geo. Spencer is their clerk.

Keighley was anciently written Kyghlay, and afterwards Kighley, and was long the manor and residence of a knightly family of its own name, one of whom "Gilbertus Kyghlay, of Utley," was buried here in 1203, as appears by an inscription on a gravestone, still remaining in the church. Henry Kighley procured from Edward 1, for this, his manor, the privileges of a market, fair, and free-warrren. A daughter and co-heiress of the last Henry Keighley carried the manor, in marriage, to Wm. Cavendish, who was created Baron Cavendish of Hardwick in 1604, and from whom the Duke of Devonshire and the Earl of Burlington are descended; the former being now patron of the rectory, and the latter lord of the manor, for which he holds a court leet, in November, and a court baron on every third Thursday, at the Devonshire Arms Inn. Mr Charles Carr. Of Skipton, is the steward, and W. Hopkinson and J Corrodus are the bailiffs. This court-baron was extended to the recovery of debts under £5, by an act passed in 1777, which also established a court of requests, for the recovery of debts under 40s, in this and several other parishes. The latter is held on the 2nd Monday in Feb. April, June, August, Oct and December, in the Court House, a neat and commodious building, erected at the cost of £700, in 1831, by the Commissioners, to whom Mr Richard Thornton, of Bradford is clerk. In the same building, the neighvouring magistrates hold Petty Sessions, on the last Wednesday of every month, or oftener when occasion requires. Keighley affords few materials for general history; but it is recorded of it that in the civil wars, in the reign of Charles 1, it was occupied (1645) by the troops of Parliament, who were surprised by a party of Royalists from Skipton Castle, under Captain Hughes, and many of them made prisoners. This victory was, however, of short duration, for Genl. Lambert advanced speedily from a neighbouring station, attacked the Royalists, recovered the prisoners, and pursued Hughes and his troops to the gates of Skipton Castle, where they found refuge.

The Market, held every Wednesday, is abundantly supplied with all the necessaries of life, for the sale of which, a commodious Market Place, 61 yards long and 40 broad, was built in 1833, by a company of proprietors, in £25 shares, on land held by lease under the lord of the manor. A fortnight Cattle Market is held every alternate Tuesday; and two annual Fairs for cattle and merchandise, are held on the 8th and 9th of May, and the 7th, 8th and 9th of November. In 1824, an Act of Parliament was obtained for improving the town; and under it, the commissioners erected the Gas Works, which were finished December 5th, 1825. The Water Works, constructed under and Act passed in 1816, derive an abundant supply from two never- failing springs on the east and west sides of the town. At Eastwood, the only small plain in the parish, races were formerly held. The Church was modernised in 1710, and rebuilt in 1807. It is a spacious structure, with a thousand sittings and an octagonal tower, containing eight bells and an excellent clock, made by J Prior, of Nestfield. It is dedicated to St Andrew; but the original fabric, erected about the time of Henry 1. Is supposed to have been dedicated to St Peter, on whose festival, (old style) July 11th, the town feast is still held. This is often called Utley feast, from the site of the ancient manor house, which was occupied more than four centuries by the Keighley family, one of whom gave the Church to Bolton Abbey, but it was never appropriated; and after the dissolution of the monasteries, the advowson was granted to Henry Earl of Cumberland. The rectory, valued in the King's books at £21. 0s. 7.1/2d., is now worth upwards of £360, per annum. The glebe is 56 acres, of which 36A is moorland. The Duke of Devonshire is the patron, and the Rev. Theodore Drury, A. M. is the incumbent. In North street, is a neat Catholic Chapel, in the gothic style erected in 1837, together with the priest's house, at the cost of about £2000, on half an acre of land, given by Wm. Middleton, Esq. There are in the town eight Chapels, belonging to the Independents, the General and Particular Baptists, Swedenborgians, the Wesleyan, the Association, and the Primitive Methodists, and the Society of Friends; but the old meeting house of the latter sect has not been used for regular worship during the last seven years. The largest is the Wesleyan Chapel, built in 1811, and having 1200 sittings, and an excellent organ. Sunday Schools and Institutions for the promotion of religion, are liberally supported by the various sects; and in the town and parish are several endowed schools, a National school, and a Mechanic's Institution. The latter was founded in 1825, and now occupies a handsome building, erected in 1835, at the cost of £1050, of which £200 was subscribed, and the remainder was raised in £5 proprietary shares. Part of this building is let for other purposes; and the institution possesses a valuable library of 900 volumes, and a museum, and is supported by about 150 members. The lecture room is 61 feet by 39; the reading room 23 by 18; and the library, 10 by 16.

The Free School, in Keighley, was founded in 1713, by John Drake, who endowed it with a garden and house, occupied by the master, and several houses and about 7A of land in Keighley, now let for £162 a year. The master receives a yearly salary of £110, and has generally about 50 free scholars. The school is free to all the children of the parish, for English reading, as well as for Latin and Greek. Adjoining it is a Preparatory School, kept by the usher, who receives as his salary, the rents of a house and 1A of land, at Exley-Head, and of a house and 15A of land, at Ponden, now let for £40. 15s. a year. This provision for an usher, was made by the will of Jonas Tonson, in 1716. He is chosen by the trustees, with the consent of the rector and schoolmaster, to instruct the younger children of the inhabitants, in English, until fit to be placed under the upper master. The Free School at Harehills, was founded by Sarah Heaton, who, in 1738, left £200, and directed the first three years' interest to be expended in building the school. And then the capital to be laid out in land for the benefit of a schoolmaster, to teach English and Latin to the children of Oakworth Lordship, Newholme, Slitherey Ford, &c. The £200, with £50 borrowed, was laid out in 1744, in the purchase of a farm of 33A, called Whitehill, now let for £33 per annum; which is paid to the master, except the interest of the £50 above named, and of £90, expended in erecting the master's house. The scholars are taught English reading gratuitously; but each pays 4d. per week, for writing and arithmetic. In the town is a large National School, built in 1835, at the cost of £1750, and attended by 200 day and 500 Sunday scholars; and at Sykes-head, is a smaller school, built by subscription, in 1833, together with three adjoining cottages, let for £10. The poor parishioners have the benefit of the following charities:-

Bowcock's Charity:- In 1669, Isaac Bowcock bequeathed for apprenticing poor children, and the relief of the indigent inhabitants of Keighley parish not receiving parochial aid, a yearly rent charge of £4, and certain lands in Bradford, then worth £21 a year, but now producing upwards of £320 per annum, being let on building leases. The trustees generally expend about £15 a year in apprenticing five poor boys, and distribute the remainder of the clear income, half yearly among the necessitous poor. The Poor's Estate was derived partly, from the bequest of John Clapham, in 1686, and partly by purchase made with money left to the poor parishioners. It consists of 1A. 2R of land, called Sugden Raven Royd, and Low Lowkeholme; 2A. called Fiddle Close, 5A. 2R, at Ingrow Wood; and 10A. 3P. allotted at the enclosure. The rents amount to £30. 1s per annum, which is distributed in half yearly moieties, by the minister and churchwardens, among poor persons of the town.

Among the provident institutions, is the Keighley and Bingley Savings' bank, established in 1819 and having in 1836, deposits amounting to £20,644, belonging to 689 depositors. Here are also several Friendly Societies, and Lodges of Free Masons, Odd Fellows, Druids, Forester, Gardeners, and Female Florists. The Eboracum Lodge of Odd Fellows, in the Manchester Union, erected a lodge room here, in 1835, at the cost of £310."

[Transcribed from White's History, gazetteer and directory of the West Riding of Yorkshire 1837]