Spotlight on Cottingley Guardian Chronicle March 5th 1965

A fortnight before Cottingley Town Hall Centenary, the "Guardian Chronicle" looks back over the village's history and development, with the help and reminiscences of some of the older residents and with old pictures in their possession.


Speight's Cottingley, "a pleasant of the Domesday Manors included in the ancient parish of Bingley", must bear little relationship to the Cottingley of today.

The area round the Main Street - an oasis of antiquity in a desert of modernity - is being surrounded by ever-growing housing estates.

Bradford Old Road - once the way for carts travelling to and from the mill - has been closed at one end. Instead, most traffic uses the New Road, running parallel, with it s fluorescent lighting and concrete lamp posts.

But this is not the heart of the so-called village. To find this, it is necessary to travel up the Main Street, past shops touched with the brush of modernity, and to walk along such places as Quebec and the Strand, which do not know the meaning of tarmac.

It is in streets like these that the older residents live - "born and bred i' Cottingley" they exclaim. Many of them can still remember Cottingley in the late 19th century and in the early years of this century, before the Cottingley Bar House was demolished; before the Town Hall saw its 50th anniversary and before the influx of outsiders prevented everyone from knowing everyone else.

Many attended the Town Hall Day School, and some the Sunday School as well. The grandparents and even parents of many witnessed the opening of the Town Hall on March 21 1865. For years before that committees were formed and trustees appointed.

By mid 1863, the plan of the building and its name - the Cottingley Protestant Hall - had been agreed upon. Determined to avoid "jerry-building", the building committee appointed seven building supervisors.

Permission to get stone from the Plain Field was obtained from Mr. Ferrand; farmers lent their horses and carts for team work, and many villagers helped dig out the foundations in the evenings.

On Boxing Day the same year, the foundation stone was laid by Mr. William E. Glyde of Shipley.

While steady progress was made on the building in 1864, it was realised that the many Roman Catholics in the village were fully entitled to participate in the activities of the Mechanics' Institute - and many did - which was to form an important part of the "Protestant Hall".


The building's name was therefore changed to Cottingley Town Hall. Later that year, the day school opened, followed a month later by the Mechanics' Institute.

The proceedings 100 years ago began with a tea. The "Centenary Souvenir", published in 1915 for the 50th anniversary, adds; "Somebody had been quick enough to propose a charge of 2s. for the first sitting down. It stopped the rush of hungry little boys, and it brought more grist to the mill".

Tributes were paid 100 years ago to the donators, including the Baines family, whose £170, coupled with donations of £100 each from Mr. John Crossley of Halifax (chairman at the opening) and Sir Titus Salt, helped so much towards the buildings. This year there will be similar reminiscences of the old days, with a pageant through the ages, and, of course, a concert.

Many of the older residents will take an active part in the proceedings, recalling the days of their youth when Cottingley was a genuine village.

The mid-20th century has already surrounded Cottingley, and is quickly forcing its way into the narrow and unmade streets.

But as long as there are old people in Cottingley, the old days can never be forgotten.
They will be discussed in the Working Men's and Conservative Clubs; in the shops and in the "new" Sun Inn.

Many Memories of life in the old days

Mr. Fred Fielding of 18 Hollings Street, who was born almost 80 years ago, and has lived all his life in Cottingley, still remembers many of the amusing and interesting events he saw as a youth.

He has vivid memories of two floods. As a schoolboy in the first he then lived at 2 Herbert Street (now demolished) at the bottom of Main Street. "I remember it well," he told the "Guardian-Chronicle", "because there was three feet of water in the house, and we couldn't get downstairs at all."

But this was no excuse to miss school. Round to the house came Mr. Joe Verity in a horse and cart and Mr. Fielding used to have to jump from an upstairs window into the cart to be taken to school. He and his family put up with the inconvenience for a week.

The only amusing event was at the Fielding family sweetshop where stoppers on glass bottles full of "khali" blew out and the reaction between the "kahli" and the water caused an "awful froth" to spread over the water.

Mr. Fielding thought the second flood was in 1916. His most vivid recollection was of dead pigs from a sty at the top of Hollings Street floating on the water. Others were swimming and Mr Fielding with Mr. Edwin Taylor, the owner, had to go into the flood water and rescue the animals.

No-one seemed quite sure how or why the floods started. Mr. Fielding, however, thinks it was a combination of flooded streams, becks and burst land drains which swirled down from the raspberry gardens.

Bystanders thought they would be swamped, but the water swirled into houses, flooding to a depth of three or four feet. Particularly bad were 2, 4 and 6 Herbert Street.

The village was a "shambles" for a week, but Mr. Fielding asserts it could have been much worse if the wall by the old Sun Inn had not given way - allowing hundreds of gallons to escape. Otherwise, the water might have reached Cottingley Mills and caused havoc.

Another memory he retains is the original status of Cottingley Working Men's Club. At one time this was Rowany House - otherwise known as the Vicarage, where the Reverend Simpson lived with his housekeeper, a Miss Gurney.

In the more expansive days, the occupiers of Cottingley Hall were Sir William and Lady Priestley, and numbers 2, 4, 6 and 8 Hollings Street were occupied by Sir William's gardener, under-gardener, coachman and footman.

Sir William, who was in the army when he died in Algiers, was buried in Bingley Cemetery.

The Hollings Street houses were built specially for Sir William's servants. The gardener's daughter, formerley Miss Harriet Webb (now Goodchild) of Cottingley, is still alive, as is the coachman's daughter, the former Miss Alice Wood, who lives in Bingley.


Every Whitsuntide Monday, there would be a procession from the town hall, with Sunday School members taking part, down to the bottom of Cottingley, up to New Brighton, and, after visiting a family called Gawthorpe, back down to the Sun Inn and to Cottingley Hall.

At the Hall there was an assembly on the lawn. Visitors were given a conducted tour of the Hall's greenhouses, and on leaving, each person was given an orange by Lady Priestley.

"Darby and Joan" were the popular names for the two lodges at the Ferrands gateway on Bradford Old Road when Mr. Fielding was a boy. One lodge was used by the occupants during the day for eating and "living in" and the other was used only at night for sleeping in.

Mr. Fielding with other small boys used to hide by the "living in" lodge and watch as the occupants came out carrying a candle, and walked across the entrance to the estate to their sleeping quarters.

Court Morning

Whenever there was a court morning, Mr. Ferrand, who was a magistrate, would drive from the "big house" and travel three miles by carriage and pair to the courtroom.

It takes a man with a good memory, like Mr. Fielding, to remember the characters of the village 40, 50, 60 and even 70 years ago.

There was "Taylor" Heaton, who conducted his business on the third storey of a house on Main Street, and who also ran the village's horse-drawn wagonettes and cabs.

There were Cottingley's "King" and "Queen" - King Wood, who lived on Smith Street and Queen Rebecca (Nicholls), of Main Street. Both were "characters", and once when the two met face to face, King said "Behold, the King and Queen meet."

It was King Wood who was supposed to have taken the words of a friend too literally and taken his shoes, Mr. Fielding recalled.

Once, while in the Sun Inn, Mr. Joe Moore told King that when he committed suicide, King could have his shoes.


Shoes were very valuable commodities, so King took his drinking partner at his word, offered to go with him, and led him down to a whirlpool in the river.

King watched some distance from the whirlpool as Mr. Moore took off his shoes and tested the water with one toe.

Finding it too cold, he decided to postpone his end, but on turning round was just in time to see King walking away with the shoes.

King's attitude was apparently that Mr. Moore had failed to carry out his promise and should stick to his side of the bargain. Mr. Moore had to walk home in his bare feet, and the story does not say whether there was a sequel.

One of Cottingley's better known characters in Mr. Fieldings younger days was Mr. Joe "Slen" Oaten - so called because he was tall and slim. Gallons of wine used to be made each summer by a Mr. Harrison, who lived on Quebec.

"Dicker Paul" was the firewood man who lived with his wife and donkey in a house where Lynwood Terrace now stands.

An Argument

An argument with a barber once cost Mr. Joe Heaton, a greengrocer, some of his best cabbages, recalled Mr. Fielding.

It happened when Mr. Heaton went to Mr. Gordon Wild's barber's shop on Main Street, on a site now occupied by Mr. Trevor Atkinson, the greengrocer.

Mr. Heaton and Mr. Wild quarrelled, and another man in the shop was accidentally struck.

The man wandered away, apparently unconcerned, but when Mr. Heaton came out of the barber's shop he found his horse, which he had left standing patiently outside, had been turned round in the shafts of the greengrocery cart and was casually eating all the best cabbages!

Significance of Centenary

Mrs. Elsie Heaton of 6 New Row, Cottingley Bar, has lived for varying periods in Cottingley since 1890. The Centenary at the Town Hall has a special significance for her, for her father, Mr. Tom Woodly, a local mechanic, was born in the same week as the Town Hall was opened.

The old Sun Inn also brought back happy memories. She recalled that at one time the licensee of the inn - Mrs. Nancy Moore (later Mrs. Willis) gave older residents of Cottingley a free drink, provided they walked a certain distance.

She could not recall when or how many miles they had to walk, but thought it was about two or three.

She recalled the floods during the 1914-18 war - how they swept off the moors and instead of running away in the beck, swept through the older part of the village. Dams were built to divert the waters back into the beck. To help Cottingley families who were in distress, Mrs. Heaton stood at a street corner and collected for the victims; and even when warned that she might be summoned, continued to collect.

The floods were particularly bad in the region of the Sun Inn. On one occasion, a Mr. Tom Moore drove his horse and cart into the flood and they were swept away. Fortunately, Mr. Moore was uninjured, but Mrs. Heaton could not remember whether the horse got off as lightly.

Mr. Woodley - Mrs. Heaton's father - once won a watch at the Cottingley Bar shooting range, which opened in September 1914.

Mrs. Heaton's husband's tailor's shop was on a part of the Main Street no longer standing.

Where people once entered the doorway to be measured for a new suit, they now enter a telephone box.

19th century village: "A nice little spot"

One of the older residents who was born in Cottingley and spent most of her life there, recalled that before the turn of the century, Cottingley was "a nice little spot".

She did not want her name mentioning, but said her father had often said that the old site of the Town Hall had been a hill, which had taken a lot of levelling.
At the age of three - in 1897 - she began school in the infants' department of the Town Hall School. By the age of 13 or 14, most of the pupils were going part-time to what is now Butterfield and Fraser Ltd., (popularly called "Cottingley Mills"). No one, as far as she could remember, then went to Bingley Grammar school from Cottingley.

Pay at the mill was about 1s. a week, rising later to 1s.3d. and then to 4s. By the age of 14, most were on full-time, earning 7s. a week. Parents had to find £1 to pay for their children's training for graduation into the weaving shed.

About the Same

The old part of Cottingley, apart from the widening of Main Street, was more or less the same as when she was a child. There used to be a laundry on Skirrow Street, and where the Fourfold Precision Tool Company Ltd. now stands, was a bakery, which sold hot bread.

Part of a row of houses on the Main Street was once bungalows, whose gardens, like their two-storey successors, stretched down to the river.

She recalled that one man who used to live there once owned a donkey and it was always rumoured that he kept it in his house.

In those days there were no cinemas to go to and they made their own entertainment.

In Cottingley Bar when it was demolished

Miss Mary Catley, of 2 New Row, Cottingley, was born in 1894. She was 18 when Cottingley Bar was pulled down; indeed, she was still in the building with others when the top was pulled off.

She recalled that in her childhood days, Cottingley Bar, as well as the raspberry gardens which stretched up from near the parish church to Sandy Lane (where some of her relatives had plots) were owned by Mr. William Ferrand.

Much of the land was bought by Mr. Harry Briggs, who also built Cottingley Manor, now Cottingley Manor Roman Catholic Secondary School.

Miss Catley, who has lived in her present house for 51 years, was one of the many older residents educated at the Town Hall School, when the headmaster was Mr. William Kennedy, of Saltaire. See Labour Certificate signed by Mr Kennedy as headmaster.

Both Miss Catley and Mrs. Elsie Heaton, of 6 New Row, Cottingley, remembered the names of the other teachers of their day - Miss McKechnie and Mrs. Harriet Goodchild (nee Webb).