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Friday, 30 November 2012

Windhill Old Burial Ground

You notice so much more when you're walking than when in a vehicle. I've been along Crag Road in Shipley many times but never spotted this little old burial ground, which lies below the level of the road (that was built in the 1960s) on land that would, I think, have been alongside the Bradford Canal. It really isn't much bigger than you can see from the photo. Scrolling through Google (as you do!) I've discovered that it belonged to Windhill Wesleyan Chapel, which was built in 1834 and is long since demolished (though I found an old photo of it here.) They started burials on this small plot (known as the 'front burial ground') in 1835. By 1855 it was full, so a larger cemetery was opened further up the hill on Owlet Road, though they continued to inter into existing graves until 1918. It seems that there are fairly full records existing of who is buried here and the inscriptions on the graves, so it would be quite easy to research a family tree. As you can see, it's all terribly overgrown now but that makes it look quite romantic.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Traces of history

Near the stump of the Bradford Canal in Shipley (see yesterday) is this little cluster of buildings, all connected historically with the Canal.  The Canal was completed around 1774, to link the city of Bradford with the Leeds-Liverpool waterway, which was being built at the same time, and thus to provide a trade route for the city's industry. It closed in 1922 and was filled in in the 1950s so little trace  of it survives, though you can see more or less where it went. It must have had a lock at this point because the stone building was the lock-keeper's cottage. I've read that the existing house dates from the 1800s and it may have been built on the site of, or adapted from, an older building.

The Bradford Canal appears to have suffered problems with its water supply. It closed down temporarily in 1867 but was reopened again in 1872. The red-brick building dates from that time and was a pumping station to pump water up from the Leeds-Liverpool Canal. At some point, it was converted (quite nicely by the looks of it) into a residence but for some reason is now boarded up and appears unused. I really like the garage with its large old clock and its chimney.

So, an interesting little cluster - but situated as they are in a predominantly commercial area that is rather isolated, run-down and boundaried by the railway, it's hard to see what the future might hold.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Dockfield Mills

I took a walk along the towpath of the Leeds-Liverpool Canal into Shipley, to explore a part of the town that I have not really looked at before. Despite its wealth of history, it's now an isolated and somewhat run-down area. This building was once part of Dockfield Mills, built c1900 and still bearing the original name on its parapet, though it is now called Staveley House. It is currently used as offices but looks a bit neglected. The Leeds-Liverpool Canal goes from left to right on my photo. (The cyclists are on the towpath, which is a recognised cycleway.) On the right, some modern flats and houses have been built fairly recently. The area of water in the foreground is the stump that is left of the Bradford Canal, a 3.5 mile canal branch that went right into the centre of the city of Bradford. Built around 1774, it was closed in 1922 when it became unprofitable and was eventually filled in in the 1950s.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Much to smile about

I've just had the happiest weekend with my family. Elodie is really developing into a sweet little person. She pulls the cutest faces - this one is one of her more natural expressions. She can also do a smile especially (funny) for the camera! And my beautiful daughter, as photogenic as ever.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Shimmer & sparkle

The play of sunshine on water and on the stone walls of Salts Mill made lovely shimmering, sparkling patterns. Who needs Christmas fairy lights?

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Hanging on

I have been enjoying Anita's 'Say No to Sepia' series on her lovely blog 'did you bring your camera'. Now, I can hardly pretend that the autumn colours here in West Yorkshire rival those in Wisconsin or other areas of the USA where Fall is traditionally feted as an amazing spectacle of colour.  This year though, we've done pretty well, a silver-lining in the clouds of the dreadful wet summer we had, perhaps. The weather has been sunny and crisp on enough (non-working) days to enable me to make the most of it too. Alas, I fear that sepia is now overtaking everything. The woods over on Shipley Glen are definitely past their best showing.  Here along the canal the last leaves hang on to catch the late sunshine and a few red berries add colour too.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Traffic calming measures

Since the Bingley by-pass was completed a few years ago, traffic around Saltaire has reached nightmarish proportions at peak times. Saltaire Road, the old turnpike road that bisects the village and heads towards Leeds, is often a solid, slow-moving traffic jam in the morning and evening rush hour. (My photo was taken on a Sunday.) It drives everyone mad and many hours have been spent trying to find a solution. Proposals have even included a tunnel under Saltaire!  They have now decided to turn the roundabout at the top of the road into a traffic-light controlled junction, which will probably make it safer though I doubt it will improve the traffic flow.  They have also introduced 'traffic-calming measures' throughout the village, including a 20mph speed limit and various speed bumps across the side roads.  I can testify that, so far, these measures have made no discernable difference whatsoever! Traffic shows no signs of slowing down when it's not busy and when it is busy 20mph would be an aspirational speed anyway...

The building in my photo is Wycliffe Primary School.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Heaps of sparkle

More Christmas baubles, this time fashioned into a huge and sparkling Christmas 'tree'. This is the main feature of the display in the very-up-market Victoria Quarter in Leeds: a series of wonderful Victorian arcades, now home to some designer stores, including the celebrated Harvey Nichols. All too expensive for my Christmas shopping - but good old M&S is just across the way!

I wasn't drunk at the time I took this photo (honest!) but the 'tree' is so huge and I could see the perspective was going to be wonky anyway - so it seemed a good idea to make it more so and get more of the baubles in!

Thursday, 22 November 2012

It's coming!

We're barely half way through November, but in Leeds you could have no doubt that Christmas is coming! The annual German Christkindelmarkt, held in Millennium Square, has been opened, and continues until 16 December. It has its usual mix of lots of continental-style delights to eat and drink and glittering toys, trinkets and baubles. These did look rather pretty, I have to say. Each is a little work of art, in its own way. I can remember from my childhood the excitement each year of unpacking those glass treasures, carefully stored in their tissue paper, and then hanging them on the tree. It was like greeting old friends and then each year we added one or two new ones too. Christmas seems to have lost some of its magic for me over the years but maybe this year, seen through the eyes of my granddaughter, it will feel special again.

I have just realised it's Thanksgiving today (Thursday) in the USA. (Not at the weekend as I thought).  So this sparkly picture can be my way of wishing all my American readers a very special and happy day.  I actually think we should import Thanksgiving here.  There's much to give thanks for - and that side of Christmas is rather hi-jacked by all the razzmatazz these days.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012


My home in Saltaire is, strictly speaking, part of the City of Bradford metropolitan area - and indeed many of my 'city' photos have been taken in Bradford. By train, however, it takes only a few minutes longer to get to Leeds than to Bradford. The two cities have always had a kind of rivalry and in Victorian times Bradford was a powerful metropolis, founded on wool. Leeds traditionally had a broader base and that served it well when the wool industry collapsed. Nowadays, Leeds is a much more cosmopolitan and vital place and Bradford has struggled to keep up. For shopping, Leeds is streets ahead (pun intentional!), ranked in the premier league when it comes to city centre shopping in the UK, and still investing in new shopping zones despite these recessional times. So it was off to Leeds at the weekend to start on the Christmas shopping (not my favourite activity; I wasn't 'born to shop'!) It all looked rather glorious in the cool autumn sunshine, and Leeds Town Hall, in particular, looked stately and imposing.  The building next to it, on the right, houses the city library and art gallery and a very nice Craft Centre and Design Gallery.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Sunrise, sunrise

The advantage of shorter days is that I can pull back my bedroom curtains when I wake up, and see a sight like this! (Unfortunately it presages yet more rain.)

(PS Elements did a nice job of merging two images to make a panorama. I'm gradually getting the hang of my new software.)

Monday, 19 November 2012

Leaves of Gold

'I sang of leaves, of leaves of gold and leaves of gold there grew:
Of wind I sang, a wind there came and in the branches blew.
Beyond the Sun, beyond the Moon, the foam was on the Sea,
And by the strand of Ilmarin there grew a Golden Tree.'

J R R Tolkien

Sunday, 18 November 2012

What's that duck?

I spent a happy hour or so sitting in a hide playing 'What's that duck?' at the Rodley Nature Reserve. I was quite a competent birdwatcher in my youth.... until motherhood arrived and the incompatibility of bird-watching and life with a lively toddler became apparent. It's a simple pleasure and one that I am seeking to pick up again. Hampered as I am by deafness, hearing and then spotting the myriad tree-hopping 'little brown jobs' (as we used to call the warblers and finches) is tricky. Wildfowl and waders are much easier, as they tend to stay in more or less the same place for long enough to work out what they are!

My list at Rodley included the ubiquitous mallard ducks, black-headed gulls, coots and moorhens (all of which I can spot around the canal in Saltaire) and some rather more interesting things too: little grebe, wigeon, gadwall, a solitary teal, Canada geese and a string of young mute swans gliding around. Some species are resident, some over-wintering and others just passing through, so what you see depends to some extent on luck. Of course that's what makes birding interesting.

The birds were too far away for close-up photos without a very long lens, but I had my binoculars.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Rodley Nature Reserve

Here's a place I've been meaning to visit for ages - Rodley Nature Reserve. Halfway between Saltaire and Leeds city centre, it is a managed wetland reserve in the middle of an essentially urban area. I'm not too sure how long it has been there (possibly about 15 years?) but it was developed to capitalise on a natural 'flyway' for wildfowl and waders, where the River Aire and the Leeds-Liverpool Canal wind their way through a floodplain in the Kirkstall Valley. Pools, marshes, reedbeds and willow coppice provide a rich habitat for birdlife, amphibians and dragonflies. In the summer months, hay meadows full of wildflowers attract butterflies.

It's a delightful place to wander. You can almost - but not quite - forget that you are so close to houses and factories. I like the juxtaposition, in the photo above, of the insect 'hotel' with the houses and church in the background (Horsforth, I think). Even at this time of year there is lots to enjoy - and a small café/visitor centre, run by volunteers, affords a warming cup of tea and cake if you get chilled.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Coppice pond

A visit to the St Ives estate is not complete without a gentle stroll round the Coppice Pond.  When the house was a family residence, the pond was used as a boating lake. There was a boathouse at one end, of which little remains but its foundations. Now the pond is stocked with fish - carp, tench, bream, chub, roach, perch (aren't they great names?) - and is fished by members of Bingley Angling Club. In winter the pond, being quite shallow, gets iced over. In the past, they used to crack the ice and store it in an ice-house for preserving food. The area around the pond is lovely at all seasons. I especially like it in winter, but this year the autumn colour was very pretty.

(See my other blog: Seeking the Quiet Eye for some more pretty autumn pictures.)

Thursday, 15 November 2012

The Archers

The Bingley St Ives estate is the home of Aire Valley Archers. It's a large club with over 130 members, ranging from beginners to very experienced archers. They shoot at targets using a variety of different bows. I didn't know anything about archery until I read the info on their clubhouse and on their website. As so often with these kinds of activities, it is all more complex and interesting than it might at first appear.

Image from web
It seems there are three different types of bow: traditional wooden longbows (like Robin Hood might have used) that shoot wooden arrows with feather 'flights'; compound bows that are shorter, have a complex pulley system and are more accurate; and recurve bows, which are the ones they use in the Olympics (and which seem to be what the guys in my photo have, as far as I can tell). You can only glimpse an arrow flying on one of the photos I took - they go so fast you really can't see them!

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

The old manor house, St Ives

The mansion on the Bingley St Ives estate, built in the 1800s and currently used as a residential home for young people with disabilities, isn't especially photogenic. There are, however, several other interesting buildings on the estate. The oldest is probably the Old Manor House, built in 1636 by Robert Ferrand, a cloth merchant. It has been altered and cottages added alongside, but there are some nice features like this old door, with its now-disused staircase. It also has a walled garden.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Sports Turf Research Institute

This is something you might not expect to find in the middle of a country park in Yorkshire.... It's an organisation called the Sports Turf Research Institute (STRI). Founded in 1929, initially to provide research and advisory services to golf clubs, by the 1950s the company had established an excellent reputation for advice on all forms of sports turf and amenity grass surfaces. It is now the world's leading authority in sports turf research, design and management. Most of the major sports venues in the UK and many world-wide, owe their playing surface to this consultancy. Wembley stadium, Wimbledon, Ascot racecourse, Twickenham & Murrayfield rugby grounds, the Olympic Equestrian course at Greenwich, the 2010 FIFA World Cup venues in South Africa and St Andrews golf course are some of the big names that have been on their books. The company employs about 75 staff and its headquarters is here at Bingley St Ives.

Monday, 12 November 2012


It's quite surprising how many different enterprises the Bingley St Ives estate now sustains. The main house (not an especially grand or attractive building, so I don't have a photo of it) is now a residential home for young adults with disabilities. There is an 18-hole golf course, a fishing lake, an imaginative children's play area, a very nice little café and an equestrian centre used by both able-bodied and disabled riders. I suppose this little shetland pony (I think) and the horse belong to the riding school. They were well-wrapped up in their winter jackets and peacefully grazing the paddock in front of the house. In the background you can just see the golf clubhouse.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Betty's Lodge

This pretty little lodge, with its unusual part-octagonal design, stands near the east entrance to the Bingley St Ives estate. I don't know how it got its name, but perhaps someone called Betty lived there once. When the St Ives mansion was a family residence, the Lodge would have been occupied by an estate employee. I believe that nowadays the cottage is privately owned. The owners obviously enjoy feeding the wild birds; there must be a rich variety of wildlife in the surrounding woods. And fairies at the bottom of the garden, I feel sure...

Saturday, 10 November 2012

If you go down to the woods...

If you go down to the woods of the St Ives estate, you might get a big surprise... because, dotted around, there are all sorts of strange and magical wooden sculptures, carved with a chainsaw.  I especially like this one; I'm not exactly sure what you would call it but in my mind it's a wood sprite, peeping out from his magic tree.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Bingley St Ives

Last weekend was fairly typically Novemberish, damp and misty, but by Sunday I really felt like I needed some fresh air so I took a trip up to the nearby St Ives estate, a country park on the hill above Bingley. I always like this view down the valley towards Harden, from one of the estate's entrance drives. You can tell, I think, that the surroundings have been landscaped in the past; there are some magnificent specimen trees. The estate was once owned by monks, but after the dissolution of the monasteries it was sold and a mansion, then called Harden Grange, was built in the 17th century. For most of its history it was owned by the Ferrand family but the estate was bought in the 1920s by the local council and has been developed as an area of recreation.

Photo best viewed large

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Soft focus

The stretch of canal just beyond Hirst Lock is often rather dark and gloomy, shrouded in trees. Happily, one day when I walked up there, there was a bit of sun and I remembered to change my camera's white balance to shade... amazing how that warms a picture up.  And I was lucky enough to get there just as this boat arrived.  They had to pull over to allow one of the crew to hop out to operate the swing bridge and the lock.  Quite hard work, this stretch of the canal.  You thought you were just going for a lazy afternoon's cruise down to Saltaire, didn't you?

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Ars Coelum Est

Anybody speak Latin?  I'm not exactly sure what this phrase means... Art is Heaven?  or Heaven is art, maybe? (You can tell I failed Latin O-level, can't you?) Anyhow, this is the motto that greets visitors and students entering the Exhibition Building in Saltaire. Named after the great Jubilee Exhibition that Titus Salt Jnr masterminded in Saltaire for Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee, the building was paid for from the proceeds, after it was decided that Saltaire needed an expansion of its educational facilities.  It still forms part of Shipley College and the large hall at its centre provides useful exhibition space even now, for various community and college events.  I think this mosaic floor will be original to the building, which was opened in 1887.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

C is for captured

Caught, captured, contained, colourful, charming - all the C words seem appropriate to this image framed within the 'C' of the pretty bridge at Dowley Gap, number 206 on the Leeds-Liverpool Canal. I don't remember seeing narrowboats moored here before, between the bridge and the locks, but one of them looked well-wrapped up, as though prepared perhaps to sit out the coming winter here.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Two trees in autumn

We saw them in the spring, and here they are again in autumn, just beginning to turn brown. There is something comforting, I find, in the regular turning of the seasons, even though I am loathe to trade the light and warmth of the summer for the cold, grey darkness of wintertime. There is a rhythm to Life, although not a uniformity.  I doubt these trees look exactly the same two autumns in succession.

I was glad to see the geese grazing on the field just beyond the gateway. I think they must be the flock that is often found lazing around on Saltaire URC's lawns.  There is something inspiring about geese and especially at this time of year, as Anita's blog reminded me recently.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Hymns of praise

I don't know why I thought the autumn colours were going to be poor this year... This tree on the drive of Saltaire's United Reformed Church is really very attractive, tipped with red and gold - a hymn of praise to the Creator God. The church was open for the Sunday morning service, hence the line of cars  - but it's only in the mornings that the sun catches the church and tree in this way. Later in the day it swings behind the church, not brilliant for photos.  In fact, getting a good picture of the church itself is much more likely on a softly lit winter day.  This one was taken a couple of weeks ago. As a photographer, you have to take your chances while you can; this weekend it's unremittingly damp and grey.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Golden moments

'The golden moments in the stream of life rush past us, and we see nothing but sand; the angels come to visit us, and we only know them when they are gone.' 
George Eliot

Friday, 2 November 2012


A photo of the River Aire and the weir at Hirst Mill. Firstly, note how much the water level has gone down since the heavy rains of September. Secondly, observe the damage that the flood of water caused. There is an enormous tree trunk caught on the weir on the left and it appears to me that on the right hand side a lot more of the stones have been dislodged and swept down, to give more of a waterfall effect than usual.  Still, it hasn't spoiled my pleasure in this part of the river, a good place to head for on a short walk from Saltaire. I never tire of watching the water rushing over the weir and, if I should, a few steps further upriver one can usually see canoeists and rowers from Bradford Amateur Rowing Club practising. I noticed the other day that all their boats have humorous names like "Aire-Row-Nautics" and "Thin Aire". I imagine they spent a few happy evenings in the bar, dreaming them up!

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Village stocks

A stroll in the sunshine in Saltaire's Roberts Park might mean that you come across this historical relic, tucked away at the back of the park.  Stocks were used through much of our history to punish and humiliate offenders, pinning their legs so they couldn't escape and leaving them subject not only to the vagaries of the weather but also to being jeered, spat on or pelted with rotting vegetables - or worse!  I can find no record of when or where these particular stocks were used, nor when the practice ceased.  Safe to say that, whatever you do, you are unlikely to be placed here nowadays - though maybe the threat might deter the vandals who regularly daub graffiti or otherwise trash the local area.