Story of Addingham Village

 (See map) The village is situated about 17miles north west of Leeds in the county of West Yorkshire in northern England. The land to the south slopes up to Rombald’s Moor and to north lies the peak of Beamsley Beaconwith the valley of Wharfedale to the west of it going north west into the Yorkshire Dales National Park. The river Wharfe runs through the edge of the village. The nearest towns are Ilkley (3 miles east) and Skipton (7 miles west).The village grew up on the A65 road (now by-passed) which goes northwest from Leeds, through Skipton and on to Cumbria and the Lake District. The Skipton to Ilkley railway came to the village in the 1880s but was closed in the 1960s.The area around Addingham was populated from at least Bronze Age times, as shown by the ‘cup & ring’ carved stones found on Rombald’s Moor to the south. The first documentary mention referred to the Archbishop of York staying here in 867AD so it is certainly an ancient settlement.The village used to be called ‘Long Addingham’ because it grew up round three centres – Church Street in the east, The Green (about a mile away) in the west and The Old School in between.The earliest of the existing houses were built in the 17C when it was a farming community, but the real growth was in the late 18C and early 19C when the textile industry arrived and five mills (plus other loomshops and weaving sheds) were established making it a busy industrial community. During the 20C the textile industry declined and the village is now largely a commuter and retirement community. See this article in the Wikipedia for more information, or read on…..

Bronze Age to 21st Century

In the beginning….

Addingham’s history can be traced back to late Mesolithic, Neolithic early Bronze Age. The glaciated valleys of the Aire and Ribble carved the easiest route between the east and west of the Pennines across Rombalds Moor, the highest point between Skipton and Addingham. Scattered over this natural route are the remains of early man in the form of flint tools. The first ‘fixed’ artefacts are the ‘cup and ring’ stones on the top of Addingham Moor from the late Neolithic and early Bronze Age. The only evidence of any settlements in the valley comes from the Iron Age when major tree clearance took place approximately 700 B.C. The Iron Age people ground their corn with hand querns. These have been found on Addinghamhistorymap Moorside and there are remains of an Iron Age settlement on Addingham Low Moor. As is shown on the map, the Aire gap is the lowest crossing of the Pennines and this is now also the main crossing for the railways (Leeds to Carlisle) and canals (Leeds Liverpool). The dotted line in purple shows where the Roman road ran and the fort (Oilcana) at Ilkley. The Areas shown hatched are Rombalds Moor and Baildon Moor where the Iron age artefacts are found, including what may have been settlements. The 350 years of Roman occupation has left little except the remains of a wall of Olicana Fort, near Ilkley Parish Church. The Roman road toward Skipton is still identifiable and was still the main route between Addingham and Skipton up until 200 years ago ( now Moor Lane). In the Doomsday Book, Addingham is referred to as ‘Ediham’, which probably meant ‘home of Edi’ the Earl Edwin of Bolton Abbey. A corn mill was first mentioned in 1315, near where High Mill is today – the weir, slanting across the river, is one of the oldest medieval structures in the village. It was destroyed by a storm in 1776 but was rebuilt the following year. In 1379 Addingham contributed 9s l0d to the unpopular Poll Tax which was levied at 4d for a villein (peasant) and 6d for a craftsman. The main occupation within the village at this time was agriculture and some iron smelting and blacksmithing. There was a record of nine men who were mustered and fought at Flodden Field – the men of Addingham were led to the Battle by William Wade according to one account. In 1452 Henry Vavasour Esq., was Lord of the manor and his family continued there until 1714. Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries, including Bolton Abbey. Thehistory1 reformation was accepted by the people of Addingham, however Richard Kirkham who had been educated in France remained faithful to Catholicism, he was arrested in 1578 and tried and executed at York. The Roman Catholic Church “Our Lady and of the English Martyrs” which was built in 1927 is dedicated to him and the other Catholics persecuted by Henry. In 1639 an edict from Charles I, the Constable of the town made sure that the towns armour was kept in a state of good repair because England was preparing for a possible attack by Scotland. In 1642 during the Civil War, Addingham was probably mainly Royalist as a number of men from the village helped defend Skipton Castle from attack by the Parliamentarians. Not long after the Civil war, in 1652, the Quakers were formed in the western Pennines by George Fox. Even though the village had been Royalist, an Addingham family the Dawsons joined the society of friends. The congregation grew and in 1689 a meeting Chapel was built at Farfield by George Myers, who had taken over most of the Vavasour estate. The Myers built and improved Farfield as we know it today, they, in turn, died without any heirs and the estate was leased/sold many times until the early nineteenth century. The directory of 1837 describes Addingham as ‘a large village and township of 3,500 acres which includes 3 farms of Gildersber and the Farfield Hall estate(owned by Ellis Cunliffe Listers) but excludes 900 acres of common’. John and Mary Cunliffe had settled in Addingham and raised a large family of four sons and five daughters. They lived in an old house at High Bank which they rebuilt in 1790. Ellis, the eldest son married Ruth Myers Harris of the Manningham Listers. In 1805 William Cunliffe, John’s second son bought Farfield hall with its land and properties in the village. He became Lord Lieutenant of the West Riding. Throughout the 19th century, the Cunliffes kept their interests in the textile trade in Addingham. John’s son, Samuel Cunliffe Lister left Farfield hall and he became the first Baron Masham of Swinton. He died in 1906 at the age of 91 and was interred in the Lister Cunliffe vault at St. Peter’s church. Then the Smith family held the manor, Richard Smith Esq.,of London being Lord of the manor at the time. Farfield has had many tenants and was finally bought by George Douglas of the Bradford history2Dyers Association. He transformed the garden and surroundings. On the death of George’s son, Keith, in 1947,  it was taken over by the West Riding County Council and was used as a home for the elderly. In 1989 it was sold for private use. See 1850 map of Addingham (enter Addingham in the search box)

Three hundred years ago the Main Street looked very different, most of the houses were spread out into the fields. Most of the medieval houses were replaced throughout this time. Only the Manor house remains at the bottom of Station Road. Listed in the table on the left are the dates when the main buildings were built, with the Date Stone details.

The Old School was built in 1669 by Anthony Ward. The town book had, from 1690 – 1744, entries made for payment for repairs to the building and for payment of a schoolmaster. The school started life as a single storey two-roomed cottage but another storey was added in 1805 when the school moved into the upper room. See: Story of Addingham Schools

The ground floor was split and one side became a goal. The school remained as it was until 1845 when it was replaced by the Church of England school (the ‘Low School’ in North Street in 1845. Mr Lee was the last teacher in charge before the move to North Street. Mr Richard Sandham who had charge of the school from 1855 to 1890 told Harry Speight (author of ‘Upper Wharfedale’ published in 1900) that “under the schoolroom was the village prison and an infant classroom. The room was occupied by Edward Lister a joiner, and the lower by a nail maker and barber. In 1840, George Whitaker was the village barber and the little lather shop was a well-known rendezvous of local gossips”. In 1874, in Chapel Street, the Wesleyans built a day school which in turn became the National School in 1891. This remained as the infant and junior school up until the building of the First School and Middle schools in the 1960’s, at either end of Back Beck Lane. The First School was closed when the two-tier education system was introduced in 2000 and it was demolished in 2001, the Middle School becoming the Addingham Primary School.

A Liberal Club was erected in 1834, now demolished. By 1853 there was also a Mechanics Institute (now Mechanics Cottages, Manor Garth), erected in 1842, and an Oddfellows Hall (1839). There was a postal collection at 4 a.m. and 7.30 p.m. in 1837 and one at 3.20 p.m. in 1853 which took mail to Skipton and Otley. Three carriers operated in 1837 to York, Bradford, Skipton and Leeds, and in 1853 two carriers went to Keighley, Skipton and Otley, and a coach from Skipton to Ilkley travelled on Monday, Thursday and Saturday.

The Turnpike road through Addingham to Skipton was opened in 1755, the route being revised in 1820. Public houses were built to accommodate travellers on the road. The Fleece was the first. Here the circuit judges sat, those awaiting trial were held below in the cellars and much village business was conducted there. The village stocks once stood outside. The Craven Heifer, at the other end of the village, was named after a large animal which existed between 1807 and 1812. It was sold at the age of 4 years to Mr John Wilkinson who travelled with it all around the countryside. Eventually, it came into the possession of its final owner as a result of a loss of a bet in a cockfight and was slaughtered and sold at a shilling a pound. Its deadweight was 150 stones and at that time there were 16 pounds to the stone. The cockfighting caused a considerable outcry at the time. There are three other pubs, the Crown, the Swan and the Sailor (formerly called The Jolly Sailor). By the early part of the nineteenth-century communications had improved with roads to Colne, Keighley, and beyond. Also, the Leeds-Liverpool canal opened and passed Addingham at nearby Silsden. In 1847 the railway came to Airedale from Leeds, Bradford, and on to Skipton. There was proposed a railway from Addingham to Colne, a grandiose scheme to link through Hull, Leeds, Bradford, Otley, Addingham, Colne and onto the West Coast terminating at Fleetwood. The whole scheme was impractical for it would have meant tunnelling first through to Lothersdale from Crosshills and again Lothersdale to Colne. The scheme swallowed up £65,770 and ‘not a sod was cut’.The Wharfe valley line was eventually opened in 1888 connecting Ilkley with Skipton, via Addingham and Bolton Abbey. The same extension was closed by Beaching in the 1960s, although a small privately-owned (tourist) railway now operates on part of the track between Embsay (near Skipton) and Bolton Abbey.

The houses were built of local stone and have been set in a seemingly haphazard fashion with the beck running through and alongside the centre. Many of the streets were cobbled and there was a frugal use of available space along streets as shown by some of the odd-shaped houses still standing. There were several wells to serve the population and also pumps. Many of the old houses were dated, often with the initials of the original owners over the door (see table above). Several had the characteristic carved door head known as ogee, showing the evolution of the preceding Jacobean style, and chamfered jambs. The streets had interesting names, many taken from the owner’s name, such as Cockshott Fold, Bland Fold, Bradley’s Fold, Hanson’s Green. Others describe the look of the houses such as the Rookery and Salt Pye, and others their position for example Town Top, Low Mill, School Bridge, Back Street, Front Street, Chapel Lane. The actual bridge called School Bridge along Main Street was built by Bernard Hartley (1780-1850), a well-known bridge builder whose characteristic horizontal tooling and round bosses are to be found in many places in the Yorkshire Dales.

In 1875 Addingham which had been at a standstill for some time, was now thriving again. Richard Smith of London was now Lord of the Manor proposed the building of 20 streets each with 40 to 50 houses. The only minor set back was a closing of Town Head mill, but it was soon reopened by Mr Prior who was the previous owner. Small shops still lined the Main Street, grocers, greengrocers, butcher etc. An Addingham co-operative society was formed it prospered sufficiently to buy land on Bolton Road and build new premises and a row of cottages. The old Ferry which brought the parishioners from Beamsley was replaced by a suspension footbridge, and about the same time, a horse-drawn bus service to Ilkley was introduced. Addingham became part of Skipton rural district in the West Riding, and the parish council was formed in 1894. After World War I there was a need for smaller, cheaper houses and council houses were built at Moor lane. More council houses were built after the Second World War in School Lane, Burns Hill, and Green Lane. The next major development was in the early 1970s, after the closure of the railway in 1969 when a modern housing estate built by Jack Clay was built upon an extension to Station Road (now Old Station Way).  Further housing developments continue to be added to Addingham.

Occupation and Industry

In the 1777 – 1791 period, the occupations most mentioned in the Parish registers were labourers, yeomen, farmers, husbandmen and weavers in that woodmilorder, followed by blacksmiths, masons and carpenters. In 1791 cotton spinners were first included and in 1796 wool sorting. From then onwards the percentage of textile workers increased rapidly. Between 1800 and 1805, 44 of the occupations recorded were belonging to the textile trade, i.e. 19 woolcombers, 11 cotton spinners, 11 weavers, 1 warper, 1 machine maker and 1 worsted manufacturer. The rest was made up of 16 farmers, 12 labourers, 6 yeomen, 6 joiners, 5 butchers, 5 masons, 3 innkeepers, 3 husbandmen, 2 tailors, 2 flax dressers, 2 schoolmasters and one each of a tanner, badger, collier, blacksmith, clogger, tallow chandler, grocer, whitesmith, gentleman and sexton.

The Textile Industry

Cloth pulling had been carried on for more than five centuries. As far back as 1568, the will of William Atkinson of Addingham states that he left to his son-in-law one loom. After a slump in cloth making during the late seventeenth century, a revival took place when the trade became rather different. Wool buyers brought the wool back to the warehouse (e.g. the woolhouse in Chapel Lane) where it was sorted and sent out to be combed (worsted) and then spun. It was estimated that it took six to eight spinners to supply one weaver. When Kay’s Flying Shuttle was invented (1733) the weaver could work faster, which made it even more difficult to keep him supplied. In 1764 Hargreaves invented his Spinning Jenny which enabled a spinner to work 16 spindles at once, and later came Richard Arkwright’s ‘Water Frame’ (1768), so named because it required to be powered by a water mill, which spun a hundred threads. Later still came Crompton’s mule, which could also be powered by water, and which spun a finer thread. This marked the beginning of Addinghams leap forward in the textile trade.

John Cunliffe, cloth manufacturer, and John Cockshott, glazier and wool-stapler, leased land on the side of the Wharfe and built a spinning mill in 1788 -1789. It enabled yarn to be spun more quickly than by hand and so increased the production of cloth. A weir was constructed on the river and a wheel installed to provide the power. It was the first successful worsted mill in the world. The first piece of worsted yarn to be seen in Bradford market was made by John Cunliffe at Low Mill. In a sense, it was the birthplace of the Bradford Worsted Trade. At the same time, others were looking at cotton and there were a number of small calico manufacturers who probably employed people with jennies to spin for them. High Mill, Town Head Mill and Fentimans (later a sawmill) were built shortly afterwards, all for spinning and the handloom weavers were kept pretty busy. There were many small workshops, and many weavers cottages built three stories high – two for domestic use and the top floors to house the looms, with inter-connecting doors along the row (e.g. in Stockinger Lane). There were other, similar, cottages with the top floors used for warehouses with cranes and pulleys over the large outside doors.

In John Cockshott’s will, he left various cottages with looms including, amongst others, nine in the Rookery ‘with appurtenances, bakehouse, eight pairs of looms and a large weaving shop with 62 pairs of looms’. He seems to have leased Low Mill to Jeremiah Horsfall who was cotton spinning, and in 1826 it was the scene of a Luddite uprising when (hand) textile workers from Lancashire tried to sabotage the new machines which they saw as a threat to their livelihood.

In 1831-41 there was a decline in the population and the census returns state that this was owing to the closure of Low Mill. In the 1851 census, so many houses at Low Mill were empty that it must have remained closed until after that time. By 1861 handloom weavers had practically disappeared. Samuel Cunliffe Lister re-opened Low Mill, putting Addingham back in its prosperous position. The commercial side of the village wool trade was carried on at the Piece Hall at 19 Main Street. At the end of the 19th century there were five textile mills working, three of them, with the largest part of the workforce, were owned by the Listers.

The mills never really recovered from the upheaval of World War I, a new weaving shed was opened by Messrs. Adams but was closed in 1958. Between the wars Listers entered into a partnership with the Peltzers of Crefeldt, weaving velvet in the UK to avoid tariffs, but when the Second World War broke out the German workers were interned on the Isle of Man. In 1941 the S.U. carburettor factory at Adderley Park in Birmingham was bombed in November 1940, and the company then moved to Shirley on the south side of Birmingham. During the move, aero-carburetter production was maintained by the SU duplicate plant at Riley’s in Coventry (which had been set up in 1940). Production was then diversified between 4 sites in 1941: the main SU Works at Shirley in Birmingham, the duplicate plant at Riley’s in Coventry and the two shadow factories at Barwell in Leicestershire and at the Wharfedale Mill building at Low Mill, Addingham. Up to 1000 people worked there and a number of prefabricated houses were erected in Ilkley to house them. The other textile factories were busy during the war and with Lister’s expertise in silk, they made such things as parachute silk etc.

After the war carburettor production ceased and Low Mill returned to textiles. For a short time, the mills were working hard, as textiles were in short supply. Unfortunately, the machinery was out of date and as the Continental factories re-equipped the British textile industry found itself on hard times. There was a major closure of textile mills and many of Listers mills closed, in Addingham the last being Low Mill weaving shed in 1976. In 1998/99 textiles returned to Addingham and Low Mill as a Norwegian based company, Straum (UK), started production of scoured wool, but this business closed in 2002 and the site has now been largely replaced by housing known as Low Mill Fold.

For more historical information see ‘From Brigantes to Bypass’ by Kate Mason.