Earlier posts

Earlier posts
This blog is a continuation of an older one. To explore previous posts please click the photo above.

Wednesday, 31 March 2021

A lick of paint?

I took this picture because I liked the way the sunshine was picking out Saltaire URC church against the backdrop of heavy storm clouds. It's only in the winter that you can really see this view of the church. Foliage gets in the way in the summer. It wasn't until I was processing the image afterwards that I noticed the peeling paint on the old lamp-post. Time for a fresh coat of black, I think... 

Tuesday, 30 March 2021

Spring comes to Shipley

Trundling home from Asda with my groceries, I almost passed by this little patch of daffodils without a thought. Then I stopped, realising the blessing in them. They didn't just appear by magic... Someone (presumably from the Council's horticultural department) took time and trouble to plant them. As year follows year they burst into flower, bright and bobbing, to herald the transition to warmer, sunnier days. On the other side of the curved wall is a more formal raised bed, at the moment stocked with primulas. 

Beyond that is a building worthy of noticing too. Now housing a portrait photographer's studio, a hairdresser, a furniture store and our local Conservative MP's constituency office, it was at one time Shipley's Public Baths, with a swimming pool and slipper baths. The date stone on the building says 1906. It has an interesting corner, where the ground floor is rounded to allow more room to pass and the upper floor juts out square above. I also found a fascinating website with information about Shipley during WW1 (HERE) that had the following rather amusing snippet: 


Beyond the old baths is Shipley Town Hall, still used for that purpose. This Edwardian complex also at one time held Shipley's Fire Station, which was then moved to newer premises up Saltaire Road, and recently again to a brand new building on Valley Road. 

Monday, 29 March 2021

More men at work

I found I was unable to continue my walk along the canal towpath last week, as a section was closed - yet again. I think it is at least the third separate week that it's been barred off. At one point I noticed this stretch of water, between Hirst Lock and the Aquedect, had been almost drained too, though it was filled up again quite quickly. I'm not exactly sure what they are doing. The notice said something about 'essential investigations to support future plans' or words to that effect. The CRT website suggests that they are investigating how to stop leaks from the canal along this stretch. 

I had to reroute along the river and then back through Hirst Woods. From the river path I could see a group of workers in the distance (above).  Coming back through the woods, I still couldn't really see what they were doing, though there is a kind of pontoon on the canal itself.  

As you can see, the canal runs at a significantly higher level than the river just here, along the steep hillside. The paths through Hirst Wood are higher still. I imagine leaks from the canal could destabilise the whole slope, with potentially nasty consequences. 


Sunday, 28 March 2021

Sunday meditation: Ivy

I spotted a kind of beauty in some rather tatty but tough ivy creeping over a rusty metal door. Perhaps not everyone's cup of tea but I love the colours and textures here. 

'Beauty is a fairy; sometimes she hides herself in a flower-cup, or under a leaf, 
or creeps into the old ivy, and plays hide-and-seek with the sunbeams, 
or haunts some ruined spot, or laughs out of a bright young face.'        George Augustus Henry Sala

'But, like ivy, we grow where there is room for us.'    Miranda July

'I will never leave you nor forsake you.'        Hebrew 13:5

Saturday, 27 March 2021

Early blossom

The weather has been pretty chilly of late so that spring seems a little late getting going this year. I did notice the welcome sight of some early blossom beginning to unfurl. I think it's the cherry plum that blossoms first. With a few more sunny days and a rise in temperature, I'm sure everything will suddenly burst into flower. I love spring. 

Friday, 26 March 2021

Spring renovations

It must be something in the air...  Spring brings the urge to start cleaning or renovating. There was certainly a lot going on in Saltaire the other day. There is a project to relay some of the pavements in the village. The stone slabs look nice but soon start shifting (especially when goods vehicles mount the kerbs, as they seem often to do) and when they are uneven they become rather dangerous to walk on. I think the Council is always wary of claims for injury, so they are funding some improvements. 

Round the corner, someone was giving the bakery a facelift. Then further up the road, I noticed the Victoria Hall has a good deal of scaffolding around it. It appears that they are doing something to the stonework.  

As if all that work wasn't enough, I kept seeing people walking around with clipboards. I'm not sure who they were or what they were surveying. Never a dull moment round here, anyway! 

Thursday, 25 March 2021

Little yellow suns

Our first spring flowers to appear are the lesser celandine (Ficaria verna) - bright little suns with heart-shaped leaves that grow in damp and mossy places. As well as being uplifting to human spirits, reminders of spring after a long dark winter, they are important nectar sources for bumblebees and insects coming out of hibernation. The poet Wordsworth was so fond of them that he wrote three poems about them. 

'But the thrifty cottager
Who stirs little out of doors,
Joys to spy thee near her home;
Spring is coming, Thou art come!'

('To the Small Celandine' - William Wordsworth) 

Wednesday, 24 March 2021

The beauty of a newly dug patch

I'm no gardener myself yet I do get a thrill of pleasure from seeing other people's efforts. Walking past these allotments on the way into Bingley, I was pleased and somehow comforted by the newly dug earth and the spring flowers coming into bloom. There's a lot wrong with the world - but also a lot right with it. Nature unfolds year on year, mostly quite reliably and - in a world of unknowns and chaos - just to notice that and rest a while with it is somehow soothing. 

Tuesday, 23 March 2021

Blue sky thinking

A recent sunny, blue sky day with a noticeable uplift in the air temperature had me reaching for my big camera, feeling that spring was on its way. Sadly, I proved to be well out of practice with my camera skills and I was disappointed with all my shots. I suppose it doesn't help that, despite the spring-like intimations, nature has barely yet started to slough off the winter. Paths are muddy, trees still bare, grass worn and scruffy, even the river looks messy with debris brought down by the winter floodwaters. But still, I will hold on to those intimations of better things to come.

These pictures were taken down by the Aire in Myrtle Park, where the river is joined by Harden Beck and the waters swirl round an island, over a series of small rapids. 


Monday, 22 March 2021

Hirst Wood Recreation Ground

Some grant money has been allocated to Shipley from the government's Town Funds scheme 'to aid regeneration and growth'. A portion of it has been directed into our parks and recreation spaces, including Hirst Wood Recreation Ground, where - I gather - some adult gym equipment is to be installed in addition the existing children's play area. When I passed by, on a very murky, damp day, I noticed work had already started on what seemed to be a running track. There are adult gyms in one or two other local areas. I can't say I've noticed anyone actually using them... perhaps I just don't pass by at the right times. 

Sunday, 21 March 2021

Bold mallard, shy swan

My photo makes it look like there was only one duck on the Coppice Pond up at Bingley St Ives. It's deceptive. It's such a large area of water that the birds spread out. There were actually lots: mallards like this one, tufted ducks, black-headed gulls, geese, at least two swans and probably more if I'd stayed still long enough to study them all. 

Further round by the jetty, a lady was trying to entice a swan to eat grain from her hand. The swan was definitely interested but not quite brave enough to reach out. It was a strangely intimate little scene. 


Saturday, 20 March 2021

Set building

I walked past Salts Mill yesterday and noticed they are busy constructing what appears to be a film set in the alleyway. The Mill is currently closed to visitors anyway, although there are several businesses that also work out of the buildings, so they may be affected. Hard to tell what exactly it will be - clearly a street scene of some kind.  There appear to be steps on the right, a shop window, half-timbered walls? I shall have to go down again to see what it looks like in a few days. I've no idea what they will be filming, though someone told me they have been shooting 'All Creatures Great and Small', the TV series about James Herriott, the Yorkshire veterinary surgeon, in Bradford this week. I know they were shooting 'Gentleman Jack' in Bingley not long ago too. They go to such lengths for what may be really very short burst of action in the end product of the whole film. 

No doubt all will be revealed in due course. I'll keep my eyes peeled for some more action. 

Friday, 19 March 2021

Loitering in the graveyard

A recent walk took me through the old 'overspill' graveyard in Hirst Wood that belongs to St Paul's Church, Shipley. It's sadly overgrown and many of the headstones are damaged, though it has been tidied up a bit in recent years. It is, however, an interesting place for rooting around and finding photos. A bit of mist in the air only added to the atmosphere.

(Above) The grave of Jonas Murgatroyd (good Yorkshire name!) who died in 1917. He was joint owner of the Railway Foundry in Windhill, an iron foundry. 

(Below) Some kind of creeper has wrapped so tightly and sculpturally around this cross that it almost forms a small tree. The cross marks the grave of various members of the Sonley family. 

I also found the grave (below) of the Reverend Arthur William Cribb, for 24 years vicar of St Paul's in Shipley. His funeral is reported, rather interestingly, HERE. He was described as 'a quiet, unostentatious man, a good husband and father' who left behind him 'the beautiful fragrance of Christian character'. Apparently fluent in Chinese too. Just what you want in a vicar, I'd say.  My own church, St Peter's, is a daughter church of St Paul's and was consecrated in 1909, and it was the Rev'd Cribb who oversaw that initiative. 

There are some war graves spread around the cemetery and it appears that some of them have had their headstones renewed, like this memorial to Gunner Henry Asquith Hardy of the Royal Garrison Artillery who died just after the end of WW1 in 1919. 

His grave is decorated with a remembrance wreath of poppies and decorated stones, by children from Miriam Lord Primary School in Manningham, Bradford. 

Thursday, 18 March 2021

Greener, cleaner?

Saltaire's car parks are mostly empty during lockdown. (You have to pay, so where there's space to park for free on the streets, people do. My own residential street is regularly full of parked cars belonging to commuters, walkers and people working locally. It gets a tad annoying!)

There are some moves towards a greener, cleaner transport system. They've provided bike racks in this car park (confusingly illustrated with a car shape...) and are improving cycle routes. A few electric vehicle charging points have been installed throughout the district. There's a long way to go. 

The Bingley Bypass and other 'improvements' further up the valley have speeded up traffic, which then gets severely snarled up coming through Saltaire and Shipley. The main route through Saltaire is (apparently) one of the most polluted in Britain, and regularly has traffic jams. It has, of course, been a little better during lockdown but the traffic density at certain times of day hasn't seemed to drop very much. You kind of get used to it.

There's a significant divide between the planning rhetoric and the actual decisions that get made. We have recently been granted a local Shipley Town Council, which perhaps means the lobbying voice will be stronger and also means certain funds are available to spend locally. The trouble always seems to be that what suits some folk harms others. Perhaps it always been like that but it feels more than ever that we need to come together with a significant effort to protect our beautiful planet and at the same time enhance our local areas to make them healthier and greener places to live. Seems that lockdown has proved we can pretty much do without our city centres but everyone wants some green space to help us hang on to our sanity. 

Wednesday, 17 March 2021

Sunshine and daffys

The crocus are still blooming and the daffys are hot on their heels this year. These mini varieties seem to come out first and I really like them. On a breezy, chilly, blue sky day it was a cheery scene by the weir in Roberts Park. I was as well wrapped up as the folks on the bench and I definitely needed my cosy padded jacket. This area still looks a little churned up after the heavy machinery was brought in to build the fish pass just below the railing. Hopefully the grass will recover over the summer. 

Recent rain had swelled the river again. In fact, as I walked round the park I realised part of the path was under water (a HUGE puddle), meaning I either had to retrace my steps or attempt to step up onto the cricket pitch to avoid the wet. The boundary wall at that point was about half a metre high, rather a steep step up - so I was glad of the gallant gent who offered his hand and pulled me up! Who says chivalry is dead? 

Tuesday, 16 March 2021

I'd like to be here... #4

I'd love another wander round the grounds of Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal, near Ripon in North Yorkshire. It's a National Trust property and a World Heritage Site. It gets packed with visitors so winter is the best time to visit - and there are masses of snowdrops along the banks of the River Skell. It's sadly off limits in this current lockdown, though I think it remains open for local people to visit.  

The Abbey was a Cistercian monastery, founded in 1132. The Cistercian order was an austere and devout order that originated in France.  A large lay brotherhood, working alongside the monks, cared for the buildings and farmed sheep and soon the Abbey was wealthy and influential.  It seems, however, that the enterprise grew too large for its monastic roots and economic collapse in the 14th century saw the monastery decline and some of its lands sold off.  A brief period of revival was cut short in 1539 by King Henry VIII's Dissolution of the Monasteries (when he made himself the head of the Church of England and severed ties with the Roman Catholic Church).  In 1540 the estate was sold to Sir Richard Gresham and became the property of a succession of wealthy families, who built Fountains Hall in the grounds and landscaped the gardens. 


Monday, 15 March 2021

A sudden shower

I got caught in a sudden, sharp shower. The drenching was almost worth it for the rainbow that appeared over Saltaire as the cloud passed over. 

Sadly, the green space in the foreground has recently been earmarked for housing (despite being on a very precipitous slope and only accessible by steep, narrow streets). There are efforts being made to mobilise opposition to the plans. I would be heartbroken not only to lose the green space but also the fabulous view of Salts Mill from up here. 

Sunday, 14 March 2021

I 💛 Saltaire

A much photographed street scene in Saltaire: Albert Terrace, probably as near to an authentic view of a Victorian street as you can get, apart from the yellow 'no parking' lines. (I did consider trying to clone the lines out but it would be a very fiddly job to do it well.)  Lovely light as I walked along there enticed me to take yet another shot of it, in the lockdown quiet. 
I do  💛 living here!

Saturday, 13 March 2021


I must be a bit weird but I get as much pleasure from seeing something like this as I do from a good landscape. Such mini 'urban landscapes' are all around us if we open our eyes to see them. I pass this metal door, in a wall in a little alleyway in Shipley, every week on my church newsletter delivery round. Most weeks I've walked past it without really noticing and then one day - maybe through a trick of the light - I suddenly saw that wonderful patina and colouring. I don't know what the door is for. Why it's so ornate, how old it is and what actually lies within, I have no idea. It is locked and looks like it may be one of those electrical junction boxes or even some kind of a safe, though it is outside. They don't usually use elaborate mouldings on junction boxes. So it's a mystery - but rather a beautiful one. 

Friday, 12 March 2021

Around the Almshouses

A few cheery crocus bulbs have come into bloom on the grass in front of Saltaire's almshouses, the small homes provided by Sir Titus Salt for the frail and elderly from the village. The flowers weren't what I was intent on finding though... I was looking for the memorial plaques that I'd read were hanging in one of the porches. Normally I'd stay on the pavement and I wouldn't walk up so close to the houses. (I wouldn't like people coming right up to my front door!) It was, however, quite early in the day and there were few people around so I walked around the drive and found the plaques. They commemorate some of the earliest residents that lived there, giving their names, the dates they were admitted to the almshouses, the dates they died and their ages. One has the inscription: 'Here (ie: in death) the wicked cease from troubling and the weary be at rest' and the other says "Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord'.  Very Victorian! 


Thursday, 11 March 2021

The Rosse and a ghost

The Rosse pub, at the junction of Moorhead Lane and Bingley Road, was at one time called 'The Countess of Rosse'. The Rosses were local landowners and the land around where the pub stands was sold by the Countess in the 1870s for housing to be built. Originally low quality agricultural land, as the need for housing grew in the 19th century the aristocratic landowners obviously came to realise its value as building plots. (Mary Rosse was, incidentally, a very accomplished  woman - astronomer, photographer, blacksmith! See HERE.)  

The corner plot was sold to Charles Edwin Rhodes in 1869 for the pub. Originally a butcher, by the late 1860s he was a beerhouse keeper at The Beehive, down Saltaire Road (later The Shipley Pride). His three brothers were builders and it was Rhodes Brothers that did much of the building in the area over the next few years. The pub would have drawn its trade from Saltaire, situated on the hillside below and famously kept 'dry' by Sir Titus Salt. Later the new housing that grew up around the pub would have provided plenty of clientele. 

On one of the houses you can see just behind the pub, you may be able to see on the end wall there is a ghost sign: an old hand-painted advertisement, now faded and unreadable. The reason many of these still survive may be that the oil paint contained lead and adheres strongly to the masonry. I can't really discern what it says apart from 'For All Glas...'. 

Up the hill beyond the houses is St Peter's Church, Shipley, consecrated in 1909, which was built as a sister church to St Paul's on Kirkgate, to cater for the growing population at this end of Shipley. 

Apart from the modern signage (Sky Sports!) you could almost believe little has changed in this corner of Shipley since Edwardian times. Of course, there was for a long time the notorious Saltaire roundabout in front of the pub, a fairly scary feature to negotiate, from whichever direction you approached, and now replaced by much safer traffic lights. 

(Some information garnered from a fascinating little booklet 'In the Shadow of the Rosse' written by local historian Ian Watson. (See HERE). I hope he will forgive me repeating it here.)

Wednesday, 10 March 2021

Little Horton Green conservation area

Behind All Sants Church (see yesterday), the hamlet of Little Horton Green, despite being surrounded by the city, has retained some charm. It has several listed buildings that still have some authentic features, and it's now a conservation area. The mid-17th century yeoman's house ( above) was divided into smaller tenements to house textile workers in the late 18th century. The cottages below, including the little Brick House were, I think, built for textile workers around 1800. 

Unfortunately the manor houses of Horton Hall and Horton Old Hall were demolished in the 1960s, after lying empty and then one being damaged in a fire. Such a shame. These days they might have been restored. I think we generally have a greater respect for historic buildings than they did in the 60s and 70s. 

Having read the conservation area documents, I realise I ventured only part way into the hamlet and there is more to see further on. I may have to go back! 


Tuesday, 9 March 2021

All Saints Church, Little Horton

As I happened to be passing All Saints Church, Little Horton on a beautiful day, I decided to stop and take some photos. I think it is an absolutely stunning building. Its elegant tower spire is over 61m tall and visible for miles. 

It was built in 1864, designed by Francis Healey for the Lord of the Manor of Little Horton Green, Sir Francis Sharp Powell who lived in Horton Hall (now demolished).  When the church was built, Bradford was rapidly expanding and nowadays the church is hemmed in by the city, not far from the University and right opposite one of the main hospitals (some of whose original Victorian buildings used to be a Victorian Workhouse). At one time though, this was a small farming and cotton weaving hamlet; some of the old buildings still survive behind the church. 

It was closed, of course, so I couldn't go inside but I think the interior has been changed quite a lot in order that it can serve both as a church and a community facility. It operates as the Landmark Centre, founded 20 years ago through an exciting vision by the church to make good use of the space, in a relatively deprived parish with a diverse multi-ethnic population. The centre currently runs training courses to help people into work and offers support groups for children with additional needs and challenging behaviour, providing respite for local families. 

To have the care of such significant church buildings in deprived areas is something of a ongoing headache for clergy and the Diocese, and repairs rely heavily on grants and trusts. That they continue to offer both worship in a lively congregation and many other vital community services is testament to the vision and love anchored here for many years. 


Monday, 8 March 2021

Crocus display

There is currently a lovely display of crocus blooms in Saltaire's Roberts Park - though they did look to have been trampled a bit, either by idiots or idiots' dogs. Some people just can't bear things looking nice, can they? I was bored so I ran the image through some filters to intensify the colours. Just playing... The flowers actually form a rough heart-shape, with yellow in the centre and a purple edge, though the purple runs out at the front, again probably due to people walking over the plants when they are pushing up. There's a railing but it doesn't stop people taking a short cut down to the river. The colour is a nice reminder that spring is on the way. 


Sunday, 7 March 2021

Sunday meditation: The temple in the water

Saltaire's URC church, glowing in late afternoon sunshine, looked like a golden temple reflected in the canal. 

'Anyone can find the dirt in someone. Be the one who finds the gold.'       Proverbs 11:27

'All that glisters is not gold'         William Shakespeare, Merchant of Venice, Act II Scene 7

'All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.'     J.R.R. Tolkien, The Riddle of Strider, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

Saturday, 6 March 2021

Waste is big business

An odd thing to photograph, I suppose, but I find our local waste and recycling centre quite a fascinating place. There's usually a queue of cars waiting to get in and dump their stuff so, when I happened to walk past and there was hardly anyone there, I was a bit surprised. The staff were using the lull to compress the waste in the big skips, using that big JCB. Everything has to be thrown into the correct skip - some for general waste, some for garden rubbish, some for recyclable items. When you're in a queue of cars it can be hard to spot the right bit and even harder to park up near enough to be able to carry your heavy bags of waste from the car to the skip. Thankfully the staff are mostly quite helpful. For a while during lockdown, the site was closed, until they realised that everyone wanted to use the time at home to manicure their gardens and clear out household clutter. (Not that I've made much progress on either front, personally!) 

I may be weird but actually I'd love to learn how they operate a site like this and what happens to all the waste once it leaves here. I think as a nation / world we are going to have to get much cleverer about how we deal with our waste. As it is, there is frustratingly little information to help us. I had to change an LED lightbulb last week. (Grr, I thought they were supposed to last almost forever!) Anyway, it proved difficult to find out how to dispose of the faulty one. It seems they CAN be recycled here. (I should have popped it in my pocket and called in with it, I realised afterwards!) 

Apologies for the rather distanced photo. The tip entrance is on a bend and it wasn't safe to stand in the road or the entrance. I had to stay on the opposite pavement and I couldn't zoom in with my phone. 

Friday, 5 March 2021

Snowdrops spiritual

A country churchyard is possibly the one of the best places to go looking for snowdrops. I happened to mention to a friend that I was seeking to find some within reasonable lockdown travelling distance. Consequently, we arranged to meet for a pleasant walk over the other side of Bradford, around Tong village. The churchyard didn't disappoint, having a rather lovely display of the flowers around the mossy old gravestones. Snowdrops are aptly named, aren't they? From a distance the drifts do look like lying snow.

St James' Church, Tong, dates from 1727, though evidence of earlier Saxon and Norman churches have been found on the site. It was built by local landowner Sir George Tempest for his estate village and survives largely unchanged within and without. Of course, the church was closed but I enjoyed exploring the grounds, which have been developed into a Spiritual Garden for quiet contemplation. There is a progressive walk around the outside of the church through Celtic style prayer circles of stone engraved with quotes. There are several wooden benches, also carved with Bible quotes, set among some carefully considered planting. It's affiliated with the Quiet Gardens Trust. Despite the strong wind and dull skies, it still felt a very peaceful place to linger. 

It's quite amusing to note, from a monument close to the church door, that one of the church's vicars was in ministry there for 53 years! He apparently lived in a grand vicarage along the lane, was father to 13 children and refused offers of a Bishopric, no doubt deciding he was better off in a very small parish with relatively few demands. Even now, Tong village looks like a lovely place to live, set among fields and with many attractive and historic properties lining the main street. The village stocks (in front of the church, see above) don't look to have been used lately!