West Yorkshire Archive Service News

Ian Mason

(First published in 1989 in volume 4, pp. 78-79, of the third series of The Bradford Antiquary, the journal of the Bradford Historical and Antiquarian Society.)

The most important news about the West Yorkshire Archive Service is that the District Leaders from the Councils represented on the Joint Committee have agreed to extend the West Yorkshire Archive Service for a further five years. This decision will enable us to develop a long term programme for the service.

Attempts have been made, through a series of working parties on cataloguing, security, education and photocopying, to unify and improve some of our services. The greatest impact on public facilities has probably occurred in the area of security, and readers will already have noticed some changes. Revised search room regulations have been introduced and visitors are now required to sign a visitors' book and place all bags in a locker. Further changes may include the introduction of a nationwide readers ticket scheme currently being discussed by the Society of Archivists and Association of County Archivists. It is hoped that we can maintain a friendly and efficient service, despite these measures, which are essential for ensuring the security of collections in our custody.

Another important development this year has been the introduction of an evening session at the Bradford District Archives on Thursdays. This is an attempt to make the facilities of the office more accessible to people who work during the day. The revised opening hours, which came into effect on 1 June 1987, are: Mon-Wed 9.30-1.00, 2.00-5.00; Thur 9.30-1.00, 2.00-8.00; Fri 9.30-1.00

Selected list of new accessions

Salts Mill records, c.1920s-1980s (47D87) The Illingworth Morris Group have deposited a large collection of their records with the Archives. The collection includes records of Salts (Saltaire) Ltd. and records of Pepper Lee & Co. Ltd. of Wyke Mills, Ernest Gates & Co. Ltd., J Emsley & Co. Ltd., John Wright (Ingrow) Ltd. of Prospect Mills, Ingrow, James Tankard and William Rennie & Co. Ltd., all of which formed part of the Salts and Illingworth Morris Groups. The records of Salts Mill date from c.1918 and consist mainly of financial records and correspondence files of the 1950s and 1960s. Unfortunately, there are no records relating to the 19th century or to Sir Titus Salt himself. Nonetheless, this is still a collection of business records of major significance.

Yorkshire Co-operatives c.1722-1983 (58D86) Another outstanding acquisition this year came from the Bradford based Yorkshire Co-operatives, which deposited the records of forty Co-operative Societies covering much of the West Riding from Sheffield in South Yorkshire to Cowling on the Lancashire border. The collection consists mainly of minutes of the various Co-operative Societies dating from the mid 19th century. Records of the City of Bradford Co-operative Society Ltd. (formerly Bradford Provident Industrial Society Ltd.) date from 1887. The collection is of wide significance and has already generated considerable interest amongst research students and other historians.

Bradford Commissioners 1793-1850 (BBT 2) The early minute books of the Bradford Lighting and Watching Commissioners have been discovered in City Hall. The Bradford Commissioners were formed under 'An Act for paving, lighting, watching and improving the Town of Bradford and part of the Hamlet of Little Horton … and for removing and preventing all Nuisances therein.' The area consisted of the whole of Bradford township but included the bottom end of Bowling Lane (Manchester Road) and a few houses in Great Horton Road in Horton township. New streets were added to the jurisdiction of the Commissioners between 1803 and 1850. The Commissioners were responsible for paving footpaths, placing street lamps, keeping a watering cart and fire engine, employing scavengers and watchmen. The minutes provide an insight into the life of the town during a period of rapid growth. It was a rough and primitive community where rural customs mixed with urban living. Typical of the entries in the minutes is this one for 1825: 'the hogstye in Manningham Lane … in the occupation of John Sugden and Thomas Thornton, and the midden or muckheap opposite Rawson Place …, and Thomas Broadley's permitting his pigs to run loose and be fed in the Market Place … be declared nuisances.'

Methodist records Several important collections of Methodist Archives have been deposited. These include Eastbrook Hall and Methodist Circuit records (47D86), Ilkley Methodist Circuit records, transferred from Leeds District Archives (56D86), Clayton and Lidget Green Wesleyan Methodist Chapels records (76D86) and Silsden Methodist Circuit records (55D86). The records of Eastbrook Hall are particularly outstanding. Among them is material from Bradford East (later Eastbrook) Circuit (founded 1835), and Eastbrook Chapel (founded 1825) together with other Chapels. In 1901 Eastbrook Chapel was separated from the Circuit and rebuilt as Eastbrook Hall, which opened in 1904.

Keighley library

The Bradford staff of the West Yorkshire Archive Service have recently been liasing with staff at Keighley Reference Library over archives held there. A list of collections has been produced, available at Keighley Library and the Bradford District Archives, providing details of collection titles and covering dates. Details of the Keighley records will also be included on the West Yorkshire Archive Service data base.

There are nearly 150 different archive collections at Keighley Library, not including the official or local authority records. Many are of superb quality. Amongst them are records of Keighley township c.1664-1840 including overseers' accounts, settlement certificates, apprentices' registers etc. (BK1), Keighley Independent Labour Party 1892-1952 (BK11), Keighley Industrial Co-operative Society 1864-1969 (BK12), Keighley Methodist Circuit and Chapels (BK15), Keighley Baptist and Congregational Churches 19-20th centuries (BJ16), Sutton Baptist Church 1837-1954 (BK28), Sutton township 1783-1858 (BK64), Keighley Liberal Association 1877-1931 (BK76). Local authority records include those of Keighley Local Board and Borough, Haworth Local Board and Urban District Council, Oakworth Local Board and Urban District Council, Oxenhope Local Board and Urban District Council and Keighley Rural District Council.

The extensive collections at Keighley Library covering all aspects of Keighley's history, together with records at the Bradford District Archives, make Keighley one of the best documented towns in the area.

© 1989, Ian Mason and The Bradford Antiquary