Book Review

(First published in 1985 in volume 2, pp. 80-81, of the third series of The Bradford Antiquary, the journal of the Bradford Historical and Antiquarian Society.)

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Shipley Glen Ramble

Stanley Varo. (Bradford, 1984). £1.50

Older Bradfordians may still treasure a photograph of themselves taken during a Sunday School outing to Shipley Glen. For although it was not quite like Blackpool's South Shore, to children who rarely saw the sea 'a trip on to t'Glen' was an exciting event. Many a school composition described the walk from the tram stop at Saltaire, down Victoria Road past the four friendly lions, over the bridge spanning the River Aire and on to the Glen Tramway, where the real adventure started.

Stanley Varo was probably born too late to enjoy these simple pleasures, but his outings, in any case, were arranged with different ends in view. His book is in large measure a tribute to the late Sidney Jackson, a former curator of Cartwright Hall Museum, who did so much to stimulate an interest in natural history, particularly among the young. Mr Varo was one of those who accompanied Sidney Jackson on his rambles, learning, as he went along, how to observe, record information, and collect specimens.

On this ramble we follow paths which take in, among other things, Hirst Wood, a stone circle known as 'Soldiers Trench', cup-and-ring stones, bell pits, and the site of the Toboggan Run, which closed in 1900 after a serious mishap.

Unfortunately, the attractions which drew earlier generations to this beauty spot, such as the Japanese Gardens, the swings and roundabouts, and especially the Oceanwave Switchback and the Aerial Flight, have now gone. So, too, has Milner Field, the mansion occupied by Mr Titus Salt, son of Sir Titus. There is an interesting chapter about Milner Field, with photographs and an account of two royal visits. Fine though it was, this house, perhaps because of the curse laid upon its inhabitants, was demolished in 1950, after being unoccupied for twenty years.

People who visit Shipley Glen now usually come to enjoy its natural features, and this book, written, I am pleased to say, by one of our own members, will help them to spend their time profitably. The map is a particularly useful support to the text.


© 1985, J.F. and The Bradford Antiquary