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Malcolm Hanson - Skipton tourist guide

Malcolm Hanson



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Introduction by Malcolm Hanson

The one thing I love about creating schools' Heritage Trails is that I know that the children who will help me create them, and, eventually, the adults who will accompany those same children on them, will derive exactly the same kind of enjoyment as myself. What the Heritage Trails in this book prove is that history + heritage + walking = fun. This book brings together ten Heritage Trails, put together by schools in the Keighley area and designed to get us all out and about and looking at our local history with new eyes - and new feet!

Oh yes - you have to 'hoof it around them all, pound the streets, climb those steep back roads to the Pennine hills surrounding the town, but there's a pay-off: apart from getting fit  you will find something fascinating on every corner: old tablets set in walls, stone heads on chimneys, homes of once famous film stars, the smallest, the biggest, the oldest houses - there's even a 'haunted portrait'! So, if you are reading this introduction then with a bit of luck it means you have bought the book, and the next stage is very simple: get hold of mum, dad, gran and gramps, and as many kids as you can; pack a picnic case, and have a great day...

A little Taster...


Length approx: three quarters of a mile

Duration: One Hour

Bus route: Eastburn is served by the 66 67 68 78a service to Skipton and return (every 20 to 30 mins) alight at Eastburn and walk down to the school - but do not enter the school grounds

The Gas Lamp.

We are very lucky to find, right in our school grounds, a relic from a bygone age. It is the base of an old gas lamppost. This immediately whisks us back to Victorian England, to a time before the invention of electricity, when paths and roads were lit in this manner. A man known as the 'lamplighter' would come along at dusk to light the lantern atop the lamppost. This he did by propping up a ladder against the bar at the top of the post, climbing up, opening the lantern window and lighting the gas jet inside. At dawn he would return to turn the gas off and the lamp would lie dormant.

The Textile Mill.

The original mill complex was much bigger than what you see today. In fact, very little now remains of the buildings that once housed Matthew's weaving mill and Wilson's spinning mill. It seems a Mr Solomon Arnold was the first to set a mill up on the premises. This was circa 1844, after which came a Mr Samuel Tetley in 1865. It was Mr Tetley who was responsible for opening the first Eastburn School in 1871 - this being in the first Primitive Methodist chapel. 260 people were employed in the mill at this time, which would have been most of the population of the village.

The Mile Stone and the Dolls' House.

The milestone that sits quietly by the side of the road, next to the pelican crossing is rather unusual. Apart from its shape, it has been claimed that this is the largest of its type in the country. Most examples of this kind of milestone project outwards for just a few inches, yet this one protrudes more than a foot, carrying a wide list of names with the relevant mileage. Should indeed it be the largest of its kind then it is known as a 'superlative' - one of a kind! Just along the road is another superlative - the dwelling known as the Dolls' House. This is a most unusual building because it is of an entirely different period to the row of houses it nestles within. How can this be? The answer is that at one time there was a passageway between two rows of houses and where the house now stands. Someone at some time bought the sliver of land between the rows and built the house there. It is known as an 'in-fill' or 'fill-in'. Being so thin (though tall) it makes it the smallest house in Eastburn - hence the name: 'Dolls'House'.

The Wells and the Turnpike road.

Along the roadside are two wells that were used by horses in the days before motorcars were invented. They were probably put there around the time that the road - known as the Keighley to Kendal Turnpike - was under construction. This road, built in 1789, was to replace the old Red Lion road that could no longer cope with the traffic - particularly the new-fangled stagecoaches. The turnpike was continually busy and by 1900 catered for many kinds of horse-drawn wagonettes and later motorbuses. By today's standards the traffic would be regarded as light, since children were known to play hopscotch in the middle of the road! They also used to hold on to the backs of carts and drag themselves along the road, "...their clogs acting as sledges with the clog irons sparking..."

The White Bear Inn.

With the coming of the Keighley to Kendal Turnpike in 1789, the Red Lion, which had stood on Lion Lane for centuries, transferred to the spot which today houses the Eastburn Inn - known formerly as the White Bear. (Look to the rear of the building and you will see the original Red Lion inn poking out of the back!) In 1825 the owner of the White Bear at Crosshills bought the land and built a new public house in front of the Red Lion, naming it the White Bear (at Eastburn). This was because stagecoaches could make this more substantial building a 'pit-stop' or overnight stay. Many stagecoaches traversed the route, including The Anticipation' (running in 1818 between Leeds and Skipton); the 'Britannia' (same route and period); the 'Invincible' (1824-42 between Leeds and Preston); The 'Alexander' (1820-43 between Leeds and Skipton), and the 'Mail' (1841-43 between Leeds and Lancaster).

Lyon Road.

Lyon road, or lane, is an ancient track going way back to the medieval period and possibly before. It connected to the north side of the river Aire at Kildwick bridge, built in 1305, and was probably the main route between medieval Keighley and Skipton. There is a possibility that in 1460 John Clifford of Skipton castle marched his army - known as the ‘Flower of Craven’ along here on their way to fight the Duke of York at Sandal castle. The Lord of Skipton was victorious!

The Old Red Lion Inn.

Lyon (or Lion) road got its name from the old Red Lion Inn which stood here before its move to the new turnpike road in 1789. It is thought that nos. 21 to 23 were the original Red Lion buildings, and it was recalled - as late as the 20th century - that the front room of no.21 was known as the 'snug'. Oliver Haywood, who was a travelling non-conformist preacher, mentioned the inn in his diary of 1682! In those days it must have been a very sleepy old tavern, with a big log fire and hearty food for the weary traveller. Opposite is the 'hanging' field - it was here where thieves and vagabonds were strung up on the gallows!

The Civil Wars Skirmish.

Our ancient Red Lion road must have seen many things in its time; one being the skirmish that took place here in the time of the Civil Wars, when a royalist raiding party, returning to Skipton castle, having ransacked Keighley, was overtaken by a parliamentarian detachment of troops led by Colonel Lambert. A battle took place 'in the vicinity of Kildwick valley' - close by to where we stand. Chroniclers wrote at the time (circa 1643-4) that many soldiers were killed by both sword and pistol, and that 100 prisoners were released and all the 'booty' that the Skiptoners had stolen from Keighley was recovered. Then the Skipton soldiers were chased right to the gates of Skipton castle. It is also claimed that Oliver Cromwell - Lord Protector of England - travelled along Red Lion Road on his way through Craven. There is a tradition that he stayed at Cononley, but never entered Royalist Skipton. Here our walk ends, back at the gas lamp.

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