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Keighley ( ) is a town and civil parish within the metropolitan borough of the City of Bradfordmarker in West Yorkshire, England. It is situated northwest of Bradfordmarker and is at the confluence of the River Airemarker and the River Worthmarker. The town, which is part of the Brontë Countrymarker, has a population of 51,429 (2001 Census), making it the third largest civil parish in England.

Keighley railway stationmarker is on the Airedale Line.


The name Keighley, which has gone through many changes of spelling throughout its history, is accepted to mean "Cyhha's farm or clearing" and was mentioned in the Domesday Book, "In Cichhelai (Keighley), Ulchel, and Thole, and Ravensuar, and William had six carucates to be taxed."

Henry de Kighley, a Lancashiremarker knight, was granted the first charter to hold a market in Keighley on 17 October 1305 by King Edward I.

The poll tax records of 1379 show population of Keighley, in the wapentake of Staincliffemarker in the West Riding of Yorkshire, was 109 people (47 couples and 15 single people).

The town's industries have typically been in textiles, particularly wool and cotton processing. In addition to the manufacture of textiles there were several large factories making textile machinery. Two of these were Dean, Smith & Grace and Prince, Smith & Stell. The former operated as a world-class manufacturer of CNC machine tools, particularly precision lathes, until 2008.

The 1842 Leeds Directory description of Keighley reads "Its parish had no dependent townships though it is about six miles long and four broad, and comprises 10,160 acres of land (including a peaty moor of about 2,000 acres) and a population which amounted, in the year 1801, to 5,745."

The town became a municipal borough in 1882, but was merged into the Metropolitan Borough of Bradfordmarker in 1974 under the Local Government Act. The merger caused a lot of bitterness among Keighley people who resented being 'taken over' by Bradford and accused the city's council of neglecting the town. Civil parish status was restored to Keighley in 2002, providing it with its own town council. The council's 30 members elect a mayor from amongst their number once a year.


Keighley War Memorial
Keighley lies at the confluence of the River Worthmarker and River Airemarker, and is therefore in Airedalemarker, in the south Penninesmarker. Its northernmost boundary is marked by the village of Bradleymarker and its southern limit is the edge of Oxenhopemarker. To the west, the town advances up the hill to the suburb of Black Hill and in the east it terminates at the residential neighbourhoods of Long Leemarker and Thwaites Brow. The outlying northeastern suburb of Riddlesdenmarker is sometimes referred to as a separate village, though strictly speaking it is part of the town.

Past Black Hill and via Braithwaite Edge Road you will find the very old Braithwaite Village which leads on to the small sought-after farming village of Laycock, which was mentioned in the Domesday Book. Laycock is a splendid conservation area nestled in Brontë country and perched on the hillside of the Worth Valley, closely bordered by North Yorkshire and overlooking the secluded hamlet Goose Eye. Amongst the modest modern houses in Laycock there is the spectacular 17th century three-storey Manor House (which is said to be the former wing of a much bigger property) as well as farms, converted barns and 18th century cottages. Most suburbs of Keighley are fine in vernacular architecture and collectively illustrate the rich history of the region.

The River Airemarker passes through northeastern Keighley, dividing the neighbourhood of Stockbridge and running roughly parallel to the Leeds-Liverpool Canalmarker. The Worth links up with the Aire in Stockbridge and runs southwesterly, dividing eastern Keighley from central and western districts of the town. The Worth is lined with abandoned, semi-derelict industrial sites and tracts of waste ground dating from the period when Keighley thrived as a major textile centre. Its rich victorian architecture hints at is somewhat glorious past.

Parts of Keighley are very prone to flooding and the town was particularly badly hit in 2000. Since then, millions have been spent on strengthening flood defences.

Other outlying villages that make up part of the town are Oakworthmarker, Cross Roadsmarker, Haworthmarker, Stanburymarker and Oxenhopemarker. The two main settlements to the north are Silsdenmarker and Steetonmarker. Although these villages are often referred to as separate places they do in fact make up the Keighley area, as recognised by the postal service and land registry.

To the north east is Rombald's Moor which contains many signs of stone age and bronze age occupation including cup and ring marks, and as it drops back down into Wharfedale and the town of Ilkleymarker, approximately five miles away, becomes the more famous Ilkley Moormarker.


Census population of the ancient parish/civil parish of Keighley
Year 1801 1811 1821 1831 1841 1851 1861 1871 1881 1891
Source: Vision of Britain - Keighley AP/CP: Total Population.

Census population of the municipal borough of Keighley
Year 1901 1911 1921 1931 1939 † 1951 1961 1971
Source: Vision of Britain - Keighley MB: Total Population.
The 1939 population is estimated from the National Registration Act figures. The 1941 census did not take place because of the Second World War.


In the 1960s, the town sustained a significant influx of newcomers from the Azad Kashmirmarker region of Pakistanmarker and the Sylhet district of what is now Bangladeshmarker. Most of these predominantly Muslim migrants were initially employed in the textiles industry but the decline of this sector inflicted great economic hardship on the two communities.

Since then the Kashmiris and Sylhetis have struggled to carve a fresh niche through private enterprise, particularly in the taxi and restaurant trades. In 2006 the town was home to about 8,000 Muslims and seven mosques. The purpose-built Emily Street mosque in Lawkholme is said to be one of the largest in northern England. Most of Keighley's Muslims live in Lawkholme, Highfield, Showfield and Knowle Park, with smaller clusters residing in Dalton Lane, Stockbridge and Shann Park. 15 per cent of the town's population is Muslim.


Airedale Centre
Keighley's town centre is complimented by the 'Airedale Centre', a large indoor shopping precinct which features most of the town's major high street retailers. Keighley boasts department stores such as Marks and Spencer and Debenhams as well as other 'household name' retailers. Much of the town centre has been pedestrianised. Keighley has three large supermarkets, a Morrisons, Sainsbury'smarker and an Asda which openend in August 2009. There are also several budget supermarkets such as Aldi, situated mainly in small retail parks around the town. Keighley benefits from an electrified railway service with connections to Leedsmarker, Bradfordmarker, Shipleymarker, Bingleymarker, Skiptonmarker and Carlislemarker as well as the Keighley and Worth Valley railway, a heritage steam railway, which links the town with Haworthmarker, Oakworthmarker and other parts of Bronte Countrymarker.


Keighley has a parish church (St. Andrew's Shared Church) and is home to many Christian denominations. It has churches and places of worship for Anglicans, Methodists, United Reformed, Mormons, Quakers, Salvation Army and Jehovah's Witnesses. Keighley also contains a significant Roman Catholic minority who were established in the mid-19th century with the arrival of many Irish immigrants who came to work in the many textile and weaving industries. Keighley has three main Roman Catholic churches (St Anne's 1840, St Joseph's 1934 and Our Lady of Victories 1939) and four Roman Catholic schools (St Anne's 1857, St Joseph's 1922, Our Lady of Victories 1960 and Holy Family 1964).

The first spiritualist church in Britain was founded at Keighley in 1853 by David Richmond, who although not originally from the town, stayed there for many years, and helped to establish the movement throughout the country. Spiritualism died out after the Second World War, but the Keighley church remains open; there are still more spiritualist churches in West and South Yorkshiremarker than is usual for British counties.

Muslims make up the second largest religious group in the town (see immigration section above) but Keighley also hosts a Buddhist centre on Skipton Road, in Beechcliffe. The Keighley Kadampa Buddhist Centre is used by lay and ordained Buddhist practitioners and also runs day and evening classes for newcomers to the faith.


Like many other British towns and cities, Keighley was extensively remodelled in the 1960s and lost many historic buildings. However, the town has managed to retain some of its heritage and still has many fine Victorian buildings. The local millstone grit gives many of the buildings a distinctive look.

East Riddlesden Hallmarker, Cliffe Castle and Whinburn Mansion are fine, country houses. There are also a succession of large, gracious town houses along Skiptonmarker Road which contrast sharply with the cramped rows of terraces in the streets behind them.

The town's central library is another highlight. It was the first Carnegie Library in England and was opened in 1904 with a grant of £10,000 from Andrew Carnegie. The library has undergone extensive refurbishment due to having fallen into a poor state of repair. These works were completed in August 2007. Many of the town's former mill buildings are still intact, though a lot of these are crumbling due to vandalism and neglect.

The centre of the town contains both modern buildings (such as Park Lane College Keighley) and fine examples of Victorian commercial architecture, including the long terrace of Cavendish Street with its 200 metre ornamental canopy. There is an award winning bus station which opened in 2002 near the Airedale Shopping Centre. There are several tower blocks in Parkwood Rise, Holycroft and Ingrowmarker. There is also a central multi-storey car park.

Local attractions

Keighley & Worth Valley Railway, Keighley, West Yorkshire
On the outskirts of the town there is Cliffe Hall, also known as Cliffe Castle, and now Keighley Museum. Keighley is also the home base of the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway, a heritage railway that passes through Haworthmarker (part of the Brontë Countrymarker, home of Anne, Charlotte and Emily Brontë) and terminates at Oxenhopemarker. At Ingrow there is the Museum of Rail Travel.

Top Withensmarker and the Brontë Waterfallmarker are within walking distance from a village called Stanburymarker, a mile and a half from Haworth. East Riddlesden Hallmarker is close to Keighley.

Local schools are Greenhead High School in Utley, Oakbank School, South Craven School in Cross Hills North Yorkshire, Parkside Secondary School in Cullingworthmarker and the Holy Family Roman Catholic School. These schools are for pupils aged 11 to 18.

Park Lane College Keighley, which is part of Park Lane College Leedsmarker is currently located at the junction of North and Cavendish Streets in the town centre. However, this further and higher education college is now having a brand new campus built in Dalton Lane. This is scheduled to be completed in 2010. The college includes a nationally acclaimed 'Star Centre' facility, designed to encourage more young people to study maths and science. This features a mock mission control centremarker, a planetarium, a simulated rocky planet surface and many other space-related items.

Keighley Cougars RLFC are based at Royd Ings Avenue and as of 2010 they will play in the top domestic league, the Co-operative Championship. Their ground's traditional name is Lawkholme Lane but has more recently been named Cougar Parkmarker.

Keighley is also home to the Timothy Taylor Brewery, the makers of several, Campaign for Real Alemarker, Champion Beer of Britain award-winning ales such as Landlord, Taylor's Best Bitter and Golden Best.

Keighley has a popular local music scene. There has been various venues in the town, where local bands play shows. Examples of local bands are Random Hand, The GetGuns and Eyesore Angels. The British rock bands Skeletal Family and Terrorvision were also originally formed in Keighley.

Located on North Street is the local cinema, the Keighley Picture Housemarker which opened in 1913 making it one of the oldest in Britain. However, a brief closure in the mid-1990s prevents it from being listed as one of the oldest cinemas in continuous operation - a record that goes to the Curzon Cinemamarker which opened in Clevedonmarker, Somersetmarker in 1911 .

The Airedale Shopping Centre houses a statue of the giant Rombald holding a boulder above his head. According to local legend the giant Rombald threw a giant rock at his enemies (or in some versions of the tale his wife) killing them. The rock is the "calf" of "cow and calf" rock fame which can be seen today at the top of Rombald's Moor on Ilkley Moormarker.

In film

Keighley Picture House
Keighley was the setting for the film Blow Dry starring Josh Hartnett, Alan Rickman, and Bill Nighy. Blow Dry opens with the announcement that the small town of Keighley will host the year 2000 British Hair Championships. Keighley's mayor (Warren Clarke) is thrilled about the news, but when he announces it to the town's press, they all yawn disapprovingly. The film although set in Keighley was shot in several locations.

The 2004 documentary Edge of the City, about the City of Bradfordmarker social services, and the people and problems they deal with, was partly filmed in Keighley, and concerned sexual abuse of underage white girls by some Asian men.

Most of the 2004 film Yasmin was shot in Keighley. Written by Simon Beaufoy and mostly filmed in Lawkholme, it tells the story of a British Muslim woman who has her life disrupted by the impact of the September 11th attacks on America. Mr Beaufoy said the film was originally set in Oldhammarker, Greater Manchestermarker, but "worked its way across the Pennines".

The Keighley and Worth Valley Railway (KWVR), running steam trains from Keighley to Haworthmarker and Oxenhopemarker, has been used in several films, including The Railway Children, Yanks, and the film of the Pink Floyd musical The Wall.

A great part of the 2004 BBC television drama North and South was shot on Keighley, with Dalton Mill being one of the serial's main locations.

A Touch of Frost starring David Jason was also filmed at the railway line close to Ingrow West.

A Sharpe connection?

Keighley's Utley cemetery contains the grave of war hero Christopher Ingham, a veteran of the conflict against Napoleon. He was a member of the Duke of Wellington's elite 95th Rifle Regiment and fought in 10 battles against the French in Spainmarker, Francemarker and Belgiummarker. These included the Spanish Peninsula War and the Battle of Waterloomarker, for which he was awarded several medals, including the Peninsula Medal. He died in 1866. Some local historians believe Mr Ingham's heroism may have inspired the author Bernard Cornwell's saga about Major Richard Sharpe, played by Sheffieldmarker-born Sean Bean in the TV adaptation. Indeed, the TV series episode Sharpe's Justice, which focuses on the roots of the title character, is actually set in and around Keighley.

Notable people with Keighley links

The following people were born in Keighley, have lived there in the past or are currently resident in the town.

Opinions about Keighley

Bill Bryson in his book Notes from a Small Island jokingly asked why it was that the British Army uses beautiful countryside for munition target practice, rather than a place like Keighley.

In 2003, The Idler magazine set up an online poll to decide which were the 50 worst places to live in Britain. The results were published in the book Crap Towns: The 50 Worst Places to Live in the UK. Keighley came in at number 40. Keighley's local newspaper, the Keighley News, reported the reaction of Councillor Andrew Mallinson, chairman of Keighley Town Centre Management Group: "On the positive side, it's nice to know that out of all the towns in the country, Keighley has got a mention! But on a serious note, as a group, we take any complaints or concerns seriously and are always striving to improve the town centre's image."

The attitude of some outsiders to Keighley, and indeed, many of its residents can be summed up by the John Cooper Clarke poem: "I'll tell you now and I'll tell you briefly, I don't never want to go to Keighley." However, other residents do not feel this way about the town and are proud of its history and character.


Keighley is represented in the House of Commonsmarker by Labour Member of Parliament (MP) Ann Cryer, who has been in office since 1997, when she took over from Conservative MP Gary Waller. Her late husband was Labour MP Bob Cryer, who was also an MP for Keighley.

Keighley was also at the centre of activities by the British National Party (BNP) in the May 2005 general elections when the party's leader Nick Griffin stood for Parliament. He was defeated by Ann Cryer, who was one of a small number of Labour MPs to report an increased majority. In March 2006, the town's mayoress, Rose Thompson, caused further political shockwaves by announcing she had joined the BNP.

Even more recently, the issue of Keighley being part of Bradford has become a political talking point. In June 2006, the leader of Bradford District Councilmarker, Conservative Councillor Kris Hopkins, was quoted in the Craven Herald & Pioneer as suggesting it might be a good idea for Keighley to become an independent authority once again.

Keighley has also had a town council since 2002.

Gang wars

A bloody turf war between two local drug gangs resulted in the murder of four young Asian men from Keighley in a five-and-a-half month period, from September 2001 to February 2002. Those killed in this period were Yasser Hussain Nazir, Yasser Khan, Zaber Hussain and Qadir Ahmed. The last of these four, Qadir, was stabbed and beaten to death near Victoria Park after being ambushed and chased by rival gang members. The killings sparked a major police investigation and a number of men — including criminals from nearby Bradford — were convicted and given long prison sentences.

Town twinning

Keighley Hall in Poix-du-Nord


File:Keighley 01 977.PNGFile:Keighley 02 977.PNGFile:Keighley Park Lane College 01 977.PNGFile:Keighley WW2 Monument 01 977.PNG


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