Baildon Village Walk Heritage Trail
Baildon Village Walk
(Distance: about 1.7 miles or 2.8 km.) The walk starts at the bottom of the steps near the information board in the lower car park of the Ian Clough Hall, and explores places of interest and old lanes around the centre of the village of Baildon. In the car park, at the steps between the two levels, is an information board which gives a foretaste of what you are about to see.
Baildon village thrived in the C19th on the textile trade, usually worsted cloth (stuff) making, i.e., from long fibres of wool combed, spun and woven by hand in cottages. Some bigger and better houses on the walk belonged to the clothiers (e.g., the Steads and Butlers) who bought the wool, put it out to the cottagers for hand working, and then sold the cloth. This was before the days of water or steam power and mills.
Bedlam Steps to the Moravian Church
To begin the walk: from the car park cross Browgate by the zebra crossing opposite the pharmacy, and turn left to the Balti House restaurant with the arched upper window. A plaque records that John Wesley preached from there on his fourth and last visit to Baildon – from St. Mark’s gospel chapter 3 verse 35, which records Jesus’s response to being told that his mother and brothers had arrived: he said “Whoever does God's will is my brother, sister and mother.” It became known as ‘Wesley’s House’ and is a Grade II listed building. It was built by John Binns and was owned and tenanted by members of the Methodist Society. Members of the Rhodes family were tenants for a long time. At the rear of the building next door is an arch with an 1855 date stone.
Continue down Browgate past the flower shop and nail lounge to the public footpath up ‘Bedlam steps’. Before ascending the well-worn steps, notice the adjoining garden and small information board explaining how the steps got their name – there were three tall cottages on the site which housed 90 people whose clogs on the stone steps sounded like bedlam. The garden was planted by Baildon in Bloom. To avoid the steps, you can return up Browgate, take the first left up Westgate, and then first left again into West Fold (public footpath – opposite the archway). Walk forwards to the top of the steps and rejoin the walk.
The Moravian Church at the top of the steps (left) is a Grade II listed building. It was built in 1868 and replaced an earlier chapel. In 1891 Baildon Local Board decided to supply the Moravian church with water for organ blowing at 30/- (thirty shillings, £1.50) a year. To visit the beautiful burial ground, go round the left of the church, through two wrought iron gates past Moravian House. This is a quiet haven, with seats to rest and contemplate. From here you can see the Richard Dunn sports centre in Odsal.
Return to the top of the steps you came up, and go on past the equally imposing church hall, through West Fold to the end of the public footpath in Westgate, which is one of the main shopping streets in the village and used to be the main cloth making part of Baildon. As you come to Westgate you’ll see an attractive archway opposite (which leads through to a small courtyard), and The Bulls Head is on your right.
Bank Walk and Tentercroft
Turn left up Westgate and walk up past West Grove and West Street. West Grove used to be called Wilkes Fold. It was usual to name the Folds after the leading inhabitants of Baildon. There is a stone inscription above the door of the first of two cottages in West Street: it reads ‘ABL’ and is dated 1760. The cottage was built for the Butler family of clothiers.
At the end of the row of shops where the road curves round to the left (you gradually leave Westgate into Bank Walk), is a large stone building known as the Old Hall in Westgate, or Stead Hall, after the family who built it in the seventeenth century. It has been altered over the years and is now more than one dwelling. By the early eighteenth century the Butler family were living in the hall, indicated by an inscription over the door on the Westgate side: JB 1715. The stone lanterns on the corners of the building are said to indicate a connection with the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, but there is no known link. There is a sundial on the gable at the rear, which had been removed from a demolished wing and replaced in the new one. It had the inscription J.A.S 1690 for John and Ann Stead. It is another Grade II listed building.
Follow the road further round to the left past Delph Hill. The word Delph (or Delf) is an old local word usually associated with digging or quarrying. The hill leads down to old cottages on Browgate at Padgum (or Padjam) – which means ‘well-trodden path’. Continue up Westgate past the entrance to Delph Hill and cross to the bottom of Bank Crest where it meets Bank Walk. The first house in Bank Walk (No. 1) – Bank Walk House, or Farm as it was known – is one of the oldest houses in Baildon if not the oldest. It is late 15th Century, and a Grade II listed building. There are some remains inside of an original timber frame. (It has what must be the loveliest cat flap in Baildon. See if you can find it: it’s visible from the road.)
Now go to the end of Bank Walk (past the white house on the left), to the snicket in the corner beside Wrose View. Walk down the steep steps (there is a handrail) until you reach the end of the stone wall on the left. Admire the panorama of Shipley and Bradford, but then turn left down a short flight of narrow steps (there is a handrail, if the hedge is not too overgrown). On the left is an old stone cottage, Mount Pleasant. You see the recent extension first, but on the older part you can read a datestone which records that it was built as a Primitive Methodist Chapel in 1824. The Primitive Methodists worshipped here until their new larger chapel was built at Kellcliffe in 1865 (which we shall see later).
Return by the way you came, back to Westgate. However, before you reach Westgate notice on the left the entrance to Ellison’s Fold. The Fold was built in the second half of the eighteenth century, and two of its inhabitants have gone down in local history. William Ellison, who worked here up to about 1870, is said to have been the last handloom weaver. Another resident, a widower with the surname Tennant, is reputed to have bought a housekeeper for 10/- (50p) at Otley to replace his wife!
On reaching Westgate, turn left and go further up that road past yet another beauty salon (admire in passing the narrowness of No. 32) until you reach its junction with West Lane on the left, and Newton Way on the right. Facing up West Lane you will see a row of terraced houses called Westfield Terrace on your left, and opposite these a short row of quaint old cottages called Tentercroft. In the past, when cloth made from wool was the staple industry, this is where the cloth would be brought after scouring to be stretched on a frame called a tenter. The cloth was attached to it with ‘tenterhooks’ – meaning stretched to the limit – and it was then left in the sun to be dried, stretched to keep its shape. (If you cross West Lane here, do so with great care.)
By way of Wesleys to the weeping cellar
From the top of Westgate turn right along Newton Way past the doctors’ surgery until you come to the Methodist Church. Turn right along a footpath between the church and a lovingly maintained garden containing many ancient varieties of fruit tree, until you reach a row of cottages facing the church green (an old burial ground). Notice the stone inscription on the cottages, which states that the building was erected in 1815 for use as an interdenominational Sunday school – a very early example of different church denominations working together. The text reads: Tis here that youth in certain paths may tread, that lead to virtue and the fear of God. The school was in an upstairs room.
The Wesleyan Methodist Church itself was built in 1890 and has a Gothic front. Notice the seven memorial stones laid at the foundations on May 3rd 1890. One of the names is James (Jim) Boocock, a leading Methodist local preacher who was the oldest inhabitant in Baildon when he died in 1895 in his eighty-seventh year. He had a grocer’s shop on Westgate where the computer and music shop is now. The Methodist Centre, ‘Wesleys’, provides refreshments (Mon–Fri 10.00–3.30; Sat 10.00–12.00).
From the church go down Binswell Fold until you reach Westgate once more. In 1890 Baildon Board informed Mrs Ambler that pigs could not be kept on her premises in Binswell Fold without causing a nuisance and they had to be removed!
At the junction with Westgate, the building on the right, No. 25, now Westgate Stores, was once the original office of Baildon Local Board before it moved its meetings to a room in the Mechanics Institute which stood at the top of Browgate – which was built in 1862 and demolished in the 1960s. Baildon Local Board became an Urban District Council in 1895 (and became part of Bradford MDC in 1974).
Turn left and continue downhill on the left, passing Westgate House (opposite The Bulls Head) which was built in about 1814. It was the home of the wealthy old Baildon Ambler family who were connected with the wool trade. Their wool warehouse was next door below the house, and the ‘taking in door’ and remains of the pulley can still be seen at the upper storey. It became Barraclough’s mineral water factory in the twentieth century, and is now (at the time of writing) a Suburban Style Bar. The cellar is vaulted and there is reputed to be the ghost of a child who died there. Sometimes water drips from the walls and they are said to be crying for the dead child. The buildings above Westgate House, i.e., Nos 9-15 Westgate, were once the Ambler family’s farm buildings. (Distance so far: about 0.6 miles or 1 km.)
The stocks and Northgate
Turn left at the bottom of Westgate and cross by the zebra at the bottom of The Grove into Towngate. Here is the bus terminus and to the right of it a paved area which contains the old stocks and the base of what may have been a medieval cross. Both are Grade II listed. Walk through Towngate and up into Northgate (which is the main bit of the road uphill from the roundabout) noting on the other side of the road the Malt Shovel Inn, which is a Grade II listed building. One of the oldest inns in Baildon, the building was erected in the 17th Century and contains interesting historical pictures near the old stone fireplace. At the side of this old inn is a deep well, now covered, and just above it is the Bubbling Well horse trough.
One of the owners of the inn, a member of the Walker family, built Lynton House which is on the opposite corner below the inn at 19 Northgate. It has an 1873 datestone above the blocked up side door. The surname Walker is derived from an occupation: a walker (or fuller) would scour woollen cloth to finish it. This involved treading it, whilst still wet, with the ‘walker’s’ feet – before the days of the fulling mill when wooden water driven hammers were used. Below Lynton House, at Nos 15-17 Northgate, is Airedale House which is a new building erected during the 1960's redevelopment of Towngate. It has been reroofed with a type of roof known as a Mansard roof, which was introduced in France in the seventeenth century and was a means of avoiding tax on the top floor. The Roebuck Inn, which dated back to at least 1822, used to be here
Now notice on your left the narrow entrance to Straits which leads into a fold of old cottages. What was probably one of the oldest houses in Baildon according to John la Page, perhaps as old as 17th century, has been altered and subdivided into numbers 24-30 Northgate. It backs onto the fold where there is now a car park. Follow the right hand side wall of Straits round and return to Northgate by a narrow passage which passes, on the right, a block of stone steps which led to an upper room in the old house. It is now Baildon Interiors which sells fabrics and makes curtains etc.
On your left, opposite the end of Jenny Lane and before Baildon Garage, by the public toilets, you will see a tall stone mill building which is Grade II listed. It is called Baildon Mills and houses the firm of John Peel and Son Ltd which makes decorative flocks for wallpaper and upholstery fabrics. Their business was established in 1875. The mill was built in 1824 as a spinning mill for F. W. Holmes but got into financial difficulties and was sold in 1835. It changed hands several times and by 1856 was owned by T and W. W Holmes who added a large weaving shed. At one time cotton was spun at the mill and that department continued up until 1964. It is now home also to many small businesses. A fire destroyed part of the mill in 1974. You can still see the taking in doors where pulleys would lift raw materials such as bales of wool or cotton and lower finished goods to ground level. You can also see two arched cart entrances (one blocked).
In front of Baildon Mills is Robinson’s Sweetshop. It was placed there by the British Legion in 1918 for an ex-serviceman called Mr Lambert, and has not been moved since. It was put on wheels in order to avoid paying rates!
Continue up Northgate towards the Moor, past the road on the left between the mill and the garage, to which we shall return shortly. Immediately after Baildon Moor Garage you will pass a track which leads to Low Fold where two of the houses, Nos 14 and 16, are Grade II listed. Number 16 was used for wool stapling (sorting), spinning and stuff (worsted cloth) making. Between numbers 42 and 44 Northgate is a large square arched entrance with wooden doors which belonged to number 44 – built for Miles Barraclough of the mineral water factory family – the square arch led to a stable.
Opposite the entrance to Moorfield Drive and Hazel Heads is number 50 Northgate, called Lee Nor. ‘Nor’ is an abbreviation of ‘Northgate’, and it was built as a golf house for Baildon Golf Club by Ben Lee.
After the modernised Beech Cottage is the entrance to High Fold. The cottages on one side of the fold can be seen if you continue round the corner past Moorgate House, which used to be a barn, into Pennithorne Avenue which faces the moor and the Baildon Golf Clubhouse which is behind the 1838 Waterworks filter house building. The last building on the opposite side is the Shroggs, the Soldiers and Sailors Club.
Retrace your steps back down Northgate. On the opposite side of Northgate you will see a Moorgate sign on the end of a row of cottages. Moorgate leads up to the moor, the roads to Hawksworth and Eldwick and beyond. Opposite side to the garage you will see Moorfield House on the corner of Jenny Lane. This lane was named after Jenny Milner who with her husband inhabited a thatched cottage beside Moorfield House. She died aged 102 in 1844.
The surname Milner means miller, and the poll tax returns for Baildon in 1379 include a William Milner who paid a groat (4 old pence) for himself and his wife. The standard amount for a peasant. On the opposite corner of Jenny Lane is the recently enlarged Websters fish and chip shop and restaurant. The name Webster is another old name derived from the wool textile industry: it means weaver.
Providence Row, Butterfield Homes and Prospect
Return to the road between the garage and the mill, and turn up into what is called Providence Row. The first house on the right is called ‘The Cherry Tree’. It is Grade II listed and is back-to-back with No. 16 ‘Low Fold’. Further up, opposite the actual cottages called Providence Row and behind a stone wall, is the mill pond which would have been used for storing water for power in the age of steam. Baildon Mill (or Providence Mill) was in the hands of Booth and Bairstow (waterproof manufacturers) in 1890. Cockcroft Bairstow lived at Providence House at the west end of the mill dam. They asked Baildon Board if they could buy the pinfold (used to impound stray cattle) to improve the approach to the mill but it continued as a pinfold until 1918 when it was demolished.
At that time the mill was owned by Messrs Robinson and Bairstow. The Bradford Post Office Directory lists Booth and Bairstow telephone number (4043) as early as 1894. An earlier Baildon Mill was sited by Baildon Bridge: it was water driven and would be used for fulling cloth and grinding corn, etc. In a lawsuit between Francis Baildon of Baildon Hall and his mother and step-father in 1655 Francis’ mother claimed that they had built a fulling mill and repaired a corn mill as well as improving the hall.
Continue to the top of this road and on into the public footpath until you reach The Grove (on the way you’ll see a horse trough, set back on the right just before you reach the road). Turn left into The Grove, walk downhill, and on the left you will see six single storey almshouses known as the Butterfield Homes. In the centre of the row you will see a Coat of Arms with a lamb at the top representing the once most important industry in Baildon, the woollen industry, which goes back to the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The other staple industry was agriculture represented by the plough below. The mid-nineteenth century Tithe Map and Award for Baildon states that wheat, barley and oats were grown here then. There were 300 acres of arable land.
The coat of arms is a copy of one which was in the porch of the old Town Hall in Rushcroft Terrace (which became Thorn Crest home for the elderly, and then flats, after local government reorganisation in 1974). The heritage plaque records that the homes were founded in 1929 by Thomas Butterfield, a woollen manufacturer. Mr Butterfield went into partnership with a Mr Frazer and owned a mill at Wilsden and another at Cottingley. He came to live in Baildon, and while still alive he set up the Butterfield Trust which the Vicar holds for poor people of Baildon. There are Butterfield Homes in Cottingley, Wilsden and Cross Hills also.
Walk on past the almshouses down The Grove (which bends left downhill and is joined by Newton Way) back into Towngate, but this time make for the zebra crossing by the stocks and cross to the other side of Towngate. Just to your left is the entrance to a cobbled courtyard which leads to East Parade, which used to be called Prospect. Walk up East Parade to Wharton Square which is near the top on the right. There is a row of cottages on both sides of the square.
The Whartons were locally famous as bonesetters in the second half of the nineteenth century. Mrs Mary (Mally) Wharton’s second husband, Henry, was a famous Westmoreland bonesetter who taught her the necessary skills. She became known as “t’ Baildon doctor”. She charged only sixpence (in old money, i.e., 2½p), and often waived the fee for the poor or even gave back more than she was owed. Mally Wharton died in 1875. The Whartons’ house in Wharton Square has been demolished.
Walk back down to Northgate, turn left and walk to the bottom of Hall Cliffe. Notice in passing the Towngate Rooms, formerly the Liberal Club with its datestone of 1912 and foundation stones with names at the bottom. The building was bought by Baildon UDC in 1940. The clock was originally on the Mechanics Institute Trust building at the top of Browgate. That building was demolished in the 1960s. To the right of the Towngate rooms is the Angel, another old Baildon pub, which appears in White’s 1853 Directory and has a listed barn at the rear. A manor court was held at the inn in 1779.
There is an old drinking fountain at the bottom of Hall Cliffe which was given by the Amphlett family, relatives of the Holdens, an old Baildon family after whom Holden Lane is named. The fountain is known as the ‘Potted Meat Stick’ because of its colour (pink granite). It has been moved several times. Just below it you will see a memorial garden in remembrance of Fred Atkinson, a Liberal Democrat councillor for Baildon from 1962 to 1983.
Turn left up Hall Cliffe, and you will see the Ian Clough car park opposite. (Distance so far: about 1.3 miles or 2.1 km.)
St John’s, the Community Gardens and Kelcliffe
If you’ve already had enough you can break the walk here, promising to return and do the rest another day. However, we shall shortly be taking you into a peaceful garden where you can rest awhile, so you may wish to carry on.
Continue up Hall Cliffe past the Ian Clough Hall, named after the famous Baildon mountaineer who was killed while climbing Annapurna. With its car park it was built in the 1960s on the site of an old Manor House and Manor Fold. In the 1891 Census two families were living at the Manor House, Marmaduke Platt, a draper, with his wife and children, and Julia Steel, a music teacher with her unmarried brother and sister. There were 11 houses in Manor Fold and 21 in Manor Croft. For a time in the Middle Ages Baildon was in two manors. Upper Baildon was in the manor of Bingley and Low Baildon was in Otley Manor. The hall for the upper manor may have been this Manor House, Manor Croft, but an alternative theory is that it was in Westgate, i.e., the Old Hall.
Behind the Hall is St. John’s, the Parish Church, which is Grade II listed. The existing church building, which replaced an earlier chapel, was built in 1848 with the later addition of the tower in 1928 to commemorate those killed in the First World War. In the churchyard, resting on the low wall of the southern boundary near the south side of the church, is an upright gravestone with a flat gravestone below. On them is reputed to be the longest epitaph in Yorkshire with twelve poetic verses. They record the death of James Mann in 1852 and of his wife Hannah. Their son James had the stones made when he returned from Australia.
Continue walking a short distance uphill, passing Perseverance Street and Angel Street, until you reach the Community Garden on the left. The garden was opened in 2005 and was built on an old school playground. It contains a wide variety of plants and herbs of different colours as well as a wild flower meadow, bog garden, willow tunnel and pergola, with glimpses of old Baildon behind it. Here is an opportunity to sit and enjoy the peace and beauty of the garden and spot butterflies on a sunny day. There is a play area for children.
From the gates of the Community Garden turn left and go further along Hallcliffe, noting Batley House on the left. The reason for its name is unknown, but it was built in 1837 for a Mr W Schofield who had not long since bought Baildon Mill. Later, another part owner of the mill lived here – Mr William Wainman Holmes, mentioned above. He instructed the mill’s night watchman to fire an old-fashioned gun when going on duty at 10.00pm so that the Holmes family knew that he’d arrived. Mr Holmes used to get to the Mill early in the morning and give the signal for the beam engine to be started when the workers arrived. The old building close by, overlooking the community garden, was once the coach house for Batley House. The new houses in Batley Court were erected at the turn of this century.
Cross Hallcliffe and turn right. A few yards later turn left down Church Hill below the Parish Church. Here again is a wonderful view across the Aire Valley to Idle Hill opposite with its radio masts (or Wrose Hill as locals often call it), and the broad valley leading into Bradford. Having admired the view, possibly from the churchyard up the flight of steps on the right by the new vicarage, continue a few yards further down the hill, bearing right, until you reach the narrow Butler Lane.
At the corner of the Lane is an old listed farm house where the Butler family lived and had a workshop attached to the house for weaving their cloth. They were an old Baildon family of clothiers. The old farmhouse is now two houses and has been extended on the Church Hill side. Attached to Butler Farm is Butler House, also Grade II listed. As you walk past you will see a stone ‘lant spout’ the old name for the pipe with channel through which urine (the ‘weetings’) passed to be collected outside in a tub for use when scouring wool for cloth!
Butler Lane is part of an old packhorse track and leads to Browgate, used to carry raw wool and yarn for processing, and finished cloth to market. As you go down the track become steeper and rather rough (cobbled at the bottom), and winds through Kellcliffe, a little valley filled with ivy-clad trees, through which Baildon Beck used to flow en route from the moor to the River Aire. The beck now flows mainly underground and is known for most of its length as Barnsley Beck after the coalfield of which the Baildon deposits formed a part. At the end of the lane you will see the rear of the old Primitive Methodist building which was built in 1865 on land donated by the Lord of the Manor, Abraham Maude. The terrain presented great problems for the builders and a lot of money had to be borrowed. All the contractors lost money.
On reaching Browgate, turn right up the hill and make your way back to the Ian Clough car park (don’t worry, it isn’t far). (Total distance: about 1.7 miles or 2.8 km.)
Summary of distances
Loop 1: From Ian Clough car park to Moravian Church, Bank Walk, Tentercroft, Methodist Church and back down to foot of Westgate: about 0.6 miles or 1 km.
Loop 2: Up Northgate, Providence Row, The Grove, East Parade and back to Ian Clough car park: about 0.7 miles or 1.1 km.
Loop 3: Up Hall Cliffe to the Community Gardens and Batley House, and back via Church Lane, Butler Lane and Kellcliffe, and back to the Ian Clough car park: about 0.5 miles or 0.8 km.