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History of Keighley

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History of Keighley

Founded by the Saxon Thane Cyhha in a forest clearing at the confluence of the North Beck and the River Worth, the settlement of Chichelai is first mentioned in the Domesday Survey of 1086. The spelling and almost certainly the pronunciation has changed considerably in the course of time. Turn the “gh” into “th” to get the correct present day pronouncation of “Keethley”.

Nestling amongst the hills and valleys of the Rivers Aire, Worth and North Beck, there are still many historic buildings which have survived in the town, which are testimony to an extremely wealthy industrial past. Looking up from the town centre, townspeople and visitors can literally “lift up their eyes to the hills”.

Modern Keighley benefits from a vibrant social and cultural history. The town was incorporated as a Municipal Borough in 1882 and the Town Mayor still wears the ornate Civic Regalia of that period.

Sadly, the Municipal Borough was absorbed into the Bradford Metropolitan District Council in 1974. Many of its residents felt this caused a great loss of civic identity and democratic imbalance, coming as it did at a time of manufacturing decline and economic recession.

There was some redress however when, after petitions and protests, a new Keighley Town Council was formed by Order from the Secretary of State on 1st April 2002, with the elections for Town Councillors taking place on 2nd May 2002. Thirty mainly independent Councillors now represent fifteen town wards, extending west to the Lancashire boundary and north to North Yorkshire.

The Town Council serves a population of 55,000 (39,000 electors), making it the third largest civil parish in England, larger than many district councils.

The Parliamentary Constituency of Keighley covers the towns of Ilkley, Keighley, Silsden and the parishes of Addingham, Haworth, Oxenhope and Steeton. As the centre of a retail sub-region, Keighley’s hinterland includes villages such as Cullingworth and Cross Hills, Bradley and Sutton in North Yorkshire.

Despite the current recession Keighley remains vibrant. It is famous for its comprehensive range and variety of independent family retailers and a lively covered market, plus the major national stores in its pedestrianised Airedale Shopping Centre, together with super stores such as Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Iceland and Asda. The redesigned public space of Church Green, the historic centre of Medieval Keighley, has recently been brought back into use for outdoor activities which complement established events such as St George’s Weekend, Oktoberfest, Street Markets, Music in the Park and of course, Yorkshire Day!