About Keighley

About Keighley

Immigration in Keighley

For over 180 years Keighley has been accepting migrant families in search of shelter and employment. In their turn, Irish, Italian, Maltese, Ukrainian, Polish, Pakistani, Kashmiri, Bangladeshi, Indian, Czech and Slovak peoples have been welcomed and absorbed into the social fabric of the town, making Keighley a truly multi-cultural centre.

Many of the Asian families moved into the taxi, restaurant and corner shop trades, liberalising what were once restrictive practices. Strange as it seems now, before the 1970s it was difficult to buy a loaf of bread at 9.00 pm or have a late night meal or take-away after a night out.

Today Keighley Town Centre boasts Chinese, Pakistani, Kashmiri, Indian, Turkish and Italian restaurants, several of which have gained regional and national acclaim for the quality of their cuisine.


Keighley is home to all the Christian denominations with St Andrew’s Parish Church, now shared between Anglicans and Methodists, built in 1847 on the site of the original Christian settlement. A significant Catholic population was re-established in the town from the 1830s onwards with the arrival of many Irish migrants who came to find work, first on the canal and the railways, later in the many textile and engineering factories.

Keighley has three Catholic churches with St Anne’s designed by Augustus Welby Pugin and consecrated in 1840, now being the oldest Christian building in the town centre still in its original use. St Joseph’s was built in 1934 to a unique Romanesque design and Our Lady of Victories at Guard House in 1939.

The United Reformed, Mormons, Quakers, Salvation Army and Jehovah’s Witnesses are all also represented together with the first spiritualist church in Britain, founded at Keighley in 1853 by David Richmond.

Though not originally from the town, Richmond stayed here 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.

Muslims make up the second largest religious group in the town with several mosques including the impressive purpose-built Emily Street Mosque. Keighley also has a newly established Buddhist centre.

Education and Learning

Local schools are University Academy Keighley, Oakbank School and the Holy Family Catholic School. These schools are for pupils aged 11 to 18. Keighley College has merged with Park Lane College and Thomas Danby College to form Leeds City College. The new Keighley Campus building of this higher and further education establishment is in Dalton Lane. 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 centre, a planetarium, a simulated rocky planet surface and many other space-related items.

Keighley Cougars RLFC is based at Cougar Park on Royd Ings Avenue and play semi-pro rugby league in the Co-operative Championship.

Keighley is also home to the Timothy Taylor Brewery, makers of several Campaign for Real Ale award-winning ales such as Landlord, Ram Tam, Taylor’s Best Bitter and Golden Best as well as two other smaller independent breweries, the Goose Eye and Old Bear breweries

Keighley has a popular local music scene. There are many venues in the town, where local bands play shows; recently these venues joined together to bring some 60 individual acts together for the first Keighley Music Krawl. British rock bands Skeletal Family and Terrorvision were also originally formed in Keighley. Located on North Street is the Keighley Picture House opened in 1913, making it one of the oldest cinemas in Britain.

Leeds & Liverpool Canal

The Leeds & Liverpool Canal can be joined at Granby Lane opposite East Riddlesden Hall; a walk on the banks of this picturesque canal is recommended. The original red brick canalside warehouses built to serve the town have now been converted to residential use.

Keighley Tarn

Keighley Tarn (Redcar Tarn) is situated approximately 600 feet above the town; it commands beautiful panoramic views of the surrounding hills, with Rombalds Moor to the North and the lower Airedale hills to the east. We are told that on a clear day Ingleborough, Malhamdale Hills and Great Whernside can be seen. The wildlife at the Tarn is impressive and includes mallards, gulls, swans and other water fowl. A walk around the Redcar Tarn is recommended, access and car parking are excellent.


Central Keighley was extensively remodelled in the 1960s and lost some historic buildings. However, the town has retained much its Victorian and Edwardian heritage on North Street and Cavendish Street and still has many fine examples of Victorian commercial architecture, emphasising the considerable industrial wealth of the town in the late 19th century.

Modern buildings such as the award winning Metro Bus Station, (opened in 2002), the Airedale Shopping Centre and the Keighley Campus of Leeds City College, (opened in 2010), contrast with the long Edwardian terrace of Cavendish Street with its 200 metre ornamental canopy. The local millstone grit gives these historic buildings a distinctive look. Perhaps surprisingly the recently refurbished high rise apartments at Damside, Ingrow and Parkwood are themselves dominated by dramatic wooded landscapes forming a hilly backdrop rising steeply behind the town.

East Riddlesden Hall, Cliffe Castle and the recently restored Whinburn Hall are very fine country houses. There is also a succession of gracious town villas along Skipton Road which contrast sharply with the rows of artisan terraces in the streets behind them.

Many of the town’s former mill buildings are still intact, and some are being converted to residential use. Keighley’s own model Hillworth Village, the Clough Houses and the Grove Mill complex are all in the process of receiving a new lease of life.

Keighley Public Library

The Central Library is an architectural gem in the Renaissance style. In 1899 Mr Andrew Carnegie, a great friend of the town’s then MP, Sir Swire Smith, offered £10,000 to the Borough Council which responded with an equal amount of match-funding to give Keighley the distinction of having the first Carnegie-funded Library in England which opened in 1904.

Alex F. Smith (1863 -1953) woodcarver, sculptor, plasterer & master craftsman was responsible for the outstanding artwork on its fine entrance. He was also responsible for much other exquisite work around the town. More recently Keighley Library has been restored sympathetically with its beautiful frescos revealed once again. A Local Studies section, with an archive section for the Local & Family Historian, internet access, fiche & film readers are also available.

Cliffe Castle

Just beyond the town centre stands Cliffe Castle, holding the Town Museum. In 1874 Henry Isaac Butterfield transformed this former family home into a “modernised Tudor castle” by extending and altering the former Cliffe Hall built by Christopher Netherwood in 1833. Adding three extravagant towers, Butterfield changed the name to reflect the grandiose new buildings. It had conservatories, terraces and an ice house and there are two 19th century listed fountains in the extensive grounds.

Today the house is a wonderfully lavish museum and art gallery with a stained glass window overlooking the staircase to beautifully furnished Victorian rooms. The new “Keighley Stories” gallery holds many local bygones, pictures and artefacts from the people of Keighley. Here one can find such unlikely items as the “Hen Peck’d Clubs” famous wife-taming cradle, and many donated items which remind us of our childhood; dolls, toys and domestic items, which are visited and enjoyed by many. There is a wide variety of displays, including rocks, minerals and fossils, mounted birds and animals. Be amazed at the William Morris stained glass room.

You will also see the Timmy Feather exhibit, housed in a “Hand-Loom Weavers” house. Timmy was the last hand-loom weaver in the area, dying in 1910. The beautifully kept grounds include large greenhouses, small aviaries and a pets section for children.

East Riddlesden Hall is a 17th century manor house owned by the National Trust having been saved from demolition in 1933 by the Brigg family. The large fish pond is overlooked by the breathtaking beauty of the Starkie Wing façade. The Great Barn in the grounds dates from the 1600s. Many local events are staged at East Riddlesden Hall.

Keighley Station

Keighley Station is an 1885 listed original Midland Railway Company building with many period features and three railway companies serving it. Northern Rail provides fast frequent electric train services to Leeds and Bradford and diesel train services to Settle, Carlisle, Lancaster, Morecambe and Heysham Port. East Coast provides a direct morning train to London King’s Cross with an evening return journey.

Keighley & Worth Valley Railway

Keighley is also the principal station for the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway, a heritage steam railway that links Keighley to Oakworth, Haworth, home of Anne, Charlotte and Emily Brontë, and Oxenhope. Ingrow Station is the first stop on the line. The original station was vandalised beyond repair, but a similar Midland Railway structure from Foulridge near Colne was moved stone by stone and rebuilt at Ingrow. Here you will find the imaginative and innovative Museum of Rail Travel, of interest to all families. The next stop is Damems Station, the smallest in England, with a station house, signal box and level crossing. Here you will find the Town Council’s Nature Site. Almost four acres of ‘wilderness’ has been reclaimed by the Town Council with a £10,000 lottery grant from the Breathing Places fund. This innovative project includes a 365 metre surfaced path, picnic area, seats and a custom-built viewing area from which to see K&WVR trains passing. The railway continues alongside the River Worth to reach Oakworth Station, made famous in the classic 1970 EMI film “The Railway Children”; this station retains its original Edwardian character. As the railway crosses Mytholmes Viaduct it leaves Keighley Parish on its journey to Haworth and Oxenhope.

Church Green

Here you will find our beautiful Shared Church of St Andrew’s. This building was consecrated in 1848, although there has been a church at this site since the twelfth century. The architect was R.D. Chantrell. Hattersley Crescent, originally built in the 1890s to disguise Richard Hattersley’s engineering works, has been restored to its former splendour. The area now plays hosts to markets, fairs and art events.

Keighley Market Cross

Now stands to the front of the Shared Church; it is actually not a cross at all. The head resembles those Templar’s lanterns carved in stone which adorn the gables of farms, such as Beck Foot, Bingley, indicating that formerly the property was held by the Order of Crusaders known as Knights Templar. When the cross was built it is hard to say but curiously enough the first record of it is in the following, which is quoted from the Parish Register:- “1655 The intencon of Mariage Betwixt John Law & Ann Phillip were published att the Markett Crosse in Kighley, July iith itt being the ffirst time.” Between 1655 and 1657, there were many such entries, for the commonwealth Government had authorized that all banns of marriage should be announced at market crosses. It is more than probable that when John Wesley came to Keighley in 1742, he preached from this historical spot, originally thought to have been at the north east corner of the Devonshire Arms Inn, where in 1786 the Keighley to Kendal Turnpike was begun.

Keighley Market Charter

Keighley was granted a Market Charter in 1305 by King Edward I to Henry de Kighley. The original has long been lost. The surviving document is from the reign of King Henry VIII, dated 18 June 1540. This is an official confirmation of the original Charter. Today the market continues to thrive in a covered hall containing a wide variety of independent family businesses.

Cavendish Street

Cavendish Street is our premier shopping street of Edwardian shops. Look up to see the beautiful carvings on the apartments above, each one unique, marvel at the long glass canopy which was donated by local mill owner Prince Smith. On the corner of a local shop stands a blue plaque to the Keighley born poet, playwright and art collector, Gordon Bottomley (1874 – 1948). Cavendish Court to the rear was originally the Midland Railway Company stables for their many cart horses, and now offers a courtyard of shops all under cover.

The Airedale Centre

The Airedale Centre houses the shopping centre of Keighley; look around for mosaics and sculptures which immortalise Keighley’s history. Here you will find a statue of the legendary Giant Rombald who holds a huge boulder ready to throw at his enemies. The rock in question is part of the Cow & Calf rocks at Ilkley.

Keighley Bus Station

Keighley Bus Station is the hub of a dense network of frequent local and inter-urban bus services linking the town with Burnley, Nelson, Colne, Skipton, Silsden, Ilkley, Bingley, Saltaire, Shipley, Bradford and Leeds, operated by Transdev Keighley & District, Transdev Burnley & Pendle, TLC Travel and Jacksons of Silsden. All companies use modern low floor, easy access buses.

Town Hall Square

Town Hall Square was created from an earlier Corporation stone yard which stood on this site. Our beautiful Cenotaph, unveiled in 1924, a symbol of local pride and respect for the Fallen of the Town, is surrounded by pleasant gardens and hanging baskets of flowers. The Town Council now has responsibility for the Cenotaph and Town Hall Square. The recently renovated Cenotaph and protective railings together with new flower beds and refurbished street furniture make the area once again a pleasant and relaxing place where one can sit in quiet contemplation.

Royal Arcade

During renovations of the arcade in 2003 a lower level street was discovered dating from the Edwardian period. The ground level was occupied by sales shops so it can only be assumed that storage was needed and the solution was to provide space at an underground level accessed by stone or wooden flights of steps from the shops above. Tours of the underground shops are occasionally arranged. The arcade is one of the many places of historical interest in the town.

Temple Street

This part of Keighley retains much of its original Georgian character with its beautifully setted street; Keighley’s first Methodist Chapel was built here in 1754. Now walk along the setts of Chapel Street /Chapel Lane and look at what is thought to be the oldest part of Keighley. There is a stone plaque on the back of this old building, showing the date 1660. This whole area is designated a conservation area.

Keighley in Film

Keighley was the setting for the film Blow Dry starring Josh Hartnett, Alan Rickman, and Bill Nighy. Blow Dry opens with the announcement that Keighley will host the 2000 British Hair Championships. Although set in the town, the film was shot mainly in Batley. Most of the 2004 filmYasmin was shot in Keighley. Written by local author Simon Beaufoy and mostly filmed in the Lawkholme area of the town, it tells the story of a British Muslim woman who has her life disrupted by the impact of the September 11th attacks in America. Mr Beaufoy said that although the film was originally set in Oldham, it “worked its way across the Pennines”. Simon Beaufoy is also the writer of the Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire and The Full Monty.

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 Spain, France and Belgium. These included the Spanish Peninsula War and the Battle of Waterloo, for which he was awarded several medals, including the Peninsula Medal. He became the landlord of the Reservoir Tavern in West Lane and died in 1866. Some local historians believe Mr Ingham’s heroism inspired author Bernard Cornwell’s saga about Major Richard Sharpe, played by Sheffield-born Sean Bean in the TV adaptation. Indeed, the series episode Sharpe’s Justice, which focuses on the roots of the title character, is set in and around Keighley and was filmed largely at East Riddlesden Hall.

The 2009 TV adaptation of Wuthering Heights was shot largely on location at East Riddlesden Hall. A new adaptation of Jane Eyre is set to boost tourism. Welcome to Yorkshire, the region’s tourism agency, has already rolled out the campaign across America to make potential tourists aware of Brontë Country and Yorkshire.

A great part of the 2004 BBC television drama North and South starring Richard Armitage was shot at Dalton Mills. But the town’s principal film location is without doubt the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway, whose Keighley, Ingrow, Damems and Oakworth stations have featured in major films such as The Railway Children and Yanks, and also in innumerable TV dramas, serials and adverts including Sherlock Holmes, Testament of Youth, Miss Marple, Poirot, Peaky Blinders, A Robber’s Tale and A Touch of Frost. Most recently the Council Chamber in the Town Hall on Bow Street has been used in the TV serial South Riding.