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. The inaugural Meeting of Keighley Town Council took place at 7pm on Thursday 16th May 2002, in the Council Chambers, Keighley Town Hall, Bow Street, Keighley, West Yorkshire.
Thirty Councillors represent fifteen wards. The town area, which is part of the Brontë Country, has a population of over 56,000, making it one of the largest civil parishes in England.
Keighley, which had previously been a municipal borough in its own right, lost its civil parish status in 1974 when Bradford Metropolitan Council was formed. This was only restored in 2002 when a new 26 member-strong town council was created by order of the secretary of state.
Today thirty Councillors represent fifteen wards. The town area, which is part of the Brontë Country, has a population of over 50,000, making it one of the largest civil parishes in England.
The name Keighley, which has gone through many changes of spelling throughout its history, means “Cyhha’s farm or clearing”, and was mentioned in the Domesday Book as “In Cichhelai, Ulchel, and Thole, and Ravensuar, and William had six carucates to be taxed.”
Henry de Keighley, a Lancashire knight, was granted a charter to hold a market in Keighley on 17 October 1305 by King Edward I. The poll tax records of 1379 show that the population of Keighley, in the wapentake of Staincliffe in the West Riding of Yorkshire, was 109 people (47 couples and 15 single people).
From 1753 the Union stage coach departed on the Keighley and Kendal Turnpike from what was the Devonshire Arms coaching inn on the corner of Church Street and High Street. Rebuilt about 1788, this public house has a classical style pedimented doorcase with engaged Tuscan columns in the high fashion of that age. The original route towards Skipton was Spring Gardens Lane – Hollins Lane – Hollins Bank Lane. Keighley was to become an intersection with other turnpikes including the Two-Laws to Keighley branch of the Toller Lane – Blue Bell turnpike (1755) from Bradford to Colne; the Bradford to Keighley turnpike (1814); and the Keighley—Halifax turnpike.
Hattersley Domestic Loom built by Geo. Hattersley, Keighley on display at Queen Street Mill Textile Museum, Burnley
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. These included Dean, Smith & Grace, George Hattersley & Son and Prince, Smith & Stell. The first of these operated as a 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 (9.7 km) long and four miles (6.4 km) broad, and comprises 10,160 acres (4,112 ha) of land (including a peaty moor of about 2,000 acres or 800 ha) and a population which amounted, in the year 1801, to 5,745.”
The town was incorporated as a municipal borough on 28 July 1882 under the provisions of the Municipal Corporations Act 1882 in the West Riding of Yorkshire. On 1 April 1974 it became part of the City of Bradford Metropolitan District in accordance with the 1972 Local Government Act in the newly formed county of West Yorkshire.
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.
The town has a local history society, Keighley and District Local History Society, and a family history society, Keighley and District Family History Society
Keighley lies at the confluence of the rivers Worth and Aire in Airedale, in the South Pennines. Its northern boundary is with Bradley and its southern limit is the edge of Oxenhope. 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 Lee and Thwaites Brow. The outlying north-eastern suburb of Riddlesden is sometimes incorrectly referred to as a separate village, but is part of the town.
Past Black Hill and via Braithwaite Edge Road lies Braithwaite village which leads to Laycock, which was mentioned in the Domesday Book. Laycock is a conservation area which overlooks the hamlet of Goose Eye.
The River Aire passes through north eastern Keighley, dividing the neighbourhood of Stockbridge and running roughly parallel to the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. The Worth links up with the Aire in Stockbridge and runs south-westerly, 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.
Parts of Keighley are prone to flooding and the town was particularly badly hit in by floods 2000. Since then, millions have been spent on strengthening flood defences.
Other outlying villages around the town are Oakworth, Cross Roads, Haworth, Stanbury and Oxenhope. The two main settlements to the north are Silsden and Steeton. Although these villages are often referred to as separate places they are part of the wider Keighley area. These areas add a total of 22,669 to the Keighley area, taking the population of the wider Keighley area up to 74,098 (2001 Census). 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 Ilkley, approximately five miles away, becomes the more famous Ilkley Moor.
Information from Wikipedia