History and Heritage of the Aire Valley: A new Friday morning heritage course for the WEA

Venue: Kirkgate Centre (39A Kirkgate, Shipley, BD18 3EH)

Dates: 22/09/2017-03/11/2017

Fee: £48.00

The Leeds-Liverpool canal at Shipley

This seven-week course explores the development of Shipley, Bingley, Baildon and the surrounding area. Using a range of sources, it will help place these towns in their historic context in the Aire Valley. The course has a mixture of indoor sessions and guided walks.

Topics to be covered will include:

Session I (Indoors) Prehistory, Romans

Session 2 (Indoors) Anglo-Saxons, Norman Conquest

Session 3 (Walk) Buck Wood/Thackley

Session 4 (indoors): The Middle Ages

Session 5(Indoors)): Tudors and Stuarts

Session 6: (Walk) – Baildon Green and Baildon Hall

Session 7: (Indoors) The Industrial Revolution and the Victorians









Discover the Heritage of Bradford

A New Heritage Course Starting this month

Starting on the 29th of January I will be teaching another 7 week heritage course for the WEA at the in the Kirkgate Centre in Shipley The course costs £44.10 but is free if you are in receipt of an income related benefit (only SEA funded).

Course details

Bradford’s Coat of Arms

Bradford’s Coat of Arms

The course consists of four classroom sessions at the Kirkgate Centre which alternate with three guided walks in Bradford. The classroom sessions will cover the history of the town from the Norman Conquest to the present day. The three guided walks will focus on surviving historic buildings in in three different parts of the city – Little Germany and the Cathedral, Little Horton Green, and Manningham.

To find out more or to book please visit the WEA website.


Wells in Clark Spring Wood (1)

Excavations this weekend

One of the wells in Clark Spring Wood

One of the wells in Clark Spring Wood

Clark Spring Wood is a small area of residual woodland in Churwell on the outskirts of Leeds (West Yorkshire, UK). Churwell Environmental Volunteers, a local voluntary group, have been working hard there to put in new paths and to provide pond dipping facilities and other amenities for the public to enjoy. While they were carrying out this work they discovered what appear to be two small troughs where springs emerge into the open. Their date is uncertain though I would guess at late 18th/ early 19th century. We are going to have a small excavation there this weekend to see if we can find out one way or the other.

 A confusion of wells and springs

I was asked if the two water features might be the reason that Clark Spring Wood was given its name. Many people think on similar lines. Unfortunately it’s not correct. A spring in this context is not a water source but the new growth that springs up when trees are coppiced (cut down to a stump). Coppicing was a common form of woodland management which enabled a regular harvest of timber to be taken from the woodland. The thin poles which spring up this way could be used for a variety of purposes including the making of broom handles or charcoal.


Oddly enough the adjacent area of Springfield probably does get its name from the fact that a spring of water rises there. It the last century it was dammed to form the millpond for Springfield Mills.

The mill has long gone but the remains of the dam have been converted into an attractive pond in Springfield Park.


And if all that wasn’t complicated enough, there’s the question of where was the spring which gave its name to the township as a whole? (The name means something on the lines of peasants’ well.)Was it the beck which rises at Springfield and runs through Clark Spring Wood? Or a different well? I guess we’ll never know. There are some problems that even archaeology can’t solve.