Baildon Green by Mark Scrimshaw

Mike Lawson of Baildon Local History Society has kindly provided this potted history of Baildon.

The flat top of Baildon Hill is visible from much of the surrounding Aire Valley. The hill is around 280 metres high, a sandstone plateau covering coal seams and millstone grit. It's here that around 5,000 years ago, a small group of hunter-gatherers spent their summers, leaving behind flint tools and arrowheads and later, pottery.

As the population increased, burial mounds and cairns were built. The landscape of that time would have been very different to today, with hazel and alder covering much of the moor.

The cup and ring markings found across the moor and glen are Bronze Age art but any interpretation of their meaning can only be speculation. They are now scheduled monuments and are only found in a few other areas of Britain, particularly Northumbria.

The Domesday Book of 1086 describes Beldone as divided between the manors of Otley and Bingley. The manorship passed through many hands and there were sometimes disputes over mineral rights and land ownership, such as that between Francis Baildon and Sir Richard Hawksworth in 1652.

The original chapel in Hallcliffe was built around 1200 and was part of the Parish of Otley. The existing St John's church replaced it in 1847. Who founded the church is not known, although a tablet in the church attributes it to Dame Alice Quintain, who endowed lands called Kirklands for the benefit of the church. Alan, the priest of Baildon, is mentioned in a charter of Esholt Priory around 1200.

Since the Bronze Age, the landscape of Baildon moor has been constantly changed by man's intervention. The first industry of the moor was ironstone extraction, which began in the 14th century. At that time wood and charcoal were plentiful and the iron was smelted in small local bloomeries. Coal was mined as a fuel in later centuries, often using existing pits. The depressions which cover much of the moor are bellpits that followed the coal seams.

The coal was of poor quality but was mined for several centuries and was a considerable source of income for the Lord of the Manor. In the 19th century there were pits large enough to need an engine house and cottages for the workmen.

From the early 18th century, a principal source of wealth for Baildon was textile production. Clothiers cottages such as those at Brook Hill, Butler House, Brackenhall and Trench were built at this time. A system of transfer of wool, yarn and fabrics was set up and some of the routes, such as that across Baildon Moor which goes from Hope Farm past Dubrobben, were improved with paving stones.

The textile industry in the Shipley area was mechanised between 1780 and 1830. The first mills were at Baildon Bridge and Tong Park. As trade grew, more labour was needed and hamlets built up around the mills. The moorland hamlets of Moorside, Sconce (actually in Bingley) and Low Hill were built to house miners and agricultural workers.

Top of the moor by Sadie Ferriday

Top of the moor by Sadie Ferriday

Salts Mill by Mark Scrimshaw

Salts Mill by Mark Scrimshaw

The road network was improved with the building of Baildon Road in the 1820s and then Green Lane to link Baildon Bridge with Baildon Green 60 years later. The Shipley-Otley turnpike road was built in 1825.

The 18th century saw the spread of non-conformism in religious worship. Many small groups met in houses on a regular basis, and as these groups grew in size, the first chapels were built. By the start of the 18th century, both the Methodist and Moravian congregations had built their first churches. Other churches followed: the Primitive Methodists on Browgate, Baildon Green Methodists, and the chapel at Low Hill. St John's Church in Hall Cliffe was rebuilt in 1848 (without the tower, which was added later as a memorial to the First Word War). Baildon became a parish in 1869, severing the link with Otley that went back over 600 years.

With the growth of religious groups came Sunday and then day schools, first at the Methodist church around 1815 and soon after at the Moravian, Primitive Methodist and Baildon Green Methodist churches.

Towards the end of the 19th century, possibly aided by the opening of the Shipley-Ilkley railway line in 1876, Baildon became a desirable place for the wealthy to live. Several mansions were built, such as Ferniehurst and The Knoll, but both have since been demolished.

The common lands, including Baildon Moor, were sold by the Lord of the Manor, Colonel Maude, to Bradford Corporation in 1896 for £7,000.

Baildon Urban District Council was established in 1895 and met in a building on Westgate. In 1936 the council moved to Rushcroft Terrace, where it remained until Bradford Metropolitan District Council was set up in 1974.

Despite much of Baildon being demolished in the 1960s, it is still growing, with house building everywhere, including in the gardens of larger Edwardian houses. The population is now around 16,000. It retains much of its character though, with two conservation areas: one around Brook Hill and the other up Browgate and along Westgate. There are also some forty listed buildings and groups of buildings.

Village centre by Ros Crosland

Village centre by Ros Crosland
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