Oxenhope Online

Image: Oxenhope from the wind turbine (near Haworth) Image: Crowds at the Bay Horse during the Straw Race 2002 Image: The stream running through the Millennium Green


A Brief History of Oxenhope

Taken from 'A Brief History of Oxenhope' published in 1996 by David Samuels with many local contributors. Proceeds from the sale of the book are to support the Multiple Sclerosis action groups.

Snippets from Past Oxenhope (David Samuels)
The History of Oxenhope (Mr R Hindley)
Daily Life (Mrs Freda Feather)
Life on a hill farm (Mr Joe 'Bodkin' Feather)
Mill Life (Mrs Lucy Shackleton)
Village Life (Mrs Winnie Cowgill)
Education (Mrs Pauline Sheffield)
The Parish Church of St. Mary the Virgin (Mrs Margaret Hindley)
Religious Life in Oxenhope (Mrs Norma Mackrell)

Village Life
as told by Mrs Winnie Cowgill

Until 1938 Oxenhope had an Urban District Council, then became part of the larger Borough of Keighley. At that time there were over fifty shops and businesses, all well supported so people did not need to go elsewhere except for something special, as there was not the availability of transport as there is now. Almost all travel to and from Oxenhope was by rail.

Starting from below the church before Shaw Top was Tom Holmes' wooden box', a wooden hut housing the said Tom Holmes' plastering business. Below that was the Co-operative grocer and greengrocer with the butcher's department opposite across the road. Down Shaw was a grocer's shop and a taller/setter. This was a man who mended wool combs and its machinery. Further up the hill near the end of Lee Lane was a small shop. Back in Hebden Road where Vale Tools now stands was a garage which charged 2d to recharge an accumulator for a wireless. Across the road just below the school was a small grocer's shop. By the top of Best Lane was Heaton Whitaker, joiner, undertaker, painter and decorator. On the corner itself was a bakery which also took messages from three independent doctors who all practised in Haworth.

At the bottom of Best Lane were fish and chips for 3d, round the corner in Lowertown were a cobbler's and another bakery. Opposite, where Dennis Wormald now lives, was a draper's which also sold lino and oilcloth. In what is now Rose Parker's house was a greengrocer's shop, with a hairdresser's at the end of Beatrice Street, and another hairdresser's further along the street. In Lowertown, where the bank stood was a newsagent's, and behind what was Jack Feather's garage (now demolished and new houses built on the site) was a wheelwright. By the bus stop was a baker and grocer with a butcher at the side of it. In Station Road is the Post Office and next door to it was a butcher's shop. By the electricity box was a fish and chip shop. Up the hill opposite The Lamb was a grocer and sweet shop. Higher up, a bakery and a co-op. B&S Motors was a 'pop' factory. Back on Station Road, at the bottom of the catsteps stood a painter and decorator's hut, then came three little shops which were a cobbler's and a barber who would send umbrellas away for repair.
Then came the butcher and a grocer. Across the road was a plumber and glazier who also sold china and crockery, with a dressmaker next door. The Co-op was at the top of Elm Street, along with a cobbler, and a joiner at the bottom of the street.

The greengrocer-cum-general store was originally a chemist at No 32 and a dressmaker at No 34. At the top of Ash Street the newsagent advertised that the general public could telephone from his premises and also a bath could be taken for 6d.

On the corner of the main road stood Greenwood's corn mill. Above the cricket field was, and still is, the fish and chip shop and across the road a grocer and butcher. The yard at the top of the catsteps housed a blacksmith. There were two coal merchants at the station yard, and a carrier stabled his horses at what was the barn opposite Yate House. A cafe stood at the bottom of Hillhouse Edge, not forgetting the little shop on Marsh and one or two mobile retailers.

These businesses, and therefore the village, started to decline after the 1939-45 war when people went away to find work. Most went by train to Keighley, as very few people had cars.

The village acquired the park in 1931, and the council estate was built after the war and named for Alderman Denby, sometime Mayor of Keighley. The public library was at the County School and then at the Council Offices across the road from the Church School.

Entertainment was provided by members of churches and chapels, very much 'do-it-yourself’. Fairs came to Haworth and Denholme, to which people walked there and back.

At Christmas-time there were very few gifts, traditionally an orange, apple, nuts, a new penny and maybe a small toy. If children gave a gift it would be one they had made themselves, sometimes at school. Christmas trees were small and artificial. The sweetshops sold the old-fashioned sweets such as humbugs, bull's eyes, kali, toffee, liquorice and aniseed balls. Outside were slot-machines which sold chocolate for Id or beech-nut chewing gum for l/2d.

The Girl Guide movement started in the late 1950s but didn't last long. It was restarted in 1963 and is still going.

In 1974 The Borough of Keighley was swallowed up by Bradford Metropolitan District Council after central government reorganised everything, so the once autonomous village of Oxenhope is little more than a suburb of Bradford despite being granted its own Parish Council in 1987.