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Chapter 14

Communications and Development1

“Transport is civilisation.”


Anyone attempting to sell property in Rawdon today will undoubtedly make much of the easy access to Leeds, Bradford, Harrogate, the Dales etc. It takes a considerable effort to visualise how remote the village was until well into the 19th century. Moreover, bisected as it is now by the A65 Trunk Road with its never ceasing traffic, it is difficult to see even the outlines of the landed estates before the road came. Green-Emmotts, Hastings, Wickhams and Marshalls all had their estates slashed through.

The Bradford-Pool road (A658), originally part of the Dudley Hill-Killinghall turnpike, came in 1752 though much of it must have followed much earlier tracks. There was a toll gate just to the north of the river at Apperley Bridge.

The foot path from the east end of Town Street across Red Beck, through the present Beechwood Estate and over Hunger Hills was the earliest route to Horsforth; Batter Lane, Quaker Lane, Warm Lane and Gill Lane to Esholt; West Lane (now Rawdon Drive) and ‘Spite and Malice’, the oldest route to Apperley Bridge; 2 Knott Lane and New York Lane to Calverley Bridge. 3 The long straight stretches of road which meet at Four Lane Ends did not come until William Stanhope (1710-83) moved to Brownberrie Manor, Horsforth in 1758, and may well have been a joint effort by the Emmott and Stanhope estates, perhaps following earlier tracks over open moorland. To go to either Leeds or Bradford either on foot or with horse drawn vehicles involved considerable hills (Butcher Hill on the way to Leeds, Apperley Lane plus the long slow pull up the other side of the valley to Eccleshill on the way to Bradford). Otley, though the route involved the Chevin, was still for many purposes the centre of the area.

The Leeds, Guiseley and Otley Turnpike Road with a spur to Shipley via Hollins Hill, was approved by an Act of Parliament in 1825 and reached Rawdon about 1828.4 It gave a reasonably gentle rise from Kirkstall with some long flat stretches. Apperley Bridge Station opened in 1846 and Horsforth on the Harrogate, Thirsk line in 1849. Both were considerable distances from Old Rawdon, the slope to Horsforth being the gentler. As we have seen in Chapter 11 the station at Apperley Bridge led to the development in Cragg Wood of some large houses for the wealthy of Bradford.

There was a horse bus to Leeds by 1861 on Tuesdays and Saturdays. A horse bus from Yeadon to the then Leeds tram terminus at Kirkstall Abbey came in 1899 and one from Yeadon to Apperley Bridge station followed shortly after.

There had been earlier surges of development in Rawdon, viz: after both Francis Layton came in the 17th century and the Emmotts in the mid-18th century, in the 1830s after the building of the Leeds-Guiseley road and in Cragg Wood after the Midland Railway came. But far and away the biggest impetus for development in Rawdon was the arrival, amid much jubilation, of Leeds City Tramways5 in May 1909. Trams were slow and far from comfortable. They picked up the stink from the tannery in Kirkstall Road and took it with them for half a mile or so, but they were reliable and made it possible for the middle class to work in Leeds but sleep in the purer air of Rawdon. Certainly in the days before smoke control there was a noticeable difference windward of Kirkstall Forge! Buses to Leeds followed in the early 1920s and the trams withdrew, in 1934, after a reign of only 23 years, first to the Fleece and later to Hawksworth Road, Horsforth (then the City boundary).

For a period up to the 1960s Rawdon people travelling to Leeds enjoyed the benefits of competition between three bus undertakings, Leeds City Transport (then pale blue) the Harrogate based West Yorkshire Road Car Co. Ltd (red) and that forceful entrepreneur Samuel (always Sammy) Ledgard (dark blue). Ledgard6 (1874-1952) built up a reputation for his buses getting through, come hell or high water, when the other services had given up.

There was a West Yorkshire route from Yeadon, along Town Street and Layton Road through Horsforth and down Woodhouse Lane into Leeds. There was also the ‘Moorfield Bus’ (started 1922) between Horsforth and Otley via the most circuitous route imaginable but going through Rawdon. Later this was taken over by Ledgard and ultimately by West Yorkshire.

There was a service from Yeadon to Greengates by 1922, and later into Bradford, and by 1930 services from both Otley and Harrogate down Harrogate Road and Micklefield Lane/Apperley Lane to Bradford. In 1930 Rawdon Council rejected a suggestion from Bradford that they should run trolley buses to Rawdon.

Buses were far more classless in their early days, truly omnibus. Professional and managerial people used them equally with their employees and lifelong friendships and marriages resulted between people travelling on the same bus every day.

So from a small and isolated village Rawdon developed into an accessible dormitory and there was a surge of residential development. Palliser says 46 houses were built in 1912, among which were those in Wentworth Terrace, Town Street, at a cost of £49.10.0. each.7 Edgerton Terrace, Town Street, (slightly larger) followed in 1913 as did the four houses on the other side of Town Street, opposite Wentworth Terrace, built by James Whitelock of the famous Leeds bar. Hargill Walker, son of Thomas Walker, agent for the Green-Emmott estate built Buckstone Drive, so handy for golfers, and the stone built houses above Carr Lane on Leeds Road just before 1914. (The smaller brick ones up to Henley Drive are 1920s.)

Crowtrees Park was developed in the early 20s by Leonard Rigg of the butchering family. Carr Lane was widened in 1923 and house building began shortly thereafter, the cottages at the junction of Town Street and Carr Lane being demolished in 1929. The large stone-built semis in Layton Road are also 1920s. The west side of Layton Lane was started in 1931. Rawdon Hall Drive and Layton Drive were begun in 1934, High Close and Billing View in 1935 and Knott lane towards the end of the 1930s. The Harrogate Road was a mixture of pre and post First War buildings. Belmont Avenue was started in 1923 and the Benton Park Roads in 1935. The effect of the restriction on Ribbon Development after 1937 can be seen the layout of Benton Park Road.

Though both ends of Emmott Drive date from between the Wars, the Layton Park Estate did not come until the 1950s. Greenacre Park was started in 1952. The Larkfield area is very much a mixture of different periods. By the coming of mass car ownership in the 1950s and 60s Rawdon was a base for people working over a wide area.

In the 19th century the Post Office was at the junction of Over Lane and Leeds Road and was run by the Samuel Bingley referred to in Chapter 11. Later it moved to the top of Over Lane, run for many years by Michael Palliser, the father of the historian, and later by Michael’s daughter, Miss M. A. Palliser, in premises which were demolished in 1935. The area is now grassed over. In 1908 it opened from 8 am to 8 pm. Since the 1930’s the Post Office had been at site of the former Nags Head pub. In the mid seventies it was combined with the newsagents, which was formerly at the west end of Edgerton Terrace.

The telephone came about the turn of the 20th century, 8 the exchange being in a house at the junction of Prospect Street and Leeds Road. Rawdon was one of the last exchanges in the area to be converted from manual to automatic.

The present airport is outside the Rawdon boundary but it is a little remembered fact that the first base for flying in the area was Apperley Meadows i.e. the flat fields between the river and the Woodhouse Grove estate. Bradford library has a photograph of it, showing two early ’planes.


1. Dates generally give the beginning of a building development but there can be in-filling of plots many years afterwards.

2. Built 1601 at a cost of £99 but there was an earlier ford and references to a wooden bridge as far back as 1189.


3. Built 1704.


4. The mile stones at the bottom of Over Lane and between Layton Lane and Red Beck appear to date from when the road was made. It is noticeable that unlike in Horsforth and Guiseley there was virtually no immediate roadside development in Rawdon at that time until the junction with the Harrogate Road.


5. As is well known the tram lines still exist under the surface of the A65. Even during the last War it was not thought worthwhile to lift them for munition manufacture. Rawdon Council had been pressing Leeds for the tram route to be extended as far back as 1899. At last Leeds agreed, subject to Rawdon paying £145 p.a. for 11 years. The trams were so successful that by 1912 the Council was asking for the service to be improved between 7 and 9 am and 5 and 6 pm. Leeds agreed but the tram lines were slow in being laid. They reached Horsforth by 1906, but did not get to White Cross until 1915.


6. A legend in his own lifetime, Ledgard kept the Lord Nelson Hotel at Armley from 1896 to his death, brewed his own beer and fathered 11 children. He bought his first coach in 1906 and amongst other businesses went into catering at race meetings etc. Some of his staff were equal characters.


7. Highfield Terrace had been built in 1898 at a cost of £49.19.0. per house, inflation then being unheard of.


8. The first telephone pole is referred to in the Council minutes in 1897.