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David Charles WillcockAlthough in recent years there have been two histories of both Guiseley and Yeadon, 1 no one has published one of Rawdon since J. H. Palliser some 86 years ago. Rawdon has changed greatly in those years and with the approval and help of the Aireborough and Horsforth Museum Society I have tried to fill the gap. I am not a professional scholar and this is not a thesis (witticisms, however weak, are not welcome in theses) but I have tried to give authorities or references to further reading whenever possible and been generous with cross-references to avoid repetition. I have drawn generously on earlier writers but tried to read their work critically, supplying further details of persons or matters to which they referred and to fit their statements into the wider picture of English history.
If I am accused of paying too much attention to land ownership and family relationships, both of these did have effects, still noticeable, on the development of the area. Remember that until almost the end of the eighteenth century land, and the livestock on it, were virtually the only forms of capital, but it must be borne in mind that evidence of occupation of houses does not mean evidence of ownership. Until the Rent Restriction Acts of the 1914-18 War there was much letting of larger houses as well as smaller ones. There is a lot of conjecture and inspired guesswork. I shall be delighted to hear from anyone who can improve on the accuracy of the information, especially dates, which are often approximate. As to my opinions they may well be cynical, sceptical and politically incorrect but at my age I am entitled to them! I would emphasise that the Society is in no way committed to any of the views presented here.

Born 05/10/1924

Died 22/06/2014

In the earlier chapters ‘recusant’ was a Roman Catholic, ‘dissenter’, a Protestant who refused to accept the teaching and authority of the Church of England and a ‘Non Juror’, a High Church (in the 18th century sense) Anglican clergyman who refused to take the oath of allegiance to William III and Mary. Also in the 18th and 19th centuries ‘clothier’ meant one who made cloth and not clothing, ‘woolstapler’ meant wool merchant and ‘stuff merchant’ would now be cloth merchant.

Converting historic money figures accurately into present day values is notoriously difficult. I have used the tables in ‘How Much is that Worth?’ by Lionel Mumby (1986). He prefaces the tables by saying at some length how unreliable they are! I have also adjusted the results by increases in the official Index of Retail Prices since 1986, maybe equally unreliable and I may well still be on the low side. I have not converted very small figures as possible distortions can be even greater.

I did consider including some illustrations, especially of now demolished buildings, but the condition of many of the only available photographs is such that they could not be reproduced satisfactorily and I decided against inclusion. However, Aireborough Historical Society has hundreds of photographs of old Rawdon. Martin Riggs’ books, referred to, also contain many pictures.

Aireborough Historical Society - Rawdon

Notes on Sources

The first historical essay solely on Rawdon is contained in 15 closely packed pages of ‘Round about Bradford’ by William Cudworth (1876). Cudworth (1830-1912) was on the staff of the Bradford Observer, first as a printer and later as a journalist. His style may be florid but his facts are generally correct. Each of his chapters had been previously published in that paper and it is fair to assume that had they contained anything substantially wrong they would have generated letters from readers and been corrected. Some of his research may have gone back to the early 1870s which is, of course, over a century and a quarter ago. He acknowledged help from Philemon Slater, but like all journalists he protected his sources and gives few authorities. It has recently been said of him that his “descriptions of Bradford and its surrounding townships have yet to be replaced as basic texts and that he was probably one of the ablest men in Bradford of his day”. (‘One Hundred Years of Local History’ J. Reynard & W. S. Baines 1979). There is a portrait of Cudworth at Bolling Hall, Bradford.

Philemon Slater (1823-78) of South View Yeadon was a woollen manufacturer and a pillar of the United Free Methodists. His ‘History of the Ancient Parish of Guiseley’ (1880 posthumously) is the bedrock for all interested in the history of this area. On a personal note it was the purchase of a copy for £1.0.0. at a jumble sale during the last War that first aroused my interest in local history.

James H. Palliser (1857-1927) was a Rawdon printer whose works stood where the nursing home is now on Town Street. The preface to his ‘Rawdon and its History’ is dated July 1913 but the book was not published until 1914. As he frankly admits he copied a great deal from Cudworth and Slater but he was a Rawdon man with much local knowledge.

The nine ‘Old Aireborough’ books (1984-95) edited and published by Martin Rigg, also of a well-known Rawdon family, contain many fascinating photographs and a mass of information though, as he admits, much of it is hearsay and requires checking.

Other sources are given in footnotes throughout the text.



I doubt if there is any other profession which has improved its image more in the last 50 years or so than librarians. Recalling from my youth how difficult and far from user friendly many librarians could be in those days I never cease to be amazed at the immense effort that they now go to to help complete strangers. I am deeply grateful to the staffs of Rawdon Library and the Reference Libraries of Leeds, Bradford, (especially the omniscient Miss Willmott, now retired) York, Halifax, Taunton and Belfast, the Brotherton Library at Leeds University, the British Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Bank of England, the Law Society, the R.I.B.A., the Baptist Historical Society, the Wesley History Society, the Manor House Museum Ilkley, the Horsforth Museum, the Methodist Recorder, the Airedale and Wharfedale Observer, the West Yorkshire Archives in both Leeds and Bradford, Bolling Hall Bradford, Allied Domecq Plc, Leeds University School of History, the Yorkshire Archaeological Society and Askham Bryan Agricultural College, York.



As for individuals, so many people have given me information about Rawdon in the last 30 years or so I cannot name them all but would specifically mention: –

  • D. Cole, Cookridge,
  • Mrs S.I. Cox, Wimbledon (Milligans),
  • Hon. Mrs S. Cunliffe-Lister,
  • Burton Agnes,
  • Barbara Dawson (Thompsons)
  • Miss C. Edmond,
  • Fulham (Laytons),
  • the late Gwen Elliott (Arcadia),
  • Joan Everson,
  • Isabel Foggitt,
  • Dr. P. Foggitt, Ripon,
  • Edward Garnett, Calverley,
  • Joanna Guise, Otley
  • (Quakers) J.C. Godfrey and Martin Wainwright (Cragg Wood),
  • Margaret Hardisty (Baptists),
  • Ronnie Hartley
  • (Horsforth Museum),
  • Michael Hird,
  • Beaconsfield, (Hirds),
  • John Hyde and Hugh Knowles (Woodhouse Grove),
  • Ronnie Lawson (Rawdon Cricket Club),
  • Mrs J. MacKellar, Hants (the torque),
  • the late Eddie Mercer (who knew more about old Rawdon than any of us),
  • Francis Oates (Greenhill),
  • Cassandra Pickforth,
  • N.S.W. and the late Reg Pearson,
  • Burley-in-Wharfedale (both Grimshaws),
  • Mrs M. Sheepshanks, Arthington,
  • Stanley Waddington (Methodists),
  • Donald Wagstaff (Little London and W.C. Gaunt)



As I have drawn heavily for Chapter 7 on the research I did in 1984 for the tercentenary of St. Peter’s Church, I should repeat the acknowledgements of that date to the then vicar, the Rev. Simon Hoare, who first put me in touch with the Rev. J.H. Edwards’ very scarce notes of 1923, the late Teddy Briggs and to Professor Derek Lindstrum, York (Alexander Crawford).

As for members of the Museum Society, I am deeply grateful to Irene Lawson and Denis Williams for many helpful suggestions and to Brenda Telford who, with infinite patience, reduced an impossible manuscript to order on her word processor. My daughter Louise was also of great assistance.


August 2000

Bygone Guiseley (1995)
Wallace Cooper
Victorian Village (1988)
K. Chaffer
Yeadon, Yorkshire (1980)
T. Illingworth
History of Yeadon (1980)
R. Price

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