WELCOME TO BAILDON
With a population of around 16,000, Baildon spreads from the valley of the River Aire, up to the top of Baildon Moor. In spring and summer, you can enjoy the vibrant floral displays provided by the volunteers of the “Baildon in Bloom Group” and in December you can marvel at one of the best local displays of Festive Lights, provided by Baildon Town Council in partnership with many local businesses. Baildon is very proud of its excellent Farmers’ Market which is held on the fourth Saturday morning of each month. This Market would be an ideal place to purchase items for a splendid picnic lunch for your walk, from the varied stalls selling cheeses, organic fruit and vegetables, cakes, pies, and much more. Baildon also offers an excellent range of shops, cafes and community facilities. Whilst you are walking through the centre of Baildon why not take the opportunity to rest awhile in the Hall Cliffe Community Garden, or visit one of our historic churches. Other notable features of Baildon and its surroundings near the route of the Welcome Way include Bracken Hall Countryside Centre; the Denso Marston Nature Reserve and Esholt Village which achieved fame as the setting for the TV series Emmerdale.
BAILDON – A BRIEF HISTORY
There is visible evidence, in the form of cup and ring marked stones, that Baildon Moor was populated by a small group of hunter-gatherers some 4000 years ago. Stone tools have been found on the river terraces by the River Aire at Charlestown, perhaps used in winter, whilst the moor was used in summer. In the Domesday Book of 1086, Baildon was described as being split between the two manors of Baildon and Otley. The village developed with the establishment of the chapel on the site of the existing St John’s Church around 1200. By the early eighteenth century, the village was an agricultural community with a growing textile trade. The clothiers’ cottages such as those on Brook Hill and Station Road were built at that time. A network of tracks saw the transfer of wool, yarn and fabric. One track was a paved way that crossed Baildon Moor to Eldwick.
The textile industry in Shipley and Baildon was mechanised between 1780 and 1830 and this led to a growth in housing and population. Baildon grew in several areas – Lower Baildon at Charlestown, Baildon Green, moorland hamlets and the centre of the village around Towngate. With the rise in population came the rise in non-conformist worship. Meeting first in houses, these groups later built chapels, many of which remain, some having been converted into the housing such as at Low Hill or apartments such as the Primitive Methodist chapel on Browgate. Others such as the former Wesleyan Methodist and Moravian remain active churches today. For the Anglicans, Baildon became a parish in its own right in 1869, severing the links with Otley which went back more than six hundred years.
The Parish Church of St John the Evangelist on Hall Cliffe was rebuilt in 1848, with the tower added as a war memorial in 1922. After the opening of the Shipley-Ilkley railway line, and the promotion by two prominent doctors of the village as a healthy place to live, Baildon grew. Many large houses were built, including two mansions, particularly in the Station Road area where it was said several textile millionaires lived. Both mansions have since been demolished. Despite many old properties in Baildon being demolished in the 1960s, it is still growing, with house building in many areas. 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.
The famous landmark the Ferrand’s Memorial, known locally as the Potted Meat Stick has stood in more than one place over the years. Baildon Moor dominates the village and is now a considerable recreational amenity, with dog walkers, runners, mountain bikers, horse riders, golfers, and of course walkers. The common lands were passed down through various manorial families, including the Baildon family, until they were sold to Bradford Corporation by the last Lord of the Manor, Colonel Maude of Rylstone, in 1899. The moor contains many archaeological sites, the famous cup and ring carved rocks, burial mounds, Iron Age field systems and much more. There are also many remains of the coal mining industry, including ancient bell pits, now seen as depressions, across large parts of the moor. There is also evidence of a military presence on the moor, with a rifle range that closed in 1912 and Second World War defences. So when we walk on the moor, perhaps we follow the same tracks as the small number of hunter-gatherers or the miners as they went to work. We certainly tread the same paths as the mill workers who escaped the grim conditions of the Bradford mills to enjoy the fresh air of the moor and Shipley Glen on their Sundays off.
To end, here is a little-known story gleaned from local newspapers. In July 1895 around twenty members of Baildon Liberal Club were apprehended on the Hawksworth side of the moor. The gamekeeper for Mr Fawkes of Farnley Hall accused them of trespass. They went back the following week knowing that a police constable would be present. The Rombalds Moor Preservation Society was formed and on 26 April 1896 around 150 people set off to protest. This did lead to the issue of writs and members of the society were fined a total of £144, far more money than they had. The right to roam and stray was not established on the unenclosed moorland of the Lords of the Manors of Burley and Hawksworth and the society was dissolved. These were brave pioneers, given that the chair of the magistrates at Otley was Mr Fawkes, and it was many years before the right was won all over the country.
WHERE CAN I FIND OUT MORE?
Baildon Town Council maintains a lively website that will give you information about news and events in Baildon, as well as guided walks on offer and routes that can be downloaded for self-guiding. Visit www.baildontowncouncil.gov.uk
If you would like to spend a little more time walking around Baildon and discovering its heritage, download one of Baildon Local History Association’s Heritage Walks or purchase them at Baildon Library.
Baildon is well served by public transport with a regular train service on the Wharfedale Line which links Burley in Wharfedale and Ilkley going north, and Shipley and Bradford to the south. A frequent bus service runs from the centre of Baildon to Bradford and the 650 and 653 bus route runs to and from Otley from Shipley Market Square, passing along Otley Road, Baildon. Baildon also is proud to have an electric vehicle charging point in the Ian Clough Car Park.