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1965 - Our Spotlight On Cottingley

Cottingley Bar House which was pulled down in 1912 for road widening.


"Our spotlight on Cottingley"

A FORTNIGHT before Cottingley Town Hall Centenary, the Guardian-Chronicle" looks back over the village's history and development, with the help of the reminiscences of some of the older residents, and with old pictures in their possession.


SPEIGHT'S Cottingley, "a pleasant village ... one of the Domesday manors included in the ancient parish of Bingley," must bear little relationship to the Cottingley of today. The area round the Main Street - an oasis of antiquity in a desert of modernity - is being surrounded by ever-growing housing estates.

Bradford Old Road - once the way for carts travelling to and from the mill - has been closed at one end. Instead, most traffic uses the New Road, running parallel, with its flourescent lighting and concrete lamp posts.

But this is not the heart of the so-called village. To find this, it is necessary to travel up the Main Street, past shops touched with the brush of modernity, and to walk along such places as Quebec and the Strand, which do not know the meaning of tarmac.

It is in streets like these that the older residents live-"born and bred in Cottingley" they exclaim. Many of them can still remember Cottingley in the late 19th century and in the early years of this century, before the Cottingley Bar house was demolished; before the Town Hall saw its 50th anniversary and before the influx of outsiders prevented everyone from knowing everyone else.

Many attended the Town Hall Day School, and some the Sunday School as well. The Grandparents and even parents of many witnessed the opening of the Town Hall on March 21 1865. For years before that, committees were formed and trustees appointed.

By mid 1863, the plan of the building and its name - the Cottingley Protestant Hall - had been agreed upon. Determined to avoid "jerry-building," the Building Committee appointed seven building supervisors.

Permission to get stone from the Plain field was obtained from Mr. Ferrand; farmers lent their horses and carts for team work, and many villagers helped dig out the foundations in the evenings.


Cottingley Bar House, which was pulled down in 1912 for road widening.

On Boxing Day the same year, the foundation stone was laid by Mr. William E. Glyde, of Shipley.

While steady progress was made on the building in 1864, it was realised that the many Roman Catholics in the village were fully entitled to participate in the activities of the mechanics' Institute - and many did - which was to form an important part of the "protestant Hall."


The building's name was therefore changed to Cottingley Town Hall. Later that year, the day school opened, followed a month later by the Mechanics' Institute.

The proceedings 100 years ago began with a tea. The "Centenary Souvenir," published in 1915 for the 50th anniversary, adds:"somebody had been quick enough to produce a charge of 2s. for the first sitting-down. It stopped the rush of hungry little boys, and it brought more grist to the mill."

Tributes were paid 100 years ago to the donators, including the Baines family, whose 170, coupled with donations of 100 each from Mr. John Crossley, of Halifax (chairman at the opening) and Sir Titus Salt, helped so much towards the buildings. This year there will be a similar remminiscence of the old days, with a pageant through the ages, and, of course, a concert.

Many of the older residents will take an active part in the proceedings, recalling the days of their youth when Cottingley was a genuine village.

The mid-20th century has already surrounded Cottingley, and is quickly forcing its way into the narrow and unmade streets.

But as long as there are old people in Cottingley, the old days can never be forgotten. They will be discussed in the Working Men's and Conservative Clubs, in the shops and in the "new" Sun Inn.