The world in 1880 seemed good, at least in Britain. Britain was the major manufacturing nation in the world and goods flowed to and from the British Empire. Most people lived in towns and living conditions were improving with domestic goods becoming more widespread. Social and educational reforms had taken place and working conditions got better. The last major war had been in the Crimea (1853-56), although British forces had been engaged in various foreign fields. The start of the 1st Boer War (1880-81) was only slightly troubling.
The 1881 census gave Shipley a population of 15,093,and increasing. Additional areas were becoming available for housing as the main landowners, for example the Rosses and the Wainmans, saw that the land was more valuable for building. The Rosse estates had built on Victoria Park from 1870s and houses were being built up Church Lane. In 1870 the area of land at the bottom of Moorhead Lane was purchased from the Rosse estate. In 1882 the Shipley Local Board changed several road names in Shipley. As a result of the Shipley Improvement Act in 1873, the town authorities during the 1880s undertook slum-clearance and rebuilding in the centre of the town, resulting in new commercial and shopping areas and market place in the area outside the Sun Hotel. Fox Corner, named after the Fox and Hounds pub at that location, was widened and improved as part of this and other road widening schemes. The Local Board of Health moved into Manor House as its offices.
A major cholera outbreak in 1883 struck Shipley and the surrounding district. Driven by this an investigation into the sanitation brought in stricter regulations. As part of a redevelopment on the Manor House site, the Shipley Baths were opened in 1907 with a 60 by 24 foot pool and slipper, vapour and douche baths. A Fire Station was erected at the same time. Salt’s Hospital was extended in 1909 with funds from the executors of Sir James Roberts and Sarah Ann Lee. The Norman Rae Maternity home opened in 1923.
Transport links were increasing. The railway line from Shipley to Guiseley in 1876 connected Ilkley to Bradford. And in 1881 a line from Shipley to Laisterdyke was completed. This meant that Shipley was at a hub of lines. Shipley station was rebuilt across the Bradford to Leeds and Skipton lines. A horse-drawn tram service was started from the Fox and Hounds pub to the Bradford-Keighley Turnpike road (old Saltaire roundabout) with a depot at the bottom of Moorhead Lane. There had been both horse drawn (1881) and steam (1882) tramways in Bradford, but following trials in 1882 electric trams were introduced in 1898. The tram service from the centre of Bradford to Frizinghall then on to Shipley was established in 1902 with a service from Nab Wood to Thackley the following year. The tramsheds at Saltaire were built in 1904.
Politically things were changing. Under the Redistribution of Seats Act, Shipley became a Parliamentary Constituency in 1885. Joseph Craven Esq. was returned as its first MP. Shipley became a separate District Council, which included Windhill (formerly part of Idle) in 1894. It attempted to obtain borough status in 1898 at the same time as Bradford attempted to incorporate Shipley within its boundaries. Both failed. Eligibility to vote gradually increased with the Third Reform Act, although equal votes for women was not agreed until 1928.
As working conditions improved, leisure time also increased. The Bank Holidays Act 1871 shut bank trading on 4 days per year and more employees were given annual leave, with factories shutting for a period (often for maintenance). This gave rise to the provision of leisure facilities. In 1890 Crowgill Park, 3½ acres laid out with paths, alcoves and a bandstand, was opened to the public. The Bowling Green was added in 1900. Rev. Thomas Newberry had brought attention to the pleasures of Shipley Glen. Visiting the Glen became popular. The Leeds Mercury reported that on the afternoon of Easter Monday 1881, about 1,000 people took the train from Leeds to Saltaire to visit the Glen. In 1895 Sam Wilson erected the Glen Tramway to take people up the steep hill. Wilson also created a wooden toboggan run to the bottom but this was closed following an accident in 1900. Northcliffe Woods were given to the town in 1919 and Saltaire Park (Robert’s Park) in 1920.
And in August 1914 started the War to end all Wars. Shipley was affected in the same way as all other towns. On the first list of casualties (3rd September 1914) was the name of a Shipley man, Capt T M Ellis, 2nd Batt. Duke of Wellington’s Regiment, who was missing in action at the battle of Mons (He later arrived back in Britain having been hidden and helped by Belgian civilians to reach Ostend). In the first weeks troops were seen on trains through the station; postmen were called up; a War Distress Committee was started; the was a run on goods at the Co-op; Mills went on short-time; Garden Parties were cancelled; Brown Muffs (a well known department store in Bradford) advertised quality mourning clothes and the Vicar of Idle was arrested as a possible German spy. The local newspaper recorded and reported the events as they unfolded over the next 4 years. At the end too many names adorned the many war memorials that were set up.
In the church things changed slowly. In 1836 the Diocese of Ripon was created with parts from the dioceses of Chester and from York. Shipley became a part of this new diocese. In 1911 it was suggested that Ripon should be divided into 5 new dioceses. Whilst this did not happen, the diocese of Bradford was created in 1919 and the Parish Church of St Peter became Bradford Cathedral. Shipley was in its third diocese in 85 years.
Following the re-ordering of the church there was a period of relative calm. Heaton had been split off into a separate parish in 1865, reducing the area, but by then (1861) the population of Shipley had grown to 7078, partly due to the building of Saltaire. The tithe map of 1848 shows but two paths from Church Lane into the church: both starting at the gate and one leading to the vestry at the East end of the building, the other to the west end entrances. These were not considered sufficient and in 1885 another path was created at the west end leading to Church Lane (the current drive). By September the following year it was “in regular use.” At this time it was reported, that 14,000 magazines were being distributed annually.
Although Heaton had been separated, the parish still covered the whole of Shipley including the now complete village of Saltaire. The parish ran two Mission premises in addition to the church. There was a “Mission Room” in George Street, Saltaire, and a Mission House in Hargreaves Square, an area of densely packed back-to-back houses in the centre of Shipley. Services commenced in February 1886 led by the Curate, Rev. J. Longrigg, and were held at 3.pm on Sundays and 7.30pm on Thursdays, with Mothers’ meeting’s on Monday afternoons. There may also have been Sunday Schools for children.
By the late 19th century, the original 1829 organ had been extended, repaired, renovated and moved from the west to the east end of church. It was feeling it’s age. In 1892 a new organ was installed by J. J. Binns of Leeds.
When the land had first been gifted to the Church, John Wilmer Field had provided an acre for building and graveyard. Another acre had been acquired in 1860, but these were becoming full and both were closed to new plots in 1881 by Order in Council. Although there was a dispute with the Local Council, a new graveyard was opened in 4(or 6 ?) acres of land purchased from the Earl of Rosse at Hirst Wood for the sum of £900. The money for this was provided by the governors of Queen Anne’s Bounty and the land conveyed to them. Plans were drawn up by Mr Wheater Smith and the new grounds were ready by June. The consecration took place on 17th August 1895 by Dr Boyd Carpenter, the Bishop of Ripon (Shipley was by then in the diocese of Ripon )
- 245 public services – there were services at 10.30am, 3.15pm and 6.30pm on Sundays and at 7.30pm on Wednesdays.
- 211 sermons preached (176 by clergy and 35 by others)
- 87 communion services – noon and 8.00pm on 1st, 3rd and 5th Sundays, 8.00am on 2nd and 4th, with 1731 communicants (about 145 a month or 18 per service; this suggests that attending communion was not common at the time). There were 180 baptisms, 61 confirmed, 64 married and 120 internments.
There was the vicar and 2 curates, who were also looking after the new St Peter’s Parish Hall in Moorhead. This latter had been opened in 1894 to meet the needs of housing being erected in the Moorhead and Nab Wood areas. With the still increasing population of Shipley it became obvious that more needed to be done, so the foundation stone of a new church was laid in 1907, the church consecrated in 1909 and St Peter’s Parish came into being in 1910.
The vicarage, built in 1848 and enlarged in 1854 and again in 1883, was examined in 1896 and condemned as unsuited for human habitation. Thus the vicar and family had to move out to accommodation in Shipley Fields Hall, rented for 12 months. The vicarage was demolished in 1898. The Vicar’s stay turned out to be longer than anticipated and despite a note of complaint in the January 1900 magazine, in the 1901 census he is shown still at Shipley Fields. A new vicarage was erected on the same site as the former one at 47 Kirkgate in 1907.
The South Africa (or Boer) wars of 1899 -1902 did not make much impact on the parish (at least in terms of mention in the magazine). However the people of Shipley subscribed to a memorial for three Shipley men who perished in that conflict (Herbert O’Donnell, Higson Lister and Albert Jowett). The memorial brass tablet was placed at the west end of the church under the north end of the gallery. On 4th April 1903 a service of dedication was held attended by the Band and members of the 2nd West Yorkshire (Prince of Wales Own) Rifle Volunteers and the Deputy Lord Lieutenant of the County at which the memorial was dedicated by the Bishop of Ripon.
Charitable bequests have been important for churches to carry out their work. In 1907 the Edwin and Sarah Ann Lee charity was established for the relief of the poor with a grant of £1000. As a memorial to the two, the West end of the church was panelled with new doors screening off the church from the porch and two church wardens seats provided to “enable them to keep better oversight of all that transpires during divine service.”
In June 1914 the vicar, Rev Arthur Cribb, died suddenly. So the parish went into WW1 without a vicar. Rev. Bernard Herklots was appointed and instituted as vicar in November 1914. The parish magazines do not say much about the war; shortage of paper reduced its size and presumably people were aware of events through the newspapers. Odd comments give a glimpse of what was happening. The rooms at Hargreaves Square were refurbished by Mrs Herklots and others. It was let out, free of rent, coal and gas charges, to the Social Club for the wives, widows, and dependants of soldiers and sailors in Saltaire, Shipley and Windhill. The club opened on Monday and Thursday afternoons between 2.30 and 4.30, and on Wednesday evenings from 7 to 9. All women who had sons or husbands serving in the Army or Navy were welcome. There were newspapers and periodicals and toys for the children, to “show sympathy and provide a pleasant hour for those who have sacrificed so much for their country. A cup of tea and a bun will be offered for the modest sum of one penny, and it is proposed to have free entertainment once a fortnight.” However after struggling on for 15 months more, the Vicar decided that it was necessary to give up the room. The Parish had run it for 30 years. In June 1915 it was noted that the St Paul’s Cricket Club, in its 3rd season in the Bradford and District Sunday School League, had “no fewer than 17 of our members serving King and Country.” Also of interest is an entry in 1917. There is a report about a service for Munitions Workers held in St Paul’s which is, the writer thinks, “the first of its kind to be held anywhere.” About 600 attended. What he claims as “unique is the fact that clergy, lesson reader, orchestra and choir were all munitions workers.” (my italics) The lesson reader was Mr Eric Parkinson, director of J Parkinson & Sons, a Shipley engineering firm. During the war Parkinson’s manufactured shell making machines and Mr E Parkinson received an O.B.E. for his work as Chairman of the Board of Management of the Bradford National Munitions Factory. The Vicar expressed his pleasure at “meeting so many of his fellow workmen and women…” Was this metaphorical or did he actually do war work?
In June 1917 the staff of the parish were joined by Miss Minnie Corke as a parish deaconess. She was housed at 9 Windsor Road. She ran “Cottage meetings” on Wednesday afternoons and taught in Sunday School. She left in March 1918.
There was a service of thanksgiving at the end of the war. It was led by the new Vicar, Rev. N H Harding Jolly, Rev. Herklots having resigned in January 1918. An interesting postscript to WW1 is the letter received from Pte Arthur Robinson thanking the parish for its gift of a 5/- (20p) postal order. He was serving in the Northern Russia Expeditionary Force. This was the British contingent to a coalition of forces from several countries who were fighting the Bolsheviks. It was decided to erect a War Memorial in the porch to honour those of the parish who had died in the war. This was designed by TH&F Healey and constructed by Mr S Dibb of Shipley. It was dedicated on 11th December 1922, along with the reredos in memory of Lt. C G F Sutcliffe who died in December 1919, and Mural Tablets to Frederick Smart and Rufus Rawnsley.
- Electric light installed, the gift of Mr M Akam,
- New heating system with a ‘Robin Hood’ boiler,
- The organ was rebuilt and an electric blower installed,
- The roof was stripped and reslated
- Some leaded light windows were repaired
- A new Choir Vestry
- Church interior and vestries re-decorated
- Oak panelling fitted in the sanctuary
- In addition (1927) a screen was erected on the south side of the choir. The inscription reads
To the Glory of God and in memory of William Morgan of Shipley who died 30th March 1923 and of 2nd Lieut. William Morgan, Machine Gun Corps, who died of Wounds in Action near Reims, France, 23rd July 1918.
- Then in 1929 a side chapel (or Lady Chapel) was created in the SE corner in memory of Rev. Arthur Cribb and subscribed for by members of St Paul’s and St Peter’s churches.
 Tim Lambert, Life in 19th Century Britain, http://www.localhistories.org/