CLAYTON HISTORY GROUP
CLAYTON a BRIEF HISTORY
LOCAL WEB SITES
IMAGES of CLAYTON
A PEOPLES WAR By Robert Brown
Clayton Baptist Church Ter-Jubilee 1828 – 1978
The HISTORY of ST JOHNS
FROM THE ARCHIVE - JANUARY
FROM THE ARCHIVE -Beck Mills Fire
The METHODIST CHURCH
MARCH ARCHIVE - Clayton's Treasure Houses
Looking for 18th century Clayton Buildings
Clayton Baptist Infant School
FROM THE ARCHIVE - Cricket Match
FROM the ARCHIVES Clayton news 1858
FROM the ARCHIVES Clayton Board Meetings
Appaling Tragedy at Clayton in 1863
The Rialto Cinema
Clayton Adverts from the Past
THE GREAT NORTHERN TRAIL
NEWS from Bygone Clayton
CLAYTON THEN AND NOW Margaret Dalgety
NOW AND THEN IN PICTURES
CLAYTON GOLF CLUB
The ASA BRIGGS KEYS
THE CLAYTON FLYER
Contact Information for Clayton History Group
How do you score our web site.
Clayton then and Now
THEN AND NOW
A Countryside Publication
Strictly Copyright 1985
The following chapters will aim to trace the development of Clayton from being totally independent rural community to its present status as a suburb of Bradford.
I gratefully acknowledge the generousity of local firms who have kindly provided sponsorship for this work:
British Wool Marketing Board , Sherbourne Puffees, Fields Packaging, Douglas J Gort and Partners and Red Oak,Ltd
Thank you to the staff of Bradford Central Library Local Studies and Archives, Tony Jowett, Alan Whitrick and Michelle and thanks to all the people of Clayton who have shared their memories.
|There is no doubt that Clayton is an ancient settlement being mentioned in the Domesday Book as part of The Manor of Bolton under Ilbert de Lacy. At that time the name was Claitone, meaning "clay soil". When it ceased to be a berwick of Bolton, Clayton was divided into three parts, Clayton township, Clayton Heights and a now non-existant hamlet, lying to the south-west of Clayton , named Cockan.|
At the time of Henry VIII a list was issued of men able to bear arms as follows.
Number of men able to bear arms in Clayton township 26.
Number of men having horses 7
Number of men having bows and arrows 4
Number of men with billhooks 21
Documents fron the reign Elizabeth I showed Clayton to be a manor, and Manor Court Rolls exist from these very early times.
Ownership and Local Government
|From about 1160 to 1316 Clayton belonged to Hugh Stapleton, then it past to William de Clayton, Hugh de Birill and Hugh de Leventhorpe. In 1324 Leventhorpe granted his part to John de Bolling, who soon afterwards gained Clayton's and Birill's parts also. The Bollings and their successors, the Tempests held the Manor for nearly 300 years, when it decended to the Lacies of Cromwellbottom by marriage.|
About 1740, two sisters, Mary and Martha Midgeley, bought the Manor of Clayton from the Lacies for £1000. In 1764 Mary died and the Manor passed to Martha who, in 1778 left it in her will to the Rev Geo Cooke of Everton and his wife Mary. In 1798 the Manor was bought by Richard Hodgson of Whetley, who left it in his will to his niece, Sarah Jowett. At her death in 1840 it passed to her cousin George Baron, then to James Atkinson Jowett and then to his family who still owned the Manor in 1894 when the District Council was formed. Rents were due to the Lords of the Manor and were paid every year at Martinmas. Most of the land however was owned by Fosters of Queensbury, Francis Sharp Powell and the Hirst Family.
In 1886 the Local Board was formed. It met on the first Wednesday of every month at 5 pm The first members were, Lt Col Henry S Hirst (Chairman), T Jowett, T Barker, D Holdsworth, S Briggs and J Bairstow.The Clerk of the Board was E Patchett. The meetings were held in the old school room. The board were responsible for the repair and management of the highways, roads amd footpaths, construction of new streets, including the purchase of property for widening and improving them. Other responsibilities, including cleansing, provision of public parks, walks, etc, street repairs laying pipes for gas and water, building regulations, lighting the streets, including the construction of pipes, lamps, lamp posts etc. They also ensured that every home had a water supply and either a privy or w.c. and kept a check on local graveyards, slaughter houses, lodging houses, and refuse collection. Maps had to be kept showing all drains and sewerage systems for the district. Rates were paid to the Local Board and after 1894 to the Clayton District Council.
The District Council took on the responsibilities of the Local Board and also carried out several additional functions.
They were responsible for the opening of the sewage works and filter beds on Bradford Road and for the opening of Clayton cemetry in 1927, also in that area. The Council yard was on Broadfolds. During the time of the District Council several Council houses were built, the most noted surveyor for many years being Mr James Wild. All rates and water rates were payable to the Ditrict Council For several years the District Council also employed its own fire fighting crew, who used a handcart and were alerted by the mill buzzer. However as the village grew, this became inadequate and the Council started to pay Bradford Corporation for the use of the fire brigade and ambulance service. Once a year the Councillors walked round the boundary, and every winter they made sure the snow was cleared from the pavements.
Having thus established independance, Clayton was to hold on to it until 1930 when, to the reluctance of many of its inhabitants, it finally became incorporated into Bradford. A previous effort to incorporate in 1898 had been soundly defeated, and even as late as 1956 and article in theYorkshire Observer Budget said that "Clayton was still definitely a village and very much a community in itself", although by then the population had increased to 7000 and a regular trolley bus service had been connecting it with Bradford for 30 years.
This reluctance to be simply another part of Bradford may in part have stemmed from the fact that, on the whole, the residents of Clayton appeared to have enjoyed a better quality of life than those who lived in Bradford, particularly during the 19th and early 20th centuries, and were also generally healthier, as will be shown in a another chapter. Perhaps one reason for this was that Clayton residents made the most of their open aspect and did a lot of walking. Thhe main reason for the reluctance, however appears to be that Claytonians did not want to lose their identity and wished to remain an independent community.
Health Welfare and Charity
Health: That Clayton in the 19th century was a healthy place to live is borne out by a Ministry of Health report published in the Bradford Observer of 15th July 1898, which congratulated the District Council on the very healthy state of Clayton. During 1897 the number of births was 123; deaths 59, out of which 23 were over the age of 65. The infant mortality rate was the lowest ever recorded.
The population at this time was about 6,500. and the average density of population was 3.4 persons per acre. At that time the mortality rate in Bradford was 20 per 1 .000 people, with a high iithint mortality rate.
The report also stated that every home in Clayton except three cottages was supplied with excellent water. Books by James Parker and William Cudworth also refer to Clayton as “very healthily situated”, as does the Post Office Directory of 1893. This situation continued, and on 31st August 1934 the Telegraph and Argus. reporting comparisons made by the District’s Medical Officer, said that “Clayton, away on the breezy heights, can boast the lowest death rate in the city”.
Welfare: Until about 1875. the paupers of the village were cared for at a small workhouse situated behind Clayton House. which was for the poor of the township only. They were later moved to Clayton Heights and the old building converted into two cottages.
In 1858, despite the fact that one of the Guardians referred to it as “the Siberia of the area”, the North Bierley Union Workhouse was opened in Clayton at Nab End to house 250 paupers, serving six parishes. The workhouse provided accommodation for the destitute, a general infirmary for the sick, maternity wards, a sanatorium, a nursery home and accommodation outside institution grounds for 20 children between 12 months and four years. A few years after the opening the Guardians abolished school-teaching within the workhouse and sent children to the village school, where they became generally brighter. Church registers show several baptisms of children from the workhouse. Although, in common with other workhouses, they were restricted in movement, the inmates appear to have been generally well treated and, every Christmas, were treated to a feast provided by the Guardians, described by the Bradford Observer of 26th December 1873 as consisting of “unlimited quantity of roast beefand plum pudding of the best quality, cooked and served by the workhouse master and matron”. This was attended by the Guardians, who presented gifts to the inmates after the meal was over, following the singing of grace and the National Anthem and several speeches by the Guardians.
In 1875 the workhouse was involved in a local government inquiry into the death of a young woman admitted to the infirmary, pregnant and mentally deficient. Although the death certificate gave the cause of death as convulsions following childbirth, she also had extensive burns on her body and appeared to have fallen into an unguarded fire. Although it was decided that the main fault lay with the doctor who had admitted her to the infirmary instead of sending her to an asylum, it was nevertheless agreed that there had been some negligence and the Guardians agreed to improve facilities, particularly nursing.
The workhouse was self-sufficient and the inmates were always kept busy. They grew their own vegetables, kept cattle and even had their own water supply. They had a delivery of meat for stew each Friday. Each ward was heated by a large stove in the middle of the room, and all regular inmates were allowed one ounce of tobacco per week, which non-smokers sold to villagers through the “barrow man” who took the metal pots and dishes to be mended by the tinsmith.
Tramps and vagrants were allowed to spend one night at the workhouse, being made to have a bath and then being fed supper and breakfast as well as having a bed for the night; but they had to he in before 8p.m. when a bell tolled and the gates were locked. Inmates who died were given a pauper’s funeral and buried in an unconsecrated section of Clayton churchyard. The Secton’s book shows many workhouse burials, up to
Early this century, a report by the Bradford Council of Social Services described the workhouse as “bright and well-arranged, having the atmosphere of a good- class nursery and the children look happy and thoroughly well cared-for”.
After the workhouse system ceased. Clayton Workhouse became Thornton View Hospital.
Charity: Many of the poorer residents received help from Sagar’s Charity. The original donor was James Sagar of Allerton. who died in 1666 and bequeathed to the poor of Clayton, Thornton, Allerton and Wilsden a closeof land called Randall Well Close in Horton.
Money from the land was left in trust to pay a preaching minister at Thornton 20/- per year and divide the residue among the most needy poor of these townships. At the time of its instigation, the charity brought in £5 per year, £1 for the minister and £1 each for the townships. The land was later sold for £1,000 by the trustees, who in 1826 purchased Highgate Farm at Clayton Heights for the sum of £1,350. the difference between this price and the £1,000 for the sale of Randall Well Close being borrowed from Michael Stocks of Shibden Hall. No funds were distributed until this debt was repaid, except the £1 to the minister. In 1874 part of the clay from Highgate Farm was sold to form the Horton Bank reservoir and also the rights of way to carry mains and pipes for this through Highgate Farm, and in 1889 the farm was sold to Alfred Wallis for £3,600.
In Clayton itself charity was distributed to 97 people in 1846; 120 in 1856; 77 in 1866; 80 in 1876; 108 in 1886; 102 in 1890; 124 in 1891. The village was divided into two, charity being given out by Mrs. Alfred Benn of Upper Syke to the top, and by Mrs. Seed of Malt Kiln House to the lower end. During this century the charity has provided medical help and nursing, along with Christmas gifts and grants to Sunday Schools, Clayton Association for the Elderly and Clayton British Legion.
Several of the more affluent residents also provided help for the poorer people, these benefactors including Asa Briggs, Alfred Wallis, the Benns and Col. and Mrs. H.S. Hirst, who each left £500 in their wills for the poor of the township to be distributed at Christmas in sums of ten shillings. The trustees of this charity were the Vicar and Churchwardens of Clayton.
The Environment and the Way of Life
Until the late 19th century Clayton was almost all green land with very few buildings. Maps from as late as 1893 show mostly fields. Between then and 1912 quite a lot of development seems to have taken place, but there was still much green land and, even today, Clayton is still separated by fields from its nearest neighbours, Thornton and Queensbury. In 1865 a privately-owned gasworks opened supplying Clayton, Thornton and Allerton. The Local Board took on the responsibility of laying pipes throughout the district, and the principal portion of Clayton township was lighted by gas for the first time on Christmas Eve 1873. Coal was brought to the gas works by horse and cart, and later by train.
Before the opening of the railway in 1878 the only methods of leaving the village would be to use horses, or to walk. In October 1878 the Clayton station on Pasture Lane opened for passengers on the Bradford, Halifax and Keighley branch of the Great Northern Railway. William Foster of Black Dyke Mills was involved in the negotiations which succeeded in bringing the railway to the area, and John Foster Jnr. was a director of the Great Northern Railway Co. The journey times from Clayton were: to Bradford Exchange - 12 minutes, to Halifax - 23 minutes, to Keighley -33 minutes. Whilst making it easier for the Clayton people to leave the village if they so wished, the railway was not without. tragedy, as two young men were killed at number one shaft, Clayton tunnel. Their gravestone is very unusual in that it shows the inquest verdict as well as a message. The stone reads:
“In affectionate remembrance of the late Thomas Coates aged 20 years and William Elliot aged 27 years who departed this life November 5th 1874. They were both killed at number one shaft Clayton tunnel caused by the neglect of the man in charge of the engine. Take warning of our sudden death; make ready every day; to follow us into the earth; we tell you watch and pray”. The line closed for traffic in May 1955.
The Clayton people did not have much need to leave the village, as, once building had begun, many shops were opened, most of these being in the Clayton Lane area; you could find on this road alone grocers, butchers, ironmongers, joiners, milliners, hairdresser, tailor, bootmaker, coal merchant and chemist.
The nucleus of the village was in the area round the wells and horse troughs, at the bottom of Clayton Lane and top of Bradford Road (formerly Lidget Lane). In this small area were several pubs, some of which are no longer there. The oldest one was the “Whittle & Steel Inn”, and there was the “Crown”, the “Sportsman”, as well as the “Quarry”, “Albion” and “Black Bull”, which are still there. Another pub was on Low Lane, called the “Thorn Tree Inn”. There was also a tea room on Green End which was a popular meeting place. People could gather round here, therefore, to meet their friends, have a drink and give their horses a drink at the same time. The “Clayton poet”, Sherwin Stephenson, said that this was the meeting place of the “Clayton Parliament”!
In this area, also, was a large house, Clayton House, home of various members of the Hirst family for many years. In the early l920s another main road was made, i.e. “The Avenue”, though Clayton House still stood until 1959 when it was demolished to make way for newer housing.
During the later 19th century the post office was on Green End, and the mail was delivered daily by carrier from the “Commercial”, “New Inn” or “Pack Horse” in Bradford. Mail arrived at 6.30 a.m. and 3.30 p.m., and was despatched at 10.30 a.m. and 7.00 p.m. to Bradford.
Higher up the road, opposite another pub, the “Royal Hotel”, was the village green, and in March 1897 a meeting of the residents was held at which it was proposed to buy this land to form a park. A special committee was se up by the District Council to deal with the question. Mr. Asa Briggs was Chairman, and it was proposed to make a public park for the use of residents for ever, and donations were collected so that it could be opened at no cost to the ratepayers although the upkeep would be paid for from the rates. The project was begun in commemoration of the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria, and Victoria Park was duly opened on Saturday, 23rd July 1898 by Asa Briggs J.P., accompanied by members of the District Council, the clergy and other local dignitaries. It was a great occasion in the village, with the Clayton Band leadinga procession to the gates, which were opened by Mr. Briggs with a gold key presented to him by Mr. Julius Whitehead on behalf of colleagues on the District Council. The procession marched to a specially erected platform on the terrace, where there were several speeches, along with music by the Clayton band and the Clayton Glee Union. A large crowd of local residents attended the opening and expressed enthusiasm at having their own park, and were unanimously agreed that they had all the advantages they needed without having to become part of Bradford. During the evening dance music was played, and further items presented by the Glee Union. The Bradford Observer of Monday 25th July 1898 described the park as being “small but prettily laid Out”, and congratulated the village on the public spirit which led to such an agreeable possession being obtained.
After this, the nucleus of the village came to be the area round the park. Having later acquired bowling green and tennis court, as well as a play area, the park is still very popular with villagers of all ages, having taken the place so many years ago of the “wells” area.
As well as the park, in 1897 the District Council also advertised for tenders for its own drainage and sewage works. Land House Farm was purchased for the purpose, and the sewage works opened in 1899, with tanks capable of holding 76,000 gallons and land filtration beds of 6’/ acres. The total cost was £11,030. The land is now the site of the Clayton Cemetery.
Until the late 19th century the water supply depended mainly on springs, chiefly Low Well, Spring Well and Holt’s Well, the last being situated in Holt’s Lane, a quaint area of Clayton known as “Tea pot spout”, but the Local Board and later the District Council provided mains for a water supply to be obtained from Bradford Corporation. Two reservoirs fall within the Clayton boundary, the Brayshaw reservoir which opened in 1871 and the Horton Bank Reservoir which opened a few years later.
During the 19th and early 20th centuries the main forms of entertainment centred around the churches, with local newspapers of the time giving reports on several occasions of bazaars, concerts, tea parties etc., as well as many functions at which the band played and The glee Union sang.
Clayton was justifiably proud of its band, which gave them a lot of pleasure and once won a prize at Crystal Palace and thereafter became known as the “Clayton Silver Prize Band”. For many years the band was in great demand at concerts, special occasions, etc., and for playing carols at Christmas. Later there was also an amateur dramatic society, and around 1920 Clayton also acquired a cinema, the Rialto, which had musical shows as well as films.
Many Street games were also played, including “Knurr and Spell”, whilst ball games were played on “The Delph”, along with boxing, wrestling, rabbit coursing and pigeon shooting. The younger people also had their own street games. Besides these forms of entertainment, the park and many pubs, there are also a working men’s club, a Liberal club (opened in 1872) and a Conservative club (opened in 1892). The foundation stones of the Conservative Club were laid on Saturday 20th August 1892 by Colonel H.S. Hirst and Mr. Theo Peel. The band played and there were several speeches, and afterwards a gala was held in Mr. Harrison Benn’s grounds. The original foundation stones were replaced at a ceremony on Saturday 20th August 1983.
There was also the golf club, football team and cricket club, and the Hirst family had kennels near Pasture Lane which housed the “Clayton Harriers”, which were used for hunting. John Hirst of Hill End, Hollingwood Lane, known as “The Mighty Hunter” organised the hunt meetings. The golf club is still thriving, having recently acquired a new club house, and Clayton still has its own cricket, football and rugby teams.
Another old local custom was “riding the boundary”, at which an important part of the ceremony was when the lady of the Manor threw money at different boundary stones and a great scramble took place to retrieve it! After the Church acquired “Church House”, dances were held there every week, also whist drives, various kinds of concerts and musical performances.
Every year in August was Clayton Feast Day, when the fair came. This was a really big annual event and all the villagers went. The mills closed Monday and Tuesday of the second week in August, and the schools had three weeks holiday at that time. The fair was held in a field near the wells behind the working men’s club, and there were roundabouts, swings, fat woman show, wild beast show, stalls and entertainment. People also kept open house, with plenty of food for all visitors, and beer if they could afford it. All the Clayton people looked forward to the fair every year.
In all, Clayton appears to have been a lively little place and people I have spoken to who grew up there in the first half of the 20th century all agree that it was a good place in which to live.
During this century an ever-increasing amount of building (mainly residential) has gone on, though there is still a fair amount of green belt land and several farms. There is not so much local industry now, but as there are two bus routes from Bradford, it is easy for people to travel to work even if they have no car.
There are still several pubs and clubs, and the building which was Church House is now Clayton Village Hall, run by the Community Association and used frequently for various kinds of functions, and also for afternoon and evening classes.
In common with Bradford, Clayton’s main industry in the 19th and early 20th centuries was worsted manufacturing, the principal manufacturers being Alfred Wallis and Asa Briggs, at Oak Mills, Station Road; Joseph Benn & Sons (Alfred & Harrison Benn), at Beck Mills (the Benns also built Beckside Mills at I.idget Green and a mill in the USA to which several Clayton families emigrated before the First World War; also Briggs & Hirst, at Highgate Mills, Clayton Heights, and there was a burling and mending shed on Cobden Street.
Before mechanisation, Clayton’s textile industry was already well-established, having been noted since the 18th century for hand-loom weaving, hand spinning and other processes carried on in the homes of the village. Clayton people were esteemed to be good workpeople, and many master weavers trudged to market rooms in Bradford and Halifax to display their wares. When the old piece-hall was still in its hey-day in Bradford, it was said that it was common for Clayton pieces to be waylaid and bought up before they could reach the hall.
As well as the finished pieces being taken to Bradford, work would also have to be brought in. Worsted pieces were woven by hand until about the middle of the 19th century; in fact, in 1838, Clayton had 1633 hand-loom weavers. During the early days of Chartism, Clayton had a branch of the Bradford Northern Union which was a branch of Feargus O’Connor’s Great Northern Union, and also had its own group, the Clayton Radical Association. Another cottage industry in the village was shoemaking and mending.
Stone-quarrying was another quite large industry in Clayton, there being several quarries in the township, which had high quality stone. The stone was in great demand and all the delving was done by hand. It was extremely hard and quite dangerous work. The Foulds family owned quarries at Fall Top, then later moved to Middle Lane, with an office at 70 Clayton Lane. They employed about 30 people, mainly labourers, including several Irish labourers from Bradford. They and other quarry owners were also quite large employers of local labour, as is shown by the number of quarry-workers in the registers of the Parish Church.
Whilst quarrying at Fall Top a fossil tree root several million years old was found. This was a perfect specimen and was taken to Lister Park, though Mr. Harry Foulds, grandson of the founder, still has a portion of it in his garden. Later another fossil was found at Shepherd’s quarry on Deep Lane and taken to Horton Park. Much of the stone was used for gravestones in Bowling, Thornton and Scholemoor. The clay was used by Clayton Brick & Stone Co., and a large amount of stone was sold in other towns, and some exported when transport became easier.
Other quarries were situated at Syke Farm and Cote
Fields, and there was also a stone sawmill on Bradford
Road. owned by J. Murgatroyd, where the stone from the
local quarries was sawn into lintels and facing stones.
Coal was also mined in small quantities, mainly in the second half of the 19th century. There were six shafts located at Cockin Lane, Low Lane, Brow Fields, Hole Bottom and Dale Field. Several were in the vicinityof the railway and coal was transported by rail, though some was used in the local gasworks and other local industries. Several entries in the marriage registers also show coal mining as the occupation.
There were two breweries within the Clayton boundary, the Albion brewery, owned by Mr. .Joseph Hardy. and Low House brewery, owned by Joseph and Lt. Col. Henry 5, Hirst. There was also a maltsters, Charles E. Seed Ltd., at the Maltings, on Thwn Gate, where the workers had to be specially shod and used all wood shovels to stir in the malted barley.
Another local business was that of Julius Whitehead, Clayton Fireclay Works, makers of sanitary ware, chimney pots and gfazed bricks, begun in 1880 on Brow Lane. Mr. and Mrs. Whitehead lived at Ashby House, and the works were situated near “The Towers”. designed by Mr. Whitehead himselfand built of their own glazed brick, later the home of the Whitehead family and where Mr. Harold Whitehead, grandson of Julius, still lives.
The business was started by Mr. Whitehead with the help of his three sons and one daughter. All clay was dug locally, with a cage to go down to the pits.
Local coal was used to fire the kilns and the business was entirely run by the Whitehead family, employing local labour (approx. 60 workpeople). Mr. Claude Whitehead, son of Julius, built the chimney and the family built their own kilns. In 1907 the works moved to Cockin Lane because of better clay, and the business was carried on by the next generation of Whiteheads, who started on leaving school, learning to do the whole job themselves whilst continuing to employ local people. There was not much industrial trouble and only one serious accident in almost 100 years of trading. The kilns were heated to a very high temperature. at which point salt was added to glaze the bricks, and I am told by a Clayton resident that it was a “sight worth seeing” from Fall Top at night. By December 1969 the demand for these specialised goods had fallen off and, the works being in need of completely re-furbishing, it was decided to close them, and the Whitehead brothers settled down to enjoy their hard-earned freedom by pursuing their many hobbies, mainly inventive. The men were paid off in December 1969, the works finally closing completely in April 1970.
There were, of course, also several farms in the area, and much farming is still carried on today,although most other local labour has diminished. The textile industry in particular has declined, Beck Mills being burnt down in 1968 and Oak Mills being occupied by the British Wool Marketing Board, still a large employer of local people.
Some Clayton Personalities and Prominent families
The Benns The Benns were a very prominent Clayton family represented first by Mr. & Mrs. Joseph Benn, Joseph being an important mill-owner and employer of local labour. The next generation of the family was represented by Alfred Benn and his wife, who lived at Upper Syke, and Harrison Benn, who lived with his wife, Christina, at Oakleigh House and became a very important Claytonian and a grcat benefactor of the Parish Church. Oakleigh House was said to be very beautiful, and Harrison Benn was also responsible for the building of Chrisharben Park estate which was for many years very exclusive and private, the gates only being opened for the residents to go in and out. The residents of ‘Chrisharben Park also had their own private path to the railway station. The name “Chrisharben” is formed from the names of Christina and Harrison Benn. They eventually moved to Dawlish, where Harrison Benn died in 1921. He is buried in the family grave in Clayton churchyard.
Asa Briggs: A well-known and highly respected Claytonian, he was born in the township and played an important part in the life of the village. It was said that he was a generous supporter of “every movement that had for its object the religious, social and general well-being of the masses”, and he also played a great part in the industrial expansion of Clayton, being joint owner of a worsted manufacturing business. He was for many years connected with the old Local Board, becoming Chairman and later Chairman of the District Council for several years from its formation in 1894. A staunch Baptist. he was also Chairman of the School Board, a J.P., and played an important part in the opening of the park. His motto was that “it is better to wear out than rust out”. He lived at Greenside, in Clayton Lane. and also owned the building on Reva Syke Road which was then the Liberal Club. After his death his widow, who was much younger than he and an Anglican, gave this building to the church and the Liberals built their own building on John Street.
Asa Briggs was owner of a great deal of property and very wealthy, but he was a great philanthropist, giving very generously to the people of Clayton, and also to Clayton Heights where a recreation ground is named after him.
The Hirsts: The Hirsts were a very prominent Clayton family; in fact, William Cudworth wrote in 1876 that they were the “principal residential family of Clayton”. Eighty years before that, in 1795, Mr. Tom Hirst had been responsible for the building of Clayton House, which at that time was a real mansion, dominating the Parish of Thornton where Tom was a warden of the chapel. He was also overseer of the highways of Clayton and an employer of local labour, with his servants, farmworkers and malthouse emp loyees, the malthouse being adjoined to the house.
The next Hirst to reside at Clayton House was Mr. John Hirst, who gave the land for the Parish Church to be built after having allowed his house to be used for worship when Clayton first became a parish. He died in 1852. the year after the church was opened. John Hirst’s brother, Thomas, and his ‘ife Sarah, lived at Low House, Clayton Heights, formerly known as “Brightw aters”, the ancestral home of the Hirst family since the early 17th century. where they combined farming and cloth making. Mr. & Mrs. Hirst were the main contributors to the building of the Old Dolphin Wesleyan Chapel at Clayton Heights, and there is also in Clayton Parish Church a stained glass window dedicated to their memory.
Later in the 19th century their son Joseph Hirst resided at Low House, and his brother, Lt. Cot. Henry Sagar Hirst, at nearby Westwood House. They were the proprietors of the Low House brewery for many years before it was sold to Bentley’s of Leeds. In 1918 Bradford Corporation acquired Westwood House for hospital purposes.
Before becoming a brewer, Henry Hirst trained as a solicitor. When young, he had joined the Volunteer Movement and received his commission as an ensign on 27th September 1859. Three years later he was appointed a lieutenant-colonel commanding the 3rd W. Yorks Rifle Volunteers (the Bradford Rifles), and held the position for 28 years. In 1881 he received the title of Companion of the Bath, for services rendered to the volunteer movement, and when he resigned his commission in 1890 he was made honorary colonel of the battalion. In 1864 he married Sarah, daughter of John Foster of Hornby Castle. He was a faithful member of Clayton Parish Church, being a churchwarden for 46 years and one of its most generous benefactors. He and his wife also gave generously to the poor of the parish, and he took an active part in local affairs, being a chairman of the District Council, a manager of the school and President of the Board of Surveyors. He was also a prominent member.of the Conservative Club. Col. Hirst died in 1899 and is buried in Clayton churchyard. There is a tablet to his memory inside the church.
Sherwin Stephenson: Sherwin was born in Clayton in 1881. The family was quite poor but the children were well cared for. His mother was a weaver and his father a doffer, and Sherwin spent much time with his grandparents. In 1953 he wrote that he had always been truly grateful for the simple home truths they taught him. Sherwin started school at Clayton Infants School at three years old. At seven years he was in standard I and was later to describe his education as “plain and hard but happy”. He was sorry to have to leave school at the age of 13 to work full time in the mill, as the family needed the money.
However, determined to learn all he could, Sherwin attended night-school three nights a week and became a talented writer of poetry. describing in verse many of his experiences of life and things he saw as he grew up in and around Clayton. He also wrote poems about Clayton Parish Church where he had sung in the choir as a boy. Those were happy days for him, the highlights of the year being the choir trip and the annual carol-singing at Christmas, finishing off at the home of Col. Hirst with a feast! He wrote a special poem to celebrate the church’s centenary in 1951, and also wrote poems about his family, including his son, Maurice, who was killed in action in March 1942. Sherwin was for several years manager of the Bradft)rd Road Co-op. He died in 1954 and is buried in Clayton churchyard. where his memorial is in the shape of an open book.
Alfred Wallis C.C.: A well-known and highly respected Claytonian, Alfred Wallis began business in Oak Mills in 1860 along with Joseph Benn and Asa Briggs. He was very active in public affairs: an overseer for 29 years, County Councillor for Clayton, Thornton and Denholme. and generally taking a keen interest in the well-being of the Clayton residents. In 1901 Oak Mills was occupied by Mr. Wallis and his sons (J. & F. Wallis) and he also owned Highgate Farm. He lived at Glenholme, on Pasture Lane, and set up the “Alfred Wallis Trust Fund”, which can still be used for the further education of young people. His son, Frank Wallis. who was a millionaire, continued the tradition of generosity to the Clayton people.
Julius Whitehead: Mr. Whitehead came to Clayton in 1880. having served his apprenticeship with the Farnley Iron Co. and later being in business on his own account at Halifax. He was very inventive and designed and patented the Acme Multiple Pipe Making machine. He started up in business in Clayton as Julius Whitehead Fire Clay Works. He took an interest in the life of the village and was involved in the project of the park opening; at the actual opening, Mr. Whitehead was chairman of the proceedings and presented Mr. Asa Briggs with a gold key with which to perform the opening ceremony.
Clayton, like most places, had its share of “characters”, including “Holy Joe” Robinson, with his greengrocery cart decorated with bible texts; Angus Hodgson, the coal merchant who also sold petrol one gallon at a time from a hand-driven petrol pump, Fred Sutcliffe who sold oat cakes and also converted his truck to a charabanc for outings.
Clayton was also the home of the hangman. Tom Pierrepoint. who lived on Town End, where his wife, Lizzie, kept a shop. Tom. who had a haulage firm, kept mules, chickens and goats and as a sideline ran a bookmaker’s business. He did not talk about his life as an executioner and was very popular in Clayton, especially with the children, and was a great favourite of his nephew, Albert, who had been born on Green End, near the Black Bull, and spent all his school holidays with his uncle and aunt. Albert Pierrepoint was later to become Britains last “Number One” Official Executioner. He resigned in 1956 and after that the death sentence was restricted to a narrow range of crimes, being finally abolished completely in 1964.
|Clayton’s first school was built in 1819, by public subscription on land given for the purpose by the then Lord of the Manor, Richard Hodgson. The school board paid rent for weekdays for use as an infants school, and the same building was used on Sundays for worship by all denominations; being known as the abode of “Brotherly love”. Meetings of various groups were also held there. This old school was later superseded by the National (C of E) and Baptist (Board) schools, and the local library now stands where the old school once stood. On the library wall is a plaque taken from the original building which reads: |
“This building was erected by public subscription in the year of our Lord 1819 to be a weekly and Sunday school for ever.
Also to be an occasional preaching house for all denominations who acknowledge the divinity of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Train up a child in the way he should go”.
The National School was built in 1859. After some contention between the owner of the land and the church authorities regarding the use of the land for the building of a school and after correspondence between the solicitors of the various parties involved, it was finally legally resolved and the architects, James Mallinson and Thomas Healy, submitted plans. On 25th March 1859 a ratepayers’ meeting was held for the purpose of apportioning a plot of ground on Clayton Green as the Site for a National School and house for the schoolm aster, the chairman being Rev. Manning, Vicar. It was proposed by Mr. William Foster,seconded by Mr. Edwin Ridings, that the plot be apportioned, and this proposition received 93 votes. There was an amendment in opposition but this received no votes.
The land was conveyed by James Atkinson Jowctt in April 1859 and money raised by subscription for the erection and furnishing of the school, which was built later that year for both boys and girls. The school was extended by the erection of an infants room and fitted with heating apparatus in 1871.
By 1878 a debt of £300 had been accumulated by the school, and in October of that year a bazaar and sale of work was held to clear this debt. On 17th October a Bradford Observer report described the bazaar ‘as “excellent”, with the larger of the two schoolrooms tastefully decorated with flags, evergreens and mirrors,stalls with handiwork and refreshments. The opener, Mr. George Firth, congratulated the people of Clayton on being able to support their own school without needing a Board School. In the evening a band played and there was informal entertainment.
In the master’s room in this school a plan of Clayton was marked out on the floor with brass nails. The children received a basic education and great emphasis was placed on religious education, with the scriptures of both Old and New Testaments and Catechisms being taught as well as an act of worship to begin each day. It was also regularly visited by the Vicar.
Although the 1944 Education Act gave more power to the Bradford Council, a report during that year from the Diocese of Bradford Inspector to the Vicar, Rev. Harding, praised the teaching in the school, in particular the Religious Instruction, and hoped that the school would remain a church school; a hope which has proved well-founded as. although the status of the school has changed to controlled rather than aided, there is still a Church of England school in Clayton, a new building having been opened on Bradford Road in 1979.
In 1873 the Baptist infants school opened, the first teacher being Sarah Tattersall. The attendance was fairly irregular but averaged mornings: boys 31, girls 18; afternoons: boys 41. girls 26. 21 of these children paid Id per week for attendance. which increased in July 1873 to 2d per week. Many seemed to be absent when the weather was bad and due to illness, although the school itself was warm. This school was visited regularly by the Baptist Minister.
The school year ran from beginning March to end February, with three weeks holiday in August. Those who had enough attendances were examined in March by the Schools’ Inspector; some very young children were able to pass the tests, whilst others who had not attended were barely literate. The children could attend from the age of three, and at seven years old they moved to the mixed department.
The school was crowded but inspectors’ reports state that, despite this, the children were well taught and sometimes they were able to play outside in a field kindly loaned by a local farmer. On 28th October 1891 the school was taken over by the Clayton School Board, and the next Inspector’s Report, in January 1892, said that the children on the whole had had good results, despite interference by sickness and a shortage of staff. An improvement in the instruction of pupil-teachers was suggested.
By 1898 the school had become very overcrowded and the local authority opened a new building (the “Board School”) on 3rd October of that year, with the scholars marching through the village to occupy it.
After that the standard of education and welfare gradually improved, and in 1910, when the school year began in April, the school inspector reported that the scholars were generally very clean and tidy and were able to have recreation exercises and free play as well as obtaining good standards in their classroom work. Children were also, by this time, examined periodically by the schools’ Medical Officer and by the then Medical Officer of Health for the area, Dr. Stansfield. The older children were able to attend junior school and, with progress in health conditions, visits from the school nurse and more school buildings, attendance and standards improved during the 20th century.
According to Clayton residents who remember the earlier years of the 20th century, the standard of education was higher at the Board school than at the Church school, and there was a degree of rivalry between the two. There was also a private school on Pasture Lane run by a Miss Ward, where the discipline was strict and the teaching basic.
By 1950 Clayton had infants, junior (C of E) and secondary-modern schools, and in 1952 another new building was opened on Larchmont for the first classes.
Following the advent of Comprehensive Education, there are now two first schools, (Larchmont and C of E) for children aged four to nine, and a middle school for nine to thirteen-year-old children.
|At the beginning of the 19th century there was no place of worship in Clayton; the various denominations worshipped in other places: the Baptists at Qucenshead (later Queensbury); the Churchmen at Thornton; the Independents at Kipping and the Wesleyans at Birstall, Shelf and, after 1807, at Old Dolphin. In 1819 the old village school was opened as a weekday and Sunday school and as a preaching place for all denominations. The Sunday School scholars were taught by members of all denominations, while on Sunday evenings worship was led by each in turn. Eventually, each denomination was able to erect its own building. |
Baptists: The Baptists, having previously wors hipped at Queenshead, decided in 1827 that they wanted their own place of worship in Clayton. Despite opposition from the church at Queenshead, the Clayton Baptists determined to go ahead and began meeting in rented rooms at Deep Lane Top. After appealing to the General Baptist Conference of Yorkshire and Lancashire at Shore on Easter Monday 1828, they continued to meet in rented rooms though still keeping their connections with the Queenshead Church. In August, after a further appeal to Conference, the Queenshead Church gave recognition to the Clayton Baptists as a Christian Church, and on 7th August the first official service of the Clayton Baptist Church was conducted by Jeremy Ingham of Halifax, and, in the afternoon, eleven people were baptised in the Lidget Beck near Bulgreave Wood.
In November 1828 steps were taken towards building a new chapel, but it was not until March 1830 that definite plans were made and the foundation stone of the new chapel in Clayton Lane was finally laid on Easter Tuesday afternoon of that year, the land having been donated. The first baptism took place on 8th August before the chapel was finished. It opened for divine worship on Friday 22nd October 1830, with a small congregation attending in the morning and a large one in the evening. The first Sunday service on the 24th October was also well attended, in fact there was not room to fit in all who went. The cost of the chapel was £5,300, and the first trustees were Joseph Andrews; George Andrews, snr; Isaac Wilson; George Andrews, jnr; William Dewhurst; Jeremiah Dewhirst; John Andrews; Benjamin Sowden; Daniel Wilson; Joseph Cockroft and John Drake. A Sunday School was commenced on 27th February 1831.
George Andrews, snr. was the first pastor until his death in May 1831, and on 11th December 1831 it was agreed to invite Brother John Taylor to be minister and to teach school, on condition that he receive15 per year. Brother Taylor was minister for five years.
The numbers continued to grow, and in 1844 the premises were enlarged. By the time the Church’s Jubilee came round in 1880, the total number received and baptised since the opening was 412. On Sunday, 24th October 1880, special services were held and a tea on the following Saturday.
In September 1890 the foundation stones for a new building in School Street were laid by Mr. Edmund Hirst, after a procession of members of all ages round the village, led by the Clayton Silver Prize Band. On Tuesday 13th October 1891 the new chapel was opened, and on
12th October 1892 a new organ was given by Mr. & Mrs. Asa Briggs during the Rev. Hambley’s ministry. Special services followed both these events and were well attended.
Even in the early part of this century the Sunday School had 200 scholars, and there were many activities for all age groups, as well as rambles, trips and an annual tea when a meal was provided for around 300 people. Pew rents were paid and almost all were occupied. At Anniversary and other special services the building was packed to capacity.
On Christmas Day 1927, early in Rev. W.G. Brown’s ministry, the church was lighted by electric light for the first time, and on Sunday 17th June 1928 an electric organ blower was first used. Centenary services were held on 21st and 28th October 1928 and a re-union tea on Saturday 20th October. A new lower ceiling and improved lighting were installed in 1967/8. Rev. J.
Tinker was minister from 1938-54, followed by Rev. M. F.
Williams (1955-60); Rev. J.P. Williams (1960-65); Rev.
Wm. Nelson (1966-78). The present minister is Rev.
David Richardson. In 1978 the Baptists celebrated their
Ter-Jubilee, still a flourishing church.
Unfortunately, the building became affected by dry rot and was finally demolished in July 1982. The congregation, however, was still strong and continued to meet every Sunday in the nearby middle school. Foundation stones were laid for a new building on the same site on 11th February 1984, by Mrs. Beatrice Robinson, whose uncle laid thefoundation stones for the old building in 1890. The building was completed during the summer of 1984 and opened for worship on 1st September.
Methodists: After worshippingas farawayas Birstall and Shelf and, from 1807, at Old Dolphin, Clayton Heights, the first Methodist Chapel in Clayton was built in Clayton Lane in 1834, the opening service taking place on 3rd October of that year. The Sunday School work would appear to have begun at the same time, as it is recorded that the first anniversary was held in 1835. The first actual Sunday School building was opened in 1858, and a piano was acquired and a tea party with entertainment held. By 1875 the number of scholars had reached 200, and land for a new Sunday School building opposite the chapel was purchased.
The Sunday School Anniversary that year was a great occasion; Samuel Ackroyd Esq., of Great Horton, had offered to give £50 provided that the Collection realised £150. A real effort was made, the collection amounted to £168.l2.3., making, with Mr. Ackroyd’s donation, £2 18.12.3. A grand bazaar, the first in Clayton, was held in 1876 in aid of the building fund, and the memorial stone for the school was laid on 19th September 1877 by Rev. W.O. Simpson, the school being opened on Good Friday 1878. The Sunday school work included reading and spelling.
The present chapel was built in 1888, and the opening service was held on 22nd May 1889. There were seats for 650 people in the chapel, and in the late19th/early 20th centuries pew rents were paid monthly. Most of the pews were taken, and it was customary for people to keep their own pew clean. There was also a large amount of acti vity for all age groups, with youth clubs, men’s and ladies’ societies, the Wesley group and various guilds, as well as frequent socials and an annual concert. Another great occasion was the Sunday School Anniversary, or “sitting up”, as it was commonly known, when a stage or platform was erected in front of the pulpit, and the scholars, assisted by the choir, led the singing. There was also an annual procession through the village each Whit Tuesday followed by tea.
In 1907 enlargement of the Sunday School building became necessary, and in February of that year a Fete with a Bazaar was held to raise funds for this. Several firms sent goods to sell at the bazaar, which was held on four afternoons. There were several stalls, all named after Greek towns and islands, as well as a café and coffee room and entertainment each evening.
After many years using the old organ which had been erected in the old chapel in 1864. the congregation and friends raised the sum of £2,500 in 1926 and a new organ was erected in memory of the late Mr. Edwin Ward who was organist and choirmaster from 1864 to 1883, and a chorister from 1883 to 1905. A special service was held on Saturday 1st May 1926 to dedicate the organ, and the opener was Mr. Angus Ward who had been organist from 1883 to 1918. From 1921 the organist for many years was Mr. Harry Westerman, and in February 1949 the Yorkshire Observer Budget paid tribute to the way he had kept the organ in immaculate condition. Mr. Westerman also conducted the Glee Union, with which he enjoyed a highly successful career from 1934 to 1940. The same newspaper article described the various workings and casing of the organ which it said looked newly installed after 23 years. Sadly, the organ has now been sold to a gentleman in Chesterfield who has been able to reconstruct it.
In October and November 1934 Centenary celebrations were held, with social evenings on Saturdays 27th October and 3rd November and special services on Sundays 28th October and 4th November, the last date a special musical Sunday.
In 1970 the Sunday School building was closed and the Church building modified for dual-purpose use. On Saturday 30th January 1971 there was a special service of opening and dedication of the church after the modification was completed. The service was followed by a musical evening and refreshments.
Sadly, the building is now in a state of disrepair and the members hope to have it demolished and replaced by a modern building which would be used as both a place of worship and a social centre. However, the church has recently been designated a “listed building” and therefore planning permission is needed.
The Parish Church: Prior to 1842 there was no resident Church of England clergyman in Clayton and, with no building of their own, the Churchmen shared the school and walked to Thornton. Later a lecture room was provided by Mr. John Hirst, of Clayton House, in a building attached to his premises, where the Anglicans worshipped for nine years. In 1842 the Vicarof Bradford, Dr. Scoresby, appointed Rev. W. Kelly to the charge of the district, and he was followed by Rev. Galvin and then Rev. Francis Earle.
Whilst the Rev. Earle was curate, on 29th May 1849, the foundation stone for the long-awaited Parish Church was laid by Mr. John Hirst, of Clayton House, who had given the site; a grant for £1,000 having been obtained from the Incorporated Church Building Society. The church was finally opened and licensed for public worship on 19th January 1851, and on 23rd January the Bradford Observer carried the following report:
“The newly-built and handsome Church of St. John the Baptist, Clayton, was opened for divine worship on Sunday last: the Lord Bishop havinggranteda license for only a brief period previously to an expected endowment fund being obtained and the consecration of the edifice. The Rev. Dr. Burnet, Vicar of Bradford, preached in the morning and Rev. F. Earle in the afternoon. The congregation on both occasions was very numerous. Although the occasion was one for congratulations and pleasure, there was one circumstance which tended to
mingle sorrow with the joy of this occasion. It was the fact that the Rev. Earle preached his farewell sermon (and a beautiful and affectionate discourse it was) on Sunday afternoon on the very day in which the church was opened for divine service. The collection in aid of the fund for providing necessary articles required in public worship amounted to upwards of £71.
Unfortunately, the £1,000 endowment for the maintenance of a minister was not immediately forthcoming, but at last, after a small endowment fund had been raised and invested, the church was duly consecrated on 25th August 1856 by the Bishop of Ripon, Dr. I.ongley, later to become Archbishop of Canterbury. Despite inclement weather, there was a large assembly of clergy and laity. The Bishop was received at the gates by Rev. Dr. Burnett, Vicar of Bradford; Rev. T.H. Manning, incumbent of the Parish; the churchwardens and a number of clergymen and, after robing, was conducted to the principal entrance of the church where a petition was presented praying his L.ordship to consecrate the church and burial ground. After having performed the consecration, the Bishop and Rev. Manning led the service, the choral parts being sung by the choir of Bradford Parish Church. After the service, the burial ground, land for which had mainly been provided by Mr. Hirst, with a small portion purchased from the poor law guardians for Clayton, was also consecrated.
Soon afterwards the Vicarage was built on a site given by Mr. G. Barron. This was demolished in 1968 and replaced by the present modern building.
The church was described by the Bradford Observer at the time of its consecration as a “comely and very substantial structure, in the decorated character, with a broad tower at the West End”. The seats were all open and many were free, although some pew rents were charged. The church was very well attended by both rich and poor, and had several benefactors and good church workers. In common with the other denominations, anniversary days were very special.
In 1879 a clock was built into the tower and renovated in 1933, the cost of repairs being generously undertaken by J.E. and Alfred Wilman and sisters, of Hadfield. At this time Westminster chimes were added, together with a new face pointing up the Avenue.
In 1887 the Chancel was restored and better vestry accommodation for the choir provided, the work being begun in consequence of a generous offer of a new organ by Mr. Joseph Benn and family; a pulpit by Mr. Jonathan Barker; a new reredos by Col. H.S. Hirst and an eagle lectern by Mrs. Sarah Ridings, who had been a worshipper since the opening day.
Through the years several beautiful mosaics have been added, and in 1914 the aisles and chancel were completely restored in marble by Harrison and Christina Benn in loving memory of their daughter Mabel who died in 1913.
In 1934 a new chancel screen was donated by Mr. Charles E. Seed, in remembrance of William, Mary Jane and Eva Jane Seed. This was dedicated by the Bishop of Bradford at a special service on 9th September 1934. The side chapel has also been transformed through the years by numerous gifts, and there are memorials at the back of the church dedicated to those who lost their lives in both World Wars.
In 1917 Harrison Benn also set up a trust fund of £12,000, administration of which was in the hands of the Vicar and Churchwardens with Diocesan trustees as arbitrators in case of differences arising. In addition, Mr. Benn made an interest-free loan of £2,000 for the renovation fund. The Vicar and members of the vestry, in expressing their very sincere thanks to Mr. Benn, forecast that the benefits of the trust would remain as long as the church remained; a true prophecy, as good use is still made today of the “Harrison Benn Trust Funds”.
In 1951 the Church celebrated its Centenary, the main celebrations running from 21st to 28th January, with several services and a re-union tea and gathering on 27th January, for which a cake in the shape of the church was made by Mrs. I. Turner, Mrs. I. Townsend and Mrs. E. Wilson. A piece was also given to every Sunday School scholar at the end of the children’s service on Sunday 28th January. The first service on Sunday 21st January, at which the preacher was the Provost of Bradford, was extremely well attended, with chairs being put in the aisles and in the chapel under the tower.
Letters were sent to all couples who had been married in the church, inviting them to attend. A special centenary copy of the Parish magazine was also issued. Looking back over the years, the Vicar, Rev. G.A. Harding, wrote “The Church has been to three generations of men a minister of strength in the hour of trial and an encouragement in the days of joy. The heritage that has been left us in our Church by those who have worshipped God within its walls and served Him in their lives is a goodly heritage and gives us an example to follow in the centenary year”. Sadly the centenary celebrations brought to a close Rev. Harding’s ministry, and he died in March 1951.
The Church has still a good, regular congregation
and Sunday School, and celebrated its 130th birthday in
1981 with a flower festival. The Vicars of Clayton Parish
Church from its opening to the present dayare: 1851 Rev.
T.H. Manning; 1870 Rev. A.P. Dawson; 1873 Rev. G.
Leatherdale; 1885 Rev. J.E. Gerrard; 1912 Rev. H.F.
Flynn; 1931 Rev. G.A. Harding; 1951 Rev. A. Simmons;
1967 Rev. A.W. Underwood; 1976 Rev. C.P. Hutchinson.
The present incumbent, whose induction was in
November 1983, is Rev. J.A.N.B. Howell.
Although there was a degree of rivalry and resentment between the three denominations, on the whole they got on reasonably well and a very memorable occasion each year was the annual united procession round the village at Whitsuntide. This continued for many years and was always a very special occasion. During the early 1960s the Clayton Council of Churches was formed, which included the three above-mentioned denominations and the Roman Catholics, who had joined the village later, and this is still thriving today. United services are held regularly, and there is a strong ecumenical spirit in Clayton.
Roman Catholics: In 1930 there were only about six
Catholic families in Clayton, who used to go either to St.
Williams, on Ingleby Road, or else to Thornton or
Quecnsbury, none of these alternatives being easy as they
all involved a long walk. Gradually the number of Catholics increased, but it was the soldiers billeted in Clayton during the Second World War who first brought the mass to the village in 1940. Mass was first celebrated in Central Hall at Green End in an upper room.
Shortly afterwards Church House was used, followed by the hail of the Board School. The Thornton priest, Father W. Backhouse, officiated.
In 1947 the Leeds Diocese purchased “Lidget Grange”, on Bradford Road, a good solid residence with a barn. This barn, after the men of St. Williams and Clayton had closed in the rafters of the upper storey with panelling and cleaned and decorated it, formed a chapel which was reached by a wooden staircase on the outside of the building. The room was comfortable, warm and friendly, and packed to the door every Sunday for Mass. It was served by the priests of St. Williams, and the worshippers were enthusiastic and happy to have their own place in Clayton at last.
However, it soon became obvious that this building was not safe enough to be used by so many people, and a new school building was opened on 4th May 1954 by the Bishop of Leeds, later to become Cardinal Heenan. The Mass was forthwith transferred to the new school hall, and the Parish of St. Anthony was created in 1954 with Father Thomas Kearns as its first Parish Priest and a congregation of 300. The Franciscan sisters of Littlehampton arrived to take charge of St. Anthony’s school, and “Lidget Grange” became St. Anthony’s convent.
The new Church of St. Anthony, built between the school and the convent, was opened on 27th July 1961 by the Bishop of Leeds, the congregation having grown to
630. The church was described as “high, wide and liturgical”, and the setting, designed to give an uninterrupted view of the Altar to as many as possible, is in three sections, nave, gallery and Lady Chapel. The cost of the church was £30,000, with a further £4,000 for the furnishings.
Father Kearns left on 22nd April 1966 and was succeeded by Father Patrick Henry. During the following years the congregation continued to grow and the Parish flourished. By the end of 1971 the debt on the church had been cleared and a consecration ceremony was held on 2nd October 1974 by Rt. Rev. Gordon Wheeler, Bishop of Leeds.
A smart hall has been acquired through hard work and fund-raising, and the various societies and committees take an active part in the life of the village, and do much charitable work both in the village and further afield. St. Anthony’s is also a member of Clayton Council of Churches and takes an active part in united worship.
Father Henry left the Parish in 1982 and was replaced by the present priest, Father B. Lilly.
Gospel Hall: A more independent church is the “Gospel Hall”. The members held their meetings for many years in the village school. Theirs was a simple, devotional, religion and any of their members, or “Brethren” as they were known, could preach. After the school was made into a library, the Brethren continued to use the building for some time, but felt restricted and were determined to build their own chapel. All the able-
bodied assisted, and by sheer effort and will power, a strong faith, and supervision from a sympathetic builder, their chapel on Bradford Road was completed in 1927 and opened in March 1928 by Richard Stammers who, after having been converted by a travelling preacher speaking near The Wells, had been for many years a faithful member of the Gospel Hall and widely respected in the village.
The chapel is still there and their services are held on Sunday mornings and evenings, with midweek bible study and prayer groups.
For some years there was also a Latter Day Saints meeting room on Clayton Lane.
Clayton has then progressed in many ways over the years. Always a self-sufficient, quite closely-knit society, it is still possible to find signs of the traditional village life and community spirit, and many people would be sorry to see it become “just another district of Bradford.
William Cudworth: Round About Bradford: James
Parker: Historical sketches of Clayton, 0ld Dolphin.
Queensbury & Shibdendale; A.J. Peacock: Bradford
Chartism 1838-1840; A. Pierrepoint: Executioner:
Pierrepoint, Bradford Council of Social Services Report:
Bradford Observer. Yorkshire Observer Budge! &
Telegraph and Argus; Sherwin Stephenson’s notes from
Bradford Archives Dept; School information from Bradford
Archives Dept, Religious information from brochures and
leaflets from various denominations and from A History of
Clayton Baptist Church 1828-1928. by L.H. Foulds.