A Heaton Village walk through Paradise

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Amazingly this blog has now received over 5000 hits. I thought that I should celebrate by telling you something of the place where I live. Heaton means ‘high farm’ in Old English and is a common place-name in northern England. The settlement where I live has been called Heaton on the Hill to distinguish it from all the others. It is not mentioned in the Domesday Book but the name was being used by the 12th century so we may be confident that this Bradford village is at least 800 years old. Nothing of medieval or Tudor Heaton remains so I shall describe its history since the 17th century, for which there is still surviving evidence. The image is the lower part of Highgate shortly before the Great War.

By the early 18th century Heaton consisted of a hall, with a few farm-houses and cottages, wholly surrounded by agricultural land. It was approached from Bradford up a very muddy track which would later be called Heaton Road. The rocks below the surface in this part of Yorkshire are the Coal Measures. Coal was mined around Heaton by the late 18th century and evidence for this can still be seen in Heaton Woods. As well as coal there is a local honey-coloured sandstone. Certainly by the early 19th century ‘delvers’ had began to remove good stone from the village’s many ‘delphs’ or quarries. The stone splits easily and so provided flagstones and roofing slabs. Field boundaries consisted of drystone walls, some of which remain today. After the 1860s major house building started as Heaton began to be considered a desirable place by Bradford businessmen and their families. Over the centuries the ordinary residents were normally farmers, quarrymen, coal miners or textile workers, but there was also a wealthy Lord of the Manor of Heaton who lived in Heaton Hall. Heaton Hall was once equipped with horses and hounds for fox-hunting. All this has long been swept away but the foxes remain, well adapted to urban life.

There is a triangle of land at the junction of North Park Road and Emm Lane. Emm Lane was originally a track through Emm Field (perhaps originally Elm Field) when this was one of the three ‘great fields’ of Heaton in which farmers were allotted strips of land to cultivate. Other later field names that survive in the local road network are Leylands, Ashwell and Paradise. Nearby Lister Park was originally a deer-park surrounding Manningham Hall, the home of the Cunliffe Lister family. The park was eventually purchased by Bradford as a public space and Cartwright Hall, which was opened in 1904, built as an art gallery and museum. The adjacent iron gates in North Park Road until recently led to the site of Heaton Reservoir, an artificial lake supplying piped water, constructed in the 1870s. I was told that gulls from Esholt sewage works would come to Heaton to wash their feet. The drinking water is still there, but is now safe underground in a huge tank.

As you walk up towards the village centre to your right are some rather grand stone villas in Carlton Drive and Wilmer Drive built in the 1880s. Thirty years earlier you could have taken the same walk up Emm Lane from the then newly created Keighley Road, and the Turf Tavern, but not encountered a building on either side of the road until Hammond Square. This consists of 18th century cottages clustered round a tiny stone courtyard. Just before reaching Hammond Square you can see a long building with three windows. In the 18th century large cut stone blocks, called quoins, were often placed at the corners of a building to securely support the weight of the roof. The positioning of quoins here shows that the original building was much shorter and it has been extended. The ornate chimney stack, now in the middle of the roof, was once at its east end. Nearly opposite you is Ashwell Road.

Why Ashwell, in old English aesc wella? There are many places around Bradford where springs of water reached the surface; this one was originally at the end of Wilmer Drive. Ash trees are often associated with such wells which were very important before the days of a piped water supply. For centuries some were regarded as having healing properties. Another source of drinking water until the 19th century was a well in nearby Leyland’s Lane but all trace of this has long vanished. Throughout much of Heaton’s history parish churches at Bingley and Bradford were the nearest centres of Anglican worship, although non-conformist chapels of the Baptists and Wesleyan Methodists were founded here in the 18th century. St Barnabas Church was finally built in 1864 on land provided by a local landowner, the Earl of Rosse. For centuries the established Church of England received tithes. Tithes were meant to be 10% of the income from land, paid as money or produce by the landowner, which was used to support the local church and clergyman. ‘Tithe maps’ were drawn up to indicate the land areas on which the amounts paid were based. The 1849 Heaton map is very accurate and helpful.

St Barnabas is a church in the new diocese of West Yorkshire & The Dales. The vestry entrance is in Parsons Road. This name is nothing to do with Anglican clergymen (unless it was intended as a pun) but was the family name of the Earls of Rosse. A famous member was Sir Charles Parsons, inventor of the steam turbine. Local roads including the names Wilmer, Rosse, and Field all derive from the same extended family. Opposite the church is now the site of the Village Hall but earlier it was the location of St Barnabas School in the years 1871-1965. Further along the road was Ashwell Farm from whose cows, in the early 20th century, Alonza Tetley supplied the village with milk. The milk was carried in a large churns on a horse-drawn cart; no milk bottles in those days of course.

Opposite the entrance to Ashwell Road is Heaton Road which leads down to Heaton Syke. You can quickly walk there and stand by the ruined Fountain Inn which was originally built in 1856. ‘Syke’ is an Old English word meaning boggy ground. There was once a small hamlet here detached from Heaton village proper. Across Heaton Road you can see Heaton Syke well, or fountain. This was built in 1792 by Joshua Field and is fed by a small stream. These stone tanks are often called ‘horse-troughs’ but before piped water they would have supplied households as well. Walking down Syke Road you can see the quarried stone setts that form the roadway. These were the common surface for roads adopted by the local council but many have now been covered with tarmac. Older houses here were demolished to create the Fountain car-park but a white building (23/25 Syke Road) remains; it is of a type called a ‘mirror image’ cottage. The datestone (TRM 1743) indicates it was originally built by Richard & Mary Thompson in the mid-18th century. Opposite is Garden Terrace (illustrated) which will give you a good idea of the general appearance of the older cottages in Heaton. They look most inviting now but when built none would have had running water and they all used ash pits for the cinders from coal fires, and a privy for human waste. The contents of both were periodically dug out for spreading on the fields, a job you tried to avoid if possible. A better occupation was that of blacksmith. Every village needed a smith to shoe horses and repair picks or shovels. At various times Heaton had three forges, and one was here at Heaton Syke.

Garden Terrace

Walking along Heaton Road from the village to spin or weave for Samuel Cunliffe at Manningham Mills wasn’t too bad a prospect but until the Manningham Lane – Keighley Road turnpike was constructed in 1815 this was also the main road from Heaton to Bradford. A long walk uphill if you came back with shopping! There were no textile mills in Heaton itself but employment could be found at those at Frizinghall or Shipley, if you were over eight years old. Adults were expected to work from 6 am to 6 pm and walk both ways. At the top of the hill you can stand at the entrance to Dyson Street at the side of the Kings Arms pub.

The Kings Arms, like the church, was built on the Earl of Rosse’s land and is the only survival of several village centre public houses. The Kings Arms was once adjacent to a tram terminus but it is hard to believe that until 1935 electric trams from Bradford would convey you to this point in the village. They didn’t came storming up the first steep section of Emm Lane, but took the gentler gradient of Wilmer Road. The trams were eventually replaced by a motor bus service but elsewhere in Bradford, for another 20 years, electric trolley buses were employed. Next to the public house is a post-office and chemist. We are fortunate to have these shops, together with a minimarket, baker, and ladies’ hairdresser. But in the mid-19th century Heaton also boasted butchers, tailors, dressmakers, boot-makers, and clog-makers. Beyond the Kings Arms a row of cottages has been replaced by a bay of small shops at present containing fast-food outlets popular with local schoolchildren. Beyond those was the original site of the Kings Arms, demolished and rebuilt in the 1880s to allow for road widening.

St Bede’s & St Joseph’s Catholic Collage is across the road. The school building replaced Heaton Hall which was itself built in the reign of Queen Anne. The Hall was long the home of the Field family but their successors, the Earls of Rosse, preferred their estate at Birr Castle in Ireland. Heaton Hall must once have been a grand place. In 1851 it was being leased by the Quaker banker, Henry Harris. He was single but still needed the services of a butler, housekeeper, cook and two resident maidservants. To be fair local people thought very highly of Harris because he generously donated blankets, bread and soup to all those in difficulties. His departure was much regretted. The Roman Catholic Church purchased the Hall in 1919 for St Bede’s School, but it was demolished and a new school built just before the Second World War broke out. St Bede, or Baeda, was of course a monk and the first English historian. Next door was once Garth Hall, a large farm-house built in 1681, with a barn that survived until only 30 years ago. The name Garth Barn Close commemorates it and leads to Heaton Tennis & Squash Club. Back on the Kings Arms side of the road, and just past the bakery, there is an older house with two extended wings both built, from the datestones, in 1891. Eventually you reach the old Delvers’ Arms and Hilda Street, but who was Hilda?

I assume that Dyson Street itself was named after Emmanuel Dyson (1832-1902), a builder and stone merchant, who flourished in the last quarter of the 19th century and probably constructed the houses. Much of the the roadway was never ‘adopted’ by the Council and it is very irregular when compared to the stone setts in the first section. The houses in Dyson Street have traditional stone slab roofs and attractive drip moulds above the doors. When you turn into Rossefield Road the houses are roofed with Welsh slate. Welsh slate first arrived in Bradford with the railways in 1846 and is blue-grey or purple in colour. In the 1906 OS map the greenhouses of a large nursery were at this site. Six other nurseries were found in the general area of Heaton, together with additional allotment gardens. No fresh vegetables from the supermarket in those days of course. At the corner of Dyson Street and Rossefield Road is Rossefield Hall. The foundation stones of this former chapel were laid in 1889 but evidently it took nearly 20 years to complete the building. One stone was laid by wool merchant W.H.Townend who for 25 years lived in Heaton Hall following the departure of Henry Harris. He was elected a local councillor and was said to have had a major role in seeing that Heaton was supplied with piped water and gas.

Walking up the left hand side of Rossefield Road many kerbstones are inscribed with arrows or marks like S, SB, SG, and SR. These I believe were inscribed by those installing services such as electricity. On the subject of electricity we now take electric street lamps for granted and earlier there were gas powered lamps. Neither existed in the 1860s; then, if you walked around at night, you took a lantern with you! Many of the garden wall tops have small square holes filled with mortar. These were anchoring sites for the railings that originally topped the walls. Iron railings in Heaton were collected as part of the ‘war-effort’ in the 1940s but whether many were converted into tanks is doubtful.

Higher and on the right is the modern entrance to St Barnabas School. A few houses beyond this entrance a garden wall retains a stone block carved with its name. By now you have reached Quarry Street. This road way not only led to a quarry but in the Heaton tithe map the ground to the left of here was itself a quarry. At the corner of Rossefield Road and Quarry Street was the site of a house and shop demolished in 1970. Behind this the building that juts out was once the Ebenezer Wesleyan Chapel.

At the end of Quarry Street you can get an excellent view of Baildon Moor. Otherwise almost immediately turn left up Back Lane which leads to the delightfully named Nog Lane, and then to a recreation ground. If you walk to the far wall you can look over the allotments. Breathe in deeply; the healthy air on Heaton Hill is said to come straight from the seaside at Morecambe! It’s hard to believe that this was ever the site of much activity but the older name ‘Quarry Hill’ is a big clue that it once was. In the early 19th century there were seven quarries in the Heaton area and there was another here by 1839. On the first OS map of 1852 there were four village centre quarries exploiting Elland Flags sandstone, one at this very spot, and another under the present site of St Barnabas School. The work undertaken by quarrymen or delvers was very arduous. Quarries could be 30m deep and, although larger enterprises had lifting gear, smaller employers expected strong men to carry the stone strapped to their backs. Eventually the hole in Heaton Hill was filled in, probably with unwanted waste from other quarries which was then covered in soil. The OS map of 1889 shows no further evidence of activity. Even at that time there was recreational space; John Lee (born in 1844) who wrote about the village of his childhood in the 1850s recalled playing cricket here, and reports the introduction of overarm bowling. The same source reveals that many residents worked in the quarries with others being hand-loom weavers and hand wool-combers, trades that were already being destroyed by the development of textile machinery at Manningham Mills.

At the village side of Heaton Hill there are two exits the left of which leads to the cemetery. The cemetery was created in 1824 next to a now demolished Baptist chapel. On the opposite side of the road a later and larger Baptist chapel and manse were built in 1896. This chapel has been demolished too and Crofton Court has replaced it. In the cemetery there are noticeboards which give its history and an account of some of those people buried here. The cemetery is a quiet spot and several local people have worked very hard recently to keep it tidy. The gravestones indicate how many brave men from Heaton lost their lives in the Great War (1914-18) and are here commemorated. I believe that the total is 43. Many Bradford buildings are embellished with carved stone: fruit, leaves, flowers and animals. They have survived well despite a century or more of pollution. One of the craftsmen who undertook such work was Moses Drake, stone carver and sculptor, who is buried in this cemetery. Here also is the resting place of historian Stanley King who combined a lifetime of community service, including being Lord Mayor of Bradford, with the role of a modern Lord of the Manor of Heaton.

Leaving the cemetery through the main gates and entering Highgate there are two choices. You can continue straight down Highgate, previously called Town Gate, past some lovely old cottages on the right hand side. These were built by a local farmer John Wood at the end of the 18th century, and they are called Paradise. The name comes from the field that was here; perhaps the soil was very fertile. This is an excellent opportunity to observe the changes that can befall simple cottages: porches, additional storeys, extensions, dormers, and roof-lights. The first house was evidently brought forward with a large extension to construct a shop. Unmodified cottages have simple squared stone surrounds for windows and doors, typical of the 18th or very early 19th centuries. A tall building is marked Heaton Police Station. This was constructed in 1876 and presumably an older cottage was demolished to make room for it. Its window and door stonework is much more ornate. At first this building was the offices of the Heaton Local Board or council, but when Heaton was joined to Bradford in 1881 it became the local Police Station. It has long been a private house.

If you turn right immediately on leaving the cemetery you enter Paradise Road. A large empty space was previously occupied by a Methodist Sunday school. In the mid-19th century long narrow gardens led from the cottages in Highgate up to Heaton Hill. This fact was preserved in the modern name Garden Street. Paradise Road ends at West Bank terrace which was constructed in 1874 by a building club. Opposite is a stone ramp which goes downwards passing a garage on the right, once another blacksmith’s forge run by a Jack Andrews.

Further down Highgate there is a second collection of one and two storey cottages are known as ‘Eden’; number 94 is marked with this name. These cottages were built by Joshua Field and in one Joseph Lee (1819-90), father of John Lee, was an early local school master. The last cottage in this block was marked ‘Parochial School’ in the first OS map of 1852, but it is believed to have been a Wesleyan Sunday school as early as 1813. A two storey house has been added much more recently to the end of the row. All the houses on the opposite side of the road, and those below the entrance to the Flower Fund Homes, are early 20th century in date. As you approach the end of Highgate you will see another of Joshua Field’s wayside water troughs on the left. This one has been moved from its original position and is usually so choked with mud and leaves that even a thirsty horse would think twice about drinking.

If you continue for about 100m you will pass Roydscliffe Drive and reach an entrance to Heaton Woods. The land to your left up to, and beyond Toller Lane, was once the Heaton Common. This was enclosed by Act of Parliament in 1781. North Hall farm was built at that time, and the farmhouse is still there surrounded by the modern Shay Estate. The enclosed and improved farmland produced oats, barley, turnips, and potatoes. Cattle and sheep were also raised. The gardens of Heaton were seemingly famous for peas.

Walk into beautiful Heaton Woods. In the early part of the Great War soldiers of the West Yorkshire Regiment practised trench digging here. In the Second World War a series of bombs was dropped in the beck, fortunately causing no casualties. Walk along the path until it forks. Take the left path which travels backward and downwards to the Red Beck. The ochre coloured water contains iron and essentially is pollution coming from a coal mine drainage channel. If you walk along the beck in the direction of Shipley there are many shallow depressions to the right which also reflect mine drainage in the 18th and 19th centuries. One large flat mound has a seat on it and two depressions, which are collapsed horizontal ‘drift mines’, in the bank behind. I believe that this was a fireclay mine and probably dates from the mid to late 19th century. Coal seams known as the Soft Bed and the Hard Bed were worked in Heaton. Generally the access shafts were 20-25m deep. Mining thin coal seams with pick and shovel was hard, dirty and dangerous work. In the late 18th century miners would have been paid 10 shillings (50p) each week for doing it, but they might have to provide their own candles!

As you approach Shipley you may see many other signs of old industry such as spoil heaps and high drystone walls. The Red Beck here marks the boundary between Heaton and Shipley. Follow any of the several low paths and eventually you will exit the woods through metal barriers. Follow a footpath onwards which consists of stone setts, bricks, and even the wooden ‘sleepers’ from an old tramway once used for transporting bricks. At the end turn left at Wilmer Drive, and then left again up Redburn Drive. At the end of this road a path known as Heaton Royds Lane originates. This was once known as Coal Pit Lane. Through railings on your left are the partially demolished remains of Heaton Royds Special School. Prior to this there was a large brick and fireclay works at the site belonging to J.R. Fyfe. The two cottages to the right at this point, Throstle Hall, were built with Fyfe’s bricks. You will be walking on many other bricks, and also large lumps of iron making slag, as you follow the path. You need to walk along Heaton Royds Lane for about 1km. The lane passes between fields and is partially enclosed by drystone walls. Some of the wall-stones contain plant fossils. In part you will be walking under a canopy of trees but despite their gnarled appearance these are not especially old having been planted since 1948.

You will eventually arrive at the old hamlet of Heaton Royds. A farm house here was built by John Dixon and a datestone gives the year of building as 1632. The land is still owned by the Dixon family. Opposite are some tiny demolished miners cottages. Our walk through time ends at Royds Hall Farm, an equally interesting and distinguished farm which at present is being sensitively restored. The whole hamlet is technically Heaton Royds but local people call it ‘Six Days Only’. Seemingly a Salvationist operated one of the local market gardens here and announced with a sign that he would not work or sell produce on the Sabbath.

So, that is Heaton for you. How you get home from this little bit of Paradise I leave to you.


6 thoughts on “A Heaton Village walk through Paradise

  1. Hi, what a wonderful blog you have here. This morning I went for a walk along Rossefield Road and passed Rossefiled Hall built in 1908. When I got home I thought it would be interesting to read a bit of history about the Hall, so I googled it. The results on Google were this blog. I have lived in Heaton most of my life and attended St Barnabas school. I am familiar with the village, but to read the history is great. I didn’t realise how long the history of this village was.

    Many thanks for this!


  2. I took my son exploring in Heaton Woods this morning and we stumbled across the old Heaton Royd School. Curious about the school I decided to research it when I got home and found your blog. I’m now planning on following this walk when I can get someone to watch my son as it would be a bit long for him. The history of this area is so interesting!! Thank you for sharing


  3. I found this blog so interesting. I spent hours playing in Heaton Woods and around 6 days only and Heaton Hill as a child. I remember walking to school up Heaton road past the horse trough every day to St Barnabus. Thanks for the memories


  4. Thank you for this bit of history. I lived in Garden St, off Paradise 1987-1991 and loved it there. Had an allotment for a while and some of my husbands family are in the cemetery which we didn’t know about until after we moved to NZ. Well done on the blog!


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