The Story so far...

Project aims
Cottingley & Bingley
Image Gallery
Film Gallery
Artists & Funders






What is Heritage?

Heritage is the full range of our inherited traditions, monuments, objects, and culture. Most important, it is the range of contemporary activities, meanings, and behaviours that we draw from them.

Heritage includes, but is much more than preserving, excavating, displaying, or restoring a collection of old things. It is both tangible and intangible, in the sense that ideas and memories--of songs, recipes, language, dances, and many other elements of who we are and how we identify ourselves--are as important as historical buildings and archaeological sites.

Heritage is, or should be, the subject of active public reflection, debate, and discussion. What is worth saving? What can we, or should we, forget? What memories can we enjoy, regret, or learn from? Who owns "The Past" and who is entitled to speak for past generations? Active public discussion about material and intangible heritage--of individuals, groups, communities, and nations--is a valuable facet of public life in our multicultural world.

Heritage is a contemporary activity with far-reaching effects. It can be an element of far-sighted urban and regional planning. It can be the platform for political recognition, a medium for intercultural dialogue, a means of ethical reflection, and the potential basis for local economic development. It is simultaneously local and particular, global and shared.
Heritage is an essential part of the present we live in--and of the future we will build."




Background Information

Weekly workshops with ‘Ascendance Youth’ explored the history and development of Bradford as far back as the Normans and Middle Ages when the wool industry began, and how this has influenced the local and wider areas of Cottingley and Bingley today. Topics included the advent of the textile industry and the resulting mills in the local area, the effects of migration and the changes seen in the landscape as industrialisation took hold.

Various sessions and presentations took place as part of the delivery of this work, and these were devised in partnership with Bradford Museums and Galleries (BMG) using agreed themes. The resources from BMG’s archive collection were examined and certain elements were selected for this process, such as the CH Wood aerial collection and photographs, maps and textiles. Participants also took a guided tour of the Industrial Museum to increase their sense of history and general knowledge of the background.

The heritage project work was explored in as many imaginative ways as possible, so that the groups involved both at CCC and various schools learned about and explored selected elements of their history and then interpreted this through dance, storytelling or other creative tasks. For example, in some sessions participants worked to put images referencing specific developments into a timeline, in others they played a ‘weft and warp’ game to learn about the textile process, making up movements for each stage and using the heritage resource material to do this.

Undertaking Research

Young people also learned how to conduct oral history interviews, including filming and recording. They were briefed to explore and find out about the local area and how it had changed, through interviewing older relatives and members of the public. These interviews were conducted at various times throughout the project, and participants were encouraged to expand on basic questions and prompt interviewees to contribute extra information that added value to the basic facts that were recorded.

My Castle My Community
Ideas for a new professional dance piece, were conceived during the Telling Tales project. The dance piece explored social pleasures and pastimes within a Mediaeval community. Comprehensive research into intergenerational practice was also undertaken during the residency at Skipton Castle in summer 2011, leading to the creation of new repertoire devised by professional dancers, suitable for all ages. The piece would be adapted for the Telling Tales final celebration and other heritage based education programmes across the UK, entitled 'My Town.'


Aspirations for the future
Following the success of the Day of Dance, consultation with the community indicated that further celebrations of this type would be welcomed at the Cottingley Cornerstone Centre.

A yearly dance event, involving all the family would help families experience a fun activity together and help towards increasing community spirit. It was also discussed that the project provided them with a shared appreciation of their friends and family in the area in which they live.

History that inspired the project...

Bingley & District

"Bingley was once known as the Throstle's Nest of Old England - though there is no evidence that thrushes were more abundant there than in other parts.

It is more likely to be a reference to its position, nestling in a valley at a bend of the River Aire, five miles north of Bradford, reasonably sheltered from the prevailing blast of the north wind and on the edge of Rombalds Moor, known in popular song as Ilkley Moor.

There is no record of the first inhabitants. Although Druids' Altar, a sheer rock overlooking the valley, suggests ancient Celtic origins, its name is the product of a romantic tradition rather than real evidence. The town does, however, have a number of springs and wells with Celtic echoes, and a number of carved heads have been discovered around the town, some of them being incorporated in gateposts and garden walls.

At the bottom end of the town, Bailey Hills suggest the site of a castle, and one 17th Century historian claimed to found evidence of such a building.

The name recalls a Saxon owner called Byng. Lea is another word for field. It is a unique name - there isn't another Bingley anywhere.

The Romans knew it as a spot on their road from Ilkley to Manchester.

But to all intents and purposes, Bingley's story began in 1213AD with the granting of the manor of Bingley and a market charter by King John to one Maurice de Gant. Like the rest of the North of England, Bingley suffered from the Norman conquest and the Domesday Book logs the whole manor as four leagues long and one broad (the definition of a league varies, but up to three miles is commonly held to be the equivalent), and 'waste' - i.e. destroyed.

Through the middle ages and up to the Industrial Revolution, Bingley was more important than its neighbour Bradford."

By Jim Appleby


Cottingley Mill


Cottingley Map




Norman Times
In the Domesday Book of 1086, Bingley is listed as "Bingheleia", with the following entry

m In Bingheleia hb. Gospatric iiij car' tra e' ad gld. tra ad ii car' Ernegis de burun h't. & Wast' e'. T.R.E. val, iiij lib'. Silva past' ii leu' lg' & i lat'. Tot' m' e iiij leu' lg' & ii lat'

Which roughly translated reads:

In Bingheleia, Gospatric has a manor of four carucate of land to be taxed, land for two ploughs. Ernegis de Burun has it and it is waste. In the time of King Edward the Confessor it was valued at four pounds. Woodland pasture two leauges long and one broad. All the manor is four long and two broad.

The ford was expanded on with Beckfoot Bridge alongside it. This was superseded in turn by Ireland Bridge a few hundred metres upstream. In mediaeval times Bingley was a Manor which extended several miles up and down the Aire valley, extending to Marley upstream which is now on the outskirts of urban Keighley and Cottingley downstream. Bingley became a Market town with the grant of a Market Charter in 1212 by King John. Two of the oldest buildings in Bingley are the parish church of All Saints & the coaching inn the Old White Horse Inn, both conveniently situated on the flatter north side of Ireland Bridge. Administratively during this period Bingley was part of the Wapentake (later hundred) Skyrack, which was in turn part of the West Riding of Yorkshire.

According to the Poll Tax returns of 1379 Bingley had 130 households, probably around 500 people. The nearby towns of Bradford, Leeds and Halifax had about half this population. At this time Bingley was the largest town in the area.

No records tell of how Bingley fared in the Black Death that swept Europe in the 14th century. Approximately one third of all the people in Europe died of this plague, sometimes wiping out whole towns and villages. According to the 1379 Poll tax records, the nearby town of Boulton had no survivors worth taxing. It seems Bingley may have got off relatively lightly.

Tudor Times
In 1592 Bingley was shown on a map by Yorkshire map-maker Christopher Saxton. It is shown as a single street with about 20 houses on each side. The church sits at the west end of the street opposite a single large house, possibly a manor house.

Industrial Revolution
Like most towns of the West Riding, Bingley prospered from the Industrial Revolution. The Leeds and Liverpool Canal was constructed in 1774. It travels through the centre of Bingley and then climbs dramatically up the side of the valley in the famous Bingley Five Rise Locks and not quite so famous Bingley Three Rise Locks. Several woollen mills were founded and people migrated in from the surrounding countryside to work in the mills. Many came from further afield such as Ireland, especially in the wake of the Irish Potato Famine. A railway line was constructed through Bingley including a goods yard in Bingley centre bringing further trade. During this period the villages of Gilstead & Eldwick became conurbated with Bingley. The Bingley Building Society was founded in this period.

Post Industrial
The Beeching Axe demolished the goods yard, though the station which recently celebrated its centenary, still serves trains to Leeds, Bradford, Skipton, Morecambe and Carlisle. The textile mills have over the years largely been replaced by cheaper labour overseas. The Damart mill still stands and trades in textiles. Since 1995 the tannery, Bingley Mill and Andertons has all been or are being converted into flats. In 1974 the West Riding of Yorkshire was replaced by the new metropolitan county of West Yorkshire and the Bingley Urban District Council was dissolved. Bingley now became a ward in the Bradford metropolitan district. The most cramped & outdated terraced housing (in the opinion of the council) was partly replaced with council housing, Bingley Art Centre and the headquarters of the Bradford & Bingley Building Society. Further council housing was built up the hill towards Gilstead including three substantial blocks of flats. In the wake of the Thatcherite reforms of council housing the majority of the council estate has now changed into private hands and a substantial portion has been knocked down & rebuilt as private housing. In recent years Bingley has become relatively prosperous once more as a desirable suburb of Bradford. The Bingley Permanent Building Society merged with the Bradford Equitable Building Society to form the Bradford & Bingley Building Society (now a Bank) in 1964. It was decided to site the corporate headquarters in Bingley. This brought several thousand jobs to the town but the building itself did not meet with universal acclaim ."
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