Eccleshill, West Yorkshire

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This article is about the City of Bradford area and ward. For the civil parish in Lancashire, see Eccleshill, Lancashire.
Harrogate Road - Eccleshill - - 592253.jpg
Harrogate Road, Eccleshill
Eccleshill is located in West Yorkshire
 Eccleshill shown within West Yorkshire
Population 17,945 (Ward. 2011)
OS grid reference SE175358
Metropolitan borough City of Bradford
Metropolitan county West Yorkshire
Region Yorkshire and the Humber
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town BRADFORD
Postcode district BD2 & BD10
Dialling code 01274
Police West Yorkshire
Fire West Yorkshire
Ambulance Yorkshire
EU Parliament Yorkshire and the Humber
Councillors Ann Wallace (Liberal Democrats)
Geoffrey Reid (Liberal Democrats)
Ruth Billheimer (Labour)
List of places

Coordinates: 53°49′26″N 1°44′13″W / 53.824°N 1.737°W / 53.824; -1.737

Eccleshill is an area, former village, and ward in the City of Bradford Metropolitan District in the county of West Yorkshire, England. The ward population of Eccleshill is 17,540,[1] increasing at the 2011 Census to 17,945.[2]

Eccleshill is a more or less completely residential urban area with very little open space[1] although there is substantial open land directly to the east.

The origins of the name Eccleshill are uncertain. At the time of the Domesday Book the area was known as Egleshill either meaning 'eagles hill'[3] or perhaps named after a Saxon landlord called Aikel or Eckil—alternatively it could mean Ecclesiastical Hill.[4]


In Roman times the Eccleshill area was crossed by two lanes. One lane was along what is now Norman Lane and the other to Apperley Bridge down the road now known as Bank.[4]

After the Norman Conquest the lands of Eccleshill were given to William, Earl of Warren.[3] In 1274 ownership of lands passed to the Sheffields and in 1407 to the Bolling family of Calverley then the Scargills, Saviles, Wyatts, Zouches, Stanhopes, Hirds, and then to Jeremiah Rawson.[3]

In the Middle Ages Eccleshill was shunned by church authorities after a supposed incident in which it is said a preacher or monk was stoned to death on the main road though Eccleshill village.[4] This supposed incident is said to be the reason behind naming the main road 'Stony Lane'. The real explanation may be that either the road was stony or that it led on to Stone Hall.

Eccleshill Hall[edit]

The remains of gateposts to Eccleshill Hall embedded in a wall

In 1713 Eccleshill Hall was built for Dr Stanhope, located to the east of Stony Lane at the site of previous Eccleshill Halls, on what is now Victoria Road.[3] Eccleshill hall was demolished in 1878 and all that remains are parts of stone gateposts embedded in a roadside wall.[4]

Church history[edit]

Initially the churches built in Eccleshill were nonconformist. Before 1775 the only place of worship in Eccleshill was The Quaker Meeting House on Tunwell Lane.[5] In 1775 Prospect Chapel also known as Bank Top Chapel a Wesleyan Chapel was constructed on Lands Lane off Norman Lane.[6] In 1776 Methodist John Wesley (1703-1791) preached there.[6] On the opposite side of Norman Lane is Prospect Chapel burial ground, created in 1823.[4] Doctrinal disagreement led to a split and the establishment in 1823 of Salem Independent Chapel.[5] Salem Chapel and Sunday school both now demolished, were built on Dobby Row, an event that was to prompt the renaming of the street to Chapel Street.[4] The Chapel Street chapel was eventually replaced by the Congregational Church on Victoria Road near Harrogate Road, built in 1889.[5] Salem Chapel burial ground remains on Chapel Street.[4] The Congregational Church was demolished in the 1960s and the United Reformed Church, a single storey building built on the site in 1967 and the Congregational Church building was demolished in 1979/80.[5]

A further split at Prospect Chapel had led to the establishment of Eccleshill United Methodist Chapel on the corner of Workhouse fold now named Stewart Close.[5] In 1854 the remaining worshippers of Prospect Chapel built Eccleshill Wesleyan Methodist Chapel in Stony Lane and sold Prospect Chapel.[5] The old Prospect Chapel building had many subsequent uses including as an organ works.[3] When congregations shrank at the Wesleyan Methodist Church on Stony Lane worshippers moved to join the Primitive Methodist Chapel built in 1911 on Norman Lane to become Eccleshill Methodist Church.[5] There are plans to demolish the Eccleshill Methodist Church and replace it with apartments. The Wesleyan Methodist Chapel was sold in 1965 then became the Ukrainian Autocephalic Orthodox Church.[5][7]

* listed building

Construction of St. Lukes church was ordered by the Rev William Scoresby, Vicar of Bradford[3] and this was consecrated in 1848. It was designed in a vertical Gothic style with a spire, however the spire was removed in circa 1971 when the stonework began crumbling.[4] The ecclesiastical parish of Eccleshill takes in Greengates, and Apperley Bridge south of the River Aire.

Industrial, commercial and transport history[edit]

The quarrying, pottery, spinning and weaving industries have been located in the area for some time but only quarrying remains today.

Wool and Mills[edit]

Eccleshill has a number of mills. The Old Mill on Victoria Road was a woollen mill built in 1800 but was destroyed by fire in 1816.[8] The present building on the site is dated 1863 although parts of it date back to the early 1800s. On the other side of Victoria Road from the Old Mill is a row of houses and street once known as Dobby Row - a dobby being part of an early form of weaving loom - a Dobby loom, itself taking its name from a corruption of the words 'draw boy' - a weaving assistant.[4]

In around 1816 Union Mill on Harrogate Road was constructed for the manufacture of woollens.[4] Later a further three storey mill building was added to the south of the site. From 1892 to 1983 John Pilley and Sons owned and operated the mills[9] and so the mills became known as Pilley's Mill. Union Mills had a serious fire in 1905.[10] Today the buildings are a mixture of commercial and light industrial units but there are plans to redevelop the whole site.

In the 1838 White's Directory Eccleshill is described as engaged in the manufacture of white woollen cloth.[3] In 1872 Tunwell Mill was built by Messrs Smith and Hutton as a woollen mill[3] on Tunwell Lane near Tun Well (Town Well) directly south of Stony Lane—although today's Tunwell Mills are not the original mill building.

At the north end of Stone Hall Road is a mill variously known as Stone Hall Shed and Whiteley's Mill where worsted was manufactured.[11] Halfway down Stone Hall Road off to the west stood Victoria Mill, a worsted mill. This mill has been demolished and domestic properties now stand on the site.[4]

Moorside Mills was built on Moorside Road in 1875 by John Moore for worsted spinning.[12][13][14] In 1919 two floors were added and a clock tower as a war memorial to those who had died in the First World War.[10] Ownership of the mill changed hands many times and in 1970 Bradford Metropolitan District Council bought the property from Messrs. W. & J. Whitehead to create the Bradford Industrial Museum.[13]


In 1837, the Manor Pottery was established by Jeremiah Rawson, lord of the manor on a site east of the Undercliffe Road-Pullan Avenue junction using beds of shale, fireclay and coal at a deep quarry near Bolton Junction[3][8][15] at a site now partly occupied by Kents Fitness Gym. There was a rail tunnel under Leeds Road, then known as Pottery Lane, with waggons carrying clay from the quarry to the pottery on the other side of the road.[3] Manor Pottery produced a salt glazed brown stoneware, household utensils, brown and cream crockery, ornaments, garden vases, busts, and statuettes although these did not bear any distinguishing marks.[4][8][15][16] Although the product stood comparison with other local wares, the local market for pottery was eventually supplied by better and cheaper stoneware from Staffordshire, and by 1867 the pottery had been sold to William Woodhead and production switched over to house bricks, firebricks and sewer pipes.[3][15][16] The kilns were shut down in the early 20th century, and in 1921 the chimney was demolished,[3][15] however the manor house still remains.[3][17]

Coal Pits[edit]

There were numerous coal pits in what is now the Thorpe Edge and Ravenscliffe areas of Eccleshill. This coal was required for steam powered machinery and the pottery. Unfortunately the digging of the coal pits caused many local water wells to run dry.

Eccleshill Mechanics' Institute[edit]

The former Eccleshill Mechanics' Institute* (1868), Stone Hall Road

Eccleshill Mechanics' Institute on Stone Hall Road was built in 1868.[18] Charles Bottomley converted the upper floor of the Eccleshill Mechanics' Institute into a 359 seat picture hall which he named Eccleshill Picture House and then opened in 1911.[19] Shortly after this the cinema was renamed 'Picture Palace' but closed in 1931 never running any 'talkies'.[3][19] Before construction of the building the institute used to meet in the now demolished school buildings at the western end of Chapel Street on a site now occupied by Eccleshill Victoria Conservative Club.


For the last two hundred years the shopping centre for Eccleshill has been Stony Lane and it was here that Henry Sparks, founder of Sparks Bakeries, had his first shop.[3]

Transport history[edit]

In 1804 the Dudley Hill to Killinghall turnpike was constructed.[3] In 1889 Mill Lane, Town Lane and Town Street were renamed Victoria Road to mark the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria that year.[4] The tram service came from central Bradford up Stone Hall Road to a terminus in front of the Eccleshill Mechanics Institute.[3] The tram service also went along Harrogate road but because of the low rail bridge at Eccleshill Station only single decker trams could get under.[20]

The Railway and Eccleshill Railway Station[edit]

In 1874 the Great Northern Railway opened its Laisterdyke - Shipley branch (the Shipley and Windhill line), a six-mile double track branch line from Quarry Gap junction in Thornbury to Shipley and Windhill railway station, passing Eccleshill, Idle and Thackley railway stations.[21] Eccleshill railway station opened in 1875 with its sidings and coal yard.[18] This was located just north of the rail bridge crossing over Harrogate Road. Only the embankment and abutment of one side of the rail bridge remain.[4] The former Station Hotel on Harrogate Road took its name from its proximity to the railway station. The railway station closed to passengers in 1931 although goods traffic continued on the line until 1964.[22] Subsequently the line was taken up and the bridge demolished.

The Palladium / Regal cinema[edit]

In 1928 Ralph Dickinson created the purpose-built 1,000 seat Palladium Cinema on Norman Lane, opened in 1929.[19] Later the cinema changed ownership and in 1931 the new owner John Lambert altered the name to Regal.[19] In 1958 the cinema closed for refurbishment and updating, and reopened later that year, but closed finally in 1966.[19] Later with the construction of an extra internal floor the building was used as a bingo hall, a snooker hall and then a fitness centre.[19]

Schools history[edit]

The school on Fagley Lane was built in 1845.[4] The school in Chapel Street (1875) was declared unsuitable in 1884 and to replace it the Central Board School was built in 1887 on the site of the old Eccleshill Hall.[3] In 1889 the Central Board School was renamed Hutton School after the chairman of the School Board.[3] After a period as a fitness centre the building was demolished in 2016 to make way for housing.


Eccleshill is bounded in the east by Pudsey and Fagley Beck— flowing a short distance directly north under the name Carr Beck to meet the River Aire. To the south is Bradford Moor, round to the west Undercliffe and Bolton, to the north Idle, and to the north-east Greengates.


Fagley is an area to the south-east of Eccleshill ward. The local economy includes a sandstone quarry,[23] and a riding school.[24] Most of the shops including the post office are on Fagley Road running east-west.[25] To the east in Lower Fagley is Fagley's only existing pub, the Blue Pig Inn in rural surroundings next to Fagley Beck, the Leeds Country Way bridle path, and the border with Pudsey.[26][27] The local school is Fagley Primary School[28] and in the east of Fagley is the Fagley Youth and Community Centre.[29]


Ravenscliffe is a housing estate in the north-east of Eccleshill. In Ravenscliffe is a sub post office[30] and The Gateway Community and Children's Centre.[31]


The Monkey Bridge

At the junction of Stony Lane and Victoria Road by the roadside was the 19th century lock-up and a public urinal, however these have been walled up for some considerable time. The lock-up and urinal are now over-topped by a section of raised stone paved pavement with railings known as 'The Monkey Bridge'[3] overlooking a small triangular area of land at the road junction that was the site of the village stocks.

Eccleshill War Memorial

North of Stony Lane is the former Stoney Lane Quarry now a recreation ground known as The Deph, a grassed area with a fenced children's play ground and triangulation pillar.[32] South of Stony Lane is a grassed recreation ground or common with Village Green Status. Cricket and football were played here but more suitable grounds became available.[3] Eccleshill War Memorial is on the northern side[33] and to the south of the Recreation Ground on Moorwell Place is a terrace of listed former weavers' houses[34] and a bowling green.

There are many historic wells in Eccleshill, e.g. Moor Well, and Tun Well however there is a Holy Well covered by a manhole cover, located in a private garden off Harrogate Road opposite the end of Ravenscliffe Avenue, close to the site of Eccleshill Railway Station. This historic well and its associated grove dates back to Roman times.[35]

Eccleshill Pool

The Eccleshill (Swimming) Pool is located on Harrogate Road towards Greengates.[36]

To the east of Harrogate Road can be found the Eccleshill NHS Treatment Centre,[37] and playing fields. East of the playing fields is the Eccleshill Community Hospital,[38] Eccleshill Park—an area of grassland, and the Eccleshill Adventure Playground.[39]

Eccleshill has four post offices, one on Harrogate Road, one in Fagley and anothers in Ravenscliffe and Thorpe Edge. There is also a driving test centre on Victoria Road.[40] Eccleshill Police Station is not in Eccleshill ward but just outside in Idle.[41] At the western end of Norman Lane is Enterprise 5, a large shopping centre with a Morrisons supermarket together with Poundland, Poundstretcher, Pets at Home and Pure Gym and other shops.[42]

Eccleshill has a number of public houses particularly along Victoria Road and Norman Lane, however several public houses along Harrogate Road have closed in recent years.[43]

Listed buildings

Eccleshill's listed buildings include private houses on Moorside Road,[44] the Ukrainian Autocephalic Orthodox church, a public house and a private house on Stony Lane,[45] private houses on Stone Hall Road and Back Stone Hall Road,[46] listed farmhouses and former farmhouses on Fagley Lane and Fagley Road,[47] listed three-storey former weavers' houses (1851–54) on Moorwell Place,[34] and a listed former Wesleyan chapel (1775) on Lands Lane.[48] and the Manor House off Leeds Road.[17]

Bradford Industrial Museum[edit]

Entrance to Bradford Industrial Museum on Moorside Road

In the south of Eccleshill off Moorside Road close to Fagley is the Bradford Industrial Museum in what was Moorside Mills.[13][49] This museum houses machinery from local textile and printing industries and has a row of workers houses. It used to house the popular Horses at Work exhibition but this has now closed.[50]


Originally built in 1854 as a Wesleyan Methodist Church, the Ukrainian Autocephalic Orthodox church is the only listed church building in Eccleshill.[7] Tucked behind this church is a former Wesleyan Sunday School of 1885,[4] now residential accommodation.

* listed building


Eccleshill was an independent township up until 1899 when along with Thornton, Tong, Idle and North Bierley it joined with Bradford.[3][18] As of 2004, Eccleshill ward includes the south-east quadrant of Greengates, Thorpe Edge housing estate, part of Five Lane Ends, Bank Top, the eponymous Eccleshill, Fagley and the Ravenscliffe housing estate.[1]


To the east of Eccleshill near Fagley is a sandstone quarry.[23] Along the south-western end of Victoria Road is the Victoria Industrial Estate including The Old Mill and a variety of commercial and light industrial units.[51] Similarly, nearby Union Mills (Pilley's Mill) is a mixture of commercial and light industrial units.


Eccleshill Library on Bolton Road

To the west in Swain House is the Hanson Academy and off Harrogate Road is Eccleshill North Middle School,[52] while Eccleshill Public Library is on Bolton Road.[53] Also home to Fagley primary school, Falsgrave Avenue, Fagley


The area is served by the First Bradford 640, 641 and 645 Green Line bus services. The main roads through the area are the north—south A658 Harrogate Road, and the A6176 Bolton Road—Pullan Avenue.


Eccleshill United Football Club are currently members of the Northern Counties East Football League Premier Division. Other local sports teams include Eccleshill Badminton Club[54] who use the facilities of Hanson Academy, and Victoria Rangers A.R.L.F.C. and Victoria Rangers A.F.C. who use the facilities of Eccleshill Sports and Social Club.[55] On the Union Mills site next to Pilley's Mill is a reservoir or mill pond known as Pilley's Dam. This reservoir is used for recreational angling and angling competitions and bream, carp, perch and pike can be caught.[56]


The Eccleshill Village Fair is held annually in The Delph a grassed over former Stoney Lane Quarry north of Stony Lane.[57] The spelling of Stoney/Stony Lane is contentious even today although older maps favour the Stoney spelling.

Notable people[edit]

See the category People from Eccleshill.

Artist David Hockney (b. 1937) grew up in Eccleshill.[58] TV presenter, journalist, and game show host Richard Whiteley (1943–2005) was born in Eccleshill into a family of mill owners, and lived there in his youth.[11] The company was Thomas Whiteley & Co. (1889–1963) worsted manufacturers[11] based in mill premises off Stone Hall Road. TV presenter and journalist Christa Ackroyd (b. 1957) and actor Duncan Preston (b. 1946) were born in Eccleshill.[59]

Popular Victorian actress and 'postcard beauty' Marie Studholme (1872–1930) was born at Stone Hall, Eccleshill.[60] Inventor Edward Spurr (1907–1998) was brought up in Eccleshill[61] and Yorkshire and England cricketer Don Brennan (1920–1985) was born in Eccleshill.[62]

Arthur Wood (1898–1973), a Yorkshire and England cricketer was born in Fagley[63] and Eric Anderson (1915–1943), a posthumous recipient of the Victoria Cross lived in Ashfield Place, Fagley.[64]


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External links[edit]

Eccleshill ward