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Things to do in Keighley, West Yorkshire

The West Yorkshire town of Keighley is situated where the River Worth joins the River Aire. It is located on the main A629 between Skipton and Bradford, on the southern edge of the Yorkshire Dales.

View of Keighley from Sugden Brow
View of Keighley from Sugden Brow © Tim Green via Flickr

The early settlement was mentioned in the 11th century Domesday Book as "Cichhelai" which means "Cyhha's farm or clearing".

The spelling may have changed but the pronunciation remains much the same as Keeth-ley.

GWR Large Prarie No. 4144 on the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway
GWR Large Prarie No. 4144 on the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway ©Tom Noble - stock.adobe.com

Keighley's charter to hold a market was granted to Henry de Kighley in 1305. By 1379 the poll tax records show that the village had 109 people.

The town grew from the mid-19th century with the success of the area's textile industry. During the Industrial Revolution Keighley had several large factories producing wool and cotton cloth.

Cliffe Castle Museum Keighley
Cliffe Castle Museum Keighley © Linda Spashett Storye book (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The town also had two companies which produced textile machinery and lathes and they were in business until 2008.

Although Keighley was merged with the Metropolitan Borough of Bradford in 1974, the fiercely independent locals demanded parish status for Keighley. It now has its own town council and elected mayor.

Recent investment has been spent on strengthening the towns' flood defences after severe flooding of the river in 2000.

Present Day Keighley

Situated in "Bronte Country", Keighley has a population of around 51,000.

It has a pleasant Airedale Centre where most major high street retailers are gathered in the indoor shopping precinct. The town has various supermarkets, a cinema, an award-winning brewery and plenty of local pubs and restaurants.

Looking over the fields and valley near Oxenhope, Keighley
Looking over the fields and valley near Oxenhope, Keighley ©derek oldfield - stock.adobe.com

It has retained some of its Victorian architecture although the town centre was extensively remodeled in the 1960s.

In contrast to the rows of tiny terraced houses and tower blocks of flats, there are some elegant mansions along Skipton Road.

Keighley and Worth Valley Steam Railway
Keighley and Worth Valley Steam Railway ©danheighton - stock.adobe.com

Keighley Library was the first Carnegie Library to be opened in England in 1904 with a donation from the Scottish born American philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie.

The parish church of St Andrew's Shared Church is the base for a number of Christian denominations. There are also several mosques serving the Asian community who mostly arrived in Britain in the 1960s.

Mill in Keighley
Mill in Keighley © Helena via Flickr

Keighley is connected to nearby Leeds, Bradford, Shipley, Carlisle and Morecambe by the electrified railway service.

Things to Do Around Keighley

The best way to see some of Yorkshire's prettiest villages is with a trip on the Keighley and Worth Valley Heritage Steam Railway.

Market Cross Keighley
Market Cross Keighley © Tim Green via Flickr

Keighley is situated in Airedale, a scenic valley which is popular with hikers and walkers. Part of the river is the Aire and Calder Navigation Canal which offers pleasant traffic-free walks and great wildlife.

Another popular area to visit is Rombald's Moor with its Stone Age and Bronze Age cup and ring marks, a type of prehistoric art etched into stone.

Cliffe Castle Gardens
Cliffe Castle Gardens ©Barry - stock.adobe.com

Cliffe Hall is on the outskirts of Keighley and houses the local museum.

The charming Yorkshire village of Haworth nearby is best known as the home of the Bronte sisters, Anne, Charlotte and Emily, authors of many classics.

Haworth Parsonage
Haworth Parsonage ©d40xboy - stock.adobe.com

Admirers of the Bronte sisters may like to visit their home Bronte Parsonage, which is now a museum.

The ruin of Top Withens, said to have inspired Wuthering Heights, is a popular walk from Stanbury. Note the directions which are supplied in English and Japanese for the many foreign visitors!

Leeds and Liverpool canal, Micklethwaite Lane, Keighley
Leeds and Liverpool canal, Micklethwaite Lane, Keighley ©derek oldfield - stock.adobe.com

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