Sunset over fields, Guiseley
Home for over 35 years
I used to live in Guiseley, West Yorkshire. That was where Anne and I bought our second home and where all 3 of our children were raised and went to school.
How did Guiseley get its name?
After the collapse of Roman rule here in the fourth century, wave after wave of Germanic invaders made their way up the river valleys. They were led by petty chieftains who selected promising locations for settlement. These new comers associated Roman culture in general, and city life in particular, with decadance. They took pride in a hard life. To pursue manliness they cleared areas of forest, lived in wooden huts, kept sheep and cattle, ploughed the soil, planted grain crops and and hunted. These forest clearings were called “leahs” and the word still survives as a suffix to many local places including Otley, Ilkley, Burley and Shipley.
The precise date, during the seven hundred years of barbarian invasion, when Gislic created his new settlement here cannot be determined. He sited it a mile or two from the nearest river and might have been drawn to the spot after noticing the abundant supply of fresh water provided by the spring which for centuries in the future will feed the village well. “Gislic” is a diminutive, a pet name, which the Saxon chief who came here continued to use adult life. The survival of the new community was problematic, rather than guaranteed, but Gislic’s leadership was efficient enough to ensure its continuance after his death. The pioneering efforts of this blond – haired Angle are commemorated in the name given to his village, Gislic’s leah, or Gislic’s glade.
Guiseley with a great tract of land centered in Otley was given by the King of Northumbria to the Archbishop of York perhaps in the 7th century. The parish of Guiseley was organised in the 12th century and included Esholt, Yeadon, Rawdon and Horsforth. Guiseley is listed in the Domesday Book, albeit under the main listing for Ilkley, this is what is says:
In OTLEY with these outliers: STUBHAM; MIDDLETON; DENTON; CLIFTON; BICHERTUN; FARNLEY; (Nether) TIMBLE; ECTONE; POOL; GUISLEY; HAWKSWORTH; another (‘Little’) HAWKSWORTH; BAILDON; MENSTON; BURLEY (in Wharfedale); ILKLEY ILLICLEIA. Between them all, 60 carucates and 6 bovates taxable, in which 35 ploughs are possible. Archbishop Aldred had this as 1 manor. Now Archbishop Thomas has in lordship 2 ploughs; and 6 villagers and 10 smallholders who have 5 ploughs. There are 5 Freemen who have 4 villagers and 9 smallholders with 5 ploughs. A church and a priest with 1 villager and 1 plough. Meadow, 4 acres; woodland pasture, 2 leagues, 3 furlongs long and as wide; underwood, 9 leagues long and as wide; arable land, 2 leagues long and 2 wide; moor, 2 leagues long and 1 wide. The largest part of this manor is waste. Value before 1066 £10; now £3.
So there you have it, Guiseley (mis-spelt then or now, take your pick!) as mentioned in the Domesday book. Value before 1066 £10; after the Domesday Book £3, probably worth half that now!
In 1822, the Parish of GUISELEY contained:
“GUISELEY, a parish-town, in the upper-division of the wapentake of Skyrack, liberty of Cawood, Wistow, and Otley; 2 miles S. of Otley, 9 from Bradford, 10 from Leeds, 29 from York. Pop. 1,213.” The Church is a rectory, dedicated to St. Oswald (see photograph), in the deanery of the Ainsty, value, £26. Patron, Trinity College, Cambridge.
You can find out more about the Norman Church in Guiseley by visiting St. Oswald’s web site.
Guiseley Wells, believed to be where the town was originally established more than a 1,000 years ago have been restored.
The work was supported by a grant from the Millennium Awards Scheme of £4,900. The work involved clearing away the debris and restoring the surrounding paving. The Wells – at the corner of Springfield Road and Butts Lane – had in recent years fallen into disrepair and was covered in algae and silted up with sand and earth.
Volunteer helpers removed a skip full of sand and earth and dug down into the fast flowing Wells to a depth of about three feet. They eventually reached down to the original paving stones at the the base of the Wells where they found a few old coins but nothing of value. The water which comes from the springs on the moors above Guiseley, can now be clearly seen and it is estimated that it is flowing through the Wells at a rate of 60 million gallons a year.
Small but busy Town
Guiseley is a small town north west of Leeds in West Yorkshire, England. As with many Yorkshire towns and cities there used to be a large amount of wool and textile business here, not so anymore. It’s now highly residential, but a few big companies exist and lots of smaller ones.
Today Guiseley is a busy little town on the commuter belt of Leeds. The main road through the town is the A65 Leeds to Ilkley road. If you drive from Leeds to Ilkley and beyond then you might know Guiseley for its traffic system, the junction at Guiseley Retail park is famous for confusing drivers. It’s known locally as the Magic Roundabout. During its construction the workers dug through the main electric cable twice, then abandoned work for a month because (rumour has it…) “someone” forgot that the Ilkley-Leeds railway tunnel ran underneath it. Consequently the town becomes very busy traffic wise.
In the late 1980’s William Morrison PLC opened a supermarket in the centre of the town. This had the effect of waking the place up, shops that closed on a Saturday afternoon due to lack of trade eventually opened up again as more and more people came to do their shopping. We now have the pleasure of two retail parks in the town. These retail centres contain the obligatory McDonald’s and KFC, electrical stores and DIY outlets.
Other well known companies originally in Guiseley were Invensys Brook Crompton, formerly known as Crompton Parkinson, they claim to be the leading manufacturer of electric motors, including high efficiency W motors, for the global industrial market. sadly now demolished to make way for yet more houses. Also Carter and Parker, more commonly known as Wendy Wools, well they make, erm, wool.
The stocks in Town Gate, Guiseley, just visible on the right hand side of the photo. Probably dating from the late middle ages. Not used recently, however plans are afoot!!!!
Fish and Chips
Guiseley is a small town mostly famous for being the home of the original Harry Ramsden’s Fish and Chip Shop. However as mentioned earlier it has a history dating way beyond the 1930’s when Harry produced his first portion of Haddock and Chips. Sadly, as a brand Harry Ramsden’s no longer operates from Guiseley, but the restaurant and shop is still open and run by the Wetherby Whaler.