First home here
Anne and I bought our first home here in Yeadon on the Westfield Estate. It was for the princely sum of £16,500, quote a lot of money for us in 1980. We enjoyed the first 6 years of our married life here before moving to Guiseley.
The name comes from Old English gaeh and dūn meaning steep hill, and the hilly part of the High Street has been known as “the Steep” for centuries. It was one of three hill settlements: Rawdon, Yeadon and Baildon, and it has been suggested that Rawdon was the main one, with Yeadon being used for burial (there are burial urns nearby) and other religious purposes.
It was part of the Kingdom of Elmet until overrun by the Anglo-Saxons who transferred religion to Guiseley by building a church and divided Yeadon into two areas with Saxon lords (thegns): it remained divided until 1630, as is shown by the names Yeadon and Nether Yeadon. Following the Danish conquest of Yorkshire it became part of the Wapentake of Skyrack but still with Saxon lords.
After the Norman conquest the two manors were taken from their Saxon lords and given to the House of Percy (present Yeadon village) and the Meschines family (Nether Yeadon). According to the Domesday book it comprised four carucates or about 328 acres. Much of the area was later acquired by Bolton Priory and Kirkstall Abbey who exerted considerable power until the Dissolution of the Monasteries. In 1354 the villagers won a court case against Kirkstall Abbey over 300 acres of moorland between Yeadon Tarn (lake) and Horsforth, which now accommodates Leeds Bradford Airport.
In this period there were only thirty or so households scattered around three points: first where the town centre is now; secondly, the main cluster round where the Woolpack is now, and a smaller group of cottages further to the West along Yeadon Gill as Nether Yeadon, probably a marketplace. Sheep were farmed and the wool made into cloth locally, while Yeadon Gill provided water power for a corn mill.
Despite the English Civil War the area prospered and the population more than doubled to over 400 during the 17th century, with 93 hearths (i.e. fireplace with chimney) recorded. Medieval parcels of land were traded into more efficient farms and a new mill built. The town was no more divided and had a significant social organization with Poor relief and a Constable.
The 18th century saw the establishment of a school (now Layton Cottage) and more stone houses in place of the wattle and daub cottages, a windmill and the first steam engine operated mill. The people worshipped at the parish church in Guiseley, some distance away, and started demanding their own church in 1714: however they did not get one till 1844 with the building of St. John’s Church.
In the 19th century, the population rose rapidly from 1,695 in 1801 to 4,109 in 1851 and 7,396 in 1891 as it became a manufacturing rather than farming town. It was particularly noted for women’s apparel. To assist trade, the New Road (now A65) was built in 1827 through Yeadon, linking Kirkstall with Guiseley and the railway followed in the 1840s. In 1845 it was administratively separated from Guiseley. By 1853 it had gas piped by the “Yeadon and Guiseley Gas Light Co”.
The watercourse became badly polluted by effluent from Bradford, Shipley and Bingley, leading to a successful court case against Bradford Corporation in 1868. The Yeadon Waterworks sank a new well in 1861 and began the Cold Harbour Reservoir in 1877. The town’s Board of Health was established in 1863, and set up the cemetery and buildings in 1876. Finally, 1880 the town had its own “Yeadon Town Hall and Mechanics’ Institute”.
20th century onwards
Increasing social unrest and labour disputes in the early 20th century led to a major lockout and subsequent hunger marches in 1913. As a result of the dispute, the working week in the textile mills was shortened, and workers received a pay rise, although this fell short of the demands of the trade unions who in consequence streamlined their organisation. In 1937 it became part of the Aireborough district, being the most populous township of over ten thousand.