The Ripleys’ use of water in the Bowling valley,Titus Salt & the Bowling Tough : early 1850s

Before Ripley Ville was built. More on the Ripleys’ use of water from Bowling Beck and elsewhere from the Bowling valley in the early 1850s, the complaints of Walkers Co against them and the connections to Titus Salt and the ‘Bowling Tough’.

Copyright R L (Bob) Walker 2016 All rights reserved.



The Ripleys’ use of the water of the Bowling valley, Titus Salt and the Bowling Tough : early 1850s

Previous post & this post

I have had a bit more time to look at the archive documents related to the case of Wood & Walkers and the Ripleys in the early 1850s. This post is a follow up to the previous one. I have updated that one from when it was first published last month on April 1st. It now conforms with the newer information. This helped to firm up the date for the original parts of the affidavit of Benjamin Murgatroyd. As Superintendent of Bowling Dyeworks, he had first-hand information about changes at the Works and their use of water and dyewares in worsted dyeing between 1830s and early 1850s; information not available elsewhere.

This post goes into more detail on;

  • the grounds for the complaint and the court case of John Wood, William Walker and Charles Walker (Walkers & Co) against Edward and Henry William Ripley (the Ripleys)
  • and the defense of the Ripleys’ actions as prepared by their solicitors.

Titus Salt became involved in an earlier case, a more general objection by Bradford’s worsted manufacturers to the Ripleys’ actions in 1853 and more directly in the case of Walkers & Co and the Ripleys.

The ‘Bowling Tough’, so called, played a part in the Ripleys’ defense.

Context and overview : 1850-1853

Large scale audacious plans

As Wood and Walkers’ case against the Ripleys went through the courts between 1851 and 1853 it became clear to them, to manufacturers in inner south Bradford, other water-users and the area’s population that H W Ripley had ambitious plans; plans that were audacious and in execution verged on the maverick.(1) Ripley was pursuing a course of action that would put him in the position of the main supplier of water across the area below Bowling Dyeworks in south Bradford. Buying land from Bowling Ironworks, Ripley had secured access to previously unquantified sources of water that were additional to those of Bowling Beck.(2)

High stakes

H W Ripley would claim that these supplies were equal in volume to five times the total that Bradford Waterworks, the only other local waterworks, had available for all of Bradford. In a very short period Ripley had work carried out to pump up, store and channel these waters; investing some £30,000.(3) In this water dispute between the town’s foremost worsted dyer, diversifying his activities, and a large and long-established worsted manufacturer, the stakes were high. Wood & Walkers employed 3,000 hands. As part of their own evidence for the court proceedings, they stated that they had £100,000 invested in their mills and premises. As the previous post shows, these were three quarters of a mile down dale and down stream from Bowling Dyeworks on Bridge Street in Bradford.

Fig 1 Map c 1800 : Bowling Beck, Cuckoo Bridge and Bridge Street

detail Centre of Bradford c1800 route Bowling Beck into town

Wood & Walkers Mils and premises were on Bridge Street. This took its name from Cuckoo Bridge. Map Source: ‘The Story of Bradford’, Margaret Law (1913). Copyright may apply. Detail south and central Bradford with colour added.

Higher stakes

The bulk of the Ripleys’ construction work for water management in and near Bowling Dyework was carried out by October 1852. The scale and range of the visible works, across the upper end of Bowling valley, were noted by Walker & Co’s surveyor, Mr Martin, in early February of that year.(4) As Walker & Co’s case against the Ripleys was progressed, what Ripley would do or was prepared to do to bring his own plans on water-supply to fruition became clearer.  Three months into 1853, some town councillors, aldermen and officers of the Bradford Corporation had become increasingly worried. They saw their own plans, for Bradford as a whole, interfered with and that their sole rights and responsibility as the authority for the health and sanitation of the town, including the conditions of streets and provision of sewerage, were under challenge.(5) In June 1853 the Corporation applied for an injunction to the Court of Exchequer in London to stop men, working for the Ripleys, from digging up the streets of the town. The men were laying water pipes to supply the Ripleys’ water for profit to Mills in the region of Bridge Street.(6) The stakes in a widening dispute got even higher.

In 1850, John Wood and the Walkers had found that in spite of court actions; a judgement in their favour and one that was going their way, the Ripleys had not stopped the polluting Bowling Beck nor, as they saw it, from interfering with the supply of water coming to Walkers & Co’s Mills and premises on Bridge Street. The Ripleys had appeared to be planning remedial works in and near Bowling Dyeworks. Trust between the two parties was low. By the February of 1852 Walkers & Co were both unconvinced of how practical the Ripley’s plans for water management in the Bowling valley were and very apprehensive about the safety of construction work being carried forward for the Ripleys (NB3).(7)

Walkers & Co v the Ripleys

Walkers & Co’s complaint 1850/1

When eventually brought to court, Walker & Co’s complaint against the Ripleys was couched in very broad terms. It extended to interference with the flow within the Bowling valley of surface and underground water and reducing their quality and utility. Bowling Beck was the focus for surface water and Bowling Colliery Sough for underground water.

Bowling Beck

Walker & Co’s allegations about the Beck were in terms of flow, pollution or its ‘injurious’ condition. Their ‘plaint’, which was designed to cover all potentially injurious substances poured or discharged into Bowling Beck above Wood and Walkers’ premises, included;

  • dye wares
  • dye liquor
  • foul and impure water
  • lees
  • washings
  • refuse
  • other filthy noxious and offensive substances

The water coming to them, they claimed, was ‘foul, dirty and unfit’ for the supply of Walkers’ Mills and for the ‘use and enjoyment of their premises’ (NB3403401-05)

Bowling Colliery Sough

Bowling Dyeworks was built ‘over or near over’ the Bowling Colliery Sough which joined Bowling Beck below Bowling Dyeworks and above Walker Co’s Mill. It was thought that the Ripleys’ very recent work in the extraction of underground water at their Bowling Dyeworks site was interfering with the flow of water through the sough,. In consequence it featured alongside the Beck in parts of Walkers Co’s complaint and prominently in the expert evidence sought and prepared in the Ripleys’ counter-arguments. (8)

Conditions of Bowling Beck 1834-1848

Condition of Bowling Beck and remedy by John Wood : 1834 -1838

The discharge of spent dyewares into Bowling Beck by the Ripleys had been a problem since the 1830s. John Wood, who was then the sole owner of the Mills on Bridge Street, had brought concerns about the water of Bowling Beck to the attention of Edward Ripley as early as 1834. (9) Face to face discussions and an exchange of solicitors letters had brought no improvement. So John Wood and new partner William Walker took steps on their own land to protect their steam engines, worsted spinning mills and premises from the ‘fouled water’ coming down Bowling Beck. This was done by the construction of ‘a sluice or clough’ with a ‘drain’ to take water to the reservoir of their Mills on Bridge Street. The sluice gate was kept closed during the daytime when Bowling Dyeworks operated. It was then opened at night to let relatively purer water from Bowling Beck into Wood’s reservoir. This was the position by 1838. (NB3403702-NB3403801)

Water use misuse and court cases lower Bowling valley : 1848 – 1851

By 1848 this remedy no longer gave the water that Wood and the Walkers needed to conduct their business. In addition to the fouling, water was now coming to them already heated. In June of that year they decided;

‘to insist upon their legal right to have the water of the Beck [flow to their] mills and premises in a pure and unpolluted state’ (NB3403803)

In a series of three civil actions, Walkers & Co took court action first against Christopher and Edward Waud, worsted spinners and wool-combers who, in 1844, had a Mill built above them on Bowling Beck. Walkers and Co won the case with a final judgement given towards the end of October 1849. The determination of the case in Walker & Co’s favour did not alter the behaviour of the Ripleys at Bowling Dyeworks. It did not influence those of William Sutcliffe, occupier of the New Dye Works built even more recently above Mill Lane, which was also discharging ‘fouled water’ to Bowling Beck. Sutcliffe argued that Wood & Walkers’ case against the Wauds was limited to the voiding of heated waters into Bowling Beck (NB3402305). In response and to try and make good deficiencies in the former court ruling, Walker & Co started a second court action in June 1850. This time against William Sutclffe. (10) The case was heard at York Assizes on 22nd July of that year and a final judgement given in the first week in January 1851. (NB3402401&2 & NB3404102-04)

Well before the final judgement was given Ripleys’ solicitors were reporting the likely threat of court proceedings, by Walkers & Co against the Ripleys, to H W Ripley.  Such action had been contemplated in October of the previous year but Walkers had avoided taking two cases through the courts at once. On the 1st January 1851 the case against the Ripleys was filed.

Fig 2  Sketch c1825 : Cuckoo Bridge, Bowling Beck & Bridge Street

Sketch of Cuckoo Bridge central Bradford c.1830 (with Bowling Beck passing under Bridge Street)

‘This sketch may be a re-imagining of the scene. It does not show the turn in the river beyond the bridge suggested by the detail of the map of the town of Bradford c1800 (Fig 1 above). Nor does it show the Walkers & Co’s Mill, which under John Wood’s control was already the largest in the town by 1833.

A Court Case joined but not resolved

H W Ripley acted to appoint Tolson, Clough and Taylor as their attorneys in February 1851. John Taylor appears to have been H W Ripley’s main contact  The case was expected to come to trial in March 1851 but was rescheduled to June of that year at York Assizes. The decision of the jury was divided. Required to answer two question asked of them by the judge, the jury decided that the Ripleys had infringed Walker & Co’s rights but did not agree that this had gone on as long as Walkers & Co claimed. As a civil case this left the two sides to present new evidence at a further hearing or to come to a resolution themselves in settlement.

Deed of Covenant : postponements and missed opportunities

There were postponements from both sides to give more time for the preparation of evidence and counter-evidence. Then a fire at Walkers & Co’s mill and the serious illness of one of H W Ripley’s daughter caused each, one after the other, to disengage with the issue. When progress seemed unlikely, a potential path towards settlement came about unexpectedly when H W Ripley signed an ‘Agreement of Reference’. Ripleys’ solicitors noted in their accounts that this was done ‘in our absence’. (NB3713605) With solicitors re-involved on both sides, the parties agreed instead to resolve outstanding issues through a Deed of Covenant. A resolution of the major points for this was reached by early 1853. A flurry of meetings between owners and solicitors on both sides took place on the two days 29th and 31st of March of that year. An opportunity to move the agreement forward was frustrated when his solicitor, John Taylor, found H H Ripley was ‘not yet at Bowling Lodge’, when he called in the morning. Then an attempted late insertion of a clause by Walkers & Co about ‘wash-houses’ was strongly contested by Ripley. A compromise clause suggested by Taylor was rejected by H W Ripley towards the end of August 1853. At this point, the archive trail on Walkers & Co case against the Ripleys goes cold.

Change of landscape

As indicated earlier in the post, Bradford Corporation had by then already taken out an injunction against Ripley’s men for digging up the streets. The flurry of activity in March 1853 looks as if it was prompted by a determination to conclude an agreement between Walkers & Co and the Ripleys before the dispute with the Corporation had to be joined in earnest or escalated. With that opportunity missed the case was very much overtaken by events. H W Ripley had by mid-1853 changed the landscape, metaphorically, in commercial terms and physically in the Bowling valley. The landscape against which Walkers & Co had begun their court action was three years later barely recognisable. Remedial action, dealing with Walker & Co’s complaint of pollution and reduced water supply was addressed through the actions H W Ripley had taken and was seeking to take to shape conditions across inner south Bradford. Subsiding pits had been built. As Benjamin Murgatroyds affidavit makes clear, 100s of cartloads of spent dyewares were being settled out and taken away or waiting for disposal, rather than being discharged to Bowling Beck. Walkers & Co’s legal complaints became subsumed in the larger contest of court cases, rival Parliamentary Bills and negotiations between the Ripleys and Bradford Corporation which then ensued.

Water use and supply after 1853

Court proceedings between Bradford Corporation and the Ripleys continued through into the early 1860s. H W Ripley continued to sell water through Bowling Waterworks directly to Mills and to individual property owners into the latter end of 1867. He continued to supply water within his own estate in Bowling beyond that date. Large scale projects by Bradford Corporation to improve water-supply across the town required Water Acts to be passed by parliament and the construction of reservoirs at Doe Park, Chellow Dean, Barden and elsewhere. These early efforts were bolstered, as need demanded, by auxiliary supplies from the water resources of Bowling Waterworks, on terms negotiated with H W Ripley.(11)

Titus Salt

Salt in Bradford : early 1850s

By 1850 Titus Salt was no longer mayor of Bradford. He had been town mayor until September 1849. He was followed by Henry Forbes and then from October 1851 by William Rand. The impacts of Salt’s mayoral year were carried over into 1850 with the presentation of the Report of the Committee on the Moral Condition of Bradford in March 1850 and ensuing discussion and action.(12) Salt’s Mill premises were still in Bradford and, in connection with this early part of the ‘water dispute’, he was still first among equals as the President of the Chamber of Commerce which then represented both Bradford and Halifax.

Salt’s role in water disputes of early 1850s

There are few documents from Walkers & Co’s side of their court case in the archives I have been using. Much information comes from the Ripleys’ side and their solicitors. Used in combination, it is clear from these that Titus Salt had provided an affidavit for John Wood in the case of Wood v Sutcliffe. He also provided one in the case of Walkers & Co and the Ripleys. Neither are contained in the archive. Salt was, in addition, named as the figure-head of a Memorandum originating within the Town Council in autumn 1852. This laid out the concerns of a group of manufacturers in the town who felt the recent actions in water use and management were an actual or potential threat to their business. The exact contents of the Memorandum and Salt’s role in organising it will have to wait until later. It was of sufficient importance and enough potential relevance to the determination or settlement of the case of Walkers & Co and the Ripleys for the Ripleys’ solicitors to request a copy of it from Bradford’s Town Clerk in January 1853 (NB3712804) The story of Titus Salt’s move to the valley of the Aire are usually presented as a move from the pollution, moral and environmental, of Bradford. As laid out above, the water disputes of early 1850s introduce and give a prominence to the business and commercial risks of water shortages and the fouling of water courses for a Bradford Mill owner. Their particular part in persuading Titus Salt to move to the valley of the Aire remain to be examined.

Bowling Tough

The Bowling Tough was the name used in this period for a clay that occurred in surface deposits and natural outcrops  More than 150 years later, with the valley built over and its landscape largely man-made, it’s presence is hidden.  In 1850 and as John Wood and Walkers case against the Ripleys progressed, it was being described, in affidavits in preparation, as ‘a thick impermeable clay’.  Importance was attached to where it lay within the underlying geological strata both in relation to the coal seams and to Bowling Colliery Sough.  The experts brought in on the Ripleys’ side also considered its relevance when taking account of the ‘the steepness’ of the Bowling valley.

Bowling Beck : natural drain

They saw these points as important because they could be used to refute suggestions made by Mr Martin, Walker & Co’s surveyor and Frederick Bateman. Engaged by Bradford Corporation to prepare plans and estimates for the water-supply of the whole town, Bateman also provided an affidavit for Walkers & Co. Their joint understandings were that underground water if not raised by pumps or diverted by the Ripleys would percolate upwards, or through springs run into the valley or run along the sough and on into Bowling Beck. Walker & Co’s complaint described the beck as the ‘natural drain’ of the Bowling valley.

Bowling Tough inhibits natural springs

The Ripleys engaged the services of at least three expert witnesses; Charles Moreton,  Walker and a Professor Ramsey of the Geological Museum. The latter argued against the idea that a significant number of springs had fed Bowling Beck in the past. For all of the experts one of the crucial impacts of the Bowling Tough and its presence in the strata they argued was to prevent the occurrence of natural springs both in the recent past and for the foreseeable future.

Artificial flow of water between and along underground levels

The experts with mining experience emphasised that the Colliery sough and mine working were artificially made and needed to be artificially maintained for water to flow. They understood that subterranean springs filling the Bowling Sough and mine workings did so from deep below them and did not then naturally emerge from these levels. Turning Walker & Co’s argument about interference with water of the valley on its head, Moreton’s view was that the Bowling Colliery Sough would fill with debris and mud when pumping stopped. There would be no increase in the volumes of water flowing through it to feed the Beck and Walkers & Co’s mill, if pumping stopped. On the contrary and referring to both Bowling Colliery and Low Moor Colliery’s sough, Moreton’s view was that without pumping the flows would’ abate’ over time ‘so that no water whatever would pass along them’.

Ripleys’ water source from below level of sough

In a fuller rebuttal of Walker and Co’s understanding of the source of the Ripleys’ water supplies and their assumed flow under and through the Bowling valley to Walkers & Co’s Mills, Moreton stated;

‘water raised for the supply of reservoirs by the [Ripleys’] boreholes sunk considerably below the Bowling Sough or Colliery workings would never as I believe reach the Bowling Beck if not interfered with by [them].’


In an aside, of assistance to the Ripleys, that returned to the topic of the thick impermeable local clay, Moreton (NB37124004) added ; ‘the bottom of the large reservoirs made by the Defendants consist only of the Bowling Tough’ and, in his view, this offered, ‘the best protection against percolation’.

para separator 1 V


Numbers in brackets beginning with NB reference notes made of archive documents held by West Yorkshire Archives on the Water Dispute. Full archive references will be substituted in later publications on the topic.


1885  Burnley J, ‘Yorkshire Tales Re-told’, Richard Jackson, Leeds

1913  Law M, ‘The Story of Bradford’, Pitman & Sons, London


(1)     Looking forward and from his point of view, the judgement of H W Ripley’s behaviour might be less harsh if he believed that commerce when left alone could solve the sanitary condition or water-supply problems of Bradford and if he was unaware of the direction of the Corporation’s thinking. His actions over two decades in Bradford show that H W Ripley believed the first. Other actions at this time show he was aware of the second. Then and later he opposed those who sought to constrain his freedom to take economic action in his own interest.

(2)      It is unclear; what H W Ripley or others knew about the existence of such large underground water resources, when the boreholes were sunk that revealed them. Frederick Bateman, who was engaged by the Bradford Corporation to identify ways to bridge the huge gap between the town’s supply and its needs, did not include them in his plans for that supply.

 (3)     It is unclear whether this capital outlay covered construction costs only or included boreholes and pumping equipment.

(4)     The site had been staked out and preliminary work begun. Martin identified what he saw as ‘a reservoir’ or ‘reservoirs’ rather than the pits to settle out dyewares that Walkers & Co were hoping he would see and that they understood the Ripleys were having constructed.

(5)     The Corporation’s role and powers and responsibilities had been enhanced through the ‘Bradford Improvement Act 1850’. The meaning of the Act had not, however, been tested in case law. A Corporation monopoly on water supply was not being pursued at this point in time.

(6)      Croft Street, Portland Street, Queens Cut and Victoria Street – clearly named in the affidavit of Edward Shaw, the Borough Surveyor – were below Bridge Street and nearer the centre of the town (NB3807102)

(7)     Similar concerns appeared in later statements by Bradford Corporation’ s surveyor and representatives of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway. The apprehensions of the Corporation or larger concerns like the railway company were about lack of official oversight or inexpert construction. The devastation of the very recent flood at Holmfirth in Yorshire’s Worsted District was also much on people’s minds.  In this the dam of the Bilberry reservoir above the town of Holmfirth had burst just after midnight on February 4th and, according to James Burnley (1885, p 36/7), killed 42 adults and 43 children, caused £200,000 of damage to property including 17 mills and 129 workmens cottages and threw 4,896 and 2,142 children out of work.

(8)     The Ripleys were understood by Walkers & Co to be taking water from the sough and/or returning ‘spent’ water to it, i.e. using it as water resource and/or a drain.

(9)      A letter from John Wood’s solicitors in 1834 contained the suggestion that it would be ‘practicable’ for the Ripleys ‘to collect [their] spent dyewares and sediment and to cart them away rather than sending them down the Beck’. (NB3403701)

(10)    William Sutcliffe’s identity and his relationship to Wilson Sutcliffe remains unresolved.

 (11)    Initially deals were struck with the Bradford Waterworks Company and then with Bradford Corporation, when they bought out the company.

(12)    Salt had been responsible for seeing the Committee and its enquiry into the Moral Condition of the town set up.


published 2016/05/06

Revised 2016/06/03

Copyright R L (B0b) Walker 2016. All rights reserved.





Benjamin Murgatroyd & Bowling Dyeworks 1835 to 1855

Before Ripley Ville was built. In this post; a first-hand description of changes to Bowling Dyeworks and worsted dyeing from Works’ Superintendent and practical dyer, Benjamin Murgatroyd, circa 1835 to 1855 and evidence on how Bowling Beck was used and misused.

Copyright R L Walker 2016 All rights reserved


This nearly had to be a post about not doing a post. Its seven weeks since the last one. I have been reviewing archive documents for south Bradford, covering the ten years 1852-1862 and related to the ‘Water Dispute, Messrs Ripley v. Bradford Corporation’ . It has been a long slog and I’m still not finished. I was planning to post an apology explaining the silence, then on Monday last week I had a jack-in-a-box moment. From all the archive boxes and documents over the previous weeks one just jumped out at me.

Benjamin Murgatroyd & Bowling Dyeworks 1835 to 1855

The Water Dispute

The document was in a group of papers connected to the ‘Water Dispute’ but not directly involved in the Ripleys’ dispute with Bradford Corporation. The Dispute itself was about water supply in Bradford; who should have control of it and how best the town could be served. At its heart was the gap between the needs of the town and what was available.(1)  The engineer J F Bateman (1810-1889), fresh from working on the water supply of Manchester, reported in 1852 that there was a twenty-fold gap. Where supply was around half a million gallons a day, from Bradford Waterworks, he calculated that between ten and twenty million gallons a day would be needed for all the town’s needs. In a series of letters he outlined the works and costs of getting to that level of supply.(2)

Affidavit of Benjamin Murgatroyd

The Document

The jack-in-a-box document was the draft of an affidavit, in manuscript form, with crossings out and additions in a second and possibly a third person’s hand.(3)

Unsigned and undated in this draft form, it’s opening paragraph – before crossing outs and additions – stated;

Continue reading →

More on Bowling Lodge and a cost comparison with building a block of Ripley Ville dwellings

More information on who built Bowling Lodge in 1836, how much they were paid, other conditions and how long it took is compared with Cordingley and Peel’s contract for building a block of Ripley Ville Working Men’s Dwellings for H W Ripley in 1867.

Copyright R L (Bob) Walker 2016. All rights reserved.

Building Bowling Lodge in 1836 and a block of Working Mens Dwellings in Ripley Ville in 1867

This post expands on information in three previous posts:-

Planning Application Numbers : All the buildings of Ripley Ville

The plans for Victorian Ripley Ville 1866 – 1881

1836 : H W Ripley as SWCI, the Moulsons, their mark and a [Master] Carpenter and Joiner.

In its first part the post adds:-

  • the names of the plumber, glazier and slater to the masons and the carpenter & joiner contracting to build Bowling Lodge for H W Ripley in 1836,
  • the amount agreed for their payment
  • some conditions to the contracts
  • some stages in the work, completion dates and forfeits

The payments agreed give a probable total for the building costs of the Dwelling House, Coach-house and Stables that was being built, to drawings by the architect Walker Rawsthorne, for H W Ripley’s parents, Edward and Hannah Ripley (nee Murgatroyd). (1)

In the second part of the post, this information is compared with what we know about a single contract for building a block of Working Mens Dwellings in the industrial model village of Ripley Ville some thirty years later.

The third part speculates on the price H W Ripley was paying for a working man’s dwelling to be built in the industrial model village of Ripley Ville.

Bowling Lodge

Contractors and Price for Work

The earlier post revealed that Moulsons, a firm based in West Bowling or little Bowling as it had been called, were contracted to do the Masons work for Bowling Lodge and that John Hargrave, was the contracting Carpenter & Joiner. Hargrave would have made the massive water cistern associated with the water-closet installed in Bowling Lodge, which features in the previous post on Bowling Lodge. The Moulsons work as masons included the laying of the drains. The full list of contractors and the price agreed for their part in the contract are shown in the table below. The space for the signature of the contractor for the plastering is empty in the section of the eighteen-page Specification concerning their work – so we don’t know their name – but the price is given.

Continue reading →

100 Up : rediscovering Ripleyville; Heritage Matters for Ripley Road site

rediscovering Ripleyville’s 100th post : a Heritage Matters update about Bradford Council’s Planning Policy proposal for land on Ripley Road. Your chance to help shape the council’s policy for land near to where the northern site of Bradford’s only industrial village once stood!


Heritage Matters Update

Ripley Road Planning Allocation

Just over a week ago (2016/01/08) I happened across a planning document referring to Ripley Road in West Bowling and the land across from the Edward Ripley & Son’s Laboratory building which dates from 1916 (see photos below).

Laboratory Building Ripley Road southern facade

Laboratory Building Ripley Road

Date plaque Laboratory building

Date plaque Laboratory building

The Allocation Site in 1882

The map below shows that in 1882 the land would have included;

  • Ripleys’ ‘New Shed’ (NS),
  • subsiding pits (SP) for Bowling Dyeworks
  • and a reservoir (Res).

The eastern side of Ripley Road was used for allotments’ with the lower block of Ripley Terrace (Nos 67-85), which featured in a recent post, and the Ripley Ville schools building (Sch) beyond (see photograph).

Ripley Terrace & Schools building c. 1950

Ripley Terrace & Schools building c 1950s

Wider Setting of Site in 1882

The map shows the features above and the allocation site’s wider setting including Bowling Dyeworks and the rest of the northern site of the industrial model village of Ripley Ville.

Super-imposed on this in red are the outline of the site in the proposed allocation (WM2) and the words ‘Registered Historic Park’ used in the planning document to denote Bowling Park.

Planning Policy submission supporting map Ripley Road WM2 site

Site Allocation : Waste Disposal/Management Purposes

There is a proposal that the whole of this site of 2.35 hectares be considered for waste disposal/management purposes.

The link to the pdf of the planning document, which is on Bradford Council’s site is:-

You need to scroll down to pages 28 & 29 for the part relating to Ripley Road.

Mitigation Requirements

The grounds for the policy and allocation appear sound. The key point about the document are the conditions under which the policy and allocation might be applied i.e when an application to develop the site comes in. On this, the document includes the following paragraph under ‘Mitigation Requirements’ ;

Development proposals will need to ensure the significance (including the setting) of the Registered Historic Park to the south-east of the area is not harmed. This will need to be demonstrated through robust analysis in the heritage statement submitted with the planning application.

Awareness Raising

I was at a public consultation meeting when I was shown the document. I did at that time tell the planners attending about Ripleyville. They did not seem to know of its previous existence. It seems to me that there is an opportunity to make the planners aware of the proximity of this part of Ripley Road to;

  • the northern site of Ripley Ville, Bradford’s only industrial model village
  • the pedestrian paths that made and still offer links to what was the Bowling Dyework’s site and Ripley Ville

That mitigation requirement can apply to the Registered Historic Park (Bowling Park) ought to mean that mitigation requirements could be applied to the Ripleyville/Bowling Dyework’s sites. They are of equal significance. Ripley Ville was completed, with the removal and rebuilding of the Alms houses to New Cross Street on the village’s southern site, a year after Bowling Park was officially opened. They date from the same period.

row of Victorian almshouses

Ripley Ville Alms houses on New Cross St, West Bowling

Recent research, summarised in an earlier post which corrects the errors on Wikipedia, makes clear the local and national significance of the Ripley Ville Working Mens Dwellings with their water-closets in the basements.

Grants or Gains

Another possibility is that some kind of planning gain/grant application (e.g. from Landfill Tax) could be looked for. Heritage signage, minor works, path clearance and reinstatement and the planting of trees, shrubs could be used to enhance the setting of what remains of the Victorian industrial landscape and the northern site of the village after demolition and improve access routes to these.


Ripleyville is a crucial but forgotten part of Bradford’s Victorian Heritage. Make your voice heard in the efforts to promote it to its rightful place in the city’s Victorian history and its heritage.

Here’s some things you can do:-

  • Tell people about this article. Copy and send them the link to this 100 Up page : Heritage Matters page;
  • Look at the planning document and in your response make sure the planners know about Ripley Ville and take it into account in future planning decisions.
  • Copy & paste the 100 Up : Heritage Matters page link into your comments to the planners.

Responses to the planning policy document can be made on-line or by other means. These are identified in page 3 of the document. Here’s the link again.

The relevant paragraphs, including the e-mail address for comments on page three, are:-

How to comment
Comments are invited using the online Comment Form or the paper comment
forms available upon request. While comments not using the form will be accepted
those making comments are encouraged to use the form to assist both the Council
in processing representations but also any Inspectors consideration of comments.
Please note that representations cannot be treated as confidential and will be made
available on the council’s website.
The Council is keen to promote the submission of comments electronically and
would encourage anyone with appropriate facilities, such as email, to make their
responses in this way. Comments should be returned to the Council by using:
Where it is not possible to comment using electronic means, representations can
be sent via mail to:
Bradford District Local Plan
City of Bradford MDC
Development Plans Team
2nd Floor (South) Jacobs Well
Manchester Road
Bradford BD1 5RW
Hand Delivered
to the following planning office
(Mon – Thurs 9am to 5pm, Fri 9am to 4.30pm):
Jacobs Well
Ground floor reception
Manchester Road
Bradford BD1 5RW
published 2016/01/20
Map corrected 12 20 on same day

























Planning Application Numbers : All the buildings of Ripley Ville

Application numbers for all the buildings of Victorian Ripley Ville (1866-1881) revealed on ‘rediscovering Ripleyville’ for the first time. This post lists the planning application numbers for all of the buildings of the Victorian industrial model village of Ripley Ville and their archive location.

Copyright R L (Bob) Walker 2016. All rights reserved.


Planning Applications Numbers : All the buildings of Ripley Ville

The plans submitted to the Borough of Bradford’s council for all the buildings erected between 1866 and 1881 on the northern and southern site of the industrial model village of Ripley Ville are held on micro-fiche at the Bradford Branch of West Yorkshire Archives.

The plans are those submitted to support the planning applications for each building or set of buildings. They were considered for approval by the Building & Improvement Committee of the council. The archive contains the deposited plans for 5 builds:-

  • the Working-Mens Dwellings
  • the Schools building and Schoolmaster’s house
  • the church of St Bartholomew
  • St Bartholomew’s Vicarage
  • the Alms houses

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The plans for Victorian Ripley Ville 1866 – 1881

The architects’ plans for the buildings of Victorian Ripley Ville were submitted to Bradford Borough Council between 1866 and 1881. This post uses one of the plans for the schools and a key passage in ‘When was Ripleyville built?’ to look at the sequence in which the village’s ‘Working-Mens Dwellings’ may have been built and by whom. It comments on the significance for rediscovering Ripleyville in having had access to all the architects’ plans 8 years ago, in having full copies now and on the ‘missing’ plans for St Bartholomew’s vicarage.

Copyright R L (Bob) Walker 2016. All rights reserved.


The Plans for Victorian Ripley Ville 1866-1881

My previous post was about half-an-hour at the end of a day at the local archives. It focussed on the water-closet and cistern of Bowling Lodge. Earlier in the same day, I had been getting together 21 x A4 pages of information and drawings. These were copied and printed from microfiches. They were of all, yes ALL, of the original planning applications for the buildings built in Victorian Ripley Ville between 1866 and 1881, including the one for St Bartholomew’s Vicarage – of which more at the end of the post.

I had re-found and re-viewed all the plans before I did the 150th Anniversary post on Ripley Ville on November 15th last year (2015). I made quite extensive notes about each from the microfiches at that time but had found these weren’t comprehensive enough. This time I had scanned and printed them – much easier to double-check what you think you are seeing, notice more of the detail, make calculations, measurements, etc – and you do not need to rely on memory.

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1836 : H W Ripley as SWCI, the Moulsons, their mark and a [Master] Carpenter and Joiner.

This post is about a very early Victorian water-closet. It establishes the time over which the Ripley’s were putting water-closets into their properties by going back to 1836 to look at Bowling Lodge. This was the home of Edward and Hannah Ripley, parents of Henry William Ripley, who was the main sponsor for the Victorian industrial model village of Ripley Ville. It adds just a little to what we know about the Moulsons who built much of Ripleys Mills, gives the specification for the enclosure of the water-closet and the cistern to be made in Bowling Lodge and identifies who is trusted with its making.

Copyright R L (Bob) Walker and/or 2015. All rights reserved (see column left for details)


Another Day at the Archives

Bowling Lodge

Another day at the archives. Right at the end I just had time to look at the ‘Specification for a Dwelling House’ (NB3700901) that became Bowling Lodge; the home of Edward and Hannah Ripley. The client for the work is their son, the twenty-two year old Henry William Ripley. The architect responsible for drawing up the specification was Walker Rawstorne. George Sheeran describes him ((1990 : 72) as most active in Bradford between 1830 and 1850 and, interestingly, as using, ‘Neo-classical styles for domestic architecture.’

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Wikipedia on Victorian Ripley Ville : wrong! wrong! wrong!

The account on Wikipedia is wrong on a number of crucial points about the worker’s housing built between 1866 and 1868 in the Victorian industrial model village of Ripley Ville,  These relate to whether water-closets were installed in each of the 196 Working -mens Dwellings”, on the village’s northern site in Bowling, south Bradford. The errors are identified in this post and a better version of events laid out. The post starts with a RVr news update. It ends by emphasising how regrettable the demolition of the village’s northern site is, in heritage terms.

Copyright R L (Bob) Walker 2015 and/or rediscovering Ripleyville. All rights reserved. (see sidebar right)


News Update

Work on the new ‘Ripley Ville rediscovered’ (RVr) web-sites on the Victorian industrial model village of Ripley Ville is behind schedule.

Time has been given over instead to exploring several long trails in archival material about the village’s Victorian beginnings. The searches have focused on the water-closets that are understood to have been built in the basements (cellars) of the 196 Workmens Dwellings of the village.

The water-closet controversy : its importance

If water-closets were installed this would make the houses, in their sanitary status and arrangements, the most advanced then built for the working classes. When taken together with the number installed, this would significantly enhance the importance of Ripley Ville as an industrial model village and of ‘Messrs Ripleys scheme…’ for workers housing.

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Ripley Ville : 150th Anniversary today

Bradford’s only industrial model village, Ripley Ville, has the 150th anniversary of its founding today, 15th November 2015. The village was unique : each and every one of its 196 workman’s dwellings, built between 1866 and 1867, had a water-closet in its basement.


150th Anniversary

Today is the 150th anniversary of the event in 1865 in south Bradford that promoted ‘Messrs Ripleys scheme for building a number of Working-Mens Dwellings’. The event was a public meeting that took place in Edward Ripley & Son’s Patent Melange Works on Spring Mill Street, west Bowling on the 15th November 1865. At it, a prospectus was made available to those attending and the planned scheme for up to 300 dwellings of three types was explained. From the 20th of November 1865 draft plans of the dwellings were available ‘between Six and Eight O clock’ until ‘Friday 1st December’. In this case ‘Tickets of admission [were] to be had of Messrs Ripley and at the Melange Works’.

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Victorian Ripley Ville : Getting the Best & Doing it Right

Copyright R L (Bob) Walker 2015. All rights reserved. See side bar right →

A previous post on this blog stated that the research needed in rediscovering Ripley Ville was not ‘in any way complete [nor is] what is out there on the internet or in print … adequate to telling the story of Victorian Ripley Ville.’

The proposed new web-sites; and, will be aiming to improve what this project offers about the old Borough of Bradford’s only industrial model village. This post develops the points about

  • research
  • content now on offer on the internet

It deals in particular with content available about Ripleyville on Wikipedia in comparison with the blog posts and pages on this rediscovering Ripleyville (rRV) web-site. The post’s focus is on the content on the Wikipedia site about Ripleyville’s Working Mens houses and on this rRV site and the Wikipedia site about the village’s original Victorian Vicarage. Issues of transparency and best practice in arriving at the Ripleyville story are raised on both topics.  The post’s overall message is that for Victorian Ripley Ville this web-site leads, while Wikipedia follows.

Getting the Best 1

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