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 in the Victorian industrial model village of Ripleyville, built between 1866 and 1868. These relate to whether water-closets were installed in each of the 196 Workmens 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.

They would surpass those of the industrial model village of Akroydon, built slightly earlier in Halifax in Yorkshire’s Worsted District. Here the intent to install water-closets was not followed through.

They would also surpass the arrangements for tenements opened on Commercial Street, Spitalfields, London in 1864, or the more contemporaneous Islington Estate for the Peabody Trust. In these water-closets were installed, though at a significantly lower ratio of water-closets per housing unit.

Installation of water-closets in all of the workmen’s houses in Ripley Ville would have been in line with H W Ripley’s intentions through the period 1886-68 during which they were built. It would comply with the plans passed by Bradford Borough council on the 29th January 1866 (Bradford Borough Building and Improvement Committee Minute Book Vol 4 : 221, see also Walker R L, 2008 : 13).

plan of basements ripley ville

Detail of basements from deposited plan, January 1866


I will be publishing an account of this recent research on Victorian Ripley Ville, in print form, in due course. It will be incorporated into revised content on the new web-site;  – when this is up and running. On-going research is, however, likely to stretch into next year.

Wikepedia on Ripley Ville : Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!

In the interim and on the basis of knowledge to date, it is possible to say that on Victorian Ripley Ville the Wikipedia entry on Ripleyville is;-




and very probably wrong again!

The errors in the Wikipedia entry are listed below. They are paired with a version of events using findings from rRV research evidence based in archival and contemporary sources.

( I have restricted myself to indicating chronological order and only some approximate dates. The letters and numbers in brackets refer to items in my research notebooks. A complete chronology and full archive references will be substituted when the research is written up and made available in print)

rRVlogoWiki error 1

The Wikipedia article is wrong about the transfer date of Mr Ripley’s/Bowling Waterwork’s pipes and equipment to the Bradford Corporation. It has these occurring in 1866 with impacts for Ripley Ville from Spring 1867.

rRV finding 1

This is a crucial error. The actual transfer date was not in 1866 nor Spring 1867 but rather late in 1867 and it was only for most rather than all of the pipes and equipment that H W Ripley owned in the Borough of Bradford. This is because he negotiated an exemption through his solicitors. This allowed him to continue to supply water through Bowling Waterworks within a circumscribed local area beyond the conclusion of their sale and the transfer of the pipes and equipment to the Borough for municipal use. (NB2202701-NB2203102 & NB2213601-03).

rRVlogoWiki error 2

The Wikipedia article is wrong to deduce that ‘ash closets’ were installed in the workmen’s houses in two distinct stages; for contracts 3 & 4 (built without wcs) and then for contracts 1 & 2 (built with wcs) – and all of this within the initial building period 1866-1868.

rRV finding 2

Archival evidence to hand on the workmen’s dwellings is that the houses were all provided with an outside privy at the same time. There may have been exceptions; two of these possibly being Nos 63 & 65 Ripley Terrace (NB3501303) but these were paired blocks converted in ‘trials’ preceding the eventual agreed change.

Ripley Terrace & Schools building c. 1950

Ripley Terrace circa 1950s with No 65 at end of terrace and No 63 to its left.                          Photo source : G M Gaskill

Action, when taken, was ‘for the whole of [Mr Ripley’s] houses’ at Ripley Ville (NB3502703). This was not during the period 1866-1868 when they were first built.

rRVlogoWiki error 3

The Wikipedia article is, in consequence, also wrong when it deduces there was a sudden change to H W Ripley’s initial plan and that required a ‘retro-fitting’ of ‘ash-closets’ to houses in contract 1& 2 houses.

 rRV findings 3

When it first came to light, information about ‘imperfect water-closets’ at Ripley Ville was either remedied, ignored – or dealt with through something of both (NB2205904 & NB2205801). The decision to install privies -and ashpits – followed a site visit to Ripley Ville to inspect ‘the yards and conveniences thereat’ (NB3500703) and various periods of activity and inactivity over a further longer period. New ashpit and privy blocks were built in the yards of the Ripley Ville houses at a significantly later date and to the standard required by the Bradford Borough council at that later date. It is these privies, together with new ashpits of a design from that later period, that are shown in the large-scale OS map 216-8-24 of the northern site of Ripley Ville published in 1891 and which was based on a survey done two years earlier.  It is what remained of these structures, though not necessarily the fitments, that residents of ‘the Villa’ would have seen (and used?) in the village in the 1950s & 60s.

rRVlogoWiki error 4

The Wikipedia article states that water-closets were installed in only some of the Ripley Ville working men’s houses. It states ‘ No wcs were ever fitted to type 3 houses built under contracts 3 and 4’. These are elsewhere identified as the Saville Street houses, Nos 2 – 62. It comes to this conclusion using:-

  • the number of houses of each type in each contract
  • the dates when contracts for workmen’s houses were let
  • the different built forms and internal structures of the houses in each contract
  • their floor layouts and dimensions (as indicated in large-scale maps and as remembered by residents from the 1950s and 1960s)
  • and, crucially, through guesses at; when the installation of water-closets was stopped and why the building plan was changed.

(See Wiki error 1 above and also footnote 15 of the Wikipedia article for its speculations on ‘expense of water’ – inferred from Halifax and the houses of Akroydon – and ‘shortages of water’ as supplied by Bradford Waterworks.)

The Wikipedia article draws its conclusion even though it admits;

‘the reasons for the change of plan from water-closets to ash closets are obscure’.

rRV findings 4

I have found no archival evidence that water-closets were not fitted in the basements of all of the workmen’s houses in Ripley Ville. (Yes, read that carefully – that is a double negative.)

Irrefutable evidence for installation of water-closets in all the workmen’s houses at the time of the initial build is still lacking but we may be getting closer to the point where it cannot be disproved.

H W Ripley’s publicly stated aversion in November 1866 to seeing ‘cottages with nasty privies about them’ and in favour of the installation of water-closets are unequivocal – see previous post. H W Ripley was not a man to be thwarted in his plans, even in the face of good advice.

So, on the number of water-closets installed in the workmen’s houses, the Wikipedia article may very probably again be wrong. It’s broader account of what happened to bring about disuse of the water-closets in the basements, both as to cause and chronology, certainly is.


The Wikipedia entry makes use of a statement from Mr Gott, Bradford Borough Engineer, about how only 1 in 18 or 5.7% of houses in the Borough of Bradford had a water-closet. Gott was speaking at the same Rivers Commission Inquiry as Ripley in November 1866.

Gott’s statement can be misread as evidence of the statistical probability that H W Ripley did not have 196 water-closets installed in his workmen’s dwellings in Bowling, south Bradford.

An alternative reading, based on the findings above, requires the proper recognition of how unusual and advanced a step H W Ripley was, through his architects and building contractors, in the early stages of taking.

In heritage terms, the degrading of Ripley Ville through conversion of the school, the loss of the vicarage and then the demolition of all of the buildings of the village’s northern site by 1970 look very regrettable.

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

2015/11/19  – today is ‘World Toilet Day’

amended 2015/11/26

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’.

Copy of upper portion and headlines of notice advertising Messrs Ripleys Schemme for building Workmen's Dwellings

Continue reading →

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

Continue reading →

Ripples build and other News

This is a very short post giving news of;

  • an upcoming Textile conference,
  • two posts that have had their passwords removed
  • and the connection between pain, pus, poison and aniline dyes

Continue reading →

New pebbles in the Ripley Ville pond. Previous ripples felt now.

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

This post looks to the future for this WordPress hosted rediscovering Ripleyville web-site, blog posts and the rediscovering Ripleyville project. It reveals a plan to gradually move most of its content. This will be split between TWO NEW Ripleyville web-sites. It also notes two events that suggest small changes may be occurring in how Bradford’s Victorian Heritage offer is made. These give encouragement for future activities around rediscovering Ripleyville.

Continue reading →

Delving into History & rRV Membership

Copyright R L (Bob) Walker 2012-2015. All rights reserved. (See sidebar left)

The first part of this post picks up on Graham Wilkinson’s comment about ‘delving into history’ and outlines an idea for a Victorian history and heritage project for Bowling, south Bradford. The second explains the present and likely future position on Membership of the rRV project and for people who have signed up as ‘Friends’ of ‘rediscovering Ripleyville’. Looking towards the future, the post ends on a positive note.

Continue reading →

City and Facebook

Copyright R L (Bob) Walker 2012-2015. All rights reserved. (See sidebar left)

rRVlogoI’m breaking my blogging silence for a very brief post.
Can’t let Bradford City’s well-deserved ‘biggest FA cup upset’ win against Chelsea go by without a mention.
I have also this week backtracked from taking rediscovering Ripleyville onto Facebook, or more accurately getting myself on there as well. They seem to want to know your inside leg measurement and which way you dress before your personal profile is ‘complete’. O K I’m exaggerating but sorry Face-bookers I’ve looked at it and it’s just not my thing. So, the ‘Rediscovering Ripleyville’ Facebook page will be deleted. This will happen, in their words, ‘within the next 14 days’.
Any rRV up-dates to the end of February will now go through this site.

rRVblog logo claretandamber

Copyright R L Walker 2015.  All rights reserved.

See you again?

Copyright R L (Bob) Walker 2012-2015. All rights reserved. (See sidebar left)

This is a “See you again, sometime” post; the type of “good-bye” that is not intended to be final but where you make no immediate plans for when you might meet.

rRVblog logo claretandamber

After three weeks and a follow-up appointment at Bradford Royal Infirmary, the hope is that my ‘something and nothing’ is probably more of a nothing – or at least unlikely to recur.  We shall see. But, with each passing week, the three weeks without doing a post on the blog have confirmed for me that I have made the right decision. For the foreseeable future other priorities, including research on Victorian Ripley Ville, must come first.

Continue reading →

What the … ?

Copyright R L (Bob) Walker 2012-2015. All rights reserved. (See sidebar left)

Yes – come a bit out of the blue hasn’t it?

All the rRV blog posts are now “password protected” – rather than just a few.

It wasn’t planned.

It was one of those ’something and nothing’ things that brought it about. I had a couple of days in hospital last week; nothing life threatening though it was unpleasant enough for me to want to avoid a repeat. But it did make me stop.

Once stopped and under doctor’s instructions to, “Take it easy for a week”, plans that would have taken the blog and the rediscovering Ripleyville project through to and beyond 15th November next year – and Ripley Ville’s 150th anniversary – just started to unravel.

Continue reading →

Local benefit & Content Licences

Copyright R L (Bob) Walker 2012-2015. All rights reserved. (See sidebar left)

Are you thinking of using content (text or images) from this site?

Have you copied or used content from this site?

This post is for YOU!


rRVlogorRVblog logo claretandamber

rRV web-site Conditions of Use

The sections below are essential reading.

They tell you what to do and what not to do, so the rediscovering Ripleyville project can do what it needs to do.

They set out:-

  • The need to license rediscovering Ripley Ville (rRV) content
  • The status of content elsewhere on the internet about Victorian Ripley Ville
  • The rRV quality guarantee

The guidelines are for ‘for-profit’ individuals or groups (local or otherwise) and those in the ‘not-for -profit’ or ‘profit-for-purpose’ sectors, who create work or publish to the internet on Ripleyville and related topics.

All visitors to the site should read them. They form part of the conditions of use of the publicly accessible areas of the web-site and its public content.

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Local Benefit & Content Licences


It is the intention of the rediscovering Ripleyville (rRV) project to bring benefit to the people living and working close to where Victorian Ripley Ville was built and where earlier events occurred that led to the village’s development.

Social Enterprise model

One way of locking in benefit is to license content from this web-site or the research activity of the rediscovering Ripley Ville project. That has always been the intention of this site and the rediscovering Ripleyville project. Licences to funded not-for-profit groups and organisations, the public sector and for-profit publication would command a fee on a sliding scale (details on request).

This is a variation on a model that has been made familiar by everything from High Street charity shops to the Big Issue seller.  It is a Social Enterprise model that uses trading to supplement other income streams. It is used by many groups in Heritage-related projects.

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Licences for use of content

Need to licence rRV content

For the last 30 weeks a message in the side bar left has requested that not-for-profit organisations apply for a licence to use content from this site.

Previously not-for-profit use of content was allowed where this site was indicated as the source of that content. This was intended to cover occasional reciprocal arrangements.

No rRV licences issued

  • As of today, 5th February 2015, use of the content of the rRV web-site has not been licensed to any other web-based author, group or their publisher. Nor has it been issued for print-based publishing.

How to recognise licenced content

When a licence is granted, licencees publishing content from this site would be required to include a form of words agreed with this project. Where this was to the web this would include a hyperlink to this site.

A list of licencees and of licensed use of content will also appear on this web-site.

 Fair, Friendly, Collaborative, Lawful?

Occasional unacknowledged use of images from this site has occurred and has been brought to rRv’s attention. Inadequately referenced and unacknowledged use of content from this site continues. Blog-post are also appearing on two content scaper sites. Action will be taken against these to assert copyright.


Are you playing fair?

Don’t copy rRV content without permission or a licence.

Don’t infringe copyright law.

Fair Dealing

Use of content for private use, for review purposes or where this constitutes ‘fair dealing’ within copyright law requires no licence.


rediscovering Ripleyville has reciprocal informal arrangements for the occasional sharing of an image or images or text with contributors or unfunded history web-sites of individuals publishing about West Bowling. These are made on an ad hoc (case by case) basis.

A simple request by ‘phone, text or e-mail to this project (see Contacts) is usually all that is needed to agree this.


Use of content where this is in line with the rediscovering Ripley Ville project’s aims or for promotional purposes and by individuals or groups supporting rRV aims is unaffected by this notice and welcomed.

Competitive & Unfriendly

Neither the rRV project nor its main contributor R L (Bob) Walker have (as of 5th Feb 2015), directly contributed content to any other internet site. We have not and do not contribute to the Wikipedia site bearing the Ripleyville name. We have not authorised or licensed use of content from this site on Wikipedia.

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Use of the rRV logo

Quality : rRV logo is your guarantee

A process available in doing history is that of triangulation; the use of at least three reliable and different documents or artifacts to confirm or qualify a statement or conclusion. These could be of a different provenance or of a different kind, e.g. OS map, records of public authority, illustrations or photographs, manuscript, diary, newspaper or other contemporary report or account.

Many of the blog posts on this web-site are drafts. They may be and often will be about what is provisional; knowledge accumulated so far.

In order not to over-claim, posts will say if knowledge is provisional or more speculative or where further research is needed.

The rRV logo is your guarantee of quality of research.

The removal of the rRV logo from content published to this site and the content’s use and publication in another document could be unlawful.

The addition of the rRV logo to content generated outside of this project is a form of ‘passing off’ and could be fraudulent in law.

Both would be unfriendly acts.

Notice Issued 2014/10/15, revised 2015/02/25

Copyright R L Walker 2015. All rights reserved.


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