After a break, the rediscovering Ripleyville blog, is again open to visitors. The site went private to allow some time for thinking and planning.
New demands on the site, renewed interest and newer web and social media capabilities mean that the way the Victorian history of Ripley Ville is communicated needs to change.
Ripleyville as heritage and family history; how the name ‘Ripleyville’ is thought of, its place in history, how its buildings and residents are remembered, how residents’ memories are recorded all need to be reviewed.
The demolition and replacement by Accent Housing Association of the mix of housing that have been known as Ripleyville since 1976 and local news coverage make the task more urgent.
rRV Blog : Time-capsule
The rRV blog is a time-capsule. There was an ambitious programme for future blogs set out in 2017 but regular updating of the website stopped the year before; nearly 7 years ago. So, as at today. 2nd April 2022, the rRV blog contains none of the findings from research on Victorian Ripley Ville that has been done in those 7 years. That also needs to be remedied.
Newer findings and thinking about Victorian Ripley Ville, about Bowling Dyeworks and the Ripley family show just how central they were to the growth of Bradford from a town of squalor, conflict and chaos in the 1840s. Over the next thirty years cutting-edge ways of making and dyeing worsteds changed it into a town that was renowned and praised as ‘Worstedopolis’. The original Bowling works that grew from the ‘dyehaase’ of the 1830s, the ‘New Dyeworks’ and what was done in them put the Ripleys at the centre of these changes. New cloths, entirely new articles in the market, made huge profits for the leading manufacturers and dyers.
From their super-profits, merchants, manufacturers, and other magnates from Bradford pitched their schemes to combat the town’s’ many ills. Through the 1860 and 1870s, they funded or part-funded projects to improve living conditions, moderate worker behaviour, or contribute to the health of the town.
Victorian Bradford in Microcosm
Victorian Ripley Ville was one such scheme. Importantly, it was worked up from within the conditions that applied in Bradford. It was not part of an outward movement of mill, workers and their families to a green-field site, like the industrial model village of Saltaire.
Rich and powerful men making money in the town harboured political ambitions with even more say in how the town was run.
Political cartoon c. 1868
Bradford shown as a hatchery for the ambitions of rich and powerful men.
Sponsors, like Henry William Ripley with Ripley Ville, left indelible personal marks on their schemes. A village is, however, a complex mix. Issues of the day for Bradford people; extension of the right to vote for workers, elementary schooling for their children, standards of decent behaviour, temperance, disease prevention, the proper roles of men and women, religious beliefs and non-belief, party politics, Irish politics, the clash of styles in architecture, they all left their marks on Victorian Ripleyville. The village, its industrial setting, the reasons it was built and what was planned and built there between 1864 and 1882, provided a record of a town that had become ‘Worstedopolis’. The village was mid-to-late Victorian Bradford in microcosm.
It is no longer possible to buy the booklet ‘When was Ripley Ville built? by post.
It is out of date and out of print.
That people are still finding and coming to the rediscovering Ripleyville blog is both gratifying and at the same time embarrassing, since I haven’t posted anything to it in 8 months. To me the layout now looks tired, the way the blog operates clunky and a lot of the content on the Victorian industrial village of Ripley Ville needs up-dating.
I also have a duty to those leaving comments which I have not been fulfilling – apart from approving them so they can be seen by visitors.
I wish that I could say that all this is going to change. The long silence has been because I couldn’t see how exactly I was going to get back on top of things. Since October last year (2016) a slight worsening of a chronic heart condition means that I have had to curb some activities and go at some others more slowly. For a number of months I did little rRV work.
Stabilisation of my condition means that I am, now, continuing to research both the history Ripley Ville and what came before – in early Victorian Bowling and Bradford. I am pursuing much of the finer details of the story of the industrial model village itself and of this earlier story. I have begun again to write about these topics off-line, off-blog.
That, I’m afraid, is what will be happening into the foreseeable future.
I will still approve comments you leave. There is no intention, as things stand, to make changes to the blog as it stands.
More background to water-supply in Bradford in the 1850s and on the ‘Water Dispute’ 1852 -1872 (Messrs Ripley v the Bradford Corporation) : introducing and setting out the sequence for a series of linked posts
Copyright R L (Bob) Walker 2017. All rights reserved.
Introduction & Sequence : A Series of Linked Posts
The Water Dispute 1852 – 1872: Messrs Ripley v the Bradford Corporation
The dispute in summary
In the ‘Water Dispute’ H W Ripley, later the main sponsor for the industrial model village of Ripley Ville, sought to secure rights for himself and his heirs to supply water across a very broad swathe of south Bradford. The area stretched beyond the boundaries of what is now West Bowling, from Park Lane in the west, across to Wakefield Rd in the east and down close to Bradford town centre. Opposing Ripley and nominally, Edward Ripley, his father, was Bradford Corporation. Over the course of the dispute the Corporation acted initially to deny the Ripleys and Bowling Waterworks the right to provide water on a commercial basis either across or along public roads and, in a final legal judgement, in the soil beneath public roads. Having won the court cases that established these rights, the Corporation through a council committee then negotiated with H W Ripley to limit the use of the Ripley’s water-resources to within their own land and property.
Writing the Bradford ‘Water Dispute’ story
The Bradford ‘Water Dispute’ features in regional histories, in books describing the development of national welfare policies and in academic treaties and papers written by Bradford and Leeds University historians. It is, however, largely absent from local popular histories and from ‘folk’ memory.
The dispute was of long duration. The core events, the court cases, occurred during the ten years from 1852 to 1862. Different strands in the background stories to the dispute occurred over slightly earlier periods and periods of different duration.. The Water Dispute, itself, had implications for the water-supply and the installation of water-closets in Ripleys’ dye-works and mills and in the workmen’s dwellings and the schools building of the industrial model village of Ripley Ville. These extend the dispute’s influence into the 1870s.
The background stories are also complex. Two earlier posts looked at the preliminary skirmishes over water-supply related to Bowling Beck and the legal contests between Wood & Walkers and other upstream commercial users. This was before Wood & Walkers eventually took on the Ripleys.
A further series of posts is needed to carry these interlinked stories forward.
A Series of Linked Posts : Sequence
Next Post : Biography H W Ripley and Bradford’s elites, 1848 – 1872
The next post starts with biography and an assessment of H W Ripley’s wealth and social standing in Bradford in the early 1870s. It then moves backwards to review his commercial activities in south Bradford and his varied roles in the town’s trade and civic life from 1848 to 1858. It ends with a listing of the magistrates of the West Riding in 1850, which includes William Walker, principal partner in Wood & Walkers but also other members of Bradford’s social and political elites.
Following Post : Sanitary Reform and Town Improvement 1847 – 1857
The following post adds further context by drawing together strands of the early history of sanitary reform and town improvement in Bradford. This was shaped both by mid-century knowledge of sanitation and attitudes to this and to town improvement and through the Borough council’s fluctuating relationship with central government. Using some primary but mostly secondary sources this post covers events from Bradford’s incorporation in 1847 up to the Borough Council’s take-over of Bradford Waterworks after 1854.
Taken together the two posts aim to:-
- show H W Ripley’s somewhat anomalous early arrival among Bradford’s elites,
- place the Water Dispute within the broader picture of mid-Victorian public health legislation, sanitary reform and town improvement
- settle out those issues, practical, political and economic, related to water-supply that made it different from sewering.
Water-supply and sewering were different issues for mid-century Bradfordians, for Bradford’s ratepayers and elected representatives and for the Borough council’s officers and contractors for one or more of these sets of reasons.
Topics for Later Posts
The Condition of Bradford 1840 – 1856
Later content posted to the blog will consider the condition of Bradford in the ‘dirty’ 1840s and into the mid-1850s. It will focus in particular on police evidence of the inadequacy of Bradford’s water-supply in 1852. This was the year in which H W Ripley’s intentions to become a supplier of water in south Bradford became very clear.
From competition to Corporation ownership and compromise: Waterworks and reservoirs
The evidence for the inadequacy of Bradford’s water supply will be set against the remedies, plans and actions of the three contestants in the Water Dispute; Bradford Corporation, Bradford Waterworks and the Ripleys (Bowling Waterworks), This later blog content will show that those rival plans were simplified by the Corporation’s purchase of Bradford Waterworks, the legal limits put on the Ripleys and Bowling Waterworks and the adoption of a compromise and, in the views of some, a compromised plan for the building of new reservoirs in the late -1850s and beyond.
Water-supply and Ripley Ville
The water-supply and ‘Water Dispute’ stories need to be taken forward from the mid to late 1850s up to 1866 and the plans for the Ripley Ville and the buildings of the village’s northern site.
Other connected stories, which may or may not find their way into posts on this blog, include:-
- the sewering of Bradford, particularly south Bradford and Ripley Ville
- the series of discussions and decisions that led Bradford Borough’s Sanitary, Baths and Cemetery Committee to require working class housing to be provided with external dry privies and ash pits in preference to water-closets.
- a continuation of the Ripley Ville ‘Water-closet Controversy’ story. This needs to be moved on from the speculation and counter-speculation of previous posts. They looked at the evidence for installation of water-closets in the various buildings of the village and, most importantly, in the workmen’s houses. That installation, which appears to have been common to all the Ripley Ville dwellings, was in advance of the regional and national standard for such buildings in the mid-1860s. Contrary to what has been stated elsewhere, it then continued in defiance of Bradford Borough regulations.
Copyright R L (Bob) Walker 2017. All rights reserved.
A previous post announced ‘the Beginning of the End’ for the rediscovering Ripleyville blog; the slow retirement of the blog while I carry on with research and writing. This post set out what comes after – A New Beginning!
Or is it?
a short post – making clear what will be happening with the rRV blog and to clear up any misunderstanding
Not retiring : retiring the rediscovering Ripleyville blog – slowly
I received one almost immediate response to my ‘Beginning of the End’ post about the rediscovering Ripleyville blog. It assumed I was ‘retiring’. For some of those who were of working age during the Thatcher years, retiring now isn’t an option, except to real or relative poverty. It is not something I will be choosing.
As I stated in the previous post;
I will still be researching the Victorian history of the area and writing about it.
… new or consolidated findings about Ripley Ville or Ripley Ville related topics will not be published on this web-site and blog.
This post announces the beginning of the end for the rediscovering Ripleyville blog and sets out some future arrangements for availability of content and keeping in contact.
rediscovering Ripley Ville blog : the Beginning of the End
110 posts and bow out?
If you have been visiting this site over the past 4 years or are visiting for the first time, you may know or notice that there has been no new post to it since May 6th – nearly 4 months.
It hasn’t been a conscious decision not to post. There are two long draft posts awaiting completion, a third has a provisional title, plans for a forth have been sketched. Things have just stopped. Holidays, other priorities, paid work, good walking weather and, when it comes down to it, a tailing off in motivation are major reasons.
I was motivated to get to 100 posts; a total achieved at the beginning of this year. I wasn’t fully satisfied because some of these posts are very short, others are about the so far unsuccessful attempt to promote a rediscovering Ripley Ville project and set-up a Ripleyville group in parallel to the web-site. They were about organisation rather than the process of historical rediscovery or research findings about Ripley Ville.
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.
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 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;
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:-
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.
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.