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.

Schools’ Plans and Building Sequence for Working-mens Dwellings

In addition to their primary function as architectural and planning documents, the microfiches reveal visual clues to the manner in which each of the groups of plans were drawn up and completed by the architects or their assistants; crossings out, corrections, residues of earlier or other plans, signs of care or a more rushed job.

The Schools Plan

A notable example from among them were the set of plans for the Schools and school-masters house. Beneath a particular plan was its hand-written title;  ‘Block Plan showing Schools’. It shows the buildings’ ground floor both to scale and in relation to what would become Merton Street and Ripley Terrace. To the other side of ‘Merton Street’, simple outline-drawings of the blocks of the Working-mens Dwellings were made. A large part of each block was shown but only 3 or 4 of the yard/house/garden spaces at the ends nearest to the school were marked in, by transverse lines.

Below the schools’ building, the full block of ten houses that would become 67-85 Ripley Terrace were shown. In this case, the yard/house/garden spaces were drawn in for all of these together with the carriageway extension to the Bridge under the railway embankment to Bowling curve. This was shown as cutting across the front gardens of the two end houses; Nos 83 & 85 Ripley Terrace. In the plan No 85 looks narrower than the rest. This, together with the unfinished housing blocks, adds to the sense that this is a rough plan – maybe given to a junior in the office. There are at least two – possibly three –  different sets of handwriting showing people’s involvement in drawing up and authorising use of this set of plan, including the script of the person who wrote ‘Andrews Son & Pepper’ and the date, denoted on the Block plan as; /’67.

Building Plan for Working Mens Dwellings

These details are intriguing enough but more intriguing are a sequence of numbers; 10. 9, 4, 3 & 13. These are written on the blocks of houses. Using the house numbers by which they were eventually identified, the numbers put on the blocks are:-

10      40-64 Sloane Street (incl 40a)

9        37-63 Saville Street

4        38-62 Saville Street

3        39-65 Ripley Terrace

13      67-85 Ripley Terrace

If you were numbering the blocks left to right, top to bottom, then 67-85 Ripley Terrace (bottom right) would be 13, as shown in the illustration left below. None of the other numbers (10, 9, 4 & 3) on the ‘Block Plan showing Schools’ would fit this simplest pattern (illustration right below).

side by side block plans showing blocks numbered from left to right, top to bottom and as in Block Plan showing Schools

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

A possible explanation for the figures on the architects’ ‘Block Plan’ is that they are a numbering of the blocks derived from and denoting the order in which the ‘Working Mens Dwellings’ were to be built. This is information the architects’ office would need and keep.  In the ‘Contracts to let’ columns advertised by Andrews Son & Pepper in the Bradford Observer (B.O.) between April 2nd 1866 and April 2nd 1867, a first set of contacts ‘to let’ on March 22nd 1866 is for ‘3 lots’ but these are not numbered in the advertisement. The next three sets of contracts are numbered in sequence from 3 to 13, with contracts 3 & 4 in the second set, contracts 5, 6, 7, 8 in set three and contracts 9, 10, 11, 12 & 13 in set four. The lack of numbering for the first set of three contracts and the number 3 appearing in the second set of contracts adds a further layer of complexity to what follows.

The quantities to be let, advertised in the Bradford Observer, are shown in my booklet ‘When was Ripley Ville built?’ (Walker R L 2008 : 15) and are copied below.

scan of table showing 'Contracts to Let'

Scan of page 15, ‘When was Ripleyville built’ showing table of ‘Contracts to Let’ appearing in the Bradford Observer (B O) with lot numbers and number of dwellings in each. Copyright R L (Bob) Walker 2008

As can be seen the second set of contracts, contracts 3 & 4 are for only 17 dwellings.

According to the ‘Block Plan showing Schools’ and staying with quantities, the blocks identified as 3 & 4 (37-63 Saville Street & 38-62 Saville Street) by Andrews Son & Pepper would amount to 27 dwellings, not 17. So there is a mismatch. Only 2 of the 13 terrace blocks built would together add up to 17; these are the short block of 7 houses on Vere St (incl what became 8 Linton St) and the ten in the block 67-85 Ripley St.  (see illustration right below) This might make sense in terms of some criteria; setting site boundaries, access, storage of building materials.

Side by side block plans showing housing blocks named in the text for Wikipedia entry, Andrews Son & Pepper and the Contracts to Let column of the Bradford Observer

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

These blocks do not tally with the ‘Block Plan showing Schools’ nor Wikipedia’s numbering of blocks 3 & 4.

Wikipedia identifies contracts 3 & 4 as the Type 3 houses that became Nos 2 – 62 Saville St. This is two blocks, totalling 31 houses. The blocks of houses it identifies matches one of the blocks identified in the ‘Block Plan showing schools’, with which we started but not the other.

These are two more sets of mismatches (see illustrations above) (1)

Building Block & contractors for Ripley Ville houses

The arguement could be advanced that numbers in the contracts that were advertised to let in the Bradford Observer do not identify full blocks of houses.  At this time, the bulk of Bradford’s terraces of houses were built piece-meal, one small group at a time by different contractors. Closer inspection shows they have recognisable changes in the size of stone used or changes in style of windows or doors or other architectural changes in the row.
The probability that they do refer to full blocks, at least as far as the Bradford Observer adverts are concerned, may be borne out by a reference to ‘Ripleys Buildings’ in a register of applications from 1867, in which a contractor paid the Bradford Corporation for the supply of water.
Together with the name of the contractor, the entry contains the information:-

Ripleys Buildings
(place) Hall Lane
(particulars of supply) Building block
(Contract ) £2,400

The contractors were Cordingley & Peel.  They were almost certainly the contractors for the building of the Church of St Bartholomew also on the northern site of Ripley Ville. The entry in the registry suggests they had a fuller role in the building of Victorian Ripley Ville. The application was registered on 7th March 1867, the date ‘[w]hen attended to’ : 9th March 1867′ (2)


Adding complexity, it would appear that only 196 of the 200 houses advertised in the ‘contracts to let’ columns in the B.O. were actually built. The usual explanation, which appears sound, is that the space for the schools building required four dwellings to be dropped from the building plan. (3)

The purpose of this section of this post is to illustrate just how complex a task it is to determine the most probable sequence and story for the building of the Working-mens Dwellings of what became Ripley Ville. The build occurred nearly 150 years ago. We have little evidence about it from the time. Some of this evidence points to different conclusions. Using, combining and giving priority to different factors (e.g. house type) or source materials (e.g Bradford Observer ‘Contracts to let’), suggests different sequences for when the blocks of housing were built. (4)

Finding the Ripley Ville plans : first and future use

I had first found the plans for the buildings of Ripley Ville, one by one, over a quite long period between 2003 and the end of 2008. At that time it was chronology, location, the architects and builders involved and clues to H W Ripley’s motivations and taste in architecture that were of interest. I was also trying to tease out the political and religious contexts for the various buildings and the arc(s) of H W Ripley’s career(s). This included his political career and his position on a spectrum, conceptually, from charity to bribery with; the ‘largesse’ of employers, ‘philanthropy at 5 %’, ‘prudential charity’, ‘associated charity’, projects of civic enterprise,’ paternalism’, ‘neo-paternalism’, the politico-philanthropic, the ‘patronage tourney’ and’ eat-and-swill’, somewhere along this broad spectrum.(4)

Now I have all the information on the plans in one format, in one place, together at one time. Some questions from 2005-2008 do remain unresolved.  However, for my part in the rediscovering Ripleyville project and when put alongside the new findings on the ‘water-closet controversy‘, this feels very significant; a building, preparation and growing readiness for what comes next.

The ‘missing’ plans for St Bartholomew’s Vicarage

The plans for St Bartholomew’s vicarage are described as missing on the Wikipedia entry. They are not nor have they been. I had certainly found and noted their plan number and viewed them at West Yorkshire Archive’s Bradford branch 8 years ago. It did require some additional thought and diligence to find them but they appear in the Borough Council’s planning register in the usual way.

An earlier long post on April 13th last year (2015) on this blog was in part about St Bartholomew’s Vicarage. In it I indicated my concern about the way sources of information then appearing on Wikipedia had not been adequately credited or referenced. The post referred further back to a rRV post from 2012 in which I wrote:-

‘The vicarage was to be a detached Victorian villa standing in its own private grounds on a plot of land given by H W Ripley to the corner east of the work’s southern approach road. The property is different in scale, layout and accommodation to the working men’s terraced cottages on the northern site, even those on Vere Street. It was planned as something much grander; to accommodate servants, with day and night nursery and a wine cellar. This is a middle class home shading towards upper middle class and superior to the School Master’s house built next to the school on the northern site’.

The phrases ‘to be’ and ‘as planned’ indicate that the description above was based in plans seen earlier in the Bradford branch of West Yorkshire Archives.

If the writers of the Wikipedia entry had not found and still have not seen the St Bartholomew’s Vicarage plans, it is obvious that their information about it has come in even larger part from this site and that this site should have been referenced in footnotes. This has still not been done.




(1)      The Wikipedia entry may be referring to the sets of contracts advertised in the Bradford Observer but it does not do so with clarity nor consistency.

(2)     This dates the application to the period just before the 4th set of contracts were advertised in the Bradford Observer and 4 months after the 3rd set was. The entry information is from my notebooks NB2011202 & NB2013404 as taken from the Bradford Corporation Register of Water Applications for that year.

(3)     If more of the slightly less wide Type 2 houses had been built and no Type 3 houses, then 2 more houses could have been fitted into the land available and only 2 houses would have needed to be dropped from the building plan.

(3)    The Wikipedia entry wrongly states that the quantities of houses built by type were:-

Type 1 houses   25

Type 2 houses  142

Type 3 houses   31

This adds up to 198 houses, yet as already noted, almost all evidence suggests that a total of 196 houses were ever built. This may be a simple typographical error (logic suggests it should read 140 Type 2 houses) but it can make you wonder whether other information offered in the Wikipedia entry is sound. I note (2016/01/29) that this error has now been corrected.

(4)    The concepts/descriptors in inverted commas can be found in standard texts on Victorian, West Riding and Bradford histories by A S Wohl, Geoffrey Best, Patrick Joyce, Jack Reynolds, Theodore Koditschek and others.


2008  Walker R L, ‘When was Ripleyville Built?’, SEQUALS, Shipley, West Yorks    (now out of print)


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

published 2016/01/01

updated 2016/01/29


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