Category Archives: Architecture

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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Houses of Ripley Ville and the Villa

This is a re-post of content that appeared on the blog in mid-November 2012. It shows early versions of content now on the not-yet-a-Wikipedia page for Ripleyville by Peter Knowles. I have left it unedited. It expresses the surprise and excitement and the right notes of caution about the content Peter sent and some of its meaning for rediscovering Ripleyville.

I would at this point just add a number of additional points of caution.  With the help and prompting of the ‘Gentlemen of the Villa’ (ex-residents put in touch through this web-site) Peter has done architectural reconstructions for the church of St Bartholomew and the houses of the Villa i.e. projections backwards from the 1960s, while also using large scale maps from the 1890s. The example of St Bartholomews Church, below, indicates one of the stages involved in such a process. For the houses, the full set of architectural drawings and plans have still to be found.

St Bartholomews Church Lambeth Palace & OS map compared

Missing from Peter’s ‘wiki’ are the school master’s house and the building’s of the village’s southern site; the vicarage and the almshouses.

On the water-closets controversy we may have narrowed down what may have happened 1866-69. Peter’s deductions need better evidencing. He also down-plays the water-closets’ significance. This comes both from their historic significance; their installation in a group of Working Mens housing by 1868 (Where is there an earlier example in the UK?) and their place in the Saltaire,West Park Hill, Akroydon, Ripley Ville progression; that is their actual installation in the forth of the industrial model villages built in the Worsted District of the West Riding.

Two detailed post on the ‘Water-closet Controversy‘, in the Members Area, are password protected. They are accessible to ‘Friends of Ripleyville’ registering through the sign-up form (side-bar right) →

The original title of the post was ‘An Amazing Attachment’. It was published 2012/11/17 and follows

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Cloth & Memory {2} : Mutable Frame of Reference

Mutable Frame of Reference : inside viewMaxine Bristow’s work ‘Mutable Frame of Reference – Installation – Material’, in the Cloth & Memory {2} exhibition in the Spinning Room at Salt’s 1853 Mill, is conceptually challenging. This post gives a personal but historically contexted reading of the installation that acknowledges the fluid frames, mutability and associative resonances of the work. Through these readings and the memories that the structural frameworks and curtaining evoke, the post settles, unsettlingly, on ideas of ‘warded’ space. From there it moves on to an account of an incident in the early 1860s when the ‘Lancashire Cotton Famine’ was near its peak and then comes back by way of the worsted trade to Bowling Dyeworks, the industrial model village of Ripley Ville and Salts Mill.

This is the second in a series of four posts on the Cloth & Memory {2} exhibition. A previous post has reviewed 6 other exhibits adding a commentary, in the form of supplements, that make connections between the exhibits and worsted dyeing, Bowling Dyeworks and Bradford’s ‘other’ industrial model village; Ripley Ville.

Theoretical underpinning

A future post ‘Colour Supplement’ engages with the theoretical positions that inform Maxine Bristow’s work (see Cloth & Memory {2}, page 38) and within their context uses the idea of ‘the supplement’ to critique Bradford’s understanding of its Victorian history and what this means for its heritage offer. This post revolves around and then enters into the exhibit to settle, unsettlingly on the idea of warded space. This is an idea that connects to the theory of a  ‘surveillance and a carceral society’ , associated with Michel Foucault and his account of structural (epistemic} changes in the relations between state, society and the individual in the early 19th century.

Cloth & Memory {2} : Mutable Frame of Reference

Occupying a central space in the Spinning Room of Salts 1853 Mill in Saltaire, Maxine Bristow’s work ‘Mutable Frame of Reference – Installation – Material’ is designed to be conceptually challenging.  It is one of 23 exhibits in the Cloth & Memory {2} exhibition that runs for its final week until Sunday, November 3rd.

View of whole installation : Mutable Frame of Reference

Image : copyright R L Walker 2013

At a distance, in spite of its central location, the tonal values of the cloths and the runs of matt metal rails allow an assimilation of the installation to the space of the Spinning Room. Approached, incongruities appear. The ‘Scandinavian’ blond-wood, the bent-wood components and smaller dimensions of the railings suggest technologies and a modern structure from the late 1950s or 1960s, certainly from a period that came after the hundred years when the Mill was in its prime.

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Doing Justice by the Villa : The Almshouses – Saving what’s left

This post takes the idea of ‘Doing Justice by the Villa’ and moves it on. It takes the idea of ‘rediscovering Ripleyville, Bradford’s only industrial village’ and moves that on. Because doing justice by ‘the Villa’ requires more than the rediscovery of a forgotten industrial model village or revealing how it came to be demolished. It requires more than a re-evaluation of the village as part of Bradford’s mid to late Victorian heritage, or in relation to Saltaire. All these things are needed but it also requires urgent steps to ‘save’ what’s left.

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Doing Justice by the Villa : The Almshouses – Saving what’s left

It is a scandal that very little does remain of the old Borough of Bradford’s only industrial model village – at least from what can be seen above ground and at street level. The most significant remains are the ten Grade 11 listed almshouses on New Cross Street near Bowling Park.

To most people – those who find traces of buildings or locational hints like walls, kerb-stones or railway lines and embankments leave them cold – the almshouses will be the only remains that count. The Laboratory building on Ripley Road is significant in terms of the area’s industrial and dyeing heritage but, built in 1916, is disqualified by date from inclusion as part of the Victorian village.

As  indicated elsewhere, the almshouses are listed by English Heritage as ‘Bowling Dyeworks Almshouses’. That is consistent with the earlier of the plaques on the almshouses.

The almshouses’ full significance

For the 21st century visitor to the area, the amateur or academic researcher the Bowling Dye Works label fails to communicate the almshouses’ full significance. Their transfer and rebuilding to the western side of the main entrance to Bowling Dyeworks in 1881 are an act of completion. With the imposing Victorian vicarage to the other side of the carriage way to the Works’ southern entrance, they are a final act by Henry William Ripley in respect of the industrial model village of Ripley Ville. The movement of the six almshouses, their re-building as a row of ten, their ‘Tudorbethan’ detailing, (described as Jacobbean in the listing) and their charitable purpose serve as as a coda both to what was built before and the change in values and thinking embodied in the buildings of Ripley Ville.  They both carry forward the memory of the parents’ charity and augment it in that of the son. They connect pre-industrial ideas of charity from a golden age of English history with those of neo-paternalists like H W Ripley and Edward Akroyd at Akroydon.  Over a 15 year period H W Ripley was the sponsor for; the workmen’s dwellings, schools and almshouses and he allowed the Anglican Church and vicarage to be built on land that he gave for that purpose. These each in their turn gave physical expression to Ripley’s changing stance on the issues of the day whether it was workmen’s housing, education of the people, or religion. Against his parents’ Dissenter background and the Radicalism claimed for H W Ripley’s youth, they mark the by then 68 year old Sir Henry William Ripley’s establishment credentials. The almshouses bring the industrial model village’s story to a close between symbolic pillars; the Anglican vicarage and buildings that reference a mythic Elizabethan Commonweal. To the more ‘philosophical’ Victorian of a party political, or literary bent they would also reference ‘Young England’, ‘Sybil’ and the ‘one nation‘ Toryism of Benjamin Disraeli.

‘Tudorbethan’ architecture and detailing of Almshouses

Composite image three photos of almshouses

  1. Roofline features including end and transverse gabling and increased length of chimney
  2. Moulding to door casing above paired front doors
  3. Detail of central feature above doors

There is a really excellent view of the alms houses from 2008  on Google Maps in satellite view. Put ‘Switchgear and Instrumentation Ltd, Bradford’ in the search and zoom in. The alms houses are shown below (south of) their works. The works are now part of the Powell Industries group.

Rural and Urban : Neo-paternal and Personal

Henry had been frustrated by an earlier refusal of planning permission to put the almshouses to the fore of the vicarage. It is difficult to picture it now. In their present position, the alms houses are near a mini-roundabout, hemmed in between New Cross Street and a high back fence. But with the planned  Park opened in 1882 and the vicarage standing in its own grounds there must have been the hope of creating more than the illusion of ‘rus in urbe’.  There is even a sense in which on a very minor scale the re-building of the alms houses echo the parallel personal project of Henry William Ripley in the building of the mock Tudor Bedstone Court.

Condition of the Almshouses

I am not aware of any immediate threat to the Ripleyville almshouses. I should also add that I am not an architect nor am I an expert on the listing of buildings. My concern about the condition of the almshouse comes from putting a card about ‘rediscovering Ripleyville’ through the letter box of each of the almshouses. When there is broken glass in a door or it gives at the slightest push, when the frontage of  individual houses is secured with grills to the windows and across the doors concern seems warranted. On a visit in the same week, ex-resident of ‘the Villa’ Gordon Brook had similar concerns. I have to say that I have had a concern about the long-term survival of the row of almshouse from 20 years back, when it appeared that individual properties were being offered on the market. The threat is of bit by bit deterioration and piece-meal remedies that over time erode the architectural integrity of individual houses or that of the whole row. Looked at closely the images above show evidence of that erosion with missing chimney pots and grills to doors. The images below show the previously insecure alms house has been temporarily boarded up and recently sold at auction (2). Within the row another almshouse is ‘to let’ (3). The security grills of various types are more in evidence (1 & 2). It should be noted that the condition of individual almshouses varies.

Condition of almshouses 2012/11/28

What’s to be done?

This post places the Bowling Dye Works Almshouses in their proper context as the the final act in the building of the old Borough of Bradford’s only industrial model village. All the other buildings from the village have been demolished. It raises concerns about the present condition of the almshouses and for their longer-term survival.

The almshouses need to be recognised as an asset by local residents, Bradfordians and those responsible at District level and above for such assets. This blog can try to act as a catalyst to that change and monitor what happens. To that end I have written to both the Conservation Team of Bradford Council’s Planning Department and to the local Newspaper, the Telegraph and Argus. I will be doing a future post around listing and building conservation. My letter to the T&A has as yet attracted no comments, likes or other attention.  You could change that. It is possible through the T&A site to publicise the letter through Google and social media.

In the end whether the Ripleyville almshouses survive, will depend on whether people care enough, or feel passionate enough about the almshouses and their own Victorian heritage.

This blog does. Do You?

Use the comment box or use the sign-up form (side-bar right →)

to register your support for action to ‘Save the Ripley Ville Almshouses’.

last updated 2014/09/13

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