Victorian Ripley Ville now!



rRVblog logo claretandamberI have just been looking out some pictures for one of the rediscovering Ripleyville booklets I am working on. They are of where Victorian Ripleyville, Bradford’s ‘other’ industrial model village once stood.

St Bartholomew’s, the village of Ripley Ville’s Anglican church, stood to the left of Hall Lane just beyond this disused railway crossing. Copyright R L Walker 2012

For nearly 100 years, until the late 1960s, anyone going down this road in West Bowling would have seen terraced houses and the gothic spire of Ripley Ville’s school ahead of them. Copyright R L Walker 2012

I took them on a sunny day while I was walking the boundaries of the village’s northern site. The site is centred around Linton Street in an area between East and West Bowling to the south of Bradford, West Yorkshire.

It’s all built over now; hard to believe there has ever been a village there or that at any one time over 1000 people had a home there. It must come as a shock if you are trying to find out about your family history or you lived there 40 or more years ago.

From 1868 most of the shops in Ripley Ville were in the end-terrace houses either side of this street. Copyright R L Walker 2012

  • You can imagine you are in the Time Team helicopter and get an overview of the village’s northern site, as it is now, at Google Maps, Linton St BD4 7EZ, UK.
  • For detailed views of the railway crossing and the disused branch line, which ran between the northern and southern sites of Ripley Ville, look at the early part of M Latus’ ‘Bowling to Laisterdyke a photographic survey 2010‘.

rediscovering Ripley Ville

Last week-end I spent some time going round the houses in the Arts Trail in Saltaire. Seems to me, thinking of all the attention that Saltaire gets as an industrial model village, that these pictures and the map alone could be a good enough reason for rediscovering Victorian Ripleyville.

That’s before you add in all the searches on family history sites and all the past residents’ memories of the place, like those in the West Bowling Local History Journals and collected by Alan O’Day Scott and Jeff Halmshaw.

More photographs on this blog of Ripleyville and the Bowling Dyeworks sites now.

last updated 2013/09/01

69 responses

  1. Beautiful pictures. Both the picture and the Google Maps link really give a sense that there is something missing there – the absence of a Saltaire with its Art Trails and everything.

    1. Hi I lived at 77 ripley terrace and left the villa in 1957

  2. Just discovered this blog.
    I used to live in Ripleyville from 1927 to 1948 apart from a spell in the Fleet Air Arm.
    i can correct one observation .The village boundary wasn’t Linton Street but Merton Street and the Gothic spire was almost immediately to the right in Merton Street as you entered from Ripley Terrace.
    The spire wasn.t of the school but the estate offices of Sir Edward Ripley (Bart) where the rents were collected.
    Some of the confusion may be due to the fact that maps did not show the individual names of the streets.
    I will contribute more when i have read the booklet I’ve just sent for..

  3. Really nice to hear from someone who lived in Ripleyville and knew it well.
    On the building with the gothic spire, Gordon, we are both right.
    The building was originally built in 1867 as a schools building; infants and elementary, boys and girls. Not sure when it became the estate’s office. It was still a school, an infants school, in the 1880s. Thats as far as I’ve traced its Victorian history.
    I think I have put that the village was centred on Linton Street.
    As for boundaries – Ripley Terrace, Hall Lane, the railway embankment and the railway cutting – that would be my list – if we are just taking about the northern site of the village.

    1. hi bob . as far as i know its always been estates office to the right of villa as we called it. remember the co op the fish shop. mr nutter was the butcher at the end of saville street.

      1. Hi again Keith,
        Definitely built as schools building. School for twenty years or more.

  4. Barry Wainwright | Reply

    I would like to know more about St Bartholomews Church, when it was pulled down and if there are any pictures of it in any book/record. I was baptised there in 1955. I have a plan of the church and copy of architecs drawing but no picture. Why did salts survive and ripleyville did not. Such a shame.

    1. Hello Barry
      I lived in Vere Street – nearly opposite St Bartholomews – during the 50’s and 60s. I occasionally played the organ in St Bartholomews. It was avery fine building. I know that the architect was not Andrews and Pepper, who did the rest of “the villa” but I have never been able to track down who it was. When young I was told a “London Architec was given the job”. If your drawing has the architech’s name on it I would dearly like to know what it is. So would Bob Walker, and other visitors to his site. If you got your drawings scanned and emailed to Bob – that would be truly wonderful.

      So far I have only discoverd who the architecht was not. The church is not listed amongst the works of Mallinson and Healey, or Healey – who were the usual architects of Bradford churches at that time. It is not listed under George Gilbert Scott, who did over a hundred churches – including the magnificent church at Ackroyden. From the style of St Bartholmews I thought the architect might be Street. At the time St Bartholomews was built he was working on the Law Courts in the Strand, and my local parish church in Eltham. No luck there either – lists of his works (including over 100 churches) make no mention of St Bartholomews.

      Best wishes
      Peter Knowles

      1. Hi Peter and Barry,
        i think I might not have expressed myself clearly enough in a phone call to Peter. We covered a lot of ground including St Bartholomew’s architects. Copies of the plans are held by Lambeth Palace and can be accessed through their site and then to This will take you to the search page. Follow this link Put St Bartholomew Bowling in the search. Their entry shows Healey and Healey were the architects.

  5. I lived on Saville Street in the mid 60’s and went to St James Junior school nearby, my aunt and uncle ran the pub there, though I cannot recall the name, I do remember the locals throwing coins into the street before they set off on a ‘pub trip’ I remember the rento office and the church, would love to see many more photos from that period. so glad this site is being developed. Brian

  6. Hi Barry. Welcome to the blog.
    Someone told me the church had been bomb damaged in the war! Doubt they would have been holding Christenings there 8 years later if that were true. There don’t appear to be any photos of the demolition of the church in Bradford Central Library’s collection like there are for the houses and school. So did it come down earlier? Anyone else out there got any info?

    1. hi RLBob, I remember the demolition of the church at the top of the hill, it would have been the mid 60’s. I think my uncle has a photo of him getting married in the church and will ask him next time I see him. I have written a book (autobiography) and include my time at Saville Street. I will ask my aunts and uncles if they have any images of ‘The Villa’

      1. noooooooooooooo the church was never bombed, looked awesome being black with the smoke and time but a magnificent church.


      2. Hi Keith,
        Welcome to the blog. The bombing story, told to me in the mid-80s, came complete with ‘the planes were following the railway-lines, it was a stray bomb, they were looking for Bowling Ironworks.’ Plausible enough – as stories go.

        Best wishes,


    2. hi, i used to live in ripleyville love to get some more information

  7. Thanks for the encouragement Brian. I just wonder if there aren’t photos in people’s family albums. Maybe Mum and Dad leaving the church when they were wed or of a ‘do’ at the pub. Its just that they are not recognised for what they are!

  8. Just remembered the name of the pub ( I think) The Gibson Arms…

  9. This is getting exciting! Bob

  10. Hello Bob
    Pleased to see that your blog is generating lots of interest.
    The church was not bombed during the war,I was a choir boy and server during this period.
    The church was demolished in 1962 after thieves had stripped the lead fron the roof allowing water in and subsequent rotting of the woodenbeams.
    There were two pubs in the Villa.Besides the Gibson there was the Locomotive Inn on Ellen Street.

    1. Hi Gordon. Thanks for putting a definate date for the church demolition, it has helped me with a time frame for that part of my life. Do you know of any pictures available?

  11. Linda Highsmith | Reply

    Hi Bob
    The blog is really interesting, We lived in Saville St, but I do not have alot of memories of Ripleyville as I was born in 1947 and we moved to Round St, West Bowling in the early 1950’s when I was about 4/5 years old. I have recently learnt that my late father Leslie Bottomley (1919 – 1975) who was a Plasterer was employed by the Trustees of Sir HW Ripley, before being self-employed, maybe that is why we lived there. I lived in West Bowling til the late 1960’s before moving to Wakefield in 1973. I come back to Bradford to visit family and often have a ride round with my sister to re-visit our youth in West Bowling, which is always quite emotional given the changes. Although I don’t have any info to offer, I shall certainly enjoy reading all the comments and info on Ripleyville because it is where the first years of my life started and will never be forgotten.

    1. hi linda, bet we know each other i lived in saville street, remember that name of your dads.

      keith wilkinson

  12. Hi Linda, How strange! I lived at number 25 Saville Street, then moved to West Bowling, then, later, Wakefield. I too find it quite emotional when I visit Bradford, the changes are too extreme for me. Still looking for more images of the area to include in my next book. I was talking to my sister yesterday and reminded me of the fair the used to visit over the railway crossing. I went to St James school and would really like some images from that wonderful small school!!

  13. Hi Linda and Brian,
    My interest in Victorian Ripley Ville stems from living in West Bowling from 1981 to 1996. I carried out eleven walked surveys of ‘Greater’ West Bowling (including Marshfields,the Mayos and Parkside estate) between 1991 and 2001. The Ripley Ville interest came from the fact that most people were still living in Victorian housing – and trying to understand if there were historical roots that helped to explain how by the late 1990s it had bits that counted as amongst the most deprived in the country.

  14. Hello Brian,
    I too went to St James School but a little before your time–1934 to 1938.the last time I saw it the school was just about demolished to make room for some offices of Hindles Gears who had bought the place.The parochial hall was still standing as was the small building at one end which in my time was the place to eat school dinners.
    The door had some inscription about the building being presented to the church by some charity.
    You are right about it being a wonderful small school..
    I did take a photo of this door but it awaits being dug out along with other photos of the Villa.
    I lived at 9 Sloane Street then at number 3 after the death of my mother..

  15. Hi Gordon, Such a huge shame the old school is no longer there, I have so many fond memories of the place and can only hope that someone has some old photos they would like to share.

  16. Hi Brian and Gordon, I’m interested you were going all the way down to St James School. I assume it wasn’t the nearest, nor even the nearest Church school.

  17. Hello Bob,I think it was the nearest Primary School.
    Usher Street was the nearest school but it had only an Infants and a Senior school ,No in-between..

    1. Stanley Goulding | Reply

      I went to Usher Street from 1954 to 1960 when passed 11 plus so not sure if primary or not but 5to11 went primary and over 11 next door to secondary.
      Having visited recently the whole is now primary/junior.

  18. Gordon, I’ve moved your comment from today 31/07/12 into the post to which it applies. That way what you say can be seen at the same time as the photo you were writing about. It’s now in the ‘Ripleyville in the 1960s …’ post. Bob

  19. hi to all,ive walked round old ripleyville,not much left now,its a shame,im looking for help looking for old photos of the streets near the bridge tavern pub,my mum once lived there when she was very young.any help will be great.

  20. Hello Alan, welcome to the blog. I’m wondering if Jeff Halmshaw of West Bowling History Archive can help on the photos of the Bridge Tavern area? You can get his details by following this link:- There is a photo of the pub in the mid-1980s in the book by Paul Jennnings called ‘Bradford Pubs’. Its published by Tempus in their ‘Images of England’ series.It’s on page 106 in the 2004 edition.

  21. Hello Bob, I’m new to this blog. What a fantastic resource. I’m just beginning a Heritage Lottery Funded project about the textile heritage of the area, with a specific interest in the dyeing industry. Would it be possible to have your email address?

    1. Hello Claire, Welcome to the blog, I’m glad you like it. You can get my e-mail address by right-clicking on my gravatar/mug-shot in my profile, in the column to right. But I’ll e-mail you as well. Bob

  22. Stanley Goulding | Reply

    Hello Bob,
    Have just received and read your booklet “when was RipleyVille built”.
    I always thought it was one word not two.
    I lived at 34 Saville Street from 1954 going to Usher Street junior where I passed my eleven plus.
    As a five year old I walked alone to school buying a wagon wheel at the Coop on the road by railway cutting which I think was Helen Street?
    About half way up Linton Street on right was a pub and opposite at the end of Saville Street a butchers. Further up Linton St were three shops which I think we’re all general grocers.
    We moved to 25 Ripley Terrace c1961 till c1966 when we moved to Laisterdyke.
    Have not visited Ripleyville for several years but was sad to see it is now an industrial site.

    1. Hello Stanley, Welcome to the blog. I tend to use Ripley Ville, two words, when I’m writing about the early years of the village. Its the way it was written in the very first article I’ve found in a newspaper – in 1867. It sounds like you were a teenager by 1966. How good is your memory of the Houses on Ripley Terrace and Saville St? Peter Knowles, Gordon Brook and Brian Mynott are doing a detailed reconstruction of the buildings and streets in the village, which I think you might be interested in.
      Best wishes

      1. Stanley Goulding

        Hi Bob,
        Detailed reconstruction is interesting.
        My immediate recollections are:
        34 Saville Street
        All stone built with slate roof of course.
        Sash windows
        Small garden at front with yard and outside loo at back
        Front entrance lobby with the one and only electric socket and stairs leading up.
        What would now be called a through lounge!
        Stone flag floors
        Cast iron range with oven and water boiler, massive chimney with room for some coal at back.
        Back door with several steps down into yard.
        Cellar head scullery with gas cooker.
        Cellar with coal storage – it was my job to whitewash the cellar.
        25 Ripley Terrace
        Walled garden with privet hedge to front.
        Bus stop to Bradford across road to right where there was a big old house which I think might have been to do with the railway?
        Same level yard with outside loo at back.
        Front door led into lounge which, I think, had a wooden floor.
        Door to staircase up.
        Doorway through to kitchen at back.

    2. hi stanley, remember you well i lived at 27 saville street and remember everyone, get in touch

      1. I was born on saville street 1969 my name brian duncan(procter)

  23. Hello Stanley,

    It seems we have quite a bit in common, as I lived at 47 R[pley Terrace, 8 Saville Street and 20 Vere Street and my first school was Usher Street Infants, of which I have warm memories. I also have warm memories of waggon wheels. As Bob mentioned me in his reponse as one of the three unsung heros beavering away in the background (the others are Gordon and Brian) to provide plans, drawings and reconstructions of the Ripleyville buildings, I thought it was a great oppportunity to pick your brains. From your description of the houses you lived in you have very clear memories of them.

    If you are agreeable to Bob Walker providing me with your email address, I will forward to you the current drafts of drawings and notes. We would very much appreciate your comments and corrections.

    You are right in your recollection of the sizable detached house opposite 25 Ripley Terrace and next to the bus stop. My friend Terry Rooke lived there – his dad was the station master of St Dunstan’s station. We used to get the train from St Dunstans to Laisterdyke to visit family and friends, It was much quicker than going into town on the bus and then up Leeds Road on the tram.

    Best wishes,

    Peter Knowles

    1. david hollyoak | Reply

      Hi Peter David Hollyoak, I lived at 53. This site is amazing. I have many memories of life then which I want to share.

      1. Hello David
        It is wonderful to hear from you after all these years.

        My sister Lydia and I have wonderful memories of you and your sister Norma. Lyd found a lovely photo of us all sitting on the front garden wall of No 53. It has you and Norma, Jos Mynot, Brenda and Dennis Husband and Terry Rook (his dad was Station master at St Dunstans) I will send you a copy.

        Lyd did a draft post about the Villa Kids for Bob’s website but never got round to finishing it! It had many photos of the Ripley Terrace Gang. I keep reminding her to get it done. She and Brenda have organised a few Villa Kids re-unions over the years. Another one should be due shortly – while there are still enough of us left. We will expect you to be there

        Best wishes


    2. Stanley I lived at 77 Ripley terrace left the villa around 1955 fantastic life there

  24. Stanley Goulding | Reply

    Hi Peter,
    Good to hear from you, yes please ask Bob for my email address and I look forward to seeing the draft plans.
    St Dunstans station was closed in my time but we used to sit on the wall at bottom of the “snicket” near the signal box and train spot.

    1. Hi Peter and Stanley,
      Thought that might be a good way to link up. Stanley, I’ll forward your e-mail to Peter.
      And the three of you are not unsung and certainly heroes in this household!

  25. Hi Stanley
    I just got your email address from Bob and have passed on the email to you so now you have my address also.

    I am glad to know you also were a keen train spotter. The Villa was the ideal location for it. I spent many a happy afternoon on the hill in front of Ripley Terrace, looking down on St Dunstans Station and watching the shuntering engines at work in the carriage sidings and goods yards. In the morning I usually went across to the bridge in Ripley Street to see “the ten o’clock London” as it stormed up the gradient on its way to Marylebone. It sounded such an exotic destination!.

    I mentioned to Bob that at one time Ripley Terrace had been knick-named “engine drivers row.” My grandad, who lived at 47 Ripley Terrace,was a driver, so was his eldest son my Uncle Jack.. Bob responded that “Ripleyville and Railways” might make a very entertaining post on the blog. I have added it to my ever lengthening “to do” list.

    Best wishes

    Peter Knowles

  26. Hi Peter & Stanley, I lived in the detached house (2 Ripley Terrace) from 1952 – 1955. I don’t remember much about it as I was only 3 when I left – my parent bought a house in Paley Road. We lived in the Station Master’s House with my grandparents, my grandfather was Station Master at Dudley Hill and I guess he was allotted that house by the railway company. I think St Dunstan’s Station closed in 1952 so I’m guessing it became vacant when the Station Master left there – perhaps Terry Rook’s dad?

    1. Hi Mick,
      Welcome to the blog. I’ve added the photos you sent of St Bartholomew under demolition to the St Bartholomew ‘wiki’. Much appreciated.

  27. Hi Mick
    – yes it would have been Terry’s dad who vacated the station house. Your grandad would have had a fair old journey to Dudley Hill station. When St Dunstans was working there was a train service – the Wakefield trains stopped at st Dunstans. and then at Laisterdyke and then Dudley Hill. After that it was a case of getting the bus up Wakefield Road. I have a photo of the St Dunstans station house and of Terry. – but not his dad.

    The photos of St Bartholomews are really interesting. I shall have to do a few amendments to the reconstruction drawings. – as I made the multifoils in the clerestory window heads a bit too small. The pillars look more like new red sandstone (which is how I remember them) than “pressed brick”. The capitals are definately pressed brick, but the bases are local sandstone. The photos demonstate the very high quality mason’s work noted in the press articles when the church was first built.

  28. Hi everyone,
    I found a note in amongst the many notes I’ve made about Ripleyville in the last ten years. Its about two photos I viewed but did not download. They were on the website in their photo catalogue. One was of ‘Bradford St Dunstans Stationmasters House Ripley Terrace’, with a catalogue no:- JBN 23/08/1972 AJA 658. The other was of ‘Bowling Goods Yard’, catalogue no;- JBN 23/08/1972 AJA 674. Now before you get excited, Ive done a quick search of the Historical Model Railway Society’s on-line photo catalogue and got a nil return. But the catalogue nos appear to be for an old catalogue. Might be worth getting in touch with them?
    Best wishes

  29. hi Bob, try new numbers aee365 and aee377.


    1. Thanks Mick,
      I thought I would share the info so people could have a look for themselves. But, people, you can’t because the photos are not in the HMRS on-line catalogue. You have to order then and pay for a copy. Sorry. Thought we might have found one more downloadable Ripleyville photo to share – free! Bob

  30. my grt- grandparents& grandparents lived in ripley ville john & martha knowles, ernest & florence knowles peter knowles are we related regards derek knowles

    1. Hi Derek,
      Welcome to the blog. I’ll put you in touch with Peter Knowles. Do you know which houses they lived in and when?


  31. hi all, anyone knowing of ripleyville, please get in touch happy days there with all my friends

    keith wilkinson

  32. hi bob i came to bradford in 1954, and like i say remember it as where rent was paid etc, i do miss the village as we were so close to everyone.

  33. found a nice pic of villa, and broomfield with the steel cabin houses, the people who lived there had lovely gardens as i remember. used to go through when i went to st annes. shows it before the police station was built.the field next to mill lane was our schools football pitch.

  34. Why not Jpin our facebook page . Were a group pf historians ( amatures) But love history

    If your from Bradford and Would love to hear from anyone else who also has
    memories. feel free to join.

    1. Hello Vera,
      Thanks for the invitation. I’m afraid I’m personally a bit Facebook-averse but please spread news of the rediscovering Ripleyville web-site to your group.

      Best wishes

  35. hi bob,yes would love to be part of the group, and chat to anyone who lived there or around that area, love to turn the clock back.
    regards keith

  36. Hello Keith
    I lived at No 8 Saville street when you came to the Villa in 1954. I would like to see your photo of the cabins. Perhaps you could email a copy to Bob. We called them “The Prefabs”. When I started school at Usher Street Infants my classmate Derek Payne lived in one of the prefabs. He used to take us to see his house after school. To Villa kids it felt like the lap of luxury. Fitted kitchen, bathroom and hot running water – to say nothing of what seemed a huge garden- with a garden shed for our gang meetings.

    Best wishes

    Peter Knowles

    1. Hello Keith and Welcome back to the web-site Peter,
      Can I ask you both to look at the new pages on Resource Constraints, Priority Content and e-mailed Content : Guidelines. They are all under the new ‘Adding Content’ page. I will try and move or copy your comments to where they should go. Please use the comment boxes under ‘Ripley Ville 1936-1970 : More than a Memory‘ for future comments on that topic. Thanks.
      I thought you had set up something so people could come straight to you, Peter?


  37. hi peter, i lived at no 19 saville street then we moved in with my family(moms sis etc at no 27 saville street, love to turn clocks around we used to play cricket on bottom field.


  38. keith wilkinson | Reply

    remember stanley well lots of memories relating to villa, any remember jim and peter loxom, jim i think lives on parkside estate.

  39. mam and dad drank in the Gibson and Norman Exley was the butcher and Mrs brooks had a local shop there were 2 other shops and yes coins were threw at kids from the Charrar at the Gibson at the school there was a builders yard I lived at 77 ripley terrace on the villa

  40. I was born on saville street 1969 my name brian duncan(procter)

    1. Welcome to the blog Brian. That’s likely to make you one of the youngest ex-residents of the Villa!

  41. what we lived at 27 saville st moved in with my aunty and uncle and cousins from number 19. next door was the casey family at 29.

  42. we moved out in 1961 to new hey road never knew who took the house over. also no25 saville st next door ws a very large family whom some went to usher st. the briggs family lived across.

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