This page tracks some of the background to decisions to demolish buildings on the northern site of Ripleyville in the late 1960s, references the Grade II listing for the village’s Almshouses but shows how these or other Bradford buildings are not enough to reveal what Victorian Ripley Ville was like physically or to live in.
I could be wrong but I’m not aware of any great public outcry when the decision was made in the late 1960s to demolish Victorian Ripley Ville. Many of the houses still lacked hot water and basic amenities and ownership was split broadly between the council, the Ripley Trust and possibly a few owner-occupiers or private landlords. Demolition also followed a period of considerable animosity between older residents and more recent tenants. Community workers were put in to try and help resolve the problem.
The history of Ripleyville’s decline can be followed through articles, reports and letters to the editor of the Bradford Telegraph & Argus.
You can follow the thread on the microfiched copies in Bradford Central Library. These entries give a flavour :-
1966/Oct/11th, page 10, column 1 : Letter headed, ‘The Decline of Ripleyville’ by ‘Rip Van Winkle’.
1968/Aug/15th, page 1, column 3 : Front page article, ‘Tension in Ripleyville’, about police being called, with publican allegedly threatened and hotel damaged.
1968/Dec/31st, page 5, column 2 : Article, ‘Danger from empty houses : Vandals wreck Ripleyville property causing hazards to health and children’.
1969/July/29th, page 6, column 3 : Article to effect that a place ironically called ‘the Villa’ and a community that accepts ‘muck blown through t’winder oiles’ and ‘cold water only’ was ‘now doomed’.
1969/Sept/12th, page 10, column 3 : Article (under heading ‘Rotten Apple’?), saying Shelter Report of 11th September 1969 contained ‘exaggeration’ and offering a report by John Hewitt, David Blackburn ( Leeds College of Commerce) and Katrina Ackroyd (Bradford University).
The story told through this thread of articles and letters provides a background to Peter Knowles’ contribution in the ‘Three Vicarages’ post about a plan to take a railway line through the middle of the Villa in the late 1960s.
If it had survived another decade Ripley Ville’s significance, as the old Borough of Bradford’s only industrial model village, may have been realised. In that later decade the Ripley Ville alms houses were identified as deserving of preservation. They are now Grade II listed by English Heritage.
The listing can be accessed through Bradford Council. Under Bradford, click on ‘ Grade II Listed Buildings’. In the PDF scroll down to ‘New Cross Street, West Bowling, Bradford 5’, listing No 9/885 II, where the architectural and historical reasons for their listing will be found.
Its interesting that the listing doesn’t say they were part of an industrial model village!
The alms houses can’t, however, stand for a whole village. The loss of the schools’ buildings and the vicarage are particularly regrettable. There is some indication, for example, that elements in the design of the Ripley Ville schools building were repeated by the architects, Andrews Son and Pepper, in the design of Bradford Boys Grammar School. The vicarage with its wine cellar and day and night nurseries would have offered a very interesting glimpse of contrasting wealth in such a small village with lessons that could be drawn about a wider Victorian society.
Nor can the short terraced row of Victorian Back to backs from Gathorne Street, rebuilt at Bradford’s Industrial Museum, make up for the loss of housing. All the Ripley Ville houses were through terraced houses. The distinction, common to all the improved and model housing in the mid to late Victorian West Riding is that it was not built back to back. As those who have been on it will know, some part of the success of Saltaire’s Arts Trail is in seeing how industrial model housing, of the various sizes and types in the village, is lived in now. In contrast, at this point in time, we have next to nothing to tell us how the larger houses on Ripley Ville’s Vere Street compared to the inner houses on Sloan Street and Saville Street or those fronting Ripley Terrace.
Filling the Gap
It is the kind of gap in knowledge that this blog is hoping to fill – with your help. Almost any illustration; photo, sketch, map plan, or recollection would improve on the few grainy photos available now.
If you have ideas for raising the village’s profile, I’d be happy to hear them.
see Contributions page
see also new ‘Heritage Matters : Events Projects & Campaigning’ page (under development)
Which brings me to the the aims of this blog. These are
- To reach out to people with interests, old or new, in Victorian Ripley Ville
- To add to the ways in which people’s different stories of Ripley Ville can be shared
- To use different people’s knowledge to improve on what we can know with any certainty about what the village and its buildings were like physically and to live in, in Victorian times
There so much to find out.
In return I’ll keep you up to date on my attempts and those of others at rediscovering Victorian Ripley Ville; the old Borough of Bradford’s only industrial model village.
last updated 2014/01/14