Sunday, 26 January 2014



The Royal Hotel


This fine building in Upper Washer Lane, Halifax, was once the home of John Edward Wainhouse, the owner of a nearby dyeworks, and is situated on the steep side of the Calder Valley.   A huge tower, 253 feet tall, dominates the scene.    This amazing construction was apparently built as a chimney to disperse smoke from the dyeworks belonging to Wainhouse back in the late 19th century.   The strange thing was that the dyeworks were down in the valley whilst the chimney was high on the hilltop above, and it was intended that the two would be connected by a flue.   For some reason the connection was never made and the chimney actually ended up as a rather ornate tower.    The brick built chimney was in fact encased in stone and an internal spiral staircase of 400 steps lead up to a very ornamental observation tower on top.  Offering spectacular views over the town and the surrounding countryside, the tower is only occasionally open to the public.

So why did Wainhouse spend £15,000 to build such an ornate chimney?  One can speculate but local legend has it that ‘Spite  Tower’, as it was called locally, was never intended to be a chimney in the first place, but that Wainhouse had it built as the result of a feud with his neighbours, the Edwards family.    It is said that the Edwards’ suspected Wainhouse of being a peeping tom and erected a huge wall between their properties.   The tower of course gave Wainhouse back his view over his neighbours property 

Spite Tower

The Lord Rodney


The Lord Rodney is an ancient pub situated in the centre of Keighley in West Yorkshire alongside the parish church. Now much modernised from its hey day in the 19th century. We are reminded that pub regular, entrepreneur James Leach was a larger than life figure in Keighley in the 19th century.  He was known as ‘Pie’ because of his one time meat pie business, but he also ventured into other trades such as handloom weaver, wool comber, coal pit sinker, beer house keeper, spoon maker, horse & cart driver, gambler, hawker, travelling showman, docker, green-grocer, nightwatchman/ policeman.  He also became very much involved in local organisations and public offices.  Pie got married on a particular afternoon only because he had time on his hands when his loom broke down.  Unfortunately he arrived late at the church and fearing that the ceremony would have to be postponed because it could not be held within the permitted hours, Pie persuaded a friend to climb the church tower to alter the clock in order to mislead the parson.  Then, when a ring was unavailable for the bride’s finger, he enlisted the help of the landlady at the  Lord Rodney  and she loaned her own wedding ring.

Apparently Pie was a little more organised when it came to making his funeral arrangements, making elaborate arrangements.  He erected a fine tombstone in Keighley Cemetery some six years before his death and had it engraved with a testimonial and details of his public service:


‘We the undersigned have pleasure in certifying that the bearer JAMES LEACH is of sober and steady habits. He has been employed in the Keighley Police Force for upwards of 5 years and retired therefrom last October having been so long in the Force  and accustomed to the duties of a Police Officer, we have confidence in recommending him to your notice. We are yours obediently

William Busfield Rector. John Craven JP. Jno Brigg JP. John Sugden JP. James Kershaw Superintendent of Police. July 29th 1854.’

Mr James Leach was a representative of the Ratepayers as follows:

He was elected a member of Keighley Local Board and served about 12 years. He was elected a member of Keighley Board of Guardians and served 7 years. He was elected a member of the Keighley School Board and served 2 years. He was elected a member of the Keighley Burial Board and served 3 years. He was a Commissioner of the Baths and Washhouses for 7 years and moved the resolution for the incorporation of the town officially in the Finance and General Purposes Committee of the old Local Board of Health.

The burial chamber was also excavated and, as Pie had nowhere to keep his prepared coffin, he obtained permission from the Burial Board to store the empty coffin in the grave until needed!  Suffice to say that Pie was successfully laid to rest, as planned, on 13th October 1893 aged 78 years.

He kept a diary of his duties as Police nightwatchman (1848-1853) which is preserved in Keighley Public Library.

The Reservoir Tavern


A gravestone in Utley Cemetery at Keighley in West Yorkshire tells us that it is in memory of :

‘Christopher Ingham landlord of the Reservoir Tavern, Keighley,

who died September 1866 in the 80th year of his age.

He was one of the heroes of the Peninsular War having served in the

95th Regiment of Foot for which he received the silver medal with clasps

for the engagements at Toulouse etc. He also received the

Wellington Medal for Waterloo dated June 15th 1915.

Known as Sharpe’s Grave, because it is thought that Bernard Cornwell used Ingham’s life as the basis for his ‘Sharpe’ novels.     The Reservoir Tavern still exists in West Lane.




The  Old  Silent  Inn


A rural pub, The Old Silent is situated just outside the little moors village of Stanbury in West Yorkshire close to the Lancashire border and not far from Haworth of Bronte fame, with the Pennine Way long distance footpath close by.  Formerly called the Eagle, this free house got its name when  Bonnie Prince Charlie stayed there during his foray south in the 18th century,, in secret of course, and he relied on the silence of the local people for his safety, and so the name was changed.

Another story surrounding this pub is about cats, lots of them in fact.   The story goes that a 19th century landlady was very fond of cats and fed all the strays that roamed the surrounding moors.  When she was ready to feed them, the lady would ring a bell and the cats came running.   The landlord will tell you that there are still lots of cats about and from time to time the bell is still heard ringing.


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