Friday, 14 February 2014

OTLEY, West Yorkshire 1



My next posting relates to the town where I live.
O yea O yea OTLEY

Otley is an historic market town in West Yorkshire with a population of some 14000 people. It is a thriving town with the ambience of former times which is situated at the extreme north west part of the Leeds Metropolitan conurbation some ten miles from Leeds.  The town is on a bridging point of the River Wharfe on the boundary of North Yorkshire in Lower Wharfedale, with Ilkley to the west and Wetherby to the east. It is dominated to the south by a gritstone escarpment known as The Chevin (ridge) whilst the ground to the north rises up to Blubberhouses Moor. The town dates back at least to the Saxon times deriving from Othe. Otho or Otta, a Saxon personal name, and leah a woodland clearing.

These photographs are taken from the A660 main road from  Leeds which now by passes the town at the foot of The Chevin.


East Chevin Road is the old road leading into Otley down The Chevin. The former railway bridge now crosses the by-pass

 Looking back up East Chevin Road, the weekly cattle market is held on the left hand side.

Otley was granted a market charter in 1222 by King Henry 111. The Market Place is the centre of the town and traditional weekly markets are held on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday.


 The Market Place is lined by a variety of old buildings and a focal point is the Jubilee Clock Tower which was erected to commemorate Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee,
and the adjacent old Buttercross.

A substantial Farmer's Market is also held on the last Sunday of each month
offering fresh produce and supporting products.


The Black Bull Inn is one of the oldest buildings in The Market Place and dating back to the 16th century is reputed to be the oldest pub in Otley. The inside of this traditional pub, which is below street level, has original stone floors and low oak beams and a fine 16th century stone fireplace.
There is an 18th century pump and well in an open yard at the rear of the pub thought to be the last surviving pump in Otley.



There is an 18th century pump and well in an open yard at the rear of the pub thought to be the last surviving pump in Otley.

Otley is a famous pub town for its size, historically there were over 30 such establishments and amazingly 18 of them are still thriving.
An 'Ale Trail' guide is available from the tourist office.
See also:

 Just above The Black Bull is New Inn Court which leads to Newmarket and Kirkgate, one of many similar courtyards in Otley. This one contains a number of retail shops in an olde world setting.
The New Inn closed in 1988 and is now a Superdrug shop.
Along the top of the Market Place is Kirkgate which is the main street and of course leads to the Parish Church. 

On Friday and Saturday the market extends along Kirkgate where there are many retails outlets, banks, charity shops and the like.
 The art deco building on the right was formerly Woolworths store, now occupied by Yorkshire Trading it supplies a variety of clothing and household goods.


The mid 18th century Red Lion and the Whitakers Arms
are next door to each other on the opposite side of Kirkgate. Indeed there was once another pub immediately next to the Red Lion - 
The Green Man which closed in 1883 and together with the Queen's Head (closed 1955) and the Grey Horse (closed 1848) opposite there was certainly
plenty of choice.


Kirkgate Arcade provides undercover shopping at a variety of
small retails shops and a café.

Church Lane alongside  is a cobbled pedestrian lane which leads up to fine stone built residential property and eventually to Waitrose supermarket.

A fine pair of 18th century cottages in Church Lane have recently been renovated

The  Navvies’  Monument


An information plaque on this fine monument, in the shape of a Gothic tunnel entrance, alongside the churchyard in Church Lane tells us that :

‘ The Leeds and Thirsk Railway was promoted to provide a new route from Leeds to the north and on to Scotland.  Having been given Royal assent on 21st July 1845, practical construction work commenced in 1846, the contractor James Bray, facing considerable technical problems in crossing the hills and valleys along the route.  The greatest challenge was to cut the Bramhope tunnel 25ft high through 2 miles 243 yards of rock at depths up to 290ft.  Some 2,300 men and 400 horses were involved in the work, all being subject to sudden falls of rock, subsidence, flooding and accidental death.  One victim, James Myers of Yeadon, had the following lines inscribed on his gravestone :

‘ What dangers do surround

Poor miners everywhere

And they labour underground

Thay should be men of prayer.’

This monument to those who died in the construction of the tunnel is based upon its northern portal, originally constructed in Caen Stone, it was first restored in 1913 by the North Eastern Railway Co. and again under the auspices of Otley Town Council and British Rail in 1988.’

 The miners buried beneath the monument,  23 in all, are named.

This railway is still in use today and the above mentioned northern portal can still be seen and also the very fine viaduct which carries to the railway away from the tunnel across Wharfedale.


Old tomb stones and trees give the churchyard a macabre sensation.

The Parish Church of All Saints dates to the 12th century and was built on an earlier foundation dating as far back as the 7th century. Inside the church fragments of two Anglo-Saxon crosses are preserved. Four fragments, including one carved with the busts of three Evangelists, are believed to have been part of a great cross dating to the 8th century, a replica of which is in the
War Memorial Garden in Bondgate.



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