Cullingworth village – past and present

by Craven and Valley Life

Steeped in local history but thriving in the present, the village of Cullingworth sits just a couple of miles from the tourist magnet village of Haworth.

With a population of around 3,000, Cullingworth clings to a steep valley slope above Ellar Carr Beck, with the dramatic hills, valleys and moorland providing an outstanding backdrop.

Like many West Yorkshire villages, Cullingworth was largely an agricultural settlement until the 18th and 19th centuries brought the textile industry to the village, powered first by water then by local coal. The inhabitants worked in the village mills, coal mining or quarrying the building stone from the millstone grit of the moors.

These days, the old industries have gone, a new primary school and housing estates have been built, and the village has become a commuter settlement for Keighley, Bradford and Halifax, but a number of small industries and retail businesses thrive in the old mills.

“There’s a lot of interest in the history of the village,” says resident Nigel Keighley.

“It became very busy when the railway came, similar to places like Denholme, and now you could say it’s in a post-industrial phase.”

One example is Cullingworth Mill at Greenside Lane, where the solid old stone mill buildings are now home to an international antiques centre with some dealers operating under one roof.

Another legacy of the industrial age is the old Queensbury railway line, which closed in the 1960s and is now part of the Great Northern Railway Trail and the National Cycle Network, where walkers and cyclists take in the spectacular views. The trail includes Cullingworth Viaduct, which spans Manywells Beck and Haworth Road, and the larger Hewenden Viaduct, a towering stone-built construction about 1,000 feet long, crossing Hewenden Beck on 16 masonry piers.

The oldest part of the village is a Conservation Area, incorporating St John’s church, George’s Square and part of Station Road, retaining a rural feel.

Cullingworth Village Council aims to ensure that Cullingworth retains its character as a village, and that all new building projects are undertaken sympathetically so as not to clash with the existing building characteristics. The council meets on the first Wednesday of each month, at 7.30pm in Cullingworth Methodist Chapel, and always begins with a 15-minute public session when residents have an opportunity to raise matters.

Cullingworth Village Hall, founded in 1971, is at the hub of village activity and is run on a not-for-profit basis to serve the community. A fund-raising campaign is under way for a new village hall.

The council also helped to set up the conservation group Friends of the Dell, which looks after a village beauty spot. Working party mornings have been organised for the last Saturday of each month.

Another busy organisation is the Thursday Club, run in association with Parkside School Post 16, meeting every Thursday afternoon in the Village Hall from 2.30pm with a programme of entertainment, guest speakers, singers, film shows, performances from local schools and more.