Foster Park

Lifestyle Choice on the Hill – Denholme

by Craven and Valley Life

High on the moors above West Yorkshire, the former industrial village of Denholme has developed a new life as a place for incoming residents seeking a rural lifestyle.

With a name thought to derive from old Norse meaning “a flat among the hillside”, Denholme sits astride the old Roman road between Manchester and Ilkley, although the first recorded history of
settlement does not emerge until centuries after the Romans had gone. The monks of Byland Abbey are known to have been grazing their cattle there in the 13th century.

Denholme continued as a small farming hamlet for centuries until the Industrial Revolution brought large-scale textile manufacture to the towns and villages of West Yorkshire. The textile mills of
Denholme were built by the Foster family, who also built much of the village’s 19th century houses for their workers.

The original mills around the which the village grew have now gone, and the famous ‘switchback’ railway that fed Denholme’s industries is long gone.

These days, most of Denholme’s working residents commute to Bradford, Keighley, Halifax or Leeds, and those new residents seeking a more rural lifestyle have discovered a village that retains much of its old charm and tradition, friendly and adaptable, with a population approaching 3,000.

The hub of the village, clustered around the Mechanics Institute, includes a Co-op, post office, pharmacy, fish and chip shop, bakery, hairdresser, hardware shop and Chinese takeaway. Beautique
is a hair and nail studio offering alternative and holistic health, a service recently complementedby the addition of a barber.

A unique charity shop in Denholme is Mpika, founded 11 years ago by June Martin, which raises funds for the relief of suffering and hunger in Zambia. June set up Mpika Relief Fund and together with her Zambian friend, nurse Jennifer Musakanya, they established the Mpika Village of Hope children’s home and orphanage, which now has a schoolroom.

Village facilities and community venues at Denholme include two pubs, a social club, a GP surgery, a volunteerrun library in the Mechanics Institute, and a shared church which incorporates United Reformed/Baptist and Church of England.

Foster Park has a bowling green/club, skatepark, a multiactivity games area, a playground for younger children, and youth café. To the east of the village, picturesque Doe Park Reservoir offers a sailing club, fishing and a water activities centre.