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The get-up-and-go of two West Yorkshire communities is inspiring says Chris Titley. Photographs by Jane Russell
Menston and Guiseley are neighbouring communities with neighbourly values. Menston, found either side of the A65 on its way to Ilkley, is the smaller village. Guiseley is the bigger town, but residents of both show the same determined spirit to fashion their own destiny.
Perhaps we should not be surprised one look at the notable people brought up here, and you quickly gain an insight into the stubbornly determined character of this corner of West Yorkshire. Guiseley gave us Brian Close, one of the most charismatic and formidable cricketers ever to play for England.
While three of chart-topping band the Kaiser Chiefs met at St Marys Catholic School in Menston. From the start they were clear that their music would reflect Yorkshire sensibilities, and not be filled with lazy Americanisms.
One of the Kaisers tracks is named after the former psychiatric hospital High Royds, to the south of Menston and close to their old school. Today it serves as a good illustration of the changing nature of the village.
High Royds is now almost a village in itself, with 600 homes built here.
Another couple of potential developments could bring hundreds more houses to Menston, significantly increasing its 4,600 population.
Many residents have joined the fight to prevent the plans, which they believe will alter the character of the village. We have a very active village community. Were trying to ensure it stays that way, and that such housing that is constructed is of moderate volume, of the right nature for the environment we live in and is appropriate to what people want, said Alan Elsegood, Menston Community Association chairman.
Alan feels its a shame that so much of the villagers community spirit has been expended on a battle to preserve a village which, in terms of its basic shape, hasnt changed from the days of Thomas Fairfax and Oliver Cromwell discussing how to attack the Battle of Marston Moor.
Impressively, residents still find the time and energy to invest in more positive projects. Menston In Bloom has turned derelict land into a railway garden, and improved both the recreation ground and Butterfield Park.
When a little girl from the village with severe cerebral palsy was offered the chance of a life-enhancing operation in the US, the local community helped raise
Getting there: Both Menston and Guiseley are off the A65 north-west of Leeds. They each have a railway station with regular services into Leeds.
Where to park: Guiseley has a 145-space car park on Netherfield Road. There is on-street parking in Menston and spaces at the railway station.
What to do: Browse the shops, have a snack and enjoy the many town and village walks.