A matter of pride in Shipley, West Yorkshire

PUBLISHED: 08:33 04 May 2010 | UPDATED: 17:07 20 February 2013

The Leeds Liverpool Canal

The Leeds Liverpool Canal

We meet the group of people who are working to put the super back into Shipley. Emma Mayoh reports from the West Yorkshire town

Yvonne Crossley loves a challenge. And when she took on the role as town centre manager for Shipley, she had them by the bucket load. When I came here this little town had lost pace with its neighbours, she said. Its been a challenge ever since but I could see at the heart of the community were people who were interested in where they lived but they were not confident in it. The challenge was about trying to bring back their civic pride in Shipley.
In the past five years Yvonne, along with other members of the community, has worked to do just that.

Smaller projects have included new seating, colourful street banners showing aspects of Shipleys heritage and community, and lighting the clock tower. The town also now hosts a successful outdoor market three days a week and a new series of themed markets are helping to pull more people into the town.

But one of the towns most significant and intriguing sights is the Shipley Shopper. This was a piece of public art, unveiled in 2008, and designed by internationally renowned contemporary artist Morwenna Catt. It shows a ewe it has been suggested the origins of Shipleys name came from the number of sheep walks in the meadow, or lea sitting on a bench Yvonne explained:

These projects, along with a rolling programme of investment for other regeneration work, have assisted in making Shipley town centre more attractive. It is a safer shopping destination and the Shipley Shopper has become quite a talking point.

All this good work will be complemented by projects in the Airedale Corridors masterplan. This huge scheme covers the whole region, including Shipley. It is hoped the town, which has held Fairtrade status since 2005, will be transformed into an international gateway to the Airedale area.

Various projects are being discussed which improve the towns transport links, enhance Market Square and see the creation of Shipley Digital Village to complement the re-opening of the canal from Shipley to Bradford.

Andy Taylor, the councils economic development programmes manager, said: The masterplan is about connecting the three town centres in Airedale with the rural areas around them. This is a long term plan and it will not happen overnight but it will be worth it.
One man who will be particularly pleased about the re-opening of the Bradford Canal is Trevor Roberts. The former policeman has his own plans to boost visitor numbers to the town while helping out young people.

Trevor is managing director of Dream Achievers, an organisation which uses barges along the canal to help introduce young people to new skills. The group is part of the Bradford Motor Education charity that runs four boats out of Shipley Wharf Marina which act as floating classrooms.

The young people using them can learn to drive the boats and work with Yorkshire Wildlife Trust on wildlife spotting and litter-picking projects.

Last year Dream Achievers bought the Apollo boat, a popular waterbus which once pootled along the canal at Shipley and Trevor is now hoping to get the boat back onto the water as a pleasure cruiser.

He said: There are people living in Shipley who do not even know where the canal is. We need more people to realise its here and to use it. Im hoping that by making people aware of the boat and the canal it will encourage more people to venture down to this end of town.

But, just as important, its also about promoting Shipley to people from outside the area.People just assume you have to go to other areas and were completely missed here. Its my hope to change that perception.

One of the locals already pulling people into Shipley is Tony Gartland, founder of the Saltaire Brewery. Dont be fooled by its name. It may be named after the World Heritage Site down the road, but the brewery is firmly within Shipleys boundaries. It is based in a Victorian building on Dockland Road which once generated electricity for trams that used to run in the town.

The brewery, set up four years ago, produces a core group of beers, including the Cascade Pale Ale and Saltaire Blonde. They sell around 350 casks a week and already have a famous following including Yorkshire band Kaiser Chiefs, who have enjoyed a drink in the bar.
Tony and his team have already won many awards, chief among them a highly commended in our prestigious Yorkshire Life Food and Wine Awards.

Former lawyer Tony, now director and head brewer, said: The awards were the icing on the cake. Were very passionate about what we do and to have that recognition was fantastic. Im very proud of what we have achieved and being a resident of Shipley, it was only right the brewery should be here.

Wander back into the town centre and you will find a tipple of a different kind not to mention a raft of saucer-sized scones, large sponge cakes and the opportunity to take a step back in time.

Sarah Wilson-Flemings Interlude Tea Room and Emporium was inspired by the 1920s and it is a dining experience which really put Shipley on the map.

Today, scores of people pile into the authentic tea room, among them local celebrities and soap stars, who can also browse the fashions at the vintage boutique 44-year-old Sarah runs on the top floor of the building.

She said: When people come here they are left alone to relax and enjoy their meals and drinks. We have some people who come in here day in, day out. Its an incredible amount of fun and something Im really proud of.

Walk Shipleys way

Take a trip along the Airedale Greenway. This is a walking and cycling route that connects Shipley with Keighley, Bingley and the World Heritage site of Saltaire.

Wherever you are in Shipley you are unlikely to miss the Shipley Market Clock Tower. This eccentric, yet distinctive, clock tower dates back to the 1950s. Decayed steps that led to the top of the tower prevented the once broken clock from being repaired. However, this had been resolved and the landmark is now also emblazoned with different coloured lighting to make it stand out more.

Shipleys shopping centre was the first of its kind when it was built in the late 1950s. At the time it was billed as the shopping centre of the north. Delve in the archives at Shipley Library and you will find a smiling Bruce Forsyth cutting the ribbon at one of the shops.

A number of celebrities have called Shipley home. Oscar-winning film director Tony Richardson, husband to Vanessa Redgrave, was born in Shipley. Cricketer Jim Laker also hails from the town and Bryan Mosley, who played Alf Roberts in Coronation Street, lived in Shipley for years before his death.

Fundraisers will put their best feet forward this month to raise money for Macmillan Cancer support. The Shipley Stride, a five and a half mile walk, will take place on Sunday, May 9th, starting at Bracken Hall. Jim Thornber, who was co-founder of the Millennium Way series of walks around Bradford, helped launch the walk in 2003 since when it has raised more than 100,000. To take part contact 01924 232444.

Indian restaurant business, Aagrah, started in Shipley in 1977. Mohammed Sabir wanted to cook authentic Kashmiri cuisine for people in the town and nearby Bradford. The family run business now has branches throughout the county.

Where is it: Shipley is in West Yorkshire, between Keighley and Bradford. Type BD18 3QX in your satnav to get you there.

Where to park: There are several car parks around Shipley town centre including in Market Street.

What to do: Visit on market day when you will find a lively, colourful atmosphere, take a walk along the Leeds and Liverpool Canal or enjoy lunch in one of the many cafes. On the last Friday of every month you can join the team at Saltaire Brewery in Shipley when they hold their own Beer Club.

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