Aireborough Festival set to celebrate past, present and future

PUBLISHED: 00:00 02 January 2015 | UPDATED: 11:44 02 January 2015



Joan Russell Photography

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St Oswalds Church.St Oswalds Church.

It’s a while back, almost 80 years, since the district of Aireborough was created. It brought together the West Yorkshire towns of Guiseley, Yeadon and Rawdon to ‘create a new bigger Guiseley urban district’. Today there is a call to ensure the future of the neighbourhood is everything people who live and work there really want with the launch of the Aireborough Festival. It takes place in February with two weeks of events to explore and celebrate the area and its people. ‘The aim is to look at what makes our area special and build on that,’ said Jennifer Kirkby, chair of the Aireborough Neighbourhood Development Forum. ‘The local council doesn’t do things for us these days, it’s about people getting together and doing it for themselves. The festival is about valuing what we have now and planning for the future.’

The festival plans to honour the past, value the present and imagine the future. Aireborough has a rich and varied history, say organisers, which they want to explore and share; what made the once rural area a booming manufacturing town with great Victorian establishments like Ings Mill, Nunroyd Mills and Albion Mills, an area that produced a wealth of talented sportspeople, musicians and gave us one of childhood’s most enduring glove puppets, Sooty.

Today there are things happening which people don’t like or value - over-development for one, congestion for another, say organisers. ‘But, there are also many people beavering away at good things - Friends groups, successful textile businesses, and clubs to develop new skills - we should value this enterprise, promote it and help to support it through local facilities,’ said Jennifer.

And the future: ‘ We can let the future happen to us, or we can take control and shape it ourselves through the neighbourhood plan. Leeds plans for extensive house building and little else but we know that local people have bigger, better, and more ingenious ideas; from science parks, to well-designed houses for life, to innovative transport solutions. The festival is the place to come and bring your ideas and explore potential,’ added Jennifer. The festival will be held at Guiseley Theatre, in the newly refurbished Offenbach room and if successful will be rolled out to other locations such as Yeadon Town Hall.



Festival programme

The festival programme is being planned as we go to print but is expected to include:


A themed evening on aviation: Leeds Bradford International Airport past, present and future. It is a major employer and has plans for the future for a local visitor economy

A presentation on the woollen industry and the part it has played in the economy, with perhaps, a workshop for children and their parents to have a go at carding, spinning and weaving/knitting using hand tools

A history of one of our lost employers, Crompton Parkinson and the legacy they have left in local philanthropy

Themed walks to examine architecture, shopping, venues for adults and young people, traffic flow, pedestrian safety with workshops held to discuss findings and share photographs

Films made in Aireborough by local enthusiasts

Art, poetry, writing competitions for schoolchildren

An arts fair to showcase local craftspeople

Informative talks about Neighbourhood Forums and their purpose

A workshop to exchange ideas on how you would create a centre for Guiseley as it sadly lacks one at the moment

Information on greenspaces and Leeds’ new plans to link these by footways

Workshops on marketing and business perhaps linked to a jobs’ fair

Organisers want local people to tell them what they would like to see as part of the Festival of Aireborough which includes not only Guiseley, but Hawksworth, High Royds, Rawdon and Yeadon. And they are looking for people interested in helping with a talk or presentation about people, places, organisations or businesses in the area. ‘There is a wealth of knowledge and expertise out there and we would like to give people a showcase to demonstrate it,’ added Jennifer.


Email or go to to find out how you can become involved.


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