Shipley Glen and Trench

From BaildonWiki


Shipley Glen is actually in Baildon and was given that name around 1840 when a minister from Bethel Chapel was promoting the area as an area for recreation amongst the millworkers of Shipley.

A series of amusements were set up-in 1888 the Ocean Wave, a kind of Big Dipper, was the first which was close to where the countryside centre is now.

Sam Wilson set this up and I later had the idea of building a railway from Victoria Road to the top of Baildon Moor. Sir James Roberts was unwilling to sell the required land so Wilson together with a Mr Wilkinson bought land from the Lord of the Manor, Colonel Maude. The cars used were from the Saltaire Exhibition of 1887 , two being used in the Glen pond and the remaining four were put into storage. Parts of these were used in the building of the tramway.

It is one foot eight inch gauge, 386 yards long and the maximum gradient is 1 in 12. It was originally powered by an engine using gas made on site by burning anthracite- because of the smell it was later connected by a pipe to the Salts Mill supply.

The tramway cost £998 to build!

It opened to the public on 18 May 1895 . Sir James Roberts (the head of Salts) is reputed to have asked Sam Wilson why he built it. His reply was seven reasons

For rich or poor

Old and young

Lame and lazy

and lastly for myself.

The fare was one penny up and one half penny down from 1895 to 1951, unchanged for over half a century.

At the time of this walk the tramway is having essential maintenance to keep up to ever more stringent safety requirements but remains a wonderful testament to the few volunteers who give up their spare time to keep the attraction running.

We now head towards the Glen House pub, which stands by an ancient drove road. In 1850 Charles Clegg converted the farm to a temperance Hotel. Later owners established a thriving refreshment trade, with the added attraction of a miniature railway which went around a pond.

In 1947 Mrs Raistrick took over and reared peacocks there. She retired in 1983 and the building was converted into the current hostelry.

We now walk down by the side of the pub into the woods, which are mainly birch at the top and oak lower down. We pass a very large boulder which shows scratch marks, perhaps caused by debris carried by the retreating Airedale Glacier, which carved out the Glen in the last Ice age some 10,000 years ago.

The area by the stream is known as Crag Hebble the expanse of water was created by damming the stream in 1911, the water being used for the Salts Mill dye house.

We can look at the boulder with a square hole in It., which marked the end of Sam Wilson’s Toboggan Run. Customers sat in a tiny car and went from the top of the escarpment at great speed down to the valley bottom. They then went back up in a slightly bigger toboggan hauled on steel wires pulled by a gas engine. On Whit Sunday 1900 a problem arose and the cable was released from the ascending car. Five people were injured when the car ran back down the slope. Although none of them died as a result of the accident Sam Wilson closed the run immediately.

A narrow lane with central cobblestones climbs up to the old entrance of Milner Fields ,the large house built by Sir Titus Salt jnr. The path leads downwards from the ‘bird cage gate’ onto the old carriage way.

The Coach road turns from track to modern road and from the field gate can be glimpsed Trench House, a mid 17 century house with a dated addition of 1697. The barn has a date stone reading SH 1669. This may refer to Stephen Hudson whose family is recorded as occupying Trench Wood and Trench Close in 1665. Stephen, described as a yeoman, died 1728. The house is an interesting departure from the local style, having some classical influences.

Then back up the footpath towards The Glen House to look into Trench Meadows, a Site of Special Scientific Interest. It is a managed site, with a certain amount of grazing by cattle. Within the neutral grassland are found several herbs- devil’s bit scabious, tormentil, and betony. Other parts of the meadow have acid loving grasses whilst three flushes have yet more distinctive species of grasses and plants such as marsh bedstraw , and meadow sweet. All in all a very diverse site.

M.C Lawson