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A view over Keighley (31st July 2010).jpg
A view over Keighley
Keighley is located in West Yorkshire
Population 70,000 
OS grid reference SE058412
Civil parish
  • Keighley
Metropolitan borough
Metropolitan county
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town KEIGHLEY
Postcode district BD20, BD21, BD22
Dialling code 01535
Police West Yorkshire
Fire West Yorkshire
Ambulance Yorkshire
EU Parliament Yorkshire and the Humber
UK Parliament
  • Keighley
List of places
53°52′01″N 1°54′40″W / 53.867°N 1.911°W / 53.867; -1.911

Keighley ( KEETH-lee) is a market town and a civil parish in the City of Bradford Borough of West Yorkshire, England. It is the second largest settlement in the borough, after Bradford.

Keighley is 8 miles (13 km) north-west of Bradford city centre, 3.7 miles (6 km) north-west of Bingley, 10.5 miles (16.9 km) north of Halifax and 7.5 miles (12.1 km) south-east of Skipton. It is governed by Keighley Town Council and Bradford City Council. Keighley sits between the counties of West Yorkshire, North Yorkshire and Lancashire. Historically in the West Riding of Yorkshire, it lies between Airedale and Keighley Moors. At the 2011 census, Keighley had a population of 56,348.


The name Keighley, which has gone through many changes of spelling throughout its history, is accepted to mean "Cyhha's farm or clearing" and was mentioned in the Domesday Book as "In Cichhelai, Ulchel, and Thole, and Ravensuar, and William had six carucates to be taxed."

Henry de Keighley, a Lancashire knight, was granted a charter to hold a market in Keighley on 17 October 1305 by King Edward I. The poll tax records of 1379 show that the population of Keighley, in the wapentake of Staincliffe in the West Riding of Yorkshire, was 109 people (47 couples and 15 single people).

From 1753 the Union stage coach departed on the Keighley and Kendal Turnpike from what was the Devonshire Arms coaching inn on the corner of Church Street and High Street. Rebuilt about 1788, this public house has a classical style pedimented doorcase with engaged Tuscan columns in the high fashion of that age. The original route towards Skipton was Spring Gardens Lane – Hollins Lane – Hollins Bank Lane. Keighley was to become an intersection with other turnpikes including the Two-Laws to Keighley branch of the Toller Lane – Blue Bell turnpike (1755) from Bradford to Colne; the Bradford to Keighley turnpike (1814); and the Keighley—Halifax turnpike.

Queen Street Mill - Loom Hattersley Domestic 5443L
Hattersley Domestic Loom built by Geo. Hattersley, Keighley on display at Queen Street Mill Textile Museum, Burnley

The town's industries have typically been in textiles, particularly wool and cotton processing. In addition to the manufacture of textiles there were several large factories making textile machinery. These included Dean, Smith & Grace, George Hattersley & Son and Prince, Smith & Stell. The first of these operated as a manufacturer of CNC machine tools, particularly precision lathes, until 2008.

The 1842 Leeds Directory description of Keighley reads "Its parish had no dependent townships though it is about six miles long and four broad, and comprises 10,160 acres (4,112 ha) of land (including a peaty moor of about 2,000 acres) and a population which amounted, in the year 1801, to 5,745."

The town was incorporated as a municipal borough on 28 July 1882 under the provisions of the Municipal Corporations Act 1882 in the West Riding of Yorkshire. On 1 April 1974 it became part of the City of Bradford Metropolitan District in accordance with the 1972 Local Government Act in the newly formed county of West Yorkshire. The merger caused a lot of bitterness among Keighley people who resented being 'taken over' by Bradford and accused the city's council of neglecting the town. Civil parish status was restored to Keighley in 2002, providing it with its own town council. The council's 30 members elect a mayor from amongst their number once a year.

The town has a local history society, Keighley and District Local History Society, and a family history society, Keighley and District Family History Society.


Cavendish Street, Keighley
Illustrious Victorian era terraced buildings on Cavendish Street
Victorian Terraces of Keighley
A ground-level view of the Victorian commercial quarter
North Street, Keighley
Keighley War Memorial
Keighley War Memorial
Central Hall, Keighley
Central Hall: an old Methodist chapel recently converted to a community resource centre by infrastructure support group KIVCA.
Former Mechanics' Institute, Keighley
Victorian architecture in the town centre's Lord Street.
Airedale Centre, Keighley interior
Airedale Centre
Keighley Picture House
Keighley Picture House airs a vintage film afternoon as part of several local Older Peoples' Week events.
Keighley College
Buildings formerly occupied by Keighley College, now part of Leeds City College.
Keighley & Worth Valley Railway
Keighley & Worth Valley Railway, Keighley, West Yorkshire
Keithley Station
Keighley railway station

Keighley lies at the confluence of the rivers Worth and Aire in Airedale, in the South Pennines. Its northern boundary is with Bradley and its southern limit is the edge of Oxenhope. To the west, the town advances up the hill to the suburb of Black Hill and in the east it terminates at the residential neighbourhoods of Long Lee and Thwaites Brow. The outlying northeastern suburb of Riddlesden is sometimes incorrectly referred to as a separate village, but is part of the town.

Past Black Hill and via Braithwaite Edge Road lies Braithwaite village which leads to Laycock, which was mentioned in the Domesday Book. Laycock is a conservation area which overlooks the hamlet of Goose Eye.

The River Aire passes through north eastern Keighley, dividing the neighbourhood of Stockbridge and running roughly parallel to the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. The Worth links up with the Aire in Stockbridge and runs south-westerly, dividing eastern Keighley from central and western districts of the town. The Worth is lined with abandoned, semi-derelict industrial sites and tracts of waste ground dating from the period when Keighley thrived as a major textile centre.

Parts of Keighley are prone to flooding and the town was particularly badly hit in by floods 2000. Since then, millions have been spent on strengthening flood defences.

Other outlying villages around the town are Oakworth, Cross Roads, Haworth, Stanbury and Oxenhope. The two main settlements to the north are Silsden and Steeton. Although these villages are often referred to as separate places they are part of the wider Keighley area. These areas add a total of 22,669 to the Keighley area, taking the population of the wider Keighley area up to 74,098 (2001 Census).

To the north east is Rombald's Moor which contains many signs of stone age and bronze age occupation including cup and ring marks, and as it drops back down into Wharfedale and the town of Ilkley, approximately five miles away, becomes the more famous Ilkley Moor.


Census population of the ancient parish/civil parish of Keighley
Year 1801 1811 1821 1831 1841 1851 1861 1871 1881 1891
Population 5,745 6,864 9,223 11,176 13,413 18,259 18,819 24,704 30,395 36,176
Source: Vision of Britain – Keighley AP/CP: Total Population.
Census population of the municipal borough of Keighley
Year 1901 1911 1921 1931 1939 † 1951 1961 1971 2011
Population 41,564 43,487 41,921 40,441 56,631 56,944 55,845 55,325 56,348
Source: Vision of Britain – Keighley MB: Total Population.

The 1939 population is estimated from the National Registration Act figures. The 1941 census did not take place because of the Second World War.


Much of the town centre has been pedestrianised. Keighley has three large supermarkets, Morrisons, Sainsbury's and Asda. The Airedale shopping centre, is a large indoor shopping precinct which houses most of the town's high street retail chains. There are several budget supermarkets situated in small retail parks around the town. Keighley benefits from an electrified railway service with connections to Leeds, Bradford, Shipley, Bingley, Skipton, Carlisle and Morecambe. The Keighley and Worth Valley railway is a heritage steam railway, which links the town with Haworth, Oakworth, Oxenhope and the Bronte Country. Keighley has one cinema, The Picture House on North Street which was restored from derelict condition in 1996 by Northern Morris Associated Cinemas.


Keighley has a parish church Keighley Shared Church and is home to many Christian denominations. It has churches and places of worship for Anglicans, Methodists, United Reformed, Mormons, Quakers, Salvation Army and Jehovah's Witnesses. Keighley has a significant Roman Catholic minority re-established following the repeal of the penal laws. The Catholic population was boosted in the mid-19th century with the arrival of Irish immigrants escaping the 1840s potato famine who came to work in the textile and weaving industries. Keighley has two Roman Catholic churches (St Anne's – 1840 and St Joseph's – 1934) and four Roman Catholic schools (St Anne's – 1857, St Joseph's – 1922, Our Lady of Victories – 1960 and Holy Family – 1964).

The first spiritualist church in Britain was founded at Keighley in 1853 by David Richmond, who although not originally from the town, stayed for many years and helped to establish the movement throughout the country. Spiritualism was at its height during Victorian times and Keighley Spiritualist church remains open.

Muslims make up the second largest religious group in the town. According to the 2011 census there were more than 12,400 Muslims in Keighley in March of that year. Most had started coming to Britain in the 1960s from the Mirpur region of Azad Kashmir, in Pakistan, and the Sylhet region of Bangladesh. As of 2013 there were eight mosques in Keighley, including the purpose-built Markazi Jamia Masjid ('Central Community Mosque') in Emily Street, the Ghosia Mosque, in Cark Road, the Shahjalal Jamia Mosque, on Temple Row, and the Bait al-Aman Ahmadiyya Mosque, at the junction of Worth Way and Longcroft.

There is a Buddhist centre on Lawkholme Crescent, in the town centre. The Keighley Kadampa Buddhist Centre is used by lay and ordained Buddhist practitioners and also runs day and evening classes for newcomers to the faith.


Like many other British towns and cities, Keighley was extensively remodelled in the 1960s and lost many historic buildings. However, the town managed to retain some of its heritage and has many Victorian buildings. The local millstone grit gives many of the buildings a distinctive look.

East Riddlesden Hall, Cliffe Castle Museum and Whinburn Mansion are fine, country houses. There are large town houses along Skipton Road which contrast with the cramped rows of terraces in the streets behind them.

The town's central library was the first Carnegie library in England opened in 1904 with a grant of £10,000 from Andrew Carnegie. The library has undergone refurbishment which was completed in 2007. Many of the town's former mill buildings are still intact.

The town centre contains modern buildings such as Leeds City College and examples of Victorian commercial architecture, including the long terrace of Cavendish Street with its 220-yard (⅛ mile/a furlong) ornamental canopy. There is an award-winning bus station which opened in 2002 near the Airedale Shopping Centre. There are several tower blocks in Parkwood Rise, Holycroft and Ingrow and a central multi-storey car park.

Amongst the modern houses in Laycock, 2 miles (3.2 km) outside Keighley town centre is a 17th-century three-storey manor house (which is said to be the former wing of a much bigger property), converted barns and 18th-century cottages.

Local attractions

On the outskirts of town is Cliffe Hall, also known as Cliffe Castle, now Keighley Museum. Keighley is the location of the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway, a heritage railway that passes through Haworth (part of the Brontë Country, home of Anne, Charlotte and Emily Brontë) and terminates at Oxenhope. At Ingrow is the Museum of Rail Travel.

Top Withens and the Brontë Waterfall are within walking distance of Stanbury, a mile and a half from Haworth. East Riddlesden Hall is in Riddlesden. Keighley Police Museum is in the Keighley Civic Centre opposite the Town Square. It is the old police station and has many pieces of police memorabilia, including a Victorian horse-drawn Black Mariah.


Keighley Cougars are a semi-professional rugby league team based at Royd Ings Avenue. The ground's historical name is Lawkholme Lane but has been known as Cougar Park since 1992. Keighley RUFC rugby union team are based at Rose Cottage, Utley, and play in the amateur Yorkshire Second Division.

Keighley Central F.C., was a football club that won the Yorkshire Football League Division 3 title in 1964.

On 6 July 2014, Stage 2 of the 2014 Tour de France from York to Sheffield, passed through the town. It was also the location of the stage's intermediate sprint after 42.6 miles (68.6 km). The 20 points for the Points jersey was claimed by Blel Kadri of AG2R La Mondiale.

Christopher Ingham

Utley Cemetery contains the grave of Christopher Ingham, a veteran of the conflict against Napoleon. He was a member of the Duke of Wellington's elite 95th Rifle Regiment and fought in ten battles against the French in Spain, France and Belgium including the Spanish Peninsula War and the Battle of Waterloo, for which he was awarded several medals, including the Peninsula Medal. He died in 1866. Some local historians believe Mr Ingham's heroism may have inspired the author Bernard Cornwell's saga about Major Richard Sharpe. The TV series episode Sharpe's Justice, which focuses on the roots of the title character, is set in and around Keighley.

Hindenburg parcel

On 22 May 1936, the Zeppelin Hindenburg crossed Yorkshire in a diversion of her normal route between the United States and Germany. As the airship was passing over the town, a parcel was dropped and landed in the High Street which was picked up by two boys. The parcel contained a bunch of carnations, a small silver and jet crucifix, some postage stamps, a picture postcard and some Hindenburg notepaper.

The note was written by John P Schulte who called himself the first flying priest. The note requested that the carnations and crucifix be placed on the grave of his brother, Lieutenant Franz Schulte, who died as a Prisoner of War in the Keighley area and who was, at that time, buried at Morton Cemetery 2 miles (3.2 km) east of Keighley (though the letter states he is buried at Skipton, this was incorrect).

Hindenburg note, 22 May 1936

To the finder of this letter. Please deposit these flowers and the cross on the grave of my dear brother, Lieutenant Franz Schulte, I. Garde Regt zu Fuss. Prisoner of War in Skipton Cemetery in Keighley near Leeds. Many thanks for your kindness, John P Schulte, the first flying priest. N.B. Please accept the stamps and picture as a small souvenir from me. God bless you!

The carnations were placed on the grave and the two boys kept the postage stamps and the postcard. The crucifix was placed in St Anne's Church to avoid it being stolen.

Town twinning

Poix du nord Keighley Hall
Keighley Hall in Poix-du-Nord

Keighley has the unique record of having the first recorded town twinning agreement in the world entering an agreement with Poix-du-Nord, France in 1920. This actually followed an even earlier sister city arrangement with two communes on the outskirts of Paris, France – Suresnes and Puteaux – starting in 1905.


Queen Street Mill - Loom Hattersley Domestic 5443L
Hattersley Domestic Loom built by Geo. Hattersley, Keighley on display at Queen Street Mill Textile Museum, Burnley

The town's industries have typically been in textiles, particularly wool and cotton processing. In addition to the manufacture of textiles, there were several large factories making textile machinery. These included Dean, Smith & Grace, George Hattersley & Son, and Prince, Smith & Stell. The first of these operated as a manufacturer of CNC machine tools, particularly precision lathes, until 2008.

Keighley is home to Timothy Taylor Brewery, the makers of CAMRA, Champion Beer of Britain award-winning ales Landlord and Boltmaker (previously known as 'Best Bitter'). They also brew Ram Tam, Golden Best, Dark Mild, Knowle Spring and a new French style blonde ale, Le Champion, which was first brewed for the Tour de France in 2014 and has been brewed for the Tour de Yorkshire in 2015 and 2016. They also own many pubs in the area, including the Albert Hotel, Boltmakers Arms, Lord Rodney, Royal Oak and The Fleece Inn in Haworth.


Local high schools are University Academy Keighley in Utley, Beckfoot Oakbank, Parkside School in Cullingworth and the Holy Family Catholic School.

Keighley College buildings in 2010

Keighley College, the local campus of Leeds City College, formerly known as Park Lane College, is situated near Keighley railway station on Bradford Road. In 2010, the college opened this new £30 million campus, moving away from the former site on Cavendish Street, which was in need of repair and has since been demolished. The college includes an Industrial Centre of Excellence and a nationally acclaimed Star Centre facility, designed to encourage more young people to study STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). This features a mock mission control centre, a planetarium, a simulated rocky planet surface and many other space-related items.

Notable people

The following people were born in Keighley, have lived there in the past or are currently resident in the town.

  • Simon Beaufoy (1967–), an Oscar, Bafta and Golden Globe award-winning British screenwriter who was born in Keighley
  • Steve Binns (1960–), long distance runner who competed in the 1988 Olympic Games.
  • Gordon Bottomley (1874–1948), poet was born and educated in Keighley
  • Asa Briggs (1921–2016), historian and academic, born in Keighley
  • Brontë Sisters, lived in the village of Haworth, which is two miles (3 km) south of Keighley
    • Anne (1820–1849), novelist
    • Charlotte (1816–1855), novelist
    • Emily (1818–1848), novelist
  • Alastair Campbell (1957–), former Labour party spin doctor who was born in Keighley
  • John Tiplady Carrodus (1836–1895), violinist
  • Peter Dixon, British Lions and England rugby union Captain
  • Kiki Dee (1947–), singer-songwriter, originally from Bradford.
  • Ian Dewhirst, local librarian and historian
  • Sandra Dorne (1924–1992), actress in 1940s and 1950s films, and parts in TV series.
  • Roma Gill (1934–2001), academic and literary scholar
  • Jeff Hall (1929–1959), footballer. Born in Scunthorpe but raised in Keighley. Right full back for Birmingham City where he played 227 games, and 17 times for England. Died of polio aged 29.
  • Willis Hall (1929–2005), playwright, lived in Oldfield near Keighley in the 1970s and 1980s.
  • Peter Hartley, (1960–), former county cricketer for Yorkshire, Warwickshire and Hampshire
  • Denis Healey (1917–2015), a Labour party politician who had previously served as Chancellor of the Exchequer and Secretary of State for Defence
  • Mike Hellawell (1938–), professional footballer who made two appearances for England and also played for Birmingham City, Queens Park Rangers and Sunderland
  • Trevor Hockey (1943–1987), Welsh international footballer, who also played with Bradford City and Birmingham City
  • Sir Isaac Holden, 1st Baronet (1807–1897), inventor and manufacturer, known for lucifer matches, and served as Liberal MP for Keighley 1888–1895
  • Paul Hudson (1971–), local television weather forecaster was born in the town
  • Keith Jessop (1933–2010), salvage diver and marine treasure hunter
  • Henry de Keighley (−1313), granted the first charter to hold a market in Keighley on 17 October 1305 by King Edward I
  • Dougie Lampkin (1976–), born in Silsden, a motorcycle trials rider
  • Tommy Lee (1986–), footballer who is a goalkeeper for Chesterfield
  • Robin Ling (1927–2017), orthopaedic surgeon.
  • Leigh Marklew (1968–), of Bradford rock band Terrorvision, is a native of Keighley
  • Peter Mayhew (1944–2019), British actor who played Chewbacca in the Star Wars films, lived in Keighley between 1987 and 2000
  • Chris Melling (1979–), professional pool player and former world number one
  • Tom Moore (1920–2021), former British Military Officer, who served during the Second World War, and fundraiser for NHS Charities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Herbert Morley (explorer).
  • Ian Mosey, professional golfer. Winner of two European Tour events.
  • Reynold A. Nicholson (1868–1945) was an English orientalist, scholar of both Islamic literature and Islamic mysticism, and a Rumi scholar and translator in the English language.
  • George Nicholson (1760–1825), printer born in Keighley
  • Matty Pearson, professional footballer for Luton Town F.C.
  • Eric Pickles (1952–), former Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and a former Chairman of the Conservative Party was born in the town
  • Geoff Smith (1928–2013), former Bradford City goalkeeper, lived in Keighley
  • Michelle Smith (1983–), rifle shooter who won Silver at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, IND.
  • J. Keighley Snowden (1860–1947), journalist and novelist
  • Philip Snowden, (1864–1937), the first Labour Chancellor of the Exchequer was born in Cowling. He was also the editor of the Keighley Labour Journal and in 1906 became the MP for Blackburn.
  • Mollie Sugden (1922–2009), television comedy actress
  • Sir John Taylor, Baron Ingrow, Lord Ingrow (1917–2002), a soldier and politician. From 1985 to 1992 he was Lord Lieutenant of West Yorkshire
  • Timothy Taylor (1826–1898), local brewer who opened the Timothy Taylor Brewery in 1858
  • Percy Vear (1911–1983), a British professional boxer during the 1920s and 1930s
  • Ricky Wilson (1978–), musician and part of Leeds five-piece Kaiser Chiefs, is a native of Keighley
  • Margaret Wintringham (1879–1955), the second woman to take a seat in the House of Commons
  • Frank Whitcombe (1913–1958), Bradford Northern & Great Britain rugby league footballer
  • Frank Whitcombe Jr (1936–2010), Bradford RFC Yorkshire RUFC & North Eastern Counties RUFC
  • Martin Whitcombe (1961–), Leicester Tigers, Yorkshire RUFC & England 'B' International Rugby Union player.
  • Jake Wright (1986–), professional footballer who plays for Oxford United

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