Birstwith News


Jim Shipman

01423 772735

Embroiderer’s Guild: the next meeting of the Nidderdale Branch will be held on Saturday, December 8 in St James’s Church Hall. This will be the Christmas meeting (afternoon only) from 2-4pm. As usual visitors and new members will be most welcome. For further information please contact Mrs Maureen Robinson on 01423 880597, or see,

Floral Workshop: nationally recognised florist, Susan Fairhurst is holding a Floristry Workshop at Kettlesing Millenium Village Hall on Saturday, December 1. You will have the opportunity to complete three different designs for your home to complement your Christmas Decor. Tickets are priced at £20 each and will include morning coffee and lunch. Booking is essential and tickets can be obtained from Jane Carter, 07734 023826 or

Missing Freddie: he is a springer/cocker cross spaniel, medium sized, black and white and neutered. He is four and a half years old, with a full tail. He went missing from his home in High Lane, High Birstwith on September 11. He was wearing a collar with a name tag and is also chipped. A sighting of a dog bearing his description was reported in the Burnt Yates area recently so there is still a chance of recovering this much loved friend. If you spot him or have any information as to his whereabouts, please ring Amanda Horsell on 07795 177310.

Birstwith History: the following extracts are taken from A Short History of St James’s Church Birstwith by Goeffrey Manock, published in 1998. ‘Birstwith in the year 1800 was a very different place to what is seen today. The main access into the village came from the Skipton Harrogate road, passing Menwith and down the church bank to what is now the village green. The road to Hampsthwaite was but a track suitable for horse riders. It was improved in 1821 to take a horse-drawn hearse and it was not until 1897 that it was given passing places in commemoration of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. The road from Clint continued into Nidd Lane with just a track leading down to a ford at Wreaks Mill. Wreaks bridge was built in 1811. Upstream at Newbridge or the Packhorse, there was a wooden structure and the present stone bridge was built in 1820 and still called Newbridge. So Birstwith was isolated. The people with few exceptions were very poor. It was an era hard to imagine these days when it was the custom for child labour, long working hours, poor health and cramped living conditions which were all part of the Industrial Revolution. Visitors to Birstwith in 1998 look with envy at the sweet little cottages and no doubt think how lucky to live there or even own one for holidays. Back in the 1800’s they were cramped with large families, sometimes more than one, disease was rife and life was cheap. The Greenwood Family. (and some local history). Any account of Birstwith Church must include more than a mention of the Greenwood’s. Without them there would have been no St James’s and the village would be very different. John Greenwood came to Birstwith to see the cotton spinning mill. He owned a mill in Keighley. He must have liked what he saw because in 1805 he bought Swarcliffe, the cotton mill and the corn mill that was on the same site at Wreaks, both powered by the river Nidd. A few years earlier Arkwright had invented his “water frame” which mechanised yarn spinning replacing hand spinning machines in the home with machines in the mill. Greenwood quickly enlarged the estate and bought more property in the village. The population was some 700 (similar to today) with most work in the two mills and some in the local coal mines. This coal was used in the gas works which was built in 1820 to provide lighting in the cotton mill. The cotton mill and the gas works closed in 1864 when cotton spinning concentrated into large Lancashire mills. It was to be another 50 years before gas was piped from Harrogate. The railway arrived in 1862 and was closed 100 years later by Dr Beeching’s axe. Soon after the arrival of the Greenwoods, social pressures mounted that more should be done to improve the lot of workers. There was the nearby example of Ingleby building the model village at Ripley and, of course, Sir Titus creating Saltaire. These trends were to influence the actions of the Greenwoods and the future nature of Birstwith.’

Reading Club: do you like reading and discussing books? Why not join our reading club that meets monthly in and around Birstwith. Please contact Judith Turner on 01423 770144 or e-mail