Ten reasons to love Shipley


Trams, trains and pop-up tea rooms – Jo Haywood makes tracks to the town of Shipley in West Yorkshire.

1 Shipley Glen Cable TramwayThe town boasts the oldest working cable tramway in Great Britain (excluding cliff lifts). The line was built in 1895 to serve Shipley Glen, a beautiful wooded ridge to the north of the town across the River Aire, transporting visitors a quarter of a mile into the woodland (and saving their poor legs from a rather steep hike).

The tramway is open most Sunday afternoons throughout the year offering rides on open trams, a museum packed with photographs and memorabilia, a small souvenir shop selling sweets and a replica Edwardian shop displaying items of nostalgia.

2 Shipley Model Railway SocietyIf trams leave you cold but trains get you all steamed up, you could apply to join the town’s model railway club, which was founded in 1978 and now has in excess of 50 enthusiastic members.

It is known in modelling circles for the high standards of its layouts and its friendly, welcoming atmosphere. It’s also built something of a national reputation through UK-wide exhibitions, its own annual exhibition in September and the many articles written by members each year for trade magazines.

Members come from across the region – from Keighley, Ilkley, Otley, Harrogate, Guiseley, Horsforth, Brighouse and Bradford – and meet on the top floor of Baildon Recreational Centre in Shipley every Tuesday from 7-10pm.

3 The town centreShipley has a good range of shops, including a supermarket, an Arndale Centre, a pedestrianised market square, a market hall and a number of popular high street stores.

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Shipley Open Market also provides a vital focal point for the town centre. It specialises in second-hand goods and bric-a-brac on Monday, while on Friday and Saturday 40 stall holders offer a wide selection of goods and fresh food products. The market is open from 8.30am to 4.30pm on each of its three trading days.

4 Shipley Golf CourseThe town has one of the best courses in Yorkshire, designed by renowned golf course architect Dr Alister MacKenzie and opened in 1921.

It’s tucked away in a lovely, mature wooded valley at Beckfoot, between Shipley and Bingley, and is a regular venue for Yorkshire County and Bradford Union fixtures.

The insignia of Shipley Golf Club is a throstle, an old English word for the common song thrush. It comes from the club’s location near to Bingley, known as ‘the throstle nest of Old England’.

5 Shipley SlouchThis might sound like a bunch of grumpy teenagers in a bus shelter on a wet Wednesday, but Shipley Slouch is actually a not-for-profit, pop-up cafe that pops up four times a year at the Kirkgate Centre.

It’s run by a small but dedicated band of local residents whose aim is to bring the community together by providing a friendly social hub for a relaxed Sunday of conversation and banter with brunch-style treats, real coffee and a licensed bar (which might lead to even more slouching as the day progresses).

6 The Shipley AlternativeThis is a new venture by independent-minded people to bring an independent market to the town.Held at the Kirkgate Centre, it features 25 stalls selling a diverse mix of handmade, recycled and locally-produced goods – anything from clothing and music to books and homemade cakes – as well as a quality community cafe serving fresh food and organic coffee.

7 Canal Road GreenwayPlans are afoot for a new strip of parkland linking Shipley to Bradford, with routes for cyclists and pedestrians, water features and a ‘linear park’ between the town and the city.According to Bradford Council, this new Canal Road Greenway would provide regeneration benefits for the wider area while replacing a long-standing but costly ambition to reopen Bradford Canal.

8 The waterwaysShipley is lucky enough to be on both the meandering route of the River Aire and the much more straightforward trajectory of the Leeds-Liverpool Canal.

You can walk along the canal from Shipley, past Salts Mill and on to the famous Bingley Five Rise Locks if you’re feeling particularly energetic. Or you can take it a little easier with a trot along the waterway to the foot of Shipley Glen Tramway before girding your loins to climb the hillside cable route, crossing the Glen and dropping down through woodland to the side of the River Aire.

Alternatively, of course, you could just pack yourself some nice sandwiches and a flask of tea and sit by the water watching the world float by.

9 Walk of fameYou’ll be in good company as you walk the streets of Shipley. Among its famous former residents are film director Tony Richardson, whose incredible catalogue of work includes Look Back in Anger, The Entertainer and A Taste of Honey; actor Bryan Mosley, who played Alf Roberts – that’s Mayor Roberts to you – in Coronation Street; rally champion Luke Pinder; and puppeteer Harry Corbett, who gave Sooty and friends a much needed helping hand up the career ladder.

10 SaltaireYes, Saltaire is a separate village, with its own identity, but the line between the close neighbours is so fine David Hockney couldn’t get a paint brush bristle between them.

If you’re going to Shipley, you’d be well advised to leave an hour or two for a quick trip round Salts Mill, built by renowned industrialist Sir itus Salt.It’s no longer used for textile production, but now houses a wonderful array of galleries – one dedicated to the work of local-boy-done-good Hockney – shops, restaurants and local businesses.

Getting there: Shipley is a couple of miles north of Bradford and to the north-west of Leeds on both the River Aire and the Leeds-Liverpool Canal. The main roads in are the A65 Bradford Road, the A650 Bingley Road and the A657 Leeds Road. The town has good local bus services (see wymetro.com for details) and its own railway station with services run by Northern Rail and free parking for 150 cars (see nationalrail.co.uk for timetables).

Parking: There is reasonably priced parking (maximum £3) at Market Place, Atkinson Street, Westcliffe Road, Wharfe Street, Caroline Street, Exhibition Road, Oastler Street and Victoria Road.

Where to visit: After chugging along on a tram, perusing the market, putting a few shots at the golf club and slouching down for a quick cuppa, why not bob along to Shipley Pool, Bradford district’s flagship facility? It has a 25m, double shallow end pool, two high boards, two springboards, a teaching pool, a sauna, a cafe and is recognised by the Amateur Swimming Association as a centre of world class diving excellence (but you can just do a belly-flop if you want).

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