Old Queensbury


An extract from

Illustrated Rambles


Hipperholme to Tong

James Parker



Queensbury has had at different periods of its history three distinct names, previous to the reign of


Up to 1702, it was known as


During that year, the Old Queenshead Inn was erected, and the village name was changed to


In the year 1863 it was changed to


The village of Queensbury is situated on a high eminence overlooking Bradford and Halifax, about midway between the two towns, and from this commanding position extensive prospects in all directions are to be obtained. The views are especially fine from Mountain, a lofty summit in the vicinity, 1200 feet above sea level. From this eminence Penyghent and Ingleborough, 40 miles away, are clearly seen in the north-west, the whole ridge of Rom­balds Moor, the Wharfedale Hills, and the broad expanse of Bradford-dale are all interesting features of the nearer landscape. It is often stated to the highest village in the kingdom, but this is not so, although there Ii probably no more populous place at a great elevation in England than the village of Queensbury.

Queenshead, two centuries ago, was chiefly engaged in farming pursuits and nearly every house had its loom and spinning wheel, for facture was carried on by hand labour ; the people at that time were poor and ignorant, and we may reasonably conclude that no sign of the prosperity that we have had in our day in trade gleemed through the darkness of that time. The noble mills, which now stand on the hill were all asleep in the future—no rumbling wheels nor powerful engines, no dense clouds of smoke, darkening the sky at noonday, were heard or seen. No complicated machines of ingenious construction and wondrous adaptability, able to do the work of men, without hands or feet, then existed. But already, in these unlettered ancestors of ours, the germ of our present manufacturing prosperity was hidden. The Queensbury of the present day was to grow out of this crude and apparently unproductive period ; these forefathers were to lay the foundation of a manufacture that in course of time should result in the pro­duction of fabrics, the fame of which should reach to the very ends of the earth, and that foundation was laid by them. Around Quecnshead, at that early period there were several moors, such as Shelf Moor with little intervals stretching to Pineberry Moor, and the renmant of


which stretched from Northowram to Odsal, at Wibsey, the haunt of the wolf and wild boar. The aspect around Queenshead must have been a very bleak one at this time ; from the corner of Denholme and Brighouse turnpike road, near to the Stag’s Head Inn, a vast moorland existed to Moun­tain and to Mickle Moss, only a farmhouse here and there. At Ford, there were a few antiquated houses and from thence onwards it was a wild, beggar-less place, from the fact that the village of


derives its name from its being a desolate place. At Ambler Thom, there was an old farmhouse. Catherine Slack was also a bleak hill, with only here and there a human habitation.

Queensbury was at that period on the main highway to Halifax, Man­chester and Liverpool, and to Bradford, Leeds and York, Keighley, Colne, and the North. The high way would be narrow ; the Stage Coach and Wag­gons had not at that period begun to run. All the carrying was by means of


Pack-horses travelled in strings. Long lines of them would pass over hill and dale, along the very narrow


The first carried a bell on its neck, and bells were distributed amongst the pack-horses, so as to keep them awake. They were called bell-horses, a custom which has given rise to the lines we used to sing as children

” Bell-horses, bell-horses, what time of day ?

One o’clock, two o’clock, and away.”

About the year 1753, Stage-Coaches and Waggons began to travel the roads. Turnpike Commissioners were appointed by Act of Parliament ; the roads were widened, mended and improved, the whole aspect of society changed, trade began to flourish, from the Stage-Coach and Waggon to Rail­ways as a means of transit, and for travellers to get to different parts of the country, from the Railway we have now passed to

ELECTRIC TRAMWAYS. Considerable advances have been lately made in the preservation of PUBLIC HEALTH. The low-ceilinged houses of our ancestors, whose dim narrow windows were



not made to open, whose drainage was of the most primitive kind, now exist only in the most remote country places or in the poorest neighbourhoods. The enlightened policy of the Queensbury District Council in draining their district and establishing


deserves the thanks of all who take any interest in the social well-being of the masses. The inhabitants of those districts can now live in well-venti­lated houses with windows wide enough to admit wholesome light, and possessing a good supply of water for bathing their bodies, washing their clothes, cooking their food, and flushing their sewers; they can walk along paved ways which are duly cleansed from offal and impurity of every kind. Gas lamps and policemen have banished the


and the Footpad. The above is all outline of the many privileges that the inhabitants of Quecnsbury now possess, and for which I am sure all are thankful.

7 thoughts on “Old Queensbury

  1. What a fabulous bit of history! Thank you so much for posting it here :)
    I will try and adapt this history onto clothing, like hoodies and tshirts about Queensbury and will be sharing it on facebook pages of our village this coming month!

  2. By taking note of all the snippets of published history we learn more about the (comparatively recent) history of our village. I would recommend Richard H. Houseago’s QUEENSBURY, a West Yorkshire Woollen Village. It is a brilliant read.

    • I’m not sure there was a person called Catherine Slack. The Catherine comes from Catherine House, which may of been an earlier name for what we now call Upper Shibden Hall. Slack is a coal mining term meaning small pieces of coal which will pass through a sieve.
      Hope this helps……..

  3. Although the settlement of Catherine Slack is much older than Upper Shibden Hall……… Malcolm Bull’s Calderdale Companion states that there has been a house on that site since 1277, maybe when Michael Stocks rebuilt it around 1800 he named his house Catherine House after an earlier building?

  4. Although I can and am able to search an Ancestry site…I have had a problem confirming mother & father to my great grandmother Matilda Schofield born 1853 in Queensbury (but think it was Queenshead then!) I think her father was Jarret Scofield but every Jarret (or Jarred) doesn’t seem to fit. Can any one tell me if local churches would hold the records ,so I can confirm !!!! I have looked at other sites but I’m drawing a blank. Thanks to anyone who can help

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *