Photos: Mark Stevenson

Mark’s History: How sleepy Newlay was at centre of industry

7 August 2017

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Newlay today for the most part is quiet, but go back a hundred years or more and it contained a variety of industries, writes MARK STEVENSON.

Included in these industries were dyeworks, mills, tanneries, quarries and glue factories which were mainly situated in a very small area between the river and canal bridges. 

Photo: Mark Stevenson

During the first world war in 1916, a National Ordnance Factory opened in Newlay, manufacturing shells. It was situated down Hunters’ Greave, which lies between the river and canal and covered five acres. Such was the urgency of the time it only took six months to erect.

Photo: Mark Stevenson

The factory was staffed by men at first, but one day in June 1916, thirty women took their place in the machine shop; this was absolutely unheard of in those days! It caused great discussion amongst the men on how they would ‘stick it’.

Stick it they did though, their numbers swelling to several hundred and bringing the total workforce to over 1,000.

Photo: Mark Stevenson

There were many social and sporting activities organized, where the workers could find relief from their long hard days in the sheds. These included male (and female) football and cricket teams, angling and tennis clubs, quoits and gymkhanas to name some.

Photo: Mark Stevenson

The workers came from all walks of life including many Newlay, Horsforth and Bramley residents. Others came from further afield, arriving at Newlay Station by train to face their arduous day in the factory. 

   

   
   
   
   

   

   


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Lynn says:

Interesting, do you know why there is a Cross in the wall ?

Thank you.

Mark says:

Hi Lynn

When i was there i looked and could find no inscription on the cross and was not sure if it was connected to the Scouts or something else…

Lynn says:

Hi Mark,
Was the old “St Margaret,s Church” around that area if so did it have a Churchyard ? Guess it will never be known why it is there!!

Lynn

Mark says:

Hi Lynn

You are right St Margaret’s Church was close to the site. As Keith says in his comment the Cross is for the Scouts own services…

Keith Partridge says:

When were you there ? This is the Scout activity centre which we have loved, nurtured and transformed over the years we have been custodians. The cross marks our place to undertake ‘scouts own’ services when our members have camps or run activities at the site, in a clearing made in-between the Scout activity fields.
… also interested where you obtained the photos as they are remarkably like those we have taken and published in our booklet on history of the ‘Hunters Greave’ site.
maybe if you would like to contact us we can illuminate you further… about the site and the buildings in ‘your’ photographs…. and you may be able to highlight our aim in trying to maintain the site for outdoor education for young people as it has been for decades. Our landlords and the massive building investments that have taken place close by don’t seem to have brought any support for what we try to provide for the local communities.
feel free to get in touch…. http://www.shireoakleeds.org.uk

Mark says:

Hi Keith

I took these pics in 2016 there was a caretaker? doing so work and he was kind enough to show me around and tell me a bit about the place. Always happy to learn more about an area i visit often so will be in touch as other local people are concerned about recent planning applications for the area…

ALEX MCWHINNIE says:

I found your article regarding Newlay very interesting.My Great Grandad & Grandmother(Mr & Mrs F W Lenton)lived at Newlaithes and my Great Uncle Arthur worked at the Dyeworks.To be honest I never realised the areas in your photographs existed,as although the cottages at Newlaithes still exist so much of the area,including Parkers farm,is now a housing estate.

Martin says:

I’m interested where you found all this information, as the article is remarkably similar to one on the Newlay Conservation Society’s website. I wonder if we both used the same source?

If you or anyone else wants more information about the history of Newlay, please visit https://newlayconservationsociety.wordpress.com/history/

Mark says:

Hi Martin

You are right it was the site you mention i got some of the information from i did try to find the site again as it was a few years ago i got it but it did not show in the results, although i am sure it looked different then “not as good” as it does now. It was this site that sent me off exploring down there in the first place it is a very informative site. Apologies for not been able to quote the source.