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Bingley & District
Bingley has grown up at this historic crossing point of the river Aire, along with the surrounding villages of Gilstead, Crossflatts, Eldwick and Micklethwaite, and the area of moorland to the north known as Bingley Moor.
This is a popular area in which to live thanks to the excellent rail connections, and property prices continue to rise.
Recent years have seen a huge growth in new-build properties plus mill conversions to apartments in not only Bingley but also surrounding villages such as Eldwick, Gilstead, Cottingley, East Morton, Harden and Wilsden.
In years gone by Bingley was blighted by the huge amount of traffic passing through its narrow Main Street.
That is all now history thanks to the Bingley Relief Road, which opened in 2003 after a battle stretching back tens of years.
As a result of the reduction in traffic there has been a revival in the town's retail market, with new shops opening on Main Street and in Chapel Lane.
There are plenty of recreational opportunities, with clubs for virtually every sport. Sailing takes place at Doe Park, Ogden Water is a popular haunt with families and there are plenty of sports to be sampled at Nab Wood Sports Centre, while the town boasts a very successful rugby union team - Bradford & Bingley (nicknamed The Bees) - who play at Wagon Lane.
Bingley is a mix of old and new with many buildings dating back to the 16th Century. Notable features include the famous Five Rive Locks on the Leeds-Liverpool Canal, which opened in 1774.
Bingley Arts Centre and Bingley Little Theatre offer a variety of exhibitions and entertainment, and there are a number of excellent pubs, restaurants and takeaways.
Bingley also has an immensely popular annual agricultural show, the largest one-day show in the county, which attracts hundreds of exhibitors and thousands of visitors every year.
Bingley was once known as the Throstle's Nest of Old England - though there is no evidence that thrushes were more abundant there than in other parts.
It is more likely to be a reference to its position, nestling in a valley at a bend of the River Aire, five miles north of Bradford, reasonably sheltered from the prevailing blast of the north wind and on the edge of Rombalds Moor, known in popular song as Ilkley Moor.
There is no record of the first inhabitants. Although Druids' Altar, a sheer rock overlooking the valley, suggests ancient Celtic origins, its name is the product of a romantic tradition rather than real evidence. The town does, however, have a number of springs and wells with Celtic echoes, and a number of carved heads have been discovered around the town, some of them being incorporated in gateposts and garden walls.
At the bottom end of the town, Bailey Hills suggest the site of a castle, and one 17th Century historian claimed to found evidence of such a building.
The name recalls a Saxon owner called Byng. Lea is another word for field. It is a unique name - there isn't another Bingley anywhere.
The Romans knew it as a spot on their road from Ilkley to Manchester.
But to all intents and purposes, Bingley's story began in 1213AD with the granting of the manor of Bingley and a market charter by King John to one Maurice de Gant. Like the rest of the North of England, Bingley suffered from the Norman conquest and the Domesday Book logs the whole manor as four leagues long and one broad (the definition of a league varies, but up to three miles is commonly held to be the equivalent), and 'waste' - i.e. destroyed.
Through the middle ages and up to the Industrial Revolution, Bingley was more important than its neighbour Bradford.
It was a market town, a manufacturing town and an agricultural centre. The last of these is reflected today in the annual Bingley Show, the biggest one-day agricultural, horticultural, craft and horse show in Europe, traditionally on the first Wednesday in August.
Bingley joined the canal network before its neighbour and boasts one of the wonders of the waterway age in Five Rise Locks (1774), which raises boats on the Leeds-Liverpool Canal up sixty feet in five steps.
Apart from the canal and the river, the narrow valley also holds a railway and the main road from east of the Pennines to the Lakes and the west of Scotland - a communications bottleneck that has worsened over the years and blighted the town, absorbed into Bradford's local government set-up in 1974 and now as much a commuter dormitory as a marketing and manufacturing centre.
It houses the headquarters of the Bradford and Bingley Society, an architectural addition to the main street which has been less than universally welcomed.
But away from the main street Bingley can offer havens of rural tranquillity, with woodland walks along the river and through the St Ives estate, a gift to the town and its people from the Ferrand family, landowners.
Leeds-Liverpool Canal - Including the famous Five Rise Locks and the lower Three Rise Locks. A pleasant gentle stroll along the canalside from the town centre will take in both these spectacular views.
Apollo Canal Cruises - Wharf Street, Shipley, BD17 7DW. Tel: 01274 595914. Sails Easter-October, telephone for times. Fare payable. Stops at Wharf street, Shipley; Victoria Road, Saltaire; Hirst Wood Lock Swing Bridge; Fisherman's Inn, Dowley Gap; Park Road, Bingley. Group discounts and private hire available. Take a trip on a traditional narrowboat waterbus along the 200-year-old Leeds -Liverpool canal. West Yorkshire's oldest and the only Trans-Pennine canal still completely open to navigation. Five stopping points enable you to join the trip for one or more stages or the full round trip, which takes in the famous Five Rise lock at Bingley.
Myrtle Park - Myrtle Place, Bradford, BD16 2LF. Tel: 01274 433828; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Facilities: Play area, bowls, tennis, river, fishing, cafe, flower garden, Music at Myrtle, Bingley Show.
St Ives Estate - Bingley, Harden, BD16 1AT. Tel: 01274 433828; e-mail: email@example.com. Country park with play area, lake, woodland walk and sculpture trail.