DRESSED to party, a group of women and men pose for the camera.

With beaming smiles, they are about to take to the floor at Cockroft’s works’ dance, held at Thornton Baths in 1951.

Cockroft’s was the name of the local corn merchant, as well as a grocery shop in the village.

The photograph is one of many being displayed at this Thornton Antiquarian Society open day, being held on Saturday June 29 at Thornton Methodist Church Hall.

And in case anyone is puzzled by the location of the dance, Thornton Baths used to close in winter, when the swimming pool was covered over for dancing.

Society chairman Terry Miller, 83, was a regular: “It was a springy surface, perfect for dancing. I danced there regularly and you could feel it dip, especially when everyone got up at once to take to the floor,” he recalls.

This year’s theme at the annual event is Thornton Nostalgia and organisers hope it will bring back some happy memories of life in the village.

“We hope people see things that remind them of life in days gone by,”

says Terry.”

Displays at the popular open day cover a wide range of subjects, with many pictures and captions from the society’s archives.

Among those featured will be the ever-popular ‘now and then’ pictures, covering leisure activities, lost pubs, Thornton Cricket Club, schools, businesses and industries which have ceased to be, and street trades.

“It is very interesting to see how the village looks now and how it used to be,” adds Terry, who is himself pictured in one of the photographs - a 1955 shot of the cricket team.

“Our map collection will also be on display as well as old handicraft items used knitting and sewing. There will be something to interest everyone.”

The society came into being in 2002 as a reminiscing group. It became formalised when one of the founders and later chairman Eddie North gave it the name ‘antiquarian.’

Its mission is to preserve the history of the village, its people, places, buildings, trades and everything that makes up this interesting area of Bradford, famous as the birthplace of the Bronte children.

A photograph of Thornton Fireclay Works and New Pit coal mine photographed in the 1950s shows a quiet Thornton Road with no traffic.

In another evocative picture, Thornton Home Guard is shown marching past Rose Cottage in Kipping Len, in around 1941/42. The corners of buildings and walls beside pavements are painted white to help guide pedestrians during blackouts.

Long-time residents will no doubt remember Lovette’s butchers and Widdop’s bakers on Market Street.

The society has amassed a collection of items from the village’s past, including many school photographs, church records, press cuttings, books and other artefacts and memorabilia. A lottery grant enabled the society to find a home for its archives, in Thornton’s South Square.

The collection is cared for by archivists and society members Richard Gill and Trish Herd.

“We have such a lot of interesting material, including maps dating from 1852 - the period of early Ordnance Survey maps,” says Richard.

Organisers expect a good turnout at the open day.

“It is very well-attended,” he adds. “Last year well over 100 people came.

“Older people who have lived in the village for a long time come along, but also younger families. We see people showing their grandchildren what Thornton used to be like - what school was like, what people wore and how they lived. It is interesting for people of all ages.”

He adds: “Some people come to see if they can find out more about the history of their family.”

There will also be a small display to commemorate the beginning of the Second World War 80 years ago, showing aspects of Thornton’s war connections. Also on show at the open day will be a superb model of Thornton railway station. This was created by Bradfordian Andrew Hodgson, who emigrated to Australia. This is normally housed in Simmonites garage in Thornton. “We approached them and, with their strong connection to the village, they were delighted to display it,” says Terry.

The society’s archive room is normally open on a Wednesday from 10am to 12noon, for anyone to view the contents. Members are always on the lookout for items to add to its collection. If anyone has anything they think would be of interest they should email antiquarians@southsquarecentre.co.uk or secretary Christine Tidswell on cstidswell@yahoo.co.uk, or ring Terry on 01274 881625

*Thornton Antiquarian Society Open Day is being held on Saturday June 29 at Thornton Methodist Church Hall, Thornton Road/Chapel Street, Thornton, from 11am to 4pm. There is a café with refreshments available.

*The society holds meetings, normally with speakers, on Wednesdays throughout the year at 2pm, normally at Thornton Community Centre, Market Street.