The Low Moor and Oakenshaw area isn’t one of the prettiest parts of Bradford. The people who live there would be among the first to admit that. It’s a place which in the past was the city’s main workshop, with its ironworks and foundries producing the machinery on which Bradford’s wool-textile wealth was created.

That legacy lives on in the industrial relics which litter the area, in the names of streets like Furnace Road, Dyehouse Fold, Gas House Yard and New Works Road, and in the heavy manufacturing industry which still provides work and creates wealth amid the fast-growing housing development.

It’s an interesting mixture of residential and industrial, with a bit of farming in among and the odd golf course. And there are tucked-away green corners which would be quiet but for the close proximity of the M606 which makes its presence felt with a constant hiss and rumble of traffic.

This short walk, a manageable afternoon’s outing that might suit families with children, started in Park House Road - near Holy Trinity Church, in fact, which has a clue to its earlier identity provided by the Chapel House Inn across the road.

For 260 years until 1866, Holy Trinity Church was known as Wibsey Chapel - built in 1606 and consecrated in 1636. There are plenty of gravestones from the 17th and 18th centuries in its attractive graveyard, which also doubles as a conservation area and is rich in wild flowers. Even the steps which lead down from the church towards the recreation ground are made of gravestones.

It was at this church between 1678 and 1680 that a total of 51 people were buried not in coffins but wrapped in woollen shrouds. That was a response to an Act of Parliament passed during the reign of Charles II to encourage the wool-textile industry, which had been in the doldrums for some time.

The people doing the burying had, on each occasion, to swear before a Justice of the Peace that they had complied with the Act.

I left the church and walked on the road, passing between a factory and attractive mill dam, the blackened stone of Park House and impressive gates of Upper Park House, before taking the path that led down on to the South Bradford Golf course.

The route, waymarked, led straight ahead across the golf course. A sign at the start of it warned to watch out for flying balls. I didn’t see any, although there were golfers about.

Ahead, as I strode watchfully across the turf, the traffic roared along the M606. Between me and it, though, was the deep cutting containing the railway line that runs between Bradford and Halifax. I turned right and followed this south until the path crossed the railway via a footbridge.

At the far side was what remains of the site once occupied by Transperience, the failed transport theme park. Preparatory work was going ahead on the site for future use (some of it has already been turned over to housing), so I skirted the wire perimeter fence and followed a footpath down into the green valley where the culverted Toad Hall Beck links two attractive reservoirs before trickling off down towards Oakenshaw.

The effect of willows and bullrushes in this sheltered area (which is pleasant enough if you turn your back on the great, grey hulk of the packaging materials factory to the south and pretend you’re out in the country) was marred somewhat by the remains of a burned-out car jutting out of one of the reservoirs.

I followed the path down past the reservoirs and then climbed up between the factory and Woodlands Cricket Club to meet the main road, then crossed and walked up through Victoria Park (there’s a well-equipped playground here for those who’ve persuaded children to accompany them).

Back on the main road, I crossed the railway, passed the Black Horse pub created out of a pair of mature semis and the George right next door to it, then walked on to pass the Low Moor and Raw Nook community centre created in the former school and the Singing Fryer chippie uniquely located in what must once have been the school caretaker’s house.

Across the road was the vast sprawl of one of Low Moor’s modern industries: the plant of Ciba, formerly Allied Colloids.

I turned away from it to find a reminder of the district’s past: the Methodist graveyard in Chapel Road (1970s houses stand on the site once occupied by the chapel).

Among the many fine headstones, one particularly caught my eye. Susannah Priestley died in 1890 at the age of 31. Her husband Edwin made it until 1913, when he was 56, and was followed a year later by his second wife Jane, aged 57.

I suppose the latter pair would have been considered to have reached a reasonably ripe old age in the grimy, heavy-industrial environment of Low Moor at that time. Some things have improved.

Step by Step

  1. From Holy Trinity Church walk eastwards along Park House Road, continuing ahead to pass between factory and mill dam and join track leading down to golf course. Walk straight across golf course, following waymarkings. At far end, where path forks, go right and follow railway line to footbridge.
  2. Cross footbridge and walk down slope beyond, veering slightly left and then right to follow path by perimeter fence of former Transperience. Climb stile and continue downwards, following path between reservoirs to meet broad track beyond. Turn right and walk on to end of lower reservoir and go to right of culverted Toad Hall Beck, soon taking right fork to climb up path with factory on right. Keep ahead with houses on right and cricket field on left to main road.
  3. Cross road and enter Victoria Park. Walk up park, past bowling greens, and emerge into road again. Cross and walk up over railway, past pubs and them community centre to turn right into Chapel Road. Go through gate into Methodist graveyard and follow path to far side. Turn right in First Street then very soon left up Main Street, passing the ends of Second, Third and Fourth Streets on way to recreation ground. Follow path up recreation ground back to Holy Trinity Church.

Fact File

  • Time for walk: 1½ hours for about three miles.
  • Going: easy.
  • Map: OS Explorer 288, Bradford & Huddersfield.
  • Getting there: No 268 bus to Cleckheaton Road, Low Moor (getting off at junction with Common Road and Park House Road).
  • Parking: in Park House Road beside church.
  • Refreshments: pub at start/finish and in Oakenshaw.
  • Toilets: none