Clayton though part of the City of Bradford, still retains many of the characteristics of a rural village, and the route described below will take the walker among the many streets and buildings of our ancestors of 250 years ago. The walk is not strenuous and may be undertaken easily by the elderly.
Although we are going to look into the past there is no reason why we should not use modern methods of transport, so take the Clayton trolley-bus to the terminus at the top of Clayton Lane and The Avenue
Here we find Brook Lane and Baldwin Lane. Going along Brook Lane we pass on the right a row of cottages. Then a small farm building behind a high wall and gate, The buildings are owned by Mr Alton Robinson, who lives at the top cottage in the row below. At the end of the last century the old farm was occupied as a small holding and cottage by Tommy and Betty Brook who both lived to be over 90. A peculiar feature in the house is the underdrawing which, instead of being made of lath and plaster, consists of stone slabs laid upon oak beams. The fireplace if the time and rust were removed, would be a fine museum piece of ironwork. The building near the gateway was once used to house a handloom on which the weaver made rugs in his spare time.
LANGBERRIES Returning down Brook Lane going up Baldwin Lane we cross the line of the railway tunnel from Clayton to Queensbury and turn down a narrow lane on the left. This leads to Langberries, a cluster of buildings many of which have been demolished. We find this place mentioned in the will, dated August 1st 1633 of John Hollins of Longomberries. In the inventory of his possessions, dated December 9th 1634, he states that he had “certine goods at Langberries 30s “ and “John Hollins of Longomberries” owed his £23. The present house is thought to have been built in 1775 and is now divided into two cottages. Do not continue down the lane which is a private road to Oakleigh, but pass through a stile opposite Langberries into a short lane and the path will be seen along the two sides of the field leading to another lane which takes us to Riva Syke. On the way two disused and drained reservoirs are passed whicj probably supplied water to Riva Syke mill, built by John Milner about the middle of the last century.
“Riva” is an Icelandic name meaning “a cleft in the rock” and “Syke” a Scandinavean word for “a small stream that runs dry in summer” From deeds relating to the leasing of land on Wibsey Moor we find that John Hollins lived at Riva Syke in 1597 and his son Thomas Hollins in 1601. The present buildings consist of two substantial houses. In the garden of the first house is an old mounting block which reminds us of the days when our forefathers travelled on horseback. Over the doorway is the date stone “ J A E 1747” referring to John or Joseph Armitage and his wife Elizabeth, The other house has uncovered oak roof beams and as the floors are on different levels one goes from one room into another down two steps and up four steps to further rooms. PENNY HILL Penny Hill is on the slope of Sheep Hill opposite Riva Syke. The small plantations on Sheep Hill were made by a former tenant of Oakfield and take the bareness off the landscape. There is a footpath crossing the field in front of Riva Syke to Penny Hill. It then passes in front of the house and farm buildings. “Penny” means small. The house is sunk below the level of the hill and has a date stone “W B 1772” considered to be the initials of the builder William Briggs. Walking down the lane we pass Virginia Terrace and our way is then along Station Road. The little field by the railway was once the village pinfold, in which straying animals were confined until the owner claimed them and paid the necessary charge to the pinfold man. If one wishes to rest a short while before continuing the rest of the journey, a few yards up Nursery Road is Victoria Park , beautifully laid out and maintained with bowling green, tennis court, and flower beds. Continuing along Station Road we see the Baptist Chapel at the end and turn right down School Street in Broardfolds. This is a small settlement of old houses, one bearing two date stones over the door the upper one marked “I T H 1809” and the lower “I R M 1649” Turn along Green End with the Albion Inn facing the other end. Behind the inn is Tenter Hill, a reminder of the handloom days when thick flannel and woollen cloth were woven in the district. The cloths were about 36in wide and after scouring were stretched whilst in a wet state to compensate for the shrinkage in washing. TOWN GATE We now come to Town Gate the centre of the old village. Walking along Town End Street we have new on the left and old on the right, one old house bearing on the gable the date stone “I C S 1752” surmounted by a steel and whitle. It was originally a public house entitled the Steel and Whitle Inn. After the last cottage on Town End Road has been passed the road dips steeply into the Thornton Valley to Chat Hill, but our way is a road called Holts Lane on the left and on the brow of the hill. The houses on the north side were built in the second half of the 18th century. Number 12 bears an inscription “T C A 1770” and Mrs Ibbetson of number 24 says that the deeds on her house went back to 1792 when the land was purchased from a Dr. Gordon of Thornton. Going up Holts Lane the path leads across a field with an old quarry on the left then to a gate and a style which leads across the land to another track. Bear right on this track and go forward where there is an old solitary thorn tree standing near the bend in the track. At the end of this lane you pass through the field to Fall Top which has been extensively quarried. Some of the fossil trees in our parks came from these workings. Crossing the field we come to a corner where there are two styles. Take the left one which leads to the top of the village along a narrow path besides a new housing estate which will bring us back to the bus terminus from which we started.