Bingley is a market town in the metropolitan borough of the City of Bradford, in West Yorkshire, England. It is situated on the River Aire and the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. The town has a population of 19,884 according to the 2001 Census.
Local travel links include Bingley railway station in the town centre and Leeds Bradford International Airport, which is located from the city centre. The B6265 (Main Street), connecting Bingley to Keighley, runs through the town centre.
Bingley was probably founded about the time of the Saxons; certainly its name is Saxon in origin. Bingley was founded by a ford on the River Aire. This crossing gave access to Harden, Cullingworth and Wilsden on the south side of the river.
In the Domesday Book of 1086, Bingley is listed as "Bingheleia", with the following entry:
Which roughly translated reads:
The ford was superseded by Ireland Bridge. In medieval times Bingley was a manor which extended several miles up and down the Aire valley, extending upstream to Marley on the outskirts of Keighley and downstream to Cottingley. Bingley became a market town with the grant of a Market Charter in 1212 by King John.
According to the poll tax returns of 1379, Bingley had 130 households, probably around 500 people. The nearby towns of Bradford, Leeds and Halifax had about half this population. At this time Bingley was the largest town in the area.
No records tell of how Bingley fared in the Black Death that swept Europe in the 14th century. Approximately one third of all the people in Europe died of this plague, sometimes wiping out whole towns and villages. According to the 1379 Poll tax records, the nearby town of Boulton had no survivors worth taxing. It seems Bingley may have got off relatively lightly.
In 1592 Bingley was shown on a map by Yorkshire map-maker Christopher Saxton as a single street with about 20 houses on each side. The church sits at the west end of the street opposite a single large house, possibly a manor house. Since Bingley was a market town, the market stalls would have been set up on either side of the main street. One of the oldest buildings in Bingley is a coaching inn, the Old White Horse Inn, situated on the flatter north bank of the River Aire by Ireland Bridge.
Like many towns in the West Riding, Bingley prospered during the Industrial Revolution. The Bingley section of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal was completed in 1774, linking the town with Skipton, and Bradford via the Bradford Canal. The canal passes through the town centre and ascends the side of the valley via the Bingley Five Rise and Bingley Three Rise Locks. Several woollen mills were built and people migrated from the surrounding countryside to work in the them. Many came from further afield such as Ireland in the wake of the Irish Potato Famine. A railway and line goods yard were constructed bringing further trade. During this period the villages of Gilstead and Eldwick became conurbated with Bingley. The Bingley Building Society was founded in this period.
Bingley Teacher Training College opened in 1911 with Helen Wodehouse as principal. The first intake of students was 102 women from in and around the then West Riding of Yorkshire. Over the years until its closure in 1979 the college produced approximately 16,000 teachers.
The Beeching Axe demolished the goods yard, though the station which recently celebrated its centenary, still serves trains to Leeds, Bradford, Skipton, Morecambe and Carlisle. The textile mills have largely been closed. The Damart mill still stands and trades in textiles. Since 1995 the tannery, Bingley Mill & Andertons have been converted into flats. The most cramped and outdated terraced housing (in the opinion of the council) was partly replaced with council housing, Bingley Arts Centre and the headquarters of the Bradford & Bingley Building Society. Further council housing was built up the hill towards Gilstead including three tower blocks. In the wake of Margaret Thatcher's reforms of council housing much of the council estate was sold and a substantial portion has been knocked down and rebuilt as private housing. The Bingley Permanent Building Society merged with the Bradford Equitable Building Society to form the Bradford & Bingley Building Society (later a bank) in 1964. It was decided to site the corporate headquarters in Bingley. This brought several thousand jobs to the town but the building itself did not meet with universal acclaim. The building is now being demolished (February 2015). The Bradford and Bingley collapsed in the 2008 credit crunch.
Post relief road Bingley
In 2004 the Bingley Relief Road opened. The £47.9 million road stretches from Crossflatts to Cottingley, threading through Bingley between the railway and the canal. One of the most expensive parts of the construction was moving a stretch of the canal. The construction involved the removal of Treacle Cock Alley pedestrian tunnel and the Tin Bridge, which have been replaced by the Three Rise Bridge, and the Britannia Bridge
The effect of the relief road on Bingley has been significant, particularly the noise in the Valley as a result of the overall increase in traffic and the much higher speeds. The previous 36,000 vehicles per day through Main Street reduced significantly. In 2004 the average home price in Bingley rose 30% to £196,850 - the second fastest appreciating area in the UK (after the nearby Hebden Bridge). This shows Bingley is increasingly being seen as an attractive place to live, especially as a base for commuting to Bradford and Leeds.
The full effect of the change in traffic flow has yet to be fully realised, particularly the big increase in congestion that has resulted in neighbouring Saltaire and elsewhere. There are plans for the pedestrianisation of Main Street and the retail sector in general is undergoing a shift reflecting the changing demographics of the town with more beauty, fashion and tourist shops being opened. A new town square was built and opened in December 2007. The redesigned Myrtle Walk shopping precinct was opened in October 2009, currently housing the library and a number of retail stores.
The road was a target of road protest camp where protesters occupied tree houses for nearly two years.