For a town with just 8,000 people, Silsden has so much going for it that it’s the envy of far bigger places…and especially so in the runup to Christmas.
Silsden will be the place to be on Sunday 29 November when the annual Christmas Market, organised by Silsden Gala Committee, is held in the town centre from 10 am until about 4 pm, followed by the switch-on of the Christmas lights at 4.30pm.
“Churches Together in Silsden will present a ‘Roaming Nativity’ in costume”
The Christmas Market promises to be a great attraction for locals and visitors alike. There be will dozens of attractive outdoor stalls along Briggate and in the Punch Bowl car park, and an indoor market downstairs and upstairs in the Town Hall. The stalls are run by local businesses, individual traders, church, charity and volunteer groups and the range of goods on offer will be fantastic, with everything from cook stalls and specialist foods to jewellery and Christmas cards and gifts. For the kiddies, there will be a Santa’s grotto upstairs at the Town Hall, organised by Silsden All Stars majorettes. There will be refreshments in the Town Hall by Country Kitchen.
Drystone Radio will provide music, continuity announcements and fun on the mic, and Silsden Town Band will be playing suitable festive tunes and Christmas carols at the town bandstand. There will be songs from Silsden Singers, and Churches Together in Silsden will present a ‘Roaming Nativity’ in costume throughout the town as a reminder of the true meaning of Christmas.
The event proves to be well worth a visit for visitors who aren’t familiar with the fascinating small town.
It’s a town where the past lives happily alongside the future, exemplified by how its town centre conservation area, old industrial buildings and town hall have become a springboard to exciting new developments and community efforts.
Silsden has a fascinating history, much of which is centred on Silsden ‘Cobby’ Beck and the tributary streams that turned the waterwheels and powered the early mills and later fed the boilers of the Industrial Revolution and beyond. For many years the town was a major centre of nail making and clog irons, with more than 200 nail-making smithies within a mile of the centre.
The arrival of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal in the 1770s boosted trade for wool processing and handloom weaving, and the later steam-powered mills were at their peak between the two world wars, when there were more than 15 mills and no unemployment. Over the years, Silsden’s industries have included hat making, chairmaking, brewing, sweet manufacture, a tannery, timber merchants, icecream making, printers, dye works and an ordnance factory.
In recent years as the old industries dwindled, Silsden has attracted newcomers who commute to Leeds and Bradford using the nearby Steeton and Silsden station, but other newer businesses remain and thrive in the old mills and newer industrial estate.
Silsden’s Conservation Area is centred on the beck and on the historic street pattern of the town, which has altered very little over the centuries. There is evidence of Anglo-Saxon building patterns, so it has considerable archaeological significance. At the centre of the Conservation Area is the historic Town Hall, refurbished and updated under a Bradford City Council scheme, and once again serving as an essential hub of community activity in the town.
The town has a thriving community scene, with its own town council, the gala committee that organises four events annually, numerous sports clubs, the town band, local history group, environmental action team and many more volunteer groups. Even when it’s not Christmas, Silsden is a great little town that’s well worth a visit.