A warm, friendly Heather welcome

We are delighted to share Heather, an historic boat and home for over a century, laying on the Broadland Waterways of Norfolk.

It is our aim to preserve the distinctive character of Heather, enabling future generations to enjoy her charms. We welcome you to explore the houseboat and bountiful riverside beyond...

Andrew, Timothy and Christopher

21 September 2018

Riddles of the den ~ Holden Gate

While on the hunt for products for our fledgling enterprises, I paid a visit to Riddlesden, near Keighley in West Yorkshire.

From high up on Rombalds Moor, t'other side of the famed Ikley Moor, Keighley is seen below, carpeting the trough of Airedale, with clusters of commercial buildings, glistening in the sunshine. To the west rises the adjoining Worth Valley, towards the wild fabled moorland of 'Wuthering Heights', on the far horizon.

During the early nineteenth century, the compact, but blossoming industrial town was a stomping ground of the creative Brontë family (the Irish Reverend Patrick Brunty changed the name to Brontë, after Lord Horatio Nelson's title). One of the first ever industrialised cotton mills, originally powered by water was established in Keighley in 1779. The speedy mechanisation of cloth manufacturing and imposed factory conditions were met with stern disapproval by some hand loom weavers. Around 1812, a band of 'Luddites' organised violent rebellions and the armed militia had to be called out to protect mill owner's property.

Riddlesden, in contrast is a sleepy place of old weavers cottages, Victorian villas and later houses. It is a rambling village is built along steep climbing roads with quaint sounding names, surrounded by gardens of scented roses and mature trees. The community is subtlety divided by several wooded gorges with trickling rocky becks, or streams tumbling down from the craggy moor.

We lived for a time at Holden Gate Farm on the lofty edge of Rombalds Moor. The name derives from Norse words meaning a stronghold, or hollow on the street. Holden Gate was home of the wonderful gentleman Dalesman Leonard Robinson, who celebrated his ninetieth birthday in June. The farm is a typical solid West Riding design, entirely built with locally quarried stone and is principally a dairy farm, in place of sheep.

During the economic transitions of the 1970s and 80s, an innovative spirit took hold at Holden Gate, as traditional rural business adapted. My parents, Diane and Alec started selling curios and pottery ~ including lots of teapots from Stoke on Trent, then toys; setting up a stall in various town markets around the Yorkshire and Lancashire Pennines.

Meanwhile, Leonard and a North American lady, Emily sourced large quantities of antique furniture and pottery to ship to the United States for sale. This influence, coupled with the variety of nearby auction houses and curiosity shops, encouraged us as kids to find objects, such as old glass bottles and shellac gramophone records to either keep, or sell on, latterly at Skipton Antiques and Collectors Centre.


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King's Head Staithe, Hoveton, pictured from Wroxham public Parish Staithe