Methodists & Methodism Washburn Valley – Castley to Norwood Bottom

By Stanley Merridew

The lower part of the valley was part of the Otley Circuit whose records are housed at Leeds Archives.


Isaac Atkinson is credited with starting Methodism in Castley around 1820, although a record of a chapel can only be gleaned from the name Chapel Hill Lane.  He was a tenant of Castley Hall farm and Castley Manor Farm.   I understand Chapel Hill Lane was diverted when the railway came, so possibly the chapel was pulled down at the time.  In 1851 the chapel census was signed by John Adamson.

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Life in Castley Lane

By JM Parish

First published in the Wharfedale Newsletter September 1993

The recent report in the Wharfedale (Wharfedale & Airedale Observer) concerning a proposal to build houses in Castley Lane brought memories flooding in.   The house in Castley Lane – each with a piece of land going down to the river – were originally built by the West Riding County Council.  The land was made available by Squire Fawkes as smallholdings for ex- servicemen a few years after the end of the 1914-18 war.  My parents were among the first tenants.  At number one the sign read:

                   SEPTIMUS GARDENER Maker of Gardens – Seedsman – Florist Closed on Sundays

These were the GARDENERs, members of the Methodist Church in which Mr Gardener was a local preacher.

I forget the name of the original family at number two.  They were followed by the LONGBOTTOMs, who were there for many years before moving to Pool.  The BLANDs were at number three then the PODMORE family at number four.  Mr Podmore, who was disabled, did hairdressing and I believe, insurance collecting.

Next were the DENTONs, (still there I think), and at number six were the O’HALLORANs with a poultry farm.  They lived opposite “the big tree”, a landmark known to all.  At number seven were Mr and Mrs JAGGER and at number eight the LEACH family.  Mr Leach was a remote figure, working permanently on the night shift at Pool Paper Mill, so when playing there we had to be quiet.

Number nine bore the sign:

DOBBY Joiner, Painter & Poultryman

I remember helping their lively, high-spirited grand-daughter Myra, who lived with them, to turn the handle of the small mill which kibbled the whole grains into the right size for the chickens.  Mrs Dobby and next door’s Mrs STONEHOUSE – (I believe the WHITEHEADs lived there first) – used to catch the bus at the end of the lane to Bradford with baskets of eggs to sell there to regular customers.

At number eleven (where the son’s widow still lives) were the KITSONs, next door to us at number twelve.  Their daughter, Joyce and I being of an age, grew up together, until Mother (then widowed) decided to move to Otley, after the river had flooded twice.  One year it stopped level with our front doorstep and the next time came into the house.  The family of Norman HUDSON, a motor mechanic with a false leg, were at number thirteen.  He built up a small haulage business.  The GLOVERs were at number fourteen.  Mrs Glover worked part-time as a cashier at the cinema in Otley.  At number fifteen were the LUPTONs and at number sixteen the WEDGE family.

Most of these families had children around the ages of my sister and me.  We all walked to Pool school together and played hopscotch, skipping, whip and top and marbles in the road outside our houses or ranged through each others’ houses and gardens at hide and seek or bobbies and thieves.   As well as calling at each others houses people would meet when out walking.  How we walked!  It was a recreation and a necessity and visitors were always taken for walks.  Only Mr Hudson and later the farmers, had motor vehicles and people would often walk down the lane from the bus stop together after having been to Otley.  I remember on summer Saturday nights, with the bedroom window open, hearing the farm men passing by, singing Nellie Dean.  All the men who didn’t have businesses were in work, some at the mill, some on farms and others in trades.  All had large gardens, most kept hens and some had a pig or two.

My father, William (Billy) Lupton DENISON, being from a family of butchers, used to kill the pigs for people.

When I think back it is surprising, with the size of the families, how many also had lodgers, sometimes unmarried brothers or sisters.  Castley Lane supported many people.

I don’t know the lane now, or if you could call it a settlement but originally it was a community which didn’t draw its skirts aside from neighbours but shared their lives with them.  I am truly glad I grew up a Castley Laner.