Aireborough Festival – Quizzing the Developers

Aireborough Festival Feb 15

Vocal Assembly singing in St Oswalds Church in the Aireborough Festival

Potential developers of Ings Lane, Coach Road, and Gill Lane,  were a popular attraction of the Aireborough Festival housing exhibition on Tuesday 10th February, as people poured into Guiseley Theatre, to examine the site allocations maps and explain to developers and Councillors how the area was already over-developed.   A feeling summed up well by the Yeadon Writers at Saturday’s Valentine Entertainment evening, in the verse following the description of Aireborough’s old big brand name assets :


They’ve all gone now, that’s progress, so the bods in charge would say
The heart of Aireborough beats a different beat,
We have to be content with traffic jams and retails parks,
The thought is somewhat bittersweet.

On the walls of the Festival at Guiseley Theatre,  you can linger over a wonderful collection of old photographs of local people put together by Brian Firth of the Old Guiseley Facebook page – can you find you former self and friends?  And contrast this to the pictures display of art done by children from across the area of what they do and don’t like in the place they live – as usual with children’ they don’t shirk from the truth, and the result is revealing.

Ken Cothliff speaking to a packed audience about the history of Leeds Bradford

Ken Cothliff speaking to a packed audience about the history of Leeds Bradford

Little Melissa, aged around 2,  wasn’t actually that keen on listening to the popular Ken Cothliff tell a packed room about the history of Leeds Bradford Airport,  but she did do a lovely drawing of how she sees the present,  whilst Dad kept one eye on Ken, and the other on his daughter – that’s modern Fatherhood for you 🙂   At the evening session on the Airport,  the question was debated with Aviation Development Director Tony Hallwood,  as to whether the Airport was really International or not,  and how it would be affected by HS3, whilst others took the opportunity to feedback complaints about walkways,  parking and duty-free.

Carlo Harrison, of Aireborough Historical Society,  was as popular as ever,  showing another packed house how Aireborough had changed since 1900, and Friday 13th gave many the opportunity for a drizzle soaked walk around our little gem in Nether Yeadon, and Old Guiseley – that people actually enjoyed them so much in the rain, means they must have been good.  Unfortunately, the High Royds walk had to be cancelled, but guide Tom Booth had expressed his doubts about our ghostly friends there and the date.

The highlight of the week for many was the wonderful singing of Wade in the Water (and other beautiful songs) by Vocal Assembly, the Community Choir, in St Oswalds Church, backed by some talented youngsters from Guiseley School singing and playing in their ‘bands’.  Young Jacob Phillips, of JP Productions,  had created a setting in the Church that Roy Strong, that great advocate of using churches as community spaces,  would have throughly approved of.  New Rector,  Father David Pickett, was watching and thinking carefully – we would say watch this space; the Church is highly likely to be taking a more centre stage role in community events in the future – and the acoustics are amazing:the ghosts of the past cannot have it all to themselves.

Stall Holder Artists At The Crafts Showcase

Stall holder Artists at the Art & Crafts Showcase

From the spiritually uplifting, to the important task of earning a living,  we have not forgotten small businesses and entrepreneurship  – Wednesday saw our local craft showcase, which was well attended by talent and customers alike.   Meanwhile,  Friday’s Marketing Clinic did what it said on the tin, and enabled small business to learn a bit more about both marketing and each other – thereby allowing potential fruitful relationships to grow.

Young, and old, and those in the middle have come together this week to Honour Our Past, Value Our Present and Imagine Our Future.   The latter is perhaps harder to do,  than the comfort of what is known and gone,  but in next weeks events the Aireborough Festival starts to explore ideas, to make us more than a traffic jam around a retail park.

Children show of their Art of what they do and do not like in Aireborough.

Children show of their Art of what they do and do not like in Aireborough.

We have eminent Landscape Architect Tom Lonsdale running a workshop on Monday,  looking at what local distinctiveness is,  so we can build that into design of how the area develops.    On Tuesday,  Mark Turner, will explain the opportunities of working on regeneration projects with the South Pennines, of which Aireborough is part.

Wednesday,  sees Karen Horwood and Christine Schofield kicking off the green space audit we need for our area – and we do need local people who know their patch well to do this – it cannot be left to the ‘bods’ sent here by Leeds who have no knowledge of what is valued or not.   This will be followed on Wednesday evening, with a chance to hear Dr Lindsay Smales, explain how Incredible Edible, the local feed programme had become a runaway international success – and how it can be copied in Aireborough.  Which,  to some extent, it already is, with Guiseley in Bloom and the Friends of Parkinsons’ Park.

There is an oppotunity on Thursday to meet both the Friends and In Bloomers and see what they are doing,  plus a whole range of volunteers from all kinds of local charities and community groups.   And,  if you would like to tell the Developers, just what you think,  then there will be another opportunity on the afternoon of Friday 20th.

We,  have not forgotten the past, next week, as it is where Aireborough’s roots are.   On Tuesday 17th  David Myers will show his film of the social life of Crompton Parkinsons, and the whole Festival finishes on the evening of Saturday 21st with a Film Night showing films based on the local area.

Putting together all of the weeks happening, and thinking about the Future; one bright spark at last nights Quiz suggested that a criteria for any Developer should be asking 20 questions on the area, to show if they understand how to build a community rather than just boxes.  Questions such as :-

  1. Where is Crompton Bay?
  2. Where was the home of Nunroyds’ nuns?
  3. What is the hill that rises above Hawksworth ?
  4. Where in Yeadon was ‘The Peeps’?
  5. Where were prams beloved of Royalty made?
  6. How many wars are commemorated on in Guiseley’s memorial gardens?

We look forward to seeing you in the coming week at one of our events – or the Aireborough Festival Exhibition of  site allocations, green space, heritage, Our Guiseley Photographs and details about the Aireborough Neighbourhood Development Forum.  The Exhibition is open whenever our events are running.  We also have a Housing Needs Survey that you can collect and return to us,  as part of our research evidence on just what our area really does want.

Our thanks to all those involved in the Aireborough Festival.