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Craftsmen who carved out place in Keighley’s history
Historic carvings by a renowned Keighley stonemason are being revealed as part of restoration work on the North Street arcade.
Alex Smith and his young craftsmen worked on the figures, including cherubs, when the building was developed in late Victorian times.
Carvings were pictured this week by Keighley News photographer Bob Smith when he climbed scaffolding on the outside of the historic building.
They are part of a £2.7 million clean-up project funded by Keighley Townscape Heritage Initiative.
The three-storey building is being transformed into flats, with the facade, shop fronts and glazed can-opy restored to their former glory.
The £725,000-plus arcade restoration scheme is funded by the property owner, the Heritage Lottery Fund and Bradford Council.
Heritage specialist Sue Oakley, who is leading the process, said the facade of the Grade II listed building and its ornate stone carvings had stood up well during the past 115 years.
She added: “If you look at them closely, you can see the differences in quality of workmanship.
“It depended on the experience of the lads and their ways of tooling.”
Alex Smith moved from Glasgow to Keighley in 1889, about a decade before the North Street arcade was built, to join staff at the town’s School of Art. He combined his business as a master craftsman with his teaching, working on war memorials, cinemas and public houses.
Mr Smith’s work included the entrance to Keighley Public Library, the Great War memorial at Morton Cemetery, and a cross at Bradford Cathedral.