Treasure trove of photos of Keighley people in archives

Support for the war effort in Church Street, Keighley

Townspeople admire a display put on during Submarine Week in Keighley held in July 1916

A church parade in Keighley town centre by the Local Volunteer Battalion draws a huge crowd of onlookers

First published in Keighley

A treasure trove of photographs of Keighley people during the First World War will soon be available to the public.

The Keighley News this week showcases some of the historic images discovered in the archives of a former Keighley News journalist.

Herbert France, a sub-editor and reporter at the newspaper in the early 1900s, amassed pictures and memorabilia as well as writing a journal.

The pictures, stashed away in archive boxes at Keighley Library, show soldiers, civic dignitaries and other residents of Keighley during the 1914 to 1918 conflict.

Several focus on a visit to the town in 1918 by the King, George V, and his Queen.

The pictures were unearthed by conservation expert, Sue Oakley, as part of her research into Keighley’s historic buildings.

Bradford Council officer Mrs Oakley is leading the Heritage Townscape Initiative, which is restoring some of Keighley’s Victorian and Edwardian buildings to their former glory.

As a personal project, Mrs Oakley has been transcribing Herbert France’s handwritten journals so they can be read easily by visitors to Keighley Library.

Meanwhile, Andy Wade, from Keighley’s Men of Worth project, is scanning the accompanying scrapbooks, which contain dozens of photographs, meeting reports and newspaper cuttings from the war years.

Mr Wade will give copies to library staff so that – like the journals – they can be accessed by visitors.

Mr Wade believes the ten-volume archives will become a vital resource for both Men of Worth – which chronicles Keighley people’s involvement in both world wars – and other amateur historians.

He said: “I’d already heard about the Herbert France archives because the library has a list of all the resources for the wars.

“But until you go and look, you have no idea how good they are. It really brings home the First World War to the people of Keighley when they see these pictures.”

Copies of the scanned pages will be both in order and indexed, so people can search for names and places on a computer database, which will be particularly helpful for those tracing ancestors.

Mr Wade added: “Once it’s in the computer, people will be able to find mentions of their relatives. They will find out things about these men they never knew before.”

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