KEIGHLEY and District Local History Society looks back at the development of the town's shopping centre...

The shopping centre in the heart of Keighley arrived in the late 1960s.

The town’s council selected the plans of The Murrayfield Real Estate Co Ltd and work was carried out in phases between 1965 and 1969.

One phase included flattening Cook Lane, which ran between Low Street and Bow Street. This included demolishing the original Timothy Taylor brewery, the Salvation Army citadel building and the Bonded Warehouse amongst others.

Cook Lane was one of the earliest roads in Keighley, leading north from Church Green towards Skipton.

North Street didn’t come along until much later, at the end of the 19th century.

There is some debate as to how the Cook Lane name came about.

One Martha Cook was licensee of the Black Horse Inn in Keighley, taking over the pub in around 1795. At around this time, she was appointed Keighley’s first postmistress and ran the post office from the pub.

Her grandson, James Cook, continued the postal operation as postmaster and he moved the post office to Cook Lane and later to North Street. It’s possible that Cook Lane was named after James Cook.

The original plans for this pedestrianised stretch of the shopping centre show that the street was to be called Cook Way, in the same way that the parallel road Queen Street became Queens Way.

However, somehow, Cook Lane became Cooke Lane instead of Cook Way and gained an ‘e’ (perhaps a mistake following the similarly named Cooke Street, which is nearby and does have the ‘e’).

Some of the first tenants to take out leases for units on the new Cooke Lane were the gas board and Yorkshire Electricity Board.

The original shopping centre was open to the elements and had overhead concrete beams that carried colourful murals. There were benches and flowerbeds throughout.

In the 1980s, it was decided that the shopping centre needed a facelift – a glass roof to protect shoppers from inclement weather.

The work was carried out by Higgs and Hill Ltd. It started in 1986 and was completed by 1988. They tried to keep the centre operating as normally as possible throughout the work.

The statue of Rombald was relocated to Cooke Lane during this project.

Rombald had been donated to the town by the builders of the 1960s shopping centre and originally stood at the junction of Queensway and College Walk (in what was called Rombald’s Square). On Cooke Lane, the statue was surrounded by seats and a fountain, then later by a cafe.

The post office connection with Cook/Cooke Lane continued when the main Keighley post office moved from Towngate into WH Smith’s on Cooke Lane in 2014.

All images and research are courtesy of Keighley and District Local History Society, with thanks for additional information provided by Eddie Kelly.

The society was formed in 2004 as part of the centenary celebrations for Keighley’s Carnegie Library.

A physical archive of hundreds of items, including books and photographs, about the town and the surrounding area is held by the society.

The archive also features the likes of paintings, maps and ornaments.

Access is available through arrangement with the committee.

Cataloguing of the full collection is under way, with many hundreds of books and photographs already catalogued. Two or three times a year the society organises archiving sessions where members can volunteer to help undertake further cataloguing.

The society’s online Flickr photo album has over 10,000 images that are available to view by anyone.

Whilst the society concentrates mainly on the districts covered by the pre-1974 Keighley Borough Council, the history sometimes spreads to include other areas that have at times been linked to – or administered from – Keighley.

The society arranges guest speakers and visits to places of interest throughout the year. It also works with a number of local partners to help them open-up their own archives.

People can join the history society at any meeting.

The meetings are held on the second Wednesday of each month, usually in Keighley Local Studies Library. Annual membership costs £10.

Visit or the society’s Facebook page for more details.