Robin Longbottom examines how the rise of neo-classical architecture had an impact in Keighley

THE second half of the 18th century and early 19th century saw the rise of neo-classical architecture.

It is characterised by Greek and Roman columns, simple geometric forms and blank walls.

Its domestic form was largely restricted to the aristocracy and the very wealthy and is exemplified by great houses such as Harewood House, near Leeds, and Broughton Hall, near Skipton. However, three more modest properties in Keighley – The Knowle, Croft House and Eastwood House – fall within this style of architecture.

The Knowle, now occupied by the Co-operative Funeral Service, was built in the early 1800s by John Greenwood, a landowner and cotton spinner. He had started cotton spinning at North Brook Mill before building Cabbage Mill (now the site of Morrison’s supermarket). The house has a central porch with a frieze and pediment supported by twin Doric columns. It has a large bow window on the south-eastern elevation which extends to the upper floor. There were 13 rooms, excluding the hallway, service rooms and cellars. The property was originally set in almost ten acres of garden and parkland, with a carriage entrance at what is now the junction of Queens Road and South Street.

When the Greenwoods finally moved to their estates near Ripon, the house was taken by William Lund, a worsted spinner and manufacturer. His son, James Lund, later moved to Malsis Hall, near Glusburn, and William Clough of Grove Mill, Ingrow, bought the house. The Clough family remained at The Knowle until 1956 after which it was sold and subsequently taken by the present owners.

Croft House is a more modest property, with ten rooms, stabling and a coach house. It adjoined The Knowle and stood in an acre of garden with an orchard that extended to South Street. It had a central house body flanked on either side by what were probably service rooms with roofs at a lower elevation. The entrance door has a frieze and cornice supported by Doric-style pilasters and is central to the front elevation.

It was built in about 1818 by Thomas Binns, a wealthy wool stapler and a partner in Holme Mill, off Fell Lane, Keighley. After his death in 1824 his widow remained in the house until 1850 when it was sold to William Burr, a solicitor and the clerk to the Keighley Board of Health. Following Burr’s death in 1882 it became the home of William Weatherhead who owned Keighley’s principal auction house. The property is now the offices for Keighley Laboratories Ltd.

The grandest house was Eastwood House, off Bradford Road. It is now Victoria Hall and part of the Keighley Leisure Centre. The main entrance has a portico with twin Greek Doric columns supporting a flat roof. The front elevation is symmetrical and similar in design to Croft House. The ground floor included a reception room, dining room, library and billiard room. The service rooms were to the rear. It stood in 18 acres of parkland with a semi-circular ha-ha (deep ditch walled on one side) at the front so that animals grazing in the park were prevented from wandering up to the house. The property also included a farm with farmland extending towards the present-day Asda supermarket.

The house was built by William Sugden in about 1820 (he had married Mary Anne Greenwood, the daughter of John Greenwood of The Knowle, in 1806). Like Thomas Binns, he was also a wool stapler and had expanded his business interests to include worsted spinning at Fleece Mill, East Parade. His son, John Greenwood Sugden, resided at the house until his death in 1864 after which it was occupied by Thomas Craven of Dalton Mills. After he died in 1888 it was purchased by public subscription for a museum and park.