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West Riding
Old Main Street - Bingley - - 1119608.jpg
Old Main Street, Bingley
Grid reference: SE108389
Location: 53°50’46"N, 1°50’10"W
Population: 19,884  (2001)
Post town: Bingley
Postcode: BD16
Dialling code: 01274
Local Government
Council: Bradford

Bingley is a busy market town in the West Riding of Yorkshire, in the Skyrack Wapentake. It stands on the River Aire and also on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

It is a modest town, a coaching stop in the early Modern Period and industrialised in the Industrial Revolution, and a good deal of heritage of those ages remains; coaching inns beside industrial chimneys and factories and the churches and chapels which sprang up in ther nineteenth century. The Five Locks on the canal are of interest. Industrially, Bingley was a textile town.

The town's population was recorded as 19,884 in 2001.

Bingley appears in the Domesday Book of 1086 as "Bingheleia".


Foundation and Middle Ages

Bingley was probably founded in the Anglo-Saxon period and its name is of Old English origin. Bingley was founded by a ford on the River Aire. This crossing gave access to Harden, Cullingworth and Wilsden on the south side of the river.

Norman times

In the Domesday Book of 1086, Bingley is listed as "Bingheleia", with the following entry:

Bingley's entry in the Domesday Book
m In Bingheleia hb. Gospatric iiij car' tra e' ad gld. tra ad ii car' Ernegis de burun h't. & Wast' e'. T.R.E. val, iiij lib'. Silva past' ii leu' lg' & i lat'. Tot' m' e iiij leu' lg' & ii lat'

Which roughly translated reads:

In Bingheleia, Gospatric has a manor of four carucate of land to be taxed, land for two ploughs. Ernegis de Burun has it and it is waste. In the time of King Edward the Confessor it was valued at four pounds. Woodland pasture two leagues long and one broad. All the manor is four long and two broad.

The ford was superseded by Ireland Bridge. Bingley was a manor which extended several miles up and down the Aire valley, extending upstream to Marley on the outskirts of Keighley and downstream to Cottingley. Bingley became a market town with the grant of a Market Charter in 1212 by King John.

According to the poll tax returns of 1379, Bingley had 130 households, probably around 500 people. The nearby towns of Bradford, Leeds and Halifax had about half this population. At this time Bingley was the largest town in the area.

Modern period

In 1592 Bingley was shown on a map by Yorkshire map-maker Christopher Saxton as a single street with about 20 houses on each side. The church sits at the west end of the street opposite a single large house, possibly a manor house. Since Bingley was a market town, the market stalls would have been set up on either side of the main street. One of the oldest buildings in Bingley is a coaching inn, the Old White Horse Inn, situated on the flatter north bank of the River Aire by Ireland Bridge.

Bingley Five Rise Locks.

Like many towns in the West Riding, Bingley prospered during the Industrial Revolution. The Bingley section of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal was completed in 1774, linking the town with Skipton, and Bradford by way of the Bradford Canal. The canal passes through the town centre and ascends the side of the valley by the Bingley Five Rise and Bingley Three Rise Locks. Several woollen mills were built and people migrated from the surrounding countryside to work in the them. Many came from further afield such as Ireland in the wake of the Irish Potato Famine (1845-1849). A railway and line goods yard were built, bringing further trade. During this period the villages of Gilstead and Eldwick became conurbated with Bingley. The Bingley Building Society was founded in this period.

Damart buildings

Post Industrial

Bingley Teacher Training College opened in 1911 with Helen Wodehouse as principal. The first intake of students was 102 women from in and around the then West Riding of Yorkshire. Over the years until its closure in 1979 the college produced approximately 16,000 teachers.

The Beeching Axe demolished the goods yard, though the station which recently celebrated its centenary, still serves trains to Leeds, Bradford, Skipton, Morecambe and Carlisle. The textile mills have largely been closed. The Damart mill still stands and trades in textiles. Since 1995 the tannery, Bingley Mill & Andertons have been converted into flats. The most cramped and outdated terraced housing (in the opinion of the council) was partly replaced with council housing, Bingley Arts Centre and the headquarters of the Bradford & Bingley Building Society. Further council housing was built up the hill towards Gilstead including three tower blocks. Much of the council estate was sold under the "Right to Buy" from the 1980s and a substantial portion has been knocked down and rebuilt as private housing.

The Bingley Permanent Building Society merged with the Bradford Equitable Building Society to form the Bradford & Bingley Building Society (now a bank) in 1964. It was decided to site the corporate headquarters in Bingley. This brought several thousand jobs to the town but the building itself did not meet with universal acclaim. The building is now empty and boarded-up, following the collapse of the Bradford and Bingley in the 2008 credit crunch.

Bingley railway station

Transport links

The A650 trunk road passes through Bingley. Through traffic has been diverted onto the new dual carriageway avoiding the town centre. The road passes northwest to Keighley and southeast to Shipley and Bradford.

The Airedale Line, part of the "Metro" railway network passes through Bingley. Bingley railway station still has many historical features.

The Leeds and Liverpool Canal passes through Bingley. There are several flights of locks in the Bingley section, the famous Five Rise Locks, the smaller Three Rise Locks and a further two lock flight at Dowley Gap. The canal climbs steeply up the side of the Aire valley through this section.


  • Bingley Music Live: annual music festival in Myrtle Park at the end of August, with a range of musical genres including rock, alternative rock, indie rock and pop music. First held in 2007
  • Bingley Little Theatre is both a venue and a major amateur group, with eight productions a year as well as studio pieces.


Outside links