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West Riding
Grid reference: SE032351
Location: 53°48’43"N, 1°57’7"W
Population: 2,626  (2011)
Post town: Keighley
Postcode: BD22
Dialling code: 01535
Local Government
Council: Bradford

Oxenhope is a village near Keighley in the West Riding of Yorkshire. The population was 2,626 at the 2011 Census.

Oxenhope railway station is the terminus for the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway.


Oxenhope's name derives from the Old English hop which means valleyl hence Oxen Valley. The industrialisation of the village came about through the cloth and wool trade and by 1850, Oxenhope was host to over 20 mills.

Leeming Reservoir was constructed between 1872 and 1873 to supply the many mills in the area. Its construction necessitated the closure and demolition of at least two mills and their associated houses.

The modern village of Oxenhope encompasses what were originally the separate settlements of Uppertown, Lowertown, Leeming and Horkinstone. The historic hamlets of Marsh and Shaw are also included in the village. The area became known as Oxenhope when the Railway Company named the station serving the area opened the line from Keighley in 1867. Until then, the name Oxenhope referred to a small settlement between the hamlet of Marsh and Haworth.

The street pattern of Oxenhope was much altered when the railway arrived. It had originally been intended that the railway would terminate at Haworth; however the owners of Lowertown Mill in Oxenhope persuaded the railway company to extend the line. It was found impracticable to take the railway as far as Lowertown because of the gradients that would have been required. As a compromise, the railway built a road from its station to Lowertown, appropriately named Station Road. The bridge by which this road crosses Leeming Water is of the same construction as many of the railway's bridges.


The Church of England parish church is St Mary the Virgin, built in the 19th century, and standing on Hebden Bridge Road. It has some interesting glass by the William Morris company. The church was founded by the Reverend Joseph Brett Grant at the behest of the Reverend Patrick Brontë. The Rev Grant was tireless in collecting money to fund the building of the church and Charlotte Brontë records that he wore out 80 pairs of shoes in his quest to do so. The foundation stones of the church were laid down in 1849.[1]

There are two Methodist churches in Oxenhope; one in the village and one in Marsh hamlet north west of Oxenhope. Both of these churches are in the Airedale Methodist Circuit.[2]

There used to be a Baptist church on Moorside Lane (Hawksbridge Baptist Church) but its congregation dwindled and in 2012 it was put up for sale. The buildings were sold and were featured on Channel 4's The Restoration Man television show in early 2016.[3]

Oxenhope railway station

Society and sport

The village hosts a number of annual events including a village show, a beer festival (organised by Keighley and Worth Valley Railway) and a music festival at a village pub.

Each summer the village holds an annual Straw Race. The race was inaugurated in 1976[4] and since then has raised £300,000 for charity from its participants via sponsorship.[5] Competitors are required to carry a bale of straw for two and a half miles between five public houses in the Oxenhope area and drink a beer in each pub. The last stretch to the Dog & Gun Pub is a mile and a half uphill, past Leeming Reservoir.[6] Many of the competitors wear fancy dress.

On 6 July 2014, Stage 2 of the 2014 Tour de France from York to Sheffield, passed through the village. The subsequent Tour de Yorkshire cycling event has also passed through the village in 2015, 2017 and 2018.

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Oxenhope)