Haworth - Here we come!
Arrival in a place one has not visited before, always - however old one may be (!!) - engenders some sense of excitment. In our case, the historical features of the hostel, the Worth Valley steam railway and Haworth Village Top were the ingredients of the day. Our first day was rounded off, for some of us, by a meet-up - arranged by Helen - in the "Golden Fleece" in Haworth's historic High Street.
Our hostel dated back to 1884, when it was built by one Edwin Merral, a local mill owner who had prospered by producing worsted, a cloth used for mens' suits, both civilian and for the army and the navy. Edwin and his son died in WWI, after which the building passed through a number of owners. The historical nature of the building was recognised by the West Yorkshire County Council and the Countryside Commission, whose promises of grants led to the building becoming a YHA, conversion starting in 1975. The rest is history.
The hostel has a late-Victorian appearance, emphasised by its extended entrance porch, designed to keep the rain and other inclement weather off the heads of those stepping into, or out from, horse-drawn carriages.
After taking in the ornate wooden carvings and columns that grace the main stairwell, ...
... we have the opportunity to appreciate the stained glass windows as we go to our rooms on the second floor.
Citrus fruits are what Edwin Merral ordered!
Ornate columns and balustrades on the first floor emphasise the richness of Victorian craftsmanship. All in all, gentle echoes of Whitworth's "Cragside".
The ground floor lounge shows off the reproduction William Morris Honeysuckle wallpaper. Wallpaper does not last for ever, but this paper was carefully chosen to recreate, as far as possible, the original decor - and to nice effect.
The "glass-bottle" TV, with its 4:3 aspect ratio, has also become part of (admittedly more recent) history, but here has been helped into the digital era with the aid of the tuner sitting on top.
Early birds spent a pleasant two to three hours getting to know Haworth. Attractions included the much publicised links with the Brontë family, who left their prominent mark on English literature. The Keighley & Worth Valley (K&WVR) heritage railway signified the local imprint of the Victorian industrial era, which - in Haworth - followed close on the heels of the Brontës. This was history: literary and technical, cheek by jowl.
The path from the hostel to Haworth Village Top led over the railway footbridge. A train, hauled by a Midland Railway Locomotive dating from 1920 - and still going strong - had just entered Haworth Station. It had come from Oxenhope and was bound for Keighley to the north, about four miles from here down the Worth Valley.
Haworth's cobbled high street, relieved of much of its vehicular traffic by the Haworth by-pass, echoed today to the sounds of visitors looking forward to the Bank Holiday weekend.
Haworth has a number of historical and traditional inns and watering holes, including the
"Kings Arms" (Should it be "King's Arms? - come on you grammarians!),
nicely decked out in summer flowers ...
... and with its impressive inn sign.
The Brontë Parsonage was definitely worth a visit. It contains restorations of some of the original rooms, and shows furniture, clothing, artifacts and ephemera that belonged to the Brontë sisters and their family. Conditions of the time - early 19th century - meant that many of the Brontës did not live much beyond their 30s, with tuberculosis often working against longevity. Despite this, the three Brontë sisters - Charlotte, Emily and Anne - were able to leave their decisive mark on the
English literary landscape.
The Parsonage is owned and run by the Brontë Society. The society, unlike the National Trust, requested "no photograhy" within the building, so who was I to give Cloggies a bad name by having a camera "switched on" and secretly hidden on my person?
Haworth church dates from 1883, pre-dating the YHA building by one year - but not the YHA!.
Some of the Brontës were buried in a vault in the old church, as the memorial in the "new" church makes clear to visitors.
The pulpit and nearby baptismal font show the ornate craftsmanship of Victorian stone masonry to good effect. Can't have been cheap to produce!
Our vintage 1920 locomotive has shuttled its train of post-war (WWII) and post-nationalisation carriages between Keighley and Oxenhope several times today.
Now it's bound for Keighley once more.
The engine shed in Haworth shows off some of the K&WVR's motive power including DMUs from 1958/9, a tank engine from 1952, the class 37 diesel from 1962 and a diesel shunter from 1954.
All over half a century old and still going strong! A mill lurks in the background, as if to emphasise the raison d'être for the K&WVR in the first place.
Haworth station, on the way back to the hostel, shows off its Victorian splendor embellished by the "late-1950s-early-1960s" house style - dark red paint, white lettering and BR logo. Times Past!